these last few days have been the most difficult in a while. Elena has the beginnings of (potentially, probably) bronchitis and the doctor has sent us to ‘kinésithérapie’ sessions, where the physio basically squishes the coughs out of her, bringing up lots of the bad stuff, so that ideally she does not need antibiotics in order to get better.

It’s horrible. Elena screams and cries, and we have to go every day. Today, for the fifth session, I will also have Louis in tow… but hopefully I can leave him strapped into the pushchair with some toys and books, because I really don’t want him in the room with they physio and Elena (I did, he was fine). And I don’t want to leave Elena on her own – the treatment is traumatic enough.

We’ve been staying home in the warm as much as possible, but managed a couple of outings, and some rather simple christmassy things at home…

Day 7: christmas market

Antony, our ‘ville’, has a lovely little ‘marché du noël’ each year. It starts friday evening and with all the lights in the square this seemed a good time to go, even if it was a bit cold. We took turns staying home with Elena, since our house is only a hundred meters or so from the square. Louis raided the macaron tasting platter and admired the wooden snake toys. I bought a bunch of christmas presents and some delicious clementines, one of which Louis is enjoying while I write this.

8: la poste a letter to santa

I stole this idea from Fern but as we can’t take advantage of lovely New Zealand Post, and their not so lovely uniform letter-from-santa replies, I googled the french equivalent. ‘La Poste’ have a letter to santa thing on their website, which I can’t tell you much about because Luuk went through it with Louis while I was at writers’ group.

But they did print out a paper doll santa – with two outfits: one of the Louis 16th persuasion (ie. fleurs-de-lis on his jacket) and another of the “cro-magnon” persuasion (ie. fred flinstone-ish).

9: hanukkah!

Not strictly Christmas, but this works for me! I’d never been to a hanukkah party before, but I had tried latkes, so I knew there was plenty to look forward to. The latkes were delicious – even Louis ate some. The kids played, Elena had a little sleep and didn’t cough too much, we managed brief conversations in broken french with the frenchies present, and then got tired/lazy and just spoke to our english-speaking friends, and the kids, who are disarmingly bi-lingual.

The second night of hanukkah, therefore the central lighting candle and two others. These are left till they burn out. And then we turn the lights back on and have dessert!

Luuk, Elena, and Jerome in motion (as usual).

Luuk, Elena, Louis, Eric (Jerome’s little bro) and their Dad. Ah, parties with children…

Louis discovered a rocking horse – he’s been wanting a horse since we tried to explain sinterklaas coming on one… I suspect the wee man is a little confused, but surely he’s used to being confused by now; a virtually perpetual state for toddlers, I imagine.

He won’t be getting a rocking horse unless Santa pulls out a serious christmas miracle (and a bigger apartment to put it in) but he might have a toy horse in his present from Gran and Grandpa, a little birdie (who sounds remarkably like my mum) told me.

Despite the bronchitis-y-thing Elena pulled out the charm and enjoyed a bit of ‘coo coo’, which is the most common french response to a cute baby.
And that’s what Jerome looks like when he’s standing still.

10: life as a farce, or mission impossible

I didn’t even think about the christmas challenge until after 8.30 last night and that thought followed another that went something along the lines of, ‘did I put my pjs in the wash or under my pillow?’ I was so stuffed, I was trying to figure out the shortest walking distance to bed, taking in all the little stops I needed to make en route. Unfortunately, Louis was still awake and I needed to feed Elena again, so it was nearly an hour later that my head hit the pillow, and I didn’t do a single christmas-related thing at all.

I did have two french lessons, a sick husband, a baby-torture-session of ‘kinésithérapie’, made soup, bought groceries and christmas presents – no, that doesn’t count. Louis had fun running around the supermarket, once we let him out of the trolley. Though I did find myself apologising to a lot of slightly alarmed-looking strangers. We picked out treats for his teachers, and our teachers (french tutors), and stocked up on coffee (after having to serve decaf at our french lesson!)

After we got home from shopping, Louis played with his new penguin, Madagascar merchandise in actual fact, but free if you spend a lot of money at Cora.

Yesterday was such a bust I didn’t even write. Not a thing except vaguely grumpy text messages to Luuk arranging where to pick up Elena and I after kinésithérapie, before shopping. That’s all. It was a farce. A gong show.

Mais, c’est finit.

11: Today we’ll play catch up.

Other than taking Elena down to the physio we are at home, keeping snug, so lots of time to…

– rock around the christmas tree (ie. dance and sing along to some christmas tunes)

– wrap presents

– write the christmas cards (this one I’ll be doing while the babies nap, probably)

– raid Fern’s blog for other ideas… christmas cookies, peut-être? Louis does like baking, but then we have all the macarons left over from the christmas market so maybe we’ll save baking for next week.