Monday, December 29, 2008

the baby pool

I very nearly forgot about this! I finally plugged in Fry's birth info and found out the winners. Stéph and I came in second and third, but the overall winner was Carol in CA! Congratulations, Carol! You've won the satisfaction of coming in first place. :)

I have to say, though, I was pretty impressed that Lisanne was only two hours off on the date and time! You can see how everyone did by clicking here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

merry merry merry!

Hey, look at me blogging three times in the same week! Woohoo!

So, last night went fine, though I did forget to take an Actifed before we left, so I was pretty much sniffly and out of it most of the time. Fry wasn't too fussy but we couldn't get him to sleep in the other room, so we ended up keeping him with us all evening. No matter, since he was awake for nearly six hours last night, he gave us a lovely Christmas present - sleeping through the night last night! He was a big hit with his cousins, especially his two year old cousin, C. She kept wanting to hold his hand, which was very sweet.

The apéritifs went over great, mostly with the adults, and of course we came home with the one vegetable I'm not a huge fan of: broccoli. Maybe I'll make a big chicken and broccoli stir fry this weekend... Our apéritifs were followed by my MIL's specialty, coquilles St. Jacques, a seafood dish with mussels and scallops in a creme sauce, usually served in a half shell. The main course was turkey stuffed with walnuts and raisins, cannette, or duckling, veggies and a gratin dauphinois, which was followed by salad and cheese and polished off with some ice cream cakes. Believe it or not, I managed to have a little bit of everything without stuffing myself! Miracle of miracles...

This morning I had to run to the boulangerie for bread, since Stéph and I are making a fondue for dinner tonight. It may come as a surprise that some shops are open on Christmas day, at least until noon. This is because a well made baguette should only be fresh for one day before it's as hard as a rock, so of course we all need fresh bread on Christmas! I know the butcher was also open this morning, and of course the bar was doing a brisk business as well! At the boulangerie, I found these little cakes and had to indulge:

buchettes de noël

(Sorry for the poor quality of the photo: it's so hard to get nice pictures with my point and shoot during winter because it's so freaking dark all the time!)

So, the traditional dessert for Christmas is the bûche de noël. When I saw these individually sized "buchettes," I knew I had to get a couple for us!

Today, I'm still pretty sick but the cold medicine seems to be working so hopefully this will only last a couple of days (and Fry won't catch it!). I hope y'all got something better than a cold for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

merry merry!

O Christmas shrub

Man, did Christmas sneak up on me this year! Can't imagine why... Even so, we did manage to get a small Christmas tree (or, as I prefer to call it, the Christmas shrub), which does in fact have lights but I caught them at a bad blinking moment.

The presents are all wrapped and y'all, I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am that I convinced Stéph that we should buy some gifts when we were on vacation in August. There is no way we would have gotten anything done in the last few weeks, otherwise. In fact, there are a couple of presents we still need for family we won't see until New Year's Eve, so we drove to the big shopping district on our way home from the in-laws' yesterday. When we saw how bad the traffic was, we turned right around and went home (we'll hit it up the day after Christmas). Two crafty projects I wanted to give as gifts that didn't get completed before Fry was born are still unfinished. Luckily, no one is going un-gifted as I did get all the projects done for our nieces and nephew before Fry arrived.

Every year, we gather with Stéph's family on Christmas Eve and everyone takes care of one course. This year we're doing the apéritifs. We decided on nothing very complicated: sausage wrapped in pastry (pigs in a blanket! yee-haw!) and some veggies and dip. God willin' and the creek don't rise, we'll get a little sleep tonight, as Christmas Eve always tends to run to the wee hours. After all, we have to open all the gifts after dinner!

If I don't make it back here until the end of the week, let me wish you all a very happy holiday season! May you get everything you wish for!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

in which Vivi runs away

When Stéph started his paternity leave, he gave me an unexpected and much needed gift: a "Get out of Tiny Town Free" card. So last week I left the boys at home and went to Paris for the day.

On my way to meet Katia and kyliemac and Aimee for lunch, I happened to pass Saint-Séverin Church, which is special for me because it is one of the places my high school choir sang when we came to Paris nearly twenty years ago. (As an aside, I can't believe I could have done anything worth remembering twenty years ago!) I ducked inside and let my memories take me back. How lucky was I, going to Europe at the age of sixteen! That was supposed to be a once in a lifetime trip. Little did I know...

After marveling at the bizarre paths life takes us on for a while, I went on my way to El Sol y La Luna, where the girls and I indulged in some delicious South American fare (and good gossip!). After lunch, Aimee and I walked down to her tea house, L'Oisive Thé, so I could finally check out the renovations she did in August (lookin' good, as always!). Then we did a little Christmas shopping and it was already time for me to head back home.

It was a day out that I didn't realize how badly I needed until I was on the train back home. Settling in with a magazine and sore feet (seriously, why do I always wear the wrong shoes when I go to the city? Why??), I felt relaxed, focused, and ready to get home and scoop up my little Fry in my arms.

Friday, December 12, 2008

on doctors

I don't know if you've heard, but there's a crisis of sorts for doctors in this country. The problem isn't that there aren't enough doctors, it's that they only want to work in major metropolitan areas. That means that there are hundreds of small communities in France that have no local doctors and the inhabitants are forced to drive far from home to see a doctor, and while these communities often have nurses who make house calls, there are only so many things they can do to provide medical assistance.

Now, I knew this was true for small villages, but I never imagined that we would have the same problem here in Tiny Town! We are pretty much self-sufficient here, with two groceries, quite a few shops and services, and we find ourselves "having" to go to Troyes less and less for specific things. Don't get me wrong - Tiny Town has just about everything except, you know, entertainment, unless you count the bar down the street, so it's not perfect, but we get along alright. But it turns out that yes, we are having our own doctor crisis here in Tiny Town, which actually affects several communities in the area as well that rely on Tiny Town for their services, too.

When we moved to Tiny Town three years ago, one of us needed to see a doctor, so I did the sensible thing and chose the first name out of the phone book. Generally speaking, we were happy enough with Dr. A that we had him declared as our médecin traitant (pretty much the same as a primary care physician in the States, plus we receive a larger reimbursement when we see our médecin traitant than when we see another doctor). Soon, little things started bothering me: I always felt super rushed during an appointment with him, as if he was in a huge hurry (maybe typical in the States but not really here in France), and his hours left something to be desired. He only takes appointments in the mornings, and in the afternoons it's first come first served. Sounds nice, but we've waited upwards of two hours - not fun when you're sick. This is especially hard when you have an urgent situation and can't get an appointment in the morning. More than once, Stéph has gone to work sick when he should have stayed home because he couldn't stand the idea of sitting in the waiting room for hours on end to get the required doctor's note for his sick day.

During the course of my pregnancy, I never had a need to visit Dr. A, and if Stéph really needed to see a doctor on short notice and couldn't get in to see Dr. A, we called Dr. H, who works in the same building and always seems to have room in his schedule. Dr. H isn't exactly what you would call extroverted, but he seems like a good doctor and we've never had to wait long to see him. We started to wonder if we hadn't chosen the wrong doctor.

I've been wondering if it wouldn't be a bad a idea to change our médecin traitant for a while, but recent events have convinced me that it would be a good idea. First, when I got home from the maternity, I had to have daily shots for three weeks, so we had someone from the local nurse's office come by the house every morning (we paid a slightly higher fee - maybe around 40€ out of pocket in total? - but most of that was reimbursed). When we mentioned that Dr. A was our médecin traitant, one of them told us that in the last year he's cut his office hours in half because of other obligations and he's been trying to hire a doctor to share his office with him, but he can't find one that would be willing to work "in the country." Next, I made an appointment with Dr. A for Fry's first month appointment (since we don't have a pediatrician here in Tiny Town), and the soonest appointment available was two weeks out. Then, we finally had his appointment this week and the doctor seemed so rushed that I felt like we were being pushed out the door. When I called his office an hour later to clarify something he suggested during the appointment, I had barely said my name before he cut me off and said, "Look, can you call me back after 3:00?" and nearly hung up on me.

The final nail in the coffin is that I've had some kind of weird sickness happening this week. I started breaking out in a rash on Monday in the same area as where I had my injections, and they only got worse. Wednesday we decided that I'd better have it looked at, and knowing Dr. A would either be unavailable or I'd be forced to wait a couple of hours, I called Dr. H, who had an opening that very morning. He gave me a prescription and told me that if it wasn't better by Friday, I'd have to give him a call. Well, Friday came and it wasn't better, plus I'd been fighting a fever since the day before. He had me come back in that afternoon, put me back on an antibiotic and sent me off to have a blood test, and then we chatted about random stuff for another five minutes or so. We still don't know what exactly is wrong with me (I'm not going into great detail here in order to keep this already long post from gaining epic proportions), but I like Dr. H's method of actually admitting that he'd have to consult a colleague because my symptoms are weird and sending me for a test instead of jumping to conclusions, which is what Dr. A did when I told him the story of my headaches in the maternity.

For now, Stéph is hesitant to change primary doctors, but if you ask me, Dr. A won't even notice, especially since we didn't see him for nearly a year and he hardly batted an eye when we saw him this week. I think we'll have to make a decision soon, though, with Fry's monthly appointments, my mystery illness, and especially our peace of mind.

PS: Fry is in perfect health, by the way! At five weeks, he weighed in at 5.3 kilos (11 lbs, 11 oz) and was 57 cm (22.44 inches) long! He's already started to outgrow some of his smaller three month sized clothes, but part of that is because we use cloth diapers, which make his butt huge!

Monday, December 08, 2008

And now, a song

The first time I heard this song, it actually made me weepy. Ok, I was really hormonal at the time, as I was about eight months pregnant, but this is the song that I can't wait to dance to around the living room with Fry when he gets a little older. You can check out the lyrics here, but if you don't want to bother with the French, just know that he's basically singing "Let's all dance together and be happy." My kind of song.

Friday, December 05, 2008

time flies when you're in a sleep deprived haze

A month has passed already since Fry was born. A whole stinkin' month! My friend Doc is totally right when she says that time speeds up once they exit the womb. Plus I know he's gotten bigger, I can see it in his clothes and how he fits in his car seat, but he still looks the same to me. His hair is still on the dark side with some reddish-chestnuty highlights, like his father's, and his eyes are still blue-grey, also like his father's. He still strongly favors my side of the family from the nose down. Sometimes he makes a face that so strongly resembles my Dad that even Stéph has noticed it. He's starting to follow us with his eyes and even though his smiles are still involuntary, it's easy to believe that he's smiling just for you.

He would be perfectly angelic if it weren't for the fact that his favorite game every evening is to scream bloody murder ten minutes after you put him down and stop abruptly as soon as you pick him back up. Now, I'm all for cuddle time, but after SIX HOURS the game tends to grate, just a bit. Poor Stéph, Fry is perfectly calm and wonderful all day and it's only when Stéph comes home in the evening that the Screaming Game starts, usually from about 6 pm-ish until midnight-ish. Hopefully this phase will pass soon. The only good thing that's come out of this is that he very nearly slept through the night last night, from midnight until 5 am.

I can say that I totally understand why so many bloggers that are new parents drop off the face of the earth for a while after they bring a baby home. It's bizarre, you figure the baby sleeps most of the time so you'll be able to continue on in some manner as you did before. The problem is that babies suck the life force out of you. I've managed to keep the kitchen clean and laundry going, and that's about it. A lot the time, I find myself just sort of staring into space with no motivation to do anything else. I've started reading again, which is how I stay sane trying to rock Fry to sleep during the Screaming Game. Last night, on the phone with a dear friend, I found the only thing I could talk about was the baby. I've become one of those people.

So that's pretty much my life right now. If you can stand the excitement, please bear with me - I know I'll have some interesting things to blog about (other than "Fry pooped today! Woo!" god help me I will avoid that with every fiber of my being) here soon, really.