It’s summer, which means in a normal context that I’m off from work and have tons of free time on my hands.
This year, this has yet to be the case, but at least there’s no more papers around waiting to be corrected. Which means there’s more time for the little things, like dancing around in your living room singing along to whatever song suits you at any given moment.
I’ve decided to share with you, my readers (if any of you are still out there after months of silence), some of the songs you may find me jumping around to in the coming weeks. Sometimes in the company of Liam (he’s got some good taste, although he has his father’s dance moves).
First up, Tété. Tété is a musical poet, and most of his songs are littered with readapted idioms and plays on words that are completely impossible to explain to any non-French speaker. Thankfully, this one is more straightforward. Lyrics after the jump for those who are curious.
Since your last update, things have changed. A lot.
Liam gained a dozen teeth. He learned to crawl, then walk, then run. He said Mama and Papa, then added on another 20-or-so words, which vary in volume from happy sigh to ear-piercing screech. He played with rattles, balls, and now cars and trucks which he pushes around with gusto, sometimes including “vroom”-like humming. He went from loving books, to hating sitting still for books, to saying book (or rather ‘buh’) and insisting they go to bed with him. More recently he enjoyed his first glass of juice and his first romp in the snow with his secondhand snow boots, which he can slip on himself and which he particularly appreciates over his jammies.
I changed jobs (well, schools), finished my masters degree with bells on, and convinced myself to finally take on the challenge of the French drivers licence (although I haven’t started this challenge as of yet). I also visited seventy-some houses for sale, many which were just awful.
We made a bid on one, which we were outbid on but unwilling to pay more. We were told one was ours, only to have a call an hour later saying he was selling it directly to someone else (to avoid agency fees). Finally — third time’s a charm — we found it. We moved in. We’re up to our eyeballs in DIY that isn’t being D’d very quickly. Christmas vacation is supposed to bring a finished bedroom for the little guy. Fingers crossed.
I hope to revive the site and get away from giving all my life’s updates in the limits of 140 characters. Because some things just merit more than that.
Are you looking for the five month post? Yes, I’ve already failed at these updates. Apparently, the combination of taking care of a little guy, writing an intensive 100-page research paper, and lots of new classes to prepare resulted in a lot of things falling to the wayside. Add this to a complete lack of internet and phone for a week, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster!
This past month has meant a lot of new things for the both of us, the biggest change certainly being my return to work. For awhile it was looking as though I wasn’t going to find any hours for the new year, but a week before classes went back in session, thanks to friends and colleagues who were looking out for me, I managed to scrape up a bit more than a dozen hours a week. This meant, with time between classes and the time in public transport, Liam needed someone else to hang out with about 25 hours a week. It was difficult, but finally we found a lovely nanny — temporarily. She is moving away at the end of the year, meaning we’re currently on the hunt for someone else, equally lovely at the very least, to step in come 2010. It wasn’t easy in the beginning (but we’ve noticed that with Liam, things are rarely easy in the beginning), but he’s taken to her, as well as the two active two-year-old girls who love to play mini-mommies to him.
Liam has been turning over for quite awhile now, but recently it has become a real challenge to keep him in any one position for more than the blink of an eye. Changing diapers seems more and more like junior rodeo, with us trying to grab hold of the greased pig, except instead of trying to hogtie him once caught things have to be wiped, lifted, velcroed and snapped. He still enjoys playing on his tummy, but now spends most of his time spinning around in circles because whatever he has in front of him is obviously not as good as whatever is behind him. Especially if what is behind him isn’t actually a toy, but rather what most would consider good for the recycling bin — a discarded envelope, a balled-up piece of paper, or on a particularly good day, an empty, one liter water bottle. I’m so glad we’re drowning in toys!
And not only in toys either. I knew babies required a lot of equipment, but it just seems to keep getting worse and worse. We now have a lovely high chair, which does fold up somewhat although most of the time it just stays unfolded, which takes up a fair amount of space in the living room. We’ve also begun having the conversation — to pen or not to pen. David seems to like the idea of having one secure area for the little guy. I am less convinced, not only by the concept but also by our lack of space to dedicate to such a contraption. We will most likely have to answer the question sooner rather than later though, as Liam is quite motivated by the idea of moving around. He pushes himself up on his hands now (and occasionally his knees, although he hasn’t yet attempted both at the same time). He does manage to scoot himself forward, however, by pushing his butt up in the air by using his feet to push on the ground. It’s very inchworm-like, and not particularly effective as of yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
Other new discoveries this past month include the doorframe bouncer that a friend of ours loaned. Liam has not quite mastered the skill of jumping as of yet, but he has taken to tapdancing around in circles while giggling. He enjoys tugging on his socks until they come off his feet, then waving them around as if to draw attention to this accomplishment. He has also taken to a “doudou” (the adored favorite object that the French are obsessed about), a lovely stuffed frog with long legs and 80s style legwarmers, which was a gift from a colleague of mine. Frogouille (as he has been dubbed) also goes to the nanny’s for naptime cuddles as well. We’ve already picked up a second one to make laundering Frogouille a bit easier.
This next month will bring a visit from Liam’s favorite American aunt, the discovery of solid foods, and who knows what else. Let’s make it a good one little guy!
As a little girl, I was a big reader. Having learned to sound things out rather young (a feat for which my mother credits The Electric Company), I would correct the preschool teacher when she would skip over a word while reading aloud to the class. Oh yes, already obnoxious at such a young age.
Liam and I have been reading a short book every night before bed for a month and some change now. The problem is our selection is pretty low. In English, we have 5 “That’s not my…” books (finish the sentence with a random thing - tractor, kitten, etc) that David makes fun of every time I pull them out because he has all the words memorized. We also have a Goodnight Moon board book from my “cousin” (air quotes because we are something somethings-removed of some sort) that has gotten its fair share of use, and two Dr. Seuss books that I brought over here years ago that aren’t quite adapted to Liam’s age as of yet (One Fish Two Fish and Green Eggs and Ham).
I remember frequently reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie… and, older still, Harold and the Purple Crayon. My mother’s personal favorite was the classic Make Way for Ducklings. But in terms of literature for the younger than ten set, that’s about where I stop in terms of knowledge. Older still, I remember Shel Silverstein and Jack Preluzky, before moving on to Beverly Cleary, Ann M. Martin, Paula Danzinger, and Lois Lowry, whose The Giver affected me in ways no other children’s or young adult book ever did.
The obvious solution to this would be to do some browsing in the kids section of a bookstore, but I won’t likely be in an English-language bookstore for the next couple months, and I think David may have an aneurysm if he has to overhear That’s Not My Dragon forty more times between now and then. So do share… what are your favorite children’s books? Bonus points for those that are good for the little guy already, although do feel free to mention all your faves.
As of Friday, Liam has been mooching off us for four months. I hear this can last for years, with only an occasional pencil-holder-made-from-a-can-of-peaches as repayment. We are rethinking our arrangement.
This past month has been a challenge, although if I were being completely honest, certainly moreso for us than for you, little guy. You have rolled from your tummy to your back, although you haven’t figured out how useful such a feat could be as of yet, and for that we are thankful. You now happily gnaw on your fingers most of the day, usually resulting in the entire front half of your t-shirt being drenched in drool. Those fingers have also gained in dexterity, and you can grab ahold of nearly anything we offer you. You enjoy (eating) most of your stuffed animals, as well as your friend Sophie the giraffe, although you can’t quite get Sophie to your mouth in an organized manner, so often you just end up banging yourself in the head with it. Toward the end of the month, you discovered the cheapest, most easilily accessible toy there is… your feet. Before or after a nap, we can often see you grabbing at them and giggling.
Yes, I said nap! You nap now, somewhat, albeit very short naps that rarely last more than an hour on a good day, a half hour when we’re not so lucky. You are so much more enjoyable when well-rested, although your dear mother would really appreciate it if you would work on sleeping a bit longer. Especially since some days she could really use a nap too, and a half-hour is barely long enough for her to approach the gates of dreamland.
In not-so-fun news, your VCUG test in follow-up to your UTI was this past month, and if we never have to do that again, I think it will still be too soon. Whoever had the idea of strapping a baby to a board and then forceably filling his bladder multiple times while taking xrays of him was a sadistic bastard. You spent nearly the entire time bawling, and the nurses kept instructing us to give you glucose to calm you down, which seems like a really bad idea -hey guys, this baby is freaking out! Let’s pump him full of sugar, that’ll make it better!
By the time the test was done, your eyes were so puffy they were little more than slits. The xrays showed that you did indeed have a reflux between your bladder and your kidneys; not a horrendously bad one, but enough to keep us pumping you full of antibiotics in prevention of another possible infection. I didn’t personally like this idea very much, and when the doctor admitted, after my questioning, that there were no studies on the matter but they “thought it seemed like it helped” she liked it even less. But you know your father, all about the science and what not, so the decision was made. In two months, you’ll have an ultrasound of your kidneys and we’ll see where we go from there.
Sleep has also become a nightmare these past few weeks, with your father often having to resort to ridiculously long walks in the stroller to get you to so much as consider sleeping, and even then, sometimes when he comes homes an hour later looking all defeated, you have definitely considered the matter, but the jury is still out. You’ve also taken to having nightmares these last few nights, which require not much more than a word or two from a parent and sometimes a binky, but it’s exhausting enough at that. Sleep, glorious sleep, come back to us!
Your other reflux (ie fun, projectile vomiting) has taken a turn for the worse as well in recent times, but the doctor has given us a new medicine to try, so fingers crossed.
All in all, you aren’t all that bad. We think we’ll keep you.
I know our kid is destined to be quite French. Other than his dad being French, we live in France. His friends will, most likely, be French. He may even end up smoking gauloises in his teenage rebellious years, much to his mother’s dismay. I even played a role in the acquisition of his first beret (although the CGTesque pose was totally him):
Yet, I like to think that he’ll be a bit American too. As I partook in some delicious Herdez Salsa Verde my mom had so lovingly brought over for me a couple months back, I thought to myself, this is why I’m breastfeeding. Sure, it’s convenient. Sure it’s better for my baby. Sure we’re bonding. But most importantly, he will not be one of those wussy French boys who cringe at the sight of a hot pepper. When we go back to Arizona to visit, he will be the one taking a little plastic cup of those jalapeños at the salsa bar and then proceeding to eat them one by one with his fingers. TAKE THAT!
However, as July comes to an end, I’ve started thinking about one of my favorite American traditions — Halloween. While France was on board with Halloween for a bit about ten years ago, the enthusiasm fizzled out and it has all but disappeared these past few years. Rare are the vampires, ghosts and goblins that roam the streets, and even rarer are the treats and tricks that go with them. Liam, however, will surely be sporting a costume come this October. This will take some careful planning though, as I will have to order it from and/or have it bought for me in the US and then sent over.
Anyone seen Halloween costumes out yet? I’m not even sure where to look…
I thought it was all getting better. Easier.David had been repeatedly telling me that it would get better, it would get easier, for months now. It had become my mantra.It will get better.It will get easier.I found myself saying it through my clenched teeth during those really difficult moments.
Then it happened.The colic stopped.The incessant nighttime crying stopped.The storm had passed.I could see the light.I suddenly just knew when Liam was tired, and we’d snuggle on the bed while he sleepily ate and fell into Morpheus’s arms.Occasionally, those naps stretched out past the forty minute mark.Once, it lasted two-and-a-half hours, and I may have just about had a tiny orgasm.
Then, when we were least expecting it, the sky clouded over again.Apparently, it is monsoon season, gusting winds and all.For the past week and a half, the evenings have been a total nightmare.The baby who had been peacefully drifting off to sleep on his own after our adventure in swaddling decided that 8pm wasn’t his bedtime anymore.Nor was nine, or seven.It was never.He did not like it in the dark nor in the light.He did not like it in the bed, nor the bassinet.Screw the bedtime story, he knows what that means.Don’t even think of setting him down, and you think you’re going to just nurse him off to sleep?Hah, good luck woman!
The evenings were my time.The time when I could work on that research paper which is getting nowhere and needs to get somewhere fast.The time when I could interact with the one other person I see on a regular basis, the one that can actually hold up his end of a conversation.
Now those evenings consist of two completely exhausted, frazzled adults whose interaction mostly consists of phrases like “What is wrong with him?!” and “Oh my god, take him, I can’t do this anymore.”The howling baby isn’t the only one in tears at the end of a lot of those nights.
As of yesterday, Liam is a whopping three months young. Is it getting any easier? “Yes” would be a lie.
This isn’t to say it’s getting harder either. Rather, I think I have completely given up any and all expectations. Just because he can sleep through until six am, as he has proven before, doesn’t mean he will (and most likely, he won’t on the evening where you are especially feeling the need for sleep). Just because he’s been utterly cheerful the past two days doesn’t mean he’s turned over a new leaf. Just because he didn’t scream the last time you took him out of the bath doesn’t mean history will repeat itself.
While it may not be getting any easier, this lack of expectations makes it more bearable. Pleasant surprises are far better than unexpected disappointments.
This month brought Liam’s first illness (and subsequent hospitalization). It also seems to have marked the end of a few former givens. It has brought an end to colicky fits, as I have stopped drinking the fennel tea as of two weeks ago and we haven’t had any relapses as of yet. Also gone are the hours of stressed crying at the end of the day, instead replaced by Liam’s end of the day chanting (while louder, far less frustrating). Yet, alas, gone are the nearly instantaneous, long afternoon naps in the sling… not only is Liam far more interested in staying awake and observing the world from that vantage point, he also has taken to waking up after the same amount of time as non-sling naps: 40 minutes.
He has definitely chunked up these last couple weeks, but as he is in both the 75th percentile in both height and weight, I suppose he’s well-rounded (*drum and cymbal*). He still isn’t rolling completely over, although he does like to turn over onto his side. Tummy time has, for the most part, ceased however, as Liam gets quickly frustrated with the fact that he cannot move forward… he pushes and pushes with those back legs until the disappointment with not getting anywhere takes over. I, however, am rather relieved for the moment (our lack of organization would make for a nightmare should he be mobile at this point; paint chips anyone? A nice guzzle of bleach?).
The next month will most likely bring the attempt at moving from the bassinet attachment of the stroller on the floor of our bedroom to the crib in Liam’s own room… not really so much due to a strong desire on our part, but mostly due to someone quickly running out of room in said bassinet. Any suggestions on making this work are welcomed!
Two and a half weeks ago, on a Saturday afternoon, Liam had his first fever. However, giving him medicine brought it down, so we waited it out and things seemed to pass. I went and saw the pediatrician that Monday as he still seemed a bit off — I mean, he was sleeping! He took a four-and-a-half-hour nap in the middle of the day! He of Little Sleep! The doctor, however, seemed less convinced that this way a sign of continuing illness, and gave him a clean bill of health. He did, however, write me up a prescription of a few tests to have done should the fever reappear (apparently such tests are automatic here for babies under three-months-old).
The fever did decide to come back… the following Saturday. We took the same medicine route as the first go round, but this time no dice — Sunday morning, the fever was still there. So after a call to David’s mother, following a call to the on-call emergency doctor for advice, we took him in to the children’s hospital emergency room, thinking they’d reassure us and send us on our merry way.
Two hours later, they were putting in an IV and sending us upstairs to the infant ward. The test results came back and confirmed what the ER doctor had suspected — a urinary tract infection. Liam and I were the winners of a three-day, two-night, all-expenses-paid staycation at the children’s hospital. Ultrasounds, daily shots, and blood work became our routine, as we ignored the cries of other children not lucky enough to have a parent around 24/7. We returned the two days following our return home for more injections, and have since been doing antibiotics at home. In two and a half weeks, we have a big, scary test to do (one which David has thankfully taken the day off for, because yours truly was dreading trying to play it cool for Liam’s sake all alone), and hopefully this will all be behind us. Before Liam’s birth, my only hospital experience had been getting stitches in my leg in 4th grade. In the past three months, we’ve spent ten days there. I think that’s enough for the time being.
Last week marked the conclusion of Liam’s second month of life, and for the most part, I say good riddance!
The fight against colic has continued, and while the battle has been long and hard, I think we are finally starting to win. There have been a few key moments. The baby sling-tying class was a godsend, as the scarf has proved successful during both colicky moments as well as just general baby fussiness. Of course, the colicky moments require a bit more perseverance, but fifteen or twenty minutes of walking around tend to put the little guy to sleep. And while the scarf doesn’t allow one to do everything they could possibly imagine (the pile of ironing is starting to look a lot like the Tower of Pisa), it has allowed me to get off the couch more often. The doctor also prescribed some medicine to give him to settle his stomach during his colicky outbursts, which does seem to help. However, the real solution was one of those grandmotherly pieces of advice — fennel tea. Mine was mixed up for me by the pharmacist, and consists of fennel, anise seed, and cumin. In the beginning, I didn’t really think it was having any sort of affect, so after a few days I stopped drinking it. The two following days, Liam had two colicky incidents. It could be a coincidence, but it was enough to get me to take up drinking the tea again. The incident repeated itself about a week later when I forgot and went a day without the tea, so I think it’s safe to assume I’ll be keeping up my three glasses a day for at least another month.
Liam still continues to fight against sleep during nearly every waking moment. That said, heading out with the stroller or the sling has worked very well thus far. There have been a few lunches with friends and coworkers in Liam’s company, most of which Liam has slept through entirely, or at least been quiet and calm throughout. However, while vacation brought impressive sleep improvements, our return home was another story. Suddenly, Liam decided that he would not be going to bed, not tonight, not ever. While we would eventually win the battle, it became a four-hour-long struggle — sometimes even longer — with David and I tag teaming the little guy, the first two hours with Mom, until she cried mercy and passed him off to Dad, far more of a night-owl. After a week of these struggles, I was ready to try anything — and so, the Miracle Blanket was purchased. If I am ever at a loss for a future baby shower present, I know where to turn now. While Liam hasn’t miraculously started sleeping 9pm to 9am like some of the comments, it has allowed him to understand that when he’s wrapped up, that means its bedtime. We can say goodnight, put him in his bassinet, turn on the ocean sounds, and in ten minutes, he is out. We only use it at night, however, as I don’t want it to lose its bedtime mojo. Nap time isn’t happening yet, but I’m hoping in the next month we can start to install some sort of daytime routine as well.
Liam charmed the American family on their visit as well (and we’re hoping this means they won’t wait another five years to come back!). He was on some of his best behavior, sleeping through most of our restaurant adventures and outings, and — thankfully — sleeping soundly enough not to wake everyone else up in the wee hours of the morning.
Liam likes to talk, both to others and himself, with “areu” being his favorite ‘word’ by far. He has started to find his fist on his own to suck on to his heart’s content (although he still has difficulties if he doesn’t have someone/something to stick his arm up against), and hopefully we can get rid of those pacifiers which always seem to fall out of his mouth at the most inopportune moment. He can break into a smile at the drop of a hat — however, he can also do the same when it comes to the waterworks. He needs to be held nearly all the time, and forget stepping out of the room for a minute. Seriously. He comes along with Mom everywhere in his bouncer seat (including the toilet, much to his mother’s dismay). A little independence would be lovely — hopefully the third month will bring that!