Tuesday, August 31, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 253: Shopping for la rentrée

8,467 steps

School starts in 2 days, so that means a big shopping trip for school supplies. Inga came with me this afternoon and was my list reader/checker. I'm really glad she was there, because it was difficult enough coordinating multiple lists and keeping track of what we had and what we still needed.

We worked in the morning. I filled more of the cracks next to the beams while Eric hooked up electrical outlets. We also took the plywood off two more windows. We have light! (Well, some light...this apartment will always be a bit dim since the windows in the back apartment only open into an interior staircase/courtyard, not truly to the exterior).

I made Boeuf Bourguignon, which the kids adore. It's a beef stew cooked in red wine with mushrooms, carrots, onions, bay leaves, & thyme. Sometimes I follow a recipe but tonight I just made it with what I had on hand. For dessert, Dio volunteered to go to the grocery store for Magnum bars.

I gave Dio a haircut this evening while Eric put Ivy and Inga to bed. We're going to wake everyone up early to get them ready for school the following day.
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Monday, August 30, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 252: Crowdsourcing

5,870 steps and a lot of MAP

I need your input on what to do with one of our windows! See the photo. You can see a large window on top (with the diagonal iron grate), a small amount of wall (all broken up), and a transom window on the bottom. Structurally the whole area is inside of a big wooden frame that we'll leave in place, and any of the 3 options are feasible.

We have 3 options for this area:

Option 1: Keep all of the existing openings and keep the iron grate in place. Put a window in the top opening, fix the broken wall, and put a fixed pane of glass or glass blocks where the transom window is.
Pros: very secure--no one can break in!
Cons: Have to fix the wall, might be more expensive as it involves ordering 2 windows, uglier with the iron grate

Option 2: Take out the iron grate. Combine the large window & the broken wall and put one big window in there. Put a fixed window in the transom window.
Pros: the window that opens won't go all the way to the floor (leaving room for a very tiny, low piece of furniture
Cons: Still have to order 2 windows, less secure, probably need to install a railing

Option 3: Take out the iron grate. Make the ENTIRE area into one big opening and install a floor-to-ceiling window.
Pros: maximum light, probably less expensive, aesthetically pleasing
Cons: less secure, can't put any furniture in front of the window, will need to install some sort of railing to prevent people from falling out

It's been a while since I posted a video of our renovations. A lot looks the same but believe me, we have done a lot of work!

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Sunday, August 29, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 251: The party and the afterparty

15,208 steps

Amazing weather: highs around 26 C (79 F), sunny, clear, and calm. I did my usual walk to Cimiez and back. Sometimes the kids come with me, but today I was alone. I don't mind--I get to listen to podcasts.

We watched one episode of The Flash after lunch. Then it was time for a birthday party for one of Ivy's friends. As many birthday parties are over here, this was for families, not just the group of friends. We spent a few hours together at the chateau, then continued the party into the evening at the beach. I had to leave for a Zoom meeting, but Ivy and Inga stayed for another hour.

This is the seaglass art that Ivy designed for her friend. She arranged it and I glued it.

Oh, last night a bit after 10 pm we heard some loud noises outside. What was it? Fireworks!! The city of Nice had decided to reschedule the Bastille Day fireworks for last night. That explains why the Promonade des Anglais had been closed off all day yesterday. We ran out to the beach with Zari and Dio to see the rest of it.

We took more pictures of Zari's hair. She's getting serious about trying to sell it (again) but this time I think we'll actually get it listed!

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Saturday, August 28, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 250: I have no idea what I'm doing

9,833 steps

I am mystified about how to parent teenagers. Little kids are so easy! Feed them when they're hungry, get them to bed when they're tired, cuddle them when they're sad. That covers most of the bases. But adolescents? I am so lost.

So for example, when my *cough* unnamed son acts like he's being sent to his own execution when Eric takes the kids to a friendly soccer match this morning, what should I do? Or if this hypothetical child is spending all sorts of time on an internet server and wants to be a moderator (keep in mind, he's only supposed to be online 30 minutes per day and only after he does his practicing) and I tell him I'd prefer him not to because he doesn't have time to moderate other people's internet activites, and he gets so glum you think his favorite pet had died.

What is a parent to do? I am not equipped to deal with this!

While the others were playing soccer, I did MORE taping and mudding. Yay. In the afternoon Ivy and I did seaglass art. We ran out of epoxy adhesive and the huge supermarket was completely out--I've never seen that before. We tried another adhesive and I'm hoping it will hold.

School starts at the end of next week. This is the longest summer break the kids have had since 2014. Every summer since then, they have only had a month because they were finishing school in France (early July) and starting in the States (early to mid August).

The little Pekinese dog we are watching, Baya, is acting off. She's been hiding in the smallest crevices she can wedge herself into. She's not been eating much. She vomited once yesterday. And she has been scratching herself a lot, to the point that she has red, inflamed bald spots (this last thing was happening when we first got her). Poor little dog. I've been messaging her owner so she's aware of what's going on. I don't think it's serious enough to go to the vet, but something is definitely off.
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Thursday, August 26, 2021

French apartment renovations, Days 246-248: It's vuh-cation

Ivy still prounounces "vacation" as "vuh-cation." One of her favorite expressions, when trying to convince us to do something we normally wouldn't do (like stay up late), is: "Come on! It's vacation!"

I enjoyed taking a few days off from journaling. We were up in the back country behind Nice, not really that far away but it felt like a different world. No cars, no people, just the occasional dog barking in the distance and the regional train passing a few times a day.

Mostly we enjoyed our friend's home: playing ping pong, jumping on the trampoline, playing with their Staffordshire Terrier Rusty, lounging in hammocks, going on walks to pick figs and blackberries.

We took an excursion to a nearby mountain river. Normally the water is a clear turquoise, but we went the day after a big rain storm. Alas, it was completely muddy so we couldn't swim and jump into the pools of water like we normally would. (We swam, but very tentatively since we couldn't see more than a few centimeters deep!)

We headed back to Nice mid-day today. On our way home, we picked up an old armoire door with a beveled mirror. It was the perfect size for the shallow closet we're building around our circuit breaker. Just a new coat of paint and a custom-built frame, and we'll have a beautiful and functional way to hide the electricity! And only 35 Euros...

Eric, Zari, and I put in a good afternoon's work. They were installing drywall around the sewer stack, while I standed and mudded. I'm already on the 3rd bucket and still have so much more left to do.

We're watching Baya again for a few more days.
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Monday, August 23, 2021

French apartment renovations, Days 244-45: When two days become one

Countless hip squeezes & sacrum counterpressure

Is today today or is it yesterday? Since I didn't go to bed at all last night, I'm not sure! I got a call on Sunday afternoon from a friend. "Rixa, I'm in labor and I'm having my baby right now. I need your help. Please can you come?" 3 minutes later I was out the door with only my purse, phone, chapstick, gum, and glasses.

We had talked several months ago about me coming to her birth if she wanted me there. I didn't know details about the labor I was walking into, other than it was a planned home birth.

I arrived 15 minutes later via Uber and learned that she had decided not to use a midwife and instead brought in a doula to attend her unassisted birth. Okay, well then. Freebirth it is.

Super long birth story short...it was an epic labor with all sorts of weird and difficult things, many of which we didn't know until after the birth. 34 hours of active labor, even longer time from ROM, 21 hours of nonstop back labor (aka nonstop pain way worse than contractions), 2 straight nights of no sleep for the birth team, 18 hours of not being able to empty her bladder, 10+ hours of pushing.

Thanks to a tenacious birth team, a rebozo, an eternally optimistic and encouraging papa, an exhausted but motivated mama, and lots and lots of time, we got the baby out. I don't usually say "we" because the mama gives birth, not the partner or the midwife or the doula. But this birth truly involved everyone's maximum cooperation in a way I've never witnessed before. I say without any hesitation that this birth could not have happened without all of us there.

I was only there for the last 19 hours and *only* missed one full night of sleep.

For those of you birth people, you'll be interested to know that baby was not just a military presentation, but significantly asynclitic. After the baby came out and I saw his head, I thought "THAT EXPLAINS SO MUCH!"

This was the weirdest, most unreadable labor I had ever attended and I kept wondering if I was just particularly inept at figuring out what was going on. Nope.

I got home today a bit after 11 am. I bought myself a pain au chocolat as a treat for all that hard work. I enjoyed the warm buttery flaky pastry on my way home.

I passed out for an hour and a half nap after lunch. That gave me enough reserves to make it through the rest of today. Today was special: we were packing for vacation! It's a short vacation (technically we are dog/house sitting for some friends in the back country). We left Nice mid-afternoon.

We had considered driving back to Nice each day to work on the Communist apartment. But then we decided to just stay here and enjoy 3 days of family time with no other obligations.

The kids jumped on the trampoline, picked cherry tomatoes and wild blackberries, played ping pong, learned to play guitar, and ran around outside. I made Thai coconut soup for dinner and chocolate tart for dessert. It is definitely time for bed!
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Saturday, August 21, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 243: Coco Beach!

19,309 steps

After a terrible night sleep and waking up long before sunrise--what is up with that!?--I had to scrap my plans to work on the communist apartment. By time 9 am rolled around, I had been awake for several hours and taken Baya on a long walk with Inga. I could hardly function. Eric persuaded/ordered me to bed and came up to snuggle and nap with me.

I got up at 10 am feeling much improved. It's so frustrating when my body just won't cooperate with my plans! Ah well...it is Saturday, I suppose. I can take a day off.

After lunch we walked over to Coco Beach, on the other side of the port. Just for fun, we took the free shuttle boat across the port. Ironically, it took longer to wait in line than just walking around on foot!

A great afternoon. The kids were resistant to going to Coco Beach because of inertia, but of course as soon as we got there they had an amazing time and didn't want to leave.

Eric caught 2 fish and we had a third first from yesterday. That became dinner tonight, along with spaghetti and pesto.

We watched a few episodes of The Flash. This will keep us entertained for a while, given how many episodes there are. The kids are loving it.
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Friday, August 20, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 242: More of the same

3,863 steps

How come sanding and mudding drywall doesn't translate into my fitness tracker? I'm even moving my arms back and forth!

Zari had soccer practice again. Inga spent much of the day with a friend. Just more of the usual: installing drywall, sanding, taping, and mudding. The older sister of one of Ivy's friends came to learn how to do mudding and taping. I felt myself searching for the right vocabulary words for "mud pan" and "countersunk" and "feather" (as in feathered edges). Not things that you learn at university!

Normally we take weekends off from the Communist apartment. But since we'll be on a mini dog-sitting vacation for 3 days next week, I am going to put in a half day of work tomorrow. We have a bit more drywall to put up on the kitchen ceiling and around the sewer pipes in the corner. Eric will work on that while I do the mudding.
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Thursday, August 19, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 241: No loo to go to

7,761 steps

We currently have no working toilet in our apartment for the next 24 hours. But that's ok--it was on purpose. We had to apply some rubber sealant to the main sewer stack and it needs to stay dry for 24 hours. We temporarily hooked up a toilet in the communist apartment. We haven't sorted out the water supply, so it's the old-fashioned "dump & flush" method with a bucket of water.

My hair is full of drywall dust, my fingers and nails have bits of rubber sealant in the cracks, and I have waterproofing membrane on my legs.

It's been a day.

I sanded drywall mud much of the morning and remembered why I HATE drywall mudding and taping. It's fine the first day, but when you keep doing it day after day and get covered in chalky dust and keep finding more seams that need taping, or the 2nd coat of mid, or 3rd coat, you just want to scream. Or do what I did: sit on the scaffolding, staring blankly at the wall, for a good 20 minutes.

We tried to keep the kids busy with small mudding or sanding jobs and helping Eric hang the first big sheet of drywall on the underneath of the mezzanine (kitchen ceiling, essentially).

No one wanted to go swimming this evening except Eric, so he went alone. I was exhausted and started falling asleep as soon as I sat down on the couch.

Ivy and I took Baya for a walk this evening. This dog needs to get in shape! Fine, she's a little frou-frou dog, but that's not an excuse for not being able to walk more than a few minutes without sounding like she is going to pass out. Apparently each time we dog sit her, she comes home to her owner totally exhausted and sleeps like the dead for a day or two.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 240: Braving the wilds of Leroy Merlin

We're watching a dog (actually two dogs, but not simulaneously) for the next 12 days. Baya is here for several days, then we go up into the back country to watch another friend's dog, then we come back to Nice and watch Baya again.

I went running first thing in the morning, taking advantage of the slightly cooler temperatures. Eric took Dio and Inga to play soccer (just a friendly pickup game) while Zari was at her Cavigal practice. Ivy and I worked on her piano and then she built a huge canopy bed in Minecraft.

After lunch, Eric and I made another big trip to Leroy Merlin. This time, we returned hundreds of Euros of extra items--what a great feeling! Then we bought hundreds of kilograms of sand, paint, and drywall mud plus more tools, supplies, and light fixtures. So we probably broke even 🙂

Ivy spent the afternoon at the library doing crafts with a few of her friends.

Quick swim after our shopping trip. I made the kids go, and they had so much fun once they were there. Why is it so hard to convince them to go???

Dinner was split pea soup. Comfort food from my childhood. I cook it with some sort of pork sausage, carrots, onions, celery (if I have it), thyme, and bay leaves. 
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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 239: More of the same

5,341 steps

Another long work day in the communist apartment. I used the entire 25 kg bucket of sheetrock mud in 2 days! We need to make another trip to the big home improvement store for more mud, sand (for doing the lime mortar), masking tape, tuck pointing trowels, and a few other miscellaneous items. Maybe tomorrow.

While I was taping and mudding, Zari and Ivy sanded down the screws that had been mudded over with the first coat. Dio helped Eric frame the little right-angle wall that will cover up the main sewer stack/plumbing lines/electrical lines. Eric also installed drywall on the upstairs hallway ceiling and on the back of the shower wall. Inga painted the 2nd coat of waterproofing membrane until we ran out of paint.

Zari had soccer practice start up again this morning. The kids helped much of the afternoon on and off. They have this habit of disappearing and wandering back upstairs when we're not paying attention!

At the end of the work day, I could only convince Inga and Ivy to come swimming. I gave Zari and Dio a choice: come swimming, or stay at home and clean (fold laundry, clean the dining table, sweep, & vacuum). They chose option #2! Okay, but in my imaginary teenage universe I'd rather go to the beach than clean :)

Today Eric remarked, "This is going to be a sweet apartment." It's so fun to see it coming together after months of destruction. I'm so excited to do the pointing on the exposed rock wall...to paint...to lay tile and flooring...all that is super fun stuff.
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Monday, August 16, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 238: Taping & mudding and lots of other progress

5,111 steps

Lots of work done today! While the kids were eating breakfast, we watched Taka Yaka videos to refresh our drywall mudding & taping techniques. (He is hilarious to boot.) Based on his advice, I had bought several kinds of special drywall tape by Strait-Flex: Original, Tuff Tape, and Crack Tape. We have everything needed to do straight seams, inside & outside corners, & transitions where drywall meets plaster or cement.

I was very impressed with these products. So much better than paper tape or fiberglass mesh! I am sold 🙂 And with the different consistency of the drywall mud, I followed Taka Yaka's techniques exactly with excellent results.

I also plastered in several more outlet boxes.

Eric sank screws that were still sticking out, installed acoustic drywall in the WC ceiling, and got the toilet together and temporarily in place (we need to do some repairs on our main waste stack, and we will need to not use our own apartment toilet for 24 hours...hence the new temporary toilet). Zari painted on the first coat of waterproof membrane in the shower area. Dio helped both of us as needed, holding drywall, fetching tools, refilling my pan with mud.

I was a dirty, stinky, sweaty mess by 5 pm. I rinsed off my arms and hands, cooked dinner, and then went for a quick swim before we ate. Eric was also out swimming and still found a few items, despite the waves and cloudy water.

Dinner was yellow curry with chicken and whatever vegetables I had in the fridge (onions, zucchini, bell peppers, & potatoes). I made enough for another dinner; it's now in the freezer for a busy day.

Piano lessons took up our evening. Phew! Busy day. Also tempestuous between the kids arguing a lot in the morning, Zari crying and going into her room after the arguing, Ivy crying dramatically when Inga went to her friend's house without her, and Inga crying dramatically after because she got into trouble when she left without Ivy.
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Sunday, August 15, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 237: Down day

8,028 steps

I didn't sleep much last night so I opted to stay at home and rest. Well, okay, my "rest" in the morning involved catching up on breech-related emails and scholarship applications. But then I made up for it by lounging around and reading a book in the afternoon.

Oh, Ivy said something funny yesterday: "Happy wedding birthday!"

We didn't really go anywhere today, except Eric went for a swim/treasure hunt and came back with all sorts of goodies: a brand new mask & snorkel, a few Euros, & a beach coverup. Two days ago he found lots of mismatched shoes, an integrated mask & snorkel, Ray-Ban sunglasses, another dive mask, and a 20 Euro bill.

Dinner was on Eric tonight: salad, tortellini, & stuffed salmon. I made chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

The two of us went on a nice long walk in the evening around the port to La Réserve and back.

That's about it. We'll have a good workday tomorrow and put the kids to use.
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Saturday, August 14, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 236: Beach day (and some work) and an anniversary

Lots of swimming...not as many steps

We let the kids sleep in. Of course I was up at 7 am on the one day where I didn't need to be awake! Eric and I headed downstairs for a quiet morning of work around 9:30. We didn't want to disturb our neighbors.

I spent much of the morning measuring & cutting the last piece of drywall. It's slow-going because we had to cut around the curved beam and I wanted it to be as precise as possible.

During lunch, I prepared for the evening's breech live session and got dinner in the oven, pre-programmed to be done. And then...we headed to the beach! Today we went back to Plage Passable in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, one of our favorite spots. Except for the massive amounts of people, it was great.

We had to head back in time for my 6 pm live session. But I think 3 hours was perfect--any more and I would have felt way too fried.

Dinner was Tuscan butter gnocchi. A definite favorite and repeat dinner. (https://www.delish.com/.../tuscan-butter-gnocchi-recipe/)

Oh....and I suppose the biggest news of the day: it was our 23rd anniversary! Having an afternoon outing as a family was a perfect way to celebrate.
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Friday, August 13, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 235: Work hard, play hard

6,356 steps

Again another great work day where, despite all of the work, my fitness tracker tells me I've hardly moved compared to my usual routine.

Eric took the 3 older kids to play soccer in the morning. It was HOT! High of 33 C (91 F). They came back all sweaty and exhausted. Ivy had a friend come over for a few hours, and then she got invited to the beach with her friend once her mom was done with work.

After lunch, we put all of the kids to work. They mudded in the screw holes in the drywall (according to Dio it was "very easy"). The drywall mud over here has a very different consistency. It feels eerily like cream cheese, only a bit more fluid. Zari said that out of the blue today, and I had said the same thing to Eric the first time I used it.

We got most of the wall pieces cut and installed. Just one more left!! I hope to do that tomorrow morning. Yes, usually we don't work on the weekends but I'd love to get it done 🙂

We had to do a bit more cutting with the rainureuse to pare down a few stones that were sticking out too far. We keep thinking we are done with the super messy stuff and we are always wrong!

Eric and I both went swimming after our long work day. It felt amazing. Just in the past day or so, the sea has developed a very warm top layer. The first foot or so it almost too warm, and then below that it still feels nice and cool. So you can choose to warm up or cool down depending on how you position your body.

No pictures or videos from today. I'll try to get some tomorrow after that last piece of drywall goes up.
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Thursday, August 12, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 234: Hot is relative + 3 showers + lots accomplished

5,613 steps

Wow, it looks like I sat around all day, according to my fitness tracker! But in fact I was working hard in the communist apartment. We have normal summer temperatures this week, really for the first time. 30-31 C. Hot but not like the terrible heat wave Sicily is experiencing, with record highs of 48.8 C (119.8 F).

We started our day with having the kids clean the apartment staircase from top to bottom. Our building hires a cleaning person to come twice a month, but she has refused to come for the past two months "because it will just get dirty again." Um, yes, that is exactly the point--we pay her to clean it! We don't rely solely on her; we do sweep and mop whenever we have a particularly dusty day of renovating. But her JOB is LITERALLY to clean, and now she says she won't clean it unless it's clean.

The rest of the day was installing the ceiling drywall and painting a special primer in the shower area. We'll install the waterproofing membrane on top of this area tomorrow.

Eric and I went back to work after dinner--unusual for us--because we were motivated to get it DONE. Now we just have 3 pieces of drywall to put up on that last wall. That's for tomorrow. I'm so excited to have this big step behind us!

We sent the kids out in the afternoon to the coulée verte while we had a RDV with our bank. They helped tremendously in the morning and deserved some play time.
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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 233: Cool & cold

9,662 steps

We were lying in bed at 8:10 am, pretending we weren't awake, when our doorbell rang. It was the fridge! We knew it would be delivered in the morning, just not when. It's almost the same size as our old one, but it's a really dark stainless steel, more like dark gray than silver. I don't really like it but it was one of very few models that fit our dimensions.

I walked over to our friend's house one final time to pick up all of our fridge/freezer items. It's so nice to be able to open the fridge and get what I need!

And...we are so happy to have AC today. It's HOT outside. I went on a walk with Zari late this evening and it was still toasty out, even well after sunset. We cool just the rooms are are in down to 27 C. Maybe as an extra splurge we'll go down to 26 C :) Living room during the day, bedrooms at night. It's certainly not chilly indoors by any means, but it's just enough to cut the heat and humidity.

The rest of the day was a big work day for us, and occasionally some of the kids. We put up two more big sheets of ceiling drywall. One part was tricky because there was a huge block of concrete, still in its original bag, that we had to score and jackhammer. It was sticking out 2-3" beyond the ceiling joists. It was a mega pain. Both of us took a go at it.

We also found hot & cold water lines running to our own apartment upstairs, embedded inside that block of concrete. So we had to go very carefully in those areas.

Keep in mind that it was in the upper 80s F (around 30 C) today. We had on respirators and safety googles, which added to the heat.

I also got the stone wall ready for drywall. Ivy did a bit of sanding at one point. Inga got a pass because she was at a friend's house.

We ended right at dinnertime. I had so much gunk and debris in my hair when I showered.
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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 232: Back to work

12,744 steps

We said goodbye to our friends this morning; they were catching the TGV (high speed train) back to Paris and then back to the US in 2 more days.

I got friendly with the cement mixer and did my 4th batch of lime mortar. Or maybe my 3rd? I am losing track. The wall is pretty much done now. It's not pretty but it's structurally sound, and that's all that I care about for this one.

Working with lime mortar is tricky; I'm still trying to get the right consistency because it seems to go straight from too crumbly to overly wet and slumpy. It doesn't stick together very well even though I am following all of the recommended steps. Maybe it's just like that and I have to get used to it.

In the afternoon we put up the next piece of ceiling drywall. I cut it all out and we lifted it up..and realized that I had cut out the mirror image! Ugh, it was so much work because we were going around mulitple bump-outs and strange angles. Finally we cut a new one the right way and got it attached, thanks to help from Zari and Dio.

Tomorrow will be a big drywall day: more on the ceiling and then on the stone wall that I just finished repairing. Woohoo!

Eric and I finished at 5:30 pm, just in time for a quick swim all by ourselves. Well, quick for me and long for Eric. The water was clear and calm so he went treasure hunting. He didn't find much besides the usual mismatched shoes.

Exciting news: we get our new fridge tomorrow! It will have been 12 days since our old one broke.

It's starting to get hot. We've had the windows open all week, but we closed up today and turned on the AC. It will be hot all week, in the upper 80s (30-31 C) and only cooling down to around 74-75 F (24 C) at night.
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Monday, August 09, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 231: Treats

The last day of having visitors. Eric brought his friend out snorkeling out this morning while I did more lime mortaring. I worked until I ran out of sand.

We adults ate at L'Eau de Vie again. Yum! I should have taken pictures.

In the afternoon, Eric took our friends to see Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Dio went to play with a friend. We had a movie party in the afternoon while I checked Ivy's and Zari's hair with the lice comb. I was just about to do Inga's hair, but then she had to go to a playdate with a friend. I didn't see anything in Ivy or Zari, so I think we might be okay. I'll check Inga tomorrow to be sure.

Our friends treated us out to ice cream this evening. Dio had cassis (black currant), I had passionfruit, Zari and Ivy had lemon, Inga had griotte (a kind of cherry), and Eric had Amarena (cherry-vanilla). We are so spoiled 🙂

We had a nice evening stroll through the Cours Saleya, Promenade des Anglais, and the coulée verte. Then we had to sacrifice ourselves and finish a chocolate mousse dessert that our friends had bought. Without a fridge, it was starting to droop a bit.
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Sunday, August 08, 2021

French apartment renovations, Days 230: Literal and figurative headaches

14,581 steps

I had another headache coming on this morning, but I'm so glad that it didn't get as bad as yesterday's. Unfortunately, my figurative headache started this evening when I discovered lice in my hair! Nooooo!!!!

Okay, technically we only found one louse and a small number of nits. But still, pas bien.

My friend offered to help comb out my hair. I joked, "You come to France for the first time in your life and you end up de-lousing someone's hair! Great vacation!"

I'm going to check everyone tomorrow, just in case.

We had a nice slow-paced afternoon. Lunch, conversation, and then swimming at the beach. We had nice big waves, but not so big that they were dangerous. Inga and Ivy both ended up with their friends, one by invitation and one by chance.

Eric made duck breast with honey, balsamic, & shallots, along with rice, leftover green beans, and hummus on cucumber slices. Then we had a crepe fete! Our friends got several delicious ingredients: mangoes, raspberries, Nutella, whipping cream...I had dark chocolate & cream for my first crepe, and raspberries, dark chocolate, & cream for my second.

Then the rest of my evening was attending our Siaparto conference presentations (siaparto.com.br/programacao ).
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Saturday, August 07, 2021

French apartment renovations, Days 228-229: Visitors!

11,579 steps

We have visitors for the first time since Covid started. We stayed up far too late last night talking. It reminds me of our days in grad school, pre-kids.

Yesterday morning was another good work day; I did more stone wall repair with Zari's help. Our friends arrived at dinner time. I love that even with our small apartment (well, small by American standards at around 800 sq ft if we include the attic bedroom...but pretty average for French apartments, albeing most French families don't have 4 kids), we can fit 8 people and still feel comfortable. It helps that we spend a lot of our days outside.

Today we took a day trip to Eze and Monaco. Eze is a perched village on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean and is stunning, even when visiting for the 10th time. 

We visited the Jardin Exotique, which is where the cover photo on my blog was taken years ago. I had Eric take a picture of me & the kids in front of the same statue.

We had originally planned on just going to Eze and then dropping our friends off in Monaco for the afternoon...so I didn't pack any lunch or prepare in any way.

Then last minute we decided to go to Monaco with our friends. So we had some very hungry and grumpy children. We finally were able to buy some groceries and eat around 2:30 pm. This is why I like planning things beforehand!

I also got a really bad headache--bordering on a migraine. We left at around 3:30 while our friends stayed to explore a bit more, then caught the bus back home.

I came home and collapsed on the couch for a nap and felt more human once I woke up. Right after dinner, Eric, Ivy, Inga, and I went for a swim. After the big waves the past two days, Eric found tons of shoes, underwear, and bandanas.

We got the kids to bed on time this evening, and we'll probably go to sleep a bit earlier. Being a tourist is exhausting!
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Thursday, August 05, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 227: We (re)built a wall!

12,532 steps

Eric and I have had enough of lazy kids sitting around the house all day. So we told them last night: "We need your help finishing the apartment. Your grandparents arrive in October and we'd like to have the back part done enough that they can stay there. From now on, we're all getting up as a family at the same time, and we'll all work together in the mornings."

So at 7:30 am, the Freeze family was awake and looking

Inga and Ivy had soccer practice again. While Eric was dropping them off, Zari and I got started mixing a batch of chaux (lime mortar) in the cement mixer. I sent Dio off on a walk with Baya. While the lime was mixing, Zari sanded some of the MAP that we had applied yesterday.

I think I have the hang of using the cement mixer now. It's so nice to just push the "on" button and come back 30 minutes later!

I rebuilt one of the big voids in the rock wall. It's almost all the way filled up. Zari was my rock fetcher/sorter/wetter. She'd find the right size and shape, dip it in water, and then hand it up to me on the ladder. She would also refill my hawk with lime.

I wasn't going for aesthetics, just stability. But even so, it looked better than I had expected. It's a bit like playing Tetris as you have to fit the rocks together in 3 dimensions.

Dio helped Eric install the "ceiling" on chimney bookshelf. We ended close to lunchtime, just in time for Eric to pick up Inga and Ivy.


Then...fun time for the adults! We went out to eat with some friends of Eric's who were visiting from California. Their daughter stayed and played with our kids while we had an amazing meal at L'Eau de Vie. Everything I've ever eaten there has been fantastic. With a 3-course lunch menu at only 24 Euros, it's one of my favorite places to eat.

We had some brief down time at home, then met up with our friends at the beach. The waves were getting so big that the lifeguards started clearing everyone out of the water shortly after we arrived. They switched the flag from orange (caution) to red (no swimming allowed). They even brought out the big guns: the big patrol boat. It cruised close to shore, ensuring that the stray swimmers complied. The waves don't look very big on the video, but I assure you that they were quite dramatic in real life.

Oh...our fridge! So we've been without a fridge since last Saturday. The repair person came this afternoon and took the entire thing apart. He seemed more and more perplexed as he tried one thing, and then another, and then another, and he even called some support line and asked the person, "have you ever heard of this happening?" He finally figured out that some part of the electronics had gotten water into it somehow and it was completely unrepairable. I'm frustrated because this fridge was only 2 years old!

So after our attempt at swimming, Eric, Zari, and I headed to the appliance store. They gave us store credit but we had to buy a different fridge since the model we had is no longer being manufactured. And of course anything that was the right size was more expensive. We finally found one we could agree on, and it will be delivered next Wednesday. So we'll be 12 days without a fridge.

This took so long that Eric bought pizzas for dinner on our way home. We didn't eat until about 8 pm, which is very late for us! Normal for most French people, though.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 226: Soccer, rain, ceiling drywall, & tag

Eric found a girls' soccer camp that has been going on for the past several weeks, and it still had some openings for this week! At just 7 Euros per child per day (8:30 am - noon), it was amazing. Inga and Ivy loved it. Eric wanted to enroll Zari, too, but she said no. They'll go for two more days this week.

It rained most of the day until late afternoon. Just teeny splatters on and off. I went running in the morning and loved the feeling of the rain on my skin.

We didn't get started on renovating work until mid-afternoon. We got another heavy sheet of acoustic drywall up. Thanks to some helpful YouTube videos, I learned some simple hacks for holding drywall onto the ceiling. It was SO much easier this time. Zari and Dio were impressed.

We took an after-dinner walk to get Baya out and to buy ice cream. We bought a 6-pack of cones and walked around the coulee verte, letting Baya make some friends. We stopped to play tag. I joined in, much to the kids' delight. After a while I made them all play "skip tag," just to mix things up a bit and make it more challenging.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 225: Chateau & work

I woke up reaaaaaaly early this morning and couldn't get back to sleep for a long time. Ugh. We all went to the chateau this morning for some exercise and family time. I was tired so I just watched everyone else play. I probably should have geared up and made myself run...but I didn't. One of Ivy's friends joined us for the morning.

We finally got some work done in the afternoon. We put in a new ceiling joist to replace a rotten one that we had cut down. I first treated it with 2 coats of insect/rot repellent. Then we had to pare down some of the concrete on the ceiling to make the beam fit. So of course that meant more dust everywhere.

Then finally we were ready to put up the next piece of acoustic drywall. It's so hard to hold it overhead, even with 3 of us holding and one of us operating the drill. We had a bit of MAP left over so we cemented in a few more outlet boxes.

Late afternoon swim with Ivy and Inga and some friends of Eric's who are visiting this week from California. We were completely out of toilet paper, so I left after a short swim to buy groceries and supplies.
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Monday, August 02, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 224: Slow day

10,899 steps

We had a slow start this morning. Between waking up late and then Eric and the kids watching the Canada-US women's soccer semifinals, we didn't even start work until after lunch. Well, I did! I applied more epoxy wood hardener to a few more areas. Then I spent a long while gazing at all the work to be done, feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start.

I felt really icky in the afternoon--waves of fatigue and dizziness and heat washing over me. At a few moments I thought I would pass out. I rested for a while and then did a bit more work with Eric.

We brought the kids out to the splash pad late in the afternoon, since the waves were too big today. Despite them protesting that the splash pad was boring, they had so much fun once they were there. It was hot but very dry and windy, so I felt quite cool as soon as I got wet.

We're plugging along without our fridge. We ate the last of the food that was in our freezer, thawing slowly. Now it's all either gone or at our friend's.

We're going to be a bit more disciplined tomorrow and get everyone up and out the door in the morning for exercise. It's been a weird summer since we're not going anywhere for the first time in years, but we also haven't planned many activities since we have so much renovation work to do. I think we need to do more fun stuff with the kids: hikes, adventures, etc.
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Sunday, August 01, 2021

French apartment renovations, Day 223: Walk, nap, walk, nap

After last night's electrical excitement, it took me several hours to fall asleep. I felt plenty energetic in the morning and went on two 45-minute walks. But by mid-afternoon I was fading and had nap #1 while reading on Zari's bed. Nap #2 happened just an hour ago while I was on the couch reading a book and listening to Eric talk with his parents on Facetime.

This morning we emptied out all the perishables from our fridge and freezer and either ate them for lunch/dinner or brought them to a friend's house just down the street. She had some extra space for our things, fortunately. We have just a few items left in our freezer that we need to finish off tomorrow.

What was I able to make?
  • Lunch: chicken noodle soup (we'd eaten roast chicken the night before and I already had bone broth in the pressure cooker, plus a container of extra chicken meat). I added leeks, carrots, onions, herbs, and some egg noodles.
  • Dinner: the rest of the soup, plus a pork-onion-leek risotto with Emmental, escargots, salad made out of anything that could possibly go in a salad, and dark chocolate mint cookies.
Bad news: the repair service can't come until Thursday. I hope they can actually fix the fridge that day. Managing cooking for 6 people isn't easy anyway, but it's extra hard with no fridge or freezer.

We are watching Baya, the Pekinese, for 5 days. Zari and I brought her for a mid-afternoon walk. We watched the huge waves for a while: it was hot, dry, and extremely windy. Poor Baya can only walk for a few minutes in the summer before she gets too hot and tired.

A friend of Eric's is visiting from California, along with his wife and youngest daughter. Dio, Inga, and Ivy went to the park with Eric and his friend before dinner while I cooked. Then we had them over for a "let's eat everything in our freezer" dinner tonight. They were good sports and helped us out 🙂

We ordered a large pack of origami paper. Now we have birds and insects and animals and throwing stars all over the house, including on Baya.

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