Getting back to normal

It’s been a week since we got back from France, and things are finally getting back to normal, Monkey’s sleep schedule being the most important, of course. While we really just bought the cheapest tickets we could find, the flight times worked out so that he was really tired in both directions, so there wasn’t an issue falling asleep when we got there, and when we got home. While we were there, he was on a 10pm-8:30am schedule, instead of his normal 7:30pm-6am schedule, which I think helped make the switch back a bit easier.

He still woke up before 5 two days this week, and before 6 all but Friday. This morning we managed our usual Saturday routine: sleeping “in” until 6:30, all three of us going to the Y, and then an “outing,” today we headed to a local farm to pick up some seedlings for our garden.

He’s been getting more TV this week than he usually does, however, simply because we are all so tired, and waking up before 5 meant by 6pm he was DONE and just screaming about everything. And my husband came back to a huge project at work, which meant I was on my own a lot more in the evenings. The less-than-stellar weather has been hard too, since he can’t go outside and play to let off some of that frustration. This week should be better, as we are all much better rested than we were last Saturday.

I’ll do a few other posts about the trip (Sweden especially), but I did want to capture a few language things about Monkey I noticed.

He didn’t seem to pick up as much vocabulary as I thought he would, but a few new key phrases are “Pourquoi?” and “Je sais pas.” He obviously got the second one from asking the first too much! We also taught him to count from one to ten in German and Japanese, which he proudly showed off to everyone in the family. He seemed resistant to Italian, however, which I found interesting. Maybe it’s too close to French and Spanish (which he hears at daycare). He seems to prefer imitating “funny” sounds – when we got back from our side trip to Sweden, he was all too eager to repeat the few words we’d picked up while there.

Another new phrase is “pas manger les possions,” (no eating the fish) which I am assuming he learned from his mamie when she took him to the aquarium. I find it particularly hilarious. I’m pretty sure it’s because he likes to be a monster and “eat” people/things/the cat, so she must have scolded him about putting his face on the glass to “eat” the fish! Overall, he seems to be making longer phrases now, which he’s been doing for awhile in English. So the trip was definitely a good boost for his French.

I have a lot of other thoughts and stories from the trip, not all of the positive, but I thought I’d save those for another day. This drizzly May weather is depressing enough without trying to remember all the stress from France!

Au revoir Mamie

We dropped off my husband’s mother and sister at the airport Saturday afternoon, after a great week spent at the beach and hanging around Boston. To have bébé spend so much time with them was really great, and it gave us a nice little break too. We even managed to get to a Red Sox game while Mamie babysat.  Seeing their bond grow was super special, and she got to see firsthand that we’re really dedicated to making sure he speaks French and can have a strong relationship with his family in France, even if we live far away.

Everything you read about raising bilingual children says that visiting the country or having visitors helps immensely. Even in this very early stage of his bilingualism, I could see it. At the end of two weeks he’s now making three word sentences in French, and has added a bunch of more casual words/phrases like “ça va?” (which he said so much one day at daycare they asked me what it meant) “à tout de suite” (which comes out most of the time like “à tweet tweet”) and “y’en a plus!” (which is part of a whole monologue he does that goes “Y’en a plus! Tout mangé! Gourmand!” – There’s no more! Ate everything! Big eater! – Yeah, we ate A LOT during this visit…)

The first week he was switching up the syllables in his aunt’s name, I think by accident the first time, but since we laughed so much, he kept doing it on purpose. He could say “Tata” (auntie) and “Maddie” (not her real name) but when you told him to say “Tata Maddie” he would say “Tata Damie”. Everyone has a story of doing something like this as a kid, and it’s just insanely cute to see it happening. Even if by the end of the second week, he said it correctly, hopefully it’ll hang around as a nickname.

One very cool thing he started doing this week with a little prompting was saying things like “In English, cow, en français, vache.” I’ve been telling him for a few months now during the ride to/from daycare if he says something in one language that “in English we say X, en français on dit X.” Or when he asks for a song in English that we also sing in French, I ask him what language he wants it in (“Do you want itsy bitsy spider or la petite araignée?”). And apparently it’s starting to make sense to him! He won’t understand what a language “is” for another year or two, but it’s just more reinforcement that he is making all the connections he should be. We joked to Mamie that for her next visit, he could be her little walking dictionary!

She actually did really well in English whenever she was on her own. I think having me and her son around made her more nervous about using the little English she has, so it was good for her to do a few things solo to build a bit of confidence. My mom (a math teacher) is taking French classes as her continuing education requirement, so it’s nice that bébé has been a motivator for these women who wouldn’t have otherwise made an effort to learn another language at their age.

Overall, it was a great visit, and now we can’t wait to plan our visit to see the whole family in France next year!

A visit to Salem in the summer

My husband passed a financial exam last Saturday, after studying for the past six months. What better way to celebrate than with a trip to Salem, also known as Witch City? (There’s really no link between the two things, other than I am super proud of him for passing it so I wanted to mention it!)

I read there was a maritime festival happening last weekend, and since bébé loves boats, I thought it’d be a fun reason to check out Salem. It was a quick drive up 95, and as usual when traveling with bébé, we got there before 9 and there was tons of parking (frugal tip: street parking is often free on Sundays, so arriving early is always good!). We walked around the deserted streets, enjoying the old houses and pedestrian city center before getting (our second) breakfast.

Empty center
Empty center

I’m not sure what I expected, but it felt more European than I thought it would. I’ve heard people say Boston is a very European American city, but so far I don’t really see it. Parts of it are definitely old, and I like it, but it’s not the same feel. Maybe it’s just not like the parts of Europe I’ve been to.

Salem felt more like something familiar. There was a pedestrian center with shops and cafes on a square where you can sit outside. There are lots of old buildings, some are brick, others are First Period houses, and the newer ones blend in pretty well I think. I am not a fan of old mixed with new, I like when cities try to be harmonious. Think Paris, not London. Florence, not Rome. So I liked Salem a lot.

Salem architecture
Salem architecture

I’m not sure if I’ll like it as much in the fall, when the witches come out… There was a little taste of spookiness, which is easy to handle in the sunshine.

Salem

The maritime festival started later than I thought it would, so we didn’t see much. But we did get to see the boats in the harbor (does everyone in Salem get a boat when they buy a house?) and the canon. Bébé behaved beautifully, so we’re crossing out fingers that a slightly easier period is upon us after the screaming fits that plagued us last month.

There were a bunch of these near the museum all painted differently
There were a bunch of these near the museum all painted differently
Much calmer than in Salem's 18th century maritime heyday
Much calmer than in Salem’s 18th century maritime heyday
Sadly, they did not actually shoot the cannon
Sadly, they did not actually shoot the cannon

This weekend I was supposed to take bébé to Providence to visit a friend, to give my husband a break after all that studying. She was sick so we rescheduled, but I tried to at least give him Saturday morning free. So I took bébé to the same farm we visited a few months ago (Drumlin Farm) that’s only 2 dollars per person with a library pass. He liked it last time, but absolutely loved it this time, since he’s now completely obsessed with farm animals. I might have to look into a Mass Audubon membership so we can go as much as we want for free (and all the other wildlife sanctuaries in the state, plus other nifty benefits like member-only access to CSAs and campsites).

I wish I didn’t just post weekend updates, but we really don’t do much during the week! We did call the babysitter to go out for drinks one night last week, and my husband freaked out because he forgot his wallet and was worried about not being able to drink. But then we didn’t get carded, so I guess we’re officially old!

July wrap up

Well that month went by fast! I’ll see if I can remember everything that happened…

My first conference

We were in DC the weekend after bébé’s birthday to visit family, eat more birthday related pastries, and so that I could attend my first professional conference! We all flew down Saturday morning and I stayed on through Thursday while the boys went back Monday morning. Of course bébé slept the whole plane ride home, making me very jealous until it turned out it was because he had an ear infection. He tried daycare but ended up staying home with daddy the next day. And then the daycare called to say hand, foot, mouth disease was making its rounds, which he definitely got in addition to the ear infection. So while I had a great week learning and networking and feeling like a super successful professional lady, it was not a super fun week for my boys. But my husband did an amazing job! I’m not in a role where I need to travel a lot (or even that often – this was pretty much the one time per year), but knowing things at home, including the hard stuff, can be handled just fine without me is reassuring. Though hopefully next time bébé will not be suffering from multiple maladies and it will be a bit easier for them both!

Sun, sand, and water

The weather has been great all month, so bébé has been to the pool every weekend, sometimes just with daddy, sometimes with both of us. We also went to the Revere Beach Sand Sculpting festival, and were pleased to discover the beach is equally agreeable to bébé as the pool is. More so, perhaps, since he has much more room to run around.

I will probably repeat this several times over the next few months, but I really really love that we’re less than 30 minutes from the ocean. For someone growing up a good three hours away from the beach, this seems quite luxurious. My husband asked if we could go to the beach every weekend. I said we could go every night after work if he really wanted. It’s probably less of a novelty for him, since he spent elementary school on the island of Mayotte where his mother taught, but we’re still both excited about how much beach time bébé will get in the coming years. Though we are not set on Revere beach as “our” beach, since we still have many more beaches to explore in the area.

Art fail

It seems like bébé decided “hey, I’m two, time to get learnin’!” and his growth in all areas has exploded exponentially this month. To encourage this period of ever increasing curiosity, I thought I’d take him to the Institute of Contemporary Art. Always trying to keep things cheap if possible, we went on one of their Saturday Play Dates, when it’s free for up to 2 adults accompanying children (who are always free). I even found street parking that was only 2 dollars instead of the 15 dollar lot. So while we only spent about 20 minutes in the museum, it wasn’t too expensive of an outing.

Besides the art we (very briefly) saw, the location on the water is really pretty and the building is cool. Bébé liked the area out back with steps to climb up and down, and the walkways along the water. I think he’s still a few years from appreciating art (and not trying to destroy it) but I think I’ll keep taking him to museums when I can (=when it’s free). Getting used to the space, the atmosphere, and having special time with me will hopefully make it something we keep doing as years go by. And there are tons of museums in Boston to discover together!

 

August will hopefully be a little calmer, but still with weekend adventures. And I’ll try to write it down as it happens, rather than attempting to remember it all during the last few hours on the 31st…

Bébé is two!

It’s been a year since my monthly letters to bébé ended, and now that bébé is two, I thought I’d start doing yearly letters to make sure I keep some sort of record of all the cool (and not so cool!) stuff he gets up to.

Dear bébé,

You are two! And you can even say “two” and “deux” though never when someone actually asks how old you are. You do say it when you see the number. You also recognize the number eight, and can (mostly) count to ten in both French and English. You skip three in French, but make up for it by saying “onze” (11) and “douze” (12) once we get to ten.

Starting to count has impressed the people at daycare. You’re good with names too, say “bye-bye” to everyone, and blow them kisses when you leave. Everyone says what a bright, smiling, friendly guy you are, and you are fully aware that you’re everyone’s favorite. Unfortunately, you are going through another bout of separation anxiety, so at least one day a week you cry when momma drops you off.

But it could also just be that you are turning into a huge momma’s boy! Dinner is  complicated with you on momma’s lap, but it’s not so bad since you’re not too heavy yet. You’ll go to the doctor’s this week for a checkup, but you still seem to still be in that 50th percentile for height and 10th for weight. Though maybe weight will be lower than expected, since all you seem to eat is peanut butter and crackers.

However, we’re not too concerned about you being a “picky” eater, since you do usually try most things, or at least stick out your tongue and pretend to. A surprising thing you love is fried calamari. So hopefully that spirit of discovery and adventure continues! (And you eat fine at daycare, so we know you’re just testing our parental limits when you won’t eat at home.)

Sleep has gotten much more predictable in the past few months. You nap very well at home, usually 2 hours, though less at daycare, where there are more distractions. At night, you fall asleep between 7:30 and 8, and are up around 6:15 (pushing back bedtime by 15 minutes has drastically reduced the 5:30am wake ups). Your bedtime routine starts at 7 and is a half hour of books and about 5 ounces of milk (almond or cow, depending on what we have in the fridge). Sometimes you play games first, since recently you’ve gotten better at entertaining yourself, making towers and trains with duplos or playing with the colored peg game your mamie sent you. But you always come back to books; you love them so much! Your favorite books change weekly, but lately it’s been “Poisson un, poisson deux” by Doctor Seuss, and a pop-up book about Lola who goes swimming and meets lots of sea creatures. It’s pretty cute to hear you say “poulpe” (octopus) and “tartoo” (“tortue” – turtle).

Your vocabulary in both languages definitely focuses on animals. You can say all the farmyard animals like cow, pig, horse, sheep, and duck, and their noises. When you say “Oll Do” we know it means you want us to sing Old MacDonald. Other songs you request are “whee bus” (wheels on the bus) and “bababacsheep” (baa baa black sheep). These are all songs you learned at daycare, so sometimes you ask for something we can’t decipher, and you get frustrated.

You still use a pacifier for naps and at night, but almost never during the day. Once you see the dentist for the first time later this month, it may need to go away forever, to keep all your teeth in line. You have pretty much all of them, and you absolutely love to brush them! But you hate if momma brushes them, so we’re not sure how clean they’re actually getting.

Some funny things you do:

  • take off your socks so we can put them on your hands, then you try to eat and play with them like that
  • at the splash park, you do this little “fountain dance” where you move your fists up and down, imitating the way the water shoots up
  • you like to imitate a video of yourself at 13 months making lion noises
  • holding a phone (or any rectangular object) to your ear and have a very lengthly conversation on it, mostly saying “aloo?” a lot, but also some babbling

You don’t just babble though. In addition to animals and body party, you say “daddy,” “papa,” and “boubou” (momma’s name for daddy) but only “mama.” You say “peeese” (please), “si pait” (s’il te plait), “merci” and “tank oo” when prompted, and you’ve started using “terminé” instead of “all done” when you’re at home.

We speak only French at home and when we’re out just the three of us, but we’ll read you books in English if that’s what you pick out. Your favorite videos are in English, but we managed to switch the one app you play into French. It’s Crayola Colorful Creatures, and you love to color and play with all the different animals. It’s hard to say how much screen time you get, because sometimes you go four or five days without anything, then other times it seems like you manage to charm us into a few minutes in the morning as well as the evening.

And you are definitely charming! Just insanely cute, with a mischievous grin that pops up whenever you know you’re doing something bad (which is more and more often). You know what you want and say “no” to almost everything, but almost never to kisses and cuddles. Which is lucky, because if how you spent your birthday is any indication of how this year will go, it won’t be just fun at the pool and running around parks. There’s also going to be lots of tears and tantrums. So kisses and cuddles will help to balance all of that out.

It’s getting both harder and more fun for momma and daddy, and we can’t wait to see what new things we’ll all learn this year.

Bisous & kisses

Your momma

Bébé’s adaptation to the States

So I’ve talked a bit about our adjustment to our jobs, and a new routine, but what about bébé? I’ve mentioned how much he likes daycare, but there are other things I started noticing almost as soon as we arrived in January that I wanted to be sure to get down before I forget. While I know so much of this is just related to his age (the 18-24 month period is full of new milestones), it’s hard for me to disassociate all the progress from the move. I know he would have done all of the same things in France, but I’ve convinced myself he is doing them sooner/better because the environment in the States is “better” somehow (just rereading that made me think “You’re crazy” but at least I know that I am!)

-When we were living with my parents, he was so great with my dad. He’s retired, and not that active, but bébé managed to get him up and running around (well, ambling quickly) every day. I’m pretty sure bébé thought he was a bear, because of his size, and it was amazing to see a connection develop so quickly. Bébé also enjoyed stealing grandaddy’s food, so that was a good way to get both of them to eat more vegetables.

-Speaking of food, baby food is very different here. I guess I thought since diapers were the same, food would be. The big thing I’ve noticed is the applesauce. There are tons of flavors of natural, sugar-free applesauce in France, but here it seems like everything designed for kids has sugar in it. It’s making me a little crazy. And there seem to be less brands of baby food and less “meal” options in general. Like his favorite had been couscous, but definitely not able to find that here. People said not to waste suitcase space on bringing his favorite things, but the first week I really regretted not bringing at least a few!

One difference that is nice are the squeeze packs of  fruit that include veggies. He gobbled those up at first, so at least he was getting some veggies.  Now of course he will only eat certain colors, and insists on using a spoon for everything, and only eating from my plate, so the struggle begins again. He is a very American kid and likes macaroni and cheese, but only sometimes chicken nuggets. He prefers sweet potato fries to normal fries, which I consider a huge mom-win.

I did bring enough formula for one week, thinking we’d buy more here. Also surprised to discover it’s very different here! So the switch to whole milk (probably a bit overdue anyway) was made, and frankly, he didn’t seem to notice a difference. I’ve been putting in almond milk too now, to see if we can stop buying milk altogether, and he also likes that. So hurray for his non-pickiness in certain areas!

-The past few weeks in particular he has been going through a language explosion. This is the area I try to remind myself would have happened anywhere in the world at this age. But it’s still so incredibly cool to witness.

Since we speak only French at home, and mamie recently sent him tons of French books, some things he says in French only, like colors, and body parts. I can see him working out certain things like green/gris(grey), but that’s production. Comprehension is fine in both languages.

He’s well into his mimic phase, and will repeat random things we say or that he sees in videos. Animal sounds are obviously the cutest. And he’s got some food words like “ju” which works in both languages, though he still says “lait” and “l’eau” in French. He also started saying “yucky” the other day (daycare thought he was saying “lucky”), and he knows the names of the other kids at daycare. Well, he says “Ana” which, since he also loves Frozen, he was already saying before he started.

-He is interacting more with other kids outside of daycare as well. And he seems to be getting over his wariness of men and has stopped hiding his face from strangers on the street. He’s been giving high fives (or “ha fah” as he says) and spent 10 minutes on the bus last week playing high five with a young guy sitting behind us.

The playground near our house has a basketball court as well, so there’s always people there. Last week there was a man with his two sons, one was about 8, and the other the exact same size as bébé (though when I asked, he was actually 5 months younger, so either he was big, or bébé is small!). They were tossing around a football, and of course bébé wanted to play with theirs, rather than the one we had brought. They were so nice about it, and the older one was obviously used to playing with his little brother, and was very gentle about passing it and chasing him. Bébé does seem to be more interested in older kids, and it’s nice to have so many things so close where he can interact with kids of all ages, which is definitely really helping his development.

 

In less than 2 months he will be 2, which is insane. He’s right on track with everything (even the tiny bit of language “delay” that I notice is totally normal for bilingual children) , and this is definitely a super cute age, when he’s starting to seek out cuddles and kisses, and interact with us and the world in totally new and interesting ways.

Getting used to a new routine

It’s been 2 weeks now since my husband started his job, and almost two weeks since bébé started daycare. He got his first ear infection the weekend before he was supposed to start, so I was at home with him for two days. I was able to work a little from home, and was grateful for how flexible my job is to allow me to do so, though it was definitely a challenge. I think any future work from home days will be while he’s at daycare, so I can actually work!

Even this week wasn’t a full week, because of the snow on Monday (Massachusetts weather continues to mystify me) I picked him up a bit early. So we are getting used to a new routine little by little, and hopefully next week will be a full, normal week!

The new routine involves waking up a half hour earlier than we’d been doing previously. It doesn’t seem like much, but I am really feeling the difference today – I even had coffee for like, the third time in my entire life (result = no increased energy, only increased acid reflux, boo). It’s only a tiny bit of sleep debt, but it builds up day by day, so after two weeks, I’m rethinking my whole morning and evening beauty routine to be able to catch some extra Z’s.

Other than the sleep, we seem to be managing pretty well. We’re all up by 6:30 (though this week bébé has been waking at 5:30 so that is a major contributor to my exhaustion) and bébé and daddy are out the door around 7. I have a bit of time to finish getting ready or to tidy things up, which makes a big difference at night. My husband drops him off on the way to work (on the bus) and I walk the 2 miles after work to the daycare and we bus it back home. And twice this week my husband’s been on the same bus as us coming home! So that was nice, to have some extra time to chat about our days. One day I week I have a late meeting, so we switch, and it’s nice because the same teachers don’t work morning and evening, so this way we both get to talk to all of them. We’re all home by 5:30 or 5:45, and I made sure to meal prep a bit on weekends so we’re all eating around 6. Bébé is (usually) asleep by 7:30, and we have so much time in the evenings for ourselves, it’s great.

It’s so completely different than the schedule we had in France, but that really was due to the long commute we had, and the inflexible schedules at our jobs. And while we could have moved to Luxembourg to be closer to our jobs, or changed jobs to get better schedules, I know we never would have. Small changes are hard once you’re really settled into a certain way of life, but one big change can be the catalyst for lots of little changes.

Starting daycare after being at home with one or both of his parents for the past 5 months was definitely a big change for bébé, but he absolutely loves it. He is just so outgoing and curious, and interested in trying new things, that even the daycare workers are a little amazed at how quickly he’s adapted. I think having him with a nanny who had two older children must have really helped. We’re trying to do something new every weekend (past adventures have included Harvard Natural History Museum, a local diner for breakfast, and walking the trail along the river), so hopefully that will also help keep him excited and comfortable about new things and experiences. Or maybe he’s just naturally extra adaptable, which will come in handy in the bilingual, binational, bicultural life that awaits him as he grows up!

First few days in the States

After nervously watching “Snowzilla” dump three feet of snow on exactly the area we were flying to Monday, we debated switching our flight to Tuesday. I knew the flight would probably leave, but I was more worried about my family driving on snow-covered roads to come get us. We even looked at booking a hotel on this end Monday night just in case they couldn’t made it out. In the end however, the roads were (mostly) clear, the flight left and arrived on time, and the three of us, plus the cat, plus 6 big bags, 6 small bags, and a stroller made it safe and sound to my parents’ house.

The flight was fine, bébé only slept 30 minutes, but wasn’t more than his usual cranky, so I’d call that a win. The cat slept the entire time. Customs was easy peasy for my husband, though it took forever because Christine Lagarde cut in front of us with her posse. 8 years in France and the first famous French person I see is on my first day back living in the States! My general travel strategy is to take my time, let the people in a rush go first, and be prepared for a wait. So overall, it went as well as I could have hoped. There was an indoor play area at the airport, which also helped a lot!

Despite not napping on the plane, I knew bébé wouldn’t sleep longer that night, since that’s just not how babies work. As expected, he was up at 2am the first day, then had a nap from 7am-9am, a failed attempt at an afternoon nap, then slept 6pm-4am last night. He napped today from 11am to 1:30pm and went down for the night around 6:30pm, so we’re slowly approaching his usual schedule. I figure a few more days and it’ll be back to normal. Having my parents and sister here to watch bébé while we take our own naps is very helpful. I anticipated a long adjustment period for him, so there was nothing special planned these first few days besides visiting friends.

Though visiting has been a bit hampered by all the snow! Not many people are working or at school, but you can’t go anywhere. Well, in my parents’ town it’s fine, and really all the major areas are clear (Target was open and empty of people so I had lots of fun yesterday stocking up on donuts essentials). But a lot of residential areas don’t have clear roads, which makes people a little hesitant to venture out if not totally necessary. My husband reminded me we live here now so we don’t have to run around seeing everyone in the space of a week like we usually do.

While “here” is currently my parents’ town, that may change very quickly as the job situation evolves. With a few promising first round interviews via internet and phone, I’m being optimistic and don’t want to unpack all the suitcases quite yet!

It’s a little too early to have any real culture shock, but once the snow melts and we get out and about a bit more, I’m sure I’ll have lots to say on our adaptation to life here. For now, we’re just enjoying a nice snowy vacation at my parents’ house.

Bilingual baby babbling

This is the first of what will definitely be many posts on bébé’s language skills. He’s moved on from the “making noise” stage and there is some serious bilingual baby babbling happening. The past few weeks especially seem to have been very interesting (though maybe I’ve just been paying more attention?).

With most of his progress in reaching various milestones (sitting up, crawling, walking), I’m always surprised at how gradual it really is. I think when you don’t spend a lot of time around babies, you imagine these things as big jumps that happen overnight. And while sometimes it can be like that (just today, he stacked 4 blocks by himself, after weeks of simply watching me do it), for many things it’s much slower. I thought walking would be all of a sudden, he just stands up and off he goes! Maybe there are some babies who do it like that, but ours took his time, holding onto furniture, then holding our hands, then pushing up from downward dog (babies are the ultimate yoga masters!) into standing, then alternating walking and crawling, and finally, walking and standing consistently. And there was no real definitive “first steps” hallmark moment. There was the first time I saw him do it, the first time his father saw him, the first time his mamie saw him, etc.

For the moment, language is more gradual than I expected. I think it’s my parents’ fault, telling me about my first word. They said I walked around a family dinner with a book saying “buh buh buh” and then finally “book! book! book!” So I had this idea that bébé would just go from making sounds to making fully-formed words.

That’s not really what he’s doing, but what is actually happening is pretty cool. It’s a mixture of sounds and gestures and syllables. It’s more about communication than words. So when people ask if he’s speaking yet, I say “sort of” because it’s speech that only parents would recognize as such!

Some of his “words” include:

  • “Mo”: food/more. This is kind of my “fault” because I did a little sign language with him starting with solid foods, to see if that would help him tell us what he wanted. The only one I did consistently was “more” and I’m pretty sure he thinks it just means “food.” So I’ve been trying to respond with things like “more milk? more applesauce?” to show him the difference.
  • “Gah”: gâteau. There is very little doubt about this one! His mamie is a typical grandparent and gives him quite a few treats while he’s with her twice a week.
  • “Shah”: cat! He uses the “sh” sound more frequently than the “ka” for cat, and I’m not sure why, since I’m pretty sure he hears us say it in English more. However, he also really likes “The very hungry caterpillar” and he tends to use “ka” for the book, so I know he can make the sound.
  • “Nah”: thank you? I am less sure about this one, but when he asks for a “gah” and I give it to him, he says “nah”, so I have to assume his mamie is also teaching him good manners!
  • “Aga”: again. I first noticed him saying this after singing “The itsy bitsy spider” which ends with the word “again.” Now he says it for books, songs and toys too, helped along by me asking him “again?” usually in an exasperated tone, as he never wants something “aga” only once, usually about five times.
  • “Mmmm”: delicious! This is another one his mamie taught him. It’s not so much a word as the sound along with rubbing his belly. Seriously the cutest thing ever. I would say this helps us figure out what foods he likes, but he doesn’t do it for every food he eats, and when he doesn’t like something, he just spits it out, lol.
  • “Sa”: pretty sure this is for the French nursery rhyme “Savez vous planter les choux,” since he also points his finger down and taps at the same time.

As is typical for this age, he understands more than he can say, and if we ask him to get certain books, he can. His mamie taught him to open and close his mouth like a fish when she asks “Comment il fait le poisson?” and he won’t do it if I ask in English (What does the fish do?). So it seems like he’s already associating certain languages with certain people/situations. We don’t do one parent/one language, but rather a “home” language (English) and a “community” language (French). This will obviously switch when we move to the States, so it’s more a “minority language at home” method, and so far it seems to be working for our family. He makes both Englishy and Frenchy sounds, likes and remembers nursery rhymes in both languages, and doesn’t seem phased when either is spoken to him. The bits of German and Italian he’s getting is another story . . .

Three weeks of (almost) no spending

These first three weeks of No Spend September haven’t gone quite as well as I’d hoped, though I did manage to get in a few fun free things (yay European Heritage Days!). It’s been interesting to see what I justify as “needing” and will try to adjust my mindset accordingly.

So far, bringing my lunch to work has worked out really well. However, the intern we had all summer left, and someone new arrived in the team, and both events meant team lunches. I still had some lunch tickets left from August that I used, so I think I’ll still be able to save all of September’s for groceries.

I went out to bars twice this month, once for the departing intern, and once for my company’s monthly happy hour. I suppose I didn’t really need to go for the intern, since we had the team lunch, but I did order a cheaper option rather than my usual cocktail. The company happy hour has a deal with the bar that gets us 2 drinks “free” so in theory that was a no spend evening. Except I needed to use the bathroom in the train station before going home, and it cost 1.10€ which is a little ridiculous, to be honest. Most are 50 cents. So next time, definitely going at the bar, even if I don’t really need to.

I also bought a candy bar at the train station, since the happy hour snacks weren’t quite as hearty as I expected. I need to start keeping homemade snacks in my purse like when I was pregnant, since I also bought a few candy bars at the machines at work. I probably shouldn’t keep cash on me at all, since I’ll spend it if I have it, but it feels dangerous to have nothing at all, in case of an emergency. For example, once the trains were all canceled because of an accident, so I had to take the bus, and it’s 5 euros. What if I hadn’t had that money in my wallet? I would have stopped at an ATM, missed the first bus, gotten home even later, which is not exactly a disaster . . . But I can easily imagine a situation where it could be (usually involving bébé).

Speaking of bébé, he has cost the most this month, since I bought tons of clothes for him. Which is justifiable, but could definitely have been put off until next month. He’s growing, but not that fast! I was picking up groceries, and there’s a new store nearby, so I thought I’d just take a quick look, and suddenly it was 100+ euros later . . .  I got rid of what doesn’t fit anymore last weekend, so I guess it seemed like his drawers were a little empty and I panicked.

Kids cost money, but not always in the way you think. The need for abundance is much stronger now that he’s here. Before, if there was no food in the fridge, no big deal, we’d order pizza. Now, if there aren’t at least five extra containers of applesauce sitting on the counter, we’re convinced he’ll starve. The same idea for his clothes. He has more than enough, but he goes through at least two outfits a day, so the drawers are quickly empty and we start to worry he’ll go out in the cold in just his diaper. I know it’s a normal, if somewhat illogical, reaction, and while he’s young I don’t think it’s a huge deal. Once he starts wanting things and asking for things, hopefully I’ll be able to say no. So perhaps I need to try a little harder now, while he’s still young, to get into the habit. First step: just like grocery shopping, always go into a baby store with a list and stick to it!

Planning is really the key. Knowing how I acted this month should help me plan better for the next few months.