Anais left on Monday for a ski trip with her school. A week before, she started having butterflies in her stomach. I think I had elephants stomping in mine. Contrary to what you may suspect though, I didn't rent a room at the nearest resort to them, equipped with binoculars and an extra large pair of sunglasses and scarves a la Jackie.
There are two classes, with a total of about 45 children. The teachers organised this trip totally on their own initiative and time, and although some kind of financial aid could be solicited, it was a self-subsidised paying trip. Fund-raising events were organised to assist families who could not afford the full amount. The entire school was involved in the exchange and lending of ski materials to those who were not equipped enough, from boots to gloves to hats etc.
Every night we get a short update on their day's activities and photos on a blog. They are learning about snowflakes and how to build igloos, but are not ignoring maths classes either! Tonight they have a boum. Literally, it means a bang. But a boum is a word for party, usually for the younger teens.
As I look at the photos on their blog (ok, for perhaps the 8th time now...) I realise that I hadn't posted pictures of that weekend in January we had so much snow in Paris and its surroundings. Record snow disrupted travel, even closed down the Eiffel Tower. Paris had not had this kind of snowfall since 1987. I think it was deliberately organised to celebrate our first winter in Paris.
It had started to snow just before six in the evening and I captured these dusk photos from our bedroom window. The girls were not yet back from school. In fact, you can see their school in this photo below ; notice the building on the extreme left background with interior lights on.
After a couple of hours, the roof tops were starting to be covered in white powder.
The morning after, breakfast on the terrace was not an option.
JB and the girls decided to go ice skating but the rink was closed because it was completely covered in snow! The employees of the city hall at the rink are usually showing off their skating skills while supervising the public but this morning their muscles were being tested.
Plan B fell into place. Armed with a camera and carrots (huh?) we headed to the park.
Here are what the carrots are for. Our first snowman in Paris...looks a bit like a snowpenguin! Excuse us, we are novices at snowman-making but you can challenge us any day to making sandcastles.
Did I tell you that for Christmas, JB gave me a subscription for Vélib'. Vélib' is a bicycle sharing system. The word originates from vélo (bicycle) and liberté (freedom).There is a rental station about every 300 meters. I don't want to seem ungrateful, but do you think I would be cycling in this weather, freedom or no freedom? No one else seems to be cycling either this morning, judging from the bicycles parked at this terminal.
The green carts along the quay in the photo on the left aren't rubbish bins if you're asking. They are green locked up boxes of bouquinistes, who sell books, magazines and posters along the Seine, and are an iconic legacy from the 16th century.
On this same weekend, we were invited to our friends' home in Fontainebleau, about 70 kms out of Paris. The Lincolns were our neighbours in KL at one point, and they have become good friends.
We undertook a daring expedition to the local boulangerie in the village for bread, bravely defying the forces of nature and its stormy perils.
No prize for guessing if we paused to sit down and chat.
Here I am warning the children of strange animals and people you may encounter in the woods...Sometimes they may be people you know.
Olivia, who herself was a little girl when we met her, now babysits the girls from time to time. She is a national sprinter and so very adored in this household.
The kids have it right: when you get tired walking, devise some games which always involve adults carrying you.
Happy to be back, sitting in front of the fire. A cosy, quiet game of chess while waiting for the mulled wine. Thank you, Lincoln family for this fantastic weekend. Dommage (translation: 'a shame') we were not snowed in for the whole week!
Off to the market now. Mmm, what to cook for dinner tomorrow when Anais comes home? One more sleep and she is home. No, I'm not counting the days...really.
Anais turned 9 recently, hard as it is for us to believe.
We went to Brussels for the weekend for her birthday to watch the musical production of The Wizard of Oz (a bit bizarre that Dorothy speaks French in Kansas, but never mind) in which her music teacher was performing.
We did what any self-respecting tourist would in the home of TinTin: we ate waffles with hot chocolate and french fries with beer and we went to the Belgian Comic Strip Center.
We found shelter from the cold in this sweets shop and were treated to a live demo of artisanal sweet-making. Needless to say, we didn't leave empty handed, despite my best efforts.
Anais and her friends got invited backstage . What makes a nine year old's birthday dream come true? A scarecrow, a tin man, a lion, fairies, a girl called Dorothy and her dog Toto, all wishing you a happy birthday.
It started to snow while we were in the theatre so all the way back to the hotel a snowfight ensued. With frozen fingers and rosy cheeks, Anais makes a wish over her favourite butter cake (which had travelled with us from Paris), a yummy ending to her perfectly perfect birthday.
This mother forgot the candles for the cake, but life is about improvising although I admit, it ain't so easy blowing out light bulbs. But hey, I figured its never too early to teach your child that life isn't always easy.
Happy birthday big sister!
Some snow left over from the night before called for another battle.
Thinking about this fabulous weekend has given me a craving for a hot toasty waffle as the temperature continues to drop. Might sneak off and go look for one. We are expecting a cold snowy weekend. We will be thinking of our Malaysian friends eating kuih kapit.Gong Xi Fa Cai, wishing you all happiness, health and fortune in abundance!