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.



Christmas morning




Littlest at the Boston Aquarium


Getting sick


Bathing off a fever


Christmas book haul


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!


Christmas gifts ready to go


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.


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.