Tuesday, March 31, 2020

French quarantine day 12

10,532 steps

A few videos from the past few days. The days blend into each other. There's no rhythm marking weekdays from weekends, no school drop-off or pickup, no 2-hour lunch break where we have time to eat and play and go to the park. Even the noon cannon that would scare tourists and startle flocks of pigeons skyward is silent.

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Monday, March 30, 2020

French quarantine days 10-11

9,751 and 9,013 steps

Yesterday France moved to daylight saving time. I guess it wore me out because I forgot to write an update.

I sat down to do some sewing yesterday (child-sized slings for dolls or stuffed animals) and realized my iron was broken and not repairable. I can't just go to a store and buy a new one...so I had to put my sewing things away. Maybe I can borrow one from a friend?

There's something about being quarantined that has sapped my motivation: "I really should [respond to those emails/work on grant writing/etc.] but...nah...don't feel like it. Maybe later." It doesn't help Zari is using my computer most of the day to do her homework.

(How do children without access to computers or phones do their homework? It seems to be a class issue--I am sure not every household has computers and internet access.)

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Saturday, March 28, 2020

French quarantine day 9

10,752 steps

We ran into several friends today during our daily walk. Our kids were able to "play" together with their friends for a few minutes. They rode scooters or ran around in circles, while we chatted with the parents, all of us keeping several meters apart from each other. It's so bizarre to keep our distance, especially here in France where the traditional way to greet is with an air kiss on either cheek.

Both Dio and Eric managed to hurt themselves doing box jumps during our walk. You'll see Dio banging his leg at the end of the video.

Zari has been thinking about selling her hair to help pay for university. Even if she kept enough for a ponytail, she could cut off at least 25"!

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Friday, March 27, 2020

French quarantine day 8

11,449 steps

I seem to be on a sine wave, where one day I'm feeling confident and on the alternate day I feel worried--about the future, about getting sick, about all of the worst-case-scenarios I can imagine. And I'm evidently a champion at coming up with disaster scenarios, based on all of the nightmares I have of my children dying horrible deaths.

Every day that goes by without symptoms is one less day to worry that we picked up the coronavirus on our way over to France. We're still SO thankful that we left the States when we did. You know...disaster of epic proportions...too little too late...woefully de-skilled administration...words fail me.

In theory the quarantine is supposed to end this weekend, but I suspect it will continue another several weeks at least.

We did some school in the morning. Other highlights from today include

  • an indoor "snowball" fight
  • making artisan bread, quiche Lorraine, and tiramisu
  • getting keys to the empty apartment below us. It's the former offices of the Young French Communist Party and has been empty for the past 15-20 years. We got their blessing to start cleaning it out..it is going to be a challenge with decades of dust coating everything. Perfect! What else do we have to do?

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

French quarantine day 7

4,417 steps

I took a day off and didn't make the kids do any school. Instead, they spent all day building and then playing with a marble race track (Ivy's other birthday present).

I finished preparing our taxes and sent them off to our tax person! (If you need a recommendation, email me. She's amazing. She does taxes for people all over the US and is a fraction of the price of commercial tax prep places.)

Now I have to do the Breech Without Borders taxes.

Maybe I'll do make a quarantine tiramisu tomorrow...I have all the ingredients in my cupboard.

I need some good book recommendations, especially if they are on Kindle Unlimited or Hoopla. Bonus for escapist fiction...you know, the kind of reading you might do when you're on vacation and just wanting to enjoy life and pass the time.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

French quarantine day 6

7,827 steps

Happy 7th birthday Ivy! This is our first--and hopefully last--birthday during lockdown. Ivy "played" with her group of school friends in the morning via WhatsApp and had a virtual birthday party in the evening.

Ivy helped me frost the cake (chocolate wedding cake with buttercream icing). We didn't do anything too elaborate this year. That seems to be a trend. No wrapping paper? Make it out of coloring pages! No food coloring? Decorate with plain white frosting!

Eric read Ivy's birth story, a tradition we do with the kids every year. At the bottom of the birth story are links to the birth video & pictures for you brave souls out there. Nothing gory or scary, just a plain-old-wonderful home birth :)

One of Ivy's presents was a scooter; we took the kids out for a spin in the afternoon.

What else? I made quarantine bread as most of the bakeries are closed. Plus I really like my bread. Give it a try: it's almost impossible to mess up!

The evening closed with a somber note. At 19h30, every church in Nice rang their bells to honor the victims of the coronavirus. You'll hear it on the end of Ivy's birthday video.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

French quarantine day 5

4,175 steps

I instituted a "no school after lunch" rule for everyone except Zari. So much better!

Ivy's birthday is tomorrow, so we baked a cake and will make the frosting in the morning. We're inviting her friends to a virtual party so they can sing along and watch her blow out candles.

I've had some sleepless nights due to worrying about getting sick...not helpful, I know, but it's hard to shut the thoughts down. "What if we both get sick and need to be hospitalized at the same time? Who will take care of our kids?"

This afternoon the kids were playing with Eric's phone and giggling...and these time lapse movies were the result. They've also made all sorts of origami creatures and played several games of solitaire.

On our daily walk, Zari took a microscope and held it up to the phone's camera, resulting in these beautiful shots of tiny foliage and lichen.

The creepy book/hand photo was one of Zari's art assignments.

Did you know that Post-It notes could be so much fun?

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Monday, March 23, 2020

French quarantine day 4

10,337 steps

This was our first day of school-at-home and I am not a fan. I don't mind having the kids underfoot all day, but I do NOT like having to take on 4 additional full-time teaching jobs that I did not sign up for (or train for). Someone always needed help, so I was going from one child to another nonstop. Zari has done about 10 hours of work. I finally had to send her to bed and force her to stop. Dio's teacher sends at least 6-8 emails every day with different instructions and assignments.

It's too much!

If the kids can't do it themselves, they shouldn't be given the assignments.

Okay, enough complaining.

It was cold and gray but we still went out for a walk around the chateau hill (within the 500m radius). Inga had so much energy that we did a 2nd circuit with just her.

My goal for tomorrow: get all the school work done before lunch. I don't want to play teacher/boss/nag all day.

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Sunday, March 22, 2020

French quarantine day 3

7,924 steps

I dragged myself out of bed at 9:30 this morning. We did crafts and activities in the morning (origami, Legos, and random objects made out of paper). After lunch we went on a family walk and marveled at the empty, silent streets. I don't anticipate anything like this happening again in my lifetime. Even at 3 am, the streets of Nice are never deserted like this.

We had a 15-minute "home church" this evening, with the bread served in a crème brûlée ramekin and the wine (aka sparkling water because that's what we had) served in shot glasses. Vive la France!

We made noise again at 8 pm. I'm thinking of breaking out my violin one of these evenings...maybe something lively like a fiddling tune.

Despite the empty streets, we have run into three of our best friends in the last 2 days. (Don't worry, we kept far away from each other!). Living in Old Nice is village life at its best: you head out your door--even during a lockdown--and inevitably run into people you know.

Zari and Ivy started their school homework. It's a major job keeping track of 4 kids' assignments. So many worksheets to print, scan, and submit. I have resigned myself to not being able to work much, if at all, on my own projects.

Speaking of work: my immediate goal is to create an online breech course. David and I want to re-record all of our lectures with good quality equipment and produce professional quality films. We're also thinking of creating a series of shorter seminars where we watch & discuss new birth videos and offer regular live conference calls as an opportunity for discussion and Q&A.

I'm hoping to offer some sort of deep discount given that almost everyone will be affected by COVID-19 this year. Taking a virtual course will also come with a discount towards a future in-person breech workshop (effectively giving you 2 workshops for close to the price of 1!)

So, for your enjoyment, pictures and movies from today. The drawings are Zari's, all for a school assignment.

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French quarantine day 2

Saturday, March 21
6,635 steps (normally 15-20,000)

We all slept most of the morning! The last time I slept that long was about 20 years ago during my first trip to France. I was the first one awake at 10:40 am. We ate breakfast/lunch and played with Legos. We finally managed to get everyone dressed and out the door for a quick run.

Prepared with our "l'attestations de déplacement dérogatoire" and photocopies of our IDs and visas, we set off. I mapped a 2 km radius around our apartment--the maximum distance permitted by the French health minister. We didn't even get close to hitting the limit but still got in a good run of about 4 km as our path wasn't direct.

On our way home we got stopped by a group of police on bicycles, who told us that we were "trop éloignée." They also said that the maximum distance was 1 km, which is NOT what the health minister said. I told them that, and they replied, "Non, c'est 1 kilomètre maximum." At that point, we were within just 500 meters of the apartment! I informed them of that as well. (Maybe I shouldn't have--but I was staying within the rules!) As we had all our papers they couldn't do much other than send us on our way.

I ran into a friend of ours and her two kids at the end of our run. We chatted quickly while trying to maintain a proper distance. Her twin boys (Ivy's age) were fascinated with my Vibram Five Fingers shoes.

The rest of the day was Legos, origami, homemade marble jumps, and drawing. I baked a batch of artisan bread since our local bakeries have been closed (not sure if it's because of the quarantine or just when we've happened to walk by.) We also managed to do some "bricolage" and fix a broken window handle. There was a broken part in the middle, which we removed. It's not perfect but it will do until we can order a new part.

Zari started her homework and drew a picture of our dog Zeke who died when she was just 1 year old. He looks a little grumpy in his portrait but he was sheer joy in real life.

Eric got groceries at Lidl (like Aldi) and said he's never seen the store so empty. When he came home, I washed everything that was in plastic, glass, or metal packaging. I figured it's probably better to rinse things off just in case.

I'm also disinfecting tables, counter tops, doorknobs, light switches, and shoes on a regular basis. I use either rubbing alcohol or Simple Green d PRO 3 PLUS (recommended by friends of mine who work in labs and use it to disinfect). Yes, I brought a small bottle of concentrate over with me from the US! I have enough to make at least 10 gallons.

At 8 pm, we joined in with #OnApplaudit, where we clap and make noise in support of health care workers (and also for fun, I suppose!).

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French quarantine day 1

Friday, March 20

We stumbled into our apartment this morning, jet-lagged and feeling like we had entered an alternate universe. The streets were silent and nearly empty. Just the occasional person walking their dog or buying groceries.

Our kids kept falling asleep all over the house--on the floor, leaning against the heater, on the couch. We finally woke everyone up and decided to organize all the Legos by color and function.

I've been feeling the stress in my body for about a week now. It usually manifests as pressure in my chest, like mild heartburn and, rarely, as brief panic attacks. Two years ago, when I started having panic attacks and had no idea what they were, I kept thinking I was having heart attacks. Fortunately I know what it is this time, but I still have to deal with intrusive thoughts. "What if I die of a heart attack? Is that twinge I'm feeling the onset of one? Should I go in and see someone?" Repeat ad infinitum...

Deciding whether to head back home to France or to stay in the US was difficult. We were looking at two situations, both of which carried (and continue to carry) risk.

A: Do we accept some elevated risk now (from the airline travel to France) in exchange for lower risk once we arrive? All of France is under strict lockdown, enforced by heightened policy and military presence.

B: Or do we stay in the US and delay the risk by a maximum of 6 weeks? We'd still have the risk of flying, just delayed by a matter of weeks. (Our temporary visa papers expire in early May, so we would have to return before then). The longer we stay in the US, the more likely we would be exposed to the virus, especially given the relative lack of controls on people's movement and behavior.

I counsel people all the time about balancing risk. With breech birth, you can choose to eliminate some risk in the short-term by doing a CS, but then you have to accept elevated short-term risk for yourself and elevated long-term risk for yourself and any future pregnancies. I was complaining to David Hayes, my co-instructor, about how this is REALLY HARD. There isn't a clear answer that is "safe."

He reminded me: "As a very wise woman I know says: 'You can defer a little risk, but you're only washing it down stream. You're going to have to swim in it somewhere.' "

When we left yesterday, most people were going about their normal lives. Sure, schools and eat-in restaurants had been closed in our state. But people were otherwise operating as normal: congregating in groups, sitting close together at restaurants. And I am terrified on the possibility of gun violence if the situation in the US becomes dire.

When I was in the Las Vegas airport, one man loudly complained about the governor of Illinois, who had just shut down all restaurants and bars in the state. "Those Democrats will do anything to take over our state! In my little town of 3,000 people, you can't even *get* a big crowd together. This is ridiculous!"

Said by an older, overweight man who is in a high-risk group if--or rather, when--he contracts the virus.
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