Thursday, August 31, 2023

Tree identification

I was out the door and on the road by 7am, very eager to be home with my family. I arrived at noon (4 hrs + 1 hour time change) and unloaded by amazing stash of canned goods and produce.

I spent a few hours catching up on emails and other work-related items, then biked to pick up Ivy from school. She said, "Oh mama, you're here! I totally forgot about you!" She didn't mean it quite that way, of course 🙂

I helped her collect and identify leaves for a school project. Fortunately, we live across the street from a large enclosed park and historic site, and nearly every tree has identification tags! It made our job easy. We now have about 12 varieties being pressed under a heavy stack of books. She was only allowed to collect species that were listed in her "Trees of Indiana" book.

I'm all unpacked now...until next week, when I head to Pennsylvania! I did a big kitchen cleanup and laundry folding and other organizing. I made coleslaw, creamy herbed pork chops, and rice for dinner, plus some of my parents' homemade apple juice (amazing).

Eric was gone playing Ultimate and then watching Dio's and Inga's soccer games. The kids didn't get back until after 9:30 pm! Then they had to eat dinner and shower...and of coures do all sorts of homework. I don't know how schools think that kids have time to do homework after being at school, or at school-related functions, for over 13 hours!
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Wednesday, August 30, 2023

2 days of breech & twins!

My life the past 2 days...

I did a full day of simulations on the back patio, with cornfields as far as the eye could see.

I got to listen to Kristine's Breech & Twins Master Class for the first time in person. I really enjoyed watching her teach and tell stories.

I'm going to sleep a whole bunch and then head home first thing tomorrow morning.
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Monday, August 28, 2023

A trail of four cities

Greetings from the Quad Cities! For you heathens who don't know your Midwestern geography, it's an area on the Iowa/Illinois border, on either side of the Mississippi River, with 4 cities all clustered together: Moline IL, Rock Island IL, Davenport IA, and Bettendorf IA.

My parents drove down from Minnesota to spend the afternoon and evening with me before I start teaching tomorrow. Our first stop was at the Moline visitor's center, where they do free bike rentals (yes, free!). We chose a bike trail loop that goes through all four cities and crosses the Mississippi twice.

Once we returned the bikes, we had some time to kill before dinner. So we wandered a few blocks over to the John Deere Pavilion because 'Merica, right? It was surprisingly fun to look at all of the tractors and other machinery. There was a huge convention visiting from Brazil, all wearing their John Deere polo shirts.

My dad got a kick out of sitting inside the $1.3 millon combine. It's quite overwhelming to see in person.

We ate dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant in the same downtown area. Yum!

Our evening ended with a really funny movie in my hotel room: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. So hilarious!

My parents have left me with several dozen quarts of canned goods and heaps of produce. I gave them several dozen empty mason jars in exchange. I think I came out the winner 🙂

Well, it's late and I have a big day tomorrow!
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Sunday, August 27, 2023

Potluck & Smores

The highlight of the day was a putluck dinner on the front porch, followed by Smores. The kids were running around playing tag and begging to stay "just 10 more minutes, please." I made a spinach & ricotta tart.

In preparation for this get-together, we mopped the porch floor and washed off the furniture. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dust and fine dirt. I love our porch floor, but the one big disadvantage is that you can't wash it off with a hose--there's nowhere for the water to drain!

I have yet another short trip tomorrow. As soon as I'm back home, it seems like I'm packing for the next one! I'm meeting my parents for the first day, since it's about halfway between both of our homes. We'll spend the afternoon and evening together, hopefully much of it on bike. They're going to send me home with lots of fresh garden produce and homemade apple sauce, apple cider, etc. Then I have two days of breech workshops before I head home.
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Saturday, August 26, 2023

A real Saturday

Today felt like a proper Saturday. For me, that means several hours pulling weeds until my arms are shaky and sore and I'm covered in dirt and sweat.

Dio had an early morning soccer practice, Ivy a more reasonable morning practice, and then Inga had a game about an hour away in the afternoon (Eric went with her). I did a big grocery shopping trip and tried to pretend I wasn't seeing the prices. Everything is so much more expensive.

While Eric and Inga were gone, Dio and Ivy and I rode our bikes to a clothing store because he needed more shorts and a sweatshirt. It's in a big strip mall near the grocery store, which we usually drive to, but there's a back way that's reasonably safe. So we said, why not, let's take our bikes!

He found exactly what he was looking for and everything at very good prices. I also bought some lemon cookies for a little treat.

I started a big fire to burn up months of fallen branches. Not the best day for a fire--still pretty hot--but it's nice to get those things cleared up. I saved some branches since we're having people over tomorrow for Smores.

We had a big music and food festival rigth across the street, going from noon until 10 pm. Our town does this once a year and it's a big event. We love being outside listening to the live music and enjoying the ambiance.

My evening ended with a breech live session. Great day and very little of it on the computer!
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Thursday, August 24, 2023

Another hot day. I ran Ivy to school this morning and it felt like running through wet cotton.

I had a very productive work day, doing anything from payroll and reimbursements to course production and video editing.

Most kids' soccer practices were cancelled or delayed, so we actually had people home in the late afternoon!

What else? I baked sourdough bread today. My starter probably needs a few more days of feeding for maximum oomph since the bread was fairly flat. Delicious, though. I miss good bread.

I installed a bike rack and basket on Zari's bike. Dio's is next. They are each carrying two backpacks and a lunch bag and I hope this will make it a bit easier for all their gear.
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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

It's time to celebrate!

My co-author and I submitted our paper on the outcomes of 100 sets of twin births in a community setting. It's been a long project and I know it's taken me longer than both of us would have liked. But it's off and now we have to wait to see if the journal accepts it.

I also edited two new breech birth videos (both quick and easy)...did an hour-long debrief of another breech birth (neither quick nor easy)'s been a productive day. Oh, and I slept terribly last night. Boo. I felt really weird and dizzy much of the day but that's likely due to lack of sleep.

What else? A lot of soccer games and practices were cancelled or rescheduled due to the heat. Eric was super disappointed because Zari had a game tonight that didn't happen. He and the two older kids are now watching the Republican presidential debate, aka American reality television. How many soundbites can you fit into a 30-second spiel? 1, 2, 3, go!

It was Eric's first day of teaching. Let's just hope we don't all melt off the face of the earth tomorrow with the highs reaching peak temperatures.

(A picture of the house we lived in and renovated in Iowa City. Our siding and paint are still looking great! They need to do some weeding and landscaping cleanup...but hey, so do I!)

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Tuesday, August 22, 2023

I'm back home after 5 hours of driving....10 hours counting yesterday. I don't want to drive anywhere for a while!

Grand Rounds at UIHC went very well, I think, with great comments and discussion afterward. Then I gave an informal mini breech class to anyone who was interested, including a review of normal upright breech birth and an introduction to the maneuvers, including an opportunity for everyone to try each maneuver once.

Then I hopped in the car and drove home. I slept terribly last night, so I had to caffeinate myself in order to not fall asleep. I'm so glad to be back. I am so tired right now that I'm having a hard time composing coherent sentences. Bonne nuit!
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Monday, August 21, 2023

Iowa City!

It's fun, and strange, to be back where I did my PhD. I've been back a few times since, but each time very briefly on the way to somewhere else. Things are bigger than I remember.

I walked past our old house and took some pictures to show Eric (hopefully they weren't home wondering why some random person was photoing their house!).

The 5-hour drive wasn't too bed. So many signs about guns and Jesus. So many semi trucks.

I had dinner with 4 of the UIHC midwives. The midwifery program has grown substantianlly, from 2 or 3 CNMs when I was there to I think 13 now. They're even starting a midwifery program this year!

I was hoping to walk around more this evening, but dinner went long enough that it's fully dark. The food was delicious and the conversation was very interesting.
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Sunday, August 20, 2023

Summer is coming!

We've had our windows open and the AC off every day except one since we arrived back home. The nights have been refreshingly cool for August and the daytime temperatures very moderate. But a big heat wave is coming this week. We closed up the windows this morning and are ready for temperatures hitting 100F / 38C (with nearly 100% humidity) by Thursday. Oof! I am very glad to have AC for times like this. We keep our house around 78-80 F / 26-27 C when it's too hot to have the windows open.

I walked 2.5 miles home from church this morning (I usually don't attend in the States but I wanted to say hello to everyone). It was HOT walking home. And in this town, it's very unusual to walk places, especially towards the outskirts of town. I feel like a specimen on display at an archaeological site. "On our right, observe a middle-aged human female perambulating without any motorized assistance. A strange sight for sure, not often spotted in the wild..."

After lunch, Eric went off to play Ultimate Frisbee while the rest of us relaxed. Zari had a documentary to watch for school ("I Am Not Your Negro" about James Baldwin--chosen by her). It's so powerful and she was very moved by it.

I made dinner (country tomato bisque) and was super excited to see a message from my cousin's daughter, the one who stayed with us in France for 3 months during the pandemic. "Hey, I happen to be driving from Boston out West and will be passing right through your town this evening. Can we stop and say hi?" She is newly married so we got to meet her husband, feed them dinner, and catch up before they had to get on the road again.

The kids were so excited to see their cousin again. What an unexpected treat. And...I happened to have enough lemon cheesecake left for the whole family--this was her favorite dessert from when she was staying with us in France.

I'm taking a very quick trip to Iowa City to give Grand Rounds at UIHC as well as teach a short breech course immediately after. I'm very excited to return by to my PhD alma mater! I'll definitely drive by the house we lived in on Summit Street (and renovated, of course!). This was pre-children so we could do our PhD work during the day and then renovate long into the night. I'm still amazed at all that we did on that house. I'll have to hunt down some pictures!
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Saturday, August 19, 2023

Soccer tournament & pool party

Eric was gone all day at Dio's soccer tournament. They only played one game, but the first was right away in the morning and the second was the last one. Eric went shopping at Aldi during one of the breaks (he was about 45 minutes away, where things like Aldi acutally exist!).

We had a relaxed morning. Zari read a book, Inga rested (she was still feeling sick), Ivy played and worked on making a fairy garden, and I cleaned the attic and took care of emails.

In the afternoon, all of us girls went to a birthday pool party just out of town. All three swam, some of them for almost 4 hours! I dunked myself twice but otherwise enjoyed sunning myself on a lounge chair and chatting with the other moms, who I've known for years. (And we finally got one dad coming towards the end; he's building a hurdy gurdy from a kit and learning how to play it. Interesting conversation!).

We watched a fantastic movie this evening: Hunt For the Wilderpeople (2016). It's a must-see.

If there's anyone local who needs a free home birth kit, let me know! I have an unused one from Precious Arrows that someone gave to me.

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Friday, August 18, 2023

Le gastro

Something is making the rounds in the Freeze family. Zari was up several times last night with a stomach bug and woke us up a bit before 6 am to inform us. She had a 6:30 am soccer practice that we encouraged her to skip in order to rest and see if she would feel well enough to go to school. She felt better and decided to try.

Meanwhile Inga came home from school with an upset stomach and a fever. She couldn't get warm, even under a few blankets, so I cuddled up with her...and took a nap. Oops.

Ivy and I biked around town going birthday present shopping for her friend. They're having a pool party tomorrow and the whole family is invited.

I took a few hours' break from breech work this afternooon and pulled thousands of weeds. Our brick driveway in the back area is completely covered, every crack. I pulled out at least 75% of all of those weeds. Crack by crack, brick by brick.

We watched "Heart of Stone" tonight. Inga was sick enough that even an over-the-top action movie was boring for her. "Ugh, how much longer is this movie going to take?"
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Thursday, August 17, 2023

More meetings, more video editing. I'm tired from walking or standing up all day.

Zari played in her first soccer game and scored 2 of the 4 goals and helped her team win! She came home in very good spirits (Eric, too!).

We had a dramatic rainstorm this afternoon; it got so dark around 1 pm that I had to turn the lights on to see my desk.

That's about it for news. Good night!
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Wednesday, August 16, 2023

So many meetings!

I had 3 meetings today (hour-long interview with someone from CNN about our renovations in France, hour-long meeting with a data management person in South Africa who is helping me with some Excel chart creatings, and a shorter meeting with someone who is interested in being a social media manager).

Between those meetings, I did video editing. I'm nearly done with this project (updated breech birth video analysis for our workshops).

I was so tired this morning, but I still dragged myself out of bed (because I had to) and went running (even though I didn't have to). I'm glad I did.

Ivy helped me run errands after school. We took our bikes and bought city trash stickers, deposited money at the bank, and cleaned up some trash in one of our rental properties.

Ivy had her first soccer practice today. Eric is super excited becuase Zari has her first game tomorrow in which she is playing. It's a home game, so he will be watching for sure. I will try to come if I can work it with the other kids' schedules.

Inga is building a storage cupboard for her STEM class, all out of cardboard. She figured out how to build a drawer on the bottom. Then on top there's a shelf with two doors. We spray painted everything this evening.
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Tuesday, August 15, 2023

I walked many miles today, going nowhere (on my treadmill desk). Most of my day I did video editing.

I'm glad Ivy bikes to school in the mornings--it forces me to exercise first thing. She could go by herself, but I enjoy accompanying her.

We had a Wabash family picnic tonight, except the oldest 3 children were gone at soccer practices or games! I took some food home for them.

We got our family pictures back that we took at Lake Tahoe. I had to include a picture of my brother and his dog because they are just too adorable. He had just chopped about 12" of hair off--he stopped getting his hair cut at the start of the pandemic. After a while, his hippy Jesus hair got to be way too much. My sister gave him this haircut during the reunion.

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Monday, August 14, 2023

25th Anniversary!

Today snuck up on me. With the conference the past 4 days, I had lost track of what day it was until Eric said this morning, "So do you want to do something today?"

I had to count the days of the month...and I realized it was our 25th wedding anniversary! The most exciting thing we did all day was buy and install a new fridge in one of our rental apartments. We still have to drop off the new fridge at the recycling center. Oh, and we also pulled weeds from between the bricks in our driveway. We definitely know how to celebrate 🙂

I'm trying to find some digital pictures of the two of us but all I have are old-fashioned prints & negatives. I did find this one in my wedding dress (that I made of course! without a pattern!) One of the most recent pictures that has Eric and me in the same frame is from hiking in Lake Tahoe. Sorry, no smoochy anniversary selfies today!

Maybe we'll actually do something official later this week. Tomorrow is a Wabash family picnic so that evening is already scheduled.
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Sunday, August 13, 2023

Back home

I'm back from the Breech & Twins Conference in Louisville! Whew. What an amazing and exhausting 4 days. I'm already excited for next year's conference.

I'm thankful to be back with my family and to not be freezing cold. I wore summer clothes, stupidly optimistic that the hotel temperatures would not be at refrigerator level. So I spent all 4 days wrapped up in my colorful scarf trying to stay warm 🙂

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Thursday, August 10, 2023

Breeches and twins!!!

I'm at the Louisville Twin-Breech Conference. I had an easy 3-hour drive, assisted by podcasts and medicinal drinks to keep me awake. (I take that very seriously since I have fallen asleep at the wheel and it's not fun.)

Sorry for the lack of pictures but I was either conferencing or working on tomorrow's presentation.

Bonne nuit!!
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Wednesday, August 09, 2023

First day of school! (way too early)

Our kids always get the short end of the stick with summer vacation--France goes later and the US starts earlier, which means 1 month of vacation instead of 2.

But they were in good spirits to start school today. It was Dio's first day of high school. He and Zari set off on their bikes, loaded up with 2 backpacks and 1 lunch bag each. It turned out to be a terrible day for biking because we had a huge storm arrive in the late afternoon, and it was pouring with flood warnings. Eric kindly picked them up after soccer practice. They were so grateful; they figured they'd have to ride home in the downpour.

Ivy was set to bike, but when she got her bike out of the garage, the back tire was totally flat. Eric had just pumped it up two days prior, so that means there's a hole somewhere. She and I ended up jogging to school loaded up with her supplies.

Ivy has one of Zari's old teachers. Inga loves her language arts teacher.

I'm getting ready to head to the Breech & Twins Conference, hosted by Beloved Holistics. So excited to see many of my favorite breech people! "You're leaving already?" the kids said tonight. Yes, but at least not for very long.

I had errands to run this evening--things for the conference, things for the kids, things for the drive to the conference.
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Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Back home

We had a red-eye flight from San Francisco on Saturday night, after a fun day driving from Lake Tahoe with stops at Muir Woods National Monument and Point Bonita Lighthouse. These stops were spur-of-the-moment and we're so glad we visited both places. I never imagined that my kids would be seeing the giant redwoods or driving over the Golden Gate Bridge!

We arrived home at noon on Sunday, completely exhausted. We did some quick unpacking and then all went to sleep for a few hours. 

Yesterday was more unpacking and settling back in after being away for 7 months. I rode bikes with Zari and then with Dio to their high school. They have soccer practice even before school starts (tomorrow) and they need to get themselves from point A to point B. I biked for over 80 minutes between the two round trips! 

Today we got school supplies and unpacked several more boxes. The house is still in a bit of upheaval, but I hope that will settle soon once everything finds its proper place. 

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Friday, August 04, 2023

Spencer Family Reunion, Day 7: Eagle Rock and swimming in the Truckee River

We had a short hike up to Eagle Rock for a beautiful view of Lake Tahoe. I still can't grasp the immensity of the lake.

We made a quick stop at the public library so we could print our passes to a national monument that we want to visit tomorrow.

We had an idyllic afternoon swimming in the Truckee River. We found a spot with a deep swimming hole and shallow parts for the little kids. The water was warmer than the lake. Eric has been feeling sick the past two days, so he went back to the car to sleep. (You know he's sick when there's a body of water and he does not go in! The same thing happened yesterday at Donner Lake.)

My mom and several of us siblings went into Tahoe City to check out their street fair, which was cute but verrrrry small. We popped into a grocery store to get some things to eat and ended up with a delicious dinner of everything that caught our eye: cheese, crackers, charcuterie, olives, fruit, jam, bake at home rolls and pretzel bites...yum.

We're busy packing up tonight. Our suitcases are stuffed. Each of us just has one carry-on. Normally Eric and I only bring one change of clothes, but since we had 2 1/2 weeks of reunions, we needed to bring a bit more. Same for the kids, plus Zari and Dio have grown so much that they don't have any clothes back in the States.
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Thursday, August 03, 2023

Spencer Family Reunion, Day 6: Transcontinental railroad, petroglyphs, and Donner Lake

We visited several tunnels of the original transcontinental railroad, completed in 1868 in a famous race between the East and the West. Most of this work in CA was done by Chinese immigrants. the railroad was rerouted several decades ago, and now the tunnels are frequented by hikers and mountain bikers and graffiti artists.

These tunnels are near Donner Pass and have a view of Donner Lake, where the Donner party was stranded during the winter of 1846-47 and where many died of starvation awaiting rescue. Only 48 of the original 87 members survived.

We looked at some petroglyphs between two of the tunnels; they are a few thousand years old. No one knows what they mean anymore.

Next, we headed to Donner Lake, stopping by the museum to learn more about the Donner party and other history of the area. Then we picniced and swam in the lake. It's strange to think that such a beautiful area was the side of such suffering and desperation. The dreaded cold and snow now delight skiers, sledders, and snowshoers.

We had family pictures right before dinner. I snapped a few informal ones while we were waiting our turn with the photographer.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Spencer Family Reunion, Day 5: Eagle Lake

We had a short, beautiful hike up to Eagle Lake, far above Emerald Bay. Almost everyone came except for the baby (my older sister is fostering a newborn). The views here feel like a computer simulation; it's so beautiful that it feels unreal.

Eric brought his snorkeling gear--of course--and promptly jumped into the icy cold lake. He found a drone about 20 feet down! We're drying it out and hoping that we can recover some footage from it. Not likely...but you never know! Wouldn't it be amazing to see the epic crash?

We had a laid-back afternoon. A small group of us went back to Sugar Pine Point for some late afternoon swimming and crayfish hunting. I swam for a while with one of my sisters--the cool water feels amazing.
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Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Spencer Family Reunion, Day 4: Treetop adventure & doggy fun

Everyone except the youngest children and my dad met to do a treetop zipline adventure park. It was really fun but the one we did in France this spring was way better, way bigger, and way less expensive. These harnesses allowed us to hang upside down, which quickly became our favorite way to do the ziplines (Pictures of me and Zari doing a sort of Spiderman pose). I didn't get very many videos since I didn't have my phone with me.

We had lunch at the cabin and then headed back to Meek's Bay. It's one of the few places where dogs are allowed (along one side), and it's very close to the road. This allowed my brother (with the fractured vertebra) and his dog Sasha to come. Inga managed to get Sasha to stay on the paddleboard! Sasha would much rather be swimming in the water and fetching his toy.

The only one in our family who swam today was Eric. The rest of us weren't quite feeling up to it, plus we had some intermittent clouds.

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