August 26, 2015
We headed out of the city to beautiful country – just north of the city, along the Hudson River. We found a farm to stay at and the girls snorted like pigs and ran around in grass that outstretched their legs. At night the lullaby was crickets and owls – a new chorus for city girls. Roasted marshmallows and s’mores – a first for little Parisian Marguerite. Hiking/cresting to see blue mountains in the distance and a spinach woodland below. We read about trees – and tried to match the pictures of leaves to the animate versions all around. We reflected on being separated from all of this – living in such a built-up space, where a small patch of green can pose as nature – about how shocking it can be for senses filled with the city to suddenly absorb stillness and the denseness of green.
At some point, the farmer went into the barn and resurfaced with 3 kittens in his arms. Romy reached out and circled her little hand around one of the kitten’s necks and almost choked it with excitement.
And then we stopped at Storm King Art Center - an open air museum - a revelation. It had always been on my list, but I'd never taken the time to do it. Now we are obsessed. The girls roamed without restraint - art far and wide. Fields and hills and woodlands and 500-acres with a hundred or more sculptures. I want to go back with a proper camera and fall leaves...
August 14, 2015
Entertainment galore – Colette at 3.5 years old.
Colette using powers at the park. Making a fist and then spreading her fingers out dramatically right in kids’ faces “Pewyoh!”
Uncle Stephen asked what kind of power she was using: “Stink power. Stinky all over.”
On a similar theme:
Marguerite: “She spit on me!”
Colette: “I was trying to make magic!"
Before going on a long car ride, I suggest a visit to the bathroom
Very angry expression/shouts back: “I already went pee-pee tomorrow!”
Me: “You’re my girl, Colette”
Colette: “ And you’re my grownup” (with a sort of condescending gaze, reassuring me)
Colette: “He’s got a teeny hat on his head”
(Pointing to a little boy with a kippah)
Colette to Xavier: “Papa, you are français, [pause] a lot.”
Xavier and Colette kicking a ball back and forth across the room.
Colette (motivating tone): “Good, papa! You are doing very well.”
After bath. Trying to negotiate hair combing.
Me: “It will be hard to comb your hair out tomorrow if we don’t comb it out now”
Colette: “Oh. Like a playmobil guy? Hair so hard like a helmet and it will turn black?”
Randomly: “I know that in my brain”
Me: “How did you sleep last night Colette?”
Colette: “Good. I didn’t got a reve.”
And when she does not appreciate what we are saying, "No comprendo" (with a good shoulder shrug)
August 7, 2015
One of my favorite rituals every day is reading stories before bed. It is a hush – stillness – for little bodies who never otherwise linger or fixate, except in sleep.
I admire my older sister who has, at any given time, dozens of library books – and every one of them gets read by the end of a week's time. I recently went to visit her after the birth of her fourth baby. She uses stories as a way to connect with her kids – when there is a meltdown, she turns to books. She sees being absorbed together in a story as one of the best ways to redirect and reconnect. Having just given birth, she asked me to take a load of books and her two older girls to the library to refresh. So we hefted the library book bags – literally full of more than 50 books and went to restock the supply with 50 more. I loved it.
Children who are focusing on a book make such a great faces.
August 2, 2015
Venturing from Baugé, there are multiple châteaux within hollering distance...so we sprinkle a few castles into the mix of our visits. Saumur, a grand château, not far from Baugé was recently renovated and was gleaming. The setting is really special - overlooking the Loire and the Thouet rivers. A perfect spot to play un, deux, trois, soleil - a French rendition of red light, green light. Vincent (grand-père - or 'grand-pierre,' as Colette likes to call him) is really the very best at it and the all the grandkids love his theatrics when he gets going.
Marguerite and Colette were lucky enough to be chosen (from the audience) to play parts in the local medieval theater production. They clapped and danced along with the guy in his chain link suit. At some point the narrative called for that guy to bow and kiss Colette's little hand. She has been going around, kissing people's hands dramatically since - to great effect.