Ski Vacation during a Pandemic

Off to Pious Pious

A few months ago we cautiously booked a rental apartment in the Massif Central for the second week of my winter (February) vacation. We told Littlest about it but were careful to not play it up too much since we didn’t know for sure until a few days prior that we were going to be able to go through with it.

Littlest has watched some ski competitions sort of idly on TV with his dad, and he was really excited when we told him we were going to go skiing. He kept thinking it was something would do on a random Saturday, not something a 4-hour drive away.

Ski stations now are pretty limited so I don’t know if it would be a fun vacation for adults honestly. It was great for us though. We signed Littlest up for the Ecole de Ski Française’s Piou Piou Club (they have them at every station), bought him a snow suit, helmet, and goggles, and dug up some hand-me down apres-skis. J did show him some videos of non-competition skiing so that he wouldn’t think he was about to learn to slalom.

This was my first experience with Piou Piou clubs and it was a bit assembly-line-like. The moniteurs seemed nice but everything was pretty automated, with not a whole lot of interaction. Nonetheless Littlest did seem to really like it and got his medal on the last day when they all leveled up.

Ski lifts were pretty much all off, and only a few moving walkways were on, open to two-hour blocks of reservations. J did that one afternoon, and he also did a day of cross-country skiing. Otherwise we did some snow-shoeing with and without Littlest, with Even Littler in the baby carrier, and built a lot of snowmen, and did a lot of sledding. We got some local cuisine as take-out and walked around one of the medieval villages. It was great. The Massif Central is only a 4-5 hour drive from here which is much more doable than the Alps for now with the littles, and even closer than the Pyrenees. It was just so nice to do something out of the ordinary during this time when it’s so hard to make any plans for the future.

2020

The year that nature took over. We’ve taken so many walks outside this year, by the little park in our town, or in the woods nearby, looking for mushrooms and jumping in puddles. It’s really become our main activity.

Of course the only thing that held to its calendar this year was baby boy number 2. And I have to admit, because of that, the anti-2020 memes have really become a pet peeve of mine. That and feeling that it’s dumb to somehow believe that changing one digit in the date will somehow make all of our lives magically easier than they have been during this past pandemic-dominated year.

Babies thankfully don’t wait till the time is right to come and so my year was dominated by pregnancy and the arrival of our second little mister. Add to that the fact that beyond all odds, I also had some professional success, and it really feels like 2020 was good to us.

Things are weird right now: we see friends outside or with masks on, we can’t go to the movies or take Littlest to any cultural activities, and I’ll be teaching half by video and half to present students for the foreseeable future. When I think about all the things we were able to do last summer during the dip in coronavirus cases, it seems crazy. I’m so glad we had that time, though. The vaccine campaign in France so far seems like it has been planned to be absurdly slow, so who knows when our lives will return to some semblance of normal.

And normalcy for me won’t be achieved until my parents can finally come and meet our second special boy and play again with our first. I’m still grieving for the time I had expected to have with my mom and dad when Even Littler was born. We made do, but I had been really looking forward to having more help and more company this time, and it was really built into how I imagined my second maternity leave.

So since nothing changed at all since this time yesterday, here’s hoping that things change for the better in not too much longer.

The Past Weeks: More Maternity Leave

Maternity leave is near its end. I have one more week with Even Littler before I go back to work and before he stays at home for two weeks with just his papa. (All of that will be followed by a two week school vacation of all four of us at home.)

What do I have to show for myself after this longest shortest time? The unfair thing about both my maternity leaves is that they have both seemed to end right when baby and I have settled into a more predictable, enjoyable rhythm with more semblance of normalcy. Which is of course necessary if you’re going back to work, but still, it would be nice to be able to enjoy it a little longer.

I’ve binged on Netflix: caught up to season 10 of Modern Family, Grace and Frankie, Dix pour Cent, and this past week, season four of The Crown. I’ve watched a lot of La Maison des Maternelles. I’ve taken the same walk countless times, listening to bits of The Longest Shortest Time, This American Life, and Terry Gross’s interview of Barack Obama on Fresh Air.

I’ve done so, so, so much laundry.

I’ve contacted a lactation consultation by video, because there isn’t one in our area (=département). I’ll be taking Even Littler to see a chiropractor next week, and myself to see a psychologist, and also taking him to his 3 month check-up.

I’ve discovered the support services of the ADMR, a French association that helps people who are homebound or in need for a variety of different reasons. They’ll be continuing to clean our house once a week for the next three months since we are still allowed a discounted rate till then (the CAF picks up the rest of the tab).

I’ve read a lot of the New York Times and the Washington Post, and some of Le Monde, though with the election angst of the past month, it’s really been more of the first two.

I’ve done a lot of online shopping, though maybe not as much as during the first lockdown.

I have not spent any time at all lesson planning for my return to work, something I’ll have to dip into next week, at least for the first day back.

Here’s to enjoying this one last week!

The Past Weeks: Maternity Leave on Lockdown

Maternity leave on lockdown is not fun. We’re allowed one one-hour outing per day for exercise, within 1 kilometer of our house. Fortunately, schools are still open so I don’t have Littlest to also take care of and entertain while we go crazy with cabin fever.

Things are okay though and life is becoming more and more normal, with the newborn days behind us, for good. (No number 3 in the plans for us.) We’ve been going on the one stroller-friendly walk we’re allowed once a day, since fortunately the weather has been fair. And we FaceTime with my parents once a day as well. This all gives us some semblance of a routine that we can enjoy. I started listening to podcasts (I’m trying out the Longest Shortest Time, but if you have any great recommendations, please let me know) on our daily walks the other day, which helps me think about things other than how and when to get the baby down.

Even Littler is turning into the smiley, giggly, chatty 2-month-old that I remember Littlest being. He has the added bonus of sleeping for longer stretches at night, though he still seems to need to nurse to sleep a lot. We are a little stricter about our evenings than we were with Littlest, just because we have to be, with a four-year-old around. In fact Even Littler goes to bed, for now, around the same time as Littlest (8 pm), and then has to nurse once more before I go to bed between 9:30 and 10 pm.

I did manage to get some solid financial advice for the complexities of being a US citizen abroad, so that feels good. And J has turned our dining room table into an art workshop with Littlest. Here are some examples of their masterpieces:

Stegosaurus of leaves
The truck moves along that brown road as you turn the image.

Littlest is in his dinosaur phase, so we found an old show called Prehistoric Park on Youtube:

And I liked it so much, I ordered the DVD. It’s a little old for him, but fingers crossed, in a few years he’ll still like to watch it.

We also have watched this movie from the library a couple of times:

Again it’s a little over his age level, but he has actually sat with me and watched most of it (though we stop halfway through to finish the next day).

I have three more weeks of leave before I go back to work. In fact I would have gone back today had I not been able to flip three weeks of pre-natal leave into post-natal leave, which I am so grateful for. It’s hard to make any sort of plans beyond that, since we don’t know what things will be like for Christmas, so we’re trying to live in the moment.

The Past Weeks

Well here we are on the eve of a new “confinement.” I’m on maternity leave anyway so it won’t change much but the visits I had every once in a while were nice to keep my spirits up. So I’ll miss that. Littlest will still be going to school and J will still be going to work (though he’ll undoubtedly have union meetings online from home as well) so it’s just our free time that will change. Fortunately I managed to get out Tuesday afternoon to buy myself some new pants that fit and also a new watch since my previous one feel hard on the tile floor and broke. Just under the wire.

Otherwise my thoughts are mostly occupied by mom stuff. There are a few new Instagram accounts I’m following for now:

And one unrelated to parenting:

On Netflix I’ve been catching up on Dix Pour Cent though it can take me hours to get through an episode.

I ordered and received a few books for the agrégation though I am still treating that as a priority for next year, especially with COVID shaping up to be just as complicated this year as last year in terms of long-term plans.

And lastly we are trying to figure out what to do for financial investment advice as French-Americans dealing with the complexities of American tax law for expats. So if anyone has any resources on that, it would be helpful.

That’s all for now in my very baby-centered life. Best of luck to everyone with this new lockdown…

The Past Weeks

Even Littler is over 6 weeks now! He is cuter and cuter and becoming more and more alert and smiley.

Not much is going on though.

So to combat some boredom I signed up for a subscription to Le Monde which I was reading daily back during confinement. I do like to have a French perspective on things and there is a 15% discount for educators (which comes to 1.50€ off per month so not huge but whatever).

I watch a lot of La Maison des Maternelles on replay (because tbh we are usually sleeping at 9 am) and Netflix.

I successfully got Even Littler in the baby scarf this morning and took him out for a little walk without any slippage. #Win

And I signed up for the agrégation externe (public exam) just now. I got the comments on my orals by telephone yesterday from a lovely professor who was on the jury (though not any of the groups who actually listened to me) and who explained as best she could what her colleagues had written down. It was very insightful and she encouraged me to try again this year. I still am not quite motivated for this year—maybe once maternity leave is over and I’m in the swing of my new, lighter work schedule I’ll feel differently.

The Past Weeks

Clearly this blog has taken a hit in the past year. I’m on maternity leave now till December, so we’ll see if any real effort can take hold to revive it!

In order to talk about our second baby boy, I think I’m going to just call him Even Littler. As in Roro, Even Littler Man. I think something better is probably conceivable—I was thinking about Roro, He Who Squeaks, or just Squidgy 2, but Even Littler really just makes more sense. I mean he probably will stop the cute squeaks in a few months.

Anyway life with Even Littler is really calm for now. Littlest himself is causing us much more stress than his little brother, and by us, I mean J, since he’s the one who gets up with him in the morning since I nurse Even Littler at night. So the 5, 6 am wake-ups have been rough on him.

A few paperwork things have gotten done over the past few weeks. I managed to send off my US passport application before Even Littler was born, though very bizarrely I received the actual new passport back in the mail before the accusé de réception card for the application… ?!?!

I also received my US ballot by e-mail yesterday, though apparently the Bexar County website is overrun with connections, or down, or something, so I can’t actually download it yet. Fingers cross that sh*t gets sorted out real fast.

I also ordered a rental breast pump online from Grandir Nature, which was supposed to arrive in the mail yesterday morning but apparently the French post is keeping up its reputation of failing, so I’m still waiting for it. It’s not urgent. But I wanted something more portable than what the pharmacy gave me last time.

We managed to get birth announcements in the mail last week. Like with Littlest I picked a model a month ago with just one picture, making it easier to get them done once the baby’s here. And we take a picture ourselves rather than waiting for professionals—though we will have professional pictures to look at tomorrow that were taken at the hospital.

Anyway, here’s an article that gives a positive take on my life right now: