Tuesday, August 16, 2022

University picnic

10,511 steps

I love days where we realize we don't have to cook dinner! It was the annual university picnic for faculty, staff, and families at the president's house, which is a short walk away. Eric was watching Zari's soccer game so I brought some food home for them.

Other than that, a pretty unremarkable school day for the kids and work day for me and Eric. After the picnic, we did homework on the big dining room table. Inga wrote a short personal essay about going on the Avatar ride at Disney World, which I helped with (mostly in the form of encouraging her and reading through the rough draft).

I had to add a cross-brace on my desk top because of where the legs will attach to the table. Some day...this will be done...some day. I cut, sanded, glued, and screwed the piece of wood in place, then applied one coat of finish.
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Monday, August 15, 2022

Back to busy

It's always go-go-go on school days. Inga had her sports physical, so that took most of my morning by time it was done and all the forms were dropped off. Breech-related activities took me all the way to school pickup time.

Ivy left her lunch at home, which neither of us realized until lunchtime. Oops! I had reminded her to put it in her backpack, but didn't verify. Lesson learned. I had an unintended nap once Ivy came home. She was doing homework and I was reading on the couch next to her.

Dio had his first day of soccer and reported that most of the kids weren't very good. He's used to crazy skills levels in France and it's a shock to come here.

Ivy and Eric had soccer practice. I had to play chauffeur becuase Zari still hasn't arranged rides home after practice, so she needed a ride. We'll get things streamlined at some point...

After dinner, Inga requested some family attic time. "I just want us to do something together as a family." So we went up and played pool and foosball. Ivy and I lost to Inga on foosball, despite outnumbering her.
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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Sporty Sunday

Zari said something about the weekends going by too quickly. I agree!

I had a quiet house to myself this morning. I mixed up a double batch of sourdough bread and folded it over a 2-hour period.

The afternoon was a sporty one for everybody but me: Inga had soccer practice and the rest of the family went to play Ultimate Frisbee. I had to stay behind to be sure someone was home when Inga finished.

Then we watched another episode of Knight Rider. "This is so cheesy!" Zari said. The kids think it's so funny that David Hasselhoff was considered a hunk back then. "His pants are super high up, all the way to his belly button!" Inga said.

We had a huge bowl of popcorn during the episode and I wasn't particularly hungry. So I made a big salad (cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, olives, & balsamic dressing) and deviled eggs.

We asked the kids to pack their own lunches this year, so all the leftovers went into lunchboxes. It's so nice that they can do their own. It's still a lot of work to ensure there's enough food!

My desktop is fully oiled and drying. It's been super humid and the finish seems very slow to dry.



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Saturday, August 13, 2022

Household tasks and a jump in a lake

Before Eric brought Ivy to her morning soccer match, he helped me cross-cut my desk top on both sides. Next, I sanded both sides down, rounded the corners and edges slightly, and prepped it for Osmo Oil finish. I have two coats on the underside and will do the top side tomorrow. I'm so excited to put my standing desk together!

I did another round of weeding in the afternoon. It's satisfying to feel the roots rip free from the earth. I just wish I had a bit fewer weeds to unearth.

We watched another episode of Knight Rider. I have occasional memories of certain scenes from when I watched it as a child.


In the late afternoon, we went to a friend's house; they live about 8 miles out of town on a lake. We all had a nice swim, jumping right off their dock into the water, then grilled hamburgers for dinner. The lake water is clean, in the sense of not having chemicals or contaminants, but it's extremely murky and slightly stinky. We all showered off once we got home. It was so much fun to relax and socialize. The kids didn't want to leave.

I managed to join Tiktok, upload a video, have the video get flagged, and get myself perma-banned, all in one day. So yay? The offending video had a computer animation of a birth in the upper corner, and Ivy was dancing along making up dance moves to illustrate the 10 Steps of Physiologic Breech (something we teach in our breech workshops).


But never fear! We got the video up on Instagram and Facebook. All is not lost. I'm glad because that 1-minute video took me at least 5 hours to film and edit.

If you're curious, check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/breechwithoutborders/videos/1406661989817472/
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Friday, August 12, 2022

A tire, a fire, a Knight Rider

13,040 steps

Eric put a new innertube on one of Ivy's bike tires, and only one day later it popped with an enormous explosion on the way home. We wonder if he may have overinflated the tube since our pressure gauge is broken.

Ivy was already riding a bike that was too small for her, so we switched her up to Inga's old bike and will give her previous one away.

One thing I like about this year's school schedule: it forces me (or rather, I choose) to go running every morning when I drop Ivy off. It's far enough that I need to run her there if I leave at our planned time. Then I walk it again in the afternoon.

Dio had a sports physical this morning and missed the first hour of school. I then ran a quick errand to Home Depot (black steel pipes for a set of pipe clamps). Then it was breech work until school pickup time.

Ivy and I had a quiet hour at home before everyone else arrived, so we worked on a fun breech video project involving dancing. I hope it turns out okay!

I did more work on my desk top: sanded the underside, then sanded and attached the two support pieces. Tomorrow Eric will help me cut the ends off and then I'll clean them up with a router and sand the top. Then finally it will be time to apply the Osmo Oil!


Normal people would just go out and buy a desk top. But not me. I have to do it the hard way.

We had an old rotten picnic table that was collapsing. I hastened its demise by pulling it apart and burning the boards. We'll recycle the old metal supports.

  

We watched Knight Rider--an old series from the 1980s that I remember watching. There was much hilarity as our kids discovered the joys of David Hasselhof and his "high tech" car.
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Thursday, August 11, 2022

2nd day of school and I'm already worn out

12,760 steps

That's it. I'd like to declare "time out" from school. We already feel run ragged and we're only 2 days in! We do have some quiet hours in the middle of the day, but early mornings, later afternoons, and evenings are go-go-go all the time.

I have driven the car several times a day most days to pick various people up or to run errands. It's crazy! I think I drove our car in France a handful of times in 20+ months (granted, Eric did more of the driving but we still didn't use it much).

To give you a feel, here was my day:
  • 6:30 am: wake up before my alarm (not on purpose) and read BBC news
  • 7 am alarm: wake up the kids, get Ivy ready
  • 7:30 am: out the door and run her to school
  • 8 am: back from my morning run, make sure Zari is out on time
  • 8:10 am: send Inga and Dio off at 8:15
  • Shower and get dressed
  • Work on breech things all morning
  • 11 am: breech live session
  • noon: breech planning meeting
  • more breech work in the early afternoon
  • 2:15-3 pm: walk to pick up Ivy
  • 3-4 pm: some breech work + planning a TikTok breech video with Ivy
  • 4-5 pm: Zoom meeting
  • 5-5:20 pm: drop off Eric and Inga at soccer practice
  • 5:20-5:35 pm: prep dinner (rice, coleslaw, lemon pepper chicken)
  • 5:35-6 pm: pick up Zari from soccer practice
  • 6-6:30 pm: finish cooking dinner, feed family (minus Eric and Ivy)
  • 6:30-7:15 pm: pick up Eric and Ivy from soccer, wait around for a while as they're finishing up
  • 7:15-9 pm: pack lunches, help kids with homework, get Ivy and Inga to bed
  • 9-10 pm: grocery shopping with Eric
  • 10 pm: get Zari and Dio to bed
  • Now it's 10:45 and I'm just sitting down to write in my journal
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Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Last day of freedom!

School starts tomorrow. I can't believe how fast the past 4 weeks have gone since we left France. Our poor kids only had 1 month of holidays.

Ivy came home after dinner from a week in Disneyworld with grandparents. She's had 2 straight weeks of fun and sleep deprivation and now reality will hit.

Eric's parents and one more grandchild are staying overnight before they begin the long drive home to Alberta. Eric's friends also leave tomorrow for Alberta (via airplane). Then we'll have a quiet empty house. I like having it filled up with guests and family.

I finished processing the last of the peaches this morning. I'll probably pick another big box tomorrow--we can never have too many!

It was raining most of the day, but we went out for a hike anyway after lunch. The rain was mostly spitting, not even enough to be called a drizzle. We went to a local state park and did a few of the short hikes. Nothing very rigorous, and it was slow going due to the rain making the paths muddy and slippery.

Dinner started as "what do we have in our fridge" and ended up better than expected. We pulled out some of the leftover meat from the family reunion Mexican street tacos. I made a quick run to the Mexican grocery store for a few perishables. We had carne asada and spiced chicken for the meats, fire-toasted corn tortillas, and the usual spread of toppings: lime wedges, cilantro, queso fresco, sour cream, onions, avocados, and 8 different salsas and hot sauces.

We also had corn on the cob (done with an America's Test Kitchen recipe, 10/10) and homemade peach ice creame with the peaches we picked a few days ago.

Then to make it even more fun, we had a bonfire and Smores. The rain had stopped by mid-afternoon and I was able to get a fire going with some coaxing with the blowtorch.
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Monday, August 08, 2022

Basement shopping part 1 & 2

I am making myself a standing desk, to be paired with a treadmill (one specialized for walking rather than running). I've been trying to make a desk top without having to buy anything. Today I rummaged around in our basement and found a pair of doors from our 1910 carriage house that I had rescued before we gutted the gardener's quarters (which was completely rotten due to an enormous hole in the roof that the previous owners left unrepaired).

Put together, they would have made a beautiful large desk top. They're made of quartersawn oak and are in really good condition once I cleaned off the dirt and mold. But I realized: they would make a HUGE desk and it was too big.

So with this gorgeous pair of cupboard doors cleaned and set aside, I went back into the basement. We have a few areas that have been partitioned off with old tongue & groove pine boards, prboably done when the house was built in 1900. Some of these areas had "doors" (4 boards fastened together top and bottom with a cross-board). Since one of those doors was hanging off its hinges anyway, I took it off and repurposed it.

I ccut off the top and bottom cross-boards, cleaned everything thoroughly, pulled the boards apart, glued the tongues and grooves, and put them back together. They're drying under tension and under weight to keep them held together snug and to make them dry flat. I'll install new cross-boards tomorrow once I cut the final desktop to size.

It's a bit of work but I really didn't want to buy anything. I'll sand it down and finish it with Osmo Oil. Voila! A desk top! It's more rustic than I was hoping for but people pay a lot of money for this kind of look and mine is 100% authentic rather than the faux-rustic-barnwood look that is all the rage.

We went swimming at the university pool this morning. Afternoon? Some talking, some working, a movie for the kids. During Zari's soccer practice, Eric and I bought school supplies for the kids at our Buy More Big Box store, aka Walmart.

We came home and found our friends cooking dinner! Wow! What a treat. We had a nice post-dinner walk to campus and back, all while a big thunderstorm was rumbling nearby and threatening to douse us. We were sad that the rain missed us!
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Sunday, August 07, 2022

Peaches

The highlight of the day was picking peaches at a friend's property just outside of town. We filled a large box and called it good. We'll probably come back in a few more days.

I spent much of the afternoon processing peaches with help from Eric and our friends. We have a large batch peeled and quartered and in the freezer. The other batch needs to ripen for a day or two more.

And don't forget the delicious peach cobbler we ate for dessert!

We met our future renter who will be living here when we head back to France.

A wave of exhuastion hit me around 9 pm and I took an involuntary nap.
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Saturday, August 06, 2022

More visitors

Eric's best friend from high school in Canada is visiting with his family (minus the oldest 3 kids who are adults). I love having the space to host people. Their 2 youngest kids had fun playing in the attic and playing soccer outside with Inga and Dio.

Zari had to wake up early for 7:30 am soccer practice. She was exhausted by the evening and went to bed earlier than usual.

I got Dio and Zari to come shopping with me to the local thrift store. Dio has expressed interest in finding some new clothes. We didn't find anything good at that store, but we did find him a hoodie at a nearby clothes outlet. It was fun to shop with them. Inga chose to stay home and read a book.

We went on a walk downtown and around campus with Eric's friends. A very hot, sweaty walk. It feels like you're entering a sauna when you step out the door.

We got a phone call at 10:30 pm with a very happy Ivy (in Disneyworld with her grandparents). "I didn't even miss you at all!" she told us. She kept talking and talking and eventually I had to cut her off gently and tell her to go to bed.
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Friday, August 05, 2022

A wheelbarrow full of weeds

I enlisted all 3 children to help me weed the flower beds this morning. It was sticky, hot, and insect-ridden. Dio eventually got so fed up with the bugs that he went inside for some alternate chores (vacuuming). I called it a day after we had filled a wheelbarrow to overflowing.


I spent a long time on old with various agencies and companies: Paypal, my bank, several NC governmental departments. While I was on hold listening to awful music, I caught up on finances and took care of other life paperwork. What a glamorous life I live.

I've decided to treat myself to a proper office space (in the corner of my bedroom), complete with a treadmill desk. I have to spend a lot of time in front of the computer and I get so antsy having to sit still. This is my solution.

I made a huge bonfire with deadfall we've collected. It was too hot of a day to enjoy a fire, though, even after the sun set. Maybe in a few weeks...

Eric and I had time to go on a walk this evening.
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Thursday, August 04, 2022

Slow run, physicals, & soccer practice

I went for a run first thing this morning. It was slower than I would have liked, but I also haven't exercised properly for a while. A huge storm rolled in soon after I got back. This is great--the soil will be loose enough to pull weeds tomorrow.

Zari had her soccer physical this afternoon. We were both shivering in the doctor's office, which is kept at 70F (21 C). Way too cold! We keep our house around 78-80 (about 26-27 C), just enough to cut the heat and humidity.

There was an informal get-together for new and current university families so we could meet each other. Someone brought a game involving soft burritos that you throw at each other, which amused the children greatly.

Zari had evening soccer practice with the boy's team because she has to get a certain number of practices in before she can play in a match.
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Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Recovery

Eric had to get up at 3 am to drive a family to the airport. I woke up at 6 and he was still up. He came back to bed and snuggled and eventually I got up and started working.

I didn't hear any noise from the kids for several hours! Inga apparently woke up around 9 am and stayed in bed reading. We had to wake Zari and Dio up close to 10 am.

We needed this down day after all of the excitement. I mostly worked on breech stuff. Eric showed the kids how to mow the lawn. We all helped pick up sticks so that Zari and Dio could mow.

I did 6 loads of laundry and hung most of them outside to dry. I had to take everything off when a storm rolled in this evening.

We're eating yet more leftovers and are getting ready to eat something new.
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Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Reunion wrap-up

We got to camp this morning to say goodbye to a few families who had long drives home. I learned that Dio had stayed up with other teenage cousins until 6 am! They only went to bed because one of the aunts (who woke up for the morning) discovered them still awake and sent them to bed. They had a rude awakening 2 hours later.

It hadn't even occurred to me to tell my kids, "You cannot stay up until 6 am" because they have never done anything like that in their lives! Zari and Inga went to bed at the "early" hour of 12:45 am. Yikes! You can imagine we had some exhausted children today. But...it's vacation and I am so glad they had so much fun with their cousins.

We packed and cleaned and then caravaned over to our house. Ivy and two other cousins her same age headed out in the afternoon with their grandparents to go to Disneyworld. We have 13 people staying overnight at our house, so it was still a bit of pandemonium chez les Freezes. But it's good.

Eric has to drive one family to the airport at 3 am, so he's already in bed. I believe I am the last one awake. I sent all the kids to bed on time tonight with stern instructions to sleep.
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Monday, August 01, 2022

Last day of the reunion

Last full day of reunioning! We woke up to a tempest. Sheets of rain blowing sideways, branches dropped all over the streets. I was glad that we were all indoors and not in tents at this camp. (And of course Eric and I were snug in our own bed at home...luxury.)

The rain let up as we were finishing with breakfast. We gathered everyone into our fleet of cars and headed over to the university athletic center for the Freeze Olympics. We did 50m and 200m races among the various age groups, funny jumps (onto the high jump mat), and real high jumps for the bigger kids and adults.

Then...swim time! We were the only people in the entire pool. It's summer break so the facilities tend to be empty.

After lunch the teenagers decided to go "out", which ended up being a trip to WalMart to buy matching flannel pajama pants and then a local ice cream parlor. The almost-teens wanted to go, too, so one of the uncles took another car full for their own excursion.

Dio came home with cactus pants and Zari with camouflage pants.

I went home for an hour of work (and quiet time). I didn't have a book with me and was feeling antsy but also tired--it was either work or nap. Work won out this time.

Dinner was our turn: we ordered Mexican street tacos from a local restaurant, the only place in town I like to eat at. We had 4 choices of meats, corn tortillas, a huge assortment of toppings (limes, 2 kinds of onions, lettuce, cilantro, tomatoes, queso fresco, sour cream), and 2 homemade hot sauces. My taste buds were very happy after this meal.

We had a nice evening around the fire, with hordes of children roaming about on various adventures, including catching toads and doing who-knows-what-else.

Tomorrow we pack up and send most of the families on their way. We have some staying with us for another day or so. It's been so much fun and gone by too quickly.
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Sunday, July 31, 2022

We're halfway through our Freeze family reunion. It has been so much fun (and exhausting, in a good way). Our kids are staying up late, getting dirty and tired, eating too many treats, and overall having a blast.

Yesterday was so busy I came home and fell into bed. We started with family pictures after breakfast. Then we headed to our university's soccer stadium for the Freeze Cup. I managed to scour our team's only goal over two matches. Not that I'm very good--it was as much luck as skill. We divided the teams evenly between adults, teenagers, and little kids. The winning team received an actual trophy that we made from thrifted items spraypainted and glued together.

We headed back to camp for an awards ceremony, complete with customized certificates for every participant and Canadian candies.

After lunch, most of the kids went down to play in the river. Eric and I headed home briefly to drop off some times and help some people do laundry. We had an intense game of capture the flag. I mostly stayed behind defending and guarding. I'm not as fast as many of the teens (or Eric), who were constantly breaking people out of jail and evading capture.

After dinner, we had an outdoor movie for younger kids, bonfires and S'mores, and probably other things that I'm leaving out.

So that was Saturday.

Today we had to clear out of the camp between 1-6 pm for an event that had been previously scheduled. After breakfast we cleaned up the mess hall and packed everything away into the bunkhouses, then left the camp for the day. Most of Eric's family went to church and then we spent the rest of the afternoon at our house. Eating, playing, talking, going on walks around downtown and campus...good times.

After dinner the group went back to camp and I stayed behind since I had a breech live session to attend. It's been nice being in a quiet house for a few hours. I missed the talent show, though.
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Friday, July 29, 2022

From one reunion to another...

Our first Freeze family reunion guests arrived late light night (11 people total). We managed to concoct beds for everyone in our house.

Everyone else arrived today. Some drove from as far away as Martha's Vineyard and southern Alberta! We also had people coming from Florida, Virginia, and Missouri. We are having the reunion at a local camp just a few minutes away. It's perfect--tons of space, several bunkhouses, a huge mess hall, fire pits, amphitheaters, and access to the river for swimming.

We officially got started around lunchtime and people kept arriving throughout the day. We have 41 people and are still missing one of Eric's siblings and his family, which would have brought us up to 49. They couldn't come due to some health issues with their in-laws.

I stayed behind for a few hours to get some work done. When I arrived, many of the kids were down at the river. Of course Ivy and Inga went swimming right away, even though they didn't have swimsuits!

Dinner was simple: hotdogs roasted over a fire, raw vegetables with dip, and chips. At some point we got out four huge buckets of ice cream. Then the kids all took second trip down to the river to swim until dusk. Then...family dance party! We got all our kids to dance.

Eric and I and a few other couples are sleeping in our own house (quiet + comfy beds = heaven). It would be fun to sleep with everyone but I don't sleep well with 20 people snoring next to me.
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Thursday, July 28, 2022

Cabin week

I've been in absentia this past week in northern Wisconsin at a family reunion. No internet. Lots of trees and insects. We drove home today (9 hours) and I'm ready to get some sleep.

Except for the first day, which was sunny and mid-80s F, the weather was cool and variable. That didn't stop the kids from spending hours in the water every day.

We were missing 2 of my siblings and their families and still had a huge houseful. Our kids got to be the "big" cousins this year for the first time.

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Thursday, July 21, 2022

Speaking French with Mexicans and MAGA hats on engine oil

10,503 steps

We had a "what can we eat for lunch?" moment. I proposed that someone buy corn tortillas so we could make quesadillas, since we had just about everything else on hand (queso fresco, sharp cheddar, sour cream, black beans, 3 kinds of salsa, hot sauce, etc.). Zari volunteered me to go and Ivy was happy to come along.

We lost our neighborhood Mexican grocery store a few years ago, but in the past two years we've gained 2 new ones, both within easy walking distance. I can't tell you how thrilled we were when we found this out! All other grocery stores are on the outskirts of town and only accessible via car.

We bought corn tortillas, limes, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, and baking powder (I was out). When we were checking out, I was chatting with Ivy in French about how it's so weird to go into stores and not speak French or say "bonjour" and "merci."

The woman at the counter said, "Vous parlez français?" in Spanish-accented French. We had a nice conversation en français. She recently moved to our little town from Cancun, where, like us, she had lived very close to the beach.

Who would have thought?

Oh, and you've got to hear about my visit to the mechanic. My normal mechanic is away for 2 weeks, and I wanted someone to give our car a check-over. Despite not being driven for 20+ months, our car has been running great. I've already had the oil changed, tire pressures checked, etc. But we have noticed a kind of low-pitched rattling sound that seemed "off." So I phoned up a new mechanic (good reviews on Google) and made an appointment for this morning.

Bonus: his shop was only about 6 blocks away from our house. The outside was completely unremarkable, old and ugly and out of the way. The inside had been remodeled when he bought the shop this past year, and the decor was...well...unsurprising but also kind of entertaining in a "I'm not in Kansas anymore" way.

Close your eyes and imagine a black & gray speckled Epoxy floor...grayish barn wood on the walls (okay, it was fake and probably made of vinyl)...black curtains...a "Man Cave" sign that said something about "doing manly things"...corrugated steel decorating the sides of the counter...lots of vintage oil & gas paraphernalia...and to top it off, a MAGA hat adorning a bottle of engine oil. The owner and his employees were all ginger-haired men, most of whom were also bearded and tattoed.

I might be persuaded to use this new mechanic as a) he's close enough that we can walk home after dropping the car off and b) his prices seem very reasonable. $25 for a checkup and his quotes were competitive.

There's nothing to prevent us from our road trip, but we do need to replace the brake pads and the front struts, which are leaking. Not bad, considering the car is 12 years old and we haven't needed to do anything in the 9 years we've owned it except change the oil and replace the tires. It helps that the car still has very low miles.

My goal is to keep it going for another 10+ years...as long as possible, basically. I suppose we won't need a 6-passenger car 10 years down the road. I miss our VW Golf diesel TDI that got 45 mpg and that we converted to run on used vegetable oil. That was the best car ever.

We're mostly all packed and ready to head out. Eric bought lots of food to eat in the car and on the first day before everyone arrives. We've all tested negative, even Dio, so I think we're cleared for human interaction. We've got neighbors and our former tenant keeping an eye on the house.

My doctor brother (who treats Covid patients so has some insight on this) says we could have caught some other respiratory illness and Dio may just have had an unrelated asymptomatic Covid infection that got picked up on his antigen test. Or I suppose he could have been a rare case of a false positive. It's not impossible, although relatively unlikely.
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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Holding and hedge trimming

10,968 steps

I'm scratching my head. My PCR test came back...negative! That's good, but it's also very confusing given that Dio tested positive with identical symptoms that emerged at the exact same time. Anyway, we'll test everyone before we leave for our family reunion, where we'll likely be staying in separate accommodations and only socializing outdoors.

I'm feeling good today. During the kids' mandatory outdoor time, I trimmed bushes with the electric trimmer. The soil is too dry to do much weeding, so that will have to wait until the next big rainstorm.

I spent close to 2 hours on hold this morning. First, it was with the NC Dept of Revenue, trying to sort out various tax things for Breech Without Borders since one of our employees is based in that state. I also spent time on hold with the IRS, also with BWB tax-related questions. SO MUCH FUN.

Eric and I went on a walk this evening where I didn't have to ramble slowly.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Recovering

6,999 steps

I must be on the mend--I pulled weeds and trimmed tree branches this afternoon. I don't think I could have done that yesterday. My body still feels "off" and I'm definitely more fatigued than usual.

Ivy helped me unpack 4 more boxes. We hung up almost all of our entry hall and library pictures--all of our family pictures over the years. It definitely feels more like home with those back up. (Our "wall of shame" has more photos up now--these house photos are from several years ago).

After lunch I told the kids that they had to go outside for an hour. Lots of groaning and eye rolling from Zari and Dio, while Ivy was more than eager. I pulled out our stomp rockets and kite and helped them hook up the sprinkler. I couldn't tear Zari away from her comfy perch on the front porch (with a book, of course), but Dio and Ivy had lots of fun playing in the water and seeing how high they could make the rockets go. (And spraying me on occasion, which felt amazing.)

Ivy helped me make cookies. I like making them but I don't really care for eating them. The kids take care of that for me.

I found this metal plaque that Eric's parents gave us before we left for France in 2020. I chose a spot for it on the front porch.
Zari had her first high school soccer practice today (after testing negative). She was by far the best player. Now she just needs to increase her confidence and agressiveness, since she could dominate if she wanted to.






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Monday, July 18, 2022

Well, our time on a flying Covid incubator had its consequences: Dio tested positive. I got tested at the same time (antigen) and it was negative. However, our health dept also does a PCR if an antigen test is negative, since apparently they have a high rate of false-negatives.

We're both feeling slightly improved today. I still had to take it easy, though. Our evening walk was a very sedate and short ramble. Eric laughed at how slowly I was walking. I could have gone faster but it didn't feel so good, with me having a fever and feeling woozy.

I spent hours on the phone trying to sort out a SIM card that we bought. Good news: we finally have one working cell phone!

I unpacked a few more boxes today. Winter hats/scarves/gloves, office supplies, extra school supplies. We've got about 5 or 6 more left.

That's about all the news for today.
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Sunday, July 17, 2022

Sick

Yesterday's jet lag has turned into illness for me and Dio. The two of us have been in bed all day with a fever, sore throat, and stuffy/runny nose. Eric is feeling icky as well but so far has avoided the fever.

Now I have to figure out where and how we get tested. I don't have any home tests at the moment.

Bonne nuit à tous
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Saturday, July 16, 2022

Displaced and depressed

What has happened to my night owl husband? It's 10 pm and he's asleep! I'm going to head to bed soon, too. We're both feeling worn out.

Today was farily low-key. We went to the farmer's market in the morning. Our little town has one on Saturday mornings. We were quite disappointed at the lack of produce! There were practically no stands selling any fruits or vegetables--almost all were crafts or baked goods or flowers. I'm frustrated that our only market is missing the most important things!

Food here in the States is SO much more expensive than back in France. This difference is particularly pronounced post-Covid. Most fruits and vegetables are about 2x the price (and much worse quality). Plus, in our town, the selection is terrible and we can't get any good specialty items.

We stopped by the library on the way home. My goal is to go weekly and keep a steady supply of books for the kids. I have lots of goals for the next several months--we'll see how well I do adhering to them 🙂

I made sourdough today and will have to keep a steady supply going for the next several months. My kids won't eat store-bought bread (and I don't blame them--it's gross).

Eric and I had to go to Wal-Mart to get our oil changed, tires rotated and balanced...and we had culture shock while wandering around the store waiting for our car to be done. Between the obesity, the soulless atmosphere of a big box store, and the local culture (imagine big trucks flying Confederate flags, tattooed men walking around with long baggy shorts and guzzling soda pop by the liter), we felt rather displaced and depressed.
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Friday, July 15, 2022

Unpacking

Too tired to write much tonight...another day of unpacking and dealing with jet lag. I'm just as tired, maybe more so, today than yesterday. It doesn't help that I woke up at 4:30 and couldn't get back to sleep. Off to bed for me!
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Thursday, July 14, 2022

An All-American Day

I think I was the last one up at 8 am. Coming back home is always filleed with excitement as we unpack boxes and rediscover things we haven't seen for months (or years, in this case).

First thing after breakfast, Ivy and Inga got their bikes out. We had to pump up the tires and adjust the seats. It's time for eveyrone to switch up one size of bike again. Eric also got the car started...it worked without even needing to charge the battery after he re-connected it! The tires needed some air but otherwise it was ok.

We had to help Inga get packed for a week-long camping trip with my parents. She went with me and Eric to our local Big Box Store (Wal-Mart) to buy various supplies. We also got a temporary sim card & a month plan because we have no working cell phones. Eric renewed his driver's license and we enjoyed the (lack of) American bureaucracy. No lines to speak of, great customer service, so easy to get things done. It helps that we live in a small town.

One thing that strikes us coming back is how empty everything feels compared to Nice. Compare our large grocery store or our Wal-Mart to one of the big Carrefours and it's night and day. Stores over here feel almost empty.

After lunch (watermelon plus white corn quesadillas with extra sharp cheddar, black beans, green salsa, and sour cream, tobasco sauce optional), Ivy and Inga finally got to go over and see our neighbors 2 doors down. They have 5 kids more or less the same ages as ours, plus younger. I went over too to say hi to the mom. She and I share a love of gardening.

I packed the final items for Inga and tried to get our new sim card working. After tons of calls to the cell carrier, it turns out that they had someone assigned our (brand new) sim card to an existing number and so it's not useable and they can't do anything about it! The best they could suggest was go back to the store where we bought it and see if they could give us a new sim card. This seems very odd.

Anyway, by mid-afternoon it was time to drive BACK to the airport to drop Inga off. My mom was flying in and then flying back on the same plane with Inga. I was feeling woozy by that point, so I medicated with caffeine and asked Zari to come along to keep me company. We made it there with no isses, met my mom at the security checkpoint and passed Inga off to her. They got to the gate just as their group was called to board. Perfect timing!

On the way home I turned on NPR (National Public Radio). I forgot how much I missed my daily NPR. I usually turn it on in the kitchen whenever I'm cooking or cleaning.

Eric helped me drop off our rental car once we came home, then we had a super-duper-American dinner: salad, cord on the cob, and bratwurst. Then...a bonefire! And Smores! We invited our neighbors over. As we were chatting around the fire, I started pulling a few weeds, then a few more, then a few more. It's so satisfying, I just can't help it.


Dio had spent the afternoon with friends and one of them stayed for dinner and Smores. He insists she's just a friend but she certainly acts like she likes him way more than just a friend.

So to summarize, here are all the all-American things of the day:
1. Riding bikes around the neighborhood
2. Wal-Mart (ugh)
3. Driving cars (ugh)
4. American customer service
5. American cell phone service (ugh)
6. Mexican American food (yum)
7. Watermelon (yum)
8. NPR
9. Corn on the cob (double yum)
10. Bratwurst (techincally German but hey who's counting)
11. Backyard bonfire
12. Smores
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We made it home!

(Wednesday, July 13, 2022, written the next day) 

I can't even remember if I wrote last night, but I don't see anything. This was probably the smoothest overseas travel we've ever had. We had 3 flights and every one was on time. Every layover was just long enough but not too long. We made it through immigration with no issues (which we were worried about, because Eric's green card had expired and he's been waiting for his replacement card for months).

The kids played a rousing game of airport soccer using Dolly as the "ball." This was in Madrid.


We had a short glitch while picking up our one-way rental car but that only delayed us by about a half hour. We made it back to our house at 8:30 pm local time (almost 24 hours after waking the family up) and the kids immediately went into high-energy mode, resdiscovering everything, running around the yard, and begging to go to the neighbor's house. We told them: "not today--tonight you need to unpack your clothes, brush your teeth, and go to bed!"

For us parents, the day wasn't done yet--we had zero food in the house. No codiments in the fridge, nothing. So we had to go grocery shopping right away. We told the kids we'd be back and off we went, delirious with fatigue. Luckly grocery stores here are open 24 hours a day, so you can shop as late as you want.

We enlisted the entire family to help us unload the car, then ate a quick dinner (?) of watermelon, fruit, and cold cereal. Then off to bed for everyone. Ironically, it took me really long to fall asleep. I was exhausted but also wired. Then I woke up at 4 am. But I was determined not to let myself get up. I stayed in bed and pretended I was asleep until I fell asleep again and woke up at a more reasonable hour (8 am).

So that was yesterday.



Inga wanted to show off her travel disguise: neck pillow, mask, and eyeshades, covered with a hood. She also added the earphones Dio was wearing.


This is all the luggage we travel with (plus a few more backpacks that were on the kids at the time): 1 big suitcase for my birth simulator, 6 small carry-ons, 6 backpacks, and 1 violin.



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Wednesday, July 13, 2022

In the airport, hoping we don't miss any connections!


 

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Tuesday, July 12, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 566 and last day in Nice: 8 loads of laundry, 12 scoops of ice cream, and a very clean house

10,119 steps

We have everything cleaned, packed, and lined up by the front door. We wake up at 4 am and head out at 4:30. The tram to the airport is interrupted for repairs, so we can either take the bus (arrives at 5:23 am) or we can take a taxi/Uber (arriving a bit before 5 am). We're still debating which option, given that our flight leaves at 6:30 am. The airport won't be very busy at that time, but is just over an hour cutting it too close?

Ivy, Inga, Eric, and I went for a long snorkel out to La Vierge, an underwater status about 45 feet deep. I couldn't see it from the surface, but if I dove down a bit I could just see the top of the statue. My snorkel was leaking, so I had to stop every 15 seconds and empty it out. That definitely cut down on my enjoyment. It was mesmerizing to see the girls diving down and swimming through huge schools of fish.

We have 6 carry-ons, 6 backpacks, 1 suitcase (my simulator), and 1 violin. 3 flights to catch. Hopefully no overnight stays due to missed connections.
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Monday, July 11, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 565: Penultimate day

I'm out of FB jail (kind of). I can post here but I still can't interact in groups for 3 more weeks. Still no resolution on getting blocked for things that are specifically allowed.

The house is clean except for a few small things tomorrow. We did it! The kids were very helpful today. Dio lucked out because he was with friends all day. I feel like we've hardly seen him since school ended. 

I picked up my visa today after a super long wait in line. Ironically, I was one of the last to arrive, and there were only 2 or 3 people after me. If I'd just shown up an hour later, I could have waltzed in and picked it up in 2 minutes. 

Eric's application was finally approved after multiple resubmissions and rejections. He has his "récépissé," which will allow him back into France while he waits for his card to be printed. They're just the regular 1-year visitor visas. Our plan is to apply for a special talent visa when we're back in the States. If approved, this would be a 3-year visa with work authorization. 


We had a goodbye picnic at the beach this evening with several families. We all swam a lot, even Dio (who at first begged to go home...but once he was in the water, he stayed in). Zari went for a long swim with her snorkel equipment and fins. She was so far that we were wondering where she was. We finally spotted her way over near the rocks. 

We're still trying to sort our our AC situation. I called one of the installers who came to give us an estimate on moving the comopressors and installing the correct systems. He seemed to think that the length of copper lines would exceed manufacturer's limits. I wasn't sure, so I volunteered to measure all of the refrigerated lines (embedded in the walls) in all apartments and draw up a schematic. Sure enough, we are under the 25 meter maximum length. This is good news--we don't have to rip out all of the copper lines embedded in the walls and put new ones in.



We also made contact with another installer who had come over 6 weeks ago and who is friends with Eric. He still hadn't sent an estimate! He said he could get working on it, so we might have more than one option. 

I had a Zoom meeting at  9 pm and came out almost an hour later to find Ivy and Inga goofing around in the shower. Normally their bedtime is 8:30 pm! Well, I guess it's summer and we're leaving overseas soon so bedtimes aren't as critical. 


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Sunday, July 10, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 564: I can't think of a title for today

I was up (involuntarily) at 5:45 am. Why can't I sleep later? I'm definitely not well-rested enough at that ungodly hour.

We took it easy today. Not too much cleaning or packing. We watched the new Star Trek series and went for a quick swim at the late afternoon. Lots of jellyfish today. Eric got one and brought it onto the shore to be buried. I tried to catch a second one but couldn't quite get it. And then Ivy got stung by a third one! 

Eric let Ivy and Inga stay up to watch the women's France-Italy match. By halftime, France was ahead 5-0 and the girls were giddy with excitement. Then we put them to bed. 

I have gone through several cleaning lists. It's so satisfying to condense them into new lists that keep getting shorter. Our goal is to get everything cleaned and packed tomorrow so Tuesday can be more laid-back. Tuesday will be dedicated to washing all of the bedding and linens and making all the beds in the evening.

A family commissioned Zari to do a drawing of them. She finished it this morning, just in time for our departure! Here are some extreme close-ups. I am amazed at her ability to recreate details and to mimic reality with uncanny precision. 




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Saturday, July 09, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 563: Cleaning & swimming

4,543 steps

We had a morning of cleaning. Then...fun! We drove to a friend's house in Menton. They live high up on the hillside above the Old Town. Across the narrow valley is a cemetery. The valley leads into the ocean and up into the foothills of the Alps. What a stunning setting. I am definitely having garden/terrace envy. In Old Nice, we don't even have a little balcony. I do miss having outdoor space. Sometimes I want to go outside without going "outside," you know?

Our friends live in this sprawling apartment building that climbs up the hillside over 12+ stories. The complex has a funicular to get up and down between levels. So it's like an amusement park built in! 

We swam, ate pizza, and swam some more. We finally had to tear the kids away so I could get home in time for a Zoom meeting. 



We came home loaded with leftover pizza and banana bread and lemon cake. And I also made two spinach & ricotta tarts so we have loads of food. 
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Friday, July 08, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 562: Packing

9,602 steps

I did a solid half-day of work in the front apartment and decided that was it until we get back in December. I poured some concrete and quickly realized that it should have been a team effort. It was setting so quickly I didn't even have time to go upstairs and enlist help! Ah well, it turned out okay and luckily Ivy came down on her own at some point. 

I gave the floors a good vacuuming and called it good. 

Now onto the most pressing tasks: packing. We probably put a dozen bags up into our attic storage room: clothes, school supplies, toiletries, and so on. I really don't like this part of our life. It's like moving, except for packing up the furniture. But everthing else has to be completely packed away. On the up side, it forces us to deep clean and to minimalize. 

Eric, Ivy, and I had a short swim right before dinner. No jellyfish!

Dio was gone all day at a friend's birthday party. They swam in the morning, ate birthday cake, and went to an activity place taht did all sorts of fun games. It's most known for its blackout rooms where you have to touch or taste objects in the dark, go through laser obstacle courses, or mime something in the dark. 

Dio's assignment was to mime Zinnedine Zidane. He got it just right! 


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Thursday, July 07, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 561: First day or renting and Last day of school

I handed off the Catamaran keys this morning. Definitely satisfied to close one chapter of this crazy renovation saga.

Then I constripted my two teenagers into helping in the front apartment. We moved one of the wood piles over several feet and then did a big clean-up of the peripheral areas that will be filled with a cement mixture (these were areas too shallow for the subfloor and granules).

Once that was finished, I sent them upstairs for lunch while I treated two pieces of furniture for woodworm: the Renaissance desk that you've seen before and this new throne/chair that we found for 50 Euros. It's pretty cool and is in good shape except for a missing finial. This will be the chair for the Renaissance desk. 


I had some breech work to catch up on after lunch, and then a meeting at 3 pm. That took me up to school pickup time. Eric got the kids while I brought Zari to pick up her retainer. I also returned a microwave that I had bought for the Catamaran; it was 2 cm too deep! I found another compact one that fit perfectly.

Then...fun! It was the last day of school for Ivy and Inga. Several families met at the beach for a picnic dinner. I picked up pizzas and fruit. The water is so warm that I almost want it colder now! Water temps are 24C at the moment.
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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 560: Le Catamaran is done!!!!

After lots of cleaning and re-cleaning and wrestling with a guard rail that came with zero directions, we have Le Cataraman completely ready! Our renter was supposed to arrive tonight but she got bumped on her last flight and will probably be showing up tomorrow.

We had the kids do at least 5 cleaning jobs each and then let them watch a movie. The house still looks like a disaster but that's normal when you're trying to pack up everything and deep clean at the same time. 



I missed out on going to the beach since it was my turn to cook. And none of the kids wanted to go either! They are crazy. Eric didn't want to spend his precious time convincing them to go, so he just went on his own.

Eric and Inga played soccer this evening and just got back well past 11 pm. It's a "veteran" team (over 35) but kids can occasionaly join in, especially at the end of the season. She had lots of fun and scored a goal.





















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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 559: Last minute prep

3,909 steps

A super busy day. I did little putzy things in Le Catamaran all morning and much of the afternoon. Our renter arrives tomorrow night! I'm going to take some final pictures and videos tomorrow. I am very proud of the work we did. I'm glad for all the painstaking hours and attention to detail. 

We finally got the last two marine lamps up in the living room ceiling. It was tricky because of being on the net. We had to lay down a thick blanket, then an old door, then a bucket acting as a step stool. One of us did the install while the other stabilized the person. Just to install 2 lights! If we ever have to change the lightbulbs, we'll have to do it all over again.

I was on a Zoom meeting for 3 hours, recording a breech birth video analysis session. Now I have to edit it all and pare it down to just under 2 hours. I think it will work since we had some chit-chat and other stuff that I can cut.

Oh, and I had the pleasure of waking up at 3:30 am today due to stressing about my Facebook ban. I finally got back to sleep shortly before the kids woke up for school, woke Eric up when the alarm went off, and snoozed for another hour.

Zari met up with friends to play card/board games at the park and to eat snacks. Dio was invited to got to the beach but he needs a break to recover from his sunburn. Instead, he went to his friend's house in the afternoon.

Inga went treasure hunting with Eric afterschool (underwater version) and totally kept up with him. She dove deep down alongside him and recovered several items herself. I'm amazed--I can't do this! Ivy went to the miroir d'eau with some friends. 

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Monday, July 04, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 558: In jail again

I'm in Facebook jail for posting something totally innocuous. I linked to one of Breech Without Borders' online training courses, something I've done all the time, and an auto-bot flagged it and put me in jail for a week (and banned me from all FB groups for a month!) I clicked on the link to contest it and it said "sorry, not working, try again later." 

So if you're on Facebook and reading this a week late, that's why. 

This morning our whole family went to AquaParc, a huge inflatable obstacle course on the water in the St. Laurent du Var port. Dio brought a friend, and there were about 20 other teenagers that came together as a group with Zari and Dio. Tons of fun. We stayed for 3 hours until our time was up. Eric and I were done about 2 hours in :) We're all tired and slightly sunburned. 

We don't have any pictures or videos because you had to swim out to the obstacle course so all you could bring was yourself. 

I ran errands all over town this afternoon: hardware store, first paint store, second paint store, appliance store. Then I did lots of little repair things until the evening. 
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Sunday, July 03, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 557: Ivy vs. Jellyfish, round 3

14,217 steps

It's summer and it's hot and sunny. High of 30°C, lows around 23-24°. Very typical of July in Nice. I've noticed my walking pace is a bit slower in this heat.

We opened up all the windows in the main part of the apartment last night, so we were able to go all day without turning on the AC. We closed windows first thing in the morning and opened up again at dinnertime. We might go for a bit of comfort in our bedroom, though, and turn the AC on to 26 or 27. Our bed is near the ceiling and our bedroom doesn't ventilate as well as the living room, so it's usually a few degrees hotter where we sleep.

I've been making lists of all the cleaning and maintenance tasks, room by room. Only 9 more days before we head back to the States.


In the late afternoon, Ivy and I went to the beach. Eric had already been swimming for 2 hours and reported that there were no jellyfish. So guess what happened? Within 30 seconds, Ivy got stung and 2 minutes later a man I was swimming near got stung by a different jellyfish. It's never been like this in previous years. Maybe 1-2 days a year we saw jellyfish, but not for weeks on end.

So our swimming was very abbreviated. The crazy thing is there were tons of people in the water and no jellyfish flag. Maybe we just had terrible luck today.

We're having the youngest girls skip school tomorrow so our whole family can go to a water park. It's a place on the sea where they have big inflatable obstacle courses, so if you fall off, you fall into the water. Zari went last year and said it was very fun. Dio is inviting a friend and is SO excited. In his understated, monotone way.

The kids started a round of mega-games, trying to get through almost every card/board/activity game we had. I think they only made it through 3.
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Saturday, July 02, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 556: Family cleaning & Final football fête

We all slept in this morning. It's been an exhausting week and then we stayed up late watching a movie last night.

Then...time for a deep clean in the living room and kitchen. We do this every time we leave. But at least now all four kids are completely competent. This took a few hours and it's almost all done in these rooms. We've got to repeat the process in the rest of the apartment.


Later in the afternoon, we all went to an end-of-year party at Cavigal. They had friendly matches and activity stations for almost 2 hours, then a potluck dinner. I filmed a bit where all the kids and Eric were playing together. 


And then I got SO tired. I tried to stay awake but simply couldn't. So I laid on my side on the edge of the field and had a little nap.

I vaguely remember some kids coming over and asking, "Is she dead?"

"No, she's just sleeping."

The dinner had lots of Nicois specialties: pissaladière, mini pans bagnats, tarte aux blettes, savory beignets with various vegetables...

When we were done, I sent the kids home on the tram. Eric had to stay for cleanup and I needed to go grocery shopping.

My evening ended with a breech birth debrief.
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Friday, July 01, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 555: Braces off!

A big day for Zari: her braces came off! She'll wear a retainer for a year.



I spent much of the day with a lovely midwife who's heading on an overseas mission. She's motivated to improve her breech skills since it's inevitable that she'll encounter that while working in her maternity hospital.

By time mid-afternoon hit, was so exhausted I could hardly function. I kept falling asleep in the waiting room during Zari's appointment. And again at home several times.

It helped to cool off at the beach after school with Ivy and Eric. No jellyfish today!

We had fun, and stayed up a bit late, watching a Spiderman movie. But school is almost done and tomorrow is Saturday...
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Thursday, June 30, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 554: Windows into the sea

We now have an underwater observation station in Le Catamaran. I have one porthole more to install--the great big huge bronze one. That will go in the living room.





I ran errands in the morning and had a rehearsal mid-afternoon for a wedding this Saturday. One of my affected fingertips is my first finger on my violin hand. I didn't realize how bad it was until I tried playing. As soon as the raw, open spot hit the string, my hand involuntarily flinched backwards and I yelped out loud.

I managed to make it through the rehearsal with a combination of shifting all over the place to avoid using my first finger (nearly impossible) and by flattening my finger to avoid the sore spot. This only worked some of the time.

Afterwards I talked with the woman in charge and she told me that she could find a replacement if needed. I took her up on the offer because I don't think my finger will be healed in two days.

Such a tiny little wound with huge consequences!

I also got my IUD replaced today. Yay and ugh. At least I don't have to think about it for another 7+ years...I went 9 years with my last Mirena after consulting with a few OBs about the evidence on how long I could reasonably go past the officially approved 5 years. And then I stretched that a bit further because of Covid and, you know, life.

Today just wore me out, and that was without doing any renovating except to hang up the portholes.
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