Tuesday, July 29, 2014

3 days until D-day

Our big departure for France happens in less than 72 hours!

We got back from a 2-week trip to California (Eric's family reunion and a visit to my sister) late Friday night. I feel paralyzed with how much we have to get done in the next 3 days.

Here's a sampling of what we've done since we came home from California:
  • Installed 3 storm windows that were being repaired
  • Scraped and repainted the brick moulding that holds the 4 French doors in our living room
  • Finished painting and trimming the French doors--we'll get them put back up tomorrow
  • Repaired a heavily rotted/damaged 6-pane window with Abatron WoodEpox. I need to sand it down tomorrow and then install the new glass and glazing. 
  • Mowed the lawn
  • Pulled endless weeds and took out lots of poison ivy. (Stink eye at our neighbor, who has an enormous poison ivy vine--more like sizable tree--growing up their sugar maple. I offered to take care of it for them, but they said no. So we get hundreds of poison ivy seedlings in our yard and gardens every year.)
  • Cleaned out and washed our fridge and freezer
  • Started washing our kitchen cupboards inside and out
  • Repainted 3 radiators in the kitchen and dining room
  • Painted the dining room window
  • Packed the kids' clothes (most of them, at least)
  • Packed my own clothes...still have shoes and accessories/toiletries left to pack
  • Mended several items of clothing since I won't have a sewing machine in France...unless of course I buy one secondhand :)
I also have 2 tenants to move out on Thursday and 3 new ones to move in before we leave.

I have so many things to take care of that I haven't been able to sleep well at night...maybe 4 hours a night. Then I lie in bed thinking of all the things I need to do.

I can't wait until we pull out of our driveway and head to the airport.

I'm starting to fall asleep at the computer. Bonne nuit!
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Friday, July 18, 2014

Nous sommes les freebirthers by Stéphanie St-Amant

I'm up at 3 am with either food poisoning or a stomach bug...nothing better to do than hop online and distract myself.

At Eric's family reunion 2 years ago, I remember the exact same thing happening...mysterious gastro-intestinal malady, middle-of-the-night websurfing, puke bowl next to me on the couch. And unbeknownst to me, I was also pregnant!

I don't think that's the case this time around, unless my Mirena IUD has failed me. This can happen, although it's rare. A friend of mine and mother of 8 has gotten pregnant once on birth control and TWICE on IUDs! Both times the IUD came out with the baby.


I came across a fantastic article by Stéphanie St-Amant: Nous sommes les freebirthers. Enfanter sans peur et sans reproche ("We are the freebirthers: Giving birth without fear and without reproach" published in Recherches féministes 27.1, 2014, p. 69-96). The link leads to a free PDF and requires a free registration to Acadamia.edu.

It's been over five years since I finished my dissertation on unassisted birth in North America. I've been immersed in birthing and raising small children, teaching at a small liberal arts college, remodeling homes, and managing rental apartments. It's fun to remember what I used to think and write about night and day.

Ivy's crying...must go...hope I don't puke on her :)
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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Family reunions x 2

Wow, it's been so long that I'm not even sure where to begin. Right after we finished painting the exterior of our house, we traveled to Minnesota & Wisconsin for a family reunion. Lots of fun at the lake, no phone/internet for much of the time, and cousins/grandparents/aunts/uncles galore.

May 2014

While I was visiting family, Eric traveled to France to teach a creative nonfiction with the Paris Writers' Workshop. He hopped down to Nice afterwards to enroll the kids in school, set up utilities, and take care of other paperwork in preparation for purchasing the apartment. We were supposed to close while Eric was in France, but the mortgage company was so backlogged that we  rescheduled for the end of July.

During these 2 weeks away, Ivy decided to stop sleeping and to become a barnacle. She clung to me all day long and had to be carried around nonstop. And at night she went from waking up 1-2 times to 4-6-8+ times. Nothing except nursing would settle her down. She's also started this new thing of crying so hard that she pukes within a few minutes, sometimes even less than a minute. She gets so worked up if I don't tend to her immediately. Normally I'd let her fuss, but all my kids were in the same room with me. Some nights we had multiple chain reactions of one child setting off all the others. No fun.

Plus with this puking thing, letting Ivy fuss simply isn't an option right now. I am so mystified by babies' sleep habits. She's also had a runny nose and intermittent low fevers. I am crossing my fingers that all of these pieces form a puzzle that equals "teething." I *think* I can feel all 4 molars starting to come through.

We got home last weekend and had to turn around almost immediately to the French consulate to apply for 1-year visas. We had a three-hours drive to the nearest consulate; we counted ourselves lucky, because some people live 15-18+ hours away). We arrived, only to find out that the appointment we had booked way in advance was only for Eric. Even though we are all applying together, we were supposed to book six separate appointments. I searched all over the consulate website and didn't find anything about that rule...until I looked again found some fine print on the "terms and conditions" page of the online booking system. Not exactly easy to find!

I had to stay outside with the kids while Eric spent several hours waiting in line, asking for an exception, waiting in line again, asking again. The next available appointments were a week out, when we would be gone to another family reunion in California. We would have to cancel our entire trip, forego our airline tickets, and make another trip to the consulate.

The third time at the counter, Eric almost unconsciously switched over to speaking French. He explained our time constraints and travel plans and asked again if we could all submit our applications. The visa officer--who'd been yelled at by a very disgruntled man in front of Eric--finally said, "okay, fine, I'll take your applications. Go get your family." Woohoo! The whole time the visa officer was swearing and muttering (in French of course). We were super polite and thanked him profusely at the end. He replied, "I didn't even get my break." (J'ai pas eu ma pause.) Translation: "you're welcome, I guess."

We've been home just a few days, and we are leaving almost immediately for California. While we're gone, our work crew is going to finish renovating our master bathroom. Just in time for us to leave the country!

Our house is turned upside-down as we are filling storage boxes and deciding which things to bring with us to France. At least we only have to clean out our closets and bathrooms. Everything else stays--kitchen dishes/appliances, furnishings, pictures, etc. We found an amazing family to rent our house that was looking for a fully furnished home. Win-win.

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