Thursday, March 31, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 464: Drywall day

We got several pieces of drywall up today. Of course there was loads of prep work because we were attaching it to rock walls, some bare and some covered with rough lime plaster. We had to jackhammer off the bits that were sticking out too far, cut a few more channels for electrical conduits, that sort of thing. Over the course of the day I mixed 3 batches of plaster and one very large batch of MAP.

Our evening was full of meetings: Eric had 3 (2 online, 1 in person) and I had one. Too many meetings!

It looks like I'll be going to Australia and New Zealand at the end of 2022 to teach breech workshops! I'm not thrilled about being away from the family for a month, but my mom will likely come help while I'm gone.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 463: Taxes are a pain

5,607 steps

I've been intensely focused on getting our finances in order today...downloading spreadhsheets, going through all our expenditures line by line. It's given me a headache. Literally--I feel like there's a knife stabbed through my eyeball.

And I also started our visa renewal process. Double headache.

When I get really focused, it's hard for me to swtich tracks and pay attention to anything else. Add a near-migraine on top of that, and you have an irritable mother who doesn't have patience for the normal noise and shenanigans.
It wasn't *terrible* today, but ugh I want the taxes to be over.

Today was our normal soccer day. Alas the weather was overcast and slightly rainy (well, for poor Dio it was VERY rainy!). Not a whole lot else going on. I'm going to stop working and head to bed for some reading and relaxing. No more Excel sheets tonight!
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Tuesday, March 29, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 462: House work, breech work, park

Another morning working on electricity. At lunchtime I got a message from our neighbor that she was feeling unwell and could we not make noise the rest of the day? No problem! I had lots of breech stuff to get caught up on anyway.

I went to the park after school with Ivy and Inga. Forced fun! No work!

Not a whole lot else going on. Zari, Dio, and I had a long discussion about theology and social change and politics and beliefs. Well, Dio mostly listened as I scratched his back while Zari and I talked 🙂 It's fun to have adult conversations with my kids.

I'm going to get in bed soon and read a book. A demain!
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Monday, March 28, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 461: Running wires

9,636 steps

I gathered my resolve this morning and went running. I've been so exhausted lately and wanted to prove to myself that I could muster the energy to run. And I did!

I had a full workday in the front apartment doing electricity. I embedded more outlet boxes in plaster and, once it was hardened, hooked up the outlets and light switches.

Dinner was delicious: zucchini fritters and purple risotto (with endives, red onions, Toulouse sausages, red wine, & Parmesan). Plus leftover birthday cake.

Dio fell down a flight of stairs on the way to soccer and hurt his tailbone and is now hobbling around like a grandpa. I don't think it's broken because it doesn't hurt to sit. But it was bad enough that he couldn't participate.
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Sunday, March 27, 2022

French apartment renovations, Days 459-460: Birthday 2.0

13,970 steps

Eric came back from his conference around lunchtime, which meant we got to celebrate Ivy's birthday again! We finally had birthday cake (dark chocolate vegan cake with chocolate buttercream frosting & cherry jam between the layers). I kept it simple because next week's cake will be quite the production. Ivy and Inga decorated it with whatever objects they could find.

I was really tired this afternoon. The rest of the family watched a romantic comedy from the late 90s, while I went up on my bed and read a book (and napped a bit). Lots of ongoing commentary during and after the movie, almost MST3K style.

Yesterday tired all of us out. In fact, when I came back from putting Ivy and Inga to bed, I found both Zari and Dio asleep in the living room! So I roused them off the couches and sent them up to bed. I followed not that much later. I ended up reading for a while but still went to bed much earlier than normal.

3 of the 4 kids had soccer matches or tournaments. I went to Ivy's in the morning (a mini-tournament of five 15-minute games). Zari came to help out along with many of her teammates. Ivy's team won 3 matches and tied 2. I managed to see a beautful goal made by Ivy, but not on film.

An hour after we got home, I had to bring Inga back to the soccer club to RDV for a carpool to her game about 45 minutes away. Her team tied 1-1, with Inga scoring the only goal. Then a few hours later I sent Zari to go back to the RDV spot to pick Inga up. Meanwhile Dio went to his own match on his own. They won 4-3.

I had a Zoom meeting on Saturday as well. Yesterday's dinner was Thai coconut chicken soup and coconut cake. Today Eric made green peas, then sea scallops in a shallot cream sauce.
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Friday, March 25, 2022

French apartment renovations, Days 458: Ivy is 9!

11,872 steps

My mind is not accepting that I last gave birth 9 YEARS AGO. I feel like it was a recent thing but I am probably in denial.

And since I woke up yet again at 5:45 am (not by choice), I am too tired to put together something elaborate for today.

We opened presents at lunchtime while Eric joined us on WhatsApp. He did the traditional reading of the birth story from his journal. We have decided to delay the birthday dinner & cake and candles and singing until he gets back. Ivy is very good at delayed gratification.

She got a new backpack (covered with many patches), 2 pairs of her favorite Adidas pants, and a box of chocolates. We went on a walk after dinner with her, Inga, and my cousin to find more patches. Ivy chose one with the Nicois eagle on it.

I needed to use the bathtub for something today...and this is what I found. Inga and Ivy had built up an entire civilization. I had to take it down but at least I got a picture first!

Okay, now the obligatory links to Ivy's birth:

1. Birth story:

2. Birth video:
It's somewhat edited, but not like these fancy-pants birth videos done by professional videographers that you'll see nowadays! All we had was a tripod 🙂

3. Birth photos:
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Thursday, March 24, 2022

French apartment renovations, Days 457: A marathon of errands

22,106 steps

Okay, it was closer to a half-marathon...but still! I ran a ton of errands today. I walked about 16 km (10 miles) all over store, another grocery store, home to drop everything off, thrift store, supermarket, paint store, home again to drop things off, sports store, hardware store, pharmacy, home again, beach (to read in the sun!), school pickup, home again. Another grocery store, home again. Then after dinner, just a quick walk in the neighborhood to meet with a family who Zari and my cousin will be babysitting for. And back home, of course!

My cousin helped Ivy and her friend bake birthday cake #1 (for tomorrow's family party). Birthday cake #2 will be more ambitious: a 6-layer rainbow cake with chocolate ivy leaves. But that's not until next weekend.

Eric arrived safely to his conference and we were able to talk to him several times despite the big time difference.

Anyway, I'm hoping to get into bed early-ish tonight since of course I woke up at 5:45 am this morning and couldn't get back to sleep!
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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

French apartment renovations, Days 456: Au revoir

6,974 steps

Lots of tears this morning as Eric left for a conference. He won't be gone very long at all, but leaving is leaving.

I'm putting renovations on "pause" or at least "slow-motion" since I have too many things to take care of without a 2nd adult around. It's nice to know that my cousin is here, though, in case of any emergencies. I think that is why, 4 years ago, it was so hard on me to be here in France with the kids while Eric was back in the States. I had this horrible constant worry about Something Bad Happening and no one being around. "What if I had a heart attack when I was out running errands and nobody knew and no one was there to pick up the kids?" That sort of thing.

Everyone got to soccer, grocery shopping is done (enough for a few days, I hope), laundry is hung up, the floor is definitely NOT swept, and I'm just going to leave the mess on the table and deal with it tomorrow.

I spent a few hours with friends this afternoon, just chatting. Wow--I have not done that for a very long time! Too long! They have convinced me that I need these weekly friend-dates on Wednesday afternoons while their kids are in art and dance classes. I agree :)
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Tuesday, March 22, 2022

French apartment renovations, Days 455: Movies and wires

I accompanied Ivy's class this morning to a short film festival. We watched 5 short pieces--some documentaries, some claymation, some cartoons or other animations.

Ivy keeps reminding us of how many days it is until her birthday. The clock is ticking! Only 3 more days now. Time to start party planning. It won't be anywhere as elaborate as Inga's, but we'll still do a party at the chateau and a lovely cake.

Eric went birthday present shopping and found a few things, so we're mostly set.

When I wasn't chaperoning, I did electrical work. I hooked up 3 outlets and 9 light switches, including two 3-way switches which are a bit more complicated. But thankfully electricity is very logical. You can be sure you have a right answer if you think it through.


Eric is getting ready to go to a conference. There's been lots of packing, printing, and practicing. Fortunately he won't be gone long.
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Monday, March 21, 2022

French apartment renovations, Days 454: Too much of a good thing

8,476 steps

Some days I feel like I have too much to do and I get really overwhelmed. I really love everything I'm doing. I love renovating, I love working on my breech projects, I love my kids. But sometimes all of it together is just too much. (Oh and did I mention I also have another job managing 8 apartments?)

Well, nothing to do but keep working, I guess.

Eric picked up MAP and cement today. I bored so many holes with our diamond hole saw (for the outlet boxes, which are round here so I guess they're not really boxes?). Then I mortared many of them in with MAP. Another noisy, messy day.

Zari is working on a project analyzing the trailer for Dune, looking at its cinematic techniques. It's 2x too long so now she begins the painful work of cutting it down.

We're taking my cousin to a restaurant tomorrow. I haven't gone out to eat since last summer (when we could eat outdoors and feel relatively safe).
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Sunday, March 20, 2022

French apartment renovations, Days 452-453: Family time, soccer disappointments, and more family time

13,870 steps

We got all the kids outside yesterday morning. It was one of the rare Saturdays when we had the entire morning free of any scheduled events. It was overcast and windy, but we still enjoyed some down time at the beach. Eric napped, I read a book, Zari and Dio went on a scooter ride, and Ivy and Inga played on a big pile of rocks.

I joined the soccer marathon in the afternoon. Eric drove 30 minutes, dropped Ivy off at her game, drove 20 minutes to drop Inga and me off at her game, drove back to watch Ivy's game. Meanwhile we sat around and waited...and waited...for Inga's game to start. It was cold and windy and despite multiple layers I couldn't get warm enough. Finally, Eric and Ivy showed up and Inga's match still hadn't started! It was a disappointing afternoon for both girls: Ivy's team lost 8-1 and Inga's team lost 2 mini matches. But Inga scored the only goal in both matches and it was beautiful--a lovely curving kick that went just inside the upper corner of the goal.

I was so tired last night that I headed to bed early. It was actually not that early (10:30 pm), which used to be my normal bedtime until a few years bedtime is now about midnight because that's when Eric goes to bed. In a small apartment, I can't really go to sleep if he is up in the living room. Our sleeping loft has windows that overlook the living room and even the heavy curtains don't block out the light entirely.

And then my plans to go to sleep early were foiled because Eric came up and we had some Very Important Things to talk about. Mainly religion and parenting.

Today was much more relaxing. We watched a movie together in the afternoon. And I had some time to read. I even snuck in a short cat nap.

(These pictures are from last week's tournament, where Ivy's team played much better. One shows her just after she'd kicked the ball into the net.)

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Friday, March 18, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 451: Field trip!

Inga was so excited about this afternoon's field trip to a local church-turned-concert hall. Her class was going to watch a baroque chamber music ensemble rehearse for their upcoming Sacred Music concernt. And I got to be the chaperone!

This took place in what was a relatively small chapel that fell into ruins after the nuns moved to a different location. The a benefactor rebuilt it into a school for girls maybe in the 18th century? Then eventually it got turned into a cultural center.

The ensemble had an organist, someone playing a viola da gamba (about the size of a cello, but with 7 strings and held between the legs), and a small choir. They interspersed short pieces with little tidbits of information and demonstrations of how the instruments worked. The woman playing the viola da gamba also demonstrated on a smaller version of the instrument--same principle, but an octave higher.

They performed various pieces of "Musique Sacree" or sacred music. So here's the short history: back in the 16th century, the churches were very concerned because people were not going to mass very much. So they innovated a new religious experience: at the time, a really big deal, the equivalent of going to a huge concert or musical. They told religious stories through beautiful, intriguing music meant to appeal to everyday people. And it worked--people started flocking back to church because these concerts were so appealing.

I suppose a modern-day equivalent would be these big mega churches with amazing bands and high-tech projectors.

I sat next to two boys from Inga's class and chatted with them until the concert started. They were very "sage" (well-behaved) but yeah, some of the other kids had a hard time sitting still! I get it. They are 10 or 11 years old and have lots of energy. They can't help needing to move.

So...what else? This morning I wired several outlets and light switches. I also ran the ground wire and connected it to the terminal in the common area. I painted the 2nd coat of waterproofing membrane. I ran out towards the end and will need to buy more. Our shower base arrived this morning, and with the help of Zari and Dio we got it upstairs and onto the mezzanine. It is HEAVY!

I went to the park briefly after school to just take a break from everything. I chatted with a friend and we agreed to meet up on Wednesdays after soccer. I feel like we've been in this strange time warp bubble due to both Covid and our home renovations, and I am missing socialization.

The last video is from yesterday at the park. Very typical of what Inga and Ivy do nearly every day after school.

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Thursday, March 17, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 450: Seriously, 450 days?

2,899 steps

I worked much of the day but very few steps showed up. Weird. Anyway we put up drywall in wall that separates the bedroom and bathroom. We had to reinforce the places where the light fixtures will go. (I just don't trust drywall to hold things!) So that took a while to add reinforcing boards for the 3 light fixtures and then to make the complicated drywall cut.

The first picture shows how I keep track of where the electrical lines are so I don't accidentally screw into them later on.

The 2nd picture shows back-to-back reinforcing with scraps of wood subfloor. The hole for the light fixture box will be in the center. Those lights won't be going anywhere!

Eric started adding missing beams back to the ceiling--rough beams that will support the boxes that go around the beams and that go cross-ways. It's hard to explain but it will make sense when you see the finished product.

I also realized, when I started typing this post, that we have been renovating for 450 days! That is a LONG TIME.

Still really fatigued today. I would suspect long Covid...but it just started about 2 weeks ago. And almost everyone else has gotten it recently as well. So probably not that. Maybe some other sort of virus? Is there a weak and tired virus?

I also got the rest of the baseboards caulked and all of the nail/screw holes filled in. I'll need to go back tomorrow to see if they need a bit more filling. And then I have to touch everything up with paint.

Oh! And I also applied the first coat of waterproofing membrane in the shower area. The shower base should arrive tomorrow. We can install it once the 2nd coat is dry.


I tag-teamed with Eric watching Ivy and Inga at the park after school.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 449: Still tired

6,321 steps

Still so tired! I think everyone but Dio is feeling it.

Ivy helped me tape and caulk the baseboards in Le Cataraman this morning. She's very good with fine detail work.

I baked sourdough bread for the first time in well over a month. And...dinner was excellent. I made kebabs, as the kids had been asking for them for a while. This means sourdough flatbread (with extra dough I had leftover), kebab meat, homemade hummus, homemade yogurt-mint-garlic-cucumber sauce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers. And apple crumble for dessert to use up some old apples.

Anyway I'm just so exhausted I need to go to bed. Bonne nuit!
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Tuesday, March 15, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 448: Fatigue, plumbers, grand rounds, bows & arrows

8,273 steps

Something must be going around because Ivy and Inga both complained about being very tired at school today. Ivy said she fell asleep at one point, and Inga didn't have the energy to play hand ball. And Eric feels off, too! Maybe that explains my unsual fatigue the past week or two.

I took a nap this afternoon. I just had to.

The plumbers arrived and got all the water supply lines laid. The marked on the wall where a channel needs to be cut for the drain pipe, and I got that cut and chiseled out in the afternoon. They'll be back tomorrow for the drain lines. Then they wait for us to finish the tiling etc before doing the final hookups. Wow! It's really happening.

I also put the special primer in the shower area (primaire d'accrochage). Next I need to apply 2 coats of waterproofing membrane.

I did Grand Rounds for UCSF & SFGH today, in combination for a breech training we are holding all this week in San Francisco. Whew! It was fun but lots of pressure leading up to it. I had planned for 45 minutes and probably went about 47. I had to speed through the last few slides because we were running out of time.

This evening the kids started making tiny bows and arrows out of wood ice cream sticks, dental floss, and toothpicks. They worked remarkably well. I should see if I can get a video of it tomorrow.
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Monday, March 14, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 447: The best consulate visit EVER!

We had to renew two passports today, and it was the best experience we've ever had. Usually we have to drive to Marseille (2.5 hrs) with the entire family and spend the whole day driving, waiting in line, waiting in more lines, and then driving home.

But because of Covid, the US Consulate has started offering mobile passport services in Nice once every month or two. We got there exactly at our appointed time, waited in line for exacly 1 minute, and were done in 4 minutes.

I told the man who processed our application, "Can you please tell your supervisor that this service is amazing and we are so thankful we didn't have to drive all the way to Marseille?" He said, "I am the supervisor! It was my idea."

The plumber comes tomorrow to start work on the front apartment. I've been doing yet more electricity (there's always so much to do) and getting the shower area ready for waterproofing membrane. Eric nailed in replacement boards on the wooden ceiling. Bit by bit, we're rebuilding it.

Dio dissected a chicken heart at school and was thoroughly grossed out. Dissection is a rite of passage. I still vividly remember dissecting a frog.

Zari is having her own gross-out moment about the floral prairie dresses that are all the rage right now. "It's like an old person's wallpaper!"

Yes, I lived through floral prairie dresses in the 1980s. I don't care to repeat it.
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Sunday, March 13, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 446: Rain, rest

With spitting rain and wind most of the day, we didn't do much in the afternoon. I still had my usual walk to/from Cimiez in the morning, despite the rain.

The kids got a little stir-crazy and finally Eric sent them out in the late afternoon. "I won't make dinner until you go outside!" They ended up having tons of fun at the beach, chasing waves and collecting sea glass.

I had one of those naps that leaves you feeling more exhausted at the end. Oh well...I still needed it.

Oh, a big change is coming tomorrow: masks are no longer required in the schools. The kids have been masking since May 2020, when the first big quarantine period ended.
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Saturday, March 12, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 445: Up (too) early

Someone in our building was coming in and out for several minutes around 3:00 am. The motion-triggered hallway lights kept going on and I could hear the front door downstairs opening and closing. And then I was wide awake until, I don't know, probably close to 8 am. I managed to get a little snooze in after that. But yeah, I am TIRED.

And Eric had to get up before 5 am to bring my cousin to the train station. So there are two very tired parents today 🙂

Eric was gone at soccer games for much of the day. I took Inga on a walk/scooter ride to the marine supply store on the far side of the port. We bought hooks for Le Catamaran. Ivy and Inga had a game tournament this afternoon, playing rounds from a huge pile of board games. They never finished the tournment but had a good time (and occasional bursts of crying or arguing--let's be real).

Zari scored a beautiful goal in the 2nd half of her soccer match.

[yawn] I am so tired I am having a hard time concentrating...time to put the computer bed.
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Friday, March 11, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 444: Fatigue

I'm unsually tired by late afternoon. Not sleepy, but physically exhuasted. It's unusual for me and seems to have been going on for about a week now. 

Anyway, what happened today? Lots more electrical and a bit of framing and drywall. I ran lines for all of the hallway, kitchen, & dining rooms spots. That took most of my morning. 

After lunch, Eric helped me rip some rough beams into something resembling straight, even boards to be used for framing. I framed a little end area into the electrical cupboard, just deep enough to accommodate the outlet box. Then...the fun part...I put drywall up in that little area, pulled all the wires through, and installed the outlet box! Next up is hooking everything up to the switches. 

 Eric and I went to the park during lunch with Ivy and Inga. It was nice to take a break in the middle of the day.
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Thursday, March 10, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 443: Drywall, delousing

I was so exhausted yesterday that I could barely talk at dinnertime. I did a lot of work in the front apartment after soccer/grocery errands and didn't realize how tired I was until I stopped. So no journaling last night!

I decided to do breech work this morning rather than renovations. In the afternoon, we did more electricity and put up some insulated drywall in the bedroom. I love doing things that feel like fixing, rather than demolishing.

I did another lice check on Inga last night...more lice. Ugh. So tonight I did Ivy, Dio, and myself. I think we were all clear so it's just Inga to keep checking. She must have delicious hair because she has had lice far more often than anyone else.
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Tuesday, March 08, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 441: Afternoon of errands

12,603 steps

Wow! After a long dirty morning and early afternoon working in the front apartment, I came up for a late lunch, trailing a cloud of dust behind me.

I spent the entire rest of the afternoon running errands:
1. Print photos at a Photomaton (for passport renewal)
2. Pick up a bank check at our bank (for passport renewal)
3. Print photos at a different Photomaton since the first one had a strange oversaturation
4. Buy paperclips at Monoprix
5. Buy mint & cilantro at the Asian food store
6. Buy a laundry basket for Le Catamaran
7. Buy lettuce at the neighborhood grocery store
8. Buy ground pork at the butcher
9. Drop off my purchases at home
10. Drop off garbage
11. Pick up kids from school
12. Mail passport applications at the post office
13. Go back home and realize I forgot to mail 2 other letters
14. Go back to the post office to mail 2 letters
15. Back home--time to cook dinner!

Dinner was Thai larb salad. I made a coconut cake for dessert, but it was late enough that we'll eat it tomorrow.

Ivy is supposed to be writing in her journal but she keeps getting distracted. Inga is practicing Fur Elise. Zari is doing homework and I'm not sure what Dio is up to. Maybe Minecraft? Eric is off at a meeting that he doesn't think is necessary but still feels obligated to attend. C'est la vie chez les Freezes!
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Monday, March 07, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 440:

7,176 steps

Another long day renovating...I removed the metal grill on the transom window above the front door. Sadly, we have to cover this window up because it's the location of the future shower. I hate reducing any light but there was no other place for the shower that made sense.

I filled in the empty window frame with drywall, then added a few more layers of insulated drywall to bring the window opening back to the original thickness of the wall above it. Then at the end of the day, I installed the full sheet of green drywall to become one of the shower walls. So now we have both shower walls up and we're ready for the waterproofing treatment!

I also did more wiring, more cutting channels, more jackhammering, more plastering in wires with MAP. I'm really pleased with the progress, considering that 1 year ago today we were just putting up the ledgerboards for the mezzanine in Le Catamaran. We hadn't done any other construction at all and still had a lot of demolition left. No electrical, no plumbing, rien.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was dinner, homework, piano lessons, and bedtime. Plus breech stuff of course.

We have a few kids' passports to renew, so I've been filling out applicataions, photocopying documents, and taking passport photos.
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Sunday, March 06, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 439: Partied out

7,605 steps

Can I please have a weekend to recover from this weekend? Inga's birthday party was a smashing success but wow, do I need a break!

We had... 
  • 6 bottles of potions: Dragon Blood, Snake Venom, Phoenix Tears, Toad Essence, Slug Extract, & Beetle Nectar 
  • 24 sorting hat cupcakes (filled with one of 4 Hogwarts House colors) 
  • 24 baby mandrake cupcakes 
  • 24 edible brooksticks 
  • Chocolate frogs, some in special boxes 
  • Golden Snitches 
  • Oreos 
  • Homemade hummus with bell peppers, cucumbers, or breadsticks 
  • M&Ms (substitute for Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans)

Plus every child got to pick their magic wand and their zippered pouch. (Do you recognize the fabrics from Le Catamaran?)

We hung the 4 Hogwarts House flags from the chandeliers.

We ended up having people meet here, rather than at the chateau, since rain was in the forecast. We had our sorting hat & magic wand ceremony, plus lots of snacks. Then we went to the coulee verte for some fun. Eric led a game of Ultimate Frisbee, which all of the kids loved.

Next, we came back home for more treats, birthday presents, and of course the movie! 

They only watched about 1 hour total, interrupted by games. I made something like 7 or 8 batches of popcorn.

I can't believe how much these kids ate! I was certain we'd have loads of food left over. But between the party and sending kids home with cupcakes for their families, we only had a dozen cupcakes and a dozen Snitches left.

On top of all of this, Ivy had a birthday party to attend at the chateau. What a crazy day!
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Saturday, March 05, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 438: Party prep

4,376 steps

It's been mega party prep all day. We finished 24 sorting hat cupcakes, 24 baby mandrake cupcakes, 48 golden snitches (Ferrero Rocher) with wings, 6 potion labels, and lots of other little things. Tomorrow we will assemble the edible broomsticks right before serving them. The forecast is gloomy and cold, so I don't think we'll stay outdoors for as long as we originally thought.

3 of the 4 kids had soccer games today, so Eric was busy going to all of them and/or coaching and/or refereeing.

Oh, and Ivy and I also made two sea glass art pieces for a birthday party that got moved to tomorrow. Same time and location as Inga's party, so it all works out!

I made meatloaf Wellington tonight. So delicious! It was mostly vegetables, which is how I like it.
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Friday, March 04, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 437: Less dust, more drywall, even more cupcakes

13,451 steps

We carried up all the drywall and installed it in the shower and sink areas. I also plastered in a lot of the electrical lines.

Oh, and I think I figured out the culprit in the mysterious electrical problem in Le Catamaran. So, the way the French systems work is that there are these sets of prongs (one neutral, one hot) that plug into the tops of a row of circuit breakers. After eliminating most other possiblities, and hearing from my cousin that she was hearing some kind of sparking/crackling noises from the circuit breaker, I had a suspicion. Maybe there was dirt/dust/debris that had fallen in the holes where the prongs go into. When we were renovating, we had the prongs out for a while.

So I turned off the power to that area, pulled out both sets of prongs, unhooked the row of breakers, and turned them all upside-down. A shower of debris fell out! Aha! Then I gave the breakers a good vacuuming and hooked everything back up. She's going to test out her washing machine and see if it functions without losing power.

And...lots more birthday party prep this evening. We made 24 baby mandrake cupcake toppers with marzipan. Then we also made sorting hats out of cocoa-tinted marizpan for *another* 24 cupcakes! My cousin baked a second batch this evening.

On top of all of this, Ivy got invited to a birthday party tomorrow, which means we need to make a present for not one but two girls because it's for twins. So we have to make two sea glass art pictures tomorrow morning. Whew!

And...I went running this morning. A good day but very busy.
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Thursday, March 03, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 436: Dust, drywall, and cupcakes

6,662 steps

I did more wiring this morning. We are about 90% done with wiring now! We still have to embed a lot of the wires, but most of the channels are cut and the wires are tacked into place, awaiting plastering.

After lunch Eric and I took a trip to Ciffreo Bona, the local home improvement store. We bought 9 sheets of drywall and 2 bags of MAP. I carried the MAP upstairs but the drywall...well...we'll carry that up tomorrow when we have more energy!

I spent the rest of the afternoon making an enormous mess: cutting into the old plaster cornices and then chiseling them off with a jackhammer. We needed to do this to get the walls flat all the way up. I cleaned up 10 bags full of debris and then hopped into the shower.

Dinner was Riste d’aubergines provençale (in a jar, very yummy) with creamy polenta. And leftover birthday cake! Inga and my cousin baked a batch of cupcakes for her birthday party. 12 of them became "sorting cupcakes," filled with 4 different colors of frosting. They will all be topped by the same color of frosting so they won't know which Hogwarts house they belong to until they bite into the cupcake! The other 12 cupcakes will be turned into mandrakes.

What else? 3 of the 4 kids went to friends' houses after school and/or had friends over. Pretty typical now that Covid restrictions are more lax. Zari had soccer and came home with two skinned knees. Ouch.
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Wednesday, March 02, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 435: Inga is 11!!

7,774 steps

Well it's been a momentous, busy, loud, and hectic day. I'm going full speed preparing for Inga's big party this weekend. Today for birthday prep I...
- sewed 6 zippered pouches to hold magic wands, pencils, etc
- made a triple batch of frosting
- frosted and decorated Inga's cake
- sewed 4 Hogwarts flags, complete with little hanging loops, using scraps from my fabric box
- helped the kids make another batch of chocolate frogs

We did our ritual reading of Inga's birth story this morning before Zari and Dio left for school. (Accessible here on the right side bar.)

Inga had to wait all day to open presents and have birthday cake because of our crazy soccer schedule. Fortunately Dio's practice was cancelled, so we were able to find a time where everyone was at home.

Inga was full of energy and I kept remarking how loud and chaotic it felt at home. My cousin confirmed that yes, it wasn't just me--it really WAS loud and crazy! So much excitement cannot be contained.

Inga was thrilled with her birthday presents: a dragon necklack from me, a new school backpack from Eric, and potted flowers from Ivy, plus birthday cards from grandparents and friends.

I didn't realize how exhausted I was until I brought Zari to an orthodontist appointment this evening. Almost as soon as I sat down in the waiting room, I started falling asleep. I think I'm going to have to wait until tomorrow to put together her birthday video.
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Tuesday, March 01, 2022

French apartment renovations, Day 434: Why won't the wires work?

6,984 steps

It's super late and I've been going all day and I just need to stop. I wired a lot more of the apartment, and now we're about 75% done! After a morning of writing, Eric started working on the wood ceiling restoration. Since we've decided to paint rather than sandblast, we're able to use various wood scraps to rebuild the moldings.

Ivy and Inga were so excited for school today because they were celebrating Carnaval and got to wear their costumes. Good thing I had those fancy Halloween costumes.

I have a mysterious electrical short in Le Catamaran on a circuit with just one outlet, a dedicated outlet for the washing machine. No other connections, just a straight shot from the breaker to the outlet. And it's not working and we can't figure out why! It stopped mid-cycle today.

I've tried all of the things short of testing all of the points of departure and origin with my multimeter. Checked the breaker and turned it on and off, replaced the outlet, etc etc etc. I worry that somehow there's a short in one of the wires (although I can't imagine how that would have happened). I hate it when things don't work and we can't figure out the reason.

And...Inga turns 11 tomorrow! I baked her a cake and will frost and decorate tomorrow. We have so much prep to do before her birthday party this weekend. One thing at a time. Tonight the kids made chocolate frogs.

Dinner was panang curry with pork, cauliflower, carrots, & onions, served with rice. Dessert was plain yogurt with a choice of jams.
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