Wonder Week Leap 9

So I think we are in the middle of wonder week leap nine with Littlest, though since my Glow app stopped counting weeks (at 12 months), I don’t actually know what number week we’re on. But I will say, he has been fighting bedtime some nights, waking in the middle of the night and not wanting to go back to sleep (something he hasn’t done since he was 8 weeks old), and whining at unpredictable times.

I still think he’s a relatively easy baby but knowing that this is probably a developmental leap helps to put it in perspective. He also has learned some new skills, such as (sort of) rolling his little Tut tut cars around rather than licking and throwing them; drinking on his own from his Munchkin cup; putting his play rings on their hook rather than just whacking them together; and pressing ALL the buttons in his noise-making books. As for walking, well, I don’t think it’s on his agenda but if we insist he will stand on his own, and take some uneven steps if we hold one of his hands. He has also been particularly cranky about baths and in fact stood up on his own in it this morning in an effort to get out.

But all that aside, we had a good visit with Nanna and Grandpa and hopefully boosted his English skills.


Showing Nanna our book


The Past Week

Really not much going on here right now—my two boys are both sick—but my parents arrive tomorrow night and I suspect I may be a little occupied over these next two weeks.

As I said both Littlest and J are sick, which has been a little rough on us. I stayed home from work yesterday with Littlest because it hurt my heart to send him to the nanny’s, even though she would have taken him. He sleeps so much better with us too, and I wanted to him to get rested. But he’ll be back there tomorrow. He’s no longer crying from throat pain when he eats his purees (it was so sad, I almost cried).

I’ve started to get Christmas presents sorted out and chosen, though I’m putting off purchasing since I bought three pairs of shoes last week. It was a lot of money but I figured the chances I’ll find three pairs of shoes I like and that I’m comfortable in, in the near future, are as usual pretty close to nill. I hate my feet. But these shoes are pretty comfy and warm for the winter.

For Littlest I did end up buying that fabric baby doll, in a boy version, from Amazon.fr. There were only two versions that were not over 100€, which I think means they are imported from the States, since the one I got was not anywhere near that price. The other one available was the black baby girl, which I hesitated about. I mean breaking gender and race rules in one gift would have been pretty cool. But the (white) baby boy doll was extra cute. (Maybe I have a soft spot for baby boys….) I have also discovered the wealth of English-language baby books available on Amazon.fr and am going to have to show some serious restraint.

Obsessing about Christmas, watching J re-plaster the wall where our fireplace was, cuddling Littlest (he’s cuddly for once with this cold), getting ready for a gig this weekend, dealing with evening meetings—that’s pretty much it for now.

So, see you in two weeks?


The Past Week

The countdown to the holidays seems to have started, and as usual I have no idea what to get J for Christmas. I have a ton of ideas for Littlest thanks to lists like this one—mostly hankering after that baby doll and the soft fake food from Ikea. Work meetings have picked up too which means a lot of later evenings this month. But my parents will be here in 8 days so that’s pretty exciting. We’re trying to slowly prepare for Christmas in Boston, including acquiring a body suit for Littlest that we will also use in the Alps in February (yes, we’re returning to the Alps… I’m not excited and am not planning on skiing).

Otherwise things have been busy with visits from friends with babies, seeing more farm animals, and our regular Saturday Kindermusik classes.


18-month sized (!!!) body suit


baudet du Poitou

Littlest hasn’t been sleeping through the night since the rentrée, so last Monday night we decided to try sending J instead of me to comfort him when he woke. Bad idea: cue 40 minutes of crying and an hour of lost sleep for us. So for now we’re back to following my instinct… which is to get up for the 12 minutes it takes to nurse him back to calm.

Here are a couple things I read this week:

How Facebook Figures out Everyone You’ve Ever Met

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton phone calls: Fake transcripts shared on social media after declassified records released (Old, but funny)

The Past Week

Well today is the last day of vacation and the last day of me and Littlest hanging out at home together, until next Wednesday that is, of course. J had half the week off so we did get to spend some time as a family and the first thing we did was drive 1 hour 15 minutes away to the Foire des Hérolles. It’s a market that takes place every 29th of the month (unless the 29th is a Sunday, in which case it’s the 30th) in a village on the edge of le Poitou and le Limousin.

There’s a significant livestock/poultry section.

We also bought Littlest a super cute little Peruvian sweater that he is wearing in that one photo and that has hand embroidered motifs on it.

We finally completely removed the wood stove from our living room and it already feels much more spacious. Next comes the redecorating part.

Since the tiling we installed all around the woodstove is no longer anywhere to be found, we’ve decided to make what’s called a “niche” in the wall and to retile with something very different underneath. So, a work in progress. Littlest loved playing with the woodstove but he seems completely unperturbed that it’s gone.

Also, the Astros won the World Series. I’ve honestly stopped following them for a few years because they had become such a terrible team, so when my colleague told me a few weeks ago that they were doing well, I had to suddenly get back into it. I wish I’d been in the States for this world series, able to watch at least one game in a bar with other fans. But I’m still excited about their win.

A couple of links for this week:

Women at the End of the Land: A forthcoming book about how indigenous Nenet women give birth

…which reminded me of this movie that I saw in theaters years ago: Le Premier Cri. I’d like to watch it again now.


Birthday 1

Littlest’s first birthday was this past Saturday. As I saw it approaching on the calendar, I started wondering how we should celebrate. I mean, babies don’t know what births are, or what days are, much less years. (I imagined Littlest asking me what a year was and answering, “Your entire life.” Don’t worry, he doesn’t talk yet, much less ask questions like that.) But the consensus from my mom colleagues was that the first birthday creates memories and pictures to share with the kiddo later on.

So I created a low-key plan, involving American yellow cake and a couple guests. J’s sister turned down the invitation in favor of leaving on vacation a day earlier (I am not over this, they travel in a van and leave on a minute’s notice), and his parents had already paid for a trip down south (totally not offended by this, since they very obviously couldn’t change their plans but were also sad they couldn’t come, like normal human family members would be). So I invited over two of my own friends who were thrilled to see Littlest again and celebrate him turning one.

Here’s the cake I made, and the icing I put on it, since I didn’t feel like looking for corn syrup after all. I had some sprinkles left over from the baby shower and bought some chocolate letters and a number one candle.


This being France, there were not three Ps in the letter package and I was thus obliged to write happy birthday in French. Next time maybe someone will write it in icing.

Littlest put his hand in the candle flame during our first singing attempt, so we had to start over once Daddy had blown out the candle and rinsed his hand in cold water. He enjoyed making a totally manageable mess of the cake and using one of his gifts to play peekaboo.



The gift opening was sort of intense because it took some time to get him interested in each gift, let him discover it, and then bring out another one. But he really seemed to enjoy himself and now has lots of new things. I’ve even started putting away his toys after bedtime.


New books from Nanna

So, I’m really happy with our little party, which lasted about two hours. J’s little brother came by later in the day so Littlest even got one final present after naptime. He had already celebrated his birthday with the nanny Friday, and she had stuck an adorable picture of him wondering what was going on in his daily notebook.

In all the excitement I’ve forgotten to take his 12-month picture. Maybe tomorrow? This might be the last one since counting by month seems less interesting now.

It’s been sweet to think about where we were a year ago, to look at the pictures I took at the maternity ward, and to think about how little I knew this baby boy back then. He’s such a joy and a surprise every day. There are so many things I look forward to doing with him as he gets bigger, but I still want to hold on to this baby part of his life a bit longer, even as he’s getting closer to toddler-hood.

The Past Week

Well I’m on vacation for the next two weeks, but wiped out Thursday night with something head-ache-like that the doctor called “neuralgia”. Ibuprofen seems to have taken care of it but it did keep me from going in on the last day. Littlest will be at the nanny’s this week (except for Wednesdays as usual) so I will be trying to get a lot of work done.

Other than his birthday yesterday, which I’ll write about in its own post, not much is going on here. I did, however, contribute to a crowd-funding campaign for an illustrated breastfeeding manuel. I hope she makes her goal because I would really like to have this book, even though its pertinence is sort of over for us for this round. We’ll mostly be concerned by the weaning chapter (eugh, so many questions and feelings about this).

I also donated to the UNHCR because I can’t emotionally deal with the stories coming out of Myanmar. (I don’t know who to talk to about it because I don’t want to depress anyone else.) I can’t really give much but maybe at some point I’ll be able to make it into a monthly donation.

Here are some other, more lighthearted things:

AIM Was Perfect, and Now It Will Die: From the Atlantic. This writer was a tiny bit after my time, but still, AIM was part of some very formative years for me. I also attribute it with teaching me to type so fast.

Leaving Isn’t Such a Trivial Act, After All From Zhu. This hits home.

Historically, how did a country get a name in another language? From Quora

Being a Dictionary


Not me

There’s this frustrating phenomenon with being an English-speaker in France, and even more so an English-speaking English teacher in France, where everyone assumes you can tell them what a word translates to or what an equivalent idiomatic expression is on the spot.

One of the reasons I disliked the translation exam on the teaching concours so much was because I just don’t think constantly learning equivalent words and expressions serves any purpose in speaking a foreign language. (And, importantly, neither do the official Education Nationale curricula—but when it comes to testing teachers, apparently they don’t care.) After ten years in France, like most people who speak a foreign language, I don’t translate words; in fact I think I’m particularly lazy when it comes to trying to nail down a precise meaning or a precise translation of a new word. I tend to re-use them without thinking about it once I’ve heard them enough times.

So, I only know the equivalent if it’s a word I’ve actually had to look up to understand, a word I learned in French class in the States, or a word I’ve studied or thought about for some reason or another. Same goes for idiomatic expressions, which are the worst questions. One of my colleagues texted me once to ask me how I’d say in French, “slow jam the news.” While I do really like my colleagues and appreciate that they use me as a resource, can you imagine a world in which I’d have figured that one out?

(In her defense, this particular colleague enjoys finding equivalences and actually likes the translation exam, so probably just assumed I did too.)

So I get pretty annoyed about these questions and often tell people, including sometimes students, “I’m not a dictionary.”

The catch is that sometimes I really do know the exact equivalent because I have spent time thinking about it, usually for some chapter or other I’m doing with my students. So it’s a crapshoot for my colleagues as to whether I’ll be annoyed and useless or in fact have the exact response on the tip of my tongue.

Cue frustration.

Anyone else have this type of problem? And do you ever snap at people or are you always a beacon of patience and reflection?