Christmas 2014

aparat de marirea penisului Christmas 2014 has come and gone. It was the first Christmas for Alexandre, and the first Christmas that Juliette really understood what was going on. Her little eyes lit up when she realized that there were presents, and that they were for her.

In fact, we learned a lesson as parents, too. She was so overwhelmed by the first few presents that she opened that we had to save the rest for later in the day. Simple is better.

But she got a new kitchen to play with, right alongside Dad. And she loves it. As soon as she opened it, she rushed back to the living room to get her little glasses, and spent the next half-hour ferrying imaginary glasses of water to everyone in the room. Lucky they weren’t shots, or we’d all be off our rockers.

Two grandfathers, supervising...

Two grandfathers, supervising…

Opening presents

Opening presents

Wow!  A big one!

Wow! A big one!

Little Alex, just hanging out and taking in the sights.

Little Alex, just hanging out and taking in the sights.

A whole set of dishes!

A whole set of dishes!

NEW SHOES!!!!

NEW SHOES!!!!

"Fragile"

“Fragile”

A Baeckeoffe casserole.  Dad's well on his way to becoming Alsacian.

A Baeckeoffe casserole. Dad’s well on his way to becoming Alsacian.

New bag, dear?

New bag, dear?

Some light reading to pass the time

Some light reading to pass the time

Juliette was given a game with lots of fruits inside.  She decided that Grandpa might like to hold them.

Juliette was given a game with lots of fruits inside. She decided that Grandpa might like to hold them.

Juliette was very excited by her new kitchen.  So excited, in fact, that she ran over half-way through trying on her new shirt.

Juliette was very excited by her new kitchen. So excited, in fact, that she ran over half-way through trying on her new shirt.

Kids learn fast.  Juliette's already learned that the best way to attack the kitchen is armed with a glass of wine.

Kids learn fast. Juliette’s already learned that the best way to attack the kitchen is armed with a glass of wine.

Building gingerbread houses

Building gingerbread houses

Party dress or not, Juliette wasn't going to take off her new shoes.

Party dress or not, Juliette wasn’t going to take off her new shoes.

High stakes poker

A grandfather with too much time on his hands can be a dangerous thing. Juliette got a collection of cardboard blocks for her birthday, and in a moment of boredom inspiration, Papi decided to construct an enormous tower. Then, adding fuel to the fire, he asked Juliette to try to climb underneath without knocking over the tower.

She made it through five or six times, but on the seventh…

Can Juliette squeeze through the tower?

Can Juliette squeeze through the tower?

"Quick!  Set them up again!"

“Quick! Set them up again!”

Guess who’s two?

Time sure flies. It seems like just yesterday that we were celebrating Juliette’s first birthday, and now we’re at another milestone (with a little brother added into the mix).

Normally, it’s Dad that has a twisted sense of humor. But this year, it was Mom’s idea to put “magic candles” on the cake.

Parenting tip: Giving magic candles to a two-year old is just about the most fun you can have with your clothes on. They absolutely can’t figure out how it’s possible that the candle relights itself. We were practically crying with laughter watching Juliette try to work it out.

Milestones deserve celebration, and it was a great treat that Juliette had both sets of her grandparents here to celebrate with her. Lots of great presents, but the highlight was a new big-girl bed to replace her crib.

Let’s hope she learns to stay in the bed and that her parents don’t regret their decision!

Raspberry cake!  Juliette's favorite.  And since it was her birthday, she got to eat all the raspberries herself.

Raspberry cake! Juliette’s favorite. And since it was her birthday, she got to eat all the raspberries herself.

Time to blow out the candles.

Time to blow out the candles.

Big breath!

Big breath!

"Go out, you bastards."

“Go out, you bastards.”

A very proud two-year old

A very proud two-year old

Thanks Gratiane and Francois!

Thanks Gratiane and Francois!

Thanks, Nan, for my wonderful Frozen doll!

Thanks, Nan, for my wonderful Frozen doll!

Juliette got a table and two stools for her bedroom.  After moving it several times to get it placed just so, she insisted that Papa join her.

Juliette got a table and two stools for her bedroom. After moving it several times to get it placed just so, she insisted that Papa join her.

Juliette seems very excited about her big girl bed!

Juliette seems very excited about her big girl bed!

Juliette and Alex

Never work with children or animals, right? We finally hired a professional photographer to take a few family photos, and Dad took a chance to snap a few at the same time.

Juliette and Alex pose for the photographer

Juliette and Alex pose for the photographer

A visit from the cousins

Juliette and Alexandre got a visit from Aude’s cousin Agnes. We were lucky enough to have a beautiful day to enjoy with the family.

"Yes," says Juliette, "I'd like to try that chocolate.  And that one.  And that one.  And that one."

“Yes,” says Juliette, “I’d like to try that chocolate. And that one. And that one. And that one.”

Cousins!

Cousins!

Peas in a pod

Peas in a pod

Agnes and Roland enjoy the conversation

Agnes and Roland enjoy the conversation

An impromptu afternoon concert

An impromptu afternoon concert

Beautiful sunshine over Ferrette

Beautiful sunshine over Ferrette

So tired

The grandparents have arrived, and with it, lots of excitement for the kids. Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t get Juliette down for her nap yesterday. Eventually, the fatigue caught up with her.

Have you ever been so tired that you fell asleep right where you were standing?

Have you ever been so tired that you fell asleep right where you were standing?

Making cupcakes

It’s Juliette’s last day in daycare before we break up for the holidays, so we decided to bake some cupcakes to celebrate Juliette’s birthday a little early.

Juliette was a big help with the mixing. 🙂

Perhaps we should have explained that the cupcakes are tastier after they're baked?

Perhaps we should have explained that the cupcakes are tastier after they’re baked?

Christmas party

Yesterday was Juliette’s Christmas party at daycare, and she had a fantastic time. It was quite a scene: forty children, loaded to the gills with sugar, chocolate all over their faces, racing around with tons of energy. There were Christmas carols, cookies and cake, and even a visit from Santa.

And forty sets of parents, looking on from the sidelines, trying to absorb all of the chaos that was happening around them. 🙂

Still, the kids had a wonderful time, and that’s the important thing, right?

Who's this weirdo with a beard?

Who’s this weirdo with a beard?

Have yourself a crowd-sourced little Christmas….

Every family has its traditions, and ours is no exception. One of Dad’s favorite days every year is the annual decorating of the Christmas tree.

The tradition started when Dad was a young man, and it was mostly an excuse to have a group of friends over to have a few drinks before Christmas without having to provide any real entertainment. Dad provided the raw materials and a bottomless supply of mulled wine, and his friends did the rest. Back in the early days, we tried to do everything — set up the tree, untangle the lights, and put up the Christmas decorations. Our success was generally measured by how much we’d had to drink before we got started. Some years, depending on who was responsible for putting the lights away the year before, there was quite a lot of swearing as we untangled the mess, but it was always fun and it became something of a tradition.

As the years have gone by, the event has become more grown-up. Now, the tree is up and strung with lights before the guests arrive, so they only have to add the finishing touches. Ornaments are selected each year with a theme in mind, and laid out ahead-of-time. It’s almost painting-by-numbers.

Then came the kids. The kids adore helping decorate the tree. In fact, aside from a little help from adults (lest only the bottom half of the tree get decorated), we let the kids do most of the decorating. It’s a great, relaxed afternoon that helps everyone kick off the Christmas season. It’s early enough that we don’t compete with anyone else’s Christmas party. It’s a great chance to catch up with all of our friends on a Sunday afternoon. And most importantly, it’s our tradition — I haven’t ever been invited to another tree-trimming party.

Of course, our guests bring their own traditions, too. Many of them have brought ornaments to add to our collection, and over the years, these add richness to the tree. They remind us of Christmases past, of people who can’t be with us this year, and of the many places we’ve trimmed the tree in the company of friends.

It really is one of the highlights of Dad’s year, and he’s delighted that the children take as much pleasure in it each year as he does.

Merry Christmas.

Emile gets more handsome every time we see him!

Emile gets more handsome every time we see him!

"Seriously, Dad.  It's  Christmas and you bought me a frickin' orange?  Unimpressed.  UNIMPRESSED."

“Seriously, Dad. It’s Christmas and you bought me a frickin’ orange? Unimpressed. UNIMPRESSED.”

HELLO DAD!

HELLO DAD!

Multitasking.  Juliette shows off her new dress and gives directions at the same time.  Clever girl.

Multitasking. Juliette shows off her new dress and gives directions at the same time. Clever girl.

Nothing Juliette loves more than a good puzzle.

Nothing Juliette loves more than a good puzzle.

Tonight's drink offerings are Kinder Punch, Aptamil baby formula, and bottled water.  Times have changed.

Tonight’s drink offerings are Kinder Punch, Aptamil baby formula, and bottled water. Times have changed.

Juliette finds the perfect spot for her ornament, with a helping hand from Marjo

Juliette finds the perfect spot for her ornament, with a helping hand from Marjo

Pauline and Salwa pick something for the tree

Pauline and Salwa pick something for the tree

Nothing quite as nice as a double-toddler squeeze.

Nothing quite as nice as a double-toddler squeeze.

The finished product.  Proof that crowd-sourcing works.

The finished product. Proof that crowd-sourcing works.