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Project 52: Brothers | Frères


It is beautiful to see that after five years of being an only child and two years longing for his new housemate to become... useful, my older son is settling into his role as grand frère. I can tell by his furrowed brow and heavy sighs that the transition is still at times ill-fitting and uncomfortable, but I know (from his honest ramblings) he wouldn't trade back to being alone for the world. In his little brother he has found a certain security, affection and the early spring of leadership. He has found a part of himself.

"...brothers don't let each other wander in the dark alone
- Jolene Perry, My Heart for Yours

From the Bibliothèque: Crotte de Nez


As part of every birthday and holiday gift for my older son, his grandmother - a teacher of many years now retired - always includes a book. Always always.

Today I thought I'd share one she sent a few years back entitled (tastefully enough) Crotte de Nez or "Boogers," by Alan Mets. It's a family favorite and always leaves the boys squirming in giggly delight...

In short, Jules the pig secretly loves Julie the sheep (who is repulsed by him, finding the amorous little pig smelly and rather disgusting). One day the Grand Méchant Loup (Big Bad Wolf) jumps out of the woods and snatches the two, carries them to his house in a sack and prepares to eat them. Jules volunteers to be eaten first, cleverly making the argument that his little coquettish friend would certainly taste better than "a poor stinky pig" and so the wolf should save the best for last. The wolf accepts his case, brings the ever observant Jules to his pristine kitchen, pulls a newly cleaned knife out of the dishwasher and advances toward Jules; Jules looks the wolf straight in the eyes, then... puts his finger up his nose, pulls out a sticky crotte de nez and with the "air of a connoisseur" sticks it in his mouth!!... fast forward past another enormous crotte de nez and Jules' explosion of foul gas, and you find the wolf running for his life...

In the end, Julie becomes enamored by the heroic smelly Jules. So love is rewarded, affection reciprocated. And to my 7 year-old son I add: be kind and don't judge others. You never know, they may end up saving your life one day :)

Earth Day: Au Marché

Valbonne, France, market, fruitsValbonne, France, market, fruitsValbonne, France, market, fruitsValbonne, France, market, fruits

Happy Earth Day! Today's post showcases a small collection of her wondrous bounty...

If you've visited here before, you know I have a tender spot for the color-saturated light-filled Provençal village of Valbonne... these are some fruit displays from a typical Friday's Market Day.

In April | En Avril...


For April's often erratic and surly Spring weather, the French offer a wise piece of advice: en avril, ne te découvre pas d'un fil In April, don't remove a thread (of clothing)...

La Fin. The End of Cursive Writing...


Some children will look at the writing above one day and see it as a form of hieroglyphics, unable to identify (or write) the lowercase "s" and "r" for example. My friends, do you find this is as confounding and unsettling as I do?

A recent article in The Washington Post addressed the impending finale to the art of handwritten script in many US public schools, explaining how cursive is simply becoming irrelevant and impractical in the wake of limited time and budgets, evolving curricula and the widespread use of computers. Since it's no longer required instruction (by Common Core Standards), some schools have simply decided to not teach cursive writing - as basic and splendid and timeless and necessary as it is.

My husband was equally shocked as in France any curriculum decision is made by the Ministry of Education, and therefore something like this would quickly become a national debate, which is a good garde-fou (safeguard) against what he calls "absurdity." This makes me wonder if it's actually happening anywhere else in the world...

The good news is that there are districts and schools of educators who care deeply about preserving l'ecriture. Despite the arguments for its elimination, the benefits to learning and knowing how to read and write in cursive script are numerous: hand and eye control; learning to follow directions; internal discipline of the hand, brain and eye; continuity in process and focus, not to mention maintaining the beauty of the curves and flourishes of individual penmanship - just to name a few. How about children who want to become historians or doctors or as a fourth-grade teacher said to her students, “If you’re going to be a famous soccer player, you need a signature for autographs.” Why of course!

Photographie Inspiration: Emmanuel Sougez

Still Life, Trois Poires (l); Linge (r)
Clo at the window (l); Printemps (r)

French photographer Emmanuel Sougez's Still Life, Trois Poires (Three Pears) - the photo on the top left - is so captivating in its simplicity; so evocative in its beauty. At once, it looks familiar and brand new as I can't recall ever seeing it before but feeling like I have. Like favorite books, photographs seem to change over time based on our experience and perspective...

Sougez produced a large collection of nudes and Paris street scenes as well, but I can't stop thinking about the three pears...

Project 52: Warmth


Warmth was the latest Project 52 theme over at My Four Hens, and so I shot this little blanket that kept me and my family warm during the chilly winter. I crocheted it a few years ago as a tutorial to practice the V-stitch. A lazy stitch really, one that allows you to finish a project pretty quickly (since quickly was all the time I had). So it was completed fast and is much smaller than it should be. Not quite the size of a full throw, our feet were always protruding out of it into the cold.

Nevertheless, my boys and I craved its warmth, and I loved that we would try to huddle underneath it together (like elephants cramming into a VW beetle during a snowstorm).

If you're participating in a P365/P52, I'd love to know how it's going...

An Open-Air Art Exhibit: La Grande Lessive

La Grande Lessive [IMGP1412]

Last week, the international "ephemeral one day art event" known as La Grande Lessive (which literally means "the big laundry/washing") was held in over 67 countries, celebrating art in a collective, social and expressive way. The idea is to hang artwork using wood pins on clotheslines that weave through trees and poles and buildings, creating a magnificent exhibition of (mostly children's) hand-drawn/painted/cut works unbound and free.

When my older son was younger, his school participated in La Grande Lessive. I was just so enamored by the waves of color strewn throughout and around the grounds of the preschool, I had no idea the scope of this open to all, open-air installation. First created in 2006 by French artist Joëlle Gonthier, the aim is to awaken the desire of discovery and to vary the possible approaches and, consequently, the creations of art forms... to tighten social links and trigger an interest and desire to create art. It is now in five continents with millions of participants and spreads with no advertising and no budget, but merely by word of mouth and the loyalty of its contributors.

The biannual event has principally been held at schools and art centers (though it can be organized anywhere). It is a beautifully simple way for children to express themselves through art, have their work displayed for everybody to see and be recognized as they are, artists. I can't wait for La Grande Lessive to expand even further across the globe and into all schools.

All children are artists - Picasso

photo credits: Lola A, drofmit4108-flickr

Project 52: Joy | Joie


Joy is... fresh flowers and a love note from my son, a heartening reminder for times when I forget a better half resides within me. Leave it to children, they always see better than adults, their lens beautiful and unblemished...

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