Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Both Eric and I had disturbed sleep last night. I was up at 3 am for no particular reason and just couldn't get back to sleep for a while. I need a mildly interesting ebook that I can read at night that holds my interest for just a few minutes.

I was so tired that I biked Ivy to school rather than ran her. I did a partial workout after I got home and called it good. Then, of course, I had my usual long walk while working at my desk.

And...I'm boring myself with this post. What else? Ivy spent the entire afternoon and evening doing homework and got to bed more than an hour late. It's too much! I might have to write to her teacher and let her know that we're restricting homework to 1 hour max. After that, time is up. She needs to be free to play, eat dinner, go to soccer practice, and just have some down time. We went through the same thing with this teacher when Zari was in 5th grade. "Oh, but it shouldn't take that long!"

"Oh, but it *does* take that long!"

Zari had an away game that Eric and Inga went to. Inga was there to be a ball girl. They were tied 1-1 and went into overtime, finally losing on a shootout. Dio also had an away game and they won.

We have one more day of hot weather, and then it's going to cool off abruptly. Enjoy it while it lasts. I'll probably be switching out the screens for the storm windows this week.
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Monday, October 02, 2023

7,266 steps (running)
8,809 steps (treadmill desk)
~15 minutes of upper & lower body exercises with BFR bands
15 minutes of biking

Pretty typical day. It was productive. I got about 100 videos organized and uploaded, getting ready for a big video analysis project. I also worked on my twin home birth paper with Dr. Stu. We're going through peer review comments right now and making requested changes. I'm hoping we'll be ready to resubmit in a week.

I made a huge amount of progress on Ivy's bedspread. I'm almost done with all of the individual rectangles. Next up is sewing them all together and serging all of the seams.

Zari and Dio had dinners with their soccer teams. Inga had a game about an hour away that Eric went to.

What else? I think that's it!
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Sunday, October 01, 2023

Weeding, watching shows, sewing...and watch out for ground wasps!

I got several hours of weeding and landscaping done this morning. When I was in the middle of transplanting hostas, I got stung by a wasp. Aie! I didn't think too much of it--just a stray wasp, no fun. Then I dug up the next hosta and got swarmed! After several stings, I figured out that I had inadvertently dug into a nest somewhere in the ground. I fled the scene with several painful stings later.

I'm not sure how to get rid of them--there's no visible nest. I'd normally just leave them be, but it's right in the area where I need to do some major landscaping and transplanting!

Eric picked Inga up from her sleepover shortly before noon. We had a relaxing afternoon, sitting around and watching shows, reading, whatever. Ivy had a late afternoon game.

I finally made good progress on a duvet cover for Ivy's room that has been more than 10 years in the making! When I was pregnant with Ivy, I hand-dyed linen in 8 different shades of turqouise, from the palest sky to deep aquamarine. Each tone had eight 18" squares, from which I was planning on doing a sort of twist-pouf-thing in the middle and pleats on the sides, then attaching them together.

Well, that was many years ago and it never worked quite right. So I packed the fabric away in a container. I've brought it out a few times over the years, scratched my head, and then put it back away. But I finally figured out a solution, involving lots of stitched pleats. Ivy may finally get a duvet cover before we go to France!

Middle school soccer is officially over, and high school soccer will be by the end of this week. Our lives should calm down significantly. We're still trying to find alternate teams for everyone else. Ivy's team will convert to an indoor team at the end of October. Dio may join the same club as Inga. And Zari...still working on that, but she will probably play indoor soccer 2x/week at the university and then do some one-on-one training with Eric.
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Saturday, September 30, 2023

As a family, we've been all over the area today at various soccer games and tournaments. I went to Inga's, catching a ride with a mom on the team. Zari had a game this morning at the high school, scoring 3 out of the 4 goals and winning 4-0! The matches are broadcast online, so I was able to see her goals afterwards.

I left as Zari was in the middle of her game. Inga's tournament turned into just one game, since they lost 4-1 (Inga scored the one goal with a beautiful header right into the goal). I was sad that they lost but very happy not to be out in the sun any longer. It was so hot and intense that I was feeling dizzy.

Meanwhile Ivy had a game, which Eric and Dio went to. They lost, unfortunately.

After Inga and I got home, she ran upstairs to pack a bag so she could go with her friend/teammate for a sleepover. So we're down one for the night and the house feels eerily quiet. We ate waffles for dinner, plus brussels sprouts because Zari was begging for vegetables. And we watched 3 episodes of Shadow and Bone.

I got a few hours of weeding in, some in the morning and some before dinner. Zari helped for a while as we were clearing out an area with bricks and re-laying the bricks that had come loose.
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Friday, September 29, 2023

Rude awakening

We were woken up at 5:45 am by a phone call. "Helllo, this is your school district. There will be a 2-hour delay."

I peeked out the window to a heavy fog. Hm, okay. A bit of a strange reason to delay school. Zari had just woken up for her early morning practice, so we sent her back to bed and readjusted our alarm clocks. Eric still had to get up to go to work, but I stayed in bed and snoozed on and off until 9 am. It felt glorious.

After my morning exercise, I had meetings and more meetings. That was most of my work day up until it was time to pick Ivy up. It was so gorgeous this afternoon.

I did more weeding and had a chat with our next door neighbor, a man probably in his 70s or above. He is remodeling his kitchen so I got a rundown on his disappearing contractor who just poofed one day a few months ago and has never returned any phone calls since (hmmm, that sounds familiar!).

Zari and I watched Inga's club soccer game this evening, which was at our high school. They usually play 30-60 minutes away, so it was a luxury to only have to drive a few miles. They won 5-0. Inga scored a beautiful goal, which was unfortunately called as off-sides.

When we got back, Eric left to play indoor soccer. The rest of us watched the first two episodes of Shadow and Bone. Re-watched, to be more precise. We had started watching the series a while back and never finished it.

We have a busy soccer day tomorrow, with 4 games in 3 different locations. I'm going to Inga's afternoon tournament. Eric is doing some sort of here-and-there magic to make it to Zari's morning game and Ivy's afternoon game. Poor Dio. What is he going to do all day?
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Thursday, September 28, 2023

With the recent rain, I wanted to do some weeding. However, I needed some sort of waterproof shoe or clog since I don't have any old shoes. Something like a croc sandal--waterproof, holes for drainage, easy to clean. Sounds pretty simple, right? Guess how many stores I had to visit before I found them? Hint: more than 4. Home Depot and Walmart did not have any good matches. I finally found some at a local home & garden store.

One of my stops was at a big thrift store, where I bought two sweaters and three tank tops and a pair of normal shoes. It rang up to around $22 and I had the thought, "oh no, I'm spending too much money!" Being thrifty is in my genes :)

I did some weeding once Ivy was home. Mostly thistles, which are everywhere in one patch of garden. They are so hard to get rid of because the smallest bit of root will regrow. I may need to spot-spray with weed killer as the new sprouts emerge.

Dio had excellent soccer game, playing varsity and JV. He started in the varsity game and played most of the match. Eric was able to watch that one (about an hour away).

Since Eric was gone, I had to make dinner again last-minute so I did homemade macaroni & cheese and corn on the cob. I made a double batch so the kids could pack leftovers for lunch. Not the world's most exciting meal but that's life.

I had a late meeting, ending at 10:40 pm (one of the participants was in Singapore). It's been a long day! I went down after it was done to check on some sourdough that is rising and to help Zari with her math (solving irrational equations).
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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

It's been an interesting mix of activites today. I woke up at 4:30 am, my mind turning in circles. I read and rested but never got back to sleep.

I biked Ivy to school with the BFR bands and got a really nice burn from what's usually an easy ride, except for a bit of a hill at the end. I did some upper and lower body exercises and then called it good.

Some of the breech projects I had going on today were:
  • Finishing our 2nd volume of clinical scenarios (including this photo the kids helped me take today)
  • A peer review of a difficult breech birth, joined by a friendly neonatologist who had offered to consult with us. It was so helpful to have his perspective on what turned out to be an unusual set of circumstances
  • Revising course handouts
  • Finishing a few more videos for our Portuguese version of Breech Pro and adding in various bits of translated course text (titles, headings, explanations, etc)
  • a BWB team meeting where we got a lot of big issues decided on and some interesting/exciting future developments

I rarely do the same thing twice in my line of work!

It's been raining a lot this evening, which I am so grateful for. I will try to get out and do some weeding tomorrow while the soil is soft. I need to find some gardening clogs, though. My flip-flips broke and I don't have any old shoes.

Inga's and Ivy's soccer practicies were cancelled due to rain & lightning. Zari's away game still happened after a 30 minute delay. She didn't play much and she said the field was muddy and slippery. They won 1-0. I picked her up from the high school at 9:30 pm in the middle of a downpour.

I watched "Father of the Bride" with Ivy, Inga, and Dio this evening. It's interesting how slow-paced the movie is, compared to many of today's movies. Also super full of white-nuclear-family-upper-class-ness.
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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


8000 steps (running), 12,000 steps (walking at my desk), upper body BFR workout, 15 minutes of biking, 20 hrs of fasting (you better believe I was watching the clock closely today--I was hungry!)

We had a late-afternoon thunderstorm roll in, which I really appreciated. We've hardly had any rain in the past month+. I haven't been able to pull weeds because the ground is too hard.

I worked on clinical scenario booklets, debriefed an EMS pilot program that we're working on, and ran errands (city building, post office).

Inga had a home game, which Eric was able to go to. Dio's team got a break from practice in order to watch the university soccer team play. Zari had both soccer & play practice.
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Monday, September 25, 2023

Lots of work with no results

Ran 1.8 miles today (half of the time with BFR bands)
Walked another 7+ miles on my treadmill desk
Did leg exercises with my BFR bands (squats, calf raises, high knees, lunges)
Fasted for 20.5 hours

This is a pretty typical day for me, although sometimes I only walk a few miles on my treadmill desk. I probably run 3-4 times on average per week because I am sometimes too tired to run every school morning.

And yet I feel like my body is going haywire (for example, a sudden weight gain over the last 2 months). I have an appointment with my nurse practitioner for an annual physical and I'll see if there's anything we can rule out. Plus it's been a long time since I've checked on things like cholesterol levels and the like.

I had a long, quiet day at home because Ivy had a fitness club after school. Zari barely got back from a soccer game--well, two games. She played in both varsity and JV. It's 9:30 pm and Dio is still not home from his game.

We got our tires aligned today. I hope that solves the strange steering/handling problem we've been having. I don't want to have to replace our tires every 6-8 weeks!
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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Zombie Cup Winner!

Inga has been in a weekend-long soccer tournament, titled the Zombie Cup. No joke! Her team won all four games. I got to go to the final this afternoon, which they won 2-1 (with Inga scoring one goal).

It's been a busy day for me with mostly household tasks. I cooked pancakes for the family before they headed off to church. Then I spent a few quiet hours getting the house in order. I folded a mountain of laundry. I went through our fridge and did a produce inventory. I still had lots of things left from my parents, most of which were still salvageable.

I had to throw out a small bag of broccolini, but with the rest I made a batch of tomatillo salsa (roasted onions, tomatillos, and jalepenos, blended with lime juice and salt). I cut up a bag of leeks and put them in the freezer for later.

I picked through a bowl of cherry tomatoes that I picked at a friend's house yesterday. Some had already gone bad, so I put them in the freezer to save for late-fall planting. I'm going to throw a ton of seeds in one area of my garden and hope I get a bunch of volunteer plants.

Zari and Dio taste-tested the salsa and they loved it. It's so different than canned tomatillo salsa.

Before everyone got home, I started on dinner: butternut squash sage soup. I made a very simple recipe, which was amazing. We have a big sage bush in our landscaping, so at least something was home-grown! I also used homemade chicken broth, which added to the flavor. Here's the recipe: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/butternut-squash-sage-soup.

I had to leave after lunch for Inga's game. It was an hour+ away. I wish we didn't have to drive so much for her soccer, but it's a fantastic team. I chatted with some of the other parents, who I now know by the jersey numbers of their girls!

Dinner got a thumbs-up from everyone. We also had a small salad of cucumbers and croutons, because that's what we had on hand!

I did some late night baking and made a batch of dark chocolate mint cookies to restock for school lunches.

Oh, and I also got a little nap in! After dinner, Eric took the kids to the high school soccer fields for a little practice. I stayed home and accidentally fell asleep while we were reading.

Dio is working on a creative essay for school. Zari and Eric both game him pointers for improving the language and plot. I'm excited to read it!
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Saturday, September 23, 2023

I can't think of a pithy way to summarize my day except to write it out in order, more or less.

Eric and Inga left early in the morning for a soccer tournament. They came back at lunchtime for a few hour's break. Then they left, along with Ivy, for more soccer matches. Inga got a ride back to her next tournament game (about an hour away).

I had the kids do Saturday chores, with various degrees of success. Some of the children still have vacuuming to finish. We hadn't done any big cleaning for a few weeks and it was starting to show. My own tasks were vacuuming the bedroom, upstairs hallway, back staircase, attic staircase, and dining room. Plus cleaning my own toilet and sink. The kids can't accuse me of not doing my share!

I rode my bike over mid-afternoon to watch Ivy's game. They lost 0-3, unfortunately. But it was an idyllic fall day--quite warm, sunny, dry, and crisp. Just perfect.

I had a breech peer review right after dinner that lasted 2 hours, then an hour break (I joined the familiy in the middle of a movie), then a breech live session for well over an hour. It's been quite the day! But I did get a nap in the afternoon.

Eric and Zari are watching a replay of her recent soccer game and talking strategy and technique. I am going to put my pajamas on and get in bed!
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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

It's been hard to get out of bed in the mornings! My body is sore from my new exercises--a good store, but still...And it's totally dark when the alarm goes off.

I had a full work day (encoding German translations and putting them onto the course platform, mostly).

We got a dramatic flat tire while Eric was out at Ivy's soccer practice. Our car has been having issues the the alignment and/or steering and it wore both of our front tires bald in just over a month. I've got to get it fixed! First step, tire store. Then to the mechanic to see what's going on.

Dio had a soccer game and Zari had soccer practice, then play practice. Long day for the kids!
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Tuesday, September 19, 2023

The whole family met at the high school to watch Zari's game. I think it's the first time we've all been together, same time, same place, for a game. Zari's team won 3-2 in the 2nd overtime.

Besides that, I was super tired this morning, physically tired, so I biked Ivy to school instead of running with her. I still did my 20 minutes with the BFR bands (running up the stairs for 8 minutes, then upper body, then plank). And of course I walked several miles on my treadmill desk. So not bad even though I skipped out of my morning run.

Ivy had two essays to write this evening so it's 10 pm and she's just getting to bed. Inga is in the shower--very long shower. We need the kids to go to bed soon so we can sleep!
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Monday, September 18, 2023

I ran 2 miles (Ivy school drop-off), did 15-20 minutes of intense exercise with the BFR bands, and then walked a long time on my treadmill desk. I'm ready to rest and sleep!

Ivy enjoyed her after-school fitness club. It's not that regular, maybe 2x/month, but I'm glad she has something fun and social. (Not as if she's lacking in social opportunities!)

Dio and Inga had games today. Eric watched Inga's (2-0), both goals via assists from Inga.

Lunches are packed, the kitchen is mostly clean, the dishwasher is running, and I'm just about to start a load of laundry. Zari is finishing her online Algebra 2 course, due tomorrow. I hope she won't be up terribly late.

Next up...SAT and ACT prep! I need to dredge up what I learned when I was in high school prepping for those exams.
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Sunday, September 17, 2023

So much soccer

3 matches yesterday, 1 match today. Too much even if it's a good thing!

Inga was with a friend much of yesterday to watch a soccer match, then to watch her friend sing in a middle school choir at a "celebration of unity" downtown.

The rest of us went to the unity festival thing yesterday as well. Eric was scheduled to man the "Ask An Immigrant" booth. There were free games, activities, food, etc. And since it's a small town, we ran into a lot of people we knew.

Inga and her friend's family went out to eat afterwards at a nearby Mexican restaurant. Then she had a sleepover and a delicious breakfast this morning. Inga kept raving about how her friend's mom makes these amazing breakfasts. "She is the best mom!"

Well then. I guess I am a "not quite best mom" in that regard. 😂

It's true, we almost never have a cooked breakfast. A) I don't ever eat in the mornings so I really don't like cooking when I can't eat what I'm making and B) there's not enough time on normal mornings.

But to redeem myself slightly, I did cook a big pancake breakfast yeasterday for the friend who was sleeping over.

Zari is finishing an intensive online Algebra 2 course, due on Tuesday. She is a bit behind so this weekend has been filled with math...and me helping her, as much as I can given I haven't studied these things for almost 30 years! I call it "math moral support." Some things came back easily but others I'm scratching my head because it needs some time to sink in again. I mean, there's no way I could write the proof for cos2x = 2cos2x - 1 just off the top of my head, decades later!

A random picture that I found on my phone today...

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Friday, September 15, 2023

BFR bands, sleepovers

I just ordered BFR (blood flow restriction) bands and gave them a quick try this afternoon. Very impressed so far. My legs felt like they would at the end of a long hike, after just a few minutes of squats and running up the stairs. My arms definitely felt worked out after just 3 minutes of bicep curls at relatively low weights. My goal is to do at least 10 minutes of BFR exercise daily--some cardio, some resistance training--on top of my normal routine. The science is really compelling.

Ivy and Inga have a friend over for an impromptu sleepover. I'm so excited to have a morning to sleep in, although with my luck I'll wake up before 7 am anyway 🙂 I told the girls we'd make pancakes tomorrow.

What else was going on today? Eric played soccer at the university. Zari didn't have her 6:30 am practice because her team played so well yesterday. No complaints from her! I've been working on the German translation of Breech Pro, encoding the translated captions into the videos. It brings me back to my high school German classes, where I was "Gitta" (after my German grandmother Brigitta). I'd often sit with one of my friends, whose German classroom name escapes me now. (Sorry! I know your real name just fine 🙂 )

In a turn of fate, his mother is French and little did I know in high school that France would become a big part of my life! I remember hearing him speak French at home and thinking it was really cool and also really incomprehensible.

Well, here's to hoping the girls get some sleep 🙂
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Thursday, September 14, 2023

Soccer mom again

Inga had another game tonight--this time with her club team (very good) rather than her middle school team (not very good). They won 6-2 and Inga scored 2 goals. Ivy came with me again. It was in another town about 30 minutes away.

I've been working on the Portuguese translation of Breech Pro and we are getting much closer to releasing it! We have a team of translators and then I've been taking all their work and putting it all together (encoding the video captions, updating the course site, etc). Next up is German!

Dio also had a game (3-2) as did Zari (2-1). Busy day for all of us!
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Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Soccer mom

Eric is normally the one to go to most of the soccer games. But today we had 2 kids, 2 matches, 2 different towns. I went to one (Inga's) and Eric went to the other (Zari's). Inga's was 35 minutes away, and I arrived a few minutes after the game had started. I had just missed a goal that Inga scored!

It turns out that was the only goal; they lost 4-1. She made several other attempts but the goalie caught the ball each time.

Ivy was there playing with a friend. We stopped by Aldi on the way home and spent too much money. I had sticker shock because Aldi used to be significantly less expensive than the local supermarkets for staple items. Now it's not--I'd say prices are no different at Aldi vs. store brands.

I keep mental lists of how much things cost (or did, pre-Covid) and it's way up! Something that was consistently $1 pre-Covid at Aldi is now almost $2.50. It's crazy and I don't think it's all inflation; it's greed and opportunism mixed in with a little inflation. To be fair, it's also not just Aldi--it's everyone.

I wore long pants and a light sweater to Inga's game and appreciated them as the sun started to set. What a change from last week.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2023

I'm home but I have been busy and tired in the evenings the last two nights. How do the days and weeks go by so fast?

Almost every day at least one child, and often two, has a soccer game. I was hoping to go to Inga's today, but I was in a meeting when Eric had to leave earlier than expected. She scored 4 of the 6 goals!!

Honestly all I want to do is lie in bed and read and sleep. Good night!
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Saturday, September 09, 2023

Last day of teaching

I finished around 1 pm today, probably left the hospital closer to 2 pm by time I cleaned up my Sophie, got everything packed, etc. I visited the Reading Public Museum, which is right next door to the hospital. It had a little bit of everything: natural history, animal specimens, wildlife exhibits, drawings, engravings, modern art, European art, Native American history, South American archaeology, ancient Greek and Egyptian artifacts...

I made a quick grocery store trip for a few more items, then came home for a late lunch around 3:30 pm. I was so hungry by then!

I spoke with Ivy for a while, and then headed back out aruond 5 pm. There was a state park a few miles away, Nolde Forest, so I had a nice hike through the woods. There's an old stone mansion that's now a park building. It was closed today but it would have been fun to tour inside!

Inga had a big tournament today, and they won both games. She scored a few goals! She has two more games tomorrow, and then Ivy has a match. Another busy soccer weekend!
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Friday, September 08, 2023

I am so tired from a full day of teaching: residents at 7 am, then other simulation groups until noon, then a meeting with NICU staff at 1 pm.

I am falling asleep sitting in front of my computer. It's only 8:20 pm so I'm really trying to stay awake a bit longer.

I spoke with almost eveyrone back home. Ivy had a fantastic time at her 5th grade camping trip and didn't want to come back home. They did archery, canoeing, hiking, workshops, movies, camp fires, pillow fights...

My lunch/dinner was leftover Thai green curry, crackers/cheese/salami, mixed berries, chocoate, nuts, and sugar snap peas. A little bit of lots of things! I may need to buy a few more things to eat tomorrow.

Photos & video courtesy of the Reading OBGYN Residents.

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Thursday, September 07, 2023

This US-based couple bought a cheap apartment in France to give their kids a different upbringing

By Tamara Hardingham-Gill, CNN
Published 5:32 AM EDT, Thu September 7, 2023

Eric and Rixa Freeze bought and renovated two apartments in Nice, France and now split their time between the south of France and the US.

(CNN) — Splashing out an apartment in the south of France and renovating it yourself may sound like a difficult – and hugely expensive – task.

But this couple have managed to do it twice, all while on a relatively tight budget.

Eric Freeze, originally from Canada, and his wife Rixa, from the US, spent several summers in the region as part of a study abroad program when they were in their 20s, and always felt a strong attachment to Nice.

But the pair, who married in 1998, began seriously looking into purchasing a property in the city after having their four children, Zari, 16, Dio, 14, Inga, 12, and Ivy, 10.

In 2014, they asked a realtor to look for a suitable property for the whole family in Old Nice, a historic neighborhood filled with tenements, churches, and squares.

Read the rest of the article here: https://www.cnn.com/travel/us-based-family-apartment-nice-france-kids/index.html
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Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Danville PA!

After traveling from 8:30 am - 4:45 pm, I made it to Danville. I'm doing Grand Rounds at Geisinger Medical Center tomorrow, then driving to Reading for a few days of breech training.

Danville is a small, charming river town. I love the older architecture and townhomes common in this area of the country.

Soon after I arrived and dropped by bags off in the hotel room, I drove into town to stretch my legs. I parked on one of the main downtown streets and enjoyed a half price sale at Salvation Army, finding shorts for almost all of the kids for 99 cents each! I wandered around down to the river and through some of the adjoining streets before deciding I was hungry.

I stocked up on yummy snacks--berries, carrots, snap peas, nuts, cheese, crackers, salami. This will get me through the late afternoon until dinnertime. I've started being more consistent with my fasting rhythm. For a while I had a 6-7 hour eating window but I have decided to aim for 4 hours, which means 3-7 pm is my usual eating window. It's not easy those last few hours! I can easily go until noon or 1 pm...not so easily past that. But I'm trying to find something that can be sustainable and also help me acheive my health goals.

Eric went to Inga's soccer game and was a bit frustrated that her team didn't do better. Ivy was SO excited this morning as she gathered her camping supplies and got dropped off.

I have an early start tomorrow. Good night!
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Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Marathon work day

I have this massive to-do list on the back of an envelope, and I have now checked everything but one item off! I even did lots of things that weren't on my to-do list.

Ivy is all packed for her 5th grade camping trip. I'm packing for my next trip--another short one on Danville and Reading, PA.

We made one of our favorite meals tonight: avocado-mango salad with blue cheese, bacon, and toasted pumpkin seeds, with chicken added for extra protein. It's so good! Recipe here: www.rickbayless.com/recipe/avocado-mango-salad-with-fresh-or-blue-cheese-bacon-and-toasted-pumpkin-seeds

Most of the family came home late tonight from soccer games (Zari, Dio, and Eric) and soccer practices (Inga). They were all super sweaty and stinky, so that means showering and laundry before they can go to bed.
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Monday, September 04, 2023

Labor Day

Our holiday started with Dio riding his bike to an early morning soccer practice and Eric riding his bike to work. Not much sleeping in for them!

I let the girls sleep until 9 am. Well, Ivy was already up but I had to rouse Inga and Zari.

We didn't do anything holiday-ish, sadly. In the afternoon, Ivy worked on her tree identification project by labeling all of the leaves we had collected. Inga got inspired to learn how to crochet, so we headed to the store to buy her a skein of yarn. She made a little potholder--not bad for her first try!

Inga also is interested in writing a song, so I tuned Eric's guitar and printed off pictures of common guitar chords. She has an idea of a melody in her head and a verse or two written down.

It was too hot to do much outside. Once the sun was setting, Eric and I went on a walk.

Ivy has to pack for a big 5th grade camping trip this week. No worries about being too cold at night!
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Sunday, September 03, 2023

I had a few hours of breech meetings mid-day. A bit exceptional for a Sunday but sometimes we have to schedule things on odd days.

We all went to the indoor track and played 3 on 3 soccer. I was defintiely the weakest link, with my soccer training being when I was in kindergarten or 1st grade rec league. Ah well.

We watched a fantastic movie after dinner called Polite Society. It's Bollywood crossed with comedic action and was so delightful.

We have zero holiday plans for tomorrow. Maybe I'll text some friends to see if they want to send their kids over to play...most of the kids still have soccer practices so that cuts into our free time, plus Eric still has to work. No Labor Day holiday at this university!
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Saturday, September 02, 2023

Yard work, soccer...just another Saturday

I did a few hours of weeding and transplanting. The soil is dry and hard, so I had to soak the areas before I could do anything. I'm eager for a good rainstorm!

It got really hot really fast today--when I opened the windows in the morning, it was very cool. But by early afternoon, I was running around the house shutting them all!

Eric was gone all afternoon at Dio's soccer game. He played both varsity and JV and scored twice during the JV game--one on purpose and once an accidental header into his own goal.

We made a big fire today to burn yard waste and, bonus, make Smores. I used a sevearal my parent's vegetables to make a meatloaf Wellington (grated vegetables of all sorts mixed with ground beef, herbs, and a few eggs, then wrapped in pastry). We've also been eating loads of fresh tomatoes. It's a race against time before they go bad.

I just came out of Ivy's room--it's almost 10:30 and she's not feeling well (sore throat, stuffy nose) and is having trouble falling sleep. She's been feeling mildly unwell all week and is worried about not sleeping well tonight. I reassured her that she can stay home from church tomorrow if she's still feeling unwell and that we can snuggle in my bed and nap as much as she wants.
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Thursday, August 31, 2023

Tree identification

I was out the door and on the road by 7am, very eager to be home with my family. I arrived at noon (4 hrs + 1 hour time change) and unloaded by amazing stash of canned goods and produce.

I spent a few hours catching up on emails and other work-related items, then biked to pick up Ivy from school. She said, "Oh mama, you're here! I totally forgot about you!" She didn't mean it quite that way, of course 🙂

I helped her collect and identify leaves for a school project. Fortunately, we live across the street from a large enclosed park and historic site, and nearly every tree has identification tags! It made our job easy. We now have about 12 varieties being pressed under a heavy stack of books. She was only allowed to collect species that were listed in her "Trees of Indiana" book.

I'm all unpacked now...until next week, when I head to Pennsylvania! I did a big kitchen cleanup and laundry folding and other organizing. I made coleslaw, creamy herbed pork chops, and rice for dinner, plus some of my parents' homemade apple juice (amazing).

Eric was gone playing Ultimate and then watching Dio's and Inga's soccer games. The kids didn't get back until after 9:30 pm! Then they had to eat dinner and shower...and of coures do all sorts of homework. I don't know how schools think that kids have time to do homework after being at school, or at school-related functions, for over 13 hours!
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Wednesday, August 30, 2023

2 days of breech & twins!

My life the past 2 days...

I did a full day of simulations on the back patio, with cornfields as far as the eye could see.

I got to listen to Kristine's Breech & Twins Master Class for the first time in person. I really enjoyed watching her teach and tell stories.

I'm going to sleep a whole bunch and then head home first thing tomorrow morning.
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Monday, August 28, 2023

A trail of four cities

Greetings from the Quad Cities! For you heathens who don't know your Midwestern geography, it's an area on the Iowa/Illinois border, on either side of the Mississippi River, with 4 cities all clustered together: Moline IL, Rock Island IL, Davenport IA, and Bettendorf IA.

My parents drove down from Minnesota to spend the afternoon and evening with me before I start teaching tomorrow. Our first stop was at the Moline visitor's center, where they do free bike rentals (yes, free!). We chose a bike trail loop that goes through all four cities and crosses the Mississippi twice.

Once we returned the bikes, we had some time to kill before dinner. So we wandered a few blocks over to the John Deere Pavilion because 'Merica, right? It was surprisingly fun to look at all of the tractors and other machinery. There was a huge convention visiting from Brazil, all wearing their John Deere polo shirts.

My dad got a kick out of sitting inside the $1.3 millon combine. It's quite overwhelming to see in person.

We ate dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant in the same downtown area. Yum!

Our evening ended with a really funny movie in my hotel room: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. So hilarious!

My parents have left me with several dozen quarts of canned goods and heaps of produce. I gave them several dozen empty mason jars in exchange. I think I came out the winner 🙂

Well, it's late and I have a big day tomorrow!
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Sunday, August 27, 2023

Potluck & Smores

The highlight of the day was a putluck dinner on the front porch, followed by Smores. The kids were running around playing tag and begging to stay "just 10 more minutes, please." I made a spinach & ricotta tart.

In preparation for this get-together, we mopped the porch floor and washed off the furniture. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dust and fine dirt. I love our porch floor, but the one big disadvantage is that you can't wash it off with a hose--there's nowhere for the water to drain!

I have yet another short trip tomorrow. As soon as I'm back home, it seems like I'm packing for the next one! I'm meeting my parents for the first day, since it's about halfway between both of our homes. We'll spend the afternoon and evening together, hopefully much of it on bike. They're going to send me home with lots of fresh garden produce and homemade apple sauce, apple cider, etc. Then I have two days of breech workshops before I head home.
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Saturday, August 26, 2023

A real Saturday

Today felt like a proper Saturday. For me, that means several hours pulling weeds until my arms are shaky and sore and I'm covered in dirt and sweat.

Dio had an early morning soccer practice, Ivy a more reasonable morning practice, and then Inga had a game about an hour away in the afternoon (Eric went with her). I did a big grocery shopping trip and tried to pretend I wasn't seeing the prices. Everything is so much more expensive.

While Eric and Inga were gone, Dio and Ivy and I rode our bikes to a clothing store because he needed more shorts and a sweatshirt. It's in a big strip mall near the grocery store, which we usually drive to, but there's a back way that's reasonably safe. So we said, why not, let's take our bikes!

He found exactly what he was looking for and everything at very good prices. I also bought some lemon cookies for a little treat.

I started a big fire to burn up months of fallen branches. Not the best day for a fire--still pretty hot--but it's nice to get those things cleared up. I saved some branches since we're having people over tomorrow for Smores.

We had a big music and food festival rigth across the street, going from noon until 10 pm. Our town does this once a year and it's a big event. We love being outside listening to the live music and enjoying the ambiance.

My evening ended with a breech live session. Great day and very little of it on the computer!
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Thursday, August 24, 2023

Another hot day. I ran Ivy to school this morning and it felt like running through wet cotton.

I had a very productive work day, doing anything from payroll and reimbursements to course production and video editing.

Most kids' soccer practices were cancelled or delayed, so we actually had people home in the late afternoon!

What else? I baked sourdough bread today. My starter probably needs a few more days of feeding for maximum oomph since the bread was fairly flat. Delicious, though. I miss good bread.

I installed a bike rack and basket on Zari's bike. Dio's is next. They are each carrying two backpacks and a lunch bag and I hope this will make it a bit easier for all their gear.
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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

It's time to celebrate!

My co-author and I submitted our paper on the outcomes of 100 sets of twin births in a community setting. It's been a long project and I know it's taken me longer than both of us would have liked. But it's off and now we have to wait to see if the journal accepts it.

I also edited two new breech birth videos (both quick and easy)...did an hour-long debrief of another breech birth (neither quick nor easy)...it's been a productive day. Oh, and I slept terribly last night. Boo. I felt really weird and dizzy much of the day but that's likely due to lack of sleep.

What else? A lot of soccer games and practices were cancelled or rescheduled due to the heat. Eric was super disappointed because Zari had a game tonight that didn't happen. He and the two older kids are now watching the Republican presidential debate, aka American reality television. How many soundbites can you fit into a 30-second spiel? 1, 2, 3, go!

It was Eric's first day of teaching. Let's just hope we don't all melt off the face of the earth tomorrow with the highs reaching peak temperatures.

(A picture of the house we lived in and renovated in Iowa City. Our siding and paint are still looking great! They need to do some weeding and landscaping cleanup...but hey, so do I!)

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Tuesday, August 22, 2023

I'm back home after 5 hours of driving....10 hours counting yesterday. I don't want to drive anywhere for a while!

Grand Rounds at UIHC went very well, I think, with great comments and discussion afterward. Then I gave an informal mini breech class to anyone who was interested, including a review of normal upright breech birth and an introduction to the maneuvers, including an opportunity for everyone to try each maneuver once.

Then I hopped in the car and drove home. I slept terribly last night, so I had to caffeinate myself in order to not fall asleep. I'm so glad to be back. I am so tired right now that I'm having a hard time composing coherent sentences. Bonne nuit!
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Monday, August 21, 2023

Iowa City!

It's fun, and strange, to be back where I did my PhD. I've been back a few times since, but each time very briefly on the way to somewhere else. Things are bigger than I remember.

I walked past our old house and took some pictures to show Eric (hopefully they weren't home wondering why some random person was photoing their house!).

The 5-hour drive wasn't too bed. So many signs about guns and Jesus. So many semi trucks.

I had dinner with 4 of the UIHC midwives. The midwifery program has grown substantianlly, from 2 or 3 CNMs when I was there to I think 13 now. They're even starting a midwifery program this year!

I was hoping to walk around more this evening, but dinner went long enough that it's fully dark. The food was delicious and the conversation was very interesting.
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Sunday, August 20, 2023

Summer is coming!

We've had our windows open and the AC off every day except one since we arrived back home. The nights have been refreshingly cool for August and the daytime temperatures very moderate. But a big heat wave is coming this week. We closed up the windows this morning and are ready for temperatures hitting 100F / 38C (with nearly 100% humidity) by Thursday. Oof! I am very glad to have AC for times like this. We keep our house around 78-80 F / 26-27 C when it's too hot to have the windows open.

I walked 2.5 miles home from church this morning (I usually don't attend in the States but I wanted to say hello to everyone). It was HOT walking home. And in this town, it's very unusual to walk places, especially towards the outskirts of town. I feel like a specimen on display at an archaeological site. "On our right, observe a middle-aged human female perambulating without any motorized assistance. A strange sight for sure, not often spotted in the wild..."

After lunch, Eric went off to play Ultimate Frisbee while the rest of us relaxed. Zari had a documentary to watch for school ("I Am Not Your Negro" about James Baldwin--chosen by her). It's so powerful and she was very moved by it.

I made dinner (country tomato bisque) and was super excited to see a message from my cousin's daughter, the one who stayed with us in France for 3 months during the pandemic. "Hey, I happen to be driving from Boston out West and will be passing right through your town this evening. Can we stop and say hi?" She is newly married so we got to meet her husband, feed them dinner, and catch up before they had to get on the road again.

The kids were so excited to see their cousin again. What an unexpected treat. And...I happened to have enough lemon cheesecake left for the whole family--this was her favorite dessert from when she was staying with us in France.

I'm taking a very quick trip to Iowa City to give Grand Rounds at UIHC as well as teach a short breech course immediately after. I'm very excited to return by to my PhD alma mater! I'll definitely drive by the house we lived in on Summit Street (and renovated, of course!). This was pre-children so we could do our PhD work during the day and then renovate long into the night. I'm still amazed at all that we did on that house. I'll have to hunt down some pictures!
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Saturday, August 19, 2023

Soccer tournament & pool party

Eric was gone all day at Dio's soccer tournament. They only played one game, but the first was right away in the morning and the second was the last one. Eric went shopping at Aldi during one of the breaks (he was about 45 minutes away, where things like Aldi acutally exist!).

We had a relaxed morning. Zari read a book, Inga rested (she was still feeling sick), Ivy played and worked on making a fairy garden, and I cleaned the attic and took care of emails.

In the afternoon, all of us girls went to a birthday pool party just out of town. All three swam, some of them for almost 4 hours! I dunked myself twice but otherwise enjoyed sunning myself on a lounge chair and chatting with the other moms, who I've known for years. (And we finally got one dad coming towards the end; he's building a hurdy gurdy from a kit and learning how to play it. Interesting conversation!).

We watched a fantastic movie this evening: Hunt For the Wilderpeople (2016). It's a must-see.

If there's anyone local who needs a free home birth kit, let me know! I have an unused one from Precious Arrows that someone gave to me.

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Friday, August 18, 2023

Le gastro

Something is making the rounds in the Freeze family. Zari was up several times last night with a stomach bug and woke us up a bit before 6 am to inform us. She had a 6:30 am soccer practice that we encouraged her to skip in order to rest and see if she would feel well enough to go to school. She felt better and decided to try.

Meanwhile Inga came home from school with an upset stomach and a fever. She couldn't get warm, even under a few blankets, so I cuddled up with her...and took a nap. Oops.

Ivy and I biked around town going birthday present shopping for her friend. They're having a pool party tomorrow and the whole family is invited.

I took a few hours' break from breech work this afternooon and pulled thousands of weeds. Our brick driveway in the back area is completely covered, every crack. I pulled out at least 75% of all of those weeds. Crack by crack, brick by brick.

We watched "Heart of Stone" tonight. Inga was sick enough that even an over-the-top action movie was boring for her. "Ugh, how much longer is this movie going to take?"
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Thursday, August 17, 2023

More meetings, more video editing. I'm tired from walking or standing up all day.

Zari played in her first soccer game and scored 2 of the 4 goals and helped her team win! She came home in very good spirits (Eric, too!).

We had a dramatic rainstorm this afternoon; it got so dark around 1 pm that I had to turn the lights on to see my desk.

That's about it for news. Good night!
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Wednesday, August 16, 2023

So many meetings!

I had 3 meetings today (hour-long interview with someone from CNN about our renovations in France, hour-long meeting with a data management person in South Africa who is helping me with some Excel chart creatings, and a shorter meeting with someone who is interested in being a social media manager).

Between those meetings, I did video editing. I'm nearly done with this project (updated breech birth video analysis for our workshops).

I was so tired this morning, but I still dragged myself out of bed (because I had to) and went running (even though I didn't have to). I'm glad I did.

Ivy helped me run errands after school. We took our bikes and bought city trash stickers, deposited money at the bank, and cleaned up some trash in one of our rental properties.

Ivy had her first soccer practice today. Eric is super excited becuase Zari has her first game tomorrow in which she is playing. It's a home game, so he will be watching for sure. I will try to come if I can work it with the other kids' schedules.

Inga is building a storage cupboard for her STEM class, all out of cardboard. She figured out how to build a drawer on the bottom. Then on top there's a shelf with two doors. We spray painted everything this evening.
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Tuesday, August 15, 2023

I walked many miles today, going nowhere (on my treadmill desk). Most of my day I did video editing.

I'm glad Ivy bikes to school in the mornings--it forces me to exercise first thing. She could go by herself, but I enjoy accompanying her.

We had a Wabash family picnic tonight, except the oldest 3 children were gone at soccer practices or games! I took some food home for them.

We got our family pictures back that we took at Lake Tahoe. I had to include a picture of my brother and his dog because they are just too adorable. He had just chopped about 12" of hair off--he stopped getting his hair cut at the start of the pandemic. After a while, his hippy Jesus hair got to be way too much. My sister gave him this haircut during the reunion.

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Monday, August 14, 2023

25th Anniversary!

Today snuck up on me. With the conference the past 4 days, I had lost track of what day it was until Eric said this morning, "So do you want to do something today?"

I had to count the days of the month...and I realized it was our 25th wedding anniversary! The most exciting thing we did all day was buy and install a new fridge in one of our rental apartments. We still have to drop off the new fridge at the recycling center. Oh, and we also pulled weeds from between the bricks in our driveway. We definitely know how to celebrate 🙂

I'm trying to find some digital pictures of the two of us but all I have are old-fashioned prints & negatives. I did find this one in my wedding dress (that I made of course! without a pattern!) One of the most recent pictures that has Eric and me in the same frame is from hiking in Lake Tahoe. Sorry, no smoochy anniversary selfies today!

Maybe we'll actually do something official later this week. Tomorrow is a Wabash family picnic so that evening is already scheduled.
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Sunday, August 13, 2023

Back home

I'm back from the Breech & Twins Conference in Louisville! Whew. What an amazing and exhausting 4 days. I'm already excited for next year's conference.

I'm thankful to be back with my family and to not be freezing cold. I wore summer clothes, stupidly optimistic that the hotel temperatures would not be at refrigerator level. So I spent all 4 days wrapped up in my colorful scarf trying to stay warm 🙂

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Thursday, August 10, 2023

Breeches and twins!!!

I'm at the Louisville Twin-Breech Conference. I had an easy 3-hour drive, assisted by podcasts and medicinal drinks to keep me awake. (I take that very seriously since I have fallen asleep at the wheel and it's not fun.)

Sorry for the lack of pictures but I was either conferencing or working on tomorrow's presentation.

Bonne nuit!!
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Wednesday, August 09, 2023

First day of school! (way too early)

Our kids always get the short end of the stick with summer vacation--France goes later and the US starts earlier, which means 1 month of vacation instead of 2.

But they were in good spirits to start school today. It was Dio's first day of high school. He and Zari set off on their bikes, loaded up with 2 backpacks and 1 lunch bag each. It turned out to be a terrible day for biking because we had a huge storm arrive in the late afternoon, and it was pouring with flood warnings. Eric kindly picked them up after soccer practice. They were so grateful; they figured they'd have to ride home in the downpour.

Ivy was set to bike, but when she got her bike out of the garage, the back tire was totally flat. Eric had just pumped it up two days prior, so that means there's a hole somewhere. She and I ended up jogging to school loaded up with her supplies.

Ivy has one of Zari's old teachers. Inga loves her language arts teacher.

I'm getting ready to head to the Breech & Twins Conference, hosted by Beloved Holistics. So excited to see many of my favorite breech people! "You're leaving already?" the kids said tonight. Yes, but at least not for very long.

I had errands to run this evening--things for the conference, things for the kids, things for the drive to the conference.
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Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Back home

We had a red-eye flight from San Francisco on Saturday night, after a fun day driving from Lake Tahoe with stops at Muir Woods National Monument and Point Bonita Lighthouse. These stops were spur-of-the-moment and we're so glad we visited both places. I never imagined that my kids would be seeing the giant redwoods or driving over the Golden Gate Bridge!

We arrived home at noon on Sunday, completely exhausted. We did some quick unpacking and then all went to sleep for a few hours. 

Yesterday was more unpacking and settling back in after being away for 7 months. I rode bikes with Zari and then with Dio to their high school. They have soccer practice even before school starts (tomorrow) and they need to get themselves from point A to point B. I biked for over 80 minutes between the two round trips! 

Today we got school supplies and unpacked several more boxes. The house is still in a bit of upheaval, but I hope that will settle soon once everything finds its proper place. 

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Friday, August 04, 2023

Spencer Family Reunion, Day 7: Eagle Rock and swimming in the Truckee River

We had a short hike up to Eagle Rock for a beautiful view of Lake Tahoe. I still can't grasp the immensity of the lake.

We made a quick stop at the public library so we could print our passes to a national monument that we want to visit tomorrow.

We had an idyllic afternoon swimming in the Truckee River. We found a spot with a deep swimming hole and shallow parts for the little kids. The water was warmer than the lake. Eric has been feeling sick the past two days, so he went back to the car to sleep. (You know he's sick when there's a body of water and he does not go in! The same thing happened yesterday at Donner Lake.)

My mom and several of us siblings went into Tahoe City to check out their street fair, which was cute but verrrrry small. We popped into a grocery store to get some things to eat and ended up with a delicious dinner of everything that caught our eye: cheese, crackers, charcuterie, olives, fruit, jam, bake at home rolls and pretzel bites...yum.

We're busy packing up tonight. Our suitcases are stuffed. Each of us just has one carry-on. Normally Eric and I only bring one change of clothes, but since we had 2 1/2 weeks of reunions, we needed to bring a bit more. Same for the kids, plus Zari and Dio have grown so much that they don't have any clothes back in the States.
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Thursday, August 03, 2023

Spencer Family Reunion, Day 6: Transcontinental railroad, petroglyphs, and Donner Lake

We visited several tunnels of the original transcontinental railroad, completed in 1868 in a famous race between the East and the West. Most of this work in CA was done by Chinese immigrants. the railroad was rerouted several decades ago, and now the tunnels are frequented by hikers and mountain bikers and graffiti artists.

These tunnels are near Donner Pass and have a view of Donner Lake, where the Donner party was stranded during the winter of 1846-47 and where many died of starvation awaiting rescue. Only 48 of the original 87 members survived.

We looked at some petroglyphs between two of the tunnels; they are a few thousand years old. No one knows what they mean anymore.

Next, we headed to Donner Lake, stopping by the museum to learn more about the Donner party and other history of the area. Then we picniced and swam in the lake. It's strange to think that such a beautiful area was the side of such suffering and desperation. The dreaded cold and snow now delight skiers, sledders, and snowshoers.

We had family pictures right before dinner. I snapped a few informal ones while we were waiting our turn with the photographer.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Spencer Family Reunion, Day 5: Eagle Lake

We had a short, beautiful hike up to Eagle Lake, far above Emerald Bay. Almost everyone came except for the baby (my older sister is fostering a newborn). The views here feel like a computer simulation; it's so beautiful that it feels unreal.

Eric brought his snorkeling gear--of course--and promptly jumped into the icy cold lake. He found a drone about 20 feet down! We're drying it out and hoping that we can recover some footage from it. Not likely...but you never know! Wouldn't it be amazing to see the epic crash?

We had a laid-back afternoon. A small group of us went back to Sugar Pine Point for some late afternoon swimming and crayfish hunting. I swam for a while with one of my sisters--the cool water feels amazing.
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Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Spencer Family Reunion, Day 4: Treetop adventure & doggy fun

Everyone except the youngest children and my dad met to do a treetop zipline adventure park. It was really fun but the one we did in France this spring was way better, way bigger, and way less expensive. These harnesses allowed us to hang upside down, which quickly became our favorite way to do the ziplines (Pictures of me and Zari doing a sort of Spiderman pose). I didn't get very many videos since I didn't have my phone with me.

We had lunch at the cabin and then headed back to Meek's Bay. It's one of the few places where dogs are allowed (along one side), and it's very close to the road. This allowed my brother (with the fractured vertebra) and his dog Sasha to come. Inga managed to get Sasha to stay on the paddleboard! Sasha would much rather be swimming in the water and fetching his toy.

The only one in our family who swam today was Eric. The rest of us weren't quite feeling up to it, plus we had some intermittent clouds.

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