Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 21: Brisbane, Australia!

16 hours of traveling and $1,000 in baggage fees later, we have arrived.

We were blindsided by the baggage fees. We had booked a Quantas flight, connecting through Auckland. We're using to paying for a few extra bags, but this trip hit us hard. First off, we didn't realize that the first leg of the flight was operated by JetStar, which charged its own fees for our luggage ($600). Then we had to pay AGAIN for our bags on the 2nd leg of the flight, even though it was one booking from Wellington to Brisbane! And both of these flights charged per kg, rather than per bag.

But what else could we do? Ugh, I'm never flying JetStar again. It's fine if you're not traveling with much. But we don't have that choice.

Considering that the main flight wasn't terribly long, we certainly had a crazy long travel day. We're also 3 hours earlier here in Brisbane than in New Zealand. It's going to be trickier to talk to Eric and the kids because my lunch break will now be very late at night, and it will get worse when we go across the country to Perth and Adelaide.

A few km before our airbnb, we made a quick stop for a few groceries. We'll probably do a bigger grocery trip tomorrow when more things are open (including an Aldi!!).
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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 20: Wellington workshop day 2

Wow, what a great day! I'm quite glad that I don't have to do a 3rd day of training tomorrow because I need a rest. We fly overseas to Australia, but at least I can turn my brain off a bit.

We sold all but one of the books we've been carting all around the country. Our book shipper has lots more to send to NZ and Australia, but I anticipate we might to print a 3rd NZ run of books relatively soon.

I have missed talking to the family for the past two days. They haven't been around during my one-hour lunch break (dinnertime or later for them), and by time I'm back home it's too late for them.

ps, if you ever do breech training with me, you will come away humming tunes from "The Wizard of Oz." Why is that? Register and find out!!
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Monday, November 28, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 19: Wellington workshop day 1

After pushing out many hundreds of babies and talking for almost 10 hours straight, I am knackered. Kaput. I'm staying awake until my laundry is dry and then off to bed for me!

As usual, a great day of teaching with very engaged people. We had a mixture of obstetricians, residents (registrars), midwives, and student midwives. We're here thanks to my midwife host and the local midwife educator, who has made massive inroads in the past few years into teaching breech, writing new guidelines for the local healthcare system, and securing funding for a Sophie and Her Mum model for the local hospital.

That's all for today! Time to rest.
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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 18: Rest & rain in Wellington

701 steps

I think I set a record for the least amount of steps, ever, in one day! It was pouring outside all day and so I sat on my bed and did video editing, getting up only to eat lunch and dinner, use the bathroom, etc. How is that for a rest day?

I talked to Eric and the kids for a long time. They're back from visiting his sister. Only 2 weeks left before our big departure! I can't believe it because I still have another country to teach in and many, many flights to take.

We ate crème brûlée tonight. Mmmmmmm. I need to make it more often.
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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 17: Travel to Wellington

143 km and 13,477 steps

We had an easy travel day: 1 hr 45 min drive through mostly straight roads. We arrived in Lower Hutt around noon at the home of the the midwife who who hosted me here 3 years ago. David and I put together a delicious lunch from all of the food we have left over: fresh mangoes; a big salad made with avocados, bell peppers, tomatoes, and soft-boiled eggs; cheese and crackers; and leftover chocolate tart.

David left once his airbnb was open. The forecast said mostly sunny and windy through the evening, so I decided to go out on a long ramble. We're up on some hills overlooking the bay, very high and steep. I took a walking path that cuts nearly straight down and ends in the flat part of town called Petone.

There's an industrial sector with big box stores, then a quaint shopping and dining district along Jackson Street. I went the length of the street looking for "treasures" for the kids. I must have gone in at least 8 op shops. They are everywhere! I found one surprise for one of the kids (sorry, I have to be vague in case they read this).

I also stopped by Ellen Giggenbach's store and talked to the arist. I was hoping to find a patch to add to my apron...but there was not a single touristy souvenir store in the entire area! Ellen gave me a scrap of leftover fabric that I am going to turn into a pocket and add to my apron.

Once back home, several hours and many kilometers later, I cooked a dark chocolate tart for tonight and creme brulee for tomorrow, all from leftover food and ingredients. My hosts made a delicious salad with pears, blue cheese, walnuts, and prosciutto. I feel very spoiled 🙂

Tomorrow is an "off" day so I anticipate reading, going on another long walk (weather permitting), and of course catching up on emails.
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Friday, November 25, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 16: Palmerston North workshop & an unexpected American Thanksgiving gathering

Another fantastic workshop day with 24 people (3 OB residents or "registrars," several student midwives, and lots of midwives midwives). We also had a cute 5-month-old baby in attendance for part of the morning.

There were two French midwives in attendance, so I had a nice conversation with them about living in France and raising our kids bilingually (en français bien sûr!).

I talked to Eric and the kids during lunch. Everyone ran in the Turkey Trot 5k and we had some very fast children.

During Thanksgiving dinner, they followed a Freeze sibling tradition of passing around the Thanksgiving grouse. Each person has to say, "On this Thanksgiving day, as I hold this Thanksgiving grouse, I am thankful for ____." It began as a sort of joke among several of the siblings who had these handblown glass birds. And now it's a favorite silly tradition.

This evening we ate dinner at the house of someone we knew during Eric's PhD program and my Master's program. He and his wife had just had their first baby (a home birth), and they called us to help fix a leaking roof. I remember that it was raining outside and that we had loaded up our extension ladder in our little Ford Ranger truck.

She had a tiny newborn and they told us the story of their home birth, which involved a postpartum transfer for hemorrhage. I remember thinking, "Why on earth would they do a HOME BIRTH when they could have gone to a hospital?"

Joke's on me...four home births later!

Anyway, this family moved to New Zealand a few years afterward and Eric has kept in touch with him over the years. Just a few days ago, he and Eric made the connection that not only would I be in Z, I would be in the same town where they live! And one of their very close friends is a midwife who attended our workshop today!

So David and I got invited over for dinner right after the workshopl along with the midwife and her family. We had homemade kombucha, homemade pizza, and homemade lemon poppyseed cake. As we were finishing dinner, we realized that it was technically still Thanksgiving Day, at least in some parts of the US.

So there you go--we managed to have an American Thanksgiving dinner entirely by happenstance.
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Thursday, November 24, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 14: Travel to Palmerston North

5,079 steps and 237 km

We had a 3.5 hour drive from New Plymouth to Palmerston North. It was a mixture of rolling hills and flat pasture and farmland. Palmerson North is very flat with long, low mountain ranges off to the east and the west.

We had good weather during our drive--only a little rain here and there--and I saw more of "the mountain." The very top was still hidden by clouds, but we caught a peek of the lower summit with snow cover. It's really hard to see in the picture I took in the car, though.

We bought groceries and then checked into the airbnb. First order of business: eat lunch. Second order: do laundry! I was thinking of going out for a walk, but then I got caught up in household tasks and then it was time for dinner. We got a dramatic rainstorm that came before we could bring all of the laundry in.

It looked slightly less menacing after dinner, so I decided to go out for a walk. I only got rained on 3 times...but I caught a beautiful double rainbow when I was on the pedestrian bridge.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 13: Op shops, hiking, accidents, and a fancy dinner

24,520 steps

I definitely got my daily steps in--and more!

With the forecast saying we should be free of rain most of the day, I decided to take advantage of our first dry day. I went running to the New Plymouth port and back, probably about 5.5k. I then wandered all around town, checking out four "op shops" (thrift stores) and buying a shipping envelope at the post office.

I found some fun treasures for my family and enjoyed being outside without getting inundated. We did have one brief downpour that appeared out of nowhere and lasted about 10 minutes. Fortunately, I was in a shop when it started.

After lunch, David and I decided to go explore Lucy's Gully, which someone described to us as "a lovely easy stroll through a redwood grove." It was lovely and the redwoods were impressive, but it was defintiely not an easy stroll! It was an intense, steep hike that was made more difficult by all of the recent rain. We were practically climbing up much of the time, grasping onto trees and branches for stability.

We thought we'd just got up for a little bit, but we were enjoying ourselves so much that we kept going. We took the Waimoku Track up and the Sefton Track back down. We didn't go all the way to the summit (Patuha Trig) because we had to get back for a dinner invitation.

Unfortunately, as we were just 15 minutes into our descent, David took a tumble when he grabbed onto what he thought was a large, sturdy vine that turned out to be a large, rotten vine. He sprained his ankle and had to painfully hobble down the rest of the mountain.

The video shows the view from about 2/3 of the way up our hike, and the summit was still quite a bit higher.

David found some oyster mushrooms on his way down. They got a little smooshed as he was carrying them and trying to hobble down on a sprained ankle.

I still have never seen "the mountain." We saw the foothills on the way to Lucy's Gully, but the slopes and peak were entirely hidden by a cluster of clouds.

We had a lovely dinner with a midwife who trained with us yesterday and her husband. They were celebrating their 33rd wedding anniversary and invited us along. She's American but has been working here for 20 years. Both the food and the conversation were lovely.

Tomorrow is a travel day to Palmerston North.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 12: Taranaki workshop

We had a lively crowd today. Other words that come to mind are boisterous and rowdy (in a good way). We had 4 obstetricians, more than 20 midwives, and one student midwife. I love working with these groups who clearly enjoy and respect each other.

One of the attendees was from Minnesota! We chatted a bit about our shared MN roots.

Yet again, rain throughout the day. I don't mind when I'm inside teaching.

For dinner, we put together a big salad, hardboiled eggs (done in the hot water kettle), and a few leftovers. I answered way too many emails and then hopped in the hot tub. Then back to more emails. I'm going to put my computer down for the evening and read until I fall asleep.

If it's rainy out tomorrow (likely), I will probably wander around town and check out some of the op shops (thrift stores). I also want to run as long as it isn't pouring rain. We don't feel inclined to drive around sightseeing unless the weather is clear, since we have a long drive the day after tomorrow. We'll see.

I still haven't seen "the mountain," as people in this region refer to it. Too many clouds! One attendee said it took her 6 weeks to see the mountain after she moved here. You might ask: Why does Rixa have no pictures? I'm covered all day in lube and cannot touch things without gooping them up. I come home from these workhops looking like I have a serious skin disease (dried lube peeling and flaking off). That is why I rarely have any workshop pictures unless other people take them.
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Monday, November 21, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 11: Travel to Taranaki

It was a long travel day for us, especially David. He left early in the morning to go back to Auckland and track down our simulator, which has been stranded in customs for the past week. He managed to find it and got back to Hamilton by 12:30 pm.

Meanwhile I cleaned the airbnb and checked us out, then walked over to the birth center. I dropped off a copy of the book for their staff and asked if I might stay in their waiting room until David came back. They kindly said yes, which meant I didn't have to stay outside in the rain for 3 hours.

Our drive down was long and slow but beautiful, through winding roads and dramatic scenery, through rain and mist and clouds. Everything was shades of green and silver. As we drove into New Plymouth, the clouds dispersed and we saw the sun! I saw sun the morning I arrived and two other times for a brief period between rain storms. We felt so lucky to have a clear (but windy) evening.

As soon as we dropped our things inside our airbnb, I headed out to walk along the coast. This is a dramatic, rough coast. I would not want to swim here. Besides the pounding waves, the water is brown and murky and the beaches are studded with rocks far out into the water.

I hadn't read the fine print of this apartment, and the kitchen has no stove, no oven, and no hot plates. Nothing! Just a microwave. We had just bought all sorts of food for making the next several days' worth of meals and now we can't cook any of it.

However...the hot tub in the back yard definitely makes up for the lack of a true kitchen. I relaxed in it this evening.

Kristine Marie, this photo is for you: I am showing off my color-changing nail polish. This is silver and turns pink in the sun.

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Sunday, November 20, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 10: Hamilton and a real breech birth!

We had another great day teaching in Hamilton. With a group of only 10 people and 2 instructors, we had the luxury of giving each student lots of time on the simulators and still having me free to do the activity stations with the other half of the group.

We saw the sun briefly this morning, but then we've had rain the rest of the day. It's hard to believe how much rain there is. At times, the rain pounding on the roof drowns out other noises.

Right as were packing up at the birth center this evening, David got a call from a midwife he had trained: she had a breech client in labor, already feeling pushy. Could we hop on a video call to support the birth? Of course! We told them we'd hurry and pack up and get back to our apartment.

But this baby had other plans. I went downstairs to get some of our teaching supplies, and when I came back up I heard the sounds of a woman clearly pushing out a baby!

David was on a video call watching a vaginal breech birth. The baby was out to the chest when I came upstairs. Everything was looking normal: rotation to sacrum anterior, etc. Then the baby did something wild. It spun 90 degrees back to sacrum transverse--and I'm talking super quickly and forcefully! At the same time, it pulled its posterior arm out.

So now we were left with a baby facing right sacrum transverse with its anterior arm still inside. The midwife encouraged the mama to keep pushing and we encouraged the midwife to see if she could free that anterior arm. She brought it down, which spun baby back around to sacrum anterior and did a shoulder press to release the head.

Now those of you who aren't birth people won't know what I'm talking about. But if you do...what we think happened was that as baby was trying to pull its right arm down and out, it pulled that arm so forcefully that instead of the arm coming towards its face and chest, it spun its whole body towards that arm! I've never seen anything like it.

What a way to wrap up a day of teaching breech!

We were a bit low on groceries so we decided to eat out tonight (Indian). We ordered everything "hot" and it was mild. Medium would be too much of a stretch. Very delicious but not hot!
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Saturday, November 19, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 9: Hamilton

We're still down one simulator, so that meant that I got to join the breakout group rather than running a simulator. We did breech birth video analysis for 2 hours and clinical scenarios for 2 hours, then lunch and repeat with the other group.

I was able to talk with Dio and Ivy during my lunch break. Zari was doing a theater performance, Inga was at a friend's birthday party, and Eric was either at a meeting or playing soccer.

We managed to put together a decent dinner quickly, faster than if we'd gone out to eat:
- lamb shoulder with portobello mushrooms and caramelized onions in a herb cream sauce
- avocado, green pepper, cucumber, & olive salad
- cheese & crackers
- leftover chocolate tart with strawberries

I love that avocados are both affordable and consistently ripe over here. I'd say half the time I buy them in the US, they go directly from being hard to being brown and inedible. I have eaten avocados in some form nearly every day since I've been here.

My lunch was all leftovers: salad from last night, deviled eggs, and fish.
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Friday, November 18, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 8: Travel to Hamilton

I wasn't sure if I would be able to exercise once we arrived at our new destination, so I did some HIIT exercises in the morning. I'm glad I did, because it's been pouring on and off all day!

We left Auckland mid-morning and had an easy drive down to Hamilton. While we were waiting for our airbnb to open, we had lunch (Malaysian takeout) and visited a local thrift shop. I found a dress and lots of treasures for the kids.

I talked with my family as soon as we got checked in. Zari had her first theater performance, a private one for the teachers. The first public one is tomorrow.

I had to say goodbye to Eric and the kids to get on a live session, and then a debrief immediately following. That brought us to dinnertime: big salad, leftover deviled eggs, and dark chocolate tart with strawberries. The airbnb didn't have any casserole or baking dishes, so I improved and baked the tart in a cooking pot. It worked.

We're down one simulator, Charlotte--she developed a recto-vaginal fistula thanks to an overly eager student doing a Ritgen maneuver. We had to send her back to Australia for repairs. The simulator was supposed to arrive by the 15th. Unfortunately, it's been held up in the Auckland airport customs for "inspections" for the past few days. We got word tonight that it's done...but DHL doesn't deliver over the weekend!

We ended up sending my simulator with Kristine, who is now on the South Island. We'll have to drive back up to Auckland after our two days of teaching here in Hamilton, then drive all the way down to Taranaki.
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Thursday, November 17, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 7: Rest day

I woke up at 4:30 am, which was an improvement over yesterday. I was so thankful to have a rest day today. I was hoping to visit Rangitoto Island, a new volcanic island that appeared 600 years ago. However, rain was forecast and I don't have rain gear with me. There's a ferry that goes to the island and only has 3 return times all day.

So instead, I stayed indoors all day. I spent much of the day catching up on emails and the rest reading a book. What a luxury! I also did laundry, talked with my family back home, had a very short nap in the early afternoon, and cooked some fish for dinner while my colleague made a big salad.

It's been lovely to have a quiet day with gray skies and rain outside. Tomorrow we have a short drive down to Hamilton, so it's more or less a rest day even though we are traveling.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 6

I was awake at 3:30 am this morning, despite staying up until 10:30 pm last night. I'm definitely feeling the jet lag more today than yesterday.

We had another full day of training, plus a long commute on either end of the workshop. We trained in a Girl Guide hall that was formerly a church. It had a lovely charm with the mixed aesthetics of a church plus a well-used, well-worn scouting hall.

I waned to talk to my family, but the hall had no internet.

We left the house before 7 am and got back around 8 pm, hungry and tired. We made a quick dinner of scrambled eggs with all sort of vegetables, feta cheese, and avocados.

Tomorrow is an "off" day. I was hoping to hike Rangitoto island, but we have rain forecast all day and I don't have rain gear.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Breech tour du monde, day 5

Our first day of teaching! David and I taught while Kristine came along to assist and observe. She leaves tomorrow for her own grand tour of New Zealand and Australia, teaching nearly nonstop until Dec 22nd!

I called home during my lunch break. Eric and the kids were at the university gym, but I was able to talk to my parents. We had to sit down with a time zone calculator and figure out when we could talk to each other.

After I got home from teaching, I had about 60 new emails to take care of! I had to do a book inventory, count off handouts for Kristine's next two week, and make something to eat. Tonight it was simple: cheese and crackers, raw veggies and hummus, and dark chocolate.

We have to leave by 6:45 am tomorrow since we're driving into central Auckland and may hit traffic.

I don't have any pictures from today, but I do have a video of our books arriving!

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Monday, November 14, 2022

Breech tour du monde, days 3-4

I told my kids during a video chat today, "I am talking to you from the future." We're nearly 1 full day ahead here in New Zealand.

It's hard to wrap my head around that yesterday I was in Texas and today I am in New Zealand, but somehow we skipped today and I'm actually at tomorrow already.

After our two days of skillz and drillz, Kristine and I each had 90-minute conference presentations. She spoke first about her experiences doing humanitarian aid work as a midwife. Next, I presented about complex and complicated breech scenarios, with a quick overview of breech maneuvers first.

We ate lunch, packed up our luggage, and then headed to the airport for our big flight to New Zealand. That already seems like way farther away than yesterday, even though I didn't sleep much so technically it's still the same period of wakefulness.

We had a 15-hour flight, which went as well as a 15-hour flight can go. I lucked out and found two empty seats in front of me, which meant I got to sit in the aisle seat and rest my head against the middle seat.

We had a long wait through customs and biosecurity. Kristine got in a line that moved much faster than mine, so she was able to film me coming out. Notice that one item is missing: my purse (containing my wallet and passport). All items had to go through a final x-ray screen as we exited biosecurity. They put my purse in a separate container and sent it through after my other items. I must have been so tired that I didn't notice.

We caught an Uber to our airbnb, about 20 minutes away, where we met David Hayes. It was at that point that I realized my purse was missing! At first I thought I had left it in the Uber car, but then I retraced the events backwards and realized I hadn't picked it up from the x-ray machine. David kindly offered to bring me back to the airport. And yes, they had my purse at biosecurity, awaiting reclamation! It was a quick process and I was in and out in five minutes.

The rest of the day has been devoted to staying awake, buying groceries, cooking, and goofing off.

Notice our luxurious view of a cess pit cleaning service. New Zealand at its finest.

Kristine got cheeky with her Piper forceps. Yes, we ate that salad for dinner.

The proper application of Piper forceps from Breech Without Borders on Vimeo.

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Friday, November 11, 2022

Breech tour du monde, Day 2

Another full day of simulation training, followed by a keynote speaker, followed by dinner. After that, there was another conference session, but Kristine and I were both way too tired to attend.

I also manned (womanned?) our vendor table, selling our new books and other merchandise and giving away retractable tape measures.

Tomorrow we give our conference presentations in the morning, eat lunch, and then head to the aiport for our flight to New Zealand!
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Thursday, November 10, 2022

Breech tour du monde, Day 1

I have pushed babies out all day. That's my life for the next month.

My midwife friend and I tag-teamed all day. One of us would do the pushing and teaching while the other one helped sell books or demonstrate on the doll and pelvis. 

We had a rushed lunch at a local Thai restaurant. Lunch leftovers became my dinner, along with some dark chocolate and nuts that I had brought from home.

After all the pushing and talking (and occasional picture-taking and book autographing), I was ready to retreat and have a quiet evening.

I was tired but also needing some exercise after dinner. It was already dark out, and I was in an unfamiliar area. Instead of running outside, I went to the hotel gym and did sprint intervals on the treadmill.
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Au revoir et à bientôt, ma famille

What a day! I started in rural Indiana and ended in Galveston, Texas. Highlights included long hugs to all of my kids and Eric (repeated multiple times), getting pulled over by a Texas state trooper for speeding 88 mph in a 55 mph contruction zone (our driver--not me!), and meeting my midwife friend and co-teacher Kristine for the first time in person.

Kristine brought 170 lbs of luggage--mostly books--and I contributed another 100+ lbs between my checked bag, carry-on, and backpack. We are determined to lose most of the weight here in Galveston by selling our books and other merchandise during the midwifery conference.

Before my departure in the afternoon, I had a busy day doing all of the little last things. I won't be back until the night before we leave for France. My dad gave me an early Christmas present--a cordless drill and cordless impact driver. BEST PRESENT EVER! He knows me too well...

Kristine and I are rooming together and we are exhausted. Time for bed and then several busy conference days. Thursday and Friday will be Skills and Drills all day long, then we give our presentations on Saturday...and then we fly to Auckland!

This is my carry-on suitcase with a month worth of clothes, lots of birth supplies, a very squished baby, and my emergency dark chocolate stash. Priorities.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Lunar eclipse and grandparents!

I woke the family up at 6:30 am. "Kids, it's a full lunar eclipse! You have to come see it--the next one won't be for 3 more years." The forecast had said mostly cloudy, but the sky was clear. We bundled up in our winter coats and headed out to the park right behind our house until the moon was no longer hidden behind trees.

It was an impressive sight. We had several minutes of seeing the moon in full eclipse, and then the sun started to show on the edge of the moon. We stayed for about 10 more minutes before it was time to get ready for school.

I've been having a lot of stress dreams, some related to my upcoming travels (somehow I arrive at the wrong city), some completely random (getting chased by great white sharks in downtown Chicago). Now that my parents are here, I hope those stress dreams will recede. The kids are going to have SO much fun with them.

They arrived with a car packed so full they couldn't see out their rear-view mirror. They carried out hundreds of pounds of produce; several dozen quart jars of applesauce, apple cider, salsa, pasta sauce; jams and jellies; frozen berries. All from their garden, of course.

My dad brought leatherworking supplies and raw cherry wood to make more simulator supplies. My mom brought beads and wire for making 3D animals. We have tea sets and fancy cake molds and all sorts of treats stuffed in our cupboards.

I rode my bike all over town today: drop off Ivy and come back home. Realize that Ivy forgot her lunch so bike to school and back again in the morning. Bike to the county courthouse to vote, only to realize that our town no longer has any voting in the downtown area, so I had to bike out to the county fairgrounds and back to vote. Then bike to pick Ivy up from school and back.

I'm quite frustrated that our county courthouse has recently moved all of its offices out of town. We have this gorgeous courthouse right in the center of town that now has been abandoned in favor of sterile, cheap office space way out of town, completely inaccessible except by car on a busy highway.

This mentality drives me crazy! Before, all of the services done in a courthouse (property taxes, records searches, passports, etc) were accessible to the majority of the city residents on foot (if you take a 1 mile radius as a reasonable walking distance). Now, I would say that less than 0.1% of the city's residents can get to the courthouse offices on foot--there are no sidewalks, no bike paths, and it's several miles out of town. Ugh. Stupid American car culture.

And we now have the same issue--there are no longer any polling stations actually in the center of town, like there used to be. The closest one was at the county fairgrounds, which are on the outskirts of town. Again, how are people who don't have cars supposed to vote?
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Monday, November 07, 2022

Countdown and to-do lists

I have a massive to-do list, not so much for when I leave, but to help the family get ready for France without me around. It helps if I write the list during the day, instead of thinking of things in the middle of the night and losing sleep. (Turn the valve off for the hose spigot...change the air filters in the AC blower...get the broken tub spigot repaired...)

I spent the morning running those sorts of errands. It's amazing how much I get done after putting these things off for months or even years. Today's big task was caulking where the tiled shower walls meet the bathtub. The people who did the tiling did a very messy job--both grout and tile--and it's always bothered me to see grout that wasn't cleaned off properly. The grout was also coming loose where it joined the tub and we were getting water leaking out the edges and starting to erode the walls.

So finally I got in there with a chisel, carefully scraped away any loose or unsightly grout, laid down two parallel lines of tape, and put a beautiful line of silicone caulk exactly where I wanted it.

I'm mostly packed, except a few last clothing and toiletry items that will go in at the last minute.
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Sunday, November 06, 2022

Too much ice cream and a full moon

After dinner, we went to an ice cream social for Inga's and Ivy's soccer teams. I don't even want to think about how much ice cream the kids ate. We had the usual speeches, certificates, etc plus lots of playing around before and after.

We have a bright full moon. Zari tried to take pictures of it, but my camera phone wouldn't focus on the moon.

I gave two presentations at today's California Nurse Midwives Association Annual Meeting. I think it went very well and hope we'll be teaching more in CA next year!

I'm working on a HUGE cleaning/maintenance/packing list since I will be gone for a month. My parents will be here to help out most of the time, so I figured I'd make a detailed list of every possible thing I can think of. Then every day after school, we can focus on deep cleaning one room. That should get the house in tip-top shape by time we go back to France.

I made chicken pot pie, the real old-fashioned kind with all fresh ingredients, where you chop, dice, & sautee the vegetables and chicken; make a thick sauce out of (homemade) bone broth, butter, flour, and cream; and make a homemade crust for the top. Time-consuming but worth it. I made an enormous batch, froze some extra for another dinner, and still it disappeared way too fast!
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Saturday, November 05, 2022

High school (middle school) musical

Yes, indeed, we went to a musical at the high school tonight, but it was the middle school musical in the high school auditorium. Inga had several friends performing in "The Wizard of Oz," and Ivy came along, too. I was very surprised by how well done it was.

Today was warm, wet, and super windy. Something in our house kept making extremely loud, deep whistling and vibrating noises. I've never heard anything like it. I suspect it was one of the French storm doors.

Inga and Ivy's indoor team had a game this morning (4-2) and then Inga's other league lost 2-3 in the afternoon. They had a hard time playing in the high winds.

We all watched the 2nd Enola Holmes this afternoon, which was great fun. Eric told Zari, "Enola's character matches your personality the closest of anything I've ever seen on film." Very true.

I've been organizing my external hard drives and making a duplicate in advance of my travels. I also packed up most of my clothes and put them into the attic storage room. The countdown is ticking!

Dio is less feverish today, but has a painful sore throat.
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Friday, November 04, 2022

Sick, surprises, and birthday dinner

I was knocked flat yesterday by the covid booster. I stayed in bed most of the day and went to bed with fever and chills. I think I sweated most of it out during the night.

I couldn't sleep for a while last night, so I stayed up reading Trevor Noah's autobiography Born a Crime. I finished it a bit after 2 am and finally fell asleep.

Poor Dio woke up this morning with a high fever and was kaput the entire day. He slept almost all day and has only eaten some crackers. He and I snuggled together in bed this evening while waiting for Zari and Eric to come back from indoor soccer at the university.

I had a SUPER exciting package show up on our porch: my new book! We ordered 1,000 copies total, and I just got my shipment of 100.

Zari, Eric, and I went out to eat tonight to celebrate her birthday. We have one slightly "fancy" restaurant in town--fancy mostly because things are expensive, not because it's haute cuisine--and we wanted to try it out. They did make some great truffle fries, I have to admit, and the burger was cooked to a perfect medium-rare. But it was blasting country music, which ruined the "fancy" vibe for me!

Eric found Zari three nice button-down shirts on thredUP for her birthday, and she loved all three. Well done! Now she has something a bit more dressy than her usual soccer jerseys.
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Wednesday, November 02, 2022


7,828 steps

In advance of all of my globe trotting, I got my bivalent Covid booster. It's been a busy day of breech work over here. I can't believe I'm leaving in a week! Ack!

Ivy and Inga had another indoor soccer match. They won 4-3 with Ivy scoring 1 and Inga 2 goals.

Dinner was 12-bean soup with pork sausage.

I'm reading Trevor Noah's autobiography, Born A Crime. Very entertaining and sobering at the same time. I may be going to South Africa next year so this is a good education for me.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2022

HIIT & hooky

Ivy felt nauseated last night and she woke up nearly every hour. I made an executive decision to have her stay home and rest. She wanted to go to school and, in retrospect, she would have been fine. Oh well...not like she really is missing much in 4th grade!

She and I did a HIIT workout today. Ah, to have that boundless energy!

We measured all of the kids on our height chart. Dio is just 1/4" behind Zari now! Ivy is taller than all of her siblings at the same age. Who will end up winning the tallest sibling award? Dio probably for sure, but it's a toss-up among the girls.

It was warm and sunny this afternoon, enough for summer clothes. I sent the kids outside to rake for at least 20 minutes. Some of them stayed a lot longer and played in the leaves. I raked as well, then basked in the sun and read a book. I was impressed that none of them complained and that they all did it right away.
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