Thursday, May 23, 2024

A stormy lunch

The highlight of the day was having lunch with Eric and my brother. We ate at Peixes, which is a seafood restaurant that has a 20 Euro lunch menu. So good!

It started out hot and sunny, turned cold and cloudy, and then it started hailing and pouring by the end of the meal. We were seated outdoors so that was fun. They extended the awning right before the hail hit, but it didn't stop everything. We were pretty much done eating anyway so we moved to a more protected area to wait out the worst of the storm.

I have a ENT consult tomorrow with someone who specializes in vertigo and other inner-ear issues. I'm curious to see what they say.
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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Brothers are the best

My brother arrived last night! He's here for 3 weeks and we are all super excited. He is determined to spoil the kids and earn (or rather, keep) "favorite uncle" status.

We've already done tons of fun things today:
1. He and Ivy went for a morning walk and bought pastries
2. He and I went to my favorite antique/consignment store plus ran an errand to Decathlon.
3. He and Dio went to a skate shop, where he bought a deck and then built a skateboard with trucks and wheels he brought from home
4. He and the kids designed the pattern for the grip strip on the top of the skateboard
5. He bought Dio a fancy patissserie
6. He convinced Dio, Inga, and Zari to come to the beach. He and I swam while the rest enjoyed the sun. It was amazing! We stayed in for a good 15-20 minutes.
7. He and Ivy went skateboarding/rollerblading together
8. After dinner, he invited some of the kids downstairs to to "very boring things" (aka going out for ice cream)

We have determined that we need to find him a sexy French boyfriend while he is here 🙂

I had another visit with the osteopath/kine. He did more tests with his fancy equipment and said that it looks improved since last time. One of the things he had me do, while wearing some fancy eyecoverings that track eye moments, was lie down and turn my head quicky from side to side a few times. That definitely provoked some vertigo and on his end he was seeing something on his equipment. Then he did one Epley maneuver and immediately after it was much better than it had been all day.

I'm supposed to see an ENT and also come back to the osteopath in a week.
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Monday, May 20, 2024

Circuit de la Forna

We had a holiday today, our last until the summer break. I decided it was time for a hike! We tried the Circuit de la Forna today, which starts and ends at La Turbie, a little village high above Monaco.

I had some vertigo but was able to do the hike and mostly keep up.

We ended up cutting the loop short since the kids found some side paths they wanted to explore. Had I been at 100%, I would have insisted on doing the whole thing. But we got a good 5 km in instead of the 8 or so on the full hike.

We parked right next to the Trophée d'Auguste, which is a Roman memorial boasting about Augustus' victory over the local Gallic tribes over 2000 years ago. The original monument was 15 stories high! The part that's left is still quite imposing and towers over the old town of La Turbie.

But...the monument itself was closed on Mondays! So we weren't able to get very close. We wandered around some of the narrow streets in the old town and the kids were raving about how beautiful it was and how it was so much better than Eze ("no tourists!").

I also took a picture of the AS Monaco training facility, literally cut out of the side of a mountain. Pretty impressive.

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Sunday, May 19, 2024

I slept poorly last night, so I let myself sleep in a bit this morning. Not much vertigo today! I went on two walks, one in the morning by myself and one in the evening with Eric. He ran into a ENT specialist friend of ours, who says my vertigo is likely labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis, caused by a virus.

We had a restful afternoon at home--doing homework, playing video games, napping. Eric cooked half of the sériole (amberjack) he caught yesterday. It fed our family with some left over! Apparently this species is one of the most highly prized varieties for sushi meat in Japan.

I did a few renovating things down in Le Chateau, getting ready for my brother's visit starting on Tuesday. He is determined to cement his status of Favorite Uncle by going on lots of trips with the kids, treating them out to restaurants, going out for ice cream, and generally having tons of fun with them.

We had a family discussion during dinner about screen time--what the research says about what is optimal, what patterns we're seeing in our own family, how might we better manage our use of devices, etc. This prompted the kids to pull out our Legos and now they are building a Lego zoo filled with all sorts of fun animals.

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Saturday, May 18, 2024

50!! And fish!!

It was a momentous day: Eric turned 50! I can't believe it because it sounds so OLD. But I don't feel much older than I did 10 or 20 years ago.

Eric and Ivy had a soccer practice in the morning. As soon as they left, we started birthday preparations. Zari helped me mix up a batch of Streuselkuchen. Then I send all three kids to the store to buy decorations. They had a carte blanche and they came back with lots of stuff!

We got almost everything done before they came home. They made Eric wait downstairs in Le Chateau for about 10 minutes while we finished hanging up the last balloons.


Later in the afternoon, Eric went spearfishing and came home with his biggest catch ever, in terms of size and weight. He caught a 3 kg (6.6 lb) seriole, plus a big barracuda and a mackerel.

The kids invented balloon volleyball with the "joyeux anniversaire" sign.

My vertigo is a lot worse today. I was barely able to walk to the beach and back and probably looked like I had imbibed way too much alcohol.

I gave myself a summer haircut. My hair grows fast so I didn't mind parting with a good amount. I have a large bag of hair now, which I would like to donate, from me, Ivy, Inga, and my brother back when he had "Jesus" hair.

We watched "The Map of Tiny Perfect Things" this evening, which was a fun way to end a very fun day.

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Friday, May 17, 2024

We just got done watching The Quiet Place 2 and we are all suitably spooked. So many jump scares!

I ran errands all over town trying to find a store that can replace the battery on Eric's dive watch. I finally found a place...but it would cost just a few Euros less than buying the watch all over again! Fortunately, Eric did more digging around and discovered the Decathlon does it for 15 Euros. Much more reasonable.

Big day tomorrow. You'll know why...tomorrow!

I worked on CME applications much of the day. It feels almost like writing another book except way more boring. I painted the last edges of the two doors for Le Chateau (WC and electerical cupboard) so we can finally put them up tomorrow!
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Thursday, May 16, 2024

The mystery deepens...

I had my appointment this evening with the kine, who also turned out to be a DO who specializes in treating vertigo. He did all sorts of fancy tests on me with differnet machines and maniuplations of the body. And...good news...he can't find anything abnormal.

Weird news...he also doesn't think I have BPPV! He doesn't know what it is, really, except that he's ruled out a whole bunch of possibilities.

I left with instructions to contact him if it persisted or got worse, but if it goes away then no need to come back. He also suggested getting a workup from an audiologist. I am feeling more vertigo today, but not as bad as the first day.

Anyway enough about my weird inner-ear issues!

I did a little bit of a lot of things today:
  • painting
  • helping Eric cut down 2 doors with a table saw
  • turning a loose men's button-down shirt into a semi-fitted women's shirt to fit Zari
  • a few small grocery errands
  • going to the beach to read with Eric...although we lost our sun after 5 minutes as a thunderstorm rolled in
  • lots of breech stuff
  • watching Coraline with the family. I've seen it several times and it's still just as creepy!
Ivy was supposed to have a huge sports day with many schools participating. But with the big storms rolling through, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, it got cancelled. She was so disappointed because she was determined to win the race!
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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

I'm feeling much better, enough to do some painting, get around town a bit, and go on a walk. I'm so thankful that I can move and eat.

I had a morning meeting with a team who will be working on a breech birth video analysis project. I'm so excited to work on it! Our goal is to have around 200 physiologic breech birth videos to analyize. So far I have about 130 in my library so I think it's a doable goal.

Ivy has a big race tomorrow. I wanted to go, but I have a meeting at the same time. Eric is going with instructions to take some videos of the race for me. Last year she was determined to win, but in the final race she hit a wall and started hyperventilating. It took her over an hour to be able to breathe normally. Eric has been working with her this year on pacing and mental preparation.

Dio got 100% on his oral presentation for the brevet blanc! Wow! It's super rare to get 100% on anything.

Random picture of Ivy I found on my phone

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Tuesday, May 14, 2024

I'm still dizzy but it's better than yesterday. I was able to eat a bit in the afternoon and again at dinner.

Lots of computer work today but sitting at the table instead of lying down.

That's about it for news!
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Monday, May 13, 2024


Yesterday morning I had a brief spell of vertigo as I was going down our loft stairs. I almost fell over but thought nothing of it.

This morning, I woke up and was so dizzy I could barely crawl out of bed. It didn't go away so I consulted Dr. Google as well as my brother (he's an internal medicine MD) and, fortunately, got an appointment with my family doctor this evening.

I somehow made it through the day by moving as little as possible and keeping my eyes closed through long parts of it. Eating was out of the question.

After my appointment, which ruled out anything concerning, the diagnosis was BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo)...not surprising. I came home with two prescriptions (of course!): one for 10 sessions with a kiné who is specialized in treating vertigo, the other for an anti-vertigo medication of some sort.

Kristine Lauria has been my vertigo doula this evening since she has dealt with it herself. I did the Epley maneuvers twice and puked my guts out. So I called it good. I'm even more dizzy and more nauseated.

So yeah, that's my super exciting day. I tried eating after the doctor's appointment but it all came back up. Vomiting: 5, Rixa: 0.

I've been checked out all day and periperhally part of the family's life, huddled up in my spot on the couch. I'm so glad that at least I can huddle into a motionless lump and not, say, have to go to a workplace for 8 hours.

On the up side...the printer's proofs arrived from South Korea!

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Sunday, May 12, 2024

Yesterday was a big soccer day for 3 of the 4 kids. Dio's team, unfortunately, lost 12-0! By the end, he said he and the goalie who were the only ones even trying. Ivy's team lost 3-2. But...Inga's team won 2-0, even though they were ranked much lower and had many younger players compared to the other team. She and Eric came home very happy.

This afternoon was relaxing. We read books, did some homework, played video games, went on a walk, went spearfishing (Eric), read a bit at the beach (me). The weather is turning into summer all of a sudden and it's glorious.
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Friday, May 10, 2024

Another day of school vacation...some soccer practices...time for the kids to relax and do some homework. Not a whole lot else going on.

Oh, we went to see a movie yesterday morning: Fall Guy. It was silly and funny and over-the-top. Just what I was expecting. Dio brought a friend along and he put up with watching it in VOST (English with subtitles). Most foreign films over here are dubbed, so you have to go out of your way to find them in the original language with subtitles. Dio's friend looked at us like we were crazy when we told him that in the US, foreign films aren't dubbed. They are subtitled.

I took ivy to the doctor today about her constant back pain. I was a bit surprised that he only looked at her for like 30 seconds. He said that her lower back seems a bit more arched than typical and recommended doing planks every other day to strengthen her core. He also prescribed an x-ray to check on the alignment of her spine. And of course prescribed doliprane (tylenol). They love that over here! Ivy is not convinced that his diagnosis is correct but I told her that doing planks is a good thing regardless.
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Tuesday, May 07, 2024

We're on vacation again until next Monday! Dio said his presentation went pretty well; the biggest critique was on some of the images he used in his optional PowerPoint presentation. Weirdly specific critiques of some of the images. Zari had her big test on hundreds of dates and felt good about it.

We took a short trip to the beach mid-afternoon to read in the sun. We left earlier than normal due to thunderclouds building and starting to block the sun.

I painted window exteriors this morning and caulked in the evening. One more coat tomorrow and then they are done!

Inga and Ivy have tournaments tomorrow morning with a very early departure.

I made Dio's favorite dish tonight: salmon fennel soup. It's so good when the salmon is barely cooked through, perfectly tender.
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Monday, May 06, 2024

I did something I haven't done for several weeks: some renovating! I worked on the window exteriors in Le Chateau, the windows that open into the staircase. Today I applied MAP around all of the big gaps. Tomorrow I can sand and caulk.

Dio has been prepping for his big oral presentation tomorrow. Zari has been memorizing hundreds of dates. Big stress tomorrow and then a nice 5-day wekeend 🙂

Ivy's back has been hurting for 5-6 weeks now, every time after she plays soccer. We keep thinking it will get better but it hasn't. I booked an appointment with our family doctor, who I predict will order MRIs and/or X-rays and/or physical therapy. Maybe all of the above?
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Sunday, May 05, 2024

With nothing scheduled at all this afternoon, we were able to take it easy together. We found time to watch one episode of Good Omens. Zari is memorizing aboug 450 dates for her big geopolitics exam. Dio is memorizing an oral presentation for Tuesday.

Eric and I even had time to sneak away for a nap downstairs in Le Chateau.

Back to school tomorrow after 2 weeks of vacation. But due to some holidays, our school week is only 2 days long!

I'm working on book 13 of Wheel of Time. I still can't keep most of the side characters straight. But it's been fun to have something that is low-key. Interesting enough to keep going through way too many volumes, but not so interesting that I drop everything else to read.
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Saturday, May 04, 2024

Ivy came home this afternoon, tired and happy, after a sleepover with her friend, plus yesterday all day with her friend at tennis camp (her dad is the coach). Zari and Inga both had soccer games.

Zari's team won 17-0, with Zari scoring 5 goals! I missed this one as I was waiting for Ivy to come home.

Ivy and I joined Zari and Eric to watch Inga's game, which they lost 0-3. It was a lovely sunny afternoon. During halftime, I gave Zari and Ivy some money and they walked to a nearby Aldi to buy some snacks.

We've started watching Good Omens, which is also a very fun book to read.
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Thursday, May 02, 2024

Rain...and more rain!

The 3 oldest kids were supposed to be on a 3-day camping trip. We're all glad it was cancelled, because they would have already been in day 2 of steady rain.

I finally managed to dry some of my breech-related items enough to pack them away. I had to put them on heaters and run fans on them. Putting them outside on the laundry lines just got them wetter!

Ivy and I are working on a quilt for one of her friends. It's mostly done. I told the kids, "Good thing I love you so much that I make cool things for your friends!"

Our fridge, which has been broken for something like 2 months now, has been declared unrepairable. We got a purchase credit and today went to the store and bought a new fridge. It's only 3 years old and has broken down so many times. I hope this new one will actually last and function properly. This is fridge #4 in 10 years.
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Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Back home!

I got home last evening and tried hard not to do anything but the most urgent emails. We've been doing some crafty things, watching Doctor Who, lots of laundry and some deep cleaning. Some scary things were growing on leftovers in the fridge...Eric hadn't taken them out since before I left in early April!

It's been raining on and off all day, which has frustrated my attempts to do laundry. I did three loads but they're all wetter now than when I took them out of the washer.

Ivy and Inga made a "green space" today, finding every green object in the house and decorating a corner of the living room. They also dressed entirely in green. Now they're preparing for a blue space tomorrow. Where do they come up with these ideas? I love it!
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Monday, April 29, 2024

Done teaching!

After a great day of teaching a group of obstetricians and midwives (and one doula!), I came to my apartment all smiles. I get to go home tomorrow! And then I collapsed on the bed and crashed. Eric woke me up to check in--I'm glad, because it was too early to go to bed.

I don't have to wake up early tomorrow (although I probably will, knowing my luck). I'll have an unhurried drive to the airport, only 15 minutes away, and see my family by the evening!
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Sunday, April 28, 2024

Santiago de Compostela

If only I had a backpack, hiking boots, and walking sticks, I would blend in with everyone else. This city is the final destination of many pilgrimages. My mom did the final 100 km of the Camino de Santiago several years ago.

I'm just a few minutes from the main cathedral. I wandered around a bit this afternoon while waiting for my airbnb to open up. I went out again to see a bit more of the central city and to buy some food for dinner.

It's still not very warm: high of maybe 9 Celsius today. And my apartment is mostly unheated and I'm SO COLD. I hoped to warm up by taking a shower...and the water only goes to warm, not hot! It was so frustrating. I'm now running the hair dryer on myself, trying to warm up a bit.

I was walking around town, wondering why everything just felt a bit...weird, when I realized that there is no color anywhere! The buildings are all a darker stone or white. It's such a difference from Nice, where every building is painted a different vibrant color, usually in warm yellows, oranges, reds, and pinks with blue or aqua shutters.

It's still not completely dark, but I need to get to bed soon. I've been up since 4:45 am and I have an early start tomorrow.
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Saturday, April 27, 2024

Barcelona breech training

We had an outstanding training in Barcelona today, with a mixture of OBGYNs, midwives, and some midwives-in-training. Some worked in hospitals, some in home, some with MSF. They came from Spain (of course!), Italy, Iceland, Belgium, the USA, and Israel. (If I missed a country, I apologize).

We met at a trendy coworking space, La Vaca Coworking. We had the entire space to ourselves, two floors.

By the end of the day I was so tired! But also so happy because I made it through another day!

Just for fun, here's a picture of Ivy with the trophy she won at the end of this week's soccer camp.

Tomorrow morning, very early, I am off to Santiago de Compostela for one last breech training! Then I get to go home! So many exclamation marks today because I am just that excited!
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Friday, April 26, 2024

Birthdays & Barcelona!

Happy 15th birthday, Dio! I was able to talk to everyone twice today, once in the Prague airport and once in the apartment here in Barcelona. But it's not at all the same as being there. I can't believe it's already been 15 years! Dio had white-blond hair when he was born and little skinny chicken legs. He was just 7 lbs, very long and skinny. Kind of like he is today, except now he's over 6 feet tall, long, and skinny.

My day started at 4:45 am...2.5 hour drive to Prague...flight to ride to the venue...45 minute walk to pick up the apartment keys and the handouts...10 minute walk to our apartment...then a 2 hour super fast walking tour so I could see some of the main buildings in Barcelona. I won't have any time tomorrow and I fly out early the next morning.

I walked 13 km in total. All I wanted to do was collapse on the couch but I'm glad I got out. I saw several Gaudi buildings, one by accident as I happened to be walking past (Gaudi Palace). The other ones were the Casa Batlló and La Sagrada Familia. The last two I remember learning about in university. I also saw the Torre Glòries from afar.

It was very interesting to walk all around the streets, which are laid out precise squares as far as you can see...street after street, row after row, perfect squares. It feels a bit overwhelming after a while because you walk and walk and feel like nothing has changed!

I need to get to sleep soon. Good night!
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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Breech in Brno

We had a fantastic day of teaching. It started a bit stressful--the parking instructions we had weren't great and we couldn't get past the barriers and then we had to go a few different places. But we got it all sorted out and still had time to set things up.

This workshop was funded by a grant that our amazing organizer secured, so all 32 participants got to attend free of charge! Because they enrolled relatively late, most had not done the online training beforehand. So we had to adapt a bit and do some teaching to the group before doing our simulations and other activities. I also came up with a new simulation teaching format (just last night!) and tested it out on these students to rave reviews.

We had a videographer/photographer there. I asked her for some headshots, which I hope turn out ok. They also set up a little film studio and interviewed me and Kristine. I said some spicy things at the end, one of which was about "how I find it quite ridiculous that women are not being allowed to use their own vaginas." (Referring to the mandatory C-seciton policy for breech in so many places in the world.)

Kristine and I came home just dead. It's just after 9 pm and I'm heading to bed. We have to be up very early anyway, so it's for the best.

You will appreciate the sketchy elevator in our apartment building, originally from 1979 and not inspiring confidence at all. It lurches up, bangs and thuds upon arrival, and has no guard doors.

Also: baby Sophie's post-workshop bath time.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Drive to Brno

I rented a car for the first time in our Grand European Tour. I was a bit hesitant because I was driving into the Old Town and then back out again...but it wasn't so bad.

We had a 2.5 hour drive to Brno, with heavy traffic the whole way. I'm not sure if this is something taught in Czech driving schools, or just something that everyone does, but when cars want to pass, they go RIGHT up to your back bumper. This must have happened to me at least 30 times (and I was going 130 km/hr!). Seriously, it's so dangerous.

By the end, I could anticipate it and get out of the way quickly. But sometimes it was not possible because I was passing a large truck and couldn't move over. They would still drive right up to my bumper.

It was cold and rainy so we took one quick trip to the grocery store (a Lidl! and right next door!) and then stayed indoors the rest of the day.

We teach all day tomorrow and leave the following mornings suuuuuper early to catch a morning flight out of Prague.

We won't even see Brno itself; we're in the industrial outskirts.
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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Underwhelming and overpriced

I worked most of the day on video and book editing. But I decied that I coudn't stay indoors the whole day! So I booked a "Prague Underground" tour that sounded really fun. In reality, it was underwhelming and overpriced. We saw the basements of 3 buildings, 2 of the 3 decorated with kitschy themes. The torture one was fun if only because I was taking pictures for the kids to see later 🙂

I met up with Kristine and some of the workshop organizers and attendees for dinner. I had a beetroot risotto with goat cheese. So good!

When we were walking to get Kristine, the street was completely blocked by a swarm of ambulances in front of her apartment. We joked, "Oh no, what has Kristine been doing this time?!?" Turns out it was for someone who fell (or maybe was pushed?) out a window.

Tomorrow we drive to Brno. Wish me luck driving in the Czech Republic! It doesn't seem any different from driving in France, so I think I'll be ok.
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Monday, April 22, 2024

Prague teaching day

I'm totally exhausted and my inbox is terrifying (so many emails since this morning that I can't evne see them all on one page!). I'm not even going to try until tomorrow 🙂

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