Friday, May 27, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 520: Work, swim

8,687 steps

This morning I painted the baseboards in Le Catamaran with the final coat of paint. It was oil-based and a bit stinky. Then I set to installing the spacer bewteeen the washing machine and dishwasher. Eric installed the outside facade of the top cupboards.

Once that was in, I built a platform for the dishwasher to bring it to the correct height. All 4 corners had to be slightly different heights to make the top of the platform perfectly level. I got it cut exactly to the last millimeter.

The dishwasher is now installed and in place. I have to adjust the door slightly but otherwise it's done!

Inga was gone all afternoon in Villefranche with a soccer friend. She came back with a bad sunburn (despite putting on sunscreen) and is now having a hard time sleeping.

Zari had a soccer practice, but the rest of us who were still home went to the beach in the late afternoon. Ivy begged me to get my hair wet (I usually put it up in a bun). She was so happy when I agreed.

Eric is playing in a soccer tournament tonight, so I'll have a quiet evening by myself.
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Thursday, May 26, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 519: Work, play, and practice

9,002 steps

Eric and Inga had an early start this morning for a day-long tournament in Nice. Inga played 8 games and her team won 2nd place.

I set to work sanding and priming the baseboards in Le Catamaran. Ivy and two vounteer helpers started stripping the Renaissance desk. I had a fun time listening to her chattering away with them.

I cut the "joue" (spacer) that goes between the washing machine and dishwasher. Our solid wood countertop is strong enough that we don't really need it for support, but we already planned for it so it needs to go there to avoid a large gap. I need to buy some L-brackets so I can attach it to the floor & underside of the countertop.

Here's a picture of the "cadre noeud marin" that we hung up. It has miniature demonstrations of all sorts of nautical knots. I should take a closeup picture.


And then mid-afternoon...fun! I forced all the kids to go to the beach with me, knowing they would enjoy it once we were there. Everyone swam, even Dio, for whom it was the first swim of the season.

I had a practice for another wedding: this time we're playing mainly Coldplay arrangements, with some Josh Groban, Ed Sheeran, and Justin Bieber. I love the state of flow I get into when I'm playing--I have to dedicate every neuron, every ounce of energy, to making music. It feels as if something else takes over my normal mental processes. I'm glad I gave up my plan of being a professional musician after my first year of university--playing my violin for fun, rather than for pay, is way better. 
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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 518: Old portholes

6,426 steps

Ivy helped me with some quiet tasks in Le Catamaran this morning. We started stripping the Renaissance desk but decided it was too stinky without respirators. (We're using denatured alcohol as it appears to be shellac.) So instead we hung up some decorations and prepared the baseboards for sanding and repainting.

A while back I bought an enormously heavy set of bronze porthole windows. They are salvaged off an old boat. We lugged them upstairs for a good scrubbing with a paste made of vinegar, flour, and salt. I cleaned them up but didn't go overboard by taking off all of the patina.





For the one that is solid bronze, I'm thinking of having a mirror cut to size with the edges polished and then gluing the mirror onto it. This will be the mirror in the WC.

For the one with glass, I'm going to hang it on one of the walls with a colorful picture of underwater sea life behind it, as if you're looking out through a porthole into the ocean.

I worked on the false front for the washing machine and got one of the two holes drilled with the forstner bit.

Ivy and I had time after soccer/grocery shopping to go swimming. It was lovely.

It is officially the weekend for the kids as of today--holidays tomorrow and Friday. I need to rope them into helping me in the Communist apartment!
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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 517: And the walls came tumbling down

5,517 steps

I got a workout today: mudding and sanding in the morning and jackhammering all afternoon. I didn't take very many steps but I think today qualified as exercise.

Today's video is fun because we did a fast-motion time lapse. I haven't done one of those in a while. If you ever need a way to de-stress, please consider jackhammering. It's hard work and you get to destroy stuff and you can't really fret about anything when you're in the middle of it.



I didn't quite finish but it was already time to pick the girls up from school and I was tired. Probably finish on Thursday since Wednesday is our "stay quiet in the morning" day for our neighbors.

We tested Zari and she was negative for Covid. She stayed home all day and was looking miserable in the morning, but felt much better by the end of the day.

We had guests over for dinner and indulged in Tuscan butter gnocchi and lemon cheesecake (my turn to cook).
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Monday, May 23, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 516:

5,889 steps Super busy day. I woke up early (happens a lot in the summer months) and tried to pretend I was asleep. It didn't work. Breech work until the girls went to school, renovation work, breech work during lunch, more renovation work until school pickup. Breech work, cook dinner, and more breech work. Then Bridgerton to end the evening :) We are probably 75% done with the final sanding of the drywall. I have a few small spots that need the last coat of mud and then that part will be done! We're still waiting for the wall smoothign compound to arrive (enduit garnissant). I ordered it back on April 13 we've had multiple delivery days scheduled and the company never showed up any of the times. Yet another thing to track down...I spent a half hour on hold this evening and finally gave up. Zari is feeling sick. We might have to get her tested tomorrow morning.
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Sunday, May 22, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 515: Slow day & a movie

6,259 steps

I slept terribly, or rather, I didn't sleep much a all. Just my brain involuntarily stressing about something and I couldn't turn it off. Ah well...I took it easy this morning. Well okay, I confess, my "taking it easy" turned into "finish writing the breech practice guidelines" but it was a nice quiet morning!

We watched a totally stupid ridiculous movie: Red Notice. Badly predictable and almost worthy of MST3K style commentary. But fun just because it was so bad.

Dio built a homemade toy gun for his stuffed animal Indy. Zari was very concerned.



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Saturday, May 21, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 514: Down time

7,633 steps

Eric was gone all day helping out at a big Cavigal tournament for under-13 boys. AND yesterday, too. He has a hard time saying no. I keep telling him, "If poeple ask you to do something that you don't want to do, tell them you need to talk with me first." But he's too nice.

So we had a relaxed morning. I picked up a 25-kg bag of MAP and hauled it home in my shopping cart. I worked on editing a practice guideline document. Meanwhile the kids built a huge fort throughout the living room.

After lunch we headed to the beach. It was quite windy and I ultimately didn't go in the water. But it was so nice to just sit and relax...even nap a bit...read a book.

We watched the final between Barcelona & Lyon for the women's champion's league. It was an exciting game and our favorite team (Lyon) won.
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Friday, May 20, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 513: A 3 1/2 shower day

Yes, 3.5 showers today. #1 in the morning, #0.5 before lunch (I rinsed my arms, legs, and face off in the shower without actually geting my whole body wet), #2 at the end of the work day, and #3 after going swimming.

It was a dusty day of sanding, mudding, cutting channels in stone & plaster, and jackhammering. I had so much gunk in my contacts that, even after cleaning them, it still looked like there was dust in the air. (And this is despite wearing fully sealed safety goggles.)



I took Zari to an orthodontist appointment. We got home right as eveyrone else came back from school. Inga and Dio had other things going on, but the rest of us had a glorious hour at the beach. I swam for the second time this season.

I endeed the day with a 2-hour Zoom call with 3 breech experts. We're putting together breech guidelines, but unlike any other guideline that's out there. (If you want a medical guideline written by an obstetrical society, there are plenty out there. We're not trying to reproduce that.) Our guidelines are based on physiological birth and written primarily from the deep experience of providers who have spent decades attending well over 1,200 vaginal breech births, close to 1,000 sets of twins, and many sets of triplets.
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Thursday, May 19, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 512: Bad Guy with a string quartet

We've started watching Bridgerton after the kids go to bed. Now that I've played the music for it, I got curious to see the series. I keep saying, "I played that song! Ooh, I played that one too!" It's fun to have something frivolous to do in the evening, since the rest of my day is nonstop work.

Renovation work today was more mudding and sanding and a bit of wiring.

I had two different Zoom meetings today, one to discuss an upcoming publication that I'm co-authoring, the other a breech live session. More Zoom meetings tomorrow to discuss breech practice guidelines.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 511: Forced fun & a happy birthday to Eric

10,937 steps

Dio had no school today due to the "brevet blanc" being held at his middle school. And Wednesdays are off for elementary school. They really wanted to go to the skate park, so I agreed to take them. I left Eric, who suited up to sand the joint compound.

And...it's Eric's birthday! Happy 48 (which sounds SO OLD when I say it). We still feel like we're in our 20s so it's really bizarre to see the numbers creep upward.

I've been trying out this new "Too Good To Go" app for reducing food waste and today's haul was great. I bought expired chocolates from one store and perishables from another. We also got Eric a delicious birthday cake from Lac. It was super lemony with about 7 different layers, from crisps to crumbles, to mousses and sponges, all lemon flavored.

I brought Ivy to the beach after soccer/grocery/errands, but the sun disappeared before we got there. Ivy swam until she got stung by a jellyfish. I would have swum but it was too cold without the sun.


And now I'm getting off my computer so Eric and I can celebrate his birthday. First we've got to get our teenagers to bed...
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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 510: Mud, friends, dinner guests

I had a full morning of work mudding and sanding. I was so dusty that I had to shower. I should have washed my hair, too, because it was still gray when I came out of the shower. So I settled for vacuuming it instead.

I got the washing machine in Le Catamaran leveled and in its final resting spot. It's now awaiting the facade door that will "hide" it.

Zari had a friend over during an afternoon break. They came and took a quick look while I was still up on the scaffolding taping more joints.

I discovered a new app that helps reduce food waste: Too Good To Go. I tried it out at a local grocery store and was pretty pleased with the result (supposed 12 Euro value of perishables for 4 Euros.) I'll keep trying different offers out. I really would love to focus on fruits & veggies only but you typically get "surprise baskets" at the groecery stores, which may include any kind of perishable item, not just produce.

We had dinner guests, which was a lot of fun for the whole family. One is an American, the other Albanian. They were very curious about our family and how we ended up here in France. I made split pea soup (comfort food from when I was a kid) and tiramisu.
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Monday, May 16, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 509: Mud, moldings, and more furniture

A muddy day today in the front apartment. Me, a bucket of mud, and several mudding knives.

After lunch, Eric was eager to pick up the custom wood moldings we had made (for our wood ceiling restoration in the front apartment). We managed to get the whole lot tied onto our roof rack. It's beautiful and precisely what we needed to recreate all of the parts that someone took off during a "renovation" where they removed all of the beautiful ornate woodwork on the ceiling and put up a false plaster ceiling, maybe 70-100 years ago or so?

We stopped by the big furniture consigment store and bought a Renaissance writing desk. It will need woodworm treatment and some refinishing but it's worth it. It has an amazing inlay pattern that will be stunning once the damaged finish is redone. Yet another project...


I had several Zoom meetings, one to discuss a breech conference in Guadalajara, Mexico, another to go over a publication & DNP final project that our research assistant is doing as she prepares to finish her CNM degree. I spent much of the evening going through scholarship applications.

And that is my super duper exciting life today. Oh, the kids had piano lessons as usual. Dio is grumbling and says he wants to quit. He's also bored. A lot. And mopey. A lot. And he is stealthily doing fantastic in school--he has the highest average in several of his classes!
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Sunday, May 15, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 508: Untitled

~15k steps 

Finally a more relaxing day. Inga had a birthday party in the afternoon at Parc Phoenix, so I brought her there on the tram and then she got a ride home with her friend. The rest of us went to the beach in the late afternoon for naps/reading/swimming. I ready, Zari and Dio napped, and Eric and Ivy swam. It felt great. 

We made a great seaglass art for Inga's friend: a red fox alongside her name, with each letter in a different color/material of seaglass or seashells. I forgot to take a picture of it. 

I'm going to read and take it easy this evening.
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Saturday, May 14, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 507: The marriage that about killed me

11,791 steps

I played in a wedding and reception today and barely made it through the end. I had injured my shoulder yesterday (too much mudding!) and optimistically thought it would be better today. No such luck. But I powered through and am now a useless, exhausted heap of jelly lying upon the couch.

Well, this useless heap of jelly had to edit the video...but I knew that if I didn't do it tonight, I would never get to it.




I captured a few of the songs we played inside the chapel before/during the ceremony. I didn't get any of the songs from the reception (among them a medley from the Bridgerton soundtrack!!).

Eric got free tickets to an OGC Nice match tonight, so he brought Ivy and Inga. They get to stay up super late.


Dio went to a birthday party this afternoon, someone from his soccer team.

Ivy played a mini tourament, a "plateau," this morning. Zari had a game and won 2-0 against Frejus.

Inga started arranging seaglass art for her friend's birthday party tomorrow. She's making a red fox and her friend's name. We need to do it in the morning because the party starts right after we get home from church.
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Friday, May 13, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 506: Goodbye in-laws & Communist door, hello armoire, go away mudding & sanding

4,210 steps

Eric's parents left early this morning. Their visit was way too short! I'm hoping to convince them to stay for a few months next year, rather than a few weeks.

We bade farewell to our old iron door today. It is now in the dechetterie metal recycling container. We then looked at an armoire that had caught my eye on the online classifieds. They had lots of other old furniture, some of it really cool, but we resisted any other purchases.


I took this picture when I had cleaned off one half. It had been sitting in a basement for years and was covered in mold. I washed it thoroughly inside and out with a vinegar solution, changing the water several times. It isn't huge--maybe chest height--but it is so heavy! We struggled to carry it up with 4 people helping. 


I know it's a bit early to be buying furniture. I'm extra motivated to finish the mudding and sanding and painting so then we CAN start buying furniture without it getting paint splatters or dust!!

The rest of the work day was dedicated to mudding and sanding. We've gone through almost two 25kg buckets of mud (enduit) and have the tape applied plus the first finish coat done on 90% of the surfaces.

I'm quite tired because I woke up again at 5:30 am and couldn't get back to sleep, despite going to bed at midnight. Oh well...more time to get work done. We opened up two new breech workshops, a new Master Class, and a new Birth Skills Training today.

Eric is playing soccer again--I'm hoping for no new black eyes this week.
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Thursday, May 12, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 505: Goodbye meal, Catholics vs. Protestants, Bridgerton music

16,541 steps

I woke up at 5:30 am and, instead of trying to go back to sleep (which is usually futile), I decided to get to work. I was definitely dragging by mid-afternoon.

Eric's parents leave tomorrow, so we had lunch with them and Zari at one of our favorite restaurants. The combination of flavors and ingredients is always mind-blowing and surprising. Our plates were so clean after each course that the waiter joked he could put them back on the shelves.

Zari has been working on a big history project: a debate between a Catholic and a Protestant woman that she and her classmate are acting out tomorrow. They played rock-paper-scissors to see who got to be which character. Zari won the role of Protestant and is really getting into it.

Inga had some drawings that her friend had made and lent to her...and somehow they got lost or thrown away. It might have been me, to be honest, since the kids leave loads of papers and half-finished drawings all over the house. She was so sad.

I had a string quartet rehearsal. Among other things, we're playing several songs from Bridgerton. Now I've got those songs in my head! I should watch the series...We also have another piece that's in 7/8. My brain still has a hard time with that.
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Wednesday, May 11, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 504: Mudding, soccer, cooking, bricolage

5,616 steps

This morning was mudding drywall. Just me and a big bucket of mud (enduit). Grocery shopping after soccer...comme d'hab. I made beef & vegetable bobotie and plum tart for dessert. The kids were SO excited to have plum tart after almost a year!

I changed the lock on Le Catamaran, replacing an old skeleton key system with a more secure lock. Of cousre it required all sorts of drilling because the old holes weren't quite in the right place for the new holes, even though it was technically the same size of mechanism. It wasn't pretty but it's all hidden by the latch plates.

And that's about my day! Also tons of breech-related work going on at the moment.
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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 503: The fastest woman in Finland, the fastest boy in middle school, and my first swim of the year

Inga had a multi-school track & field competition today. She was SO into it. Her school was representing Finland, so she outfitted herself in blue & white. She was determined to beat everyone...and she almost did! She was the fastest girl and was beat by only 1 boy.

Dio had a race for his gym class. I asked him how it went, and he said, "Not great, I'm better at longer distances. This was a very short race and I'm very tall, so it takes me a while to get going." So I thought this meant he didn't do very well.

Turns out...he won all 3 races! He just didn't win by a huge margin! I teased him, "I need to translate everything from Dio-ese into English! 'Not great' means 'I won every race!' "

We had dinner at the beach tonight after school. I finally got the courage to go in, and it was glorious. A bit of a cold shock getting in, but that quickly dissipated. I stayed in the water for a while and still wasn't cold, just refreshed and invigorated.


Oh, the most fun part of the day (for me) was going to a big furniture consignment store. I found so many gorgeous peices of furniture for the front apartment and would have bought them all right there. But Eric wanted to wait a bit and at least measure things and think about it. (And I get it--we're in full-on renovations and where would we put things?) But...oh my goodness...some of these things were amazing. And I'm a bit jaded by the amazingness of antiques at this point.
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Monday, May 09, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 502: Too busy today

9,302 steps

Another one of those days where I feel like I'm going to explode with everything I have going on. In a good way, mostly.

Eric and I tackled the kitchen window opening, making it square (which it wasn't) and level (which it wasn't). We also framed in the exterior part of the mezzanine that separates what used to be one big window into 2 smaller windows (the kitchen window below, the bedroom window above). It took some head-scratching but we got there in the end. Then, after I had installed the flexible vent pipe for the range hood, we put those last pieces of drywall up!

I ran an errand after lunch to pick up a "cadre noeud marin," which displays various nautical knots in a sort of shadowbox. It will go into the WC of Le Catamaran. I bought it from a woman whose dad was a sailor.

Baya went home today and we got some wild blueberry jam and organic peanut butter as a thank-you.

I brought Zari to one of my favorite little thrift stores. She's low on summer clothes and by some miracle, we found 2 pairs of shorts and 6 shirts. We practically broke the bank at 25 Euros!

Eric had to take Dio shoe shopping since his feet are bursting out of the athletic shoes that we bought him this past year. His feet are at least 1 size bigger than mine now!

After school, Ivy went to the beach with her grandparents and swam for a good while. I still haven't gone in the water yet this year.
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Sunday, May 08, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 501: ER trip, lots of walking, and a movie

16,655 steps

Eric decided to get his eye checked out after lunch. He spent the whole afternoon at the ER. Lots of waiting...finally he saw an opthalmologist who gave him a thorough exam. Nothing torn or detached, thankfully, but some hemorrhaging near the back of the eye, which explains some of the shadows Eric has on his vision, especially when he first opens his eye. He's supposed to go back in about 2 weeks for a followup visit. Total cost: 13 Euros.


We watched Encanto for the first time today. It was so nice to just relax this afternoon! Afterward Ivy and I went on walk with Baya and my in-laws.

Mother's Day isn't for 2 more weeks over here, but we still had lots of phone calls and video chats due to having American and Canadian families.
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Saturday, May 07, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 500: Black eyes, skate park, soccer, missing parents, and dolphins

17,263 steps

I need a Saturday to recover from Saturday. But...first off let's talk about a black eye that Eric got last night at a soccer match. He came home with a lovely purple around his right eye and some vision issues. He said, "I should probably get it checked out" which in plain English translates to "I might lose my vision in this eye, nbd, maybe I'll think of going to a doctor in about 2 months once I've gone blind."

So did he go and get his eye checked out today? Nope. Despite me urging him multiple times to do so? Nope. (His vision is kind of messed up in that eye, especially when he closes and then opens his eyelid.)

We'll see what happens tomorrow.

I took inga, Dio, and his friend to a skatepark which they hadn't yet tried out. They loved it. I so rarely see Dio smile--he's in "bored/depressed/nonexpressive teenager mode" a lot--and today he was beaming.


We had to get Inga home in time for the big soccer switchoff, in which Eric drops Ivy off, picks Inga up, and speeds away to the next match. Only we had a complication: Eric was bringing home twin girls and their parent didn't show up to pick them up. He called: no answer. He brought the girls to their house: no one home. Then they tried the girls' cousin, who lives nearby: no one home. He finally had to leave the girls with me because Inga had a soccer game to get to.

I fed lunch to the whole troop: Ivy, the twins, Dio, his friend.

Meanwhile Zari had left for a soccer match in Marseille and Dio and his friend wanted to go out scootering again. But...complication: I had a rehearsal that I had to go to and no one left at home to babysit. Fortunately my MIL was around and came up to watch them.

Midway through the rehearsal, I got a call that the twins' cousin was coming to get them (a few hours late!).

We're watching Baya for the weekend. I probably should take her out one last time tonight. Ivy dressed her up in one of our Freeze Football Club shirts. I think it traumatized Baya.


I took 2 trips to the consignment flea market store, Troc Azur. Inga had bought a plastic dolphin at the Ecole de Mer, which broke when she and Ivy were playing last night. She was soooo sad. I knew that Troc Azur had some lovely dolphins in the display case. In my memory, they were glass, but when we went this morning they were marble. Inga showed me her favorite one. (The primary reason to go to this store was to look for a birthday present for her friend.)

So now that I knew which dolphin Inga liked best, I had a plan: secretly buy one for her, since it meant so much to have one (and the marble one was only 7 Euros!).

In the afternoon, Ivy and I took my MIL to the store. She enjoyed seeing all of the crazy cool old stuff that, over here, is often not valued that highly. Gorgeous handcrafted wood furniture dating back hundreds of years, things that you can't even find in North America and that, if by some chance they were to be imported, would end up in a fancy-pants antique dealer who would charge $$$. But over here: regular stuff that you find in flea markets.

So we bought the dolphin for Inga, too :) She was thrilled.

We ate dinner together with everyone minus Zari and then played a round of Cover Your Assets. Eric is watching the Coupe de France and OGC is currently behind 0-1. The city has been covered with OGC Nice posters this past week and hordes of tourists. I feel like I can hardly walk down the streets in Old Nice.
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Friday, May 06, 2022

French apartment renovations, Days 498-499: How to get a new door in just under 500 days

Follow these 4 simple steps!

Step 1) renovate one apartment start to finish
Step 2) renovate a 2nd apartment for a long time
Step 3) get really tired of your old door that is drooping on its hinges and almost impossible to close (not to mention the wrong size)
Step 4) 499 days later, install a new (temporary) door

The new door is, unfortunately, temporary. We had to cut so much off the bottom that it looks quite odd and the doorknob is way too low now. But it's way more functional than the old one. We'll have to have a door custom made as the opening is lower than standard dimensions.

We're in the mudding & taping phase, yet again. I'm not a fan but it needs to be done.

We're waiting for our vent piping to arrive (for the kitchen range hood) and then we can finally put up the last small pieces of drywall. I took this video yesterday, and we have since added the pieces to the face of the mezzanine.



It's been really busy with Breech Without Borders work--particularly as we schedule workshops in New Zealand and Australia. And I wonder why I am so exhuasted at the end of each day!

I had a visit with a gynecologist today (need to get my IUD replaced, so much fun). But it was fun to chat with him. He asked me what my profession was, so I explained about Breech Without Borders. Turns out he often attends births at the "salle physiologique," which is the term for an in-hospital birth center designed for unmedicated, upright births. In general childbirth is very medicalized in France, but there are occasional places where physiological birth is possible. I think he was intrigued by what I do. I gave him the BWB website.

Inga came home from Ecole de Mer this afternoon! I was waiting for her when she got off the bus: crying and despondent. At first, I was worried that something terrible had happened. But no...she was just sad to leave! She said the director wants to meet Eric--the instructors kept borrowing his book and asking her about it.



















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Wednesday, May 04, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 497: Work and some play

My inbox is somewhat under control by the end of today. I did breech-related work almost the entire day, except for a grocery shopping trip and then a glorious hour at the beach with Ivy and my in-laws. I put my swimsuit on but didn't get the courage to go in. Another time...

The house is so quiet minus Inga.

While I was working this morning, Ivy raided my jewelry box and threaded every ring and earring I owned into my braid.



Zari did face painting on Ivy this evening.


Eric caught 2 good-sized fish today, a sar and a dorade. I was on for dinner tonight: Wienerschnitzel, artichokes, and strawberries.

I'm going to go read a book now. Time to relax a bit!
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Tuesday, May 03, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 496: Please save me from my inbox

6,292 steps

I am swamped with my Breech Without Borders work at the moment. I am terrified of my inbox, which is multiplying faster than I can delete and/or respond! Ah well, it's a good sign...

We've been busy putting up drywall (only a few tiny pieces left!) and even started mudding and taping. Ugh, I don't like taping.

Inga is at Ecole de Mer all week and, from the pictures the school has been posting, is having an amazing time. They're studying all sorts of marine life, going out on boats, learning how to tie knots...all in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

I am so tired. Soooo tired. And my inbox is still glaring at me.

When I dropped Inga off yesterday morning, she was showing everyone Eric's book (which she brought for some fun down-time reading).




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Sunday, May 01, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 494: Tired

Eric had to pick his parents up after midnight, so we didn't to sleep until very late...but at least today was relaxing. After lunch Eric took Dio, Inga, and Ivy to the skatepark (which was closed) and then to a nearby park to play. I went to the beach to read a book, but the sun disappeared as soon as I got there. It got progressively colder and then started raining a bit. Oh well, I tried!

It was fun showing Eric's parents Le Catamaran and the front apartment. They are very impressed with what we've done so far. We rigged up a rope to help them go up and down the stairs. I don't want my in-laws getting hurt while they're on vacation!

It's not quite 11 pm and I am so tired I can hardly keep myself upright. Zari is struggling over a particularly dense passage of Pere Goriot. I read it and I know all of the words individually, but making sense of convoluted 19th century wording is difficult.
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Saturday, April 30, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 493: Grandparents & hidden gold

12,092 steps

Eric's parents arrive late tonight! We saw them once right before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. This was before we had purchased the communist apartment. A lot has changed!

Inga, Dio, and Zari all had soccer matches today. I ran some errands and purchased a tall, narrow cupboard with 4 drawers and 3 shelves for the closet in Le Catamaran. It fit with one centimeter to spare! I'm trying to maximize storage since the apartment only has the one small closet.

Our house is looking shiny and sparkly--well, not perfect but better than usual. We swept, vacuumed, dusted, washed, and organized.

When I was putting felt pads on the bottom of the secrétaire this afternoon, we had to tip it forward. We heard some things rattling around. I opened it up to show Inga the inside and a stack of envelopes and a gold ring had appeared! We had cleaned it out before purchasing it, but I guess there was some hidden crack that had collected items over the years. I messaged the woman we bought it from to see if she'd like the ring back.



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Friday, April 29, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 492: Never again!

It just struck midnight and my fitness tracker reset. So who knows how much I walked today?

Why am I staying up so late? I'm tired!! But I have two children who keep trying to stay up later and later, and then Eric is a night owl (off playing soccer, back around midnight). I'd be in bed by 10:30 pm if I were on my own. 

We went to Leroy Merlin (again) and bought drywall (again) and put it up (again). But this time was our LAST time buying drywall. I spent an hour with a kitchen specialist trying to track down the cupboard handles that we ordered but never received. We returned the leftover materials for our subfloor, which was a great feeling. I wish I had pictures but I was busy working. 

Then my night shift (breech work) started. I need a break! It's good that tomorrow is Saturday. 

In lieu of any relevant pictures, here is one that Ivy took and edited. This is what she's like every time she comes home from playing at the park. "It's burning hot in here!"



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Thursday, April 28, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 492: So much drywall

We did drywall all day long. Much of it was adhered to the walls with MAP, and of course the walls were uneven. When it's more than a few centimeters different along the wall, you can't just glue the boards on because there will be big voids. We had to put a first layer of MAP (daubs about 30 cm apart) to "level" the surface. After that dries, then you daub more MAP and adhere the sheet of drywall to the wall.

It was SO strange using the dot & daub method at first. But now we're old pros at it. I still like wood 2x4s, though, and don't know if I'd ever switch over the to metal rails that are common here.

We are taking a trip to Leroy Merlin tomorrow for the last 8 pieces of drywall and a few other supplies, plus a big load of returns. The plumber is coming in the early afternoon to hook up the shower drain. At that point, all the interior plumbing will be roughed in. We can tile the shower at any point now, as soon as I brush on the final coat of waterproofing membrane (backordered).

After dinner we tested out the scooter ramp. I have some fun videos but Zari was using my computer all evening until midnight! So that will have to wait until tomorrow. Inga was so sad because she never got up the courage to go off the ramp. Ivy went on rollerblades and Dio had several good jumps.

Dinner was creamy herbed pork chops and steamed cauliflower, plus strawberries in marscarpone cream for dessert.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 491: Building walls and using math

7,277 steps

You know how you studied things back in high school or college and wondered, "When am I EVER going to use this in real life?!?"

Well, I am pleased to announce that the Pythagorean Theorem came in very handy when I needed to make two walls meet at exactly 90° in an imperfectly crooked 15th century apartment.

How I did it: I marked the starting spot of the 90° angle and measured 250 cm down one wall (the long, straight one!) and marked a line. Then I measured 250 cm down the other wall and marked another line. Then I did a² + b² = c² and determined that c should be 353.5 cm. So then I measured until the hypotenuse (the distance bewteen the 2 lines that I had marked) was exactly 353.5 cm and I knew we had a right angle!

Today was dedicated to framing that new wall. But of course it wasn't so simple because I ran out of lumber. So I had to take some old salvaged beams from our demolition 16 months ago and rip them into boards roughly 2x4" and then plane them (because the wood was warped in spots). Voila! Lumber! It just took a while.



Oh, here are pictures of the new secrétaire for Le Catamaran. I love how it has the exact same pattern of inlaid wood. The middle door folds down to make a desk and will be the perfect spot to stow away a TV.





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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 490: Happy (real) 13th birthday Dio!

17,959 steps

I have TWO TEENAGERS! I don't feel old enough or qualified enough to be taking care of teenagers. I don't feel like I was ever a normal teenager myself--although what is normal, right?--so how am I supposed to know what to do?

Dio had a disappointing day. We had school and work and all the normal things, and I know he would have liked it to feel more special. Plus he didn't like his presents but he felt bad about not liking them. It's tough being 13.

We did our usual watching of his birth videos and reading of his birth story.

Obligatory link to his birth story & videos: http://rixarixa.blogspot.com/2009/04/dios-birth-story.html

Pictures comparing newborn Dio to 1-month Dio: http://rixarixa.blogspot.com/2009/05/then-now-1-month.html

And pictures from the month when he was born: http://rixarixa.blogspot.com/2009/04/

His super-popular breastfeeding video (4.9 million views): https://youtu.be/Jq5dWoOGJbM

Eric and I spent most of the day making Dio a scooter ramp, which he had been asking for and watching tutorial videos of for a while. Dio thinks it's too big so we're going to make a smaller one and then test them both out.


We found a beautiful piece of furniture, called a "secrétaire" for the living room in Le Catamaran. I'll try to take pictures tomorrow. I ran errands all over town this afternoon, some for Dio and some for household things.

And now that I'm looking through my blog from when Dio was born, I just HAVE to include some pictures.






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Monday, April 25, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 489: Framing, drywall, legal headaches

5,625 steps

I like days where I have to figure out how to engineer things in creative ways. That's what I did today, although most of it is hidden. I attached the framed doorway opening to the plaster/rock wall (on the left) and to the iron doorframe (on the right). I then had to build a lip about 10 cm above it that corresponded with the ceiling height so we could have someting to screw the drywall into. The far side of the WC room also needed a lip. Then FINALLY we got that piece of ceiling drywall up.


Then I did some reinforcing of the framed wall in the back. Some of the "studs" (scraps recycled from various demolitions) were thin enough that they curved and moved when pushed on. I also patched in a piece of wood for hanging a heavy mirror on the other wise (WC in Le Catamaran). So we got everything braced and stabilized so that FINALLY we could attach the back piece (green).



A friend came over with some pieces of wood he needed cut. I like being the neighborhood tool shop for our friends! I wish that we had some sort of storage/garage space where we could set up a tool shop and have a neighborhood tool "library." Ah well, keep dreaming...

I spoke with a retired legal assistant today about our heat pump issue. She kept saying "c'est grave" and said that there's really nothing to do except hire an attorney and bring the company to court. Of course we can start with a registered letter setting out all the things done wrong and asking for them to be addressed within a certain date. But, she said, he's very likely to comply.

So maybe in 1-2 years we'll see some closure on this. In the meantime we have to get the compressors taken off fairly soon and then we have to figure out if there's anywhere we can actually mount them...otherwise we have to rip the whole system out and we will have 3 apartments without a heating/cooling system. All due to the installer not putting them where they were supposed to be in the first place and not seeking proper authorization (and not telling us) when he decided to put them somewhere else.

Enjoy these outtakes from yesterday's photos.




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Sunday, April 24, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 488: More birthday parties...and a time warp

14,407 steps

Ivy's friend had a birthday party at the chateau this afternoon. So many parties lately!

Before the party, I made everyone put on their Breech Without Borders t-shirts (because it was the only matching thing we all had) and take a picture. It's been 2 years since our last family snapshot and things have CHANGED! Zari stood up extra straight to emphasize her height advantage over me 🙂




School starts up again tomorrow after a 2-week vacation.

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