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gros malin

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Totally forgot that my little blog was established 10 years ago on January 24!

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Another busy weekend - cold but clear. On this Monday evening we are waiting for snow and cold. MoBob spent Thursday and Friday in Indianapolis and we were glad to have him back for the weekend.

I'd heard a lot of the Great Zucchini and we saw him at the Avalon Theater on Saturday morning. The last time we'd visited the Avalon was pre-kid to see a French movie; unfortunately because there wasn't a stage it was a little hard to see. The GZ was full of juvenile slapstick shtick but the kids loooooved him. Even Z, who is normally reserved in public settings, left us to join the rest of the kids on the floor. While the GZ was performing I Googled him and found that he actually has a dark and tragic back story.

visiting Mr. Zig Zag, the Great Zucchini's friend

We arrived back in our neighborhood in time to catch the last half hour or so of the community playdate at the local school. It was a nice follow-up to the open house I attended on Wednesday morning. I saw several classes in progress and learned about the Tools of the Mind methodology, which is completely new to me. I was a little surprised to see 3 year olds learn how to write before learning how to read - we'll see how Z does this fall!

Open House for prospective parents

On Saturday afternoon I went to see my former colleague in the hospital and MB took Z to the Chinese New Year celebration at the Smithsonian's Sackler Gallery.

learning to ribbon dance

We visited "Wonder" at the Renwick Gallery on Sunday. Everything was so tactile, and yet no one could touch anything. I guess that's the fundamental paradox of modern art.

the fascinating bug room
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Growing up in SoCal, snow was a rare treat - seen on occasional trips to Tahoe or nearby ski resorts like Big Bear. I didn't realize until I moved to DC for grad school that snow can be an ugly, disruptive nuisance after the first couple of days of pretty snowflakes. Oh well!

Last weekend was relatively mellow, as weekends go. On Saturday morning we finally visited the Washington Monument. I'd gotten the tickets online but even in the off-season there were still enough visitors to fill the gallery at the top. I can't imagine what it's like in the summer.

One of our new year's resolutions is to host dinner more often, and on Saturday we hosted four of our friends with eight total offspring. Two were teenagers and they hung out with the adults, but for the kidlets we had a wonderful young lady from church who corralled everyone in Z's room until dessert time.

We went to church at the regular time on Sunday but found that stake conference had been rescheduled for that day at 10am. I knew we weren't going to survive without nursery. MoBob helped shovel the front entryway while Z played with his new wooden cars (church-only toys) and then we went home. When MB came back from his volunteer gig we visited the library together and then the school playground, as part of our new routine to habituate Z to the idea of school. There was still a lot of snow but thankfully the equipment was dry.

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I'm still recovering from five days of family togetherness, ha ha.

indoor fun
trying out the new sled

family selfie

wreaking toy havoc

Babba cooked pancakes every day as well as salmon and tomato harissa


outdoor fun
biking in the snow

snowball fight

it was cold

but mommy trudged through the snow to get a prescription anyway

at first sledding was a big fail

but the next day was a success

and ended with a little snow person
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It was a LOOOONG holiday weekend. It started on Thursday night with #GenderHH, our monthly twitter event on all things gender. This we talked about men and boys, and a couple of male participants actually joined the discussion! Woo-hoo!

On Friday evening we attended the Anacostia Community Museum's annual MLKJ commemoration. Khalil Gibran Muhammad spoke about "the creative minority. I wasn't too wild about the mime group but I enjoyed the discussion between the keynote speaker and the DC's Chief Librarian about the importance of history and literature in political activism.

We spent Saturday morning at the charming College Park Aviation Museum. The museum was definitely on a friendlier scale than the Air & Space Museum and Z enjoyed the many kid-friendly features like the model plane that little pilots can climb into, or the different flight simulators.

Ready to take off

I was hoping to see "Wonder" at the Renwick Gallery, but the line stretched all the way to the White House, so I gave up and spent a lovely hour reading at the Secret Starbucks.

When I got home Z and MoBob were ready for the Berber New Year party. Unfortunately Z had a rough night so we took it easy on Sunday morning and then finally decided to take him to the ER on Sunday evening. He got his meds and sounded a lot better by the next morning.

MLKJ day was very long indeed. I started with the usual 5:30am workout, then we had our monthly playdate with about 8 families, and then I went with a friend to visit another friend in a rehab center. That night we went to see Gad Elmaleh, a famous French-Moroccan comedian on an English language tour of the US. He was absolutely hilarious, and I really admire him for trying comedy not only in a different language but also a different culture. I felt bad though for the three French ladies next to me who spent the evening silent - I guess even his Franglais was too fast for them. I was also surprised that he didn't talk about politics or Washington DC. But he did mention a show in Northampton of all places. French comedian Gad Elmaleh leaves fame, fortune and French behind.
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Z starts school this fall. I feel very disconcerted by this new reality. Granted, Washington DC is exceptional in pioneering universal access to early childhood education, so families in Maryland and Virginia pay for private preschool. It's an extended school day, with $10/day aftercare until 6pm - a significant cost savings from our current daycare. I'm sad that Z will leave the daycare center - we love the staff and Z has been with the same cohort of kids since he was four months old - and we *could* keep him there until kindergarden. But the cost! I think our compromise is that Z spend his summer vacations at the daycare.

Our local school is part of a pilot program where in-boundary families have a guaranteed spot in PK3. We still have to do the lottery but it's a big relief not to have to do all the research, like attending open houses. Our local school has a good rep and we have gotten to know the other families with kids there as well as some of the PTA members. I'm very encouraged and comfortable with sending Z there. It's true that he's not going to an immersion French program but we figure he'll attend Saturday classes in French and spend time with the in-laws.

I've been organizing monthly playgroups with the neighborhood families so that Z will get to know his future classmates. I'll continue to attend PTA meetings. Once the weather warms up we'll start taking him to the school playground. The school has an early childhood education coordinator who let me know that she'll be organizing activities and an orientation for incoming students this summer.

So Z will be ready, even though I may not be.
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Over the holidays I read The Book of New Family Traditions. I hadn't really thought about the difference between traditions and rituals; we have lots of traditions, especially associated with the holidays throughout the year (Easter egg hunt! Halloween train!) but not really many rituals. I'd say, for example, that Z's bedtime routine is that, and not exactly a ritual per se. Cox's book talks a lot about rituals as ways to smooth out the transitions and troubles of the day. I hadn't really thought about it that way - the bedtime reading with Z is part of his winding down process as well as an important developmental/educational activity.

So this year we decided to institute some rituals:
* a family hug when we leave and arrive home
* saying what we're thankful for at dinner
* family dinners most nights
* pizza/grocery shopping every Friday night
The family hug is really the only "new" ritual, and it is a lovely, calming way to bracket the day, or to welcome home someone. Even though we've only done it for a week or so, Z already expects his "câlin" (hug).

Instead of resolutions, we are trying this year to accomplish some goals as a family. We've tried to do everything on the list from time to time but never really codified it. The first item is the most important, and is in anticipation of some big changes in our financial situation. When Z starts PK3 this fall, the onerous costs of daycare will disappear, but we also want to continue working on student loans, do some home renovations, set up a trust for Z (lawyer fees), and start long term care insurance.
* manage our finances well
* speak French consistently
* go outdoors more often
* complete potty training
* have at least one dinner party a month

Right now I am in the middle of the 21 Day Financial Fast which has been hard but OK. Granted I'm doing a modified version (cheating?) because I allow myself to buy lunch or other food items and stuff for Z (like new undies) but otherwise I've really tried to be disciplined. It makes MoBob, the family CFO, happy, anyway.
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I've had mixed success following my schedule - some days are better than others - but I'm improving!

wake up!
read scriptures, pray, guided meditation

work-out - we have two sessions with a personal trainer a week and on the third day I meet up with my exercise partner

shower, get dressed, and have breakfast

MoBob and Z wake up, get dressed, and have breakfast
I check email, organize my work bag, prep lunch and snacks for myself, set up anything for dinner like the crockpock; maybe process stuff in my inbox

leave for daycare and work (extremely lucky if we're out the door by now)

8:30 - 5:30

MB picks me up, then Z
run any errands like the ATM or grocery story


6:30 - 8:00
watch the news while Z plays, make/have dinner together (TV is off!) and possibly watch "Jeopardy"

Z's bedtime routine - bath/toothbrushing, pj's, milk, stories, and prayer
(if it's Monday night, Family Home Evening is my reviewing with Z the primary lesson from the previous Sunday in French)

Sleep...unless I'm sucked into the internet vortex or reading a good book.

Sometimes MB or I have events during the evening. Of course our weekends are very different, though Sundays are pretty consistent with church from 9 to 12, and some sort of mellow activity in the afternoon like going to a park. The main thing is that we accomplish all the errands during the weekend so that our weekends are completely available - including time for naps.
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I am sad to admit that I am a Smug Mommy more often than I'd like to be.

I understand intellectually that people have different preferences and talents. I understand intellectually that I'm a little crazy when it comes to things like scheduling or organization. (I'm careful not to overburden Z and we've definitely left activities early when he's been tired or upset.)

But some things just seem SO OBVIOUS to me.

Like: re-packing the diaper bag once you get home. Or sewing labels onto jackets. Or setting up a household routine so that weekends are totally free for family time. Or a color-coded shared family calendar (that MoBob rarely consults).

When people tell me that they don't do these things I know I look incredulous, and that's not a nice response.

I definitely need to congratulate myself less, and compare and judge a lot less. And empathize a whole lot more. Instead of turning into That Mom.

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Now that Z is bigger I've been trying to decide about my volunteer life. When I got pregnant I resigned from three boards; I don't think I'm up for that level of involvement again, but I've started going to the meetings of the coop activities committee and the local PTA, and may join the board of a local theater for kids organization.

Saturday was exclusively devoted to the Smithsonian Institution. We spent the morning at the Smithsonian Museum of American History for Z's class on travel and transport. Then we had a Shake Shack lunch in the Smithsonian American Art Museum before watching the NSO's family concert.

Z's class made little cars.

He was squirrelly before and after the concert, but totally absorbed once it was underway.

Big shoes in the nursery at church.

Forgotten Halloween costume (blue dinosaur).
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