Thursday, February 26, 2009

In Memoriam

My father-in-law has been sick for as long as I've known him. It wasn't much of a shock when he was diagnosed with lung cancer a couple of years ago, but he fought it rather well, still managing to meet up with his friends and going on his yearly vacation to Pas-de-Calais, where he and my mother-in-law grew up. But he started slowing down around the time we went on vacation together in August. He was so poorly that it was a special effort for him to come visit me and Fry, his ninth grandchild, in the maternity. He only stayed for about ten minutes, but it touched me greatly.

At the end, it was fast. Mercifully fast. Last Thursday he was still moving around the house on his own and I saw him sitting in his favorite chair in front of the tv. When I was having my colonoscopy Monday, Stéph and Fry visited Pépère for what turned out to be the last time. He wasn't able to get out of bed, but Stéph told me that he would still reach out to touch the baby. He was scheduled to go back into the hospital for two days starting Wednesday morning, but if you ask me, he'd just had enough. We got the call at 1:30 Wednesday morning that he was gone.

I will never forget how he welcomed this foreigner into his family with good humor and kindness. But mostly good humor. He called me "Camembert" for the first year, because it was the only cheese I would eat (seriously, that cheese was a revelation to me!). He teased me when I showed him my very first récipissé by taking out his cigarette lighter and threatening to light it up, with a twinkle in his eye. His sarcastic comebacks were legendary and to watch Stéph's parents go at it was both heart warming and hilarious.

Merci, beau-père, pour tous.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

a comparison

I wasn't going to write about this, but when you have an opportunity to write about butt cancer, you ought not to pass it up.

No no, don't worry, I haven't got butt cancer, or cancer of the colon, as it is more commonly known, but my Grandmother did (and beat it!), her uncle died from it, my father had pre-cancerous polyps, my sister had juvenile polyps and I have had them as well. That means I've had a colonoscopy before, and will have to have them every five years for the rest of my life. Yesterday I had my second colonoscopy, and since I've now had this procedure done in two countries, here, as a public service to my readers, is a comparison of what to expect when undergoing a colonoscopy in America and France.

Special Diet
America: no solid foods and only clear liquids for two days before the procedure. I subsisted on Gatorade and clear jello.
France: restricted diet with no fiber for three days before the procedure. I had coffee and biscuits with jelly for breakfast, meat and starch for lunch and dinner, and chocolate for dessert.

Advantage: France

Sorry, there's no nice way to say it, but the colon must be cleansed before the procedure. This is done by force-evacuating everything you've eating for the last ten years of your life...
America: The two evenings before the procedure, a small bottle of liquid is added to a glass of a clear drink (7-up was highly recommended). Pretty nasty but doable.
France: The night before the procedure and the morning of the procedure, a powdered medicine is added to two liters of water, which must be drunk in two hours. It was recommended to keep the water very cold but this didn't stop it from tasting like ass-flavored sea water. Then I ran up and down the stairs all evening/morning. I could have added lemon juice, but I figured it would have just tasted like lemony-ass-flavored sea water, so I didn't bother.

Advantage: America

The Procedure
America: Performed in an examination room at a clinic. I wasn't completely knocked out, but was in what is commonly called "twilight" - I could have forced myself to stay awake and even watch the procedure if I wanted, but I have better sense than that and slept through the whole thing.
France: Performed in an operating room. Actually checked into a room at the same clinic where Fry was born, hung out in the room (and did a bit of knitting, actually) before I was wheeled into the operating room, where I was given a shot intravenously which knocked me out cold and my vitals where constantly watched by an anesthesiologist during the procedure. I felt a lot safer knowing I was already in an operating room in case anything went wrong, even though it only very rarely does with this kind of procedure.

Advantage: France

The Recovery
America: Woke up in a large room filled with beds with only sheets to divide them. Here is another embarrassing fact about a colonoscopy - you will experience epic farting afterwards! You'll have to bring someone with you because you won't be able to drive, so make sure that person is someone very, very close. Very close. Was released under my friend's care, and we went to IHOP before I crashed on her couch for the rest of the afternoon.
France: Woke up in the operating room, was transferred to a rolling bed and wheeled into the recovery room. Was given oxygen and my vitals were monitored until I was totally awake. Wheeled back to my room, where luckily I had the room to myself so I could fart in peace. Was offered a choice of coffee, tea or hot chocolate and given a little snack and rested for a couple of hours. The doctor passed by my room and told me all was well and to come back again in five years, the needle was removed from my arm, and I was released under my husband's care while Fry charmed everyone he came in contact with. We went home and I made chicken wraps for dinner.

Advantage: France

Well, I have to admit, it looks like France wins out, but considering how nasty that liquid ass is, I think I'm going to have to call a tie!

And finally, in case you're wondering whether you shouldn't run right out and have your own colonoscopy done, most people don't need to start screenings until they're fifty years old. However, if someone in your immediate family has ever had polyps or cancer, your risk is much higher. I was thirty when I had my first colonoscopy, and I had two polyps. Luckily I didn't have any this time around, but I won't take any chances and will go through the whole rigamarole again in five years. I'll let you know if they make any improvements on the ass flavored cleansing products...

Monday, February 16, 2009

baby juggling

I have an appointment tomorrow morning in Troyes, and we have had plans for two weeks to have Fry stay with Mémère and Pépère while I see the doctor. Unfortunately, my father-in-law is very sick, so Fry's staying there right now is kind of difficult for my mother-in-law, who is already up to her eyeballs in taking care of her ill husband. I know she felt terrible calling us last night to ask if we could find other accommodations and I felt terrible that she could think we'd be upset with her! Bless her heart, I think she's having a very difficult time adjusting to her husband's decline in health.

In any case, she suggested we call the halte garderie in the same street. Stéphane got very excited about this - here was an option we hadn't even thought of before!

In France, there are several options for child care: la crèche, les nounous, et la halte garderie (or is it l'halte garderie?). La crèche is traditional day care, but as spaces are very limited in this option, the children of two working parents take precedence (as it should be!) so we have crossed this one off the list. A nounou is usually a woman that takes a handful of children into her care, as sort of a private daycare. Finally, the halte garderie is more of an occasional option for those that need a quick solution for baby sitting for a few hours during the day.

From what I understand (from reading a little bit of information on Troyes' website), the crèche and the halte garderie have now been combined under a single heading called "petite enfance," which is for children aged two years and under. (Many children can start school at the Maternelle between two and three years old, which is basically a state-run pre-school.)

So, armed with this little bit of information, I called the maison de petite enfance located in the same street as my appointment. I explained that I didn't know how the system worked and the woman kindly gave me the number for the service de petite enfance so we could sign up. I called that number and asked if we could sign up if we didn't live in Troyes. Since I don't work and we don't live in Troyes, we don't qualify for a crèche, but we can sign up for an accueil d'occasion, which, loosely translated, is "occasional welcome." This means I would be able to leave Fry in a state sponsored day care for a few hours during the day *if* they have an opening (I'm not sure if you can reserve in advance or if it's first come, first served).

Obviously, this isn't going to work for tomorrow morning, but I did take an appointment to sign us up for the service, which will be next month, and we'll have to go with a list of documents as long as your arm, but that's what you'd expect for child care, I suppose. I do happen to know where the accueil d'occasion is, right in the middle of downtown Troyes, with a parking garage just below it, so that's nice. I'll find out more about how that works next month.

In the meantime, I didn't give a second thought about taking Fry with me tomorrow morning, but then I realized that I've never been to this doctor's office before and I have no idea if I'll be able to get his giant country stroller in the door, let alone if they have room. I was thinking specifically of the eye doctor I saw, who's office was located on the second floor of an 18th century house - not easy to maneuver a huge stroller! So I called and asked, ready to change my appointment, but the secretary was very sweet and told me to bring him along. Man, it's amazing how much planning ahead is required now that we have this tiny presence in our lives!

P.S. If you're reading this in a reader, you may wanna stop by the blog - I've been futzing with the template again!

Friday, February 13, 2009


Remember when I said nothing was going on? I just updated my template (finally) and lost about everything that was in my sidebars. So that's nice. Ah well, I was looking for something to do this afternoon, anyway. I also decided to let the Haloscan comments go. That means my comments are starting from zero but as long as the Haloscan website is around, I can still read the comments my Mom left the first few months I blogged (which was the only reason I never switched back anyway).

So how many people remember that this was my very first template four and a half years ago?

Update: You should be able to subscribe Dispatches From France in your favorite reader now! Hurrah!!

ho hum

Hi there. Not much going on, I'm afraid to report.

I've been a little concerned this week that Fry's fussiness has been more than just colic, so I finally went to see the sage femme this morning. She calmed a lot of my fears and gave me a few suggestions, some I'll take (going to the pharmacy this afternoon to see if they having anything with fennel I can add to water for Fry between bottles) and some I won't (I just can't get into taking Fry to the chiropractor, sorry). I can't wait until the weather is better so we can start taking him outside more. I can't help but think he's got cabin fever as bad as I do...

Yesterday I booked a hotel for two nights and I can't wait to go on our first family vacation! It's going to be the weekend that Fry turns four months old. We're going somewhere I haven't been before and we're in for plenty of sightseeing.

That's pretty much all the news going on around here. I haven't even really been knitting very much. I think the winter blahs finally got me. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but roll on Spring!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Fry's three month checkup

We're just home from Fry's three month checkup and I'm going to write this quickly while he's still knocked out in his stroller. Fry is now measuring in at 62 cm (24.4 inches) and a whopping 7.2 kilos (that's 15.9 pounds!)! That's a whole kilo, or 2.2 pounds, in one month! The doctor suggested that I'm feeding him too much, so I sincerely asked him how I'm supposed to feed him less. He admitted that there isn't much we can do, but if he gains as much again this month, we may go ahead and start him on veggies next month.

He also had his first vaccinations today and he was a champion!! For the first one, he barely batted an eye, but the second one was the more painful one but he only cried for a minute! The doctor did warn me that next month will be worse, though.

The bad news is that it looks like he's got his first gastro. He's been super fussy for a few days now, not able to rest during the day, and today he woke us up at 6:30 with, shall we say, an uncomfortable bum. He's wearing disposibles until his butt is in a happier place and he's got special food to eat until he seems to be back to normal and we can go back to his regular food.

Whoops, looks like my giant gourmand of a baby is waking up... you kids have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Stuff you should be reading

I've been wanting to do this post for ever now, but then I thought, "Oh, I should update my sidebars first" and who has time to do that? Ugh. But hey, I'm glad to do a post that has nothing to do about Fry (I'm turning into a Mommy blogger whether I want to or not) and tell you about some cool websites at the same time!

First up is Chick scientist, who will soon be Dr. Chick scientist. She's funny, she's cool, and she just happens to be my cousin. My second cousin, thankyouverymuch. (By the way, if you think that's impressive, Fry will hopefully meet a couple of his third cousins this summer!) Lili has just written a "25 things about me" sort of post so it's the perfect time to get to know her, and tell her Vivi sent ya!

The next one is Stuff Parisians Like. The title pretty much speaks for itself and I think it is HIGH-larious. Especially since I'm NOT a Parisian (though I know a lot of the Stuff mentioned happens to be true!)!

Finally, I don't know if you know how much I love history. Sometimes I seriously wish I'd majored in it in college. I also really love webcomics. Now, Kate Beaton has figured out that these two great tastes taste great together. I ate up all her archives in like an hour and I check her site everyday for updates. Plus, sometimes she draws on a subject I don't know much about so I google it, and then I learn something. Bonus!

Ok, so that's my linkies. I also want to tell you that I've just joined the A Day In Your Life group on flickr and I'm going to try to do that tomorrow. It should be quite a challenge since I won't be able to post pictures of our faces (because my husband would kill me). I'll try to update throughout the day, so keep an eye on that.

Right, that's it. Fry's going to get his first vaccinations Friday afternoon so I'll be sure to come back and tell you all about it (dang it, I couldn't resist!).

Monday, February 02, 2009

3 months old!

Fry is three months old today! What a huge difference one month can make. Everything has changed! We've finally got to a point that I though we'd never reach: not only is Fry sleeping through the night (for twelve hours at a stretch!), but he's really on a schedule during the day, getting up at the same time and basically eating at the same times. He still sleeps between meals, but the naps can last anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours, so he's really teaching me to be flexible (something I've always had trouble with!).

Fry is starting to really be interested in the world around him. He knows Stéph and I on sight, and will either smile or wave his arms when he sees us - especially first thing in the morning! Unfortunately, he doesn't know his grandparents very well yet. I left him with Mémère and Pépère one afternoon to run some errands and he screamed for 45 minutes and wouldn't even eat! That was when we knew that things were really starting to change.

Toys are starting to hold his attention, too. Right now he likes to play with his Sophie giraffe and his froggie rattle (thanks again for that, Dana!). I think his favorite thing to play with is the ties on the diaper basket on his changing table! He also likes to watch me knit (poor me, right?) and, much to my dismay, Stéph play online. Our new toy is the webcam, so his Aunt Nini can see him and he can look at the little boy on the computer screen.

Overall, Fry is a happy, smiley boy and he teaches me something everyday. I hope he still likes me after his first vaccinations this week, though...