Bücher für dreisprachiges Lernen

Léon, inzwischen eineinhalb Jahre alt, versteht bereits viel, und spricht eine Handvoll Wörter. Bis jetzt scheint er alle drei Sprachen aufzunehmen, französisch hauptsächlich durch die Crèche, deutsch durch mich, und english mit Melissa. Dazu kommen Verwandte und einige Freunde, durch die er ebenfalls mit den drei Sprachen in Kontakt kommt.

Es gibt viel Literatur über zweisprachige Kinder, aber über das Lernen von drei oder mehr Sprachen gibt es wenig. Nach einiger Recherche hat Melissa zwei Bücher aufgetrieben und gekauft: Xiao-Lei Wang, “Growing up with three languages. Birth to eleven”, and “Learning to read and write in the multilingual family”, here are some reviews:



Melissa ist ja Expertin in diesem Thema, und sie hat sich schon mit Freuden an die Lektüre gemacht. Mir werden diese Bücher bestimmt sehr helfen, alleine um mir klarzuwerden, was an Plannung und Arbeit auf uns zukommt, wenn wir darauf hinzielen wollen, dass Léon sich in allen drei Sprachen zu einem bestimmten Grade zu Hause fühlen soll. Das hilft uns auch, unser Vorhaben an unsere Erwartungen anzupassen.


Bäckersfrau und baker’s man

Léon, inzwischen ein Jahr und einen Monat alt, hat angefangen, bei Klatschliedern mitzumachen. Der Renner ist zur Zeit:

Paddy cake, paddy cake, baker’s man,
Bake me a cake as fast as you can,
Pad it, and roll it, and mark it with a ‘B’,
And put it in the oven for baby and me.


Mit mehr Gesten ist das deutlich lustiger und interaktiver als das deutsche Pendant:
Backe, backe, Kuchen,
Der Bäcker hat gerufen,
Wer will guten Kuchen backen,
Der muss haben sieben Sachen:
Eier und Schmalz,
Zucker und Salz,
Milch und Mehl,
Safran macht den Kuchen gel.
(Schieb’ ihn in den Ofen rein.)

[Edit: Die letzte Zeile kannte ich als Kind nicht, singe sie aber mittlerweile mit.]

Zumal mich schon als Kind das ‘gel’ (=gelb) immer gestört hat.
Also haben missytas und ich das ‘Paddy cake’ Lied auf Deutsch (frei) übersetzt:

Butterkeks, Butterkeks, Bäckersfrau,

Back mir einen Keks, aber ganz genau,
Roll ihn aus, stech ihn aus, schreib ein ‘B’ darauf,
Ist er gebacken, mach die Ofentüre auf.

On Breastfeeding: The End of an Era

Since the fall of 2013, our little Léon, or iBun as I still call him in my head, has been able to depend on my body to give him everything he needs. He has had the best protection and nourishment possible, both in and out of the womb. We’ve walked a bit of a bumpy road to get where we are in this New Year, but now the time has come for us to wean away from the breast and over to a mostly formula-based diet.

Breastfeeding has not been easy, but I’m proud to have had my six-month old son on 100% breast milk since the day he was born. We’ve had everything from latching problems to overproduction to an abscess to mammary candida. But always, I powered through, with my array of weapons which included an electric pump, washable and disposable nursing pads, lanolin, cold packs, wandering around the house topless as much as possible and my last resort, always, Doliprane. My hard work has payed off as our little iBun has not been even moderately ill, save a fever he had in reaction to a vaccine, in his 6 months of life.

It took us awhile to find our rhythm, but soon I was feeding iBun in parks, on hikes, on lakes and seashores, in restaurants, cafés, trains, planes, embassies, prefectures, once while walking, once in a cemetery, and one very bad-ass time in a volcano crater in what felt like high-speed winds. We had a sweet freedom to go out when we could, Martin and I, without having to worry about formula or bottle preparation.

I remember as we were preparing him for 2 bottles of breast milk a day that I would provide to the creche, feeling a slight sadness in thinking my son was slowly growing away from depending on me for sustenance. My life became a game of when I could pump milk. But this also gave me a bit more freedom personally as I could now pump milk if I wanted to have a glass of wine at dinner or some such.

Even so, we were paying a price. There were, of course, the aforementioned health problems. Additionally, I still had to wear nursing-compatible attire. I either slept with my nursing bra and pads on, or topless on a towel as I always leaked at night. Sex was no longer about maneuvering around a pregnant belly but worrying if I would squirt or leak breast milk all over Martin at some point. Although I was often uncomfortably full of breast milk I still had this irrational paranoia that if I wasn’t careful I’d run out of milk. So I ate large healthy meals and limited my exercise to walking. Perhaps needless to say, I wasn’t one of those women who lost weight during breastfeeding. Rather, I kept my postnatal weight.

And so, as time went by I knew that I would be weaning little iBun at the six month mark. I longed for aspects of my pre-pregnant self – my usually dependably good state of health, the capability to remember things, the shape of my body and the wardrobe that went with it, the ability to push myself hard whenever I like doing whatever exercise I wanted. Other things, little things.

The time had arrived, little iBun’s six-month anniversary and as we were preparing the first formula bottle I couldn’t help but feel a certain melancholy that my sweet time with my sweet little boy would slowly decrease to a morning and evening feeding. We could no longer depend on my production during the day if we were in a pinch but now had to have a formula bottle always in reserve, just in case.

But, now I have a flexibility I haven’t had in a long time. Martin and I have the ability go on little dates here and there and I don’t have to worry about pumping or feeding beforehand, or calculate how long we can be away. I no longer have to wear clothing that buttons or zips in the front, or that has clever slits on the side. But even more important to me now is the ability to really exercise without worry.

I went for my first jog in ages, today! And it felt great!

I feel as if I’ve found where my rhythm is going as mother, and now is the time to concentrate on a more healthy balance of my other selves and what I’d like to have for myself, what I’d like to do for myself. And these are just little things, like jogging, like bike dates with Martin. Nothing fancy, just enough to be more than mother. A mother plus. Mama+

Happy New Year, everyone!

Über den Namen Léon

Lange nachdem wir den Namen Léon gewählt hatten und er damit auf alle Zeiten in den Archiven der französischen Administration festgemeiselt wurde, taten sich für uns einige interessante Besonderheiten und Namensvorbilder auf, an die wir anfangs zum Teil gar nicht gedacht hatten.

Léon erinnert erst einmal an Napo-Léon, und genau wie der größenwahnsinnige Diktator kam unser kleiner Wiindewurm aus dem Süden nach Paris. (Mehr Gemeinsamkeiten gibt es aber nicht.)

Zu Verwechslungen könnte es mit der Begegnung eines Pfaus kommen, der ruft auf französisch “léon, léon”.

Einige Träger des gleichen Namens:

– Léon Blum,  bedeutender Sozialist und französischer Präsident in den 1930ern und nochmals 1946/1947.

– Léon Foucault, Physiker und Astronom, berühmt durch sein Pendelexperiment, das die Erddrehung zeigte. Der erste öffentliche Versuch wurde im Pantheon durchgführt, zwei Kilometer vom Ort, an dem ich diesen Eintrag schreibe.

-Léon Boëllmann, Organist und Komponist des 19. Jahrhunderst, der unter anderem einiges für Violoncello geschrieben hat.


– “Léon – der  Profi” (auf französisch einfach “Léon”) ist, gespielt von Jean Reno, ein harter Killer mit weichem Herz.

– Léon de Bruxelles – eines unser Lieblingsrestaurants für Moules Frites.

On parenthood: breastfeeding

I breastfeed. I am a breastfeeding warrior who’s seen it all – everything, that is, except being shamed into feeding my little one in a filthy public toilet or being asked to leave somewhere for providing the best sustenance in the world for an infant.  If you don’t know about the wonders of breast milk, familiarize yourself here, then watch this poem video and you’ll understand why this woman’s experience is so pointless

I’d write more, but I’m typing with one hand, as usual :-).

Léon (english version)

[Note: This is my transated version of my earlier German blog entry.]

On June 30, 2013, 6:21 am, Melissa gave birth to our son Léon. This is
my report of the great event, of the nine hardest hours and the most
beautiful moments of my life.

When I woke up on Saturday, June 29, I couldn’t conceive of having
one extra person around us just 24 hours later. Everything was as normal
as it can be in the ninth month of pregnancy. After a lazy morning and
a Chinese lunch (‘à volonté’), we went to the Royat hot springs in the
afternoon. Two hours of playing in the water, Melissa realised that
we better leave for the hospital to see the gynecologist or midwife.

First we went home, where Melissa got a back ache that kept coming and
going. Luckily of the two of us it was her who kept cool. She correctly
interpreted the back ache as contractions, and told me to pack for the
maternity ward. In a flurry, I dumped clothes, laptops, documents and
other stuff into my backpack, closed the windows, packed usable leftovers
from the fridge into a bag, did the dishes as much as I could, and
in between stuffed my face with baguette and Fourme d’Ambert.

Melissa had packed all essentials for herself and the to-be-born already
a few weeks ago, using Carmen’s bag.

We left by car for Beaumont, up the hill of the Faille de Limagne.
If until now it was false alarm, by the latest our ride over the bumpy
road up to the clinic must have caused the contractions to start.
We went to the maternity ward where the midwife (sage-femme) on duty,
Maryline, determined a dilation of 1cm. The first phase of birth had

We left the labour room to spend this phase in her maternity room.
I got a foldaway bed. After one hour the contractions came regularly,
every 3-5 minutes, and were very painful. This state of hers remained
for the next 5-6 hours, but with increasing pain. Long before the birth,
Melissa had decided to try without a epidural anesthesia.

I felt more and more helpless. Except for holding hands, give water to
drink, and spray her face and neck there was nothing much I could do.
She was exhausted and only wanted to sleep for a bit. But the continuous
contractions didn’t let her. Massaging or hugging was also not possible
most of the time, since every movement increased her pain. A hot shower
helped for a while, and Melissa spent quite some time under the shower.
Eventually I laid down to sleep for a bit, although with a guilty
conscience to let my girlfriend suffer alone.

Around 2:30am the contraction pain was so strong that I called the midwife,
who finally transported Melissa to the labour room. There however
it just continued as it was for some time. Once in a while Maryline came in
to examine the mother to be. The pain was getting worse. I played
some soothing music on the iPad, Dvorak’s 8th symphony.

Another examination at around 5am showed a near complete dilation.
The end phase (expulsion) could finally begin. Melissa got the strong
urge to ‘push’. Unfortunately the baby had not turned yet, his head
was pointing up. To move the baby from its ‘sunny-side up’ position,
Melissa got on all four, and I was assigned the task to press her back
with my thumbs at each contraction. I had to force myself to do this,
because she had stronger pain than ever, and I did not know whether my
pressing would make it worse. Maryline tried to help move the head of the baby.
This stagnation phase seemed to be endless. Melissa hardly found moments
of peace and relaxation between contractions, and her legs hurt. At times
I sat behind her in the bed for her to lean against me. Dvorak was over,
and Die schöne Müllerin (the fair miller’s wife) followed. I thought that
this music was too agitated and reached over to change it. This caused
more pain to Melissa so I left the iPad continue on its own.

The sunny-side up position is not very common. Luckily we only read afterwards
that this position is more painful than normal.

Finally it was time! Around 6am the baby had turned sidewards into the right
position, accompanied by Schubert’s Schwanengesang (‘Swan song’).
I asked the midwife whether Melissa was allowed to feel the baby’s head. She
did and took courage for the last phase. Lying on her side she pushed as
hard and long as she could. Afterwards she told me that this phase was the
most painful period. I don’t know from where she gathered the force and
energy. With screaming, cursing, and gesticulating, but without a single
tear in her eye, she gave birth to the baby’s head.

The worst was over. One, then another shoulder followed, and then the rest
slipped out. After just a few moments the baby did his first cry. Immediately
he was placed on Melissa’s chest to rest in her arms. She showed the
happiest and relieved smile since quite some time. Fischer-Dieskau had
arrived at the Winterreise (Winter Journey). The nurse nagged a little
and complained that we had not chosen a name yet (“on va mettre ‘bébé X’
où quoi?”). We decided for the name Léon.

Then the placenta was delivered. I took a quick look. Without going
too much into detail, I noticed how big it was. Finally the umbilical
cord was cut, and the baby was brought for his first examination
to another room. I accompanied the nurse. Léon’s head was cleaned a bit,
he was weighted and measured. Supplied with his name tag, he was
brought back to his mom.

We could stay two hours in the labour room. Then Léon was dressed (I
helped clumsily) and put into his cot, his bed for the next five days.
I pushed the cot after Melissa back to our room. After a short time
both were sleeping like a baby.

The Maternity Ward: Mama’s Perspective

So how to begin? Labor started Saturday around 5pm. We were at Royatonic to try and bring relief to these back pains I was having all day long. Being in the water felt better, but I still wasn’t feeling 100%. We started joking around about water births and wondering if I could get a life-time pass to the spa if I had to deliver there. We decided to leave at 6pm in earnest as I experienced another symptom of pre-labor and I was worried I might have broken my water but didn’t know it because I had been in the pool.

We called our sage-femme, and decided to pack the car just in case I would have to be monitored at the hospital. My water actually broke on the bumpy road to the clinic, which was a bit exciting, to say the least!  We arrived around 8p, where the night sage-femme told us I was one centimeter dilated.  The next 10 hours was me fighting the urge to go for that epidural, and I’m glad France is a country where they won’t even ask you if you want it – if you’ve said you don’t want it you won’t get it unless you specifically ask for it.

I always imagined that when I would get to the delivery stage, I would be on the quiet side as I in general I don’t share with people when I’m in pain and in fact hate sharing I’m in pain. Nope, once I hit 6 centimeters, around 3am, there was no way I was going to be even remotely quiet – savage screaming was more like it! It turns out our little iBun had a bigger head than usual, so it was a bit of a difficult delivery – I really had to fight the urge to push or risk hurting myself delivering that big head of his too quickly.  It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I was so proud of myself for not giving into an epidural.

They put iBun immediately on my chest and asked Martin what we were going to name him. For a long time, well really up until that moment when the sage-femme asked us, we had no idea what iBun’s name would be. The nickname iBun is our play on me having a “bun in the oven” and the fact that between the two of us there are three macs (one of which has since bit the dust) and one iPad.

Martin looked at me and “Léon” just sort of popped out of my mouth. I hadn’t even really seen our little boy at that point –  just felt him as he nursed – so while on this massive love-high my only thought was “Léon”.

In the end, I had exactly the delivery I wanted, with a great team of sage-femmes and best of all, Martin.

Martin was great through it all, and in fact he has been so very humble in his reporting of his role, but I really couldn’t have done it without him. He was exactly what I needed when I needed it, and continues to take very good care of me and little iBun. I often find myself wondering, had our roles been reversed, could I have been as strong as he was to see someone you love be in so much pain and not be able to do anything about it. It touches my heart every time I think about that day and how lucky I am to have such a supportive and strong partner.

We stayed in the maternity ward for 6 nights, and Martin seemed to be a fountain of energy, taking care of bathing and changing the baby, running to admin office or to the grocery store whenever needed, calling midwives and other medical staff when we had a question, and even making time to have little “dates” with me, where we would eat breakfast in my bed together, or go for a walk around the ward while iBun was in the nursery, or one wild time, had coffee in the cafeteria.  Because I had his constant love and support, I was able to concentrate on breastfeeding and healing.  I have no doubt that I am doing so well in terms of recovery because of his tireless energy. It was only four days ago, ten days after me giving birth that he admitted to being exhausted and is taking a nap at my insistence.


More reporting to follow on our adventures upon returning home!!!