The Past Week

Classes are over for the year and only a few meetings are left, which leaves me with some free time before I go pick up my bac papers (85 of them!) on the 22nd.

It’s been weird—Littlest is still going to the nanny’s most days as it’s in her contract, so I’ve been doing some yard work and taking some naps. It’s luxurious.

With nothing else of interest to report, here’s a little reading:

The Most Overlooked Reason Why Kids Won’t Listen

Vox: I used to be a 911 dispatcher. I had to respond to racist calls every day.

Allaiter ou pas – pourquoi tant d’émotions ? ?

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Traveling for Work and Building a Family

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Skyping with a 19-month-old

For the past four years I’ve taught in the European section of my high school, to the seconde (=tenth graders), and I LOVE IT. I love these kids so much. I get to be a homeroom teacher (=professeur principal), and my class is actually only at most half Euro-section kids, but this mix is just magic, and the class is so great.

I jumped on the opportunity to teach this class when our Euro section grew to a class-and-a-half and we needed not only someone to take on the extra English hours, but also take them on an exchange trip.

When I took up this class, of course, I was living with J, not yet married though in the midst of wedding planning, and having kids was in the plans but very abstract—as it is for everyone, I think, until those kids arrive and change your life.

When we were trying to get pregnant, I had no idea how to manage these secret plans and also probably take my students on their exchange trip. I discretely checked out partner schools that were NOT a 27-hour bus ride away, and in the end, got to travel by plane since my group was so small. In the midst of mostly secret first-trimester fatigue and nausea, this trip somehow turned out to be one of my best. The kids were so sweet, the colleagues were so nice, and the country was so beautiful.

I got back home and announced my pregnancy and took organizing a school trip off the table for the following year. While colleagues seemed to haphazardly forget that I was not doing this trip and need reminding, everything worked out really well and I actually got to keep teaching and homeroom-ing this class, save for the four months I was on maternity leave.

And then my colleague told me he was taking the 11th graders to Ireland. So we all know how my “no trip” plans worked out. Again I got to go on a fantastic trip with sweet students and wonderful colleagues and, truthfully, visiting Northern Ireland was culturally really important to me and also blew my mind. But it was really hard leaving Littlest even then, when he was too small to really understand when I was and wasn’t there.

So this year I’ve jumped right back in the game renewing our exchange with our partner school in Warsaw. And this time I also hosted a Polish teacher and managed the week that the Polish students were here. And it was exhausting with a tiny man in the house—repeated evenings out are not my thing anymore, and Littlest was not sleeping great the week before our guests arrived.

For the time being I’ve firmly decided I won’t leave for any more than a week, which means traveling by plane, which is more comfortable for everyone anyway. A week is about as much time as J can take, I think, taking care of Littlest alone, but also as long as I can stand to leave them.

But I don’t know how moms who leave all the time do it!

Add to the equation that these aren’t trips that I can just back out of—sixty-plus people this year were counting on me to be there unless there was some sort of emergency. So how exactly do you juggle having and planning a family with this dynamic?

The Past Weeks

Before my trip to Warsaw with the students, J and I took advantage of this last May’s ridiculous week of multiple holidays and took off to the northwest of Spain (Santa Gadea) to do some bouldering, just us and Littlest.

The drive was a PITA and J only realized the night before quite how far it was—7 1/2 hours not counting breaks. I said fine but we are not doing a drive like that again with Littlest all in one go.

It was the first time we’ve been to Spain without really getting to experience Spanish culture. We were all alone at the bouldering site—I guess most people come in summer.

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Littlest watching us climb from the safety of his stroller (to prevent him playing on the crash pads)

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Somebody spying on us

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Ouch (so that was my last boulder of the trip)

It was a nice trip though, and Littlest got to take advantage of being outdoors and seeing the different animals wandering around. Unfortunately there was no climbing guide book available so J had to do research on the internet in the evening to more or less guide us to the right areas the following day. Not all that practical but we made do.

The other big thing for us in May was that I bought a new car. I found it at the same garage that sold me my trusty 98 Corolla which I now have to try to sell. It needs a little basic work before I put an ad up—cleaning, inspection, oil change. It’s hard to find the time to get this type of stuff done these days but maybe in June I’ll have more time.

In work news I’m trying to get my colleagues to get on board with using Slack instead of e-mail. I’m really tired of the deluge of one-line e-mails and really hoping I can drag everyone into this—at the very least my fellow English teachers.

Links:

What I found as a gift to J for Father’s Day shhh don’t tell: Le Petit Cube

The Truth about Not Being Able to Breastfeed: from a woman with insufficient glandular tissue

Why Are My Fellow Whites Still So Awful at Naming Children?: YES

What’s Going On In Your Child’s Brain When You Read Them A Story?

France Inter, La Tête au Carré: Nouveau regard sur la naissance et le nouveau-né (just the first ten minute segment is about biodiversity, the rest is on topic)

 

 

 

Return to Warsaw

I went back to Warsaw for a third time last week with my students for an exchange we run with a Polish high school there.

My Polish colleague couldn’t stop pointing out the new housing going up, and telling me how Warsaw is changing, with fancy new apartment buildings everywhere. She told me that next time I must return to Praga, the hip neighborhood that we walked through one afternoon last time—that it’s becoming more and more interesting.

The story of Warsaw was hardly new to me this time, yet it was still a bit of a jolt to be in a city so heavily marked by its past. The old town is beautiful and a monument to human perseverance—but everywhere you look, there’s nothing older than 1945. The 3D film that plays at the Insurrection Museum is available on Youtube if you want to see it for yourself.

I can’t help but wonder about the generation that my students have their exchange with, and whether or not this past weighs heavily on them.

It was a wonderful trip if a little more stressful than my previous one to Slovenia, simply because we had twice as many students with us. I left with a half empty suitcase and it came home full: two bottles of vodka (one store-bought, one home-made), one bottle of beer, two games for Littlest plus a book about colors in Polish (had to practice some pronunciation for that one), a pair Pumas, and a DVD for the lycée. If I had gone to the pottery store earlier in the week, I would almost certainly have come home with some more Polish pottery.

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A new statute of Marie Curie/Maria Sklodowska

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Pierogi dough

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Pierogis made by the students

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Pierogis made by a Polish colleague’s husband (they were much tastier TBH)

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Dinner the first night

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Rooftops in the old town square

 

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More old town

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The synagogue reconstruction in the Museum of Jewish History in Poland

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Polish pottery

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Gifts for Littlest

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Polish jello

 

The Past Weeks

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Okay so it has been a while, and that’s partly because I don’t have many interesting links to share, because I’ve been spending less time on the internets. Facebook has seemed less and less interesting lately. Like for every one post that’s cool, there are nine that I don’t care about. Anyone else feeling this way? But also I’m on the computer less so it’s harder to bookmark things even when I find something, because it’s on the iPhone.

Whatevs. What has been going on here since we got back from our little escapade to Fontainbleau? I had a wonderful week of staycation with Littlest, visiting playgrounds and reading books. With the improvement in the weather and his growing walking skills we’ve been able to take him out into the yard which he is loving. Today he brought me his shoes and said “Ga” (his new word for when he’s asking for something) and we had to explain that no, it was raining and gross out.

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My thesis advisor from my master’s degree was magically in town this past week and we were able to eat dinner together. It was like a breath of air from another life and I really enjoyed it. Littlest also seems to be letting go of his mama-only phase so it’s been more enjoyable and freeing to be out since I’m confident he’s having a wild time with his dad.

We’ve been working on some new songs with the band which has meant meeting up more often. And I’m starting to look for a new car since I’m tired of putting Littlest in my steamy car on hot days. No AC and no electronic key for locking the car is a drag with an infant.

These next few weeks shoudn’t be too stressful since they are full of public holidays. But in less than three weeks I’ll be off to Warsaw with my students. Hopefully Littlest’s good mood will last through that so I can feel good about leaving him behind.

Links:

Life, Death, and John Prine

Inside The Secret Mind of a 3-year-old: Why they defy you even though they know better and how to handle it with one magic tool: Beyond the “magic tool” that is more complicated than the click-bait part of the title suggests, this was a fascinating article even though my toddler is still a ways off from the defiance phase.

Check out Los Feliz Daycare on Twitter for some laughs.

Patagonia vs. Donald Trump

 

Rock-climbing with a Toddler

We successfully pulled off a rock-climbing trip with Littlest toddling around! This was a bouldering trip where we both planned to climb, with our rock-climbing club, so about 10 other people. The club had rented a minivan and two mobile homes in a campground near Fontainebleau. We took our car as well which seemed much more manageable given the always present possibility that Littlest will get tired of the car at any moment and start grousing.

Upon arrival we reserved the bathroom in one of the mobile homes for Littlest to sleep in, which meant taking quick showers when we got back in the evening so that we could get him to bed, but which also meant that we were tranquil in the other mobile home eating dinner with everybody.

It wasn’t really all that possible for me to climb in the morning when Littlest was awake. We’d arrive at the boulders at around 10:45 am (we had to wait for the morning dew to dry off) and I would typically get in one or two tries before realizing that Littlest needed my attention and it was his lunchtime anyway. Fortunately he then went down joyfully for his nap in his little tent. There was always some exploratory time in the tent where I could see his little head poking up at the top, but he settled down painlessly within about twenty minutes every day. I highly recommend the tent we bought, a Deryan Child Travel Cot. It opens up super quick and is easy to fold back up. The bottom part is transparent so that air can pass through, and Littlest always seemed to end up with his head there, so I think the breeze was important. But it meant that we had to leave the scene in order for him not to see us and get sad.

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Mornings were wetter than afternoons so we did put his waterproof pants on, which was super cute.

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Once he was napping, I was able to climb freely and am pretty happy with my first outdoor bouldering experience.

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Vacation!

I’m on vacation! I survived the cursed month of March and made it to the spring vacation. I had a lovely but tiring time hosting our exchange partners’ teachers, thankfully with multiple lovely colleagues helping out. All of that along with oral exams, practice exams, grading, and evening meetings, made this the worst March of the past seven years, in terms of workload.

So here we are and what do we have planned? Hanging out with Littlest all day has gotten … umm … boring and annoying (in French there’s one word for both those things). So I’m trying to take him out a couple times a day, pre- and post-nap, for a walk, to a store, to a playground… we’ll see how it goes.

Otherwise, this Thursday we are heading to Fontainebleau to go bouldering with the rock-climbing club for four days. We have been preparing Littlest for this trip for a while, by which I mean buying various pieces of equipment. Using this post from Pregnant Chicken as inspiration, we are now hooked up with:

  1. a toddler camping bed: basically a little tent with a mattress that he can nap in during the day
  2. a harness: yes we are going to leash him to a tree if necessary (and it will probably be necessary)
  3. rain pants and a rain coat: hopefully I can cover him in these and the amount of dirt he gets into won’t matter

So, we’ll see how it goes! It’s rock-climbing trip number three with him and since he changes completely in between trips, one will never be like the others. All of this stuff will be useful for a few years, and we’ll be heading out again on a trip in May.

He will also soon have a little table and chairs thanks to my parents. (But those are staying home.)