Tuesday, June 30, 2020

French déconfinement day 51

8,121 steps

I didn't exercise or go on any walks today...still got an okay number of steps in. But at least I went for a swim even if it was leisurely.

I played my violin for a while this morning (practicing with a string quartet) and my left-hand fingertips are sore! I need to re-build the calluses on my violin hand.

For your amusement, a random video of Inga I found on Eric's phone.

Plums are in season and we were all so excited to eat a tarte aux prunes tonight. It's the simplest dessert ever and is one of my favorite things to eat, hands-down.

All you need are plums, pie crust, corn starch, and raw sugar.

Make your favorite pastry crust. When I'm in France, I buy a pure butter pâte feuilletée (puff pastry) as it's only 79 cents. I couldn't even make homemade crust for that price! When I'm in the US, I make pie crust with butter, flour, salt, and a little water.

Sift 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch over the unbaked pie crust. This will mix with the plum juices and create a nice thick sauce.

Cut the plums in half and remove the pits. If they are very large plums, cut the halves again into quarters or slices. Arrange the plums skin-down inside the crust. I used about 1.2 kilos of plums.

Sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons of raw sugar.

Bake at 200° C / 400° F until the plums are very well cooked and starting to brown on the top. (Mine took 45 minutes on convection...but cooking time varies depending on how big the plums are). The plums should turn soft and release their juices as they bake.

If the plums are very tart, you might need to add a bit more raw sugar after baking, 1 Tablespoon at a time. It should be pleasantly tart!
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Monday, June 29, 2020

French déconfinement day 50

14,110 steps

36°C (96.8° F) today! Fortunately it's just a one-day heat wave and we'll be back to 26°C (79°F) tomorrow. It actually wasn't terrible (and remember, AC is not really a thing over here). But yeah, running this morning was HOT!

Dinner was salad, fish, and rice. All fish wild-caught by our in-house spearfisher Eric!

It's 10 pm, we have our windows open to catch any passing breezes, and we're listening to live music from the Irish pub on the corner. Usually piano, acoustic guitar, and/or a singer. Life is good over here.
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Sunday, June 28, 2020

French déconfinement day 49

14,312 steps

We passed by a trio of mulberry trees on our morning walk, just starting to come ripe. We should have a good harvest in a week or two.

The ocean was the clearest I've ever seen it. Zari swam out to the buoys with me with her snorkel gear and rhapsodized about how far and how well she could see.

Dinner tonight was salad + a "what's in the fridge?" risotto made with caramelized onions, endives, & zucchini; chicken broth; and Parmesan. Dessert was a French twist on ice cream floats: pour sparkling water over peach sirop, then add vanilla ice cream. Eric invented this back when he was living in France in his early 20s.
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Saturday, June 27, 2020

French déconfinement day 48

8,592 steps

A laid-back Saturday. The kids drew and colored in the morning. They would have been fine staying inside all day, but we pushed them out the door after lunch.

While Eric went spearfishing, the rest of us went to a park we hadn't visited for a while and took pictures while jumping on the mini trampolines. Eric caught two fish: a rouget and a mulet.

I mixed up another batch of sourdough starter, have 3 loaves of sourdough proofing in the fridge, and cooked a big pot of boeuf bourguignon for dinner.

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Friday, June 26, 2020

French déconfinement day 47

9,066 steps

School day + evening & dinner at the beach.

I started reading a book after all the kids went to bed and couldn't stay awake. So I'm calling it a night. Bonne nuit et à demain.
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Thursday, June 25, 2020

French déconfinement day 46

19,608 steps

I did my favorite run today for the first time this year. It's about 4.5 miles and goes around the chateau, around the port, past Coco Beach, and up and around the cap de Nice. And then back! The first half is uphill...which makes the second half good fun going back down.

Several of Ivy's friends went to the beach after school. But I said no--not today. Instead, we went to the coulée verte and had water fights.

Ivy cried and cried. I had to carry her all the way to the park. But then she saw some other friends and perked up. And of course I had to drag the kids home an hour later when dinner was ready! It's amazing what fun kids can have with a bucket, a few plastic containers, and lots of water.
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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

French déconfinement day 45

15,767 steps

After Zari finished her morning classes, we explored a new area past Èze-sur-Mer. It's a tiny little private island called "L'Isoletta." The island has a swimming pool on it and belongs to the villa on the coast, attached by a walkway.

You'd never know how to get down to the tiny public beach across from the island unless someone told you. Luckily, Eric knows all these Niçois fishermen who are eager to share their favorite spots.

This was also a nudist beach, so we had (too many) eyefuls of naked, hairy, 70-year-old men letting it all hang out. Americans tend to her "nudist beach" and think "sexual orgies." Sorry to disabuse you of that notion, but it's a lot of old, wrinkly people in their full glory. And the occasional family with children, all happily in the nude.

Zari commandeered the camera so we have tons of movies of crabs, fish, and barnacles.

Eric said it was the best spearfishing he's ever had. He came back with a mulet and a dorade.
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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

French déconfinement day 44

Another day of school, another day of swimming after school...this is life pretty much every day as summer approaches.

Dio has been saying that he doesn't want to return to the US. And his friends over here are better, etc. He's gained some independence and can play with friends on his own with our permission. They usually play soccer or have water fights. Leaving usually affects Dio the hardest, whether it's leaving the US or leaving France.

Eric dropped off an old, beat-up pair of shoes at the garbage station last week. And then, today, they showed up on the Invisible Man. "I am the Invisible Man!" Eric proclaimed as we walked past on our way up the chateau.

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Monday, June 22, 2020

French déconfinement day 43

13,287 steps

Movies from yesterday's fun

Also lemon cheesecake...yum...the only cheesecake that I love. Crust is made of Petit Beurre crackers (or animal crackers in the States), then cheesecake infused with lemon juice & zest, then lots of lemon curd on top.

Swimming conditions were perfect so we had a quick after-school swim. One of our friends brought an inflatable paddleboard. They are super fun! Zari got a few turns and went quite far. Ivy and Inga came home crying because they wanted to paddleboard more.

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Sunday, June 21, 2020

French déconfinement, day 42:

8,271 steps

A super fun busy day! It's Fête de la Musique, which the entire country of France celebrates on every summer solstice. There are bands playing live music on nearly every plaza and street corner.

I can't deal with all the photos and videos tonight, so I'll just put these two up for now.

Ivy wrote this in her journal:

"today was the logist day of the yeere and I will tele you what we did today
1. leared howe to scate bord
2. watched lost in spase
3. went to the mist faontined
4. we went to the splash pad
5. dantsing to the myoosic
6. playing in the sand
the end"

Yes, she has some creative spelling :)
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Saturday, June 20, 2020

French déconfinement day 41

10,104 steps

It's late so this will be brief...some of the things I did today:

- went grocery shopping with Eric in the morning because our fridge was nearly empty
- with Eric, carried home 140 Euros of groceries
- made lemon cheesecake
- made a batch of sourdough bread (currently proofing in the fridge)
- mixed more sourdough starter
- watched an episode of "Lost in Space" with my family
- worked on the Breech Without Borders website
- went swimming with my family
- ran to the corner grocery store for sugar & eggs
- went on a walk with Eric
- cleaned out my inbox a bit
- gave up cleaning my inbox at 11:30 pm....time to read a bit and then sleep!
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Friday, June 19, 2020

French déconfinement day 40

40 days of "un-quarantine." Besides a reduction in the usual tourist crowds, Nice has mostly reverted back to pre-covid norms.

Theme of the day: shutters. Most Americans have never seen or used operable shutters. Shutters are common in the US, but they are almost always decorative and are screwed directly onto the house. Even worse, shutters on American houses often don't match the window size or shape!

It was such a revelation when I first came to France, and the shutters actually closed! And opened! Amazing!

Our apartment shutters have a shutter-within-a-shutter. You can prop open the small shutter to let in extra air but no light or heat. Or you can open the big ones all the way up.

Every morning, we open our windows, then open our shutters. The "clack" of the shutters against the building and the "clink" of the shutter dogs are two sounds that define mornings in France.
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Thursday, June 18, 2020

French déconfinement day 39

9,911 steps

We got a text that our new visas were ready to pick up. We had applied for them more than a year ago...Off we went to the prefecture, super excited...and when we arrived at the préfecture we found out we didn't get the visa we applied for. Just another temporary one. And of course no one can tell us why.

"Try writing a letter," said the woman at the visa counter. But she couldn't even supply a specific name or department within the préfecture. We spoke to several other people and they all shrugged and said, "We can't tell you why."

I've since heard from many people that they've had the same troubles with this particular visa--even being married to a French person, having children here, owning homes, paying taxes, and running businesses. There seems to be no sense to who gets one who does not. So today was a very depressed day at our house. We can still stay in France but we're back to where we started and have to try again next year.

On the up side...Breech Without Borders' new website is live! Check it out and let me know what you think:


Also a random doodle that Zari made in her school book, then photographed, then put together into an animation.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

French déconfinement day 38

Ivy and several friends had a play date fairly far away. One of the other moms and I walked the girls over, then jogged back home. Our reward at the end was jumping in the sea to cool off.

Eric took Dio and Inga out on a photographic expedition. He's looking for some interesting photos to add to his website. Here are a few fun ones that Dio took--a little tour of our neighborhood.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

French déconfinement day 37

14,395 steps

We took Zari to the doctor today for her suspected anemia. Yep. Clear enough case that the doctor said we could skip the blood test. She'll go on supplemental iron for 3 months and then we'll follow up. If it's still not better by then, we can test and re-evaluate.

Full bill for the doctor's visit and 3 months of prescription iron supplements: 36 Euros. That's out-of-pocket, no insurance.

A common refrain in our family is, "I love where we live."

The new Breech Without Borders website is very close to launching! I'm so excited.

Here is my temporary work-around with my broken computer screen. I don't want to buy a laptop in France as I'd prefer to have a qwerty keyboard.

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Monday, June 15, 2020

French déconfinement day 36

14,647 steps

Ivy made tiramisu all by herself today. She's been talking about it for the past several days, and we've talked through the steps a few times. She was really proud of herself. And she has the perfect "dip & roll" technique for the lady fingers. The secret is to roll them in the coffee/marsala mixture super quickly. This will keep the biscuits from getting too soggy.

We had a quick trip to the chateau after school. Predictably, Dio didn't want to go. "The chateau is so boring!" I finally got him out the door and of course he had a great time. In this video he was trying to beat Eric's record for headers. He still has a ways to go...

Here's how we do tiramisu:

Whip 400 cl of heavy cream and 2 packages (500 g total) of mascarpone. Once it starts to firm up, add 2 packs vanilla sugar & 1/4 c white sugar and whip until firm

Make 1/2 c espresso and mix with 1/4 c marsala (we like Crema Mandorla as it has almond flavoring added).

Quickly roll the lady fingers in the coffee/marsala mixture and line the bottom of a springform pan. Spread half of the cream mixture on top. Dust liberally with cocoa powder.

Repeat once more with the lady fingers, cream, and then cocoa powder. Put grated dark chocolate on the top. Cover and let sit in the fridge at least 8 hours or overnight to give the biscuits time to soften.
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Sunday, June 14, 2020

French déconfinement day 35

7,514 steps

One of those days where the weather couldn't be more beautiful: cool in the shade, warm in the sun, clear skies.

Dio dressed himself very smartly this morning.

The kids rigged up a swing at the park. It involves climbing all the way up the big beam and then catching a rope that a sibling throws up.

I am revamping Breech Without Borders' website--FINALLY. I'm also combining our breech workshop site under the same umbrella. It's looking so good! I can't wait until it's released.
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Saturday, June 13, 2020

French déconfinement day 34

9,043 steps

I slept almost 8 hours last night and feel tons better!

With afternoon rainstorms in the forecast, we headed out first thing in the morning to the chateau. Right as we arrived, the rain started. We laughed at all the Niçois leaving the park as soon as a few drops started falling. And then...we got caught in a downpour!

We tried sheltering under a tree but even that couldn't protect us. We gave up and walked home in the torrent. "It's a free shower!" my friend said.

At home, off came the wet clothes and on came the hair dryer. We were good as new and extra clean.

We had Ivy's friends over to play in the afternoon. The trampolines at the coulée verte were extra fun--they were flooded with water! And...snails. Snails everywhere. (I was thinking, "dinner!")

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Friday, June 12, 2020

French déconfinement day 33

Ugh, I am feeling sick and hardly slept at all last night. It didn't help that our normal upstairs neighbor was gone. She had guests staying over who regularly come up the stairs around 2 or 3 am, talking and arguing loudly, and then they keep fighting with each other at maximum volume with their windows open, which means that we hear *everything.* Our staircase resonates better than a cathedral.

Somehow I managed to make 3 loaves of sourdough and cook dinner (chicken in chive cream sauce with jasmine rice). I probably should have rested more. My body can't decide between nausea, fever/hot flashes, full body aches, and chest twinges.

The kids found a lizard near their school entrance. It was moving sluggishly and missing part of its tail. Over lunch break they caught a container of insects for it, but it was already gone.

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

French déconfinement day 32

15,778 steps

I met with a woman who wanted to talk about her birth story. She recently had twins (twin A breech) and had an extremely traumatic birth. I won't go into details here but my jaw kept dropping as she told her story. "They did what? And then they did WHAT?!?"

This happened in one of our city's hospitals that prides itself on its very low cesarean rate. Which is a great thing--but that doesn't excuse what went on. We have so far to go to make maternity care even *barely* decent and humane, let alone something that leads to thriving, healthy, empowered mothers and families.

And guess what: it really isn't that hard. In fact, I think it would be so much work to be disrespectful and abusive. It's so easy (and rewarding) to honor a woman's autonomy and dignity, to listen to what she wants and take her seriously. To not do any procedure or treatment without her enthusiastic consent. To not touch without express permission. To not coerce or scare or threaten.

Okay, off my soapbox. It's time to relax for the evening. All the kids are in bed and we have some quiet time.

Today's pictures & videos:

Playing around with our Breech Without Borders logo and getting colorful...what do you think?

Zari's art project: when the mask is closed, it reads "j'aime l'ecole."

Pedestrian area near the Place du Pin...also known as "le petit marais Niçois."

Ivy doing a virtual piano lesson with my mom

And on my phone, Inga had made an instructional video of how to play the clock song. Here's a few seconds.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

French déconfinement day 31

10,377 steps

Another day of thunderstorms amassing behind Nice, but no storm hitting us except for a few drops of rain. Last night we had thunder and lightning directly overhead but the streets were dry.

On Wednesdays the younger kids don't have school, so we went to the beach. Only half of us swam because the air was a bit chilly.

A picture of the kids + friends from this afternoon.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2020

French déconfinement day 30

5,839 steps

It's late and I'm tired. Not much to report except we suspect Zari might be anemic. She has pale lower eyelids, her skin has stayed pale despite a lot of sun exposure, her resting heart rate is high (100 bpm), she's lethargic, and she craves ice all day long. (Her eyelid is paler in person than in the photo.) We're starting her on Floradix and will follow up in a few weeks.

Off to bed...
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Monday, June 08, 2020

French déconfinement day 29

14,404 steps

3 of the 4 kids were in school today. Freedom! I've been editing, encoding, and uploading videos all day.

My sister-in-law sent me these earrings for my birthday, and they just arrived today! I thought they were metal, but they are actually leather. If you look closely you'll see they are breastfeeding earrings.

There's a man who plays on a red piano on the Promenade des Anglais most summer evenings.

Ivy had me make masks for several of her school friends. We dropped them off today. They're so cute and colorful with reversible Indonesian batiks.

One of our friends gifted us an avocado seed sprouter, so we are now trying to grow a tree. I told my friend, "maybe I can bring my tree over to your tree so they can pollinate each other!" (Do avocado trees need to cross-pollinate? I thought I remembered reading that somewhere...)

We were watching a show with a Black character today. Ivy said, "You know the woman with the dark skin? If she were in the United States, the police might shoot her." Sad but true, even more so if she were male. It's interesting what children pick up on.

Nice is a diverse city, especially where we live. Our kids' school mates are from all over the world. 3/4 of Ivy's class speak another language at home. Nice is also a very conservative, racist city. We've witnessed first-hand how well we are treated--being white, blond-haired, and blue-eyed--compared to our friends who don't fit the "right" ethnic profile.

In France the racism has more to do with religion and ethnicity than with skin color, compared to the US. For example, I have a good friend who also has 4 children of the same ages. Lovely, well-mannered children. But she is Muslim and doesn't get the red carpet treatment that we do. My friend is paler than I am--no small feat, given I am of Scandinavian ancestry! But she wears the hijab and it clearly marks her as "other."

What's really shocking is that some people (usually of an older generation) assume we share in their racist sentiments. They'll come up to us on the tram or in the park and gush over our beautiful family, and then in the next sentence they'll bash on how Muslims or immigrants are taking over and they "don't even know their own country anymore." Eric likes to remind them that we are immigrants, too.
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Sunday, June 07, 2020

French déconfinement day 28

8,592 steps

The forecast said thunderstorms all day, but instead we had several glorious hours of sun while a wall of thunderstorms built up in the hills behind Nice. We went out to the chateau after lunch and met up with some friends.

The kids did the usual things: climbed on trees and playground equipment, looked at insects, collected rocks, threw frisbees and balls, and chased lizards.

I've been trying to do as much breech work as I can with half a computer screen. It's frustrating and slow
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