Thursday, September 29, 2022

Stranded at school

22,918 steps I finished editing and encoding my new breech maneuvers lecture! It's under inspection from some of our BWB team to check for any typos or errors before I upload it to our course platform. I estimate that for every minute of footage, I spent almost an hour in production and editing. It's close to 1 hour yeah, a lot of work!

Zari got stranded at her school after soccer practice; the girls she normally rides with had other things going on. She tried calling me using her coach's phone, but I was in the middle of a Zoom meeting and couldn't answer (plus I didn't recognize the number). She couldn't call Eric because she didn't have his phone number memorized.

Finally I got a call from another unknown number, the assistant coach as it turns out. I told him I'd be out the door ASAP...and then I discovered that Eric had the car! He was an hour away watching Inga and Dio's soccer games. She didn't know how to walk home, either. (It's not exactly easy--there's a hidden path through the woods that connects to the main roads.)

So I picked her up the old-fashioned way: I rode my bike there and we walked home. It was 2 miles away so took about an hour round-trip. We got home right on time for Ivy to arrive back from her soccer practice (getting dropped off by her coach).

Seriously, life is too crazy.

Oh, here's a sneak peek at our new book! This is our NZ printer's proof but it's basically the same thing, except for British English spellings and a slightly different page size.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

14,277 steps

Zari had a stressful sendoff this morning--she was doing math homework until the last moment and wasn't watching the clock. She had to run out the door with undone hair and chewing gum in lieu of brushing her teeth.

I had several Zoom meetings: one to talk about an article I'm co-authoring, another to consult with parents expecting twins (babies #5 & 6) who have no support for a vaginal birth in their area, despite 4 previous vaginal births. My other time was spent video editing.

I let myself take a little break after I picked Ivy up from school--well, during that break I still cooked dinner (split pea soup), but at least I took a short break from working. She was outside making Halloween decorations and playing with a neighbor's cat. I joined her on the front steps and enjoyed the fall sunshine.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

21,511 steps

I'm so exhausted that I feel nauseated. Ugh. Definitely a day of feeling overwhelmed with how much work I have to get done. And it's never "done" because there's always more to do. Today was all video editing.

Same for yesterday--I was too tired to write.

Poor Zari is still doing homework and it's after 11 pm. There ought to be a rule that high schoolers can't have more than 8-hour workdays. After all, we make that rule for adults and they actually get paid for their work. And then we turn around and punish students for not "working" unpaid overtime. Normally I can help her, but it's a certain type of math problem that I am not familiar with. I can figure it out the back way, but not the way the textbook wants.
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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Soccer & Smores Sunday

I slept in for the first time in...a long time. Just until 8 am but it felt great.

Eric was gone all afternoon at soccer games (Ivy's, and then Inga's). Once we were all back home, we had dinner together and then sent the kids off to gather firewood at the pack in our back yard. We made a big bonfire, roasted Smores, and enjoyed the cool air and warm fire.

I've been falling asleep just about every time I sit down today. This is highly unusual. Anyway I'm off to get some real sleep in a bed on purpose.
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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Chores and thrift stores

4,468 steps

In the morning, I gave the kids a list of chores (put your laundry away, vacuum your bedroom, and vacuum one other room). I told them that I would be back in an hour and expected their chores to be done when I came home. If not, I'd give them one more job to do.

Then I went off all by myself to the thrift store! I needed some winter pajamas and found those and more. The chores were all done when I got home. Well done :)

The rest of the day was relaxed. Eric took Ivy to a soccer game and I got a ride with Inga to hers. It was one of those idyllic fall days: warm in the sun, cool in the shade, crisp air, and a gentle breeze.

Dinner was steamed broccoli, pork chops with melted pepper spread (, and ice cream.

We watched a movie after dinner, but I had to leave right before the end for a breech live session. It was quite lively.
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Friday, September 23, 2022

23,699 steps

I've been exhausted in the evenings the past two days. Then I looked at my step count for today! Maybe that's why. 8,000 of those steps were "real" (mostly running) and the rest were on the treatmill while I was working.

One big advantage of my walking desk is that my core temperature stays much higher. I normally get cold very easily and can't warm up. But when I start walking, I stay warm and even shed layers despite a cooler house.

Zari's school had a lockdown due to a weapons threat. Fortunately, it turned out to be a false alarm. It's so frustrating to live here, never knowing if there will be a school shooting.

Yesterday I re-filmed one of my breech lectures--again--because the first refilming was out of focus on the whole time. Take 2 worked.

This is Inga's school team photo. She plays on two teams: her middle school team and a regional league.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Filming day

7,651 steps

I spent most of my workday re-filming lectures and simulations for our online breech training course. After over 2 years of hybrid courses and 3 years of teaching, it was time to update our materials.

The next several days will be full of video editing. Then I have to do it all over again once my MD colleague sends me his new lectures.

We're in a heat wave but it's supposed to be 30 degrees colder by tomorrow. I finally broke down yesterday and turned the AC on. It got up to 90°F (32°C) today, which is unusual for September.

We have Zari's followup visit tomorrow to see if she can go off crutches. We anticipate at least another week of rest in a boot or brace. She had a theater audition tonight--the first she's ever done. I'm hoping she gets some sort of role--big or small, it doesn't matter. It's fun to be involved in theater.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2022

15,235 steps

When I'm walking on my treadmill desk, my fitness tracker doesn't record the steps. But my desk itself does. Between my morning run to drop Ivy off and walking for a few hours at my desk, I'm at 15k steps for the day. Pretty typical. It would have been longer, but I decided to pick Ivy up via bike rather than on foot.

I had a webinar late in the afternoon (breech-related). I feel so lucky to have the job that I do. Yes, it's often never-ending and hard to put down, given that I don't have a clear end to my workday and there's always more to be done. But on the other hand, I get to use all sorts of creative and intellectual skills and I see the real-time results as parents and birth professionals write back to me about their breech birth experiences.

If the light cooperates tomorrow, I'm going to refilm one of my breech lectures in Breech Pro. If it's too overcast, I'll need to wait another day.

We all were home for dinner tonight, which was unusual given the kids' soccer schedules. It's such a normal thing for us in France but not a given over here.
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Monday, September 19, 2022

Post-apocalyptic thunder

We were all jolted awake at 2:30 am by one of the loudest noises I have ever heard. In the milliseconds it took me to wake up, my brain processed it as a huge bomb going off and I even started to wonder if this was the beginning of a global apocalypse. Yeah, it was that loud and that foreign.

We figured out it was thunder when we saw lightning flash in the distance, but it sure didn't sound like thunder--none of that rumbling or rolling or crackling.

Then we were hit by a huge storm that, had it not been 2:30 am, would have been fun to go out and watch.

Then I lay wide awake the rest of the night, drifting off to sleep a few minutes before my alarm went off. I read a book for a few hours because sleep was eluding me.

Anyway it was an exciting night and an exhausting day for all of us. Eric is in bed at 11 pm, which, if you know him, is NOT normal.
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Sunday, September 18, 2022

Marathon Saturday + restful Sunday

I was so tired after yesterday that I put off everything else in the evening. It was fun but busy. Eric and I both did some yard work in the morning. Then I played chauffeur for several hours, dropping Eric and Ivy off at a soccer game, picking Dio up at a county fair 15 minutes away, coming home to pick up Inga and Zari, driving 30 minutes south of town for a cider press activity, driving back home in time for Inga and me to catch a ride to her soccer tournament 45 minutes away. As soon as we got home from that, Eric dropped Zari off at a school dance and then had to come get her 2 hours later.

So much coming and going! It was my first opportunity to watch one of Inga's games this season. She went to a sleepover right after the game with two of her teammates, and I think (hope) they went to bed at a reasonable hour.

Right when she arrived at the school dance, one of Zari's crutches slipped and she feel, hurting her ankle again. So she had a frustrating time and stayed on the sidelines with a painful ankle. She had planned on going out to eat with her friends after, but her ankle hurt too much. I'm just so frustrated on her behalf!

Today was quite restful in contrast. Eric and Ivy had another soccer match in the afternoon, in which Ivy was on fire and scored 3 of the 5 goals. The rest of us stayed home, watched a movie, read books, and otherwise took it easy.

Dinner was roasted brussels sprouts, marinated chicken, basmati rice, peach cobbler (from the peaches we picked last month), and fresh apple cider.
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Friday, September 16, 2022

Several hours of walking, bike rides, and sore eyes

8,411 steps

Note to self: don't put hydrogen peroxide in my eyes. (I already knew this, but I grabbed the wrong bottle of contact solution and put it in my eyes...owwwww! First time this has ever happened since I started using H₂O₂ solution as a teenager.)

I still have very red, sore eyes and I imagine they'll take some time to heal.

Zari's arms and shoulders are sore from using crutches.

Inga had two friends over after school. They ran around and played, ate dinner with us, and made Smores around a bonfire. They're fun kids.

Ivy was at a birthday party for several hours. They had two bouncy houses so she wore herself out. (This family bought used bouncy houses a while back and they've paid themselves back and more, between all of their kids' parties and renting them out to people in town. Good idea!)

We have a busy day tomorrow filled with soccer games and youth activities all around the region.
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Thursday, September 15, 2022

Sprained ankle

6,478 steps

Yesterday I was all sorts of motivated. Today...well...I was lethargic and wanted to curl up in bed.

Bad news: Zari came home last night with a sprained ankle. During her soccer game, she stepped in a hole on the field and twisted her ankle. She was still in a lot of pain this morning and could barely hobble around. I brought her to an urgent care clinic, which turned out well because the physician had been trained as an orthopedic surgeon in India before immigrating to the US.

She has a sprained ankle with some torn ligaments, so she's on crutches for a week, a boot for a week after that, and then who knows when she can go back to playing soccer. This means she might miss the rest of the season. Poor girl--she is so disappointed.

I'll probably get to bed early again. I can feel my body shutting down.
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Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Lots of steps, hours of walking, biking around town, and jetlag

On the clock it's close to 10 pm, but my body thinks it's 4 am. I am TIRED right now. Plus I woke up early, as is normal coming back this direction.
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Sunday, September 11, 2022

Walks in the rain and good food

11,193 steps

After an easy morning catching up on some work emails, I walked to the Old Town with one of the conference speakers. It was raining when we headed out, but we were undeterred. We had a nice chat about parenting (she has 3 boys about the same ages as my kids) and about the medical device she invented (the Hegenberger retractor).

We popped into a restaurant that looked inviting and we were not disappointed. It was in a (rebuilt) Renaissance building with vaulted ceilings and old decor. I had goose with chanterelles in cream sauce, crispy potatoes, and a salad. Delicious!

We parted ways after lunch; she had an appointment and I had some free time. I wandered around the Old Town and found some little presents for my kids and a patch to add to my Breech Without Borders apron.

Then I ducked into a large cathedral, where I got to hear an impromptu organ concert; the musician was rehearsing for a recital later on in the afternoon. There's something grand and awe-inspriring about listening to Bach on a massive organ; the sound moves through your whole body.

I was done being a tourist after that. I thought about visiting the Royal Castle (Zamek Królewski) but just wanted to go home and warm up. I took a picture of the remains of the castle after WWII--it was just rubble on the ground. All of the buildings in these pictures were completely rebuilt after the war.

Another few hours of work, a 10-minute cat nap, and then a live session in the early evening. After that I went to dinner with a German midwife.

Tomorrow I'll be teaching breech all day, then back home the next day!

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Saturday, September 10, 2022

12 hours of conferencing and 2,367 steps

I think this was the longest conference day I have ever attended. But it was great. By the end I was very tired and hungry. I had breakfast leftovers in my room (since I fast until lunchtime or mid-afternoon, I hadn't eaten anything at breakfast) so that turned into dinner. Not very filling but I was too tired to think about going out for food.

I think my presentation went very well. I talked about why vaginal breech birth is an important skill (from perspectives of safety, autonomy, law, ethics, and women's experiences) and how it works, about 15 minutes on each topic. A good overview without going into exhaustive detail.

I have met some amazing people from all around Europe. I hope this brings future collaborations of many sorts.

I managed to catch Eric and the kids at home for the first time and just got done video chatting. It's almost midnight and time for bed!
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Friday, September 09, 2022

Uprising museum & the oldest restaurant in Warsaw

11 hours of sleep and 11,234 steps

I went to bed at 8 pm last night local time, woke up briefly at midnight, and went to sleep again until 7 am! I can't remember the last time I slept so much. I lazed in bed for a while enjoying my rest.

Today I felt 100% great. I've never had such an easy jet lag transition. (Of course, who knows what will happen tonight?) But so far, it's been seamless.

I walked to the Warsaw Rising Museum about the 2-month long uprising in the summer of 1944 as citizens and insurgents tried to take Warsaw back from the occupying German army. It ended in defeat with over 200,000 dead, mostly civilians, and the complete depoulation and destruction of the city.

At the start of the war, Warsaw had 1,300,000 residents. After the uprising, citizens were forced to leave and the city was systematically destroyed, block by block, until 85 of the buildings were rubble. Only 1,000 people were left living in this city that used to have well over a million people.

I'm still stunned by the extent of the destruction. In some areas of the town, the German army systematically massacred entire neighborhoods, up to 65,000 in one day. Men, women, children, elderly, hospital patients--everyone was rounded up, shot, and burned. Those hiding in cellars were killed with grenades.

One of the museum exhibits was a 3D movie reconstructing the destruction of Warsaw based on archival photograps and movies. It was from the point of view of a small aircraft flying over the city. Think of any zombie apocalypse dystopia movie you've seen...and the level of destruction isn't anywhere near what happened to Warsaw.

So that was a sobering morning. I made a brief stop to the Jewish cemetery on my way home. Lunch was my breakfast that I had packed away for later--cold cuts, cheese, vegetables, and bread. I decided to stay in for the afternoon and do some work on my presentation and on the book manuscript that we're sending off to the translators.

Around 5:30 pm, I met up with our host/conference organizer and a group of midwives from all over Europe and the US who were presenting tomorrow. We walked around the Old Town (completely rebuilt after the war, although you'd never guess that the buildings were just 50-70 years old, rather than 300-500 years old).

We ate at U Fukiera, which claims to be Warsaw's oldest restaurant. I walked inside and said, "This is what I want my house to look like!" Old vaulted ceilings, a sort of Bohemian feels, old oak paneling and pews lining the walls that looked lifted straight from a monastery, rich carpets and tapestries, electic paintings and prints on the walls.

We shared an assortment of appetizers: pierogi (I had ones stuffed with duck and cheese), liver pate with horseradish and beet sauces, a platter of cured pork cuts, and a platter of goat cheeses. I chose Żurek, a sour rye soup for my main dish. It's made with a fermented rye starter. In the soup were a hardboiled egg, pureed potatoes topped with crumbled bacon, and homemade pork sausage. Delicious!
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Thursday, September 08, 2022

To Washington, Copenhagen, and Warsaw...all in one day

I made it to Warsaw with zero issues, despite two very tight airport connections. This might have been the smoothest international travel yet. I didn't get to sleep on the airplane, although I tried. We left early enough that it was just 1 am to my body when we landed in Copenhagen.

I'm staying on a university campus. The building is multifunctional; there's a preschool/elementary school run by the university, a private high school, auditoriums and conference rooms, and finally some hotel rooms on one of the floors.

I'm trying so hard to stay awake! I have a little down time before my hosts pick me up to see some of the historical sights and eat dinner. I let myself have a cat nap (with a timer to ensure it didn't become anything longer) and I am still nodding off if I sit still.

My hosts are very gracious and so thankful that I'm here (likewise for me--I'm honored that they would send me all the way to Poland!). The main conference on Saturday has 300 attendees. I'm speaking during one of the morning session. Then breech training on Monday.
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Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Off to Warsaw

7,125 steps plus a few hours of treadmill walking

I can't believe it's already time to pack up again...this time, I'm heading to Warsaw! I'll be speaking at the International Midwifery Conference on Holistic Childbirth and then teaching a breech workshop 2 days after the conference.

Today was dedicated to packing, catching up on CME applications, grocery shopping, and other errands. Eric was gone until late in the evening at Zari's soccer game out of town.
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Monday, September 05, 2022

Not much labor on Labor Day

5,146 steps

We had a lovely holiday. Eric had to work but the rest of us got to stay home. I had all the kids fold and put away laundry, vacuum their bedroom, and vacuum one other room. They were amazed and disgusted by how much stuff came out of the carpets.

After lunch we watched Miss Congeniality. Zari LOVED it and was laughing so hard. I'm not surprised because she identifies so strongly with the main character--disdain for anything feminine, hates high heels and makeup and girl culture.

We made a bonfire after dinner, but we didn't have enough ingredients for Smores. I got the kids to come out and do homework/reading/whittling by the fire.
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Sunday, September 04, 2022

Worn out by weeds

Yesterday wore me out. We did yard work in the morning and then took it easy the rest of the day. I was so tired, though, by mid-afternoon! Pulling weeds shouldn't wear me out that much.

We watched one of the newer Harry Potter movies yesterday--the one about Dumbledore. It was very confusing and hard to follow.

Today we all went to play Ultimate Frisbee in the afternoon. Well, I went to watch and wished I'd brought exercise clothes. I might have joined in after all. Then we watched a hilariously bad movie, Moonfall, that was fun to roll our eyes at.

Tomorrow is a holiday for the kids but not for Eric. Maybe we'll have a bonfire and Smores, if it's not too hot out in the evening.
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Friday, September 02, 2022

So many steps...

I'm getting used to the treadmill desk. I overdid it yesterday and scaled back to just a few hours of walking today. I'd hate to give myself tendonitis or plantar fasciitis by doing too much all at once.

Zari needed a ride home from school, so I brought Ivy with me and we ran errands together: Walmart (socks, underwear, & a bike innertube), Home Depot (hose, spray nozzle, spray for our driveway cracks), and Kroger (groceries). It's crazy how much more expensive food is here. I am making myself just buy the food and not fret too much about the prices. But I still do price comparison on most things because I know what I would pay back in France for almost everything.

I got our book's copyright filed with the US copyright offce and am working on a CPD application for RANZCOG (the obstetrical society of NZ & Australia). I need to finish my conference presentation for next week in Warsaw. I have two lectures to refilm, several hours of video content to edit, and so on. It never ends!

We watched the US Open final tonight with Serena Williams. Eric, Dio, and Inga left after the first round to play soccer on campus and it was still going when they came back! What a nail-biting game.

We have yard/house work planned for tomorrow. We'll probably do something fun, too, like watch a movie together or go to the swimming pool.
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Thursday, September 01, 2022

Breech For All

11,397 steps

I generally keep my breech work separate from these daily updates...but today is an exception! We are starting our newest fundraiser called Breech For All. Our goal is to raise enough money to fund every scholarship request.

We've already awarded 113 scholarships in 2022, but we have over 100 more people on a waiting list and a residency program wanting to train 48 residents and 12 faculty. If you value what we're doing at Breech Without Borders--even if you're not in the childbearing stage of life--please consider donating. You'll get a copy of our new book, A Guide to Physiological Breech Birth. (ps, if you don't need the book, send us a note and we'll gift it to one of our scholarship recipients!)

Donate here:

On to other news from today: my fancy walking treadmill arrived. It weighs 153 lbs and was a challenge to carry upstairs. I took the lighter side and Eric the heavier side.

Eric was gone from 5-9 pm at soccer practices and soccer games! I'd like to come to some of them, but that would mean no parents at home the entire evening.
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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

9,338 steps

Another full day of work. I had some time with Ivy after school--she was reading and I was working in the same room and/or reading next to her. Then she and Eric went to watch everyone else's soccer games and they were gone for several hours. Seriously, some days I hardly see my children! What is up with that?

I've been waking up in the middle of the night, or very early in the morning. Sometimes for no apparent reason and other times because there's something I'm fretting about and my body decides that 3:30 am is the perfect time to think about it some more. Yay.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2022

12,054 steps

Another busy day full of breech work...My treadmill was scheduled to arrive this morning between a certain time interval, but not a peep from the delivery company.

I had to shuttle people around to various soccer practices and games this evening. While I was in the car, I decided to run errands that had been on my to-do list: lightbulbs and water softener salt at the home improvement store, hair elastics and kitchen utensils at the dollar store, lunch bags and acne scrubs at the big box store. Totally inconsequential errands but necessary nonetheless to keep the household running.

That's about it.
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Monday, August 29, 2022

New work space

I put together my standing desk yesterday! It adjusts up and down with the turn of a crank. The top is still slightly tacky more than a week after putting on the final coat. I've had some good experiences with Osmo Oil but this time I am not impressed.

The treadmill arrives today so I will be able to be less sedentary while working. I love having a proper desk to work at. For years I've been sitting on the couch or at the dining table.
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Sunday, August 28, 2022

Back home

I had an easy travel day--nonstop flight, no delays. Thank you! Eric picked me up, along with Ivy and Inga who had just finished soccer tournaments in the area. It's so nice to be back and to see my kids.

My suitcase, however, did not fare so well. A whole corner broke off on the flight home. I called Baggage Services when I got home and they said I have to go back to the airport. What?!? It's not exactly a quick trip.

I hope to sleep well tonight and recover from the marathan of breech teaching. It was a fruitful trip and nice to catch up with my OB colleague and talk about future directions for BWB.
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Saturday, August 27, 2022

Breech Week, Day 4

We didn't get back from teaching until 11 pm so that's all I'm going to say. It's bedtime for me!
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Breech Week, Day 3

This was our longest day by far, from 7 am - 10 pm. We did get some much-needed down time in the afternoon, though. We started off again with a group of residents, then went to the nearby freestanding birth center and trained a group of around 10 midwives, nurses, and physicians. Our evening session was a one-on-one session with a 3rd year resident from Iran. He was very gracious and benefitted from 2 hours of private instruction!

A few photos from's been so busy that I forgot to take pictures and had to grab them from video still shots. 

Dr. Cammarano, who will be heading the breech team, is learning fundal pressure in the first picture and practicing a Side to Side (Louwen) maneuver in the second picture. One of my favorite quotes from him was, "I've just unlearned 30 years of obstetrics!"

We ate lunch with a few midwives who will be part of the breech team. I had so much fun swapping birth stories and midwifery chat--I miss this so much from my grad school days. We stayed in for dinner (onion, bell pepper, and tomato frittata with white cheddar). All cooked with just a paring knife and a hot plate. This kitchen in under-equipped: no stove or oven! No cutting boards. No knives except the paring knife. No mixing bowls.
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Thursday, August 25, 2022

Breech week, day 2

5,657 steps

2 (real) breech births
Hundreds of (fake) breech births
A lot of laughter

Our day started at 7 am and didn't finish until 9:30 pm! To be fair, the last few hours were dinner with the head OB and midwife involved in making breech week happen at Reading Tower Health. I don't consider that part work 🙂

David Hayes got called by a midwife during our lunch break; she had a breech in labor and called with some questions. A few hours later David got an update that the baby had been born. Then during dinner, the OB's pager went off: a local direct-entry midwife had a multip breech in labor that needed hospital transport and didn't seem to be a good situation for a vaginal birth. He had to leave dinner early to attend to this birth.

We trained a group of residents first thing, then had a few other simulation sessions with a mixture of attendings and midwives. I'm quite impressed with how the OB department has changed their culture here; they used to be unfriendly to home birth transfers, and now they have cultivated relationships with local midwives and strive to create a supportive, non-judgmental environment to encourage seamless transfers. They were able to give the transferring midwives doula privileges, so the midwives can stay with their clients after transfer.

Anyway so much more to say, but I'm completely exhausted. Time for bed!
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Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Breech week!

6,493 steps and who knows how many births

My life is breech for the next 4 days at Reading Tower Health. We arrived at 6:30 am and left around 8 pm. It's been great over here--such positivity and eagerness to learn.

We had time to eat lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant. Dinner was cooked at home (tilapia, brussels sprouts & avocado salad, and a banana).

And I am wiped out! I'm going to brush my teeth and read in bed until I fall asleep. That will likely not take long. Tomorrow we train a group of residents at 7 am, followed by a few more training sessions and probably some mega-sims in a labor room if L&D isn't way too busy.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Airport day

3,183 steps

I left the house at 7:30 am and arrived at 10:00 pm. The trip shouldn't have taken quite as long, but OF COURSE my first flight was cancelled and I didn't get onto the next flight either (I was on standby). This is probably our new reality post-Covid.

We'll be training residents and staff at Tower Health in Reading PA for the next 4 days, plus a group of midwives at a local birth center. I have a 7:10 am Grand Rounds lecture so I will be up way too early 🙂

Bonne nuit tout le monde!
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Monday, August 22, 2022

Quite the fright

12,189 steps

Ivy almost got hit by a car on the way to school. I was running right behind her on the sidewalk when a car pulled out of a driveway right in front of us. I yelled (okay, more like shrieked/screamed) and the woman slammed on her brakes. I then proceeded to yell at the woman and tell her to be more careful, and she had the audacity to be defensive and tell me, "I WAS paying attention." I yelled back at her that she needed to stop *behind* the sidewalk and look before pulling onto the street.

Eric had several aggressive run-ins with cars today while he was on his bike, where they deliberately rev their engines and cut him off or turn in front of him.

It's not even been 2 weeks and already I feel like I want to say very mean and profane things about this town and the people who live in it. And about Americans in general. And about cars and car culture.

I don't know if Ivy has ever heard me yell like that in her entire life. At first she was worried that I was mad at her!

We had lunch with a former student (he took a writing class from me first, and then several creative writing classes with Eric). It was great to catch up several years later. Eric keeps trying to convince him to become a writer--he certainly has the talent for it.

I'm getting ready to teach in Reading, PA for Breech Without Borders. It's going to be a fun, exhausting several days.
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Sunday, August 21, 2022

Serious Sunday

5,619 steps

Today was lazy, especially in the afternoon. I read a book, took an accidental nap, read a book some more, cooked dinner (corn on the cob and spinach & ricotta cheese tart), and read a bit more with Ivy until bedtime. Eric played Ultimate Frisbee but couldn't convince any of the kids to come with him.

I ended doing a lot of breech-related work in the morning, including a debrief about a recent surprise breech birth (discovered 4 minutes prior to rumping!) where the baby would not have survived had the midwife not trained with Breech Without Borders recently. Stories like these are sobering but also affirming that we're doing good work.

I hardly went outside all day, as evidenced by my lack of steps, until the evening when Eric and I went on a walk. Oh well...back to high gear tomorrow.

Inga is feeling better, other than some lingering headaches. Zari had a brief bout of nausea, too, which passed as quickly as it came on.
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Saturday, August 20, 2022

A clean(er) house

9,066 steps

We repainted our house when we first bought it 11 years ago. Within a few years, we noticed a blackish grime on the paint, getting worse every year. Finally it was time to take action. We weren't sure what it was--dirt? mildew? stains?--but we assumed mildew was the culprit. We bought a special product meant to remove mold and mildew that you spray on and then rinse off a few minutes later.

It was amazing!

Within 30 seconds of spraying the product, the black grime complete disappeared. We enlisted all the kids to help, putting them to work washing and rinsing after we had sprayed. They even got to go up on the porch roof. We all got wet, sometimes on purpose and sometimes not.

There are very few home projects that work better and go more quickly than expected. This was one of them.

Our family reward after all of this was to watch Avatar. Zari and Inga had never seen it.

Oh, poor Inga woke up in the middle of the night to tell us she was feelingsick. Then she woke us up again a few hours later to tell us she had puked. She spent the day in bed with a fever. So she was excused from today's cleaning.

The picture shows what the change was soon after spraying on the product. It's like magic!

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Friday, August 19, 2022

It's off!

12,710 steps

The book is off to the printer and I am awaiting the final proofs tomorrow. All the fiddly last edits took most of the day, right up to dinner time.

We had a rare afternoon all at home at the same time. Being in the US is certainly not good for family togetherness. No 2-hour lunch breaks together, no going to the park or the beach after school...Most school days the kids are gone until 6 or 7 pm at soccer practice, later if there are games. Ivy is home the most, with practices just twice a week.

After the got the kids to bed, we watched part 1 of Untold, the story about Manti Te'o and his girlfried who turned out to be a fake person. Wild story.

Tomorrow will be a home renovation day, probably our only free Saturday the rest of this semester.
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Thursday, August 18, 2022


I'm celebrating because tomorrow I am sending my book off to the printer (A Guide to Physiological Breech Birth, 250 pages)! I told myself I would get off the computer for the rest of the evening--short as it is. I will say goodnight and take an hour or so off to enjoy NOT working on my book.

Sneak preview of the front and back covers, plus a few of the hundreds of photos in the book.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

I'd rather be in bed

14,205 steps

I definitely didn't want to get out of bed this morning. Had I not been obliged to run Ivy to school, I would have stayed in bed. But it's good--I need to be forced to get out and run.

Another busy day working on breech stuff in every spare moment, plus the usual school pickup, dinner prep, and a few errands to the pharmacy to print photos. We're finally doing the kids' Canadian citizenship papers!

I needed to take pictures of a few more illustrations for the breech book I'm writing. Here's how I set it up and here's the finished product. I had to use a timer because there was no one in the house to take the pictures for me. That is Zari's velvet Halloween cloak as my backdrop.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

University picnic

10,511 steps

I love days where we realize we don't have to cook dinner! It was the annual university picnic for faculty, staff, and families at the president's house, which is a short walk away. Eric was watching Zari's soccer game so I brought some food home for them.

Other than that, a pretty unremarkable school day for the kids and work day for me and Eric. After the picnic, we did homework on the big dining room table. Inga wrote a short personal essay about going on the Avatar ride at Disney World, which I helped with (mostly in the form of encouraging her and reading through the rough draft).

I had to add a cross-brace on my desk top because of where the legs will attach to the table. Some day...this will be done...some day. I cut, sanded, glued, and screwed the piece of wood in place, then applied one coat of finish.
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Monday, August 15, 2022

Back to busy

It's always go-go-go on school days. Inga had her sports physical, so that took most of my morning by time it was done and all the forms were dropped off. Breech-related activities took me all the way to school pickup time.

Ivy left her lunch at home, which neither of us realized until lunchtime. Oops! I had reminded her to put it in her backpack, but didn't verify. Lesson learned. I had an unintended nap once Ivy came home. She was doing homework and I was reading on the couch next to her.

Dio had his first day of soccer and reported that most of the kids weren't very good. He's used to crazy skills levels in France and it's a shock to come here.

Ivy and Eric had soccer practice. I had to play chauffeur becuase Zari still hasn't arranged rides home after practice, so she needed a ride. We'll get things streamlined at some point...

After dinner, Inga requested some family attic time. "I just want us to do something together as a family." So we went up and played pool and foosball. Ivy and I lost to Inga on foosball, despite outnumbering her.
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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Sporty Sunday

Zari said something about the weekends going by too quickly. I agree!

I had a quiet house to myself this morning. I mixed up a double batch of sourdough bread and folded it over a 2-hour period.

The afternoon was a sporty one for everybody but me: Inga had soccer practice and the rest of the family went to play Ultimate Frisbee. I had to stay behind to be sure someone was home when Inga finished.

Then we watched another episode of Knight Rider. "This is so cheesy!" Zari said. The kids think it's so funny that David Hasselhoff was considered a hunk back then. "His pants are super high up, all the way to his belly button!" Inga said.

We had a huge bowl of popcorn during the episode and I wasn't particularly hungry. So I made a big salad (cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, olives, & balsamic dressing) and deviled eggs.

We asked the kids to pack their own lunches this year, so all the leftovers went into lunchboxes. It's so nice that they can do their own. It's still a lot of work to ensure there's enough food!

My desktop is fully oiled and drying. It's been super humid and the finish seems very slow to dry.

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Saturday, August 13, 2022

Household tasks and a jump in a lake

Before Eric brought Ivy to her morning soccer match, he helped me cross-cut my desk top on both sides. Next, I sanded both sides down, rounded the corners and edges slightly, and prepped it for Osmo Oil finish. I have two coats on the underside and will do the top side tomorrow. I'm so excited to put my standing desk together!

I did another round of weeding in the afternoon. It's satisfying to feel the roots rip free from the earth. I just wish I had a bit fewer weeds to unearth.

We watched another episode of Knight Rider. I have occasional memories of certain scenes from when I watched it as a child.

In the late afternoon, we went to a friend's house; they live about 8 miles out of town on a lake. We all had a nice swim, jumping right off their dock into the water, then grilled hamburgers for dinner. The lake water is clean, in the sense of not having chemicals or contaminants, but it's extremely murky and slightly stinky. We all showered off once we got home. It was so much fun to relax and socialize. The kids didn't want to leave.

I managed to join Tiktok, upload a video, have the video get flagged, and get myself perma-banned, all in one day. So yay? The offending video had a computer animation of a birth in the upper corner, and Ivy was dancing along making up dance moves to illustrate the 10 Steps of Physiologic Breech (something we teach in our breech workshops).

But never fear! We got the video up on Instagram and Facebook. All is not lost. I'm glad because that 1-minute video took me at least 5 hours to film and edit.

If you're curious, check it out here:
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Friday, August 12, 2022

A tire, a fire, a Knight Rider

13,040 steps

Eric put a new innertube on one of Ivy's bike tires, and only one day later it popped with an enormous explosion on the way home. We wonder if he may have overinflated the tube since our pressure gauge is broken.

Ivy was already riding a bike that was too small for her, so we switched her up to Inga's old bike and will give her previous one away.

One thing I like about this year's school schedule: it forces me (or rather, I choose) to go running every morning when I drop Ivy off. It's far enough that I need to run her there if I leave at our planned time. Then I walk it again in the afternoon.

Dio had a sports physical this morning and missed the first hour of school. I then ran a quick errand to Home Depot (black steel pipes for a set of pipe clamps). Then it was breech work until school pickup time.

Ivy and I had a quiet hour at home before everyone else arrived, so we worked on a fun breech video project involving dancing. I hope it turns out okay!

I did more work on my desk top: sanded the underside, then sanded and attached the two support pieces. Tomorrow Eric will help me cut the ends off and then I'll clean them up with a router and sand the top. Then finally it will be time to apply the Osmo Oil!

Normal people would just go out and buy a desk top. But not me. I have to do it the hard way.

We had an old rotten picnic table that was collapsing. I hastened its demise by pulling it apart and burning the boards. We'll recycle the old metal supports.


We watched Knight Rider--an old series from the 1980s that I remember watching. There was much hilarity as our kids discovered the joys of David Hasselhof and his "high tech" car.
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Thursday, August 11, 2022

2nd day of school and I'm already worn out

12,760 steps

That's it. I'd like to declare "time out" from school. We already feel run ragged and we're only 2 days in! We do have some quiet hours in the middle of the day, but early mornings, later afternoons, and evenings are go-go-go all the time.

I have driven the car several times a day most days to pick various people up or to run errands. It's crazy! I think I drove our car in France a handful of times in 20+ months (granted, Eric did more of the driving but we still didn't use it much).

To give you a feel, here was my day:
  • 6:30 am: wake up before my alarm (not on purpose) and read BBC news
  • 7 am alarm: wake up the kids, get Ivy ready
  • 7:30 am: out the door and run her to school
  • 8 am: back from my morning run, make sure Zari is out on time
  • 8:10 am: send Inga and Dio off at 8:15
  • Shower and get dressed
  • Work on breech things all morning
  • 11 am: breech live session
  • noon: breech planning meeting
  • more breech work in the early afternoon
  • 2:15-3 pm: walk to pick up Ivy
  • 3-4 pm: some breech work + planning a TikTok breech video with Ivy
  • 4-5 pm: Zoom meeting
  • 5-5:20 pm: drop off Eric and Inga at soccer practice
  • 5:20-5:35 pm: prep dinner (rice, coleslaw, lemon pepper chicken)
  • 5:35-6 pm: pick up Zari from soccer practice
  • 6-6:30 pm: finish cooking dinner, feed family (minus Eric and Ivy)
  • 6:30-7:15 pm: pick up Eric and Ivy from soccer, wait around for a while as they're finishing up
  • 7:15-9 pm: pack lunches, help kids with homework, get Ivy and Inga to bed
  • 9-10 pm: grocery shopping with Eric
  • 10 pm: get Zari and Dio to bed
  • Now it's 10:45 and I'm just sitting down to write in my journal
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Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Last day of freedom!

School starts tomorrow. I can't believe how fast the past 4 weeks have gone since we left France. Our poor kids only had 1 month of holidays.

Ivy came home after dinner from a week in Disneyworld with grandparents. She's had 2 straight weeks of fun and sleep deprivation and now reality will hit.

Eric's parents and one more grandchild are staying overnight before they begin the long drive home to Alberta. Eric's friends also leave tomorrow for Alberta (via airplane). Then we'll have a quiet empty house. I like having it filled up with guests and family.

I finished processing the last of the peaches this morning. I'll probably pick another big box tomorrow--we can never have too many!

It was raining most of the day, but we went out for a hike anyway after lunch. The rain was mostly spitting, not even enough to be called a drizzle. We went to a local state park and did a few of the short hikes. Nothing very rigorous, and it was slow going due to the rain making the paths muddy and slippery.

Dinner started as "what do we have in our fridge" and ended up better than expected. We pulled out some of the leftover meat from the family reunion Mexican street tacos. I made a quick run to the Mexican grocery store for a few perishables. We had carne asada and spiced chicken for the meats, fire-toasted corn tortillas, and the usual spread of toppings: lime wedges, cilantro, queso fresco, sour cream, onions, avocados, and 8 different salsas and hot sauces.

We also had corn on the cob (done with an America's Test Kitchen recipe, 10/10) and homemade peach ice creame with the peaches we picked a few days ago.

Then to make it even more fun, we had a bonfire and Smores. The rain had stopped by mid-afternoon and I was able to get a fire going with some coaxing with the blowtorch.
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Monday, August 08, 2022

Basement shopping part 1 & 2

I am making myself a standing desk, to be paired with a treadmill (one specialized for walking rather than running). I've been trying to make a desk top without having to buy anything. Today I rummaged around in our basement and found a pair of doors from our 1910 carriage house that I had rescued before we gutted the gardener's quarters (which was completely rotten due to an enormous hole in the roof that the previous owners left unrepaired).

Put together, they would have made a beautiful large desk top. They're made of quartersawn oak and are in really good condition once I cleaned off the dirt and mold. But I realized: they would make a HUGE desk and it was too big.

So with this gorgeous pair of cupboard doors cleaned and set aside, I went back into the basement. We have a few areas that have been partitioned off with old tongue & groove pine boards, prboably done when the house was built in 1900. Some of these areas had "doors" (4 boards fastened together top and bottom with a cross-board). Since one of those doors was hanging off its hinges anyway, I took it off and repurposed it.

I ccut off the top and bottom cross-boards, cleaned everything thoroughly, pulled the boards apart, glued the tongues and grooves, and put them back together. They're drying under tension and under weight to keep them held together snug and to make them dry flat. I'll install new cross-boards tomorrow once I cut the final desktop to size.

It's a bit of work but I really didn't want to buy anything. I'll sand it down and finish it with Osmo Oil. Voila! A desk top! It's more rustic than I was hoping for but people pay a lot of money for this kind of look and mine is 100% authentic rather than the faux-rustic-barnwood look that is all the rage.

We went swimming at the university pool this morning. Afternoon? Some talking, some working, a movie for the kids. During Zari's soccer practice, Eric and I bought school supplies for the kids at our Buy More Big Box store, aka Walmart.

We came home and found our friends cooking dinner! Wow! What a treat. We had a nice post-dinner walk to campus and back, all while a big thunderstorm was rumbling nearby and threatening to douse us. We were sad that the rain missed us!
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Sunday, August 07, 2022


The highlight of the day was picking peaches at a friend's property just outside of town. We filled a large box and called it good. We'll probably come back in a few more days.

I spent much of the afternoon processing peaches with help from Eric and our friends. We have a large batch peeled and quartered and in the freezer. The other batch needs to ripen for a day or two more.

And don't forget the delicious peach cobbler we ate for dessert!

We met our future renter who will be living here when we head back to France.

A wave of exhuastion hit me around 9 pm and I took an involuntary nap.
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Saturday, August 06, 2022

More visitors

Eric's best friend from high school in Canada is visiting with his family (minus the oldest 3 kids who are adults). I love having the space to host people. Their 2 youngest kids had fun playing in the attic and playing soccer outside with Inga and Dio.

Zari had to wake up early for 7:30 am soccer practice. She was exhausted by the evening and went to bed earlier than usual.

I got Dio and Zari to come shopping with me to the local thrift store. Dio has expressed interest in finding some new clothes. We didn't find anything good at that store, but we did find him a hoodie at a nearby clothes outlet. It was fun to shop with them. Inga chose to stay home and read a book.

We went on a walk downtown and around campus with Eric's friends. A very hot, sweaty walk. It feels like you're entering a sauna when you step out the door.

We got a phone call at 10:30 pm with a very happy Ivy (in Disneyworld with her grandparents). "I didn't even miss you at all!" she told us. She kept talking and talking and eventually I had to cut her off gently and tell her to go to bed.
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Friday, August 05, 2022

A wheelbarrow full of weeds

I enlisted all 3 children to help me weed the flower beds this morning. It was sticky, hot, and insect-ridden. Dio eventually got so fed up with the bugs that he went inside for some alternate chores (vacuuming). I called it a day after we had filled a wheelbarrow to overflowing.

I spent a long time on old with various agencies and companies: Paypal, my bank, several NC governmental departments. While I was on hold listening to awful music, I caught up on finances and took care of other life paperwork. What a glamorous life I live.

I've decided to treat myself to a proper office space (in the corner of my bedroom), complete with a treadmill desk. I have to spend a lot of time in front of the computer and I get so antsy having to sit still. This is my solution.

I made a huge bonfire with deadfall we've collected. It was too hot of a day to enjoy a fire, though, even after the sun set. Maybe in a few weeks...

Eric and I had time to go on a walk this evening.
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Thursday, August 04, 2022

Slow run, physicals, & soccer practice

I went for a run first thing this morning. It was slower than I would have liked, but I also haven't exercised properly for a while. A huge storm rolled in soon after I got back. This is great--the soil will be loose enough to pull weeds tomorrow.

Zari had her soccer physical this afternoon. We were both shivering in the doctor's office, which is kept at 70F (21 C). Way too cold! We keep our house around 78-80 (about 26-27 C), just enough to cut the heat and humidity.

There was an informal get-together for new and current university families so we could meet each other. Someone brought a game involving soft burritos that you throw at each other, which amused the children greatly.

Zari had evening soccer practice with the boy's team because she has to get a certain number of practices in before she can play in a match.
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Wednesday, August 03, 2022


Eric had to get up at 3 am to drive a family to the airport. I woke up at 6 and he was still up. He came back to bed and snuggled and eventually I got up and started working.

I didn't hear any noise from the kids for several hours! Inga apparently woke up around 9 am and stayed in bed reading. We had to wake Zari and Dio up close to 10 am.

We needed this down day after all of the excitement. I mostly worked on breech stuff. Eric showed the kids how to mow the lawn. We all helped pick up sticks so that Zari and Dio could mow.

I did 6 loads of laundry and hung most of them outside to dry. I had to take everything off when a storm rolled in this evening.

We're eating yet more leftovers and are getting ready to eat something new.
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Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Reunion wrap-up

We got to camp this morning to say goodbye to a few families who had long drives home. I learned that Dio had stayed up with other teenage cousins until 6 am! They only went to bed because one of the aunts (who woke up for the morning) discovered them still awake and sent them to bed. They had a rude awakening 2 hours later.

It hadn't even occurred to me to tell my kids, "You cannot stay up until 6 am" because they have never done anything like that in their lives! Zari and Inga went to bed at the "early" hour of 12:45 am. Yikes! You can imagine we had some exhausted children today.'s vacation and I am so glad they had so much fun with their cousins.

We packed and cleaned and then caravaned over to our house. Ivy and two other cousins her same age headed out in the afternoon with their grandparents to go to Disneyworld. We have 13 people staying overnight at our house, so it was still a bit of pandemonium chez les Freezes. But it's good.

Eric has to drive one family to the airport at 3 am, so he's already in bed. I believe I am the last one awake. I sent all the kids to bed on time tonight with stern instructions to sleep.
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Monday, August 01, 2022

Last day of the reunion

Last full day of reunioning! We woke up to a tempest. Sheets of rain blowing sideways, branches dropped all over the streets. I was glad that we were all indoors and not in tents at this camp. (And of course Eric and I were snug in our own bed at

The rain let up as we were finishing with breakfast. We gathered everyone into our fleet of cars and headed over to the university athletic center for the Freeze Olympics. We did 50m and 200m races among the various age groups, funny jumps (onto the high jump mat), and real high jumps for the bigger kids and adults.

Then...swim time! We were the only people in the entire pool. It's summer break so the facilities tend to be empty.

After lunch the teenagers decided to go "out", which ended up being a trip to WalMart to buy matching flannel pajama pants and then a local ice cream parlor. The almost-teens wanted to go, too, so one of the uncles took another car full for their own excursion.

Dio came home with cactus pants and Zari with camouflage pants.

I went home for an hour of work (and quiet time). I didn't have a book with me and was feeling antsy but also tired--it was either work or nap. Work won out this time.

Dinner was our turn: we ordered Mexican street tacos from a local restaurant, the only place in town I like to eat at. We had 4 choices of meats, corn tortillas, a huge assortment of toppings (limes, 2 kinds of onions, lettuce, cilantro, tomatoes, queso fresco, sour cream), and 2 homemade hot sauces. My taste buds were very happy after this meal.

We had a nice evening around the fire, with hordes of children roaming about on various adventures, including catching toads and doing who-knows-what-else.

Tomorrow we pack up and send most of the families on their way. We have some staying with us for another day or so. It's been so much fun and gone by too quickly.
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Sunday, July 31, 2022

We're halfway through our Freeze family reunion. It has been so much fun (and exhausting, in a good way). Our kids are staying up late, getting dirty and tired, eating too many treats, and overall having a blast.

Yesterday was so busy I came home and fell into bed. We started with family pictures after breakfast. Then we headed to our university's soccer stadium for the Freeze Cup. I managed to scour our team's only goal over two matches. Not that I'm very good--it was as much luck as skill. We divided the teams evenly between adults, teenagers, and little kids. The winning team received an actual trophy that we made from thrifted items spraypainted and glued together.

We headed back to camp for an awards ceremony, complete with customized certificates for every participant and Canadian candies.

After lunch, most of the kids went down to play in the river. Eric and I headed home briefly to drop off some times and help some people do laundry. We had an intense game of capture the flag. I mostly stayed behind defending and guarding. I'm not as fast as many of the teens (or Eric), who were constantly breaking people out of jail and evading capture.

After dinner, we had an outdoor movie for younger kids, bonfires and S'mores, and probably other things that I'm leaving out.

So that was Saturday.

Today we had to clear out of the camp between 1-6 pm for an event that had been previously scheduled. After breakfast we cleaned up the mess hall and packed everything away into the bunkhouses, then left the camp for the day. Most of Eric's family went to church and then we spent the rest of the afternoon at our house. Eating, playing, talking, going on walks around downtown and campus...good times.

After dinner the group went back to camp and I stayed behind since I had a breech live session to attend. It's been nice being in a quiet house for a few hours. I missed the talent show, though.
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Friday, July 29, 2022

From one reunion to another...

Our first Freeze family reunion guests arrived late light night (11 people total). We managed to concoct beds for everyone in our house.

Everyone else arrived today. Some drove from as far away as Martha's Vineyard and southern Alberta! We also had people coming from Florida, Virginia, and Missouri. We are having the reunion at a local camp just a few minutes away. It's perfect--tons of space, several bunkhouses, a huge mess hall, fire pits, amphitheaters, and access to the river for swimming.

We officially got started around lunchtime and people kept arriving throughout the day. We have 41 people and are still missing one of Eric's siblings and his family, which would have brought us up to 49. They couldn't come due to some health issues with their in-laws.

I stayed behind for a few hours to get some work done. When I arrived, many of the kids were down at the river. Of course Ivy and Inga went swimming right away, even though they didn't have swimsuits!

Dinner was simple: hotdogs roasted over a fire, raw vegetables with dip, and chips. At some point we got out four huge buckets of ice cream. Then the kids all took second trip down to the river to swim until dusk. dance party! We got all our kids to dance.

Eric and I and a few other couples are sleeping in our own house (quiet + comfy beds = heaven). It would be fun to sleep with everyone but I don't sleep well with 20 people snoring next to me.
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Thursday, July 28, 2022

Cabin week

I've been in absentia this past week in northern Wisconsin at a family reunion. No internet. Lots of trees and insects. We drove home today (9 hours) and I'm ready to get some sleep.

Except for the first day, which was sunny and mid-80s F, the weather was cool and variable. That didn't stop the kids from spending hours in the water every day.

We were missing 2 of my siblings and their families and still had a huge houseful. Our kids got to be the "big" cousins this year for the first time.

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Thursday, July 21, 2022

Speaking French with Mexicans and MAGA hats on engine oil

10,503 steps

We had a "what can we eat for lunch?" moment. I proposed that someone buy corn tortillas so we could make quesadillas, since we had just about everything else on hand (queso fresco, sharp cheddar, sour cream, black beans, 3 kinds of salsa, hot sauce, etc.). Zari volunteered me to go and Ivy was happy to come along.

We lost our neighborhood Mexican grocery store a few years ago, but in the past two years we've gained 2 new ones, both within easy walking distance. I can't tell you how thrilled we were when we found this out! All other grocery stores are on the outskirts of town and only accessible via car.

We bought corn tortillas, limes, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, and baking powder (I was out). When we were checking out, I was chatting with Ivy in French about how it's so weird to go into stores and not speak French or say "bonjour" and "merci."

The woman at the counter said, "Vous parlez français?" in Spanish-accented French. We had a nice conversation en français. She recently moved to our little town from Cancun, where, like us, she had lived very close to the beach.

Who would have thought?

Oh, and you've got to hear about my visit to the mechanic. My normal mechanic is away for 2 weeks, and I wanted someone to give our car a check-over. Despite not being driven for 20+ months, our car has been running great. I've already had the oil changed, tire pressures checked, etc. But we have noticed a kind of low-pitched rattling sound that seemed "off." So I phoned up a new mechanic (good reviews on Google) and made an appointment for this morning.

Bonus: his shop was only about 6 blocks away from our house. The outside was completely unremarkable, old and ugly and out of the way. The inside had been remodeled when he bought the shop this past year, and the decor was...well...unsurprising but also kind of entertaining in a "I'm not in Kansas anymore" way.

Close your eyes and imagine a black & gray speckled Epoxy floor...grayish barn wood on the walls (okay, it was fake and probably made of vinyl) curtains...a "Man Cave" sign that said something about "doing manly things"...corrugated steel decorating the sides of the counter...lots of vintage oil & gas paraphernalia...and to top it off, a MAGA hat adorning a bottle of engine oil. The owner and his employees were all ginger-haired men, most of whom were also bearded and tattoed.

I might be persuaded to use this new mechanic as a) he's close enough that we can walk home after dropping the car off and b) his prices seem very reasonable. $25 for a checkup and his quotes were competitive.

There's nothing to prevent us from our road trip, but we do need to replace the brake pads and the front struts, which are leaking. Not bad, considering the car is 12 years old and we haven't needed to do anything in the 9 years we've owned it except change the oil and replace the tires. It helps that the car still has very low miles.

My goal is to keep it going for another 10+ long as possible, basically. I suppose we won't need a 6-passenger car 10 years down the road. I miss our VW Golf diesel TDI that got 45 mpg and that we converted to run on used vegetable oil. That was the best car ever.

We're mostly all packed and ready to head out. Eric bought lots of food to eat in the car and on the first day before everyone arrives. We've all tested negative, even Dio, so I think we're cleared for human interaction. We've got neighbors and our former tenant keeping an eye on the house.

My doctor brother (who treats Covid patients so has some insight on this) says we could have caught some other respiratory illness and Dio may just have had an unrelated asymptomatic Covid infection that got picked up on his antigen test. Or I suppose he could have been a rare case of a false positive. It's not impossible, although relatively unlikely.
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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Holding and hedge trimming

10,968 steps

I'm scratching my head. My PCR test came back...negative! That's good, but it's also very confusing given that Dio tested positive with identical symptoms that emerged at the exact same time. Anyway, we'll test everyone before we leave for our family reunion, where we'll likely be staying in separate accommodations and only socializing outdoors.

I'm feeling good today. During the kids' mandatory outdoor time, I trimmed bushes with the electric trimmer. The soil is too dry to do much weeding, so that will have to wait until the next big rainstorm.

I spent close to 2 hours on hold this morning. First, it was with the NC Dept of Revenue, trying to sort out various tax things for Breech Without Borders since one of our employees is based in that state. I also spent time on hold with the IRS, also with BWB tax-related questions. SO MUCH FUN.

Eric and I went on a walk this evening where I didn't have to ramble slowly.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2022


6,999 steps

I must be on the mend--I pulled weeds and trimmed tree branches this afternoon. I don't think I could have done that yesterday. My body still feels "off" and I'm definitely more fatigued than usual.

Ivy helped me unpack 4 more boxes. We hung up almost all of our entry hall and library pictures--all of our family pictures over the years. It definitely feels more like home with those back up. (Our "wall of shame" has more photos up now--these house photos are from several years ago).

After lunch I told the kids that they had to go outside for an hour. Lots of groaning and eye rolling from Zari and Dio, while Ivy was more than eager. I pulled out our stomp rockets and kite and helped them hook up the sprinkler. I couldn't tear Zari away from her comfy perch on the front porch (with a book, of course), but Dio and Ivy had lots of fun playing in the water and seeing how high they could make the rockets go. (And spraying me on occasion, which felt amazing.)

Ivy helped me make cookies. I like making them but I don't really care for eating them. The kids take care of that for me.

I found this metal plaque that Eric's parents gave us before we left for France in 2020. I chose a spot for it on the front porch.
Zari had her first high school soccer practice today (after testing negative). She was by far the best player. Now she just needs to increase her confidence and agressiveness, since she could dominate if she wanted to.

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