Monday, September 28, 2009

signs of autumn

signs of autumn

I took my camera with me on our morning walk today and found quite a few leaves starting to change color. The trees are lovely but it's the vines that turn bright red that really get to me!

This past week was pretty crazy. I went to an aerobics class here in Tiny Town on Wednesday evening. Besides the fact that I tore a muscle doing step aerobics (they don't seem to be very big on warming up - must do it on my own before I guess), I enjoyed it and am going to sign up. The price is very reasonable and I'm going to try to go twice a week. I would like to go tonight but Stéph is fighting something off, so we'll see how he's feeling when he gets home from work.

I thought I found the right place to have my documents translated and sent them off, only to have them sent right back with a note that they don't do what I need. I tried to call the nationality service at the courthouse this morning, as their only hours are from 9am to noon, but of course got no answer. This is starting to get time sensitive, as I've already got six weeks on one document and everything is supposed to be under three months when they're turned in. If I can't get someone on the phone tomorrow I'll have to go in person on Wednesday.

Fry is having a great time at the halte garderie on Fridays and this week he'll go for the full three hours for the first time. I think I'm going to come home and do NOTHING and it's going to be great!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

mystery solved

Yesterday I had my appointment with the allergist in Troyes. The appointment itself was pretty amusing and the results were, in my opinion, pretty surprising.

This may not shock you so much if you're American, but if you've spent any time at all in France you might be shocked to learn that I waited upwards of an hour in the waiting room. (I wrote about my very first experience with French doctors way back in the stone ages, here, and generally find that wait times are very short here.) I was glad I brought my knitting with me, but even so, I was curious why the other guy in the waiting room was so antsy and another fellow that came in after me saw that there were only two of us, looked at his watch, and left! But hey, I couldn't be bothered, luckily - Fry was with his grandma, Stéph had his key to get in the house after work, I had my knitting, no problem!

Once I finally made it into the office, I was very pleased to find that Dr. Allergy is a very sweet woman, maybe ten years older than me, very chatty and personable. Once she ferreted out that I'm American (I get "what an adorable accent!" all the time, whether they mean it or say it as a way to find out where I'm from is dependent on the person, really), we had to have a ten minute conversation about her little sister who's married to American and has lived in NYC for 25 years (how is it that I manage to meet everyone that has a relative in America?) and a rather amusing story she told about her last visit there, and then at last we got to my allergies (and you can start to see why an hour behind is probably normal!).

Well, we went over my allergy history, and she brought up an important point that I hadn't thought of before, that it should be rather unlikely that I should have pollen allergies on two different continents, but that's certainly what I assumed it was. Everyone's been saying that the pollen was out of control this past Spring and Summer, so what else could it be? So we did the prick test, and I was very surprised to learn that I'm not allergic to pollen at all.

Nope, I get to have a relatively rare (at least in France, according to Dr Allergy, anyway) allergy to Alterneria, an atmospheric mold that grows outside in the right conditions, being very hot and damp. This is the mold that grows on old leaves in the forest and can damage crops in some cases. It also happens to be the same whether it's growing in France or in America, so it would explain why I never had allergies growing up in Florida (too close to the coast where it is hot and damp but not enough foresty cover for mold to grow), suffered terribly in Upstate SC, and can suffer from it again on a completely different continent. So not only were the pollen counts very high here in France this summer, the conditions were right for an outbreak of Alterneria.

Dr Allergy is still sending me for a blood test to confirm, as well as an x-ray of my sinuses, but most likely the treatment will be the same that my regular doctor gave me, which works perfectly. Even if nothing changes, it is such a relief to know exactly what I'm allergic to and what to look out for in the future!

PS: I didn't leave the doctor's office until 6pm for a 3:30 appointment. She insisted I call my MIL from her phone to let her know I was on the way. I guess I would usually be, at the very least, annoyed under such circumstances, but she was so very nice and very clearly explained everything so well that I'm actually looking forward to my next appointment!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

and the other shoe drops

I knew something was wrong. I didn't have to get on a scale to know I'd gained a bunch of weight, but sometimes it takes getting on one to get the reality check. But it's not just the fact that I've gained five kilos (over 10 pounds) in the last four months, but the results of the blood test that's got my attention.

My blood sugar is fine, my cholesterol level is a little high, but not too much. But my triglyceride level is really high. Like, scary high. Like, double the recommended level high.

We're changing my pill perscription (yes indeedy, birth control can be a contributing factor, isn't that fun?) and my icky doctor (who ordered the blood test just for this reason after being off the pill for a few years) suggested seeing my regular doctor, as he thinks I may need additional medication. I'd like to see if I can bring it back down with my diet, since I know damned well I haven't been eating right, before my next check up at the beginning of December.

Heart disease is a big killer in my family, and I'm not kidding around when I say that I feel like I've just passed the last warning sign before the edge of the cliff. It's time to turn this boat around, kids. You wanna help? I'll take every low-cholesterol non-cardboard-tasting recipe you've got, kindly deposited in the comments box. I and my heart thank you.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I love fall.

I mean, I seriously love Fall. I love the "back to work" feeling about it (especially in France, when many companies actually shut down for most of August!), the change in temperature, the changing of the wardrobe, the changing of the menu...

Speaking of the menu, I've seriously got to get a handle on that. I've gained a ridiculous amount of weight that I haven't been able to shake off since Fry was born. Now that he's been out of my body longer than he was in it, I don't really feel like I can use that excuse any more. I just feel really gross. Hopefully, getting back in our routine of a couple of walks a day will help.

Now that Fry is getting more mobile on his own, I think chasing him around is going to help, too. Recently I've started making a half hour pit stop in the park with Fry in the afternoons to let him stretch out his legs a bit, since there isn't too much room for it in our house. I bring the jeans quilt with me (even though it's unfinished, though I have to admit it's pretty sturdy like it is and it's not a bad size, maybe I'll just sew a sheet on the back or something? Anyway...) and a scooter/walking toy that Doc handed down to us. Of course, he's only interested in stuffing as many rocks and leaves in his mouth as possible before I scrape them out, but I suppose that's par for the course. He doesn't seem to be in any hurry to get up and walk any more, either. It's as though he's thinking "hey, we all know I can do it, what's the rush?" I wholeheartedly agree.

One other thing I wanted to mention about Fry - he's really started to get interactive with us, at last! In the last week he's started saying "mamamammamamamammamama......." you get my drift. I'm not sure he's quite got the connection that he's saying my name, but he knows he can get my attention by saying it! He's also started playing what we call "the ball game" with Stéphane. Stéph will roll a ball in his direction and Fry will pick it up and place it in Stéph's outstretched hand! He doesn't make it every time but he just beams at Papa the whole time. Good stuff.

I got another document yesterday to add to my citizenship folder. The last one should be here in the next week. Apparently I'm supposed to send at least our marriage license to a special office in Nantes to be translated (we were married in the States, or this wouldn't be an issue, obviously). The good news is that since it's a government agency, it should only be a couple of euros to have it done. The bad news is I have to ship it off and hope it comes back in a timely manner. I'm going to call them to see if they'll do my other American documents as well, which will save us a pretty penny!

Monday, September 07, 2009

five years?!

You would think something as big as my fifth anniversary of living in this country, as well as starting this blog, would ring a bell in my brain, but alas, it went right by me. Considering that it coincides with la rentrée, you'd think it would loom rather large in my head. And yet, last week all I could think about getting back into our school routine. Though I suppose I do have an excuse - I never had a pint sized whirlwind flying through the house before to distract me.

Here's to five years in France, five years of blogging, and thanks to all of you that continue to read my drivel follow along, the friends I've made throughout the world, and to my husband for putting up with the culture shock, the identity crises, and all the drama that comes with marrying a ferner. Chin-chin !

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

ten months

Dang, I knew I'd miss a month, and Fry turned nine months old a few days after we arrived in the States and it was next to impossible to get in front of a computer for the time it takes to write one of these up. Also, I should be writing down his accomplishments as they happen, because after a couple of weeks everything either blends together or I get so used to his new abilities that I take them for granted!

Fry has been crawling in fast forward for quite a while now, but we didn't realize just how fast he could go until we were at Grandma's. We'd set him down in the living room and he'd take off like a rocket through the kitchen and on to the front porch! There's a good sized step leading onto the porch and Fry had that thing figured out a couple of days after we arrived. That doesn't mean I'm letting him anywhere near our slatted staircase, though!

Five teeth have already come through, including one of his front teeth. Considering he's always had two teeth come in at a time I'm hoping the other front tooth isn't far behind. He can pretty much mow through a biter biscuit now and makes short work of the coconut cookies Grandma sent back with us (spoiled rotten, this kid is!). Fry is thankfully still not a fussy eater and only hesitates when a new texture is introduced.

The biggest news, of course, is that he has already taken a few steps on his own! We've been holding his hands and "helping" him walk for weeks now, but it was only in the safety of his baby jail that he spontaneously let go and took three steps towards me, much to my amazement! He's taken a few steps again here and there (and Stéph finally saw him do it - I was afraid he thought I'd made it up!), but all in the play pen. Believe me, we are in no hurry for him to start running around the house but we're very proud of his early accomplishment!

Like many bilingual kids (I speak English at home, Stéph responds in French, we've been doing this since before Fry was born so it's completely natural now), Fry hasn't started speaking yet, but he's a champion babbler and "talks" all the time.

Right this moment, Fry loves opening and closing things (doors and books mostly, he hasn't figured out drawers and cabinets yet!) and is still mesmerized by music. We had the great chance to hear lots of live music in the States, including a bluegrass jam at a local café, my dear friend's husband, a professional musician and teacher, played his upright bass for him, and my cousin Henry played a good bit of piano for him as well. This is something I definitely hope to continue!

The only "bad" thing I can report right now is that he's starting to get very clingy and cry when we put him down or when he goes to bed. I'm guessing this is the infamous separation anxiety rearing its head, so we're trying to balance being firm and assuring at the same time. Like I seem to say every month, things are about to get more interesting around here!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

C'est la rentrée !

Here we are again, the first of September. Teachers report today (students go back Thursday) as well as everyone else in France that takes the month of August off. Once again, Mother Nature is following right along with the calendar and it's gone all dark and rainy (though, to be fair, it's actually the remnants of the hurricane that flew up the east coast of the US a couple of weeks ago).

I spent this first morning "back to work" puttering around the house tidying up and trying to wear Fry down (it worked, he's passed the sacred hour and a half mark of his noon nap!). And of course as soon as I typed that he woke up.... I'll never learn!

Anyhoo, I mentioned before that we've got a couple of big projects going on. They are not things that have to be worked on constantly; in fact, they're going to kind of run in the background for a while. For example, the first thing is that I'm preparing to request French citizenship. There are a few documents that need to be gathered and then translated before we head back to the courthouse in Troyes. We grabbed a copy of our marriage license when we were in Asheville a few weeks ago, and we're now waiting for a copy of my birth certificate and my criminal record. Hopefully we will get everything gathered and translated before three months expires, or else the whole thing starts over again. Good times!

So, why citizenship? Well, I knew I'd do it eventually, since we are going to live here indefinitely. It would be nice to be able to vote and not having to request ID cards would be nice (though getting cards is a lot easier since we moved to Tiny Town and I can do it through our town hall). But what pushed me over the edge was doing the paperwork for Fry's passport last spring. At one point, there was a question to whether or not I had the right to sign for him on his passport since I wasn't French myself. The answer is a definite "yes" but just knowing that there could be a doubt prompted me to get the paperwork going straight away.

The next big project is that I'm kind of sort of looking for a job. Now, the thing here is that I don't have to work and I'm not taking the first thing that comes along. I've been super happy being home with Fry, in a way I never expected, but I need some grown up interaction as well. For now, I'm just flipping through the announcements on the job site and sending in my resume if I see anything interesting (so far, one thing interesting popped up, but no news on that). It would have to be something with normal working hours that I have previous experience in, and hopefully if something does come along we won't have any trouble finding some sort of care for Fry, since there aren't any day care facilities in Tiny Town. And if you're newish around here, no, I won't teach English.

So, that's been kind of exciting, but the biggest thing that's happening in the background is that we're starting to look into buying a house. Again, we're not in a super hurry, but I think Stéph's idea of waiting a bit changed when he saw Fry in an environment where he could run around a house that was child-safe, unlike ours, where we have to basically keep him in baby jail because of all the dangerous areas of our rented apartment.

I was walking by Tiny Town Realty last week with Fry and saw an announcement that looked too good to be true, so of course it was. I told Stéph about it and we went to talk to the real estate agent about it. Unfortunately it doesn't fit into what we're looking for in the end, but for a minute I could almost imagine Fry playing in the backyard. In any case, we have very specific requirements (can't be on a main road, must have a certain number of rooms, have some kind of garden or courtyard and be in Tiny Town or one of the villages surrounding it) and meet our budget, where our maxed out budget means the home is in perfect condition and ready to move in. There is one house on Tiny Town Realty's website that seems interesting and I've sent them an email about it, but other than that, they have our info and will call us if they get anything else that meets our requirements.

So, that is what is going on around here! Lots of fingers in pies around, and we'll see what we eventually pull out!