vendredi, décembre 23, 2016

A letter from Father Christmas

The boys each received a letter from Father Christmas yesterday. Yipee!
A1 read out the letter to A2. Father Christmas mentioned that he got their letters from his elves while he was cutting wood in the forest. ....
The two letters were identical. At the end of the letter, Father Christmas invited them to color the coloring papers he sent and to upload them on LaPoste website with the help of an adult.

Not very authentic but well, still a nice gesture from LaPoste.
The boys spent their time after lunch coloring the image sent by Father Christmas. They intended to hang them on the Christmas tree for Father Christmas.

samedi, décembre 17, 2016

Almond milk and cookies

We have been making our own almond milk. Seb ordered a milk bag from Amazon and with the Thermomix, it was a piece of cake to make the milk.
We soaked 100 grams of almond nuts over night.
The next day, we poured away the water, put the almond nuts in the thermomix with 1 liter of water.
The nuts were blended at high speed so any powerful blender will do.

After that, we filtered the milk out with the milk bag.
The fresh almond milk can be kept for a few days in the fridge. For the residue, known as okara, I used it to make vegan cookies. 
The 12 cookies I made would be finished before the milk was consumed. They were really good. If you are interested, I can send you the URL of the recipe. 
We no longer buy almond milk in a carton. Making our own almond milk is much cheaper and healthier as it is so fresh. And the cookies, lucky friends (cos there was never enough to share) who tried them could not tell they were vagan.

Now, doesn't this post tempt you to try this out yourself? ;)

vendredi, décembre 16, 2016

Christmas windows

Last Sunday after church, we went to admire the window display put up by the Grand Magasins, Galleries Lafayette and Printemps. Galleries' was on a white theme. The boys did not take long to view from one end to the other end. 

We then went into Galleries to look at the center display. The decoration above the bags section were grand. I liked it.

Under the big white Christmas tree was the Chanel stand. Other than Chanel No 5, there were other Chanel number perfume and the whole area smelled so good. There were many people so we did not stay long.
We continued towards Printemps and the boys stayed longer in front of each window. Though it was all about mode with Jimmy Choo cited everywhere, it was still fun for the kids to watch the moving puppets.

We stopped by FNAC to get some Christmas gifts and Seb got the boys a few books.

After that, we went to meet up the boys' nanny, Ah Yi. We catch up once a while. She made the boys apple and pear compote and bought them their favourite snacks, dried prunes and nuts. Too bad the boys could not communicate with her in Chinese. They spoke to her in French. A1 even tried to speak to her in English. Just made me laugh. I explained to him Ah Yi was from China and did not understand english.

That summed up our Sunday in Paris. There were many security guards checking bags at the entrance of every store. The thought that we might be attacked surfaced in my mind but I pushed it aside. We do have to live our lives as normal as possible despite the random violence.

mercredi, décembre 14, 2016

Caught in the act

I never expect to see Bao Bei on the dining table drinking A1's leftover chocolate milk. At 12 years old, is she going senile?

Bao Bei only drinks water and eat her cat biscuits. We had offered her milk, cheese, ham and fish but she never eat them. Unlike my friends' cats, she does not go to the kitchen top to lick nor eat food.
I wonder what was on her mind this day.

mardi, décembre 13, 2016

Less of that Christmas magic

A1 and I went to choose the Christmas tree on Saturday when A2 was having his tennis lesson. We chose the tallest tree in the 150-175cm range for 29€. The two boys decorated the tree and I only helped to put the star at the top. They were really happy that Christmas is coming.
2 weeks ago, they each wrote a letter to Father Christmas. But alas, a 8 year old boy told A1 and his friend that the parents are the Father Christmas. A1 had his doubts but his friend and him were assured that Father Christmas exists because both of them had sent their letter to the same address.

Père Noël
1 Rue du Ciel étoilé
Pôle Nord

Note: La Poste (French postal service) takes care of letters addressed to Father Christmas. No stamp needed. We even get a reply from Father Christmas if our letters are sent out in time.

Yesterday, the canteen lady told us that during lunch, A1 had told a table of younger children that Father Christmas did not exist. I found a moment to be alone with him this evening and talked to him. He told me he believed a little that Father Christmas exists. I confirmed his doubt and he was surprised that we were the ones buying the presents. He asked if we went out on 24 Dec night to buy the presents. LOL. I told him that the presents were bought in advance and hidden in the garage.

I explained that a real Father Christmas existed a long time ago. Now, it is tradition for adults to fulfil Father Christmas' job in bringing joy to children. He is a big boy now to know this secret. I told him everyone in the family contributed to his presents. He took everything well. But he mentioned that it was no good to lie to children. That made me smile again. He had promised not to let the cat out of the bag for the younger children including his brother.

Then he went to get the money given by the Tooth Fairy. He wanted to pay me for the presents we bought them over the years. LOL again.

Gee. I am not sure how much he believes in the Tooth Fairy. But that is for another discussion. Christmas is just that little less magical. A2 is not stupid and he hangs out with A1's friends often. I wonder if he has doubts too.

mardi, décembre 06, 2016

Bateau Parisienne

I am always writing old news. Being busy with family and work, I do not have much time to update this blog.

So, the boys got invited for a birthday party in Paris in October. Denise's boy, J invited his classmates and my boys for his 7th birthday. We were invited for a ride along the river Seine followed by a birthday tea party. While waiting to board the boat, I made balloon swords for the boys. They had fun running around on a sunny late summer day.

The boat ride, Enchanted Cruise, was catered to children. There were two elves singing and explaining the major landmarks along the Seine. They were highly entertaining. They even produced a music CD which could be bought at the end of the cruise.

After the cruise, we ate cake and J opened his many presents. Everyone was happy especially the lucky birthday boy.

lundi, décembre 05, 2016

Upcycle jean = Sling bag

I made a jeans sling bag from my old jeans. This is an easy to do bag. I used A1's old karate belt as the handle.

A1 carried it to school today as his swimming bag. He told me his teacher liked it and would like to have one too. I took that as a compliment. But first, I promised A2 to make a similar one though I only had an old jeans.

 The boys had several jeans that were torn at the knees which I hoped to upcycle. However, 5 and 6 years old size jeans are small. Doubt the upcycle kid's jean bag can contain much stuff. I shall try and see how it goes.

samedi, novembre 12, 2016

Zoo de Beauval

Here are some photos of the visit to the Zoo de Beauval. It is the only zoo in France to have two pandas (borrowed) from China.

The four boys enjoyed themselves a lot. We arrived at 10am and left at 5pm. The zoo was big and we managed to visit 80% of the park. We caught two shows, the bird show which was spectacular and the seals performance.

In the afternoon, it rained and we took shelter in the gorillas greenhouse and the aquarium. There were many interesting animals. The kids were very happy with this trip. This zoo is about 3 hours drive from Paris. The zoo has two hotels and for far away visitors, it is worth considering staying there and visiting the zoo in 2 days.

vendredi, novembre 11, 2016

Kapla joy

Boys still love playing with kapla, especially A1. He had the patience to make this tall tower. It was taller than me.

On another occasion, he made a castle wall at the entrance of his bedroom door. He managed to walk over it without any problem even in the dark.
As usual all these constructions last less than a week when the floor has to be cleared for the cleaning lady on monday. If I have to vacuum the rooms, I would try my best to avoid them. Not easy at all.

jeudi, novembre 10, 2016

All Saints' holiday at Brittany

I had not visited Brittany since a while. The boys spent 10days over there with their grandparents during summer after their trip to Singapore.

So for the all saints' day long weekend, we packed everyone including pets in the car and headed for the summer house. We reached on a friday night and left on wed afternoon. The Saturday morning market at Saint Renan is a must for me so I insisted that we reached there on a friday. I bought strawberries (the last of the season), artichokes and 2 big crabs at the market. The boys love seafood.

I was expecting cold windy weather as we were in autumn now. However, we had sunny and warm days over there. It was 17 degrees in the afternoon and we were in t-shirts. The winter coats I brought along were not necessary except for the day we left.

We spent everyday walking the dog, going to the beaches and playing tennis. We went to the swimming pool  and played bowling once. The boys built sand castles on the mostly deserted beach.

It was a relaxing short getaway. Handsome enjoyed the sandy beach.

School holiday ended on wed. The next day when the boys were preparing to go to school, A2 mentioned that he was a lucky boy. He had spent an overnight trip with his friends when we visited the castle and the zoo in the beginning of the school holiday. After that, he spent several days at his grandparents' before we went to pick up the boys on friday afternoon and headed for Brittany. He said he had forgotten how his room looked like.

The next school holiday will be during the christmas period. We are staying put for the festive season.

jeudi, octobre 27, 2016

Looking for the king in Chambord

School holiday is here. With the boys' friends and their mother, we took a road trip to visit Château de Chambord and Zoo de Beauval over the weekend.

I get along well with Nina and my boys get along very well with her two boys. As Nina has a small summer house nearby Zoo de Beauval, she invited us to stay over and visit the zoo on sunday.

On Sat, the six of us got into the Touran and headed for Chambord. We had a picnic along the way at a play ground like what we did as a family two years ago. Our guided tour was booked for 2.45pm. The target audience was aimed at children and what a delightful time the kids had. The tour guide was the nanny of King Louis XIV's children. She explained to the group that the children were sick and she had to look for the king. As she brought us around in search of the king, she explained the facts and function of the castle and the lifestyle of the royalties back then.

At the king's chamber, the nanny taught us how to do a bow or curtsey if we were to meet the king. The children and the adults took turns to practise. It was funny watching the boys took it seriously.
A2 volunteered to check if the king was in his changing room and managed to enter the prohibited area. The boys were saying he was lucky.
When the nanny left at the end of the tour, we walked around the castle grounds before heading to the summer house. Nina's youngest boy was 4 and he was looking out for the king. We were told he might be out hunting since he was nowhere to be found in the castle. The older boys however understood it was just a story.

We were fortunate to have a clear day. It was cold but dry. When we arrived at Saint-Aignan, we quickly started a fire in the fireplace to warm up the house. The three older boys were excited to be able to sleep together on a sofa bed for the night. Though they had a long day, they were still chatting away when lights were out. 

The guided visit was really well done for little children. The nanny was perfect in her role. However, it is only available in French. For french families, this is something worth doing.

samedi, octobre 08, 2016

A2 is 6

I can't believe my baby has turned 6. A2 celebrated his birthday with his friends last Saturday. He invited 6 boys and they had fun.
The theme was basketball. I printed out basketball invitation cards, made a simple butter cake and 2 basketball pinatas stuffed with sweets to be thrown into the basketball loop.
The boys spent their time in the garden playing with balls. They also spent time upstairs playing dressed up and fighting as super heros. It was free and easy as they were not interested in the games Seb and I proposed.
Still at the end of the party, Seb and I were exhausted. The boys were very rowdy. We think this might be the last birthday party at home. We are considering indoor playground for next time.
As for the birthday boy, he was happy to spend time with his classmates. He received toys and games and a book. He told me frankly that he did not like to receive book as a birthday present. That is just so A2.

mercredi, septembre 14, 2016

Espace Rambouillet

We went Espace Rambouillet on sunday. I went with the boys' school in June but A2 was sick on that day and Seb took care of him.  So he missed out the fun. I promised him that we will go visit it as a family.

Espace Rambouillet is a big forest park, home to many deers and wild boars. We walked in the forest to try to find the wild animals.After walking for half an hour, we came upon a herd of deers. We looked through our pair of binoculars to have a close up of the animals. A1 tried to walk closer to the animals silently.
In the group, there were male, female and baby deers. It was a beautiful sight. They were calm and moving slowly following the male leader. At the end were a few male deers making sure everyone were following.
We walked for another hour in the forest and came upon a group of wild boars. We kept a distance and observed them through the binoculars. A2 was afraid to go too near while A1 was trying his best to walk slowly and quietly to get a closer view.

At 3.30pm, we watched the birds of the prey show. The owls were the first to show up and they were perching near the spectators. They were pretty.

There were other birds like eagles, hawks and even vultures. They flew around and flew so low that one vulture's wing hit my head. Their wings were big and when they flew past, the sound of the wind was impressive.

The show was very entertaining and the highlight of the day. After the bird show, we went to the tree top walk at Odyssee Vert. The boys had fun walking along the bridge from tree to tree.

With that, we concluded our day at the park. There was a playground and picnic area at the entrance of the park. We enjoyed our day.
4 years ago when we visited this place, we did not get to see as many animals. The boys were young then and could not walk too long. 

Mushroom villages

The boys were on their bicycles and I was on foot with Handsome running around in the forest. The boys wanted to go further than our usual route. I agreed and we reached to this sandy area at the end of the forest. It was a long walk for me. A usual 30 to 45mins walk got prolonged to an hour and a half.
We spotted clusters of mushrooms. There were mushrooms villages popping up here and there.
Pretty little things.
Despite being mid September, the weather is still hot. We are enjoying this late summer with dinners on the terrace. Enjoying while it lasts.