Experimenting with cars

What up everybody Littlest is TURNING TWO TOMORROW.

His speech has been evolving lately. It’s been one of the slower milestones for him though he’s always been an intense climber and stander-upper (that’s the technical term). All the milestone articles and apps have been out of sync with him, suggesting that he should be doing things that seemed to not be on his radar. His speech comprehension has always seemed pretty on track so I decided not to worry. Maybe his two-year check-up will prove me wrong and we’ll be referred to a speech therapist but for now it seems like some interesting things are happening.

He’s repeating things we ask him to, such as “cheese” and “blue” and yesterday “Paddy” (!!!!). We have a little truck that says his name and a few months ago he’d try to repeat it but it came out “Papa.” Wild progress has been made on that second syllable and now he says something resembling either his actual name or Paddy.

He’s mastered “bye-bye” for a while though he doesn’t have much of a diphthong so it comes out mostly “bah-bah.” Now he’s added “coucou” to his repertoire and enjoys saying it to every stranger we walk by whether they’re looking or not. He likes to give kisses though always says bye-bye afterward regardless of whether anyone is going anywhere.

It’s interesting though however (to me anyway) that he doesn’t have any alveolar consonants yet (t’s, d’s). Even “non” comes out as though he’s a little Franco-Italian: “gnan!” and “cheese” is definitely hard to make out if you don’t know what he’s saying since it sounds like “gyeezh.” His s’s are still very German; ça sounds like “cha” and içi “ichi.” No one he knows speaks German or Italian so I don’t know where gets it.

The repeating is fun though sometimes he just repeats the intonation and the actual sounds are gibberish.

He is also typically very sweet with other kids, handing toys over or showing younger kids things they can play with. It’s adorable though I don’t see a whole lot of it since it mostly happens at the nanny’s. We’ll have to have more play dates.

So all the presents are wrapped, J is going to make his cake tonight, and we’ll have an aunt, an uncle, and a friend over tomorrow to celebrate a joyful year two with our Mister Wister.

The Past Weeks

Well. Some stuff came to a head this week at work and the short of it is that I will not be planning or going on a trip with my students this year (though I will be helping my colleague who is taking them all in one gigantic group). After I get over the bit of disappointment about not returning to see our exchange partners, I will feel relieved and free from all the stress of being in charge of a a trip involving so many young people. It will be the first year in a long time that I haven’t gone on a school trip, which will be a relief in terms of leaving my family behind but also will be a little bittersweet because I do love seeing our students in these contexts.

Otherwise, everything else at work is humming steadily along and we are in fact about a week away from vacation (which is in fact why we made the school trip decisions this week). Littlest and I have gone back to Kindermusik on Saturday afternoons which leaves J free to go off climbing, and then we typically find something to do together on Sunday. J will have a few days next week out of town so my father in law will have to pick Littlest up at the nanny’s one evening since I’ll still be at work—thank goodness for grandparents (if only they were all so close). We bought a front-sitting bike seat for Littlest last week so J has taken him out on one tiring bike ride, but he seems pretty into it. Now J’s down with some sort of painful stomach virus so there probably won’t be any bike riding this weekend. :-\

That’s all for this barely eventful post, unless you want to watch a fascinating report on breast milk from Arte.

The Past Weeks

Still nothing much to report here but this past week has been fun because Littlest’s grandparents (all four of them) gave him a swingset for his upcoming birthday and we set it up early while it’s still sunny and warm. So he’s been enjoying that and we’ve been spending some time in the back yard with this unseasonably warm weather.


Feels like a real backyard now. (Except for the dead lawn.)

After some hesitating because of price, I cracked and bought this baby doll bath set as my gift for Littlest for his birthday. It goes with the soft baby doll I gave him for Christmas, that he mostly enjoys undressing and sometimes giving kisses and hugs. But he’s really into water faucets right now so even though the bath faucet on this is ribbons I want to encourage him to give his baby doll baths. I think he’ll also enjoy the shampoo bottle since one of his current projects is putting anything shampoo-like that he finds around the house with the shampoo bottles in the shower. Or pretending to put it in his hair and then wash his hair. Let’s face it, tiny people imitating our every move is hilarious.

Okay well that’s enough about my fascinating almost two-year-old. I don’t want to talk about politics since they are horrible right now, but I did send off my absentee ballot this past week and am feeling good about getting that done. Here is an article about the town I grew up in: Trump’s Student Visa Clampdown Hurts the Rust Belt

Annnnd that’s all for this week.

The Past Week

I don’t actually MEAN to disappear at the rentrée—but so much of my life is about work at this time of year and I just can’t write about it so I feel like I have nothing to say. The beginning of the school year is a joy and also a source of anxiety because I can feel little bits of stress coming back even though I had really hoped to not let them in.

Anyway besides working I have also been catching up on Jane the Virgin, since somehow seasons 3 and 4 slipped into Netflix without anyone telling me (wtf Netflix). (I still have season 4 to go so no spoilers please.)

As for Littlest, he is way into giving kisses now and it is the cutest thiNG EVAR. (I feel I may have used those terms before.)

In other news I know you have all been worried about my search for a belt bag/fanny pack so drumroll please, here is the one I found and have and am keeping (in gray). So far it has been really nice though I did have to delegate some items to my car glove box (glasses) because they just don’t fit.

Other stuff:

The Cut: For Heartache, Take Two Aspirin and Call Me in the Morning: This is again like four years old, I’m late to the game, but intriguing.

Sommets en pays des écrins: Side2Side blog again, pictures of where we went on vacation this summer in the Alps

NYT: Can You Spot the Deceptive Facebook Post?: Very informative

The Internet Is Not Ruining Grammar: Well said, I can never explain this stuff very well.

The Past Week

Spending time with Littlest full time for a few weeks this summer has meant discovering that Poitiers is absolutely brimming with activities for kids—starting at 3 years old. We’ve found one single event that was intended for kids between 1 and 5 (a show by this troupe—it was cool).

So what have we been doing with ourselves?

Basically contacting everyone we know who is a teacher on vacation with kids and inviting them over or getting them to do things.

Going to the free zoo at the park a half hour from here.

Going to different swimming pools.

Checking out the library for short periods of time so that Littlest can flip through books at lightning speed.

Going on walks until we discovered that Littlest sometimes falls asleep in his stroller which screws up the whole day.

Scouring the different playgrounds around.

Seeing his French grandparents last week when they were on vacation.

Our weekend was lovely, with Saturday being J’s birthday, so we went down to a rock climbing site near Angoulême for the day.

Sunday we went to the Poitiers market in the cité and then to a massive vide-grenier where I found Littlest a book.

The next three days are our last together before the school year starts up again. We’ll be back at the pool tomorrow and probably checking out the ludothèque before having ice cream with friends on Wednesday afternoon. I hope that’s enough to keep us busy.

In toddler news, Littlest has a new word, “baby/bébé,” which he sometimes says randomly but is mostly related to his baby doll or cheetah lovey, or his hand knitted bear from a friend of mine. He is also giving kisses which is the cutest thING EVAR OMG.

In other humdrum news, I ordered myself this fanny pack from Eastpak. Summer park-going has meant that I sometimes have very limited to no pockets (dresses are the biggest culprits here but you can read some data on how awful all women’s clothes are here) and I like to leave my purse in the car yet still have my phone and DUH my keys with me. Also ever since reading this article I have become more and more resentful of how handbags handicap women in our movements. I love my Desigual handbag, which is of course what the fashion industry wants, but I’m going to see what kind of mileage I can get out of this fanny pack, if I like it. (Though I don’t intend on using it every day—if I could that would be a nice surprise.)

Also I have been watching the new Queer Eye on Netflix and it is bringing me joy. Pure joy. I love them.

Some hilarious reading for this week:

The Cut: Are Baths Too Hot for Testicles? This is SO FUNNY.

The New Yorker: I Am the One Woman Who Has It All

The Past Week

J went back to work last Thursday after three days at home doing yard work and having friends over. So now Littlest and I are back to looking for things to do to fill our days. By which I mean, I look for things to do, he tries hard to see what I’m doing on my phone until I give in and put it down and play with him.

Last Friday morning we went to see a play for toddlers and in the afternoon we had a friend over. But it’s hard going because though there are lots of activities for kids, they’re all for three-year-olds at the very youngest. Tomorrow we’ll be heading back to the swimming pool with another baby friend.

So anyway, here’s some reading.

Boston Globe Magazine: Motherhood brings the most dramatic brain changes of a woman’s life

From Side 2 Side Blog: Un retour en France riche en émotions: Relatable

Old, but good: Ask Polly: Why Don’t the Men I Date Ever Truly Love Me?

Everything We Know About Greta Gerwig’s Little Women Adaptation: OMG

Also old, but worth re-reading for some good giggles: The Pitch Meeting for Wishbone

NY Times Opinion: The Absolute Necessity of the New-Mom Friend: I would also add that some new moms friends are not the ones you need, not because they’re judgy but because you may quickly understand that you’re just not on the same wavelength when it comes to raising babies. While I enjoyed the company of the girls from my pregnancy parenting classes, I could tell once the babies were here that most of them weren’t going to be that helpful when it came to middle of the night worries.

And just a little Walt Whitman from the Clean Mama blog.

Le Briançonnais/Parc national des Ecrins

We are back from our wonderful family summer vacation in the Alps. I had never been to the Alps in summer and it turns out, not to repeat myself, but really, to be wonderful. Rentals are much more reasonably priced and the ambiance is still festive without the overcrowding of the ski season.

We picked the Briançon area after surveying J’s climbing friends to see where the ones with young children were going. I thought this would be our typical climbing-intensive vacation but it actually wasn’t. A couple of days we left Littlest at the mountain daycare center with our friends’ kids, which was fun for him and luxurious for me as I went out to lunch on my own (and also, the first time, bought an infant/toddler carrier for hiking).

We were staying in what’s called the Parc national des Ecrins but which is next to the Queyras. Briançon itself is very close to Italy (we did go there for one rainy day) and the historic Vauban part of the city is charming.

We were able to enjoy a lot of different activities also because our housing situation was just right for us: a “coin nuit” in the apartment which was basically an area hidden behind a partial wall with a double bed, and a bedroom for Littlest. J could even watch TV after I went to bed. There was no internet access so besides barely loading Instagram pictures every evening, we were forced to disconnect. So we watched the European Championships in Berlin/Glasgow on tv and I finished reading my book.

Here is the cité historique in Briançon which I visited once alone and once with the boys:

We went hiking in the Queyras:

That hike was beautiful and strenuous and took five hours, but looks much shorter on this little map:


We did a few other things too.


Walking out to see a climbing site


Luge d’été


Playground + mountain


The view from the 1600m station

I would happily go back though the length of the drive is still a bit discouraging. We stopped halfway there each way but each night on the road was difficult, the first being disastrous as the hotel had canceled our request for adjoining rooms, and the second being just sad since Littlest had some sort of weird midnight panic at the AirBnB (through no fault of the AirBnB).