The Past Week

Littlest is walking!

He’d been taking timid mini-steps here and there and working on standing up on his own from sitting down. But last Monday he finally bit the bullet and starting walking and he is progressing like gangbusters over here. So it looks like we’ll have to get him some après-skis for our upcoming family vacation in the Alps. I might have to create a new “Toddler” blog category and retire the “Baby” one.

Totally unrelated, we are considering getting an Air France credit card. We will probably do a good amount of flying back and forth to the States and some around Europe over the coming years, and Air France, in spite of the strikes, is a pretty good solution. Of course it’s not really a credit card since we are in France—it’s just a debit card with end-of-month debits. Anyone have any experience with this, or other airline cards? It is American Express so we won’t be able to use it everywhere, including grocery shopping at Lidl, as far as I can tell. But we’ll keep our other, cheaper bank cards—in fact I’d cancel my Visa Premier and get something cheaper so that the insurance wouldn’t be redundant.

For example we are considering a trip to Bologna just the two of us at some point. Air France/Hop flies from Poitiers to Bologna (or Venice, but for a four-day destination I think I’d prefer Bologna) with a short stopover in Lyon.

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The Past Week

We’ve all gone back to work with a bang here and it proved to be an exhausting week. I think J and I ate dinner together once this week what with meetings and work dinners and rock-climbing sessions.

Otherwise nothing too noteworthy is going on here. Littlest is working on standing up on his own, which he seems to have gotten the hang of, and taking a few steps here and there. I went into town to take advantage of the soldes and bought myself a new Desigual coat, bag and scarf. We baptized my new Le Creuset Dutch oven with mussels last night and it was yummy. I also started reading Hillary Clinton’s book about the election, another Christmas gift.

I’ve finished the Crown and discovered that Season 7 of the Good Wife is FINALLY ON NETFLIX. Netflix of course neglected to alert me to this vital development. It may have happened months ago.

So, here’s some reading.

NPR: Black Mothers Keep Dying After Giving Birth. Shalon Irving’s Story Explains Why

and, I feel, relatedly: Serena Williams on Motherhood, Marriage, and Making Her Comeback

Emily Writes: I tried to recreate the magical Christmases of my childhood and it was a wonderful disaster: I cried from laughing reading this.

France Gall passed away: VIDEO. Mort de France Gall: Dix tubes qui ont marqué la chanson française

2018 Wtf

Here were are in 2018 and my feelings about that are mostly, “How did this happen? We were looking forward to the movie 2012 coming out just a few minutes ago, is that over already?”

In terms of accomplishments this year I feel like I’ve really only got the one: I kept my baby alive and happy. Hurray!

But I mean I guess some other stuff did happen. I ordered our 2017 family photo album from Apple the other day and it was 54 pages long so there was clearly some stuff to put in it.

Trips, as always—though we’re planning on slowing down on the transatlantic voyages with the baby: Ireland including Northern Ireland, rockclimbing in Spain, summer and winter in Boston, rockclimbing in Germany, a little sightseeing in the south. Baby births (Tiniest) and birthdays (Littlest). My aunt recovering from breast cancer and treatment. Changes at work that make me happier. New, friendly colleagues.

 

As soon as Littlest wakes up we are off to the in-laws for a third present-opening day of this Christmas season. So that’s all I have to say about the new year.

A Transatlantic Trip with a 14-month Old

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Train fun

Several things were different about this trip with Littlest compared to the one last July.

For one, he was now mobile: crawling, standing up, cruising.

Also, we didn’t buy him a seat.

There were no grandparents, just me and J.

But we also had no overnight in Paris and no connecting flight in the States.

We bought our Paris-Boston ticket through Air France and had time to take the TGV directly up to Charles de Gaulle the morning of the flight. Baby seats on TGVs are very cheap (like 9€, I think, for this trip). We didn’t take his car seat this time and so made arrangements to be picked up and dropped off at each end by someone with a car seat. We just took his Quinny Yezz stroller, which folds in three and fits in the overhead compartment. We also had his diaper backpack and my purse as carry-ons.

With Air France we were allowed a third suitcase for traveling with the baby, though the return flight was operated by Delta and they called it a “baby bag” and said that it really should only be up to 20 pounds (it was 21 on the way back so they let it slide). It was a sleek new purple carry-on sized suitcase that my parents gave us for Christmas. We also checked my big suitcase and Julien’s travel backpack.

The most complicated part of all that luggage is getting it on and off the train, especially at Charles de Gaulle where they repeatedly don’t stop for long enough for everyone to get on and off, given that people can be real morons about their suitcases on trains (leaving them in the aisle? thanks…). So it was important to be as compact as possible.

So anyway, how did it go? Littlest did indeed fall asleep on us, once he was to the point of exhaustion. On the Air France flight, we had the bulkhead seats and the bassinet (up to 10 kg and Littlest was 9.3), so we would then set him in the bassinet and be free to move around. Unfortunately Delta didn’t give us the same courtesy, though they did put us in slightly roomier seats, so Littlest just slept across us, and my butt definitely started hurting at some point.

He loved the kids’ play area at the Boston airport, and I got him to take a nap at the CDG train station on the way back by strollering him around for twenty minutes. He LOVED the train and was constantly moving around on the able, to the window, over the seats… and then falling asleep twenty minutes from our stop.

All in all, it was a success, but I definitely don’t feel like doing it again soon. Littlest was in a mama-only phase especially on the way there, so J couldn’t really help out much with holding him on the plane. I watched a number of animated movies without the sound that looked pretty good (Baby Boss, Captain Underpants, Moana…) and kept Littlest sometimes entertained and sometimes calm.

But I hope to put off any other transatlantic trips for a while. In all honesty this will probably be the only one we do with him on our laps.

A Boston Christmas

J and I watched a few episodes of the show Leftovers before we decided it was too bleak and stopped. But it was a good show. Two percent of the world’s population have disappeared instantaneously without explanation, randomly. The show picks up three years later when people are all more or less dealing with the aftermath. One woman lost her husband and her two children. She gives a speech about a day she remembers, when they were all sick and vomiting—it was a terrible day. And then she says that she would settle just for that day, when they were sick and all together.

That’s how I felt about this vacation for a while. Boston was in the middle of an unusual cold snap, but the former Minnesotan in me didn’t mind. It was basically February weather in Minnesota, and I could handle a week of that. My mom arrived sick and made us a great Christmas dinner; my uncles arrived; my nephew was getting over some sort of bug. Then everybody started getting sick—my dad came down with a stomach flu. My mom was still sick. She somehow picked up the stomach flu as well. Littlest started running a fever. He seemed okay with it till one night—I had gotten terribly sick in the meantime—when it spiked up to 40 and we took him to the ER. My mom was somehow still sick. The doctor told us it was probably the flu and gave both him and me Tamiflu. My mom was still sick. The next morning she took a Lyft to the hospital and they checked her in with kidney failure.

What was I saying? I had been feeling grateful just to have the time together, even if we were sick. We had Christmas together, a snowy morning, lots of French and English presents to share. Littlest hung out with his cousin until he probably caught what he had been fighting, and they became off limits to each other. We missed out on two days with my brother but my parents still got to see a slightly feverish (except for those two 40-degree evenings) Littlest crawling around, playing with the AirBnB baby’s toys and books.

Then my mom got checked into the hospital. We made the best of the last two days once I felt a little better. We got to see my nephew again and went out for lunch the last day. J actually felt fine the entire time and got to walk around Jamaica Pond and go to REI (as we always do when we go to the States). But the last two days something was definitely missing and my take on things wasn’t really cutting it anymore.

It was both a relief and difficult to leave. I was so grateful Littlest and I were feeling fine and that J hadn’t gotten sick. I had been worried about having to push back our flight and find another place to stay. None of that was going to happen. But my dad almost cried when we left, and we didn’t get to see my mom the last day. Worried and sad thoughts kept playing through my mind during our flight back.

But she should be fine. We are learning all sorts of things about what not to do if you’re sick for a long time. All sorts of things about looking after your loved ones and not taking them for granted or imagining that moms’ bodies can hold out through anything. They can’t. Watch out for your mamas like they watch out for you—kidding, I don’t think that’s possible. But watch out for them all the same.

Here are some pictures anyway. I’m trying to put up fewer of Littlest with his face, so that’s why there are mostly photos of the back of his cute head.

 

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Christmas morning

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Sightseeing

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Littlest at the Boston Aquarium

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Getting sick

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Bathing off a fever

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Christmas book haul

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Hanging out with Daddy

What week is it?

Things have gotten a little bit harried around here and I have to admit I don’t have much idea what I’ve written about or not recently. It’s not just that we’re busy, it’s really also that I rarely use my laptop on the couch anymore since Littlest is immediately attracted to it if he’s awake. My mom left me her old iPad so I’ve been using that and I’m still not a big fan of writing on a tablet.

We are just a few days out from the Christmas vacation. This year at work we the English teachers (or at least some of us) have instated a “Christmas pull-over day” (couldn’t bring myself to call it a jumper) so I bought this sweater to wear. I also have some Christmas socks. I hope it becomes a tradition.

J and I left Littlest with his French grandparents and took off Saturday afternoon with the other club climbers for a rock-climbing competition where J competed and I judged, almost non-stop, all day. But it was a fun outing and good to get away even though it wasn’t really a romantic escape. Littlest had a fab time with Mamie and Papi.

I just have to make it through Thursday and Friday classes and grading, the remise du bac Friday night, laundry and packing Saturday, and then we are off to Boston for Christmas! Eek!

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Christmas gifts ready to go

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Unrelated: Recent purchase, soon to be on Littlest’s wall

Wonder Week Leap 8

So I think we are in the middle of wonder week leap eight 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.

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Showing Nanna our book