June 29th to July 12th: Holidays in Eden

Monday June 29th

Ambroise is 4 weeks old, and everybody is waiting for his first smile, supposed to arrive around week 5/6.

To be more precise, everybody is waiting for Ambroise�s first smile, and be the person he probably likes the most!

So everybody spends as much time as possible with Ambroise, hoping to be the lucky one...

The pediatrician for instance, takes excuse of the month checkup to look at him again and again. At 9lbs 9oz (2 lbs gain in a month! ***) and 22 � inches, Ambroise is in prefect health.

We also requested his advice in the debate on how to lengthen the cycles (G�s �top up� vs. E�s �strict schedule�). �Whatever you do, you are doing fine� he says, refusing to take side. How mean of him.

Madeline and Barbara say they have seen the smile this morning.

Mom and Dad agree on disagreeing. It cannot be true - the witnesses are simply untrustworthy and unreliable.

*** Sorry, I couldn�t resist:

Elizabeth gave Ambroise since his birth roughly 36 days x 12 feeds x 3.5 fl. oz = 1,512 fl. oz = 114 lbs of milk. With 2 lbs gain, milk has a weight gain efficiency of 1.8%.

I�d say it�s a pretty efficient fuel, considering the water content...

Tuesday June 30th

Aunt Barbara has extended her stay by two days.

This is really cool, because she is doing a really great job on the vegetable garden. Look how the weeds have magically disappeared!

How could we survive without her?

And how will we go along with Ambroise, now she has taught him that he can be rocked, craddled, dandled, soothed, lulled and softened as much as he wants?

Thank you so much Barb! Really cool.

Wednesday, July 1st

Mom has organized book clubs for the twins, and the whole family is reading with attention the work, Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.

Every day the family reads its 3 chapters, and discusses at dinner the important topics and issues they contained.

Ambroise wants to have his book club meeting also, but he keeps on falling asleep at page 3.

The twins seem to have a lives of their own. Yesterday, Theo spent the day at the beach, invited by the Wiggington�s. Today, Madeline and Theo are spending the Afternoon at the pool, thanks to Margo�s invitation and care.

When that happens, their parents are so surprised at how their house has turned quiet, and how much time they somehow find themselves with to take care of Ambroise!

This outside help doesn�t mean that Mom has lost her organization skills and incredible sense of initiative.

She managed to take the twins to the Monmouth Museum in the morning, and Barb shopping in Red Bank in the afternoon.

That was a whole hour to relax a bit!

Ambroise is ticklish at the feet!

Thursday, July 2nd

Today is Mamie�s 80th birthday!!!! 80 years is a long ride, and there are quite enough children and grandchildren to prove it. Ambroise can�t join their gathering in Lille to celebrate it, but he is sending all his love.

He is also sending dedicated pictures and videos of himself, so that Mamie can find new ways to discover and appreciate him.

Theo has been very saddened when Ambroise started to cry as soon as he was deposited into his arms. So he is doubling up the efforts to take care of his little brother.

Meanwhile, Madeline is spending the day at her friend Melissa Rowland

Friday, July 3rd

But the very sad day had to happen eventually, and Barbara is flying back to California.

We have tremendously appreciated her presence and support during this week of help, and we are very sad to see her leave.

We expected her to stay a month, like she did with the twins, but it seems she doesn�t love Ambroise as much as them...

Ambroise was nevertheless a very polite host and didn�t vent any bad feeling at her for this.

But he cried so so much after Barbara�s departure - he was truly in tears with her absence.

Unless that was his bellyache, of course.

Before her departure, Ambroise knighted Aunt Barbara in the Order of the White Diaper, his equivalent to the British most noble Order of the Garter.

How am I with a barrette?

The twins had made remarkable efforts with their French homeschooling during the year (a daily dose of two hours of grammar, syntax, vocabulary, spelling, pronounciation... ) and have finished the very last lesson of the year this afternoon.

So Dad, on the recommendation of their Mom, offered them a �Oui�.

Auntie who, did you say?

This being said, Madeline and Theo bickered and fought so much while playing, that the Wii had to be turned off that same evening.

We are very concerned by this.

The outstanding mutual friendship and complicity that has been nurtered since birth has started to be polluted by unpleasant words and remarks for the last six months. No matter how much explanation and coaching we have given them, the trend has kept negative.

During the last few weeks, complaining and negative competition has now appeared. We are doing our very best to nip this in the bud, but with moderate success only.

Pulling the Wii seems to have had some effect, as they have somehow realized that there can be consequences to their acts, but this is far from over. Any suggestion will be welcome.

July 3rd, is the day before July 4th, the US national holiday, and fireworks were in action all over the area that evening. But they didn�t have that much appeal to us this year. Dad and Ambroise went jogging together (guess who was in the stroller), while M&T preferred to enjoy their Wii (or their last minutes of it).

Saturday, July 4th

You probably have guessed what the twins were interested in that morning? The Wii, of course...

It wasn�t so easy on their parents though. Ambroise still hasn�t overcome Barb�s departure and gave us a very tough night. Elizabeth also somehow twisted her neck while sleeping, and ended up with a terrible crick.

But that was not going to stop our tough schedule ahead, nothing less than two great barbecues. And we sure did appreciate them. Thank to Tracy and Ryan, as well as Margo and Andy for hosting them!

Elizabeth even managed to get some very appreciated help for her neck.

The big event of the day was the arrival of Yeabsera, who finally landed in France. She smiled to Virginie while meeting her at the airport, and has kept on revealing herself a nice and good-hearted child afterward. Watch out, she is terribly cute and loving, and will break many hearts!

Yeabsera has spent her first day playing with her new brothers, and somehow managed to fit into her new life. She will show in the following days a bit of anguish at night, but wouldn�t that be pretty much be normal in her situation?

On her second day in her new family, the two-year old had a small accident in the bath. Her first reflex was to call �maman!�, to Virginie�s delight. Can you believe that Yeabsera - who speaks only an Ethiopian dialect - has given her first word to her and on her second day in France? Virginie must have done something right...

Sunday, July 5th

The night was terrible again for Elizabeth, and her neck worsened. Since pain medications aren�t recommended while nursing and chiropracters unavailable on a July 4th week-end, only two possibilities remained: the hospital emergency room and patience.

By experience, Elizabeth knew that ER would do nothing better than the second, so she made the best she could out of it with heated pads and quiet movements.

We eventually discovered that cold was soothing better than heat, but that was still no panacea.

Meanwhile, Madeline spent her second day in a row at her friend Sarah.

The teenage years are gonna be so much fun.

Monday, July 6th

We suspect the existence of an accumulation point for pacifiers, some kind of a little pile of them somewhere in the house - they keep on disappearing!

Ambroise is surely not eating them, because the amount of digestive matter he is producing seems to have no correspondance with the efforts and faces he puts into delivering it. This reached the point where we wondered if some allergy or constipation was at play.

According to our favorite pediatrician, who must have seen quite a few things in his career, breastfed babies have such output delivery method and frequencies. So go Ambroise, go! We are all there with you.

Nothing better than field work to grow a mind, would say any dictator, and Theo is put to contribution in weeding and reseeding.

Don�t we have anything better to do than growing some organic lettuce for the Mom?

Surely enough, Theo gets invited to spend the rest of the day at the beach by Margo, Andy and Eli.


Tuesday, July 7th

The question of the first smile comes again, as Mom, then Madeline and Theo swear they have seen one. Daddy was not impressed with the sample reproduced, but could easily confirm that Ambroise actually tend to cry when his father is present...

Until he saw one himself! SO cute! Ambroise raises his eyebrows at the same time!

But we still have no photographical evidence to prove this...

Madeline and Theo have been taken to the beach by Margo for the day (again? Cool!).

This gives Mom and Dad so well needed time to work on the birth announcements. We are quite happy with them....

Wednesday, July 8th

Doubt is no more possible, as the smile animal has now been documented. Isn�t that the bestest picture ever?

When coming back from the pool, Theo found his dad giving a bath to Ambroise, and added �Dad, you are such a good dad�.

Can we have a photographic evidence of this sentence, please?

M&T have taken a very light �summer� home schooling in both French and Math (just to make sure they are at the right level).

Today was their first math lesson, and they discovered 10! = 10 x 9 x 8 x 7 x 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1. They were quite impressed with the notion (university level, please).

The replacement TV got finally delivered, and Dad is once again working on cabling - yeah!

Thursday, July 9th

Both Madeline and Theo are having their book club meetings.

Since boys and girls don�t mix well at that age, they each have their own. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.

Mom, who organized the whole thing months in advance, has been so impressed with the level of the discussions.

Thanks Mom for the ice cream cakes; It was a great time!

Next bookclub is agreed - it will be Robinson Crusoe, something a bit easier to read.

Madeline had yet another slumber party that night.

I simply can�t remember where - her social life is way past mine.

And the house turned calm enough for Mom and Dad to relax together a bit.

With Ambroise on a 2 hour cycle (that�s about 12 feedings per day!), nursing taking 45 min, burping and changing another 15 min, there�s only time left for the bare necessities of a family!

Mom was kind enough to free her husband for the evening, and allow him to go see the last Terminator movie with his friend Bob. Unfortunately, Bob�s offer had been made two months ago, and the movie isn�t on the screens anymore!

Transformers was good enough, and Theo even joined.

Dinner was Margo�s responsibility again - homemade pasta and strawberry tart! OMG.

Friday, July 10th

Jorge, Michelle, David and Daniel, usually based in London, were traveling to the US during the last two weeks.

We enjoyed lunch in sunny New Jersey, before they headed for the beach.

And they brought presents for the whole family. Thanks!

Ambroise and mom walked to the library to get the next kid�s book club selection-- Robinson Crusoe.

How low must have we fallen for reporting such a trivial thing as an important event...

Saturday, July 11th

Ambroise not only smiles, he also makes �Arrheu� now.

We are not sure if he does it in response to ours, but he does appreciate that we return his.

He is developing a bit of cradle cap in his ears, as well as some baby acne in the neck. These are difficult to put under control, and not making kids cuter.

But that�s OK, because we�ve taken enough the pictures

for the announcement cards, and we don�t care if he is turning ugly now.

Dad plugged onto the new TV his European stereo, which had been waiting in the garage since we moved from England!

Optical connections, digital amplifier, surround sound, subwoofer... This will give a new dimension to the Friday Family Movie Night!

But we still can�t view correctly UK movies onto the TV though - it�s missing a $3.00 connector.

And probably some furniture piece to hold all this now.

Theo bought himself also a boy toy - a video game. Purchased with his own French lesson money!

Look what we find in Elizabeth�s handbag.

Do you need some reassurance sometimes, honey?

And are you the one accumulating all the pacifiers? Would you mind sharing them with Ambroise, please?

We got a Baby Einstein video for Ambroise.

Baby Einstein is the posh, modern, high technological way of watching lines, while believing it will make your kids smart.

But we know that last point isn�t true - look at how dumb Madeline and Theo have turned out.

Dinner was brought by the Laughinghouse�s. They even made a second meal for freezing! Thanks!

Sunday, July 12th

Madeline cooked the pancake breakfast this morning - that was quite appreciated.

Found written on my notepad, probably by a ghost: �What? Mom never gets any credit...

C�mon Mom, you DO deserve lots of credit. First you feed the baby every two hours (the bottle is expressed milk, and only for Dad�s middle of the night feeding), while taking care in between of the twins, of your husband, of the house, of the bills, of the friends...

You�ve also been working hard on the announcement cards.

And been frustrated as well.

On top of the design decisions, we�ve had endless setbacks on these three times damn cards. The picture paper turned out of low quality, rendering the pictures yellow. The glue turned either too strong, or not strong enough, or permeated through the pictures... The pictures stuck to the weight press.

We have been working again and again on them, and it feels like barely any progress has been made.

You also have mowed the lawn this morning, to let your husband work on this website update.

(You even run the lawnmower all around the garden instead of in lines/circles, just to skrew up with my mind...)

You also manage to bring your family to cool off at the pool...

... and always support their efforts in French!

(Even if this today, it�s summer math lesson - just to make sure the US curriculum is in line with the French one - but we forgive you.)

You also deserve a major credit for making a little munchkin like this one

Hey, guys, have you seen my cool gloves?

And the top general appreciation credit for making your family so happy!

We just wouldn�t be enjoying life without you.

As for myself, thanks to you, these last two weeks weren�t a �core leave�, but Holidays in Eden.