Sunday, April 26, 2009

Zander Blog 4


This is my room that it was the day before la vacance. Like in America you barely ever have vacances, but not here.  See the soldiers that are on the radiator? They were in front of the door, there were soldiers, on the dresser there were soldiers also on the ladder there were soldiers and on my special place there were soldiers.  I have 168 soldiers.  They were guarding my room so no bad guys could get me or my sister or my brother.mini_DSC07596

My Mama was at a mountain river that I had to walk through but this time I did not have to walk through.  But if we hadn’t have walked through it we would have been fine of not crossing the river twice in a row!  [Per Zander’s request, the followeing is NOT part of Zander’s blog but he said: “Sometime I’d like to come there again and drive our bikes over the stream.  That would be real fun, wouldn’t it?  All we would have to do is go faster, faster, faster, faster pshhhhh and keep going mini_DSC07633on right through it.”]

I don’t know what this is but I took this picture because I thought it was strange.  It says VTT FFC (Vay Tay Tay Fic ‘97).  I think it’s a kind of a bike.


This is a fountain that I think used to be for a bath in the olden days – so I took a picture of it because I thought it was cool.  I’ve been wanting to blog more and I’ve been taking pictures forgetting I have so much left. I love seeing all this kind of stuff – it’s hard to take a picture of it as we were driving.

Here is a story about this day…

How we got stuck in the mud.

Well, we were driving along trying to find some roman ruins chateau and when we got on the road – we started to drive but once we got a couple inches the tires went bzzzzzzzzzzrt.  Dad was like, “Uh Oh, We are stuck! This is too muddy!”  So we started pushing up the car so we could get it up the hill so we would be able to go but I wanted to still see the chateau and I said “We could just walk down the mountain!”  But we didn’t and we left.

mini_DSC07658Well, the other day I was playing with Callie trying to draw her and she kept moving – Griffin was much better at staying still. I don’t know why Griffin could stay still – Callie hamini_DSC07664s more practice and so do I! But Griffin is the best at staying still.  So, she got mad at me for the pictures and I took this picture.

This is a flower that Griffin made  - he gave it to Grandma for coming here – the thing around the flower part is actually for  protectioning the flower.

mini_DSC07679This is our yardie thing for the whole place to play in.  Which it’s made for all, like the people to play in so, everyday – kids that live like on the top floors will come out there.  it’s like, their yard, not our yard. 

mini_DSC07680 This is a ramp that Griffin every day is rolling down to play car.  It’s made for 2 year olds but he is 4 – but he still likes to ride it and every day he goes down and he gets like, scratched, all over himself. 

mini_DSC07681 This the pirates dock.  You know how it’s not all wooden, like strong made – it’s like a rope bridge.  So you can move it so the train can drive right past!

mini_DSC07689This is Mama doing some laundry to sell for the yard sale so she can get some money.  So we can go home someday to America.  AND so we can go to Paris.  And have fun!

mini_DSC07692 This is my garden – and I have been watering it all the days – but today it is getting watering by the rain I am watching it.  I planted a couple cantaloupes and 3 beanstalks – Like that legend, the giant beanstalk.  If a giant beanstalk grew here, I would be really rich, I think.  I would climb up on it and I didn’t put them in, I dropped them in.

mini_DSC07743 This is me and Livi in a picture, that I took a picture of, and I’m going to take a picture of that, and take a picture of that and non stop, just keep on taking pictures of pictures.

mini_DSC07748 This is my whole family eating our first dinner with Grandma and Grandpa Peterson in France.  And we are eating pretend pudding – because they don’t sell it real in the stores.  Grandma and Grandpa are here to visit us so we can have funning.  And they are going to PARIS with us on the bullet train in two more days.  We are going to go to Disneyworld and the skeleton house where every old French person that’s dead just gets thrown in there.


This is my dad telling Grandma and Grandpa Peterson what hills are what. This is the chateau that mom is gonna sell our clothes and you can buy stuff here.  But I’m wondering how does she get her money?  There is one place only to get your money. 

mini_DSC07805 We went to the Citadel – and you know how there’s these things that blind people read – this is one of those. Which you can read what it is and you can read sign language.  I don’t know what is better..  maybe one day I’ll be blind and I’ll only be able to speak English – but I don’t really know.

Friends and family – I miss you!


Zander Blog 3 Legos!!!!

mini_DSC07737This is all my Legos that I’ve made in my new life in France.  I’m thinking of taking pictures of them – since I won’t be able to bring them back to America.  How will we bring them home without breaking?  I don’t know that.  So this is some of my favorites – helicopter bank, police car gun, and the police maze. 

mini_DSC07707 mini_DSC07705This is my maze to the police house and there is a very small zombie that guards it.  Also, if the zombies need to go out, there is a little car with all these beds – it scares all the bad guys that try to get in this place.  There is a chair in the maze that brings you over to the zombie – if you are not a police, it will scare you because this chair is made with a spring and if you sit on it you will get sprang right out of the chair cause the zombie has a teensy button to make the spring bounce.  So, be careful!  You can not break into this police house – I still have to make the house.

mini_DSC07699 This is a bank that has fake grass and there is a helicopter on the top so, if any bad guys try to get there you will not be able to manage.  These steps are leaning under the roof – you see that little thing with the hole in the middle? Underneath it is like an attic where little Lego people can shoot out and boaters can drop down.mini_DSC07709

This is a sand slider that can slide on the sand and my dad helped me make it – he made some of it and then I added too much so it’s not his. That happens with a lot of the stuff – barely nothing is his anymore that he makes, it’s all mine.

mini_DSC07712 This is a little police penguin and it has guns on it.  The blue building with the diamond on top is the police station

mini_DSC07713 This is a plane for polices – and you see at the end of the plane it is actually a machine bird that is carrying 3 police with some money – and it is to protect the city. 

mini_DSC07719 This is a Pet Shop thing that I made for Callie because she wanted to play Lego's but she had her Pet Shop’s already out.  So I made this Pet Shop bus for her Pet Shop’s because there wasn’t a Pet Shop bus and she wanted a Pet Shop bus. Didn’t I say Pet Shop, like, so many times?

mini_DSC07720 This is a police car that I made all by myself so there are millions of guns you can notice.  There is a man on top who is in armor – he like, kills any bad guys and makes them go away.  And there is another police inside the big car and he drives it around but he has only his gun – but he can’t make the machine work – only the person in armor can.

mini_DSC07729 This is a police plane to bring lots of polices over the ocean.  It is made to be very strong but it carries more guns and weapons than polices.  You know how they have clothing and equipment and guns and stuff like that?  So it carries all that stuff and that’s why it has more room for luggage than people.

This is just some of my Lego’s.  I love you.

Friday, April 24, 2009

2 weeks in one

The last week omini_DSC00893f school before vacances was, for whatever reason, a stressful one for our Zander.  He had 3 or 4 giant explosions, one in the middle of the night and was generally just miserable.  Finally, on Friday, when my patience was extremely thin, he told me something worth hearing – something that gives me hope that he might succeed here – and, at the same time, makes me feel very guilty!  We dropped Callie at school after lunch and he just lost it completely on the hill near her school. After over a half an hour of crying and ragingmini_DSC00897 he finally was calm enough to talk to me.  Meanwhile, Griffin was happily wandering the field collecting flowers (see photos).  As for Zander’s mental state, there were two things that he said that I thought were interesting.  One was that he was afraid when he went back, nothing would be the same – and he wants everything to be exactly the same.  I think the trigger for this one was that he had spoken to his old kindergartenmini_DSC00884 teacher on the phone and she sounded different to him…. The other was that he was very, very angry with Andre’ and I for forcing him to come here (this is an old complaint – and it is usually followed by a list of the reasons  why he hates it here).  This time, however, was different. He said he was really angry with us because we had made it so that, from now on, he can never be happy.  You see, when he is in France, he is unhappy because he misses home and he realizes that when we move back to America someday he will be unhappy because he will miss France – and he knows how expensive it is to visit and that means we will probably never visit and he will miss everything forever!  Man, he is just screwed no matter what he does, poor guy!  But, after he verbalized these feelings and I sympathized, he has been happier. (Until the next crisis, of course).  

We have been trying to keep him focused, as much as possible, on the positive (while still validating his sadness) and also give him fun things to do.  We are finally having a meeting with a child psychologist May 6th – we’ll see how that works out. One of the most helpful things for Zander is keeping to a structured routine as much as we can.  Part of that routine is the nightly bedtime story.  As I mentioned in the last blog, Zander is reading Superfudge with Daddy – Callie likes to listen in after her story is over.  When we read to them, we often stop and ask them questions about the story or what they think etc… Here is what Andre’ was reading the other day (Superfudge, Judy Blume pg. 132):

Daniel came over that afternoon.
‘Did you write to Santa yet?’ I asked
‘I’m Jewish,’ Daniel said, ‘I don’t believe in that stuff.’

Here’s where I interrupt.
M: What does that mean?
Z: I have no idea
C: He’s Jewish – that means he doesn’t congratulate Christmas.  He has Hanukkah – like Elah.  But we do.
M: He doesn’t celebrate Christmas. 
C: He doesn’t celebrate Christmas.  
Z: So, who celebrates Christmas?
C: Us, you know, like, normal people.
M: Oh, so, Elah isn’t normal???
C: No!  I mean, she is…. Hey mom, what are the people who celebrate Christmas called, anyway?  What are we called?
M: Silence
C: Christmas-shuns???
M: That’s right Callie – we must be the Christmas-shuns – the ones who celebrate Christmas! (We are all laughing)

I mean, really, what is there to say? We do not celebrate out of any other reason than tradition.  Andre’ has actually suggested we give it up and celebrate only Solstice – which is much closer to where our spiritual hearts lie (currently, at least) .  But, I don’t want to give up Christmas – in my family it wasn’t really much about religion – it was a time of traditions and fun and togetherness – and usually you get vacation time too – so why not celebrate?   

Speaking of celebrations, this week has been the first week of the spring vacances.  The kids are so excited to be having a chance to see their Grandma and Grandpa from Utah and to (finally) get to ride on the TGV (bullet train).  They wanted to surprise Andre’ and I one night and so, after bed, they did all sorts of creative stuff together.  They made their beds and got dressed for the morning BEFORE going to sleep (saves time, right?) and then decorated the room hanging many stuffed animals off a rope, organizing all the books on the bookshelf and setting up over 100 little soldiers to defend the room from ‘bad guys’, should any happen to appear.  Zander also wrote a note telling everyone to stay out, which he posted on the door, and another note hung down from the light saying “Happy Vacances!” 

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It actually has been a very happy vacances, so far!  Saturday we went on our hiking adventure and Sunday Olivier and his family came over to hang out.  They haven’t been over for a while and it was fun for the kids to play mini_DSC00903together again.  Olivier is a person with many, many extracurricular interests – off the top of my head I know he has taken singing lessons, art lessons, runs races, boxes, reads 2 books a month, rides bikes, takes care of blundering American families and fences.  (I’m sure there is more).  Well, this day he brought his fencing equipment and challenged me to a (dry) duel.  For fun only, of course, but I was pleased to feel like I did pretty well against him in foil and even not too terribly with sabre.  Then he showed me this other thing – with a dagger in the back hand and large heavy weapons in the front hand.  That was crazy hard – and I know if I ever did it seriously it would ruin my ‘regular’ fencing.    You are allowed to circle your opponent, use your back hand and can even grab a weapon with your glove to get it out of your way.  His jacket and gloves were black (as you can see) and made of a far heavier material than what I was used to – it was ridiculously heavy and hot.  They left a bit early to take the kids to stay with their grandparents for the week. Since Olivier and Nadine both work, the kids will be with one set of grandparents one week, and the other the next.  This is normal practice here in France.  Even with 5 weeks of vacation, there is not enough time for the parents to take off during every vacances. Wonder what people who don’t have grandparents around do?

On Monday we went for a nice hike and hung out on a huge field – Zander collected lots of new wildflowers and all three kids picked amazing bouquets.  I was happy to find more cowslips that smelled ‘right’.   mini_DSC00925mini_DSC00906 mini_DSC00917

mini_DSC00926I am also including this picture of Callie’s bouquet.  I want not only to show off her impressive arrangement skills (the boys just pick randomly but Callie places each bloom with both purpose and great beauty) but also to display her simple bracelet made of purple, blue and pink beads.  I wear one of these also, as does my mom back home – we made them together right before we left for France to represent the love that the 3 generations of women have for each other.  We each swore not to remove it until we saw each other again.  Well, 8 months later, the little things are still on all 3 of us – amazing. I love it because it reminds me of my mom every time I see it.  I wonder, will we make new ones when we visit home or leave these on for the duration?  Maybe we should keep these AND make a new one (insurance)– Aunt Melodie wears 85 bracelets – why can’t we wear 2?

On Tuesday we were supposed to go swimming but, instead, we took a bus to the local store. A bus?  Yes, mini_DSC00892folks, a bus.  You see, there is a reason (besides poverty) that we hadn’t purchased a car up until now.  Cars, are annoying, they break and they all have their own personality.  Well, it seems that somehow, on Monday when we got home from the day’s activities I must have left Mr. Liberty’s headlights on.  How this happened I have no idea – since I never recall turning them on – but obviously I did and the car was, predictably, dead.  Perhaps we were just getting a bit too comfortable here and needed something new to blunder with – first a near miring in the mud on a deserted lane and now a dead battery!  Went to the store to get jumper cables and found that there are different (more expensive) ones for diesels than for regular cars. I called Andre for advice on this and spoke to people at the store and they said the others would work just as well – save the 10 Euros.  Well, it turns out that the reason that you need heavier duty cables is that diesels need a stronger charge (more amps) to start – the weaker cables can burn out before you get the engine fired.  Fortunately our hero, Olivier, who naturally was the one who came to give us the jump was able to restart the car with the cables I had bought. We drove around re-juicing the battery and discovering the Chateau de Moncley and a Maison du Meil (honey house).  We shall return!

On Wednesday we had a treat of hanging out again with Marie, Anne and Marc.  Z, C and G had been excited for their visit all week, setting up the playroom with an elaborate train track etc….  They played beautifully together for over an hour (that means they didn’t fight, or interrupt Marie and I, who were talking) and then we met up with Andre’ and Regis and headed over to Fort Bregille for a picnic lunch and hike.   mini_DSC00938  mini_DSC00942  mini_DSC00943  mini_DSC00945

We had a great time.  Andre’ actually has run up here a few times and we visited once before (for our Solistice Celebration) but it was in the evening.  It has gorgeous views, a crumbling fort with sheer drop offs and an interesting barren area known as “The Desert” crowning it’s top.  Then we headed down again to get the dads back to work – and Andre’ got lost.  Seems that you can run down in different ways than you can drive down – who’d know?  Because of this, they were a few minutes late.  Sometimes, even 2 hours for lunch isn’t enough. 

The kids hung out together again for another hour and Marie and I talked some more.  It is such a relief to me to be able to chatter in English to someone other than Andre!  We had a lot to discuss since it turns out they are most likely moving to Berlin at the end of July.  Advice about moving to a different country with kids – I’ve got plenty! Both Regis and Marie mentioned that our arrival reignited their long held dreams of living outside France and encouraged them to try to make it a reality.  Wow, we are like – an inspiration!  I am glad they will take the plunge but I am sad since we get along so well with their family.  In my experience, it is hard to find such a match – lots of my US friends have husbands that Andre’ doesn’t mesh well with or have kids that my kids don’t have fun with etc…  In my dream land, I want to find a family we will mesh with well enough to be like, a second family. (Of course, in this dream they would also live next door) We will miss getting to know them even better but, of course, we will stay in touch (Marie says she might start a blog – that’s the spirit) Also, we still hope to go camping together with them before they depart – and hey, it sure makes a future visit to Berlin a bit more enticing!

Thursday we headed to the pool and had a swim – the doors to the outdoor play area were open for the first time and, out in the 50 degree weather, people went out (in wet bathing suits) to run around and play on the lawn and sunbathe – topless if you want. (FYI – the kids did not even notice – same in Red Light District, Amsterdam – Partial nudity is just not remarkable to them)  We did go out and shiver for about 10 minutes.  The kids would have stayed out longer but I just couldn’t hack it (despite having much more insulation, and bathing suit coverage, than the other women out there).

I would be remiss not to mention the other major activity of this week – planning our Bemini_DSC00932sancon visit from Grandma and Grandpa Peterson and the 5 days in Paris. Here is Andre behind the giant map we bought – think I can open it up on the street if we get lost without attracting attention???  (It was the only one we could find here) I am so excited!   We have planned which sites we are going to see, in what order, what restaurants, boulangeries and patisseries to try when we are there, etc….   It is going to be so much fun (if we don’t simply collapse from exhaustion!) I am thinking I might even post our itinerary etc… here online afterwards – so if anyone wants to visit they can take some cues from us (hey, once you inspire one family – you just want to keep on going!)

Expect to hear from me again in about 10 days – post vacation!!!!!!

Where Have all the Flowers Gone?

They are here!  On my blog!

OK – I realize this is becoming a bit of an obsession – but here are the shots of the latest flowers we have found during our adventures.  First a brief view of some NON wild varieties.   The tulips here are amazing – I have always liked tulips (OK, I’ve never really met a flower I didn’t like) but there are much more of them here and they are HUGE – this red one is shown next to Callie’s hand and the size is typical.  The yellow flowers in the middle shot are on some kind of bush that people plant in their yards around here – much nicer, in my opinion, than forsythia, but I have no idea what it is called.  The final bunch of flowers is what has popped up from our bulb planting activities from last fall.  I love the dark dark purple tulips – Zander planted some melon and pea seeds in a small plot this week – we will see what pops up! mini_DSC00886   mini_DSC00927  mini_DSC00905

Now, on to the main event – the new and exciting wildflowers from the past two weeks!

These are from the meadows near our house or hiking around. The first is the evolution of Callie’s flower – I think it is either Self Heal or Bugle. The second is Great Stitchwort.  The bunch in front of Zander is fuzzy – but the ones to the right are Ribwort Plantain – I will try to get a better picture another day.  The purple flower reminds me of Red Clover – but it isn’t Red Clover (at least not what I think of).  Can’t find anything resembling it online.

mini_DSC00899  mini_DSC00908    mini_DSC00918

These were found on roadsides or the edges of the woods. I think the first is called Bitter Vetch and I’m  pretty positive the second is White Dead Nettle,  The third might be Geranium Sanguine – but I’m not sure, could it be Birdseye Primrose or Red Campion?  I can’t find anything like the fourth.  Hmm… this is hard!

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These were in the woods.  The second is just like Green Hellobore – but the flowers are yellow – but I can’t find Yellow Hellobore online so ????  (Maybe it is Lady’s Mantle)  The third is called Herb Paris and is supposedly a rare find (go me!). The last two shots are of the same plant – I show the kids next to it so you can see the size of the thing – it is obviously a dried relic of the previous fall – pretty sure a Burdock – beautiful even without flowers.

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Then there are these beauties – they were found near the edge of the woods as well .  Besides being purple (the best color) and delicately beautiful they were being industriously pollinated by a bee. I have no idea what they are – I thought they were wild orchids but it turns out wild orchids look nothing like this plant.  I can’t find anything like them online – they resemble the White Dead Nettle – are they Purple Dead Nettle?  We sat and watched him work for several minutes.  It was amazing how methodically he worked, poking his head into each and every flower on the stem – one was loose for some reason and the bee tumbled right off the flower, only to return to the next one on that stem!  Andre got a few amazing shots – I had to include all three of my favorites.    I hope you can see how the bees here are much oranger than those in the US – they also seem fuzzier to me – and the bumblebees also have different coloration here than back home.





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