Christmas 2018

Christmas 2018 has come and gone, and lots of good memories with it. The kids have had their first hit of something addictive — a tablet of their own. We had a fantastic Christmas dinner, although Papa went a little overboard with 3 geese for 4 adults. One year, he’ll learn.

Together with the grandparents

Entranced by the tablet

How does this work?

Content with her tablet.


That’s a pretty big Playmobil.

More Legos

Excitement 101.

Another child captured by a tablet

Christmas pose 2018. “Put your fingers down, Alexandre.” “Non, Papa.

3 geese for 4 adults was probably a little optimistic…

Tiny potato Christmas-tree forest

“A merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!”

Juliette’s sixth birthday

The years are beginning to pass more quickly than Papa would prefer. It seems like we were just celebrating Juliette’s fifth birthday, and like that, it’s time to celebrate her sixth. She has grown up so much in the last year it’s hard to believe it’s the same little girl. She’s reading and writing, becoming more independent with a mind of her own.

She’s a little jealous that she hasn’t started losing her teeth yet (although it makes for nicer photos, Papa must admit), but I guarantee that by the time her seventh birthday rolls around she’ll be missing a few teeth and eating a lot of soup.

A very smiley, very happy birthday girl
Mom spared no expense on the candles this year. Everyone survived with eyebrows intact.
Having a good time!
Juliette’s checking out her cake.
Time to get started on the presents.
There are quite a few presents!
There are even a couple of presents for Alexandre.
Reading time.
Fairy princess.

Juliette’s 6th birthday party

Against their better judgement, Maman and Papa went along with Juliette’s idea to invite over a dozen of her friends to celebrate her sixth birthday. Papa had been lulled into a false sense of security with the relatively well-behaved group of kids that came for Alexandre’s birthday a few months earlier, and naively forgot to consider that Juliette’s birthday is in December, so we are stuck inside the house. He also failed to appreciate just quite how loud a dozen 6-year old girls can be. There’s no other noise quite like the screams of young girls full of excitement and high on sugar.

After a treasure hunt, pinata and plenty of cake, Papa decided to resort to the only trick he knew to get the girls calmed down — a Disney film in the cinema downstairs. It worked like magic.

This year’s theme was all about Rapunzel

“There are going to how many girls coming over?” asked a disappointed Alexandre.

“Oh, there’s going to be another boy as well? Game on!”

Time for the treasure hunt…

And the treasure? It’s a pinata filled with candy.

The party’s in full swing. Time for some cake!

Rapunzel cake, of course.

Blowing out the candles.

“Happy birthday to you!” in three languages.


The three musketeers.

Time to cut the cake.

Looking like a happy bunch with a little sugar in their system!

When all else fails, a Disney film in the cinema works its magic

Saint Nicolas 2018

The feast of Saint Nicolas is pretty important here in France, and marks the main kick-off for the Christmas season. Each year, our village hosts activities for the children, including a coloring competition, a play, dancing, crepes and hot chocolate — capped off by the lighting of lanterns and the arrival of Saint Nicolas. The entire entourage of childrn and parents follow Saint Nicolas (and his donkey and Père Fouettard, on the lookout for any misbehaved children) from the top of the village to the town square at the bottom, where he hands out candy to all of the children.

We participate every year. This year had some of the best turnout in ages.

Juliette joins in the medieval dancing

Getting creative with his Saint Nicolas drawing

A little help from Maman

Getting serious now

Checking out what the competition is up to

Big boy bed

Time for Alexandre to graduate to a big-boy bed, quite an impressive one with a play area beneath (also good for sleep-overs) and jungle animal sheets. Not bad for a four-year old.

Alexandre is pretty impressed with his new bed

Our visit to Paris – Day 5

After five days, it was time for our visit to come to an end. Papa finally relented and we settled on a French bistro for lunch before our afternoon train back to Basel. It was a great visit, and by the end of their stay, the kids had really started to get used to the rhythm of the city: the Metro and busses, navigating the crowds, and taking in everything there was to see.

Still, it was good to be home.

A little French lunch to send us on our way

After almost a week in Paris, the kids were pros on the Metro.

Heading home

Home at last, to a nice omelette.

Our visit to Paris – Day 4

After a very late night due to the noise of all of the Halloween revelers partying late into the early hours of the morning, we had a leisurely breakfast of croissants and headed out to see a couple more of the big sites, exploring the area along the Left Bank not far from where Maman and Papa used to live. This is a part of Paris that we know well and have many memories.

We jumped on the bus, a rare opportunity to escape the Metro and see life at street level, and headed down to Notre Dame, where we snapped a few of the mandatory tourist pictures for our album. The kids weren’t much interested in the cathedral (beyond recognizing it from several of their films), but they were impressed by the many pigeons. We wandered from Notre Dame to the Left Bank and ended up having lunch at Godjo, an old haunt from when we lived in Paris. We sat at traditional low tables in the basement, and the kids were really excited at the prospect of being able to eat with their hands.

From there, we battled rainy weather to make our way to the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle to see some of the exhibits and stay dry.

From there, it was back towards our apartment, where we decided to celebrate our final night by having another Indian at Dishny, where we had eaten on the first night we arrived. It was pretty amazing to watch our Indian waiter single-handedly manage a full 30-seat restaurant through two seatings flawlessly. Took our order by memory, served three other tables before putting in the order, got every detail right. Still had time to smile at the kids. That guy earned his tip.

Mandatory Parisian tourist snap

Juliette in front of Notre Dame

Exploring the streets near our old neighborhood in Paris

The culinary adventure continues with Ethiopian food. Rave reviews because the kids could eat with their hands!

Measuring up with the giraffes at the Muséum d’Histoire naturelle

Don’t let Alexandre’s face fool you. The kids loved our Indian dinner, and devoured their tandoori prawns in seconds.

Our visit to Paris – Day 3

Day three started out dry and sunny, if not particularly warm. On the schedule for today was a canal cruise through Paris, finally ending up at the Cite des Sciences et de L’lndustrie where we had some lunch and then visited the museum. The kids had a wonderful time, their only complaint being that the visit was too short. Tickets were strictly limited to 90 minutes, then we were unceremoniously herded out.

Dinner was at a tiny but fantastic Korean restaurant called Sobane, where the food really punched above its weight. We had a delicious meal and the kids absolutely loved the food, not only cleaning off their plates, but helping themselves to much of what was on Maman and Papa’s plates as well.

It was Halloween night, and the big excitement happened as we were leaving the restaurant the restaurant. Juliette spotted someone driving down the street in a mask, and she smiled and waved at him. He waved back… and ran right into the car in front of him. A man in a suit jumped out of the car in front, and proceeded to yell at the guy who had just run into him (still wearing his mask) while we did our best not to look like “contributing factors.” In the end, no damage was done and everyone drove off — but we had witnessed a real ‘Paris moment’ and had a good story for later!

When we got home, I asked Alexandre whether he liked Paris. His response: “J’aime Paris, mais je veux retourner à Ferrette.” (“I like Paris, but I want to go home to Ferrette.”)

Getting ready for our canal cruise

Maman and Juliette have gone full-on hipster, drinking out of mason jars

Discovering careers, and perhaps saving Papa a fortune in university tuition along the way

Alexandre takes charge of the blocks

There was a fantastic computer program where the kids could design artwork and it was then projected on the big screen. This was Juliette’s creation.

Korean food for dinner. The kids ate so much that Maman and Papa left hungry.