On the advice of friends, Dad bought a set of Magnatiles for Juliette’s birthday. They are basically geometric shapes (squares and triangles) with magnets embedded in the edges. As an adult, my first thought was that this didn’t seem like a very interesting toy — but my friends, and countless Amazon reviews — assured me that these would get plenty of play time.
And so they should. They’re bloody expensive, and Dad would have complained if they didn’t get used. Because he’s *that* kind of Dad.
They turned out to be the hit of the presents this year, and so far they’ve been played with every day. At first, Juliette started to make simple two-dimensional shapes, flat on the floor. Then, she moved onto creating simple walls in three-dimensions. By the fourth day of playing with them, she was building three-dimensional castles with a little help from Dad, and by day five she was building the castles all on her own.
Alex is technically too young for the toys (that’s a nod to the Magnatiles lawyers), we let him play with a few under close supervision, and he loves them as well. While he isn’t quite building the sophisticated models that Juliette is, he is very much enjoying sticking the shapes together and taking them apart again.
So, fellow parents — my recommendation to you? Magnatiles. Worth every penny… They’ll buy you hours of peace-and-quiet on a rainy afternoon.
An architect at work
Another Christmas morning with the kids and grandparents. Last year we had so much snow that we were stuck in the house for four days; this year it was so warm that we were all in tee-shirts. The kids, as usual, made out like bandits — a puppet theatre and puppets for Juliette, a wooden train set for Alexandre, and plenty of other presents as well.
Juliette gets straight down to business
Mom lends a hand to Alex as he opens his presents
It’s always great to get gifts that are bigger than you!
This one’s fun to open!
A puppet theatre and puppets!
Alex and his lawn mower
“Some assembly required”
Sylvette looks pleased with her gift
Grandpa shows off his new book
Carrots and cookies have been left for Santa, and Juliette is upstairs in bed, listening for the jingling of bells and the tap, tap, tap of hooves on the roof…
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Carrots and cookies for Santa and his reindeer
Mom went all out on the birthday cake for Juliette, recreating her favorite, Pingu. Let’s hope Juliette likes it…
A recreation of Pingu — Juliette’s favorite!
Hanging out by the M&Ms
Pingu and his snowballs
Snigger, snigger. Un phoque. That never stops being funny.
Being three years old means that Juliette can graduate from her plastic cutlery to a grown-up set. Quite a moment in a girl’s life…
Tucking into the duck baeckeoffe that Grandma made
Another year has flown by, and it’s time for Juliette’s third birthday. This year, she gets to spend it with all of her grandparents.
“How old are you today, Juliette?”
After weeks of anticipation, Grandpa finally arrived for his Christmas visit. Juliette was very excited to see him and has been grinning like the Cheshire Cat since he arrived.
Grandpa brought with him unseasonably warm weather — shirt sleeves in December! A perfect excuse to head up to the pond to feed the ducks.
Juliette winds up for the pitch…
Juliette and Grandpa feeding the ducks
Grandpa and a very unwilling Alexandre!
Grandpa sits down and takes in the action
Crossing the foot bridge
We had a great time with friends decorating the tree…
Practicing with her stencils
Juliette looks *nothing* like her father in this picture. She almost certainly gets this face from her mother. 🙂
Maxime putting the finishing touches on the tree.
The heavy concentration of red baubles at the bottom might be a design choice. Or they might be down to Juliette’s insistence of decorating the tree without getting up from the floor!
Alex and Juliette are in charge!
Mom weighs in
So *that’s* how they get the decorations at the top
Having fun, Juliette?
Alex joins in
Just the spot…
The finished tree — a little bottom-heavy, but everyone had a good time!
It’s hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner, but at least Papa doesn’t have to face the shops the way his parents did. Thank heavens for Amazon. We’re on first-name terms with our postman, who seems to be arriving with packages every day now.
In France, the Christmas season starts off with the feast of Saint Nicolas. The whole town is closed and the streets are lined with stalls selling Christmas presents, cakes, chocolates and vin chaud. Last year the weather was terrible, but this year we had beautiful conditions for the day. In the evening, when it gets dark, the children are given lanterns (yes, paper lanterns with real candles burning inside, on the end of a pointy stick — as if to really provoke the ire of every health-and-safety minded person ever born). Saint Nicolas emerges from the village hall, complete with his entourage of followers in medieval dress and the odd goat.
It’s a great way to spend the afternoon, catch up with neighbors, and kick of the holiday season.
Tomorrow we’ll put up the tree and have friends around to help us decorate it.
Juliette with her lantern, for the feast of Saint-Nicolas