Thursday, February 29, 2024

Chamonix ski week, Day 5: Sun and avalanches!

We decided to do something different this morning and headed to Brévent-Flégère, a pair of south-facing resorts high above the city of Chamonix. We have skied there in previous years, just in one small area of Flégère and never in Brévent. Because it is in full sun all day, we knew the snow would be soft.

The two resorts are connected by a gondola that goes across a valley. We headed up on the Flégère side, traversed over to Brévent via a very steep and slushy red run, and then skied all of the reds on the Brévent side. We skipped the blues since they would be too easy and too crowded. There was one big black run at Brévent that we also skipped, since the snow was so bad.

We headed back to the Flégère side, getting frustrated at the long wait times for the return gondola and the little chairlift that brough us back up to the base level. We did one last red run and then took the gondola back down to the valley. Lunch time...and time to head back to Les Grands Montets, where the snow is still amazing (higher elevation and north-facing = great snow).

We had a fantastic afternoon of skiing the upper runs. The most exciting thing of the day was seeing an avalanche happen in real-time just across one of the valleys. I heard a big booming, rumbling noise and saw the avalanche start pouring down. Now we've officially seen two avalanches in Chamonix: one of rocks (back in 2016 when we were hiking in the late spring) and one of snow.

My parents took a day trip up to the Aiguille du Midi, which they quite enjoyed. We tried to go a few years back--it was included in our ski pass--but the weather was so bad that it was never open the entire week!

We have a half day of skiing tomorrow and then we have to head home early. Eric is bringing the Wabash socccer team over to Nice during their spring break, and they arrive at 11 am on Saturday. Driving back to Nice at 4 am that day would be cutting it close, so we decided to head back on Friday afternoon instead.
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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Ski week in Chamonix, Day 4: More clouds!

We thought we would have a mostly sunny day, but instead we had clouds most of the day. They moved a lot--sometimes lower, sometimes higher, but never entirely gone.

But it was a great ski day anyway. We had a few runs where we couldn't see anything.

In the afternoon, we traversed and then hiked waaaay high in order to find fresh powder with no ski tracks.

Eric thinks he may have cracked a rib 2 days ago. He was traversing on top of some big boulders along a very narrow path and his skis slipped off. He fell onto a big boulder, bounced off it, and then landed in the powder. It hurts a lot when he sneezes, does jumps, lies on it, etc.

Zari was feeling under the weather this morning, but she still came and ended up staying the whole day.

My parents went on a few hikes today. One of them ended up having too much snow--they would have needed snowshoes or crampons.
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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Ski week in Chamonix, Day 3: Plan A & B

By yesterday evening, I was tired and sore and wondering how I could handle another day of skiing. And then I woke up somewhere around 3 or 4 am and never got back to sleep. I was Grumpy Rixa in the morning. But things improved. I had plenty of energy all day and even felt better than the day before. We started out by going to a different resort just up the valley (all part of the same ski pass). We usually ski there once every year. We went up the gondola to the base, took the main chairlift up, and promptly decided that we were Les Misérables. It was horribly windy and cold. The snow wasn't great, either, and there were still long lines. Ugh. So we headed straight back down after just one run. We drove back to our favorite resort because we knew the snow was good and it was protected from the wind. We ate an early lunch on the way so that we could ski the rest of the day without interruption. There was a heavy cloud cover starting at 2200m altitude, just above the middle area of the resort (where the first gondola ends and the next set of gondolas and chairlifts depart). We knew what that meant--skiing blind! We first stayed right under the cloud over, taking the smaller chairlift runs and doing fun jumps, etc. Then I convinced the kids to go all the way to the top via gondola and ski down. They reluctantly agreed, and once we entered the dense clouds, they wanted to back out. Nope, we were doing this! We broke out of the clouds just as the gondola reached the top. (Cue angelic singing--it was amazing to see). We traversed over to our favorite area, still largely unskied. We had a few glorious moments of deep powder skiing...and then we entered the Clouds of Doom. We could hardly see each other and not at all where we were going. Fortunately we had skiied off-trail enough in this area to know that eventually we'd find our way back to the run and that we were pretty unlikely to hit any cliffs or drop-offs. We still had to be careful about avoiding rocks and tricky spots. We were all relieved when we spotted the red poles marking the run. We still had to ski very slowly since we couldn't see anything at all! But we stuck together and, despite me having a weird moment of vertigo while skiing while essentially not being able to see anything, we made it down. We did the middle chairlift runs again until it was time to head home. We all had plenty of energy left so we skied the last long run all the way to the very bottom. It went from winter skiing at the beginning to slushy spring skiing at the end! We went in the hot tub, ate dinner, watched Doctor Who, and (poor Dio) did some homework. I handwashed laundry in the bathroom sink and I think we're set for the rest of the week except a pair of socks here or there.
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Monday, February 26, 2024

Ski week in Chamonix, Day 2

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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Ski week in Chamnoix, Day 1

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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Hello from Chamonix-Mont-Blanc!

We made it here with some delays and other (mis)adventures...first off, my mom got all the way to the rental car agency (a 30-40 minute drive) and realizing at the ticket counter that she could did not bring her passport and could not rent a car. Eric had to drive her back to our house, pick up the passport, and drive her back, then drive back home again. Then we had a number of traffic jams. But we got in just after 6 pm, in two cars and all in one piece.

The apartment we are renting is near our favorite resort. And the most fun thing--it has a balcony with a hot tub! Eric forgot his swimsuit, though. I have a pair of running capris that I offered to lend to him. I spent a long time in the tub with Ivy, Inga, and Dio.

On the down side, there is no washing machine. We'll be doing a lot of handwashing. I cannot understand why you'd have apartment with no washing machine! We can barely go a day without doing a load of laundry. We certainly did not have space to pack 7 days' worth of clothes, plus all of the coats, snow pants, boots, skis, poles, etc. And food for 8 people for a week. It was truly a huge load that we packed into the cars.
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Friday, February 23, 2024

We're mostly packed for ski week! The goal is to leave tomorrow morning around 9 am and we'll see how close we get to that goal...

I did a bit more hanging-out-the-window-on-a-harness this morning. Some meetings, some video editing, lots of errand running.

And a fun break mid-day to eat at a restaurant with my parents and someone who contacted us after reading the CNN article.
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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Just another morning, no big deal, I strapped myself into climbing equipment and stood on a window ledge a few floors up to do some repairs around the windows.

My dad was very concerned when he heard what I was going to do. "Don't worry, I am over-engineering everything!" I used 1-ton towing straps as my support and caribiners rated at several hundred kilos. "I will be fine."

Ivy had a fantastic time at the school Carnaval. Zari has been expressing a desire for a costume and finally she pulled everything out of our bin (not many choices here). Nothing was quite right. So she got creative and made herself a newspaper costume. Pictures tomorrow if I can remember!

I had several hours of breech meetings in the afternoon.

It rained all day, sometimes just a sprinkle (when I went running this morning) and other times a downpour. Poor Dio was a soccer practice and came home squelching.
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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Ivy's school is celebrating Carnaval tomorrow. She and I went hunting for supplies to make a flower crown. We found the perfect flowers (artificial, sorry!). She helped me make the base out of twisted electrical wires, then she painted it with gold paint. Then she and my dad attached all of the flowers.

Eric got all the ski clothes out of the attic. Our living room is now overflowing with coats, snow pants, gloves, and hats.

The box hiding the water/electric is totally done! I put the last coat of poly on this evening. Now on to converting an antique dresser into a sink...
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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

I gave a Grand Rounds presentation for a hospital in Nelson, New Zealand (on the South Island) verrrry early this morning. I was so excited about it that I inadvertently work up at 3 am instead of 6 am and couldn't get back to sleep!

So yeah, I've been extra tired today.

In fact I'm so tired that I can't think of much else to say. I did rouse myself in the afternoon to help my dad build and install two door jambs.
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Monday, February 19, 2024

We have a box! And a papa!

Ugh, this box around the plumbing and electric looks so simple. But it was not! It took us so long to get everything fitting just right. Nothing is square or level or straight, of course. But it's finally put together. I filled the screw holes with wood putty. Tomorrow we'll sand and apply polyurethane.

Eric came home mid-afternoon, his 2nd trans-Atlantic trip in 2 weeks. He is exhausted.

I have a 7 am Grand Rounds (7 pm in New Zealand!) tomorrow morning. Better get to bed...
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Sunday, February 18, 2024

We had a different Sunday: watching Dio's team play a soccer game and then a potluck apéro with the players and families afterward. The 3 girls came along. I enjoyed time to sit in the sun and read and watch the kids play.

Zari was bored and worried that the potluck thing would take all afternoon. But it turned out to be more of just drinks and snacks and a few short speeches. After the coaches had their turn, they asked the team captian to speak. And then, unexpectedly, they had Dio speak as well! We were all quite surprised.

We watched more Doctor Who this afternoon and did homework and studying into the evening.

Eric comes back from his fundraiser trip tomorrow. Then we have one week here until it's school vacation and SKI WEEK!!!

Also a random picture on my phone from Inga, who carved away the chocolate background on her petit écolier.

Carnaval started yesterday and Nice is thronged with tourists. My mom got stopped and asked for directions twice today!
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Saturday, February 17, 2024

Most of my day was taken up with soccer, bringing Ivy and her teammate to their game in Villeneuve Loubet. Unfortunately, her team did not play well at all and they lost 2-6. But it was a beautiful sunny day and I enjoyed the enforced relaxation.

Meanwhile Inga had a game at Cavigal that my parents attended. Her team won 4-1, with Inga scoring a beautiful header.

I left Zari and Dio with instructions to a) fold the laundry and b) go outside and get some exercise and fresh air.

Once were all back home in the late afteroon, we had fun watching lots of Doctor Who, eating dinner, and then playing games/talking. I made a chocolate tart for Dio's game and potluck, to which we are all invited. He won't be playing in it, even though his coach wants him to, because he's considered a "mid-year transfer" and they can only play one transfer at a time. The other transfer is their main goalie. But the whole team is invited, and families, for the game and picnic.

I thought this poster at Ivy's game was funny, and a bit sad. Evidently there's enough of a problem with the soccer dads that they had to make a poster!

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Friday, February 16, 2024

Showers and street concerts

We have a shower! I am just about to go try it out. The kids approve--a few have already used it.

We still have to install boards underneath to hide the all the other things in that room. But hey, one thing done!

There was a great street concert tonight at the art gallery across from us.

I got yelled at by a guy who I had double-parked behind (there are a few spots where it's common to double park; you leave your phone number on the dashboard and they call if they need to get out. Common practice here in Old Nice). But this guy was furious. I knew I was going to get a very French yelling as soon as he called.

I won't repeat all the things he said, but one of them was, "Next time you park behind me, I'm going to run my car into yours and I'm going to break your windows! Are you ok with that?" I said, "No, I'm not ok with that. That's not very nice."

He kept going but I just got in the car and told him again that it wasn't very nice to say he was going to smash my windows in and that I did not agree to it. Anyway that was definitely the most exciting part of my day.
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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Busy day. Eric was up suuuper early to travel to a big fancy fundraising event for the Masion Baldwin (nonprofit dedicated to honoring the legacy of James Baldwin). I drove Dio to soccer, did some renovations, worked on the breech book, etc. I need to find a better parking spot tomorrow morning. Bonne nuit!
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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

I promised myself that I wouldn't stay up too late. So here's my quick post for today.

I did just a little work in the shower area. My dad and I hung up the other glass sliding door. Then we cut a few pieces of the wood that will box in the utility lines. Lots of head-scraching, measuring, making templates, etc.

I was going to go running, but I had to wait for someone to come pick up ski boots. By time that happened, it was halfway through the morning so I just started my day without exercise. I know I should, and I like how I feel the rest of the day. But sometimes it's hard to give up the time because I have so much else that I need to be doing!

The girls all had soccer. I took a walk with Eric in the later afternoon. He needed to find some pants or jeans. It was so gorgeous out! Ack, why am I stuck indoors all day
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Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Lots of work on the book, a little work on the shower door. We stopped when we had to silicone a threshhold piece. In theory, our shower faucet arrives tomorrow...we'll see if that actually happens.

Ivy has some funny boy drama at school. Someone in her grade asked her, via a note, if she would be "en couple" with him. The note said to check yes or no. She created a third option and wrote a long paragraph explaining that she's way too young to be having couple relationships and that's it's nothing personal--she would say that to anyone who asked. I was cracking up as she described what she wrote.

Also there was some stinky drama involving a kid in her class--half 5th graders and half 1st graders--who pooped in his pants and it smeared all down his leg and he was showing it to everyone and then throwing his pencil case and disrupting everything.

Zari is busy memorizing more things for her geopolitics class. I don't like how much rote memorization there is here. Now I know lots about the evoultion of suffrage in France, from antiquity to the mid-1960s. I have to follow along as she practices reciting these long passages.
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Monday, February 12, 2024

Paper submitted!

This afternoon I got our journal article (about 100 sets of twin births at home) submitted to the journal. Now we wait...But it was such a load off my chest to have this thing DONE.

The rest of the day I worked on the breech book. It's going to be so fantastic! I just wish I could copy+paste myself about, oh I don't know, 10 times because there's so much to be done.

I went running for the first time since my varicose vein removal. No issues at all and none the worse for wear after my hiatus.

I came along to the "coach Eric" soccer practice this evening so I could run to the big home improvement store. It's a good time to do so, since we already have the car out and it's kind of close to the freeway. I picked up lumber to build shelves in the basement and a few other things.

I was going to buy paint for the hallway, but I discovered that the paint mixer not only goes on 2-hour lunch breaks, it also goes on a permanent dinner break at 6 pm! Seriously, what is up?!? This is the largest home improvement center in the entire metropolitan area and they can't even mix paint at lunch time or after 6 pm? I was SO frustrated. They still have several employees at the paint counter but the mixer...well, it's done for the night.
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Sunday, February 11, 2024

Triplets! (not ours, don't worry)

Eric got home mid-day, a bit before we came back. I made the kids walk to/from church because there was no way I was driving now that I had a good parking spot!

I had a breech live session this evening that was very exciting--home birth of triplets. We were joined by the parents (just one week postpartum) and two of the midwives. A fun part of my job!

It was so nice to see the sun today after all that rain. Eric and I went on another walk in the afternoon.

I made chipotle black beans but didn't have time to finish before my live session started. However, the chipotles in adobo sauce and the garlic were in her apartment, so I emailed her instructions on what to add to finish the recipe. She didn't see the email so she just served it, thinking it was ready. I came out of the live session and realized what had happened! I am so sorry for bland black beans! The leftovers are now well-seasoned :)

Photo: Kristine Marie Lauria
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Saturday, February 10, 2024

Sweet treats

We had a lovely surprise this evening when I picked up two "panier surprise" (surprise bags) from a nearby bakery. They are always generous but tonight was exceptional. We came away with 1 large cheesecake, 2 loaves of bread, 1 loaf of brioche, 2 large sandwiches, 1 piece of pizza, 1 apricot tart, 2 jelly-filled donuts, 2 big pains au chocolat, 4 mini pains au chocolat, 2 croissants filled with creme patisserie, 2 madeleines, 4 mini donuts, 2 chocolate chip cookes, 2 canelés, and a sweet bun. All for under 8 Euros!

Eric is traveling back from his conference. He had an issue with his passport--it's still valid but is getting close to expiring. But he couldn't renew it before the conference because it would have taken too long to process (you have to mail in your old one when you apply, leaving you without any passport for 2 months or more.) They let him board but he's hoping he will be allowed to continue, since he's coming back to his place of residence.

It rained all day again. But laundry must be washed and dried. The one load already out, well, that one has gotten washed about 10 times now! But today's load is draped over chairs, doors, and any other available surfaces.

Inga had another sleepover last night and spent more of the day with her friend. They went to the mall (Nice Etoile) this afternoon and got matching sweatpants and sweatshirts as part of her friend's upcoming birthday present.

Zari has been working for several weeks on an oral presentation about the idea of "wilderness" for her geopolitics class. She gave it yesterday and got a 19/20! That is an amazing grade in France. Her teacher liked it so much that he requested a copy and put it up for the whole class to read. She had been stressing about it so much and at one point this week, was ready to throw it all in the trash. "It's no good at all!" I reassured her that it was very good.
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Thursday, February 08, 2024

New couch! (but no pictures...sorry...)

Our old couch and chair got picked up by the city street dept this morning and the new one came about an hour later. Dio helped me carry up the boxes and I assembled it. It's definitely different than our old set!

I'll try to take pictures tomorrow.

I had a very interesting afternoon--we had an orchestral group of 9 string instruments (1 bass, 2 cellos, 4 violins, and 2 violas) being filmed by 2 videographers in Le Chateau. We had to move the couch into the kitchen to make room for everyone. I wish I had some pictures or videos but alas, I do not! It was quite the adventure.

I'm not entirely clear why the filming, but it's part of a private dinner concert in April and I guess the person hiring the group wanted a promotional film of it as a sort of teaser? Anyway the violinist in April couldn't come today, so I subbed in.

I brought Dio to soccer this evening. He's not sick any more, although he has a lingering couch. He did ok, but I had to persuade him to go. He said that because he had to play slower because of his cough, it improved his technical performance. I'm now double-parked and I hope that I don't get called at 5 am to move the car!

Eric is giving his big presentation today, probably right now as I'm typing.

My parents and their friends took a day trip to Antibes. They had plans to visit the Picasso museum and then hike the sentier littoral.
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Wednesday, February 07, 2024

I was tired last night. I thought about writing my daily update, looked at my computer, shrugged, and went to bed.

Eric is off to a conference, where he will be talking about writing for video games and his new textbook called Story Mode. Dio was sick again, so I let him go back to bed. I finally woke him up at 11 am on my way to bring Ivy to soccer! He's feeling better than yesterday, so I think he'll be back in school tomorrow.

My parents have friends visiting for the next week. Ivy took them all out on a walking tour of Nice after she got home from soccer. I cooked a big pot of panang curry with pork, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions, and cauliflower.

I did more work on the breech book, got a bit of mudding and sanding done in various spots.

One thing I'm looking forward to--going to bed when I am tired. For me that's 10:30-11 pm. But Eric is more of a night owl so most nights we go to bed close to midnight, which is still a bit early for him and too late for me. Since our bedroom windows overlook the living room, it's hard to have separate bedtimes.

We get our new couch tomorrow! Our old one is downstairs in the front hallway, awaiting pickup by the city street dept tomorrow morning. For now I'm sitting in a solitary chair.
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Monday, February 05, 2024

It seems like the more we get done with our bathroom renovation, the more work we still have left! I primed the mezzaine, which was a long, messy job. The Zinsser BIN paint (shellac-based) is amazing stuff but it's as runny as water and it drips everywhere.

We did more wall prep for where we'll be building the boxes to cover up the plumbing and electrical conduits.

I'm making progress with my book editing, but likewise it seems that every I chapter I start to work on ends up generating 5x more new things to do before it's finished.

I'm very thankful for a relaxing weekend as this week is going to be crazy. Eric has a conference so I am shuttling the kids to all of the soccer practices and finding parking (which I am terrible at, ugh).
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Sunday, February 04, 2024

Rock exposition

We met up with friends at the beach this afternoon. Ivy and Inga went off with the other girls and did rock painting. 

Then they started burying themselves in the pebbles.

It was so good to catch up with our friends. We don't run into each other as much as we used to--usually we'd see each other mornings and afternoons at school pickup.

Dio stayed home--he's still feeling a bit unwell and he had lots of homework. Zari came for about a half hour at the end, once she had finished the bulk of her homework. She just submitted the outline for an oral presentation she's doing about "le wilderness."

We made cookies afterwards and one of Ivy's friends stayed to help.
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Saturday, February 03, 2024

"My job, it's just beach"

That sums up the best part of today: going to the beach and just sitting, relaxing, or napping. Eric and Inga and my dad were gone at a soccer tournament and Dio was sick, so it was just half of us at the beach.

I had a nice nap and serious indentations on my face when I woke up. I let Ivy take a picture.

Inga's team won 3 and tied 1 game, so they advanced to the next round. Inga scored a lovely free kick at very end, from quite far away, that won one of the games.

Dio missed his game today. He had a fever and slept most of the morning. But at least it was a friendly match and nothing too serious.
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Friday, February 02, 2024

I miss the days when the oldest kids were in bed by 8-8:30 pm! Actually more like 7:30 pm for a while :) Zari and Dio are up chatting with us and I'm so tired that I'm begging THEM to go to bed so I can sleep!

Another busy day as usual. Renovation tasks included prepping the mezzanine/loft for painting (even more prep! it never ends)...setting up the new table saw...somehow managing to saw two 2.5 meter long and 60 cm wide boards in a little basement area, with just a few cm of clearance to pass the boards all the way through...fixing a broken step on the stairs leading to the loft...

Breech work included another InDesign tutorial meeting, creating photos/graphics for new store inventory, adding those items to the store, working on the book, answering emails...

My parents and I took a walk after dinner to my favorite local consignment store. There's a carpet I have my eye on but I'm not 100% sure about it. It was fun to just look at all the furniture. Some of it is just old, or beat up, but there are always gorgeous pieces in perfect condition mixed in with everything else. It's so amazing to see the craftsmanship here. It makes me want to buy ALL of the things. Maybe in another life I would be an antique furniture buyer and exporter. But not in this life.

Inga is at a sleepover and the house feels too quiet.

Ok, now I'm just going to put my PJs on and hope the kids go to bed some time.
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Thursday, February 01, 2024

Fundraiser perks

Look at what arrived! Some of our new fundraiser perks ( Dio claimed the hoodie and says it's very comfortable.

I got the grout haze cleaned off this morning and then my dad and I tackled yet more electrical problems left by a previous owner. We have them all fixed now. The other big task for today was prepping the loft/mezzanine for repainting. Everything is taped off now.
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Wednesday, January 31, 2024


Epoxy grout is applied, awaiting the final cleanup tomorrow with grout haze remover.

Next up: painting the mezzanine beams and ceiling since they have yellowed with time. Also getting the shower trap installed.

There's a strike tomorrow affecting the middle & elementary schools. Dio and Inga have several cancelled classes and Ivy will not have cantine.

I spent a while preparing orders for breech clinical scenario booklets and navigating various shipping companies.
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Tuesday, January 30, 2024

3 hours for 1 tile...

We got to work on laying the mosaic tile this morning...only to find that we were 1/2 sheet short! In my calculations I had bought one extra sheet of mosaic, but I must not have taken into account the interlock or something. Anyway we had to take a trip to Leroy Merlin for that one piece of mosaic.

While we were there, I had some other items that I had ordered that were ready for pickup. Normally it's a quick process: you drive to the warehouse (5 minutes away from the regular store), they check you in, you park your car, and in a few minutes they come and load your items.

But we waited...and waited...and waited. We could hear the team of employees talking about our missing order. Every so often someone would say that they were working on our order.

75 minutes later, one of the employees tells me that they cannot find the item (our shower faucet). It's lost somewhere in the warehouse. The only option is to re-order it and then have it shipped to our house. This will take 10-14 more days. Argh!!! We would be ready to install the faucet as early as Thursday.

Then we had to go to the actual store to pick up some other stuff, which always takes a while. I was going to get some paint mixed, but the paint machine was closed until 2 pm. (In France, even the paint mixers get lunch breaks!)

In all, it took well over 3 hours to get one stupid little piece of mosaic tile. My dad was with me and at least he's pretty upbeat about things. And our long wait at the warehouse was out in the full sun, so at least that part was pleasant. We leaned against the car and basked in the winter sun.

By dinner time, we had the whole shower tiled and now most everything is cleaned up. Floors are swept and triple-washed, most tools are packed up. Ready to grout tomorrow!

Picture of the shower and of our kitchen with the tile cutting station. And Dio at the table eating cereal amidst the chaos and mess.   

Meanwhile life went on for everyone else while my dad and I were working. I caught up on breech stuff once I was cleaned up. We all hung out at Le Chateau after dinner. It's so nice down there! We just want to spend all of our time there.

Also fun news--we ordered a new couch. Our old couch has been repaired about 5-6 times. The leather keeps cracking and ripping and my patches have a few layers of patches. The matching chair broke a while back. We fixed it. It broke again this year.

All this to say--definitely time for a new couch! We've been scouring the classifieds but we ultimately found something new on sale for an excellent price and it will be good enough. It's nothing fancy but it will give us lots more seating than we currently have.

Ivy and Zari were both feeling better this morning.
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Monday, January 29, 2024

Halfway tiled

We have 2 kids sick--Ivy and Zari. Ivy stayed home and Zari powered through school, but maybe she shouldn't have. I finally pulled out my thermometer and she had a fever close to 102 this evening. She went to bed early--unusual for her!

My dad and I had a big work day--tiling the shower! We are a bit more than halfway done. I am exhausted. Most of our work has been an hour here, an hour there, but today was all day.

We had to find a creative solution to the area where the mosaic tiles are going. If we just lay the mosaics as-is, they will be inset about 3 mm. So we built guides on top and bottom to be exacly 3 mm deep and then laid a coat of mortar between the guides, smoothing with a wide taping knife. (We had to get creative and glue together popsicle sticks, which when doubled were the perfect thickness!) We pried off the popsicle sticks right away so they wouldn't stay there permanently. By tomorrow, we'll have a flat surface for the mosaics and won't have to mess with excess mortar squeezing all over everything.

Eric and I went with a friend to look at a garage for sale. We think we can fit 2 cars in it, which would really help since we'd have two of us sharing the cost. It's about 7 minutes away on foot and right off the main road that we take heading in and out of Nice.

The house is in utter chaos right now since our tile-cutting station is set up in the kitchen. We have tarps taped to the walls and draped over the furniture to protect from the spray from the tile saw. I'm so eager to finish this project and reclaim our living spaces!
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Sunday, January 28, 2024

Zari is feeling feverish this evening, and my dad wasn't feeling well by the afternoon either. She is stressed because she feels like she can't miss school!

I brought Ivy to the beach this afternoon. I read and basked in the sun while she swam. She says the water is much colder than it was in late December (Eric says it's because she was swimming where a freshwater spring enters the ocean). She was in up to her waist for a good 20 minutes, but once she went all the way in, she only lasted a few minutes. Eric did a short spearfishing excursion but didn't catch anything.

Dio and Inga (and Eric) went to a crepe party this afternoon. Zari was invited, too, but she wasn't feeling well enough to go. My mom went by herself to a concert.

Ivy and I watched Nyad, a dramatization about the woman who swam from Cuba to the USA. It was ok--and actually, since I was also doing book editing, it was something great to have on for multitasking. Zari watched a bit but said it was too boring 🙂
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Saturday, January 27, 2024


Ivy and Inga both had big wins. I went to Inga's game against Monaco with my parents. They won 5-0 and Inga scored 2 of the goals. Ivy's team played in Antibes and they won 9-3.

I had my last home nursing visit today. Bandanges and compression hose come off tomorrow! I still have a nice bruise, 11 days post-op. I never got a good look at it right after the surgery becuase of all of the bandages. But if it's this bad must have been impressive on day 1 or 2!

We got the shower base installed and the last coat of waterproofing membrane applied. Then we got stuck because the drain kit I bought has a defect in one of the holes where the screws go and the screw won't go more than 2 turns. We tested the other holes and screws--it's definitely something wrong with that one hole, not with the screws. So anyway it's becoming a huge hassle for such a little thing.

My dad suggested buying a thread tap to get the hole working properly. "They're only a few dollars," he said. I laughed and told him, "I bet you that it's at least 12 Euros." He looked skeptical. I took a walk to the store--20 minutes at least on foot each way. They had a few single thread taps, but they were wrong kind. And they were 24 Euros each! A small set was 80 Euros and a large set was 129 Euros. My dad was shocked when I came back (empty-handed) and told him the prices.

I think I'm going to go back to plan A and return the defective drain kit. But that entails going all the way to Leroy Merlin...

Zari had her bac blanc for geopolitics this morning--4 hours of essay writing, totaling 8.5 pages between to exams. Phew. She came home looking optimistic. My mom treated her to ice cream this afternoon for having done so many big exams lately.
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Friday, January 26, 2024

With one big exam done today and another yesterday, Zari has her bac blanc in geopolitics tomorrow. She's stressed, understandably, because she has missed more than half of the lessons while she was in the States. She's trying to catch up but all she has are other students' notes.

I had more meetings today, did lots of work on the book, did a few putzy things around the house, went to the plumbing store for some parts. Honestly it's been a busy day but I am struggling to recall specifics. It doesn't help that it's almost midnight and my brain is mush.

We watched an episode of Doctor Who tonight down in Le Chatea. It's so fun to have another space to gather, and there is way more seating down there than in our apartment.

Eric and I looked at a parking spot for sale today. With about 80% of the parking in our part of Old Nice suddenly gone, we are all left scrambling. The closest place will likely find is 5-10 minutes' walk away. We looked at one that was in a good location, although we feel it's a bit overpriced.
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Thursday, January 25, 2024

Wow, it's been a super busy day! I had 4+ hours of meetings today: another InDesign tutorial, a meeting with another birth education organization that is interested in partnering with BWB, and a conference planning meeting for the 2024 Twins-Breech Conference in Louisville, KY.

My dad painted the first coat of waterproofing membrane...and then we ran out! None of the home improvement stores within walking distance carry it. So I ordered it on Amazon and we will do other things until it arrives on Saturday.

2 more days until my bandages can come off, I can stop wearing compression hose, and I can start doing sports. The nurse said I may even want to wait longer for really intense things like running or weightlifting.

Ivy's thumb is still swollen and sore. Inga went to a friend's house for dinner. Zari and Dio had soccer. I helped Zari study lots more dates this evening. She's getting closer! She also had a big philosophy test today. She definitely deserves a treat after the big exams tomorrow and Saturday!

Due to renovation work on the streets near us, almost all of the parking places have been removed. It's been a total nightmare finding a place to park now. We're actively hunting for garages/parking spots for sale.
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Wednesday, January 24, 2024

2 walls up!

It was a productive day. We got wall plugs drilled and mortared on the other wall, then we put both sheets of placo hydrofuge (green drywall) up. My dad got to see how to ahere drywall with mortar, which for Americans is SO WEIRD. Before dinner, my dad painted on the high-adhesion primer (primaire d'accrochage).

There were lots of little things to do in between--prepping some last little electrical cables so they didn't stick out, lots of cleaning and mopping. Tomorrow will be painting the two coats of waterproofing membrane. Then we're on to tiling! That will be Friday at the earliest. I also have lots of breech work at the moment so I can only do shorter bursts of work.

We had a Canadian family over for dinner, at the end of a 6-month stay in nice with their three children (one of whom is in Ivy's class). They came to Nice because they read Eric's book, which they got because Eric knows the husband's mother, who is a writer. All of these interesting connections! They also became friends with the Australian family who rented our apartment.

We've met so many interesting families during our time in Nice, and it seems many of them end up leaving. I wish there were a way to keep them all nearby!

I made a South African leaf curry for dinner. The recipe was from my walking tour guide in Bo Kaap, who got it from his mom or grandma. Some instructions were imprecise ("put some cinnamon and coriander with the onions") so we did our best to guess. I've made it a few times with great enthusiasm from the kids each time. This time we cooked it with bell peppers, zucchini, sweet potatoes, onions, and chicken, served over a brown rice mix that the kids adore. We also had salad (brought by the family) and cheese.

Ivy jammed her thumb during soccer. I found the wrist brace that Inga used during skiing last year. It's swollen and is quite painful, but we think it's probably just a sprain.

I helped Zari study a big list of dates. We've got a huge amount of studying coming up before Friday!
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Tuesday, January 23, 2024

We have plumbing!

Our plumber came today and got everything done in a few hours. We now have new water supply lines to the sink, shower, and kitchen, plus new drain lines.

My dad helped me prep the walls for the green drywall (cutting plugs into the plaster, filling them with MAP, and putting up the last piece of wood in the small framed-in area).

I made really good progress on book editing as well. Besides doing a general revision for language, wording, and updated content, I'm also adding references to each chapter. The first edition had a long list of references at the very end but no citations. So this is a big change in the 2nd edition. My chapter endnotes are, well, a bit terrifyingly long! It's a good thing but I worry this will double the page length of the book!

We ate tiramisu for dessert. I accidentally made it upside-down (I put the cream first, rather than the biscuits) but it was ok. I just flipped it over onto a plate right before serving and it was back to normal!

Zari is studying to memorize 8 pages of dates and events for geopolitics. She has a big test on Friday and another one on Saturday. It's hard for her becuase she has missed half of all of the lessons and she's learning names and dates and places that she has never studied before. It's hard to learn random facts without the background context.

Inga and her friend have signed a contract to become sisters. They wrote up this fancy sounding document, a "FICHE D’ACCEPTATION POUR DEVENIR FRÈRES/SOEURS."

Ivy is starting to plan her 11th birthday party, which will be Harry Potter themed, like Inga's. It's going to be epic. She and I designed the invitations tonight.
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Monday, January 22, 2024

I'm tired and I didn't even do anything physically active today--very unusual but I was just so busy with computer work. Mostly book editing.

The back of my leg is now a nice shade of greenish-yellow. It doesn't hurt unless I poke it, which is not surprising given that it's a great big bruise. It was a little painful the day after the surgery but nothing serious enough even for tylenol.

Zari has her bac de sport (musculation) tomorrow. She also has her bac blanc in geopolitics this weekend. So much pressure on her. Next school year in the US will be super easy! She'll already have done the French bac and will only have one class required for graduation.

Inga is working on math homework (triangles). I need to get her to bed--it's after 10 pm!
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Sunday, January 21, 2024

It was quite chilly (for Nice). 3° C (37 F) when I checked before my walk this morning. My dad even saw a few puddles of water iced over.

We had a potluck lunch after church. My mom made simple fajitas (black beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and salsa) and they were all gone within an instant!

We've been doing lots of homework and studying for quizzes, but we did have time to watch the final episode of Wheel of Time. It's been fun but honestly I could do without the gore. We're covering our eyes during the battle scenes. But the So fun. (Note to kids: it would be super fun to make Wheel of Time costumes...but maybe give me a break next Halloween!)

Eric got out all of our ski boots. We have 2 pairs to sell--Ivy is too big for them! Next up are the skis.
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Saturday, January 20, 2024

We got the living room wall sconces installed in Le Chateau. Now every light fixture is installed! What else? My dad applied the last coat of finish on the table & chairs.

We've had problems with some of the kitchen appliances in Le Chateau, so the repair technician came today. Now the fridge is working and we're waiting on a replacement part for the oven.

What else? Inga had a soccer game, playing with the under-15 team. They tied 2-2 and she felt good about how she played.

The other kids had instructions that they all had to go outside and exercise. They went running to the Negresco and back while I ran errands (not literally! No sports for me for 10 days).

We watched some Doctor Who and Wheel of Time as a family.
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Friday, January 19, 2024

We got a lot of lighting sorted out, tested, and installed in Le Chateau. Just 2 fixtures left! I'm so pleased with all of the old fixtures that we restored and/or rewired.

My dad's tooth, the one that broke last year, came loose again. We went back to the dentist and they reglued it temporarily, but it is just a patch job. The base of the tooth is starting to fracture more, which means he'll need an implant or a bridge as a permanent solution. Probably when he's back in the US.

Eric joined a bike repair coop and fixed his bike. It's an amazing service for just 20 Euros/year. You get access to all the tools, instruction from the poeple at the coop, and parts at reduced prices. We need to do this with the rest of our bikes, most of which have at least one thing wrong with them.

I'm super tired and I can't think of anything else to write. I'm sure other interesting things happened today but I guess they will never enter the historical record!
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Thursday, January 18, 2024

It's been a day filled with all sorts of things: little putzy chores in Le Chateau, several errands, and TONS of Zoom meetings.

My legs are definitely more painful today. I'm not surprised as it's a lot of tissue trauma. I had my first home visit with the nurse. She disinfected the surgical strips, replaced the bandages, and gave me the injection. It's a weird luxury to have a nurse do a house call!

It was unsually warm and windy today, with huge waves crashing against the shore.

I had a hard time falling asleep last night, probably due to all of that time spent being unconscious the day before. Here's to hoping it's better tonight!
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Wednesday, January 17, 2024


What a weird day. I am officially minus several veins on my left leg!

Last night I was feeling quite sick, fever and body aches. I worried that it would interfere with the operation today but it seemed to have settled down by time the vein removal started.

I arrived at Lenval Hospital at 10 am and went through the pre-op prep. I got shown to my room (shared with another woman having the same surgery--I saw a peek of her being wheeled to the OR as I was arriving). The nurses were very friendly and quite intrigued about my job as the president/researcher for BWB. One of them then launched into her birth story (vaginal birth of twins with an epidural, baby B breech). Her doctor told her, "The breech birth will be so easy! The baby will slide out right onto the table with its feet right there."

I had to gown up in those crinkly paper gown and underwear. So fun. Then it was my turn. I got wheeled on a gurney down a hall, into an elevator, and into the OR suite. Another wait, listening to a tiny baby crying in a nearby room, watching the staff bustle around. Then the anesthesiologist placed an IV.

The operation itself was suuuuper weird due to the sedation. When I got my varicose veins taken out the first time in the US, after Ivy was born, it was with local anesthesia only. No sedation. This time I had some inhaled sedation and hoo boy was it weird.

It only felt like a few minutes, but it was probably at least 2 hours of surgery. I heard people speaking but just sounded like incomprehensible noises. Most of the time I was under, but occasionally I surfaced enough to say, "Ça fait mal!" For some reason I was also tapping my first fingers rhymically whenever I "woke" up. I was lying on my stomach so I remember opening my eyes and seeing pulse ox on my left finger. There was one area behind my knee that needed extra local anesthetic, the doctor exlpained to me afterwards. At one point I remember saying, "Je vais vomir" and they brought me a puke bowl. I think they called it a bean ("haricot"). So bizarre the things I remember. At least I managed to speak in French!

Next I was brought to the "salle de réveil" or post-op room to wake up. I would open my eyes and the whole room would spin and I would pass back out again, over and over. Once they decided I was revived enough to go back to my room, I had to squeeze my eyes shut during the transport. It was making me feel nauseated!

Once I was settled into bed, I was so dizzy that I could hardly raise my head. The nurses stuck a blood pressure cuff on me, and the machine made some unhappy beeps and the nurses clucked at it. They tried the other arm. Same thing. I normally have low blood pressure and apparently it was off-the-charts low! They elevated my legs, put in an IV for some fluids, and left me to rest.

Eventually I was feeling well enough to try eating and drinking something. But I had to stay a few more hours than anticipated until my dizziness had passed completely. They made me walk around the hallway for a half hour to prove all was OK.

Eric and Dio met me at the tram outside the hospital at 4:20 pm. Fortunately it was raining all day so I didn't miss much back home.

We had an evening at home eating dinner (Budda bowls, thumbs up from everyone) and doing homework and watching one episode of Wheel of Time.

With my first varicose vein removal in the US, they sent me home with compression hose and instructions to wear them for 7-10 days and to walk a lot. Here, they sent me home with all of that PLUS like 8 prescriptions PLUS a prescription for 10 days of in-home nursing care to change the bandanges and give me blood thinner injections. I didn't fill the tylenol, but I did come home with all sorts of fancy bandages and sterile gauze and anti-scar cream and anti-bruising cream.

So anyway, that's my adventure in the French medical system!
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Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Sick, twice to the doctor

Well I took two trips to the doctor's but neither were for my own illness. Visit #1 was the pre-op visit to mark my varicose veins. Visit #2 was Inga's followup visit to discuss her x-ray. She doesn't have pneumonia, so it's just a severe case of bronchitis and something in her lower left lung. Inga's doing much better so I think she'll be back to normal in a few more days.

I'm feeling worse and worse. But I didn't really have an opportunity to rest today--just too many things going on. I did a lot of computer work, so it wasn't super physical. But still, serious mental concentration.

I get forced rest tomorrow during my varicose vein operation! It will be local anesthesia with light sedation and I can't do anything but lie down.

My dad has been refinishing our table & chairs downstairs. The original finish is so fragile that a single drop of water mars it. I want this set to last for a long time, so we're first doing a good cleanup and de-wax treatment (just in case), then applying a water-based poly so the wood is well-protected.

He also rewired some antique lights that we had given up on since they were fritzing and causing the circuit breaker to turn off every time. They are now fully functional! He is amazing.

And my mom has been so helpful, too, taking care of all grocery shopping and many meals. We're trying not to take advantage of her too much and still do some cooking...but on days like today, it was great to have her prepare dinner. It was Dio's favorite: salmon fennel soup, plus a raw broccoli & cabbage salad.
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Monday, January 15, 2024


I need a pep talk. I am feeling so overwhelmed that everything I need to get done that it's almost paralyzing. For example, the teeny tiny little issue of revising, expanding, editing, and designing the 2nd edition of our book. You know, just a small little thing. That's just one of about 25 things on my to-do list.

Please help!

I had a 3-hour tutorial with a graphic designer today, walking me through InDesign. She's so lovely and it has massively improved my ability to do things with that program. It's not very intuitive.

Eric and I are both feeling under the weather. He got up in the morning and promplty went back to sleep until noon. I would have liked to do that! But I had to much work to do.

After school, I brought Inga to her x-ray appointment. It was super efficient and cost us a grand total of 7.5 Euros. She has her followup visit with the family doctor tomorrow.

When we were walking to her appointment, Inga said, "Why do so many women wear makeup? It's just a weird thing if you think about it, and it must take so much time to put on." I agreed. And I told her, "You know, chances are that if I wore a lot of makeup, you probably would too when you grew up."

I have my pre-op visit with the varicose vein surgeon tomorrow to mark the veins with permanent marker. Then the vein removal is the next day.

I had to remove all of my leg hair today. I made my normal sugar wax but accidentally cooked it a few degrees too high, so it was way to hard to use. I tried plan B--electric trimmer--but it did not work very well. So I moved on to plan C: hair removal cream. (You're not supposed to use a razor pre-op and I don't like shaving my legs anyway.)
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Sunday, January 14, 2024

Trio, sunbath, meetings, homework

My mom is a lifelong violin teacher. She likes to organize musical events and being in France doesn't stop her. She's only been here for 10 days and already she organized a performance this morning at church (violin, bassoon, piano) with her, me, and a friend of ours who is a amateur bassoonist and ENT surgeon enjoying his retirement here in Menton. Wo be unto anyone who says no to her!

Most of us went out after lunch to sunbathe and read at the beach. Dio stayed home to work on homework, though. We got some lovely vitamin D therapy. Ahhhh...

Inga is looking less like death warmed over today. I think she's finally starting to get better rather than worse. She's still sleeping in the living room just in case she coughs a lot at night.

I had 2 breech meetings tonight. As soon as I got done, I was in demand for homework help. Zari has to learn hundreds of dates in the next 2 weeks in preparation for her "bac blanc" in Geopolitics. Inga is trying to catch up on the homework she missed while she was sick (Spanish, music). Dio was working on an essay for his French class about the play "Rhinoceros" by Eugène Ionesco.

I now know a lot about Zoë Saldaña (for Inga's Spanish presentation), taught Inga a whole bunch about homophony vs polyphony and about melisma (cue me singing Gregorian chants and the neighborhood call to prayer that I memorized when I was living in Jerusalem). I also know a lot more about European history now, from the 1555 Treaty of Augsbourg to the 1947 UN plan to divide Palestine and many dates in between. I also learned that Ionesco's play was a metaphor for how people succumbed to Nazism and totalitarianism; in the play, everyone but the main character gradually turn into rhinoceruses. The one who remains a human represents La Resistance, while the rest end up following the path of least resistance and going with the group, literally turning into a herd. (Ok, technically it would be a "crash" of rhinos, not a herd!)

Eric had a meeting tonight as well, with the Maison Baldwin foundation.

It's been quite the day!
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Saturday, January 13, 2024

Poor Inga sounds even worse today. We've had her sleeping in the living room the past two nights to not disturb Dio and Ivy with her coughing. She was up a lot last night--it was enough to wake me briefly during every coughing bout.

She hasn't figured out how to swallow pills yet, so we have to crush up the antibiotics and mix them into water or juice. I just want her to start feeling better soon! She's been sick for so long, and looks so pale.

Ivy had a soccer game in the late afternoon, otherwise we were home and not doing all that much. I lacquered all of the antique lights but, alas, one of the 4 glass shades broke and shattered! I don't know what to do now. The shade was broken into so many pieces I don't think I could repair it, and replacement is impossible. Even scouring ebay I haven't seen anything remotely similar...
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Friday, January 12, 2024

Is it pneumonia? bronchitis?

Inga has been sick for 9 days now and not looking improved. She missed school again today. We finally decided to bring her to a doctor to rule out something more serious, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Alhtough our normal family doctor didn't have any openings, I was able to find another one this afternoon just few minute's walk away.

And yes, Inga definitely has something conderning going on. From the sound of her lungs, it's either pneumonia or bronchitis. She's started on antibiotics (the first time in her life, I think!) as well as priobiotics and is going in for an x-ray on Monday, then a followup visit with the doctor to re-evaluate.

Inga said it was like the doctor was a detective. After listening to Inga's chest and back with a stethostcope, she asked Inga, "Do you by any chance have pain in your lower left side?" Inga said, "Actually, yes, I do!" That's where she was hearing something concerning.

We finished framing in the one shower wall and are now at a standstill until the plumber can come (the earliest would be in about 10 days). We *could* do the plumbing ourselves but there's a tricky issue with the drain and I'd really like to have a plumber advise on it. So I think we'll wait and focus on other things in the meantime.

We tested 4 antique lights for the bedroom in Le Chateau, and they all work. So then we polished them up with a mixture of vinegar, salt, and flour. It turned the dark, dull metal back into shiny bronze! I'm going to spray them with a clear lacquer to keep the finish from tarnishing again.

What else? I went running this morning and ran errands to the big Carrefour this evening, which gave me over 15,000 steps. Pretty typical day activity-wise. We had time this evening to watch two episodes of Wheel of Time.

My nephew left this morning. He had enough time to say goodbye to everyone before the kids left for school. My mom made French toast for breakfast, which the kids loved. If I have ever made it (possible but even I cannot be sure), they have no memory of it. It's funny, here in France it's called "pain perdu" (lost bread).
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Thursday, January 11, 2024

Cousin science lesson

It's my nephew's last day visiting us before he has to go back to the US for university. He's studying to be a paleontologist and he loves talking about science. He and Ivy had a big discussion tonight and she learned all sorts of stuff about biological evolution, various extinction periods, etc. Her mind was blown.

He and Zari and my mom went out to lunch at our neighbor's restaurant, Chez Palmyre (highly recommended if you are ever in Nice!). The 3-course menu is 20 Euros, lunch or dinner. I translate the menus into English so I get a sneak peek every few weeks as the menu changes frequently.

My dad and I made some good progress in the shower area. We got all of the electrical issues sorted out and now all connections will be accessible via the kitchen side of the wall. Before, they were completely hidden and inaccessible. We also started framing the wall on the long side of the shower, taking great pains to ensure it was square and level. (Nothing in this building is after 600+ years!)

Inga was still sick this morning and looking pretty awful. It was an easy decision to keep her out of school. She has a fever again and a bad cough and is really lethargic. She's currently taking a hot bath and I hope she will get some good rest tonight. She's been coughing so much that her sleep has been fitful.

I had an anesthesiology consultation today in preparating for getting my varicose veins removed next week. It will be local anesthesia (lidocaine) plus light IV sedation. I've had these varicose veins since I was pregnant with Dio. I got them removed on one leg after Ivy's birth but at that time the doctor didn't want to do the other leg. Finally they are coming out! They ache a lot, especially after weightlifting. It was a nice day out, so I walked 6.6 kms to and from the appointment, which was inside Lenval hospital.

We made a very French dinner for my nephew: salad, French onion soup, La Laitière yougurts, and Crème brûlée.
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Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Soccer Wednesday

Our Wednesdays are much less hectic than usual. Dio has practice on Tues-Thurs this year. Inga and Zari have practice at the same time, so they can go by themselves on the tram. Eric used to help coach both Inga's and Ivy's team, but his year he's just helping with Ivy.

I had a busy day, split between renovating and breech work. I have mostly sorted out and re-routed the electricity so that there will be no hidden connections behind the shower. It was super messy--clouds of dust filling the room. Reminds me of last year...

I also steamed the one wall that we will be tiling onto direclty, getting any loose paint off. Next off: fill any holes, then paint with a special adhesion primer and then coat with a waterproofing membrane.

Inga is still sick with a bad cough and general malaise and fatigue. She went to soccer practice, though. But a few minutes after coming back home, she puked! She spent the rest of the day on the couch wrapped up in blankets.
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Tuesday, January 09, 2024

Another day of indoor exercise to start the day. I helped my dad get his tram pass and bought some plumbing supplies on the way home. We need to cap off the water supply lines going to the old shower control panel.

I did lots of head-scratching and a little bit of planning and progress on the shower. I made a template of the shower base and fit it on the floor, marking the placement of the drain hole, the feet that support the base, and the rear wall that needs to be squared. I also figured out where some of the hidden electrical conduits are so we can avoid drilling into them when we have to drill through the wall from the bathroom to the kitchen.

I'm quite eager to get this shower done because now we just have a tub with a handheld shower attachment. It's not super fun to shower sitting down holding one arm in the air. But at least we have something!

Inga is playing soccer during school recess, trying to show the boys that she can play just as well as (and probably better than!) them. She says she has lots of fun stories to tell. Dio had soccer practice tonight despite a light drizzle.

Eric cooked tonight: green salad and 2 kinds of quiche.

We watched an episode of Wheel of Time.

I spent some time on hold with my insurance company back in the US. Not my favorite activity.
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Monday, January 08, 2024

Back to school!

I like vacation, but I also like getting back into more of a routine. But it is way too dark when we wake up now! We were too spoiled by sleeping in during vacation.

I exercised indoors because it was both cold and rainy outside. My dad and I had a light day of renovating. We got holes drilled through walls and through kitchen cupboards for the new plumbing. We also sorted out most of the electircal mess that a previous DIYer left us. Ugh. What were they thinking?

Pro tip: when you are renovating, please do NOT hide 5 outlets behind a shower wall so that the connections are completely inaccesisble. Also please do NOT cover the outlets with plastic and glue to keep water from coming in. This is against code. And common sense.

I had a breech meeting after dinner and lots of miscellaneous work throughout the day, anywhere from video editing to payroll to t-shirt design to book editing.

Dinner was roasted sausage & fennel in mustard, thyme, and red wine, plus a green salad.

Inga's illness has transformed into a bad cough. She's not feverish any more, though. She had a Freeze family soccer practice with Ivy, Dio, and Eric tonight.
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Sunday, January 07, 2024

Big organ in a big cathedral

We attended a free organ concert at the big cathedral right down the street. Wow! There's something incomparable about listing to an organ in a cathedral, feeling the sounds vibrate through your body.

The cathedral doors were wide open during the concernt, which meant that even with our winter coats on, we were very cold. But it was worth it! I can't believe we can just walk out our door and less than a minute away we have events like this.

Zari and Eric had to miss because of a soccer tournament.

My mom made a delicious black bean chipotle soup. Ivy helped by making a gingerbread cake and orange-lemon sauce. I made a big batch of sourdough bread.

We had time for one episode of Wheel of Time before meetings for me (7 pm) and Eric (8 pm). School starts tomorrow so kids are in bed earlier tonight.
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Saturday, January 06, 2024

Run, hike, listen, applaud

Great day today! I started off with a run, appreciating the sun after yesterday's rain.

Inga was still feeling a bit sick, so she chose not to play in the game but to just go with Eric and watch. The rest of us headed off after lunch to meet a friend for a hike around Cap Ferrat. When we arrived at Plage Passable, we found that the trail was completely closed on that end! We did the loop in reverse but had to get off the loop about 2/3 of the way and finish the rest on a road.

Although we missed the most beautiful part of the hike--the side with all of the cliffs and vegetation--it was still an amazing afternoon. I can't believe that we get to do these things in the winter and in such amazing weather!

We all gathered back together for dinner (Eric's turn: pizza and green beans). Then everyone but Inga went to the opera house for a Robert Schumann piano concerto and Victor Berlioz symphony. It was outstanding. We were up on the very top floor in the nosebleed section. We had to lean over the railing to be able to see the stage.

We are going to be so cultured! I'm glad my mom is here because she's always getting us to go to things like this, which I realize I miss doing.

This afternoon I finally laid my old wallet to rest. Eric found it on the bottom of the sea many years ago. But with my recent Christmas present being a new leather wallet, it was time to part ways.

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Friday, January 05, 2024


It rained all day. Not a weak sprinkle or drizzle, but steady, heavy rain. I'm glad for it because that means snow in the mountains and green in the foothills.

We all suited up and walked to the MAMAC (modern art museum). It's closing for renovations in 2 days so we wanted to visit before we lost our chance. A lot of other people had the same idea--I've never seen the lines so long!

We started watching Wheel of Time. Zari said, "It's a mixture of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings!"

My mom took over dinner today and made pasta puttanesca and flat beans. I have a feeling this will happen often!

Inga was sick today and spent most of her time wrapped in blankets on the couch. She had to miss soccer practice today (they held it despite the rain!). Zari's practice was cancelled, leading to celebrating from Zari.
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Thursday, January 04, 2024


My mom and dad arrived today. They'll be here for almost 3 months. My dad is already chomping at the bit to start working on a project.

I didn't get out much today, just errands (5,000 steps) to a few grocery stores in the afternoon. I went to get a copy of a key made, and the locksmith said, "Sorry, that key blank is not even available yet. It's too new." (I bought it at least 7-8 months ago!). I have NEVER heard of this before.

Dio had a friendly game with a new soccer team has has been interested in joining. He was really stressed about it upon arrival, but he played well and really liked his coach and teammates. He's going to go with this team, rather than the one from last year. This new team isn't as good but much better for Dio's mental health and general positivity about continuing soccer.

I had a meeting with two bachelor of midwifery students in Switzerland whose bachelor's thesis I am overseeing. It's fun to be on the "professor" end of things because it doesn't feel like all that long ago I was still on the "student" end. I suppose that doing 12 1/2 years of university will do that to a person!

It was my turn to make dinner: coleslaw and spicy crab sushi. I also pulled out some leftover bean salad.
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Tuesday, January 02, 2024

More shopping, some soccer

We had a morning trip to the déchetterie (goodbye old shower!), then Leroy Merlin, then looking at a door via Leboncoin (turned out to be in terrible condition--why don't people post better pictures?!?), then to the Leroy Merlin pickup warehouse, then home.

While the kids were helping us carry down all the old shower parts, Zari bumped one of the tempered glass panels and it completely shattered. She was covered head to toe in glass fragments, standing there wide-eyed. I told her not to move and ran to get a broom. It's amazing how strong yet how fragile tempered glass can be! When Eric and I were throwing the rest of the glass pieces into the dumpster, we couldn't get any of them to break!

The kids also helped us carry everything upstairs, except for the shower base (still in the hallway...need to get 2 people for that one). We all had lunch and then Ivy, Inga, and Dio had soccer practice with Coach Papa. Dio was supposed to go to his team's practice but had a moment of stress and we couldn't convince him to go, even though he really enjoyed it last time.

Zari went with my nephew to a little natural history museum, a pastry store, and good conversation on the beach. I stayed home to catch up on some work.

I ran a quick errand to pick up some special-ordered food ingredients (steel cut oats, maple syrup) and some curry paste from the Asian food store. Dinner was Panang curry with chicken, sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, and zucchini, served over a triple brown rice blend. The kids adored the rice: "This is so delicious! I love it! It has so much flavor." Whatever the 3 varieties are, they are great. I didn't do anything other than cook the rice with some salt.

We played card games this evening. Well, I had lots of work to catch up on, so I sat at the table and enjoyed the commotion around me.
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Monday, January 01, 2024

New Year's Day

I started off by going on a run first thing. I tried to get one of the kids to go with me, but no one wanted to. I can't imagine why not!

It was overcast most of the day, with the sun breaking through right before sunset. I donned my work clothes and demolished our shower. Ahhh, memories of all of the renovating we've done over the past few years. My mid-day we had it all diassembled. The pieces are in the hallway, awaiting dropoff at the dechetterie tomorrow.

After lunch I had some additional demolition and cleanup to do around the plumbing, and wallpaper to tear off the wall where we'll be tiling. It feels weird to have the shower gone.

There are some bizzarre plumbing things going on and I might just call our plumber who did Le Chateau and Le Catamaran. I could probably figure it out myself, but he would be faster and probably have better ideas of what we need done. (It's funny that I feel like I need to apologize for hiring a skilled professional!)

Zari and Ivy went with my nephew to the Negresco hotel and some fun time on the beach, while I was finishing up.

We all went out mid-afternoon for a hike to Escaliers de Verre / Fort Alban. We haven't been there for a few years now. It's so much faster now that our kids aren't 1-7 years old!

We watched the first two episodes of "Cunk On Earth." Hilarious.
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Sunday, December 31, 2023

(Almost) 2024!

3 of the 4 kids are in bed, before midnight! We don't stay up late on New Year's Eve because hey, even I have a hard time staying up until midnight. But we did have a fun evening: dinner, card games (Cover Your Assets), and a movie (Family Plan) with the family and my nephew.

We had rain much of today, which is very much needed. I deferred my normal walk up to Cimiez and rode in the car with everyone else. But it had cleared up enough that I was able to walk home.

I helped Dio and Inga spray paint the cars they are working on. We may need one more coat. It's a fun blue metallic paint.

I ordered all of the supplies for redoing our shower, so we are now committed! I'll probably dismantle it in the next day or two. 

I made a tarte au chocolat and right when I pulled it out of the oven, it had puffed up to look exactly like a pregnany belly & breasts! It deflated within a few minutes but I captured it before it disappeared.

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