Planning to plan

Now that bébé is napping better, we are actually able to do a lot more on weekends. Before we never knew if we’d have 20 minutes or 2 hours to ourselves. But now we can be confident that we can actually sit down and have a proper meal, or watch an entire movie without being interrupted. Not that those are the only things we do, just the things we do most often . . .

Today for some reason, I spent almost his entire morning nap time watching videos about different planners. Like, paper, spiral-bound planners. A friend had posted about hers, and I checked out the site, and somehow just got sucked into the comparisons of all the different brands that are out there.

This is the first year in a long time that I haven’t had a paper planner. Getting ready for bébé involved lots of appointments, and it was just easier to keep track of them on my phone rather than trying to remember to write them down in a notebook somewhere, so I stopped using my 2014 planner early last year.

However, I am also quite particular about my week/month layout, and none of the planners I have found in France have really met my needs, so I didn’t really have the time/energy to go looking through the thousands that are out there to find one I liked. It seems so silly, but only once did I find one here that had a two-page monthly spread before the weekly pages. And when I wanted to buy the same one the following year, they’d taken out the monthly pages!  Judging by the videos and comments about the different brands, I am not the only one who is particular about this kind of thing . . .

Perhaps it wasn’t the most productive way to spend an hour and a half, but now I am all excited to buy one this summer and “pretty plan”. I still can’t believe I actually spent that long looking at websites and watching videos of people talking about planners, but really, it was research – planning to plan is the first step to actually planning, right? And while my phone is fine for reminding me of doctor’s appointments, as bébé gets bigger and our social life starts getting a little more interesting, I know we’ll have a lot more to keep track of. The keepsake/crafty aspect of a lot of the brands is nice too – I don’t always remember to update the baby book, and it’s a way to feel creative while staying organized at the same time.

Now I just need to remember to actually buy one. I need a planner to plan to buy a new planner, ha!

Accidentally swearing in French

When you first start learning a language, it’s always a good idea to learn the bad words. This ensures that even if you can’t speak very well, you’ll know if someone is insulting you or not. Since swearing in French was not something I learned from the teachers in my immersion school, my friends and I first had to learn the bad words in English. Then, naturally, we would look them up in our dictionaries to see how to say them in French. However, this was a fairly unreliable method, since even if the dictionary had the word you want, it didn’t always tell you how to use it (our dictionaries were actual books back then, no Wordreference for us!).

Also, in general, there seem to be less truly bad words in French, since so many of the translations of things that would never be heard on American television or radio are perfectly acceptable here. Not that every other word is “merde” or anything, but the French have a relationship with words, and a way of playing with them, that is very different than in English. There are less words in French than in English, so they are very creative in the way they use their words. I am always particularly proud when I can figure out a pun without someone explaining it, and have even made one or two myself over the years.

There are also other ways of being rude than swearing. For example, my husband was telling me that he got so angry at the post office the other day, he left without saying goodbye. More than any bad words he could have said, this showed the person how upset he really was.

In my years in France, I’ve picked up a good number of foul expressions and slang that I use much more liberally than I do their English equivalents. Somehow it just doesn’t have the same weight as in English. I think it’s also still a lingering habit from childhood of using the French word so my parents couldn’t understand what I was saying (this being the main reason for spending all that time looking things up in dictionaries, of course). I thought I knew most of the worst ones, but I accidentally stumbled onto a few more this week. And while at work, of all places!

The first was while talking about the name “Fiona” and I said it was Irish, and I said something like “all ‘Fion’ names are usually Irish,” which made my colleague burst out laughing. I asked her what I’d said, and she whispered that “fion” was a very bad word. The internet translated it as “ass,” which doesn’t seem that bad, but it’s apparently quite vulgar.

For the second, we were discussing hair color (names and hair color are always hot topics in an HR department), and my mangled pronunciation of auburn turned into “aux burnes” which has to do boy bits . . . Later that day, my husband helpfully taught me the phrase “casser les burnes” which means to annoy someone, but I am under strict instructions to not use this in front of his mother, which means it’s definitely pretty bad.

So of all the ways to learn new bad words, what happened this past week was probably the funniest way. If I’d said similar things at a family event, everyone would have been too polite to say anything, though they may have snickered a bit. Even if I generally dislike situations at work where I make mistakes in French, sometimes it can be (unintentionally) hilarious, and I got to learn a few new things as well (though not really things I can use on a regular basis!).

Eight months

My 8th monthly letter to bébé.


Dear bébé,

It’s official – you’re on the move! You figured out the “Rambo” style crawl this month (pulling forward with just your arms), and you get faster every day. Favorite targets include the computer, the playstation, and cell phones. You still roll a lot as well, to get from one place to another. You can get on your knees and sway back and forth, so full on crawling is just around the corner. There were a few days where it looked like you were doing a plank position, by pushing on your arms and toes at the same time. You sit up really well on your own and are working on going from on your back to sitting up by yourself, and you practice by pulling on who/whatever is around you. With all this movement and activity, childproofing needs to happen soon!

You eat solid foods three times a day now, and have started eating chicken and yoghurt, and a few other new fruits and veggies. Your favorite is pears and avocados. You’ve started getting bits of banana, but all you do is smash them and push them on the floor. You seem similarly disinterested in transitioning from a bottle to a cup. So those are things to keep working on this month.

Another thing to work on this month is night waking. For a few weeks, you’ve only woken up once to eat, so that probably won’t change anymore and you’re eating less and less. Any other wakings before midnight, you can be calmed in a few minutes with a cuddle. Those 4 am wakings though are another story, and it takes at least an hour for you to stop giggling/talking to yourself and go back to sleep. It’s like you know you’ve hit the 10 hour mark and have decided that’s enough. If that’s really the case, and that’s just your nighttime number, momma and daddy need to figure out a new schedule that gets you to bed a little later.

Recently, you’ve been asleep by 6:30, since you’ve stopped taking a second nap in the afternoon. You nap around 9 and again around 1. It varies a bit, but the nap in the morning tends to be longer than in the afternoon. You sleep really well at the new nanny’s, and not so well at mamie’s (probably because you know you can get away with anything with your grandparents!) So if there’s a way to get you to take a short nap around 4:30, then maybe you’ll go to bed closer to 7 . . . But with your first tooth still hanging out under the gums, sleep may not make any sense until it finally cuts through.

You’re back on track for weight, still in the 10th percentile like you have been since birth. 50th percentile for length, so you’re more the “tall and lean” type of baby rather than the “round and chubby” variety. Your hair seems a little lighter, but definitely brown. Eyes still a gorgeous blue. Your eczema has gotten a lot better, whether because of the creams, or switching laundry detergent, or the slightly warmer weather, who knows. It might have be allergies, but you’re eating all the same foods as before.

This month finally feels like we have a good routine down, which probably means next month will be craziness! There’s a trip to Paris planned, and a party momma and daddy will go to while you stay with mamie, so hopefully none of that will bother you much. You haven’t shown too much separation anxiety yet, though the one night daddy slept away from home, you seemed to be looking for him in the morning. And there was one day you cried “ma!” right as momma left to go to work, which was pretty heartbreaking.

However, it probably didn’t really mean momma, since while you’re pretty good at the “mama” and “dada” noises, you seem to say them randomly, along with “buh” and “nuh”. Your screechy dinosaur noises have calmed down, and you’ve started occasionally making this rising intonation noise like “eah?” when you see yourself in the mirror or on the camera, which is beyond cute.

“Beyond cute” describes you pretty perfectly right now. You’re an adorable little rolling, creeping, giggling, babbling baby, and momma and daddy just love seeing you discover new things in the world and new things you can do every day.

Bisous & kisses,

Your momma

Breastfeeding and body image

Since it’s the beginning of a new month, I was looking back on the workouts I’ve managed to do in February, and I was feeling a little disappointed. I didn’t do nearly as much as I wanted. Also, while I’m very happy that I’m able to continue breastfeeding, I am realizing it’s causing a few body image issues. Mainly, I feel like my body is not my own right now. And in a way, it’s not. Everything I eat and do will impact bébé, so I can’t think about what I want but what he needs. So despite “bouncing back” to my pre-pregnancy shape and weight fairly quickly,  I do not feel very comfortable in my body. A lack of time and energy means that I’m not eating as well as I’d like, nor working out as often as I’d like.

But then I saw this article and infographic on one of the fitness/mom blogs I read. (I only read fitness blogs from mothers, because reading about a single 22-year-old spending three hours a day in the gym would just be depressing). It really helped, since it shows how much time/planning/energy a very high level of fitness actually takes. The article encourages you to really think about what you’re willing to give up to get what you want, and it’s okay if you realize that maybe you didn’t want it as much as you thought (or want other things more).

I haven’t had my body fat measured, but based on how I look and what I do have the time/energy to do, I figure I’m in the 25-30% range, which is perfectly healthy. Getting my body fat down to the 23-25% range is supposed to be an “easy transition” but I’m not sure it’s possible for me right now. (Especially the part about 7 hours of sleep per night!)

Every evening, it takes about 45 minutes to do the whole bath/feed/bedtime ritual with bébé. As long as I’m breastfeeding, my husband can’t do it in my place. (Well, he usually does the bath, but the feeding part is still my area). So while I’d love to use those 45 minutes to get in a daily workout instead of just a short video few times a week, I also love that time with my son, and am (mostly) fine with staying a little extra squishy in exchange. Accepting that this is how my body looks and feels right now is hard, but it’s also very hard anytime I’m faced with giving up that one-on-one time with bébé (like when I have a dinner or meeting at night and our time together gets cut short). It’s another one of those mixed feelings things that seem to be happening quite often in my motherhood experience. Work/stay at home, couple time/sleep, working out/bébé time . . . everyday my feelings change about which one I want more!

Knowing that it’s unrealistic to expect certain results given what I am able and willing to put in right now helps to calm these mixed feelings. I also try to remind myself that one day, probably much sooner than I expect, his nighttime ritual will mean a bottle and a book with daddy, and I will have more time to workout. One day I will actually plan our meals for the week and not just buy random healthy things and hope it doesn’t all spoil before we can use everything. One day my body will feel like my own again, and I can eat and drink without worrying about the impact it will have on anyone except myself.

But that day is not today, or tomorrow, or even this month. This month I will keep on doing what I’ve been doing, with the same goal of doing a tiny bit better than last month.