December 08, 2011

(Another type of) Here we go again

Yep, it seems some things just won't change when pregnant, being the first or the nth time (as far as I am concerned, "n" will most likely stopped at two, which, admittedly, is not very significant statically-wise).

My run the other day, for instance. Here am I, having a good session. The hard breathing from the first weeks is gone. The pace does not seem excruciatingly slow. The weather is nice, and, as far as running on the pavement goes, this could be very much worse indeed: I am running by the Annecy lake, which is pretty cool city running in my book.

I am approaching one of the canals crossing town from the lake to the river and justifying Annecy's nickname of Venice of the Alps, as I see a pretty big crowd standing by the bridge. In normal circumstances, I might be tempted to curse those people who are standing in the way and going to provoke - oh, no - a drop in my average pace. But then again, these days, I am pregnant, so a) not that bothered by average pace anyway, b) pretty chilled out (for those who may think that I am a b*** when not pregnant,  I admit I made the penultimate sentence up : the days I was systematically obsessed by average pace are long gone).

I hear the music as I get closer, and not only am I not going to worry about human traffic jams and snail-like pace,but it looks like I may even be tempted to stop and join in the crowd.

Turns out there is a small event taking place, with old wooden boats out on the canal and people in period costumes playing folk music from the boats. It is all cheerful and unassuming,  the musicians are clearly having fun, people are watching and clapping, I feel - how embarassingly sappy for someone who, for long, proudly called herself a cynic - a warm fuzzy feeling spreading inside me.

And suddenly, that's it, I am crying.

So here you go. If it were not for the slightly shorter breathing, for the slower pace, for the breast making me look more like a brunette Pamela Anderson than like Paula Radcliffe, for the unmistakably rounder belly, this would have given it away. If I can cry in front of total strangers clapping while listening to folk music, there cannot be any doubt left : I am very pregnant indeed.

November 17, 2011

Here we go again

Back in early September, I had my first pre-natal yoga class of this pregnancy. I know my yoga teacher fairly well. She's nice, and quite knowledgeable about what she teaches and physiology in general.

So here am I, walking in the yoga studio with my bike helmet in hand.
- "Are you still cycling?", the yoga instructor asks me, half-laughing, half-crossed
-"Of course", I say,  wondering a bit why the question, "I am only 11 weeks pregnant" (Oh no, 10 weeks have gone since then? Well, I guess it is only yet another evidence that I don't update this blog as often as I should).

Then, as this is the first class (remember this is France, where almost everything, not just school, stops during the 2-month summer school break), the 5 girls attending introduce themselves and explain what their expectations for the class and for their pregnancy more generally are. One of these girls, who happens to be expecting for the same day as me, says she is into sports, including running ultra-trails and triathlons. YES! I say to myself, almost aloud because I am so excited : it is not that often we get to meet people who do as much sports as us, and even less often (bordering on : never) that we meet parents of young children still getting their fair share of exercising (although, if you ask us, we're far from getting a share we would describe as "fair"). 

Then this girl goes on to say she expects yoga to compensate a bit for the fact she must stop running and cycling. Not because she's been having a difficult pregnancy, just because her OB-gyn does not feel comfortable about the idea of running when pregnant. To which (wait, this is getting better and better) the yoga teacher replies that this is right, pregnancy is not the time for this type of sports.

Full stop.

Then it is my turn to talk, and the yoga teacher introduces me like the crazy one who is always on the go, even when knocked up. Now, I am not saying pregnant running, or cycling, or any other sports for that matter, is a must. I totally understand if women don't feel like running (let's face it, I understand it less if they just feel like doing nothing but sitting on their butt, but that's just me). I just happen to think that, if a girl is not having any specific problems AND if she feels like it, yes, she can run. And cycle. And do pretty much what she wants as long as it is safe and she feels good about doing it. And if she feels she should not run, or plain and simple does not want to, well, that's just fine, too.

Except this is France, where Clapp has yet to be translated (now, as a newly established writer and translator, maybe that's where I should start!). France where you stop pretty much everything bar slow walking and swimming the second two lines appears on the pregnancy test. France where, when pregnant with Malo and googling "course à pied cyclisme grossesse" I only found ONE Frenchie who blogged about cycling while pregnant.  France where a running magazine dedicated to women recently published an article on running while pregnant, which I started reading full of hope the French had at last seen the light... only to discover after one paragraph that the recommendation was to stop when entering the fifth month. No explanations, no reasons given, no medical professionals interviewed. Nothing. Just DON'T DO IT.

So here we go again. Two years after being pregnant with Malo, it looks like I will still be told that, surely, all this bouncing can't be good for the baby. It looks that I will still be running and cycling by myself, or with Martin, but definitely not with another big, round belly. And it looks like I won't be given a chance to explain that, I swear, I am not a child murderer, I have done my research and it seems that it is possible to run while pregnant.

But that'ok. I am fine with it. Really. Or at least much more than the first time round. Unlike three years ago, I am not on a mission to convince the world that a) I am not a lone crazy woman looking at ways to harm her foetus, b) exercising, including - oh, gasp - running is not a bad thing for my baby. Instead, I will mind my own business running, and do what's good for my body, for my head, and for my baby. And too bad if I am the only one around doing it :-)

Oh, and I will try and remember, on occasions where I may will get a bit pissed off with ignorant / jugdemental / unfriendy comments, what my neighbour said last think when seeing me depart for a run with Malo  in this Chariot :
"Way to go. An hour from now you both will be back all relax and happy".
If she, a not sporty, pretty conservative, 60sth year old lady who has probably never wore running shoes in her entire life, can see it, there is probably still hope for French running pregnant woman in this world!

September 27, 2011

Just the right thing to say

OK, those who have tried (I feel for you, I really do) but not quite managed to get to the end of my last race report previous novel, I totally understand, and to prove it, I just give you The Novel's last paragraph's piece of news : baby #2 is on its way.

Now, since I am just over 13 weeks now, it seems obvious it would have been premature to share the news earlier, but, I hear you say, that's not an excuse for taking 2 months to publish the race report I used to bury the pregnancy news in.

Well, actually, it was an excuse. Because blogging was not top of my priorities for the last two months, nor was reporting about how much fun I had had to race, no matter how seldom this happens.

Why? Because a week after the race, I found out I was pregnant. And a few hours after that, a biologist at the lab where I had gone for confirmatory blood tests told me my baby was not viable. Well, she did not say "baby", of course, she used the more clinical term "embryo". Like this would make her news less of a big deal.

So this is how you go from having a huge grin on your face after peeing on a stick, to wondering how many hours or days before you lose the baby.

I have always wanted this blog to be sort of funny, or, falling short of that, make you laugh at my expense (no, really, I am OK with it). One thing is certain, I did NOT (still don't) want it to be a place to talk about life and death or where to share my problems (which, let's face it, bore me enough myself as it is without others having to read about them). Problem was, I could not have found a way to write about what was just happening to us in a funny way (not that I even wanted to try anyway).  So I just shut up for a while.

To cut a long story short, we left on holiday the day we got the good-immediately-turned-bad news, had what may not be remembered as the most memorable time off ever went through hell, waited 4 weeks before I was back in town and could see the OB, get a scan, and be told the heart was beating but we could not say more at this stage and had to wait until the 12-week scan. So we went off again, feeling very marginally better, I not allowing myself to feel totally pregnant and feeling like life was sort of on stand-by for another 4 weeks.

The scan is now done, and it looks like the baby is just fine. I am now going to be able to enjoy being pregnant, run, do yoga, enjoy the beautiful Indian summer we have right now, try to motivate myself to blog more often, and feel grateful I am not a student anymore, having to write the customary beginning of the year essay "describe your most memorable holiday moment". I will also try not to let my mind being polluted by negative thoughts or resentment, but I can't help wondering, considering her lack of tact (not to mention incompetency) if the woman biologist who told me the baby who not live, is a mother herself...

September 20, 2011

Race report (and a bit more) - Some rain, some cold, some wind, some fun and some surprises

Disclaimer : this is as ling as a book, not a blog post. You read at your own risk, and I decline all responsability should you fall asleep.

The Nevache Sky Race, a trail set in the Southern part of the French Alps, started in what one may arguaby call not perfect conditions : it had rained sheets all night and this showed no sign of coming improvement. It snowed above 1900m. We may have been right in the middle of July (ooops, I gave it away : I am VERY late to post this race report) but the temperature was in the single digits at the start, and close to freezing a bit higher up. The longer trail, which I was not signed for, had had to be shortened due to gale, snow and generally very unsafe conditions.

Yet as I lined up at the start, I was feeling great.

Photo: Charles (merci!)

Now, this is VERY unsual for me on a trail race. On road races (which I have not done for a very long time), I used to be fairly relax (well, on my own scale at least, those who know me can vouch for the fact I have huge room for improvement as far as relaxing goes). I knew what my time roughly could be and I would just try and run that pace. I did not feel I was competing against others, but just against my own and my self-set goals. I knew I could place in the top women on a small race and get a decent place on a larger event, and that was enough.

On trail however, things turned out to be very different. I happily found out I was pretty decent at it. Specific trail running technics, which is very different from road running, especially on French trails, which are mostly quite technical, with steep slopes and loads of single tracks,.  That seemed to come quite naturally to me, including downhill, which is key. I also had decent speed. So, in theory, I could do well. Except I did not. Well, I never finished at the bottom on the pack, not even in the middle, more in the top 10-12. But I also did not seem to rank better, despite the fact that I was as good a runner as some of the girls who did, at least when I happened to train with some of them, definitely doing my fair share of leading up the hill.

What was I missing?

Well... a head. Or at least the right kind of head. One which would not tell me, starting a week before the race, that I did not have time to train as much as The Other Girls did. That I did not have as much trail races experience as The Other Girls did. That I was really worried that I may not be able to run enough of the steep sections, when surely all of The Other Girls would (it did not matter to said stupid head that I run these sections all right when running them for fun).

In a nutshell, as for many other things, I was very ambivalent about trail races. I wanted to do some,  I wanted to have fun, yet I  was scared to death about "failure". I am not interested in doing many races since I enjoy so much my "mountain meditation runs" or my "fantastic time on the trails with Husband runs", hence my seldom races, yet I expected to perform as well as if I had huge trail races experience. So the result was, I managed incredibly well at stressing myself out in the build-up to a race. And if things were not bad enough, this would go on as the race started.

I remember a trail race last year. 28kms and 1000m elevation gain, so in theory (by now famous last words) perfect for me. A very steep section 500m after the start, but that's how most of neighourhood trails start, so in theory not a problem. Expect that... I started worrying about the competition. About not being able to run the steep part. About not being able to run at my own pace because of the singles track section.s About worrying too much to perform. Bottom line is, I had an OK run, would have finished in the top 5 had I not developped patella pains, but did NOT enjoy one single of the 28kms because of the sheer pressure I had put on myself. Yes, I know. Ridiculous.

And then there are the very few races where somehow I arrived pretty relaxed. On one last year, I finished first, less than a month after the above mentioned nightmare, just because I had managed to convinced myself that this was a race for me, pretty fast with less elevation gain . Then there was last July race. I had signed up at the last minute on a whim, had not trained loads. It was 25kms, 1000m elevation gain, so pretty much like all the races I got so stressed out for. Yet I was determined to enjoy it. I love the scenery of the Southern Alps (not that I ended seeing much of it), this is an area where Martin and I hiked a lot 5 years ago and where he ended up proposing, so I just wanted to do this race as a way of saying thank you for being so lucky (yes, so sappy, I know).

And, oh miracle, it worked. I had spotted at the start two fast girls (or are you supposed to say "ladies" if one of them is only 10 years younger than my mum?), both with sponsors, one of them the French veteran mountain running champion and the other the winner of pretty much all the trail races in France Southern half. These two I knew I could not beat, so there was no reason letting negative thoughts littering my mind. As for the other, I did not know them, so I would just have to mind my own business run.

We started off, the two fast girls rapidly ahead, and it seemed to me I was third woman.  I could not complain, it felt like my training runs indeed, namely straight up after the start., but this time, I decided I could not be my usual total fool and let myself be overwhelmed, as there was no way I could  then overtake for a while, on those steep, winding single trails.

photo : Charles again!
It was pouring, and I was soaked after 200m. And soaked would not have mattered, had it not been so damn cold. After 5 minutes, despite I usually warm up very fast when running, I could hardly feel my shoulders, numb from the cold and the icy rain. Fantastic, I thought, and we're not even that high up yet. 800m elevation gain and 8 kms later, it got confirmed : the uphill had been hard and steep, but not enough for me to get warmer. This made me slowed down a tiny bit, and a girl, she cleverly wearing a red rainjacket, overtook me. Bummer, I thought,  to be overtaken  just as the taughest section was (I thought) behind me. Still, despite the terrible conditions, I had fun. I was telling myself that it did not matter I could not see a thing further than my feet, as I knew anyway I was running in a beautiful (if currently hidden behind a white screen) scenery. I was laughing  at guys (silently, since it is bad form to make fun loudly of fellow competitors) typically picking up their speed as they get overtaken by a girl.  I thought about Martin and Malo, who would be there waiting for me at the finish.

Photo : Charles
I watched my steps as I started negociating a traverse trail overlooking what I know to be steep slopes going all the way down in the valley.  At some point, as the fog briefly cleared up, I saw the girl in front of me, which was making good progress. I did not lose ground on her, but was not gaining enough either to hope being able to overtake her again, especially on these single tracks which make it pretty much impossible to overtake anyway. Though luck, I thought, 4th is a hard place to be, but still, I will have had fun.

Photo : Charles
After negociating the technical downhill, I reached the check point. From here, it is all downhill, I thought. Sure, except that my mind somehow overlooked the fact that there was still 11.5kms to go. And except that  I should not have taken for granted what the large scale race profile showed as a  gently rolling down to the finish section. In reality, that on-average-downhill section included, in its first kms, a succession of flats and quite a few bumps, which I started getting quite tired of, literally and figuratively. Luckily, I soon found myself running with a bunch of 4 guys and I was determined not letting myelf being distanced, as I knew it would then be hard to keep on the pace.

Then, as there were maybe 5 five or six kilometres to go, I saw the red rainjacket of the third girl ,right in front of us. She had clearly slowed down and was looking tired, but was still going strong. We overtook her, and I realised I still had a chance to make it on the podium with Malo in my arms!

Except there was still quite a way to go, I could feel my knee a bit,  was starting to feel a bit tired, and was worried the girl would find hidden resources allowing her to regain her third place. I started talking to myself : go on, you're not going to let negative thoughts polluting your mind again. You're tired, there will be time to slow down after you've crossed the finish line. And then the guy who was still running with me said he was struggling, and I felt I needed to help him keep on the pace, since he had helped me do the same over the last kms.  Every 45 seconds or so, I would turned back to see where the red girl was. I could not see her, but that did not mean much since the trail was doing hairpins through the forrest.

Then suddenly, the village was there. A few hundred meters more, and I crossed the finish line. In third place. Without Malo or Martin to greet me, as I had run faster than Martin and I had expected! They managed to get there on time so that Malo and I would be on the podium together, Malo clearly wondering what the hell was going on, with all these people soaked and wearing running shoes, and Maman beaming in the rain.

Photo : Jean-Marie
Well, this had just been SO MUCH FUN! I even managed not to spoil my pleasure by telling myself (as, let's face it, I would usually do), that I could have finished closer to the first two, had I trained more. No, instead, I was just feeling happy, to, for a few minutes, share the limelights with girls so clearly  running in a different league  (some of the running websites or magazines later reporting on the race clearly did not get mistaken about this, mentionning the men top three... but only the first two women!).  I was also  happy that, not doing any specific or targeted training, and probably running these days not even half as much as they do, I still managed to place third. And this, mainly I had the "right head", that day!

One day, if I feel like being more dedicated again, if racing and setting goals becomes more important to me, then I will do it. But because the great thing with running, and especially trail running, is that you can still be strong well into your 40s and 50s, there is no pressure! Until then, life's cool : I had a great race, I got to spend some time in the mountains I love, I got nice bright blue train running shoes and local delicacies (well, that's France after all) as race prize.  And , last but not least, I got more confidence in my ability to run a race un-stressed, and evidence I can then have a decent race.

And as if brand new shoes were not enough, the icing on the cake came exactly a week later, when I found out that... I had actually been pregnant when getting on that podium!  Just as well I managed to get a good race in before finding out Petite Boule N°2 had settled in, then, cos' it looks I may not race again for a while...

(OK, apologies, that was awfully long, but at least I hoped I managed for an unexpected ending... for those who did not give up long ago, that is).

May 25, 2011

Malo's Mini Milestones - 2 -

Right. My hopes that writing about Malo's milestones would force me into posting more regularly have been crushed miserably. I have got my excuses lined up (very good ones, no need to say), but that will be for another post. Maybe.

Since last post, Malo has made a lot of progress, done many funny things, tried to say many new words., invented many others. I obviously told myself I needed to write all of this down before I forget, stupidly failed to do, and expectedly curse myself for it now.

A few of the ones I do remember, though:

- Starting with a very emotional note for me... My Grand-Dad left our world recently. A week before he left, I had taken Malo, Martin and some friends of ours to hike up Croix du Nivolet, a hike  in the Bauges Massif, where my Grand-Dad was from, and which my grand parents, brother and I did pretty much every summer when we were coming to spend a week with them during the summer holidays. These were memories I wanted to share with my two men, and I was very happy to take them there. Malo behaved as a real little "montagnard", walking pretty much the whole way. That same evening, I call my Grand-Dad to tell them about our hike, but he had been very tired lately, and he did not answer the phone. I am happy we made this hike... I am happy Malo seems to enjoy so much being outside... the wheel of life continues...

- Malo has lately taken to calling everybody "poupée" ("doll") with a preference for big burly men running past in tight lycra. This is since Martin, on a rare outing to a department store, told Malo, who was looking puzzled at some mannequin, that this was a "poupee", the German world for doll. Since my son is not stupid and that did not look, even remotely, like a doll, he clearly decided "poupee" was the word for anything human (yes, I know, a mannequin isn't, but since the manufacturer clearly did a good job, it did look more like a human than like a doll)... He has therefore, since then, been calling pretty much everybody he comes accross 'poupee". Little girls, young boys, mothers, old ladies. And big burly men in running past in tight lycras.

- He is saying "non non non non non" by way of "no", voiced in a vehement, concerned, end-of-the-world, maman-what-are-you-thinking-asking-me-to-do-this kind of way, all the while vigorously shaking his head  from left to right. And it goes for everything : eat red things, come to put his shoes on, change nappies, go back inside.

- Talking about red things, although the Petite Boule still loves eating, he has nevertheless developed some "like" and "don't like". Or rather, some "like" and "I absolutely refuse to let this get anywhere close to my mouth even though you're swearing to me it will be good". That especially goes for strawberries, cherries and raspberries, so I am starting wondering if he had not decided red things were not to be eaten, full stop.

- For Easter, Malo got a new book from his Austrian Granny, which has become one of his favourite. It tells the story of Olli the little mouse,  who one morning wakes up only to realise he cannot find his toy duck. Through the pages, Olli looks out for his darling duck, with the invaluable help of Malo, dutifully checking, on page 2, under the carpet, on page 3, in the fridge and  in the cupboard, on page 4 behind the shower's curtain and in the washing machine, and so on. As this is a happy story, Olli, in the end, finds his duck hidden under his bed's blanket. Malo loves the story, but the story-telling has lately become very short. As Martin or I turn on to page 2, about to ask in a very concerned voice, if, by any chance, Olli's duck could be under the carpet, Malo impatiently tells us 'non non non' while himself turning on the pages to the last one where he victoriously shows us the duck hidden under the blanket...  all the while clearly thinking that his parents are not the smartest cookies in the pack, not remembering, after so many times of reading that story, when the duck has hidden himself...

- Our Petite Boule absolutely refuse, no point arguing, threatening or trying to convince, to go barefoot in the grass. This is not new, but we had hopes, last year, that as he would start walking, this fear would disappear. It did not, and instead, Malo uses the "levitation" option when we try to put him down in the grass, or failing this, prefers staying completely still until we come and carry him somewhere safer, and this for as long as it takes. No need to say he wins. In the meantime, his tree-hugging parents wonder what the hell they did to deserve this and are considering getting a life-time mortgage to afford a house with a garden, so that Malo can be walking-in-the-grass trained on a daily basis.

That was last summer in Austria... but Malo's
levitation skills have not gotten worse since then

- Malo has had for a long time a fascination for bicycles, something that unlike his dislike for grass, we're pretty pleased happy ecstatic about, and for which, given that we cycle everywhere and our only car rarely gets out of the garage, we take full credit for. His love for bikes and our pride thus justified that we made a exception to our rule of not getting him big presents unless there is a birthday or Xmas coming, and we therefore invested in a wooden run bike. Admitedly, we had doubts he would manage to use it, given he is not even 21 months old. In fact, before being able to even check that he would understand what to do, Martin had to make an additional hole (despite this being the smallest bike on the market) to lower the saddle further! But once this was done, ... he was a star! Martin is beaming at other parents' comments that their child was too scared or not coordinated enough to ride their bike before their second birthday, and would almost already plan for Malo's first Tour du Lac (the 45km ride around the Annecy lake). As for me, I am taking the p***, out of Martin... while being (not so) secretly super proud of my son, too.

He's not even shying away of off-road cycling, my son...

It is hard to believe I once wondered if I would ever want to have kids...

May 24, 2011

Marathon WR and Job Searchs

Last week I had my first speed session in... I don't remember how long, and as I have a very good memory, that's a sure sign this means it was way too long ago.

I got this sudden urge to do something intense which would get me out of breath and with my thights burning, something I don't do often these days, mostly it is all too tempting to go and hit the trails instead. (Pause... actually, bad example : trails do get me out of breath with my tights burning). But this time, speed work seemed like a good option : I only had 50 minutes to spare, and a very crowded mind which needed to focus on just keeping oxygenated to avoid thinking of hundreds of potentially not so pleasant other things.

So here I went, in our local forest, which has 2 distincts advantages, namely shade (important when training, as one does, at 11am in true summer heat) and a flat, half-tarmac half-dust, straight lane. Incidentally, it also had an in-residence flasher it seems, but I was never lucky enough to experience it for myself, I'll stick to only two advantages.

Considering that, see above, this is the first speed session in a very, very long time, it went well (maybe probably surely a sign that I have not pushed hard enough). I was sprinting at 20.8km/hr in the third repeat, and was pretty pleased with that (if only because I had nothing to compare it with).

But as I was running back home, I realised : this was only roughly 0.30kms/hr faster than the average speed at which Haile Gebrselassie  ran the entire Berlin Marathon when he broke the world record in 2008. And then, he did look pretty smooth, and he definitely did not look like he was sprinting.

Then, as I was running back home, I made a note to myself : as I am currently in between jobs and considering which option to pursue next, there is at least one job I clearly should NOT consider, and it is that of men's marathon record holder*.

Martin, who most of the time reads my posts before they get, precisely, posted - which means that, technically, he does not read my posts, but I am as usual disgressing – comments that this one is neither funny nor very interesting.

He's right.

Still. If you think about it, it is crazy that guy is running a marathon at my 200m-repeat pace.

March 23, 2011

Malo's Mini Milestones

Every new month , every new week since Malo came into our life, I tell myself how much I love this particular phase he is going through. Since I have been saying this every week since he was born, I have had over 80 weeks of total bliss. And every week I catch myself thinking this cannot get any better, any more fun, watching him grow. And every week, it does.

And these days, weeks are packed to the ceiling with new discoveries, new things Malo is learning, understanding, doing, experimenting, enjoying.

I keep telling myself I shoudl write them all, because I can picture him, in 20 years, having a lot of fun reading about them, but each time I forget, and I realise I have myself already forgotten so many of the small milestones he has reached, which I thought I would always remember.

So I may as well start now, and maybe it'll motivate me to write others, so that people don't think my son once reached the "saying Mama" stage... and decided it would stop there, for good.

-Martin and I always take off our shoes first thing when we get home. Now, Malo's first move when we get home from day care, or a run at the weekend, is to go and fetch our sleepers wherever we've dropped them before leaving home, and make sure they are on our feet pronto. He does not always give the right pair to the right owner, which means I may be walking around in Martin's size 46 sleepers while Martin barely fits his toes in my size 35s, but still, that's pretty neat. Now I guess we just have to train him bringing us the newspaper and a glass of wine, and we'll save ourselves getting a dog and a maid.

- he wants to do everything we do : brushing teeths, combing hair (not that he has much to comb yet), reading, driving the car (and honking in the building's garage - neighbours must love us), eating our food, sweeping the floor (see, no need for a maid) ,etc, etc, oh, and, running. He just loves running. Well, he's my son after all. And given that I suspect that, in a few years time, he'll rather go climing with his dad that running with his mum, I am making the most of it now, even if that only means, for now, running back and forth in the corridor.

- he has his own language - in his head, as he is not really talking yet - an interesting combination of German and French. He only knows Spagat (a "split" in gymnastics) and Kugelbauch (literally a belly like a ball) in German, and some only in French (altough you will have to take my word for it since I cannot come up with one single word). Food stuff however he seems to understand in both languages... special things justify special efforts. Meanwhile, I am also, thanks to my son, improving my German, although I doubt that knowing how to say "changing nappies" in German justifies changing my German from "basic knowledge" to "fluent" on my CV.

- His first word, apart from Maman, wooah wooah (indifferently any types of animal, plus his doudou), and brroom brroom (cars), was "danke" ("thank you"). His dad was proud beyond belief Malo's first "real" word was German, and I consoled myself by thinking that, if "thank you" was if his first word, I have not completely failed his education yet (although I am fully aware there will be many years to make up for this).

- Although Malo knows perfectly his dad is "Vati", he is Malo and I am Maman when I or somebody else talk about us, he will still refer to the three of us indifferently as "maman". Because I am me, and therefore genetically have to worry about things, I sometimes can't help wandering if, at 18 months, he should not be, by now, making the distinction between the three of us, I am easily convinced when Martin tells me this is just Malo's way of designating our little family, the cell in which, as long as the three of us are here, nothing bad can happen. And truth be told, the fact he does makes me feel that way, too...

- Malo has recently entered a phase where he points at us, him, or his grand parents when he recently saw them, or friends, or friends of friends, and he expects you to tell him This is Malo, This is Vati, This is Maman, and so on. The last week he started going this with everything. So right now, the only hour we have together in the evening between coming back from day care and going to bed is spent saying This is Malo's car, This is a chair, This is Malo's truck, this is Maman's head, this is Malo's arm, and so on, 20 times each. Or 30. Or 40. And I am not even bored (granted, I realise I may be, if, in a month time, he has not moved on).

- I am also just amazed how this little man who cannot even talk understand every single thing I say. I'll ask him to go into my bedroom, slide the wardrobe door open, get the red jumper on the second shelf and get it back to me, and he'll do it. On the other hand, we've been telling him for months not to throw his spoon on the floor when having dinner, and he still does. Maybe that's just too easy an order to be acted on.

- Last week, as we were on holiday, we took him to the play ground, which had a few climbing holds. You should have seen his dad almost crying of joy and pride (ok, I admit, me too) when Malo actually managed to climb up some of them. Granted, he had been reading the right stuff for a while...

PS - you may have noticed most of the photos were 100% unrelated to the theme of this post, but I just happen to love them so wanted to post them. So I may as well indulge... and add a last one...

PSS - You may also have noticed that this is my first post in a very, very, long time. I am under no illusion that anybody missed them, but in case some of you were wondering... My family aside, the rest of my life is a big of a mess these days, and I most of the time feel I am between the rock and a hard place. So, since this blog is supposed to be about fun stuff, or failing this, about not-so-fun-stuff-told-in-a-hopefull-fun-way, I just prefered not posting...