31 January 2007
Where I Is
...inspired by my friend in the Poppy Fields...
My village, or more appropriately, my husband's village--his family has lived here since they started writing crap down--some six or seven centuries.

The view from the park…

...and the view from our back window, or at least this is what the view was three years ago. It hasn't changed much. Today there's no snow, but otherwise it's the same.
posted by Doc at 11:51 | Permalink | 5 comments
30 January 2007
Engaging in more unhealthy activities
One of those big no-nos when you are a parent of more than one child is to compare them. You’re just not supposed to do it. But you just can’t help it sometimes.

When Monkey 1 was born we were over the moon. Every little thing was new and exciting. Even poopy diapers were extraordinary events. “Look at the cute poopy!”

Things changed drastically for Monkey 2. “Ah, crap, another poopy. Ugh!” “Are you walking yet? Honey at your age your brother was walking.” I’m a horrible mother. You don’t need to leave nasty comments to remind me.

I’ve learned just how different two people can be in their first year, even when they share genes. Of course, sharing genes doesn’t mean they get the same ones. For example:

Here’s Monkey 1 at his first birthday. He’s cute, and little, and looky! He’s still in a high chair! WOW! And that stuff in the glass? That’s the family pride, the main reason I moved here—homemade bubbly. Yummy!

Here’s Monkey 2’s first birthday. (Please forgive the poor quality, but my camera is slowly starting to crap out and the light at the front of the house in January is nothing like the light in the back of the house in April.) She’s cute, not very little, and looky! No high chair! High chair? Are you out of your mind?

The differences are amazing, huh? Looks, personality, attitude, alcoholic tendencies…man those two are so different. And you know what? They ROCK!

PS: Anyone want to wager which kid takes after which parent?
posted by Doc at 09:05 | Permalink | 5 comments
26 January 2007
turn me on, baby
I exude sex. I’m the epitome of sexiness. Uh, yeah!

Can you believe in my last marriage I was afraid of becoming trailer trash?

…oh, how the mighty have fallen

posted by Doc at 23:07 | Permalink | 9 comments
This Post Brought To You By The Letter N
N, as in:

NAPPING—something I have been doing a lot of since Tuesday, so much of it, in fact, that I hurled myself over the threshold of ‘feeling better” and right into “holy shit I have no blood pressure left, help me stand”. Who would have thought that naps could be worse than alcohol? Seriously, Marc has been a pretty nice fellow the past couple of days, not perfect, but very, very nice and patient and has taken care of the monkeys so I could catch up on some rest. (I know, Vrandy, pick your jaw up.) Even Muppet and Piglette have tried helping me out by being perfect little angles (well, except for Muppet who decided to take a flying leap off some piece of furniture or other while Marc was stuck on the phone—I found him in the stairwell bleeding from forehead and nose and complaining that the cat had fallen. The cat? Dude, you hit your little head a bit hard methinks). And I did have to get up and cook, though that was more out of my wanton desire to eat something edible than necessity.

NINTH NEW NEPHEW: No, I don’t have nine nephews, but if you count nieces and nephews the way the French do, then the masculine takes priority. Yep, Marc’s sister plopped out her baby yesterday at noon. A boy. Mom and baby are doing fine, and, I think just as importantly, the little guy’s big brother seems to be holding his shit together for the time being. I just hope they figure out (really fucking quick) how to play happy families so the older guy doesn’t end up with any more serious problems. Muppet and I will be stopping in for a visit later, as we have to go that way anyway.

NEIGE: OK, so I cheated and threw French at you. But SNOW doesn’t fit the N theme. We’ve got some, not a lot, and fortunately it’s not causing too much of a problem any more. In Haute Marne, we had a traffic jam! That like never happens here. Ever. But we had one, a good one, too. Trucks were backed up, some of ‘em were stopped 12 hours, the major highway was shut down, it was a nightmare.

And now, all the witty N things I had been dreaming of have flown south for the winter. Bastards. I hate when that happens. I’ve got to take Muppet in to see the allergist today to find out why he’s all itchy and scratchy—his little back looks horrible, and it’s honestly so much better than it was this time last week. Poor critter is fed up with us telling him not to scratch and honestly I’m fed up with not being able to tickle him senseless without him freaking out on me. I seemed to have timed things so, with the visit to the OSIL, I can actually eat out again!! Yah!! With Muppet! Ugh!
posted by Doc at 04:27 | Permalink | 2 comments
23 January 2007
Finding Sanity
Well, it’s a slight overstatement. But I am feeling a little bit less negative towards the planet and all folks living on it.

I went in for the regularly scheduled pregnancy check-up. OB-GYN Kenobi was running very late. Very late for her is five minutes. She apologized profusely because I was reading my book when she came to get me in the waiting room. For five minutes? An apology? PsychoLadyDoctor.

(She rocks in the same way as my new needle waving dentist does—I’m soooo lucky!)

All is well on the baby-growing front except I’m too tired and that’s why I’m sick all the time. I’ve been ordered to bed (!!!!) for two whole days—48 hours of sleeping and lounging and trying to recuperate—we’ll see if that happens for real or not here shortly. My blood pressure is running a bit high and my feet have a tendency to swell if I’m on them for long periods of time—a fact I discovered after buying a wonderful pair of shoes during the first day of Les Soldes, shoes that fit perfectly in the store and were beautiful and comfortable, but were about five sizes too big the next morning. Crap! At least they can be used as airplane shoes should we ever find enough time/money/patience to travel again.

I’m half way through this baby! 20 weeks gone, 18 or so left to go! I might make it. I honestly feel better than I did for either of the first two—aside from being tired and sick all the time—and not throwing-up sick, more like a constant head cold since November thing. Even that isn’t nearly as bad as the nightmare that was my last pregnancy.

After the Dr. visit I drove across town to do some shopping. I did the smart thing and bought a pair of gloves and a hat (1€ each! I heart les soldes). Good thing I did, too. When I was driving in to Saint Dizier this morning there were tiny flakes of snow falling, but they stopped by the time I reached the hospital. When I left the grocery sore however, I found myself in the middle of a blizzard (another slight exaggeration, but remember I grew up in southeastern NC, where palm trees still grow wild). That hat and those gloves helped my keep my appendages intact as it was witch titty cold and blowing a gale. Not exactly nice weather.

But nice enough to avoid going home right away. I grabbed a quick lunch in the cafeteria (which was actually pretty yummy—and more importantly, cheap) and then headed out to another store to grab a few more things before heading home.

Oh, the nightmare! I tried to stop in Joinville so I could fill my prescriptions. I tried to stop. I ended up sliding through the parking area and right back out on the main road again. Fortunately the drugs I need are not critical and can wait. Back out on the N-67 I got caught up in the traffic jam that was a mere four kilometers long. The gendarmerie eventually ordered everyone to turn around—this after an hour wait and three centimeters of snow—and I had to take the back roads home. Did I ever mention how I loathe driving in snow? May I do so now?

I LOATHE driving in snow…especially in this country where the roads are teeny-tiny and hardly ever marked. LOATHE IT!

All’s well that ends well, right? And I made it home where my son made it very clear just how happy he was to see me, my husband offered to unload the nine tons of stuff in the car and then let me take a nap, and my daughter went to sleep and let do just that. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Oh, and I’m under orders for lots more happiness! Prescription naps—I’m down wid dat!
posted by Doc at 22:21 | Permalink | 5 comments
20 January 2007
Wherein things start to go better…sort of

The kids slept late (ahh, sleepy, happy, calm morning time).

I had time to eat a quasi-real breakfast at the table with the thing I married.

I didn’t burn lunch even though my attention was pulled in 9000 different directions, and it was pretty good, too! (Must send ex-husband’s grandmother a thank you note for giving me the secret family sauce recipe, just because it would piss her off. And it would make me feel good.)

I (finally after canceling my last two appointments) got to go to the dentist to fix the tooth I broke eating pasta.

He offered me anesthesia. He OFFERED me anesthesia. I felt nothing. I LIKE my new dentist.

I resigned as secretary of the local tourist board and was then elected Vice-Frickin-President!

I’m still high on that, thanks. Man, I don’t need much anymore do I?

Did I mention I was elected unanimously. Well, with one abstention (my own—it’s polite here.)

OK, so no one was running against me (but you can let me believe that it’s because they knew they’d loose).

I ate dinner in a restaurant, with normal people, and my husband didn’t complain. He didn’t say one word!

I came home to a house devoid of children (they’re next door for the night), and will fall asleep knowing that no one will wake me up in the middle of the night to be fed/changed/carried to the potty. If you only knew how good that felt….
posted by Doc at 00:07 | Permalink | 5 comments
16 January 2007
So, Seriously. WHY do I bother?
I took Pooplette in for her 12-month check-up yesterday. Aside from the obvious, that she’s very tall and wiggles A LOT, the doctor didn’t have much to add. I got the usual, ‘Just keep doing whatever it is you’re doing.’ It’s nice to get compliments from someone. As far as numbers go, she’s 79 centimeters tall (a whopping 4.5 centimeters taller than her brother when he was a year old) and weighs 11 kilos—none of which is baby fat. She did us the honor of actually walking the entire length of the doctor’s office. At home she’s often either too busy or wants to go too fast to let go and walk by herself. I know I’ve been saying for months that she’ll be walking any day now, and we all honestly have thought that for months, but apparently she just decided showing off for the doctor would be a good time to actually start. Life changes again.

Holy shit.

I also dragged Muppet along for the ride, as his itchy-flea-y-ness isn’t going away, and try as I might I cannot find any fleas. This isn’t particularly bad news, given how much I hate to clean on a good day, and the prospect of bleaching the enitre house from top to bottom to get rid of the little biting bastards just doesn't feel like something I need to be doing. That, for the moment at least, has been put on hold. The good doctoresse has no idea what’s going on with him either, so we’ve got to take him in to see the vampires tomorrow and do a round of blood tests. In the mean time he continues to welt up daily, and neither Marc nor I are always fast enough to keep him from scratching. His back looks like he’s been beaten with a whip. I can assure he hasn’t—although the idea has crossed our minds.

And finally pictures, because I haven’t done any for a while:
I haven't had enough odd people visit lately, and this, I am sure, will attract the very best of them. Yep, here's the boy taking a leak. Those of you who have passed this stage will understand just why this is a milstone. And those of you who have yet to reach this point can at least appreciate how much fun I'm going to have when he brings that first date home.

Here she is, attacking her birthday cake. She's so classy, this child, that she didn't really dirty herself with crumbs the way normal babies do. This is probably some early sign of OCD, but for now I'll just appreciate the fact that she's not a pig.

And finally, the inspiration behind today's title:DO YOU SEE? All those hours, and yes it was HOURS, I spent arguing with her father about getting a certified side-protection car seat because safety for my babies has no price tag attached and she, the little stinker, goes and falls asleep with her head sticking out in the great big wide open. SHE HATES ME. Or at least she and her pops have this conspiracy going... (oh and um, just lemme say, I did not choose her lovely pink polka dot jacket, mmm-kay.)
posted by Doc at 02:59 | Permalink | 5 comments
11 January 2007
Time Flies
For your reading pleasure, here's a medly of posts about what I was doing one year ago today.

Last Tuesday started out like any other Tuesday—me bitching that I had too much to do for the state I was in and how Marc was never around when I needed him to be. I got through the morning dishes and lunch with no problems other than being so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. That afternoon I had my final monitoring with the nurse/midwife and another birth class, which I’d honestly planned on skipping. As I was up for a cesarean I felt more inclined to come home and nap rather than sit around learning how to push. Naps are good things—pushing was not even up for consideration for the good things list.

Talking to the midwife, I explained the latest of my strange pains—the occasional “hot needle” through the scar from the first c-section, fully expecting her to tell me again how normal I am and not to worry. How many times have I had screwed up expectations? Instead of her normal reassuring, “you’re not so strange after all” look, what I got was a regard of deep concern, and a bunch of questions.

What I figured was just a bit of scar tissue getting pulled on turns out to be one of the first signs of a huge, potentially fatal problem—a uterine rupture. Really not cool. So, after a call to OB-GYN Kenobi, who only confirmed what the midwife suspected, off I went home to pick up the suitcase, pillows, and ever-so-slightly overworked husband whose initial reaction was, “Quit joking. I don’t have time for this”. (No, really, it was just a fleeting thought of his—in reality he turned into Superman—well, slightly haggard Superman with a bad hangover from catching super villains and stuff all night with no sleep.)

Muffin was napping peacefully chez Mémé, since that’s where he goes when I go off for my visits. When the car was packed and ready, I went and woke him and had my “I’m gunna miss you soooooooooo much” cry. He, having heard his father in the hallway, began chanting, “Papa, Papa”. Yep, feelin the love…

I drove us to the hospital so Marc would be able to use the phone and try to keep his head above water as far as the farm thing goes. This was probably my one stroke of genius all day as he was on the phone for almost the entire trip. Once we got to the hospital, time seemed to stop. It was only 30 minutes before they had me hooked up to a machine, but it felt more like hours. Marc was getting anxious as we still had no idea if the cesarean was going to happen that night or the next morning or even if it was gunna happen at all and dammit, he needed to get organized.

Two hours later I was in my room, given food and told the exorcism was scheduled for 1 in the afternoon the following day. Marc was glad to have his morning free, as there was a truck coming to get grain in the morning. He promised to be back the next day at noon and we said goodnight. I settled in for my last night of peace, sorta.

[The next morning] Marc was, of course, late. I was honestly so Zen that I didn’t care. Besides, it’s not like he’d missed anything at that point. He ended up showing up at the same time as the doctor, who was kind enough to let him in to the delivery ward since everyone else seemed not to hear him ringing the bell—even I didn’t hear the bell, and I was listening for it.

When Muffinhead was born, or exorcised if you prefer, Marc showed up in a sweater, to which the nursing staff added one of those super sexy hospital gown things in heavy cotton, a hat, and shoe cover things. Then, before the baby comes, they heat the place up to like 85° or some other ungodly hot temperature. When they handed him his son, Marc almost went to the floor. He insists it was because of the heat. I have a different opinion, but we’ll play along and say it was because of the heat. This time, Marc practically stripped before getting all donned up in garb. He was still hot, and uncomfortably so, but at least he could breathe.

The doctor came in, told me she needed to eat before we got started, but not to worry, things would be underway soon. I so love the fact that this woman can eat literally minutes before chopping me in half. There’s just something about her character that I adore. Of course, the rest of the OR staff had other ideas, as they are OR staff and not usually on the OB block. They’d all gone out for lunch in the caf and finally showed up about 45 minutes later than expected. They did this for Muppet, too. They finally all got there, with the traditional (maybe obligatory is a better word) morbid OR sense of humor which I so love. I, for my part, got switched from one bed to another to be moved ten feet and be switched to yet another bed.
Then time suddenly sped up. I got drugged—a spinal block, prepped, catheterized, covered, uncovered, draped with 10000 sheets so I couldn’t see anything and then sliced and diced. I honestly don’t remember too much of this part as it was such a flurry of activity and I was dealing with the drop in blood pressure that goes along with the spinal. I do remember them calling out the time of the first incision (13h54) and OB-GYN Kenobi saying, “My God, she’s heavy!” and then hearing two very sharp, very pissed off cries. Someone was here. Finally. It was two minutes after two.

I didn’t cry for Muppet. I had a tear or two but that was all. For this new one, though I was all tears for about three minutes. They presented me this purply-grey thing, who took one look at me and started crying again. I was a mom, to the second power.

Time slowed back down again, and the Exorcist started explaining to me that my uterus was in fact, very solid—no signs of any rupture, or anything out of the ordinary, except for the fact that I don’t bleed. She says I’m good to go for another “six or seven cesareans, one right after the other” , but I assured her only one more will suffice. She then proceeded to tell me how she was opening my cervix with her finger, going into graphic detail…

A little background. When Muppet was born, I didn’t have any of the bleeding afterwards, you know that nine year long period that goes along with childbirth. I had none of that. Even while still at the hospital, I was unable to stain a pad. We had to do an ultrasound to make sure my uterus was draining like it should be, which it was, but we still have no idea where to. Until, that is, two weeks after the birth, when I was at the grocery store, and all of that stuff that should have been evacuating from my body decided to migrate south, all at once. I was soaked to my knees in a matter of seconds. Fortunately I was only in the parking lot, so I was able to make it back to the car without too much embarrassment—cuz trust me, this seemed so much worse than any “I got my period in gym class” story. I ended up soaking through the diapers I’d lined the seat with before I got home and then, after an hour, everything dried up again. I’m strange like that.

So this time, in an attempt to make sure this didn’t happen again, Dr. Kenobi decided to put her arm in my incision and stick it out through my cervix. Aren’t you glad for this visual? I know I certainly was. Thanks, Doc!

The only other thing of note was M. Gourmet, a cute but odd fellow who had the fun job of catheterizing me and running suction and other miscellaneous duties. He was particularly fun. When I asked about his name to make sure I was reading it correctly—one never can tell with the drugs I was on at that moment—he told me it was indeed Gourmet, because, as he put it in flaming drag queen voice, “I’m so delicious”. (Does that make up for the visual?)

After being stitched up and dragged (literally as the legs were just dead weight at that point) from one bed to another I was finally reunited with the husband (ever so proud and happy that man was, trust me) and a clear plastic box containing the very-much-less-purple-and-gray baby form we now call Christine.

I found it a bit strange that it took three different beds to get Christine into the world, but once here, they were able to take me directly off the hack-n-slash table and put me directly into the bed from my room. We got wheeled into the recovery area (same as the preparation area, actually), where Marc and the plastic box and I were all reunited. After incubating for an hour and a half, Christine was deemed “done” and finally dressed. What happened to her during that hour and a half to finish her off that she was unable to do in thirty-nine weeks and three days in the womb is beyond me, but apparently it was very important. Once she was dressed we got down to the serious business of breast feeding. (Suffice it to say, that’s something we’re all still working on.)

Finally Marc decided it was time to leave, as it was beginning to get late and he still had almost an hour’s drive home. I was eventually detached from the catheter (ahhhh) and allowed to stand and walk. This is apparently allowed in recovery, but not allowed once I was back on the floor. There’s apparently a whole list of things I’m allowed to do in recovery (walk, drink, cough) that I am supposed to forget how to do or suddenly be unable to do once on the floor. And thus the war between the American patient and the Stupid French Midwife began (actually this was the second time around with that bitch—we’d already had one row when Muppet was born).

For some reason the anesthetist I was unfortunate enough to have that day seems to think that cesareans are highly traumatic events. The last time ‘round there was this woman who had a c-section just before me and then laid in bed for FOUR DAYS before moving. Apparently this is the French way of delivering surgically. Sadly though, I am not like this, so the orders this asshole left, that I shouldn’t be allowed any solid food for 24 hours after the cesarean, were completely just horrifying to me. 24 hours after plus the 18 hours before hand that I hadn’t had anything to eat were really enough to just set me over the edge. I like food, I need food. Expecting me to recover from an operation, develop milk, raise a baby and not plunge head first into the dark depths of post-partum depression without giving me something to put into my stomach is like expecting to win the lottery without buying a ticket—ain’t happening babe.

BTW, bouillon isn’t something to EAT, it’s more like something to DRINK. How can anyone consider that food?

Anyway, I shan’t bitch about that part any longer. I have so many other things to bitch about!

Three IV lines in ten hours can be deemed excessive, especially when I’ve explained how the veins in my arms have a tendency to not hold up well, so can you please start with the veins in my hand. Ending up with a line practically in my elbow isn’t very comfortable and the reduced mobility is really a pain when trying to take care of a new born. Also, please someone, teach that stagiaire how to correctly remove an IV catheter. No one should actually have meat hanging off the catheter because it was ripped out of one’s arm.

Doctor, the world has moved on since the 80s. It’s recommended that women be up and about ASAP after a c-section now, not coddled and treated like delicate flowers. If I feel the need to get up and pee, don’t try to talk me into calling for a bed pan. If you have any doubts, check with my real doctor, maybe read the orders she left for me instead of trying to fit me into your outdated mold—and maybe try reading a medical revue or two to see how things are done now. Or better yet, RETIRE you old fat bastard!

Don’t send for the shrink because I pointed out that my child’s ears don’t match. One look is enough to tell you that one ear is clearly different from the other. Stating the obvious does not mean I am rejecting my child. I find her odd-ball ears charming. And honestly, if I needed a reason to reject my baby, it would probably be more like something to do with the fact that she sleeps all morning (while the medical staff keep me up) and not a wink at night (when the medical staff are busy sleeping and replenishing their energy to bother me all morning) turning me into a zombie with a bad attitude. And as even that hasn’t made me not like her in the tiniest bit, you can really just keep your psychologist crap, OK?
posted by Doc at 14:54 | Permalink | 5 comments
10 January 2007
Move over Britney…
If it continues this way, I’ll soon be publishing my blog from prison, provided they let you do things like that here. Do they let you do things like that here?

Muppet’s got to take allergy medication to help control his flea-induced itchiness. It “may cause drowsiness” in the same way that NyQuil might make you feel a bit sleepy. But my son, always a fighter, refuses to give in to the fact that his body is drugged and cannot go on. No, he’s his mama’s boy. And what does she do when she’s on heavy medication?

Why, get drunk of course! At least I used to before the risk of permanently damaging these little people who have come to live in my personal space became something that worried me and niggled at my nerves 39 hours a day.

I had to go upstairs to get Tiggerette. She’d already slept close to two hours past meal time and I figured letting her scream, something I’d grown quite used to from the first months of her life but have since not had to endure so often thankgodpraisethelordhallelujah, seemed somehow cruel. The Monkey v 1.0 was calmly terrorizing the couch, sedately watching les Barbapapa (merci Aunt Vi). All seemed right in the world.

I went up the stairs, grabbed the hungry, wet, stinky girl, and came down the stairs. That’s all. Her arrow had moved into the red ‘feed me NOW bitch’ area so lingering was not an option.

Monkey 1, during this time, jumped up off the futon, ran into the kitchen, grabbed a chair, pulled it across the room, climbed up on it, stood on the plastic cabinet that holds our knives and food storage containers and reached around to the back of the dryer. There he found a teeny tiny bottle of Lingon Berry spirits—you know those little airplane bottles, like that but only more decorative (and Vi, you should know exactly the one I’m talking about as we had it out when you were here I think) with a gray moose head because I bought it at IKEA!!! and those people know entirely too much about marketing to people like me.

By the time Tiggerette and I made it to the kitchen, some two minutes later, the bottle was empty. And Monkey 1 had really sweet smelling breath.

Oh thanks, son. I need this today.

So I called the masculine version of their parental units (because he’s never around for the fun shit like this, whether by design or good luck I don’t know—all I know is he misses all the fun). And He. Laughed. At. Me.


The bottle was honestly half empty already, and given the big wet spot The Boy had on his Elmo sweatshirt (thanks Aunt Anne and Uncle Bill) half of what was left didn’t make it down. Still, he ended up with about half a shot of 60-proof spirits.

Marc’s family grows grapes and makes champagne (although technically we aren’t yet allowed to call it that, but hey, a spade is a spade, right?) so the bubbly stuff is always a part of any celebration in the family. And it’s shared, with everyone at the table, young and old. Muppet, much like his mother (because his father touches nothing stronger than cidre, but I’ll rant about why the man is not French another day), likes the bubbles and I have more than once had to pry my glass from his fingers. He then gets accused of being “joyeux” or very happy, at Christmas dinner. This was my SIL’s polite way of saying “your kid is drunk”, though drunk might have been an overstatement. Tipsy, definitely.

Yesterday he went beyond tipsy. The kid could not walk straight. He could no longer talk. And everything, especially his sister, made him crack up. And yes, I refused to call the poison control people because I cannot face life without him, and given his history of OD-ing on his sister’s vitamin drops and his excessive use of my birth control pills, I’m sure if I called to inquire about rehab they’d come with the nice white jacket and take me to a padded room.

I need a vacation, but not that kind.
posted by Doc at 04:55 | Permalink | 7 comments
09 January 2007
Itchy rash? Not with my luck
Before I get into the nightmare problem my son has, I want to fast forward a bit, to the trip home from the doctor. I give up folks, really I do. I have terrible rotten luck and now it seems to be creeping away from me and onto those who surround me, like a cloud of mustard gas.

The road was pretty much abandoned on the way back last night. Our doctors’ offices are in Froncles, a whopping 5 kilometers from here. Most of the way is ‘major’ highway (meaning it’s not one of those 1.5 lane country roads I managed to scare my 10-foot tall bulletproof brother on).

Last night it was raining—yeah I know, this is Haute Marne, when is it not raining in winter? There was a nice steady drizzle coming down, enough to make life miserable, but not much more than that.

Unless you’re in front of me on the highway.

The car I was following took a sharp right turn into the ditch.

Fortunately he wasn’t speeding (I was in fact grumbling that he needed to shit or get off the pot, so to speak), and both he and his wife were properly belted in. The car didn’t even seem to have any major breakage, other than it was just high centered on the cement support for the ditch from hell.

I stopped, of course. That whole ‘you see an accident, you stop’ thing that’s an obligation where I come from is seen as completely optional here. I just don’t understand the French! But I’m not here to rant. I stopped, with Muppet in the car, on a normally busy highway (we weren’t yet at ‘rush-ha-ha-ha-hour’ but I’m sure you can imagine how nervous I was leaving my car on the side of the road with a toddler in it considering how graced I’ve been lately) and ran as fast as a fat pregnant woman can back to the scene.

Mrs. Decked-out-in-fur-and-enough-perfume-to-kill-a-giant was noticeably shaken, and as it was drizzling and cold, I ran back and got my car so she could sit someplace warm and dry while we waited for the gendarmerie to show up, who we had to call on my phone since for some unknown reason no one else wanted to take responsibility for making the call (WTF people!? Dear Lord, please do not let me ever have a bad accident in this country.)

An hour later (pretty fast service considering they had to come a whole 15 kilometers! Service abounds in all areas of life) they showed up, four of them all in the same van. I explained that I was directly behind the car when it turned hard to the right, and the head gendarme told the younger, very cute, very yummy gendarme to get my information. (Yes, I know it was for the accident report, but damn, having a gorgeous man ask for my phone number felt nice even in that situation. I’ve sunk so low…)

During all this, the other ‘witness’, who just happened to be another civil servant with a blinky-blinky on his car that he’d used to advise other drivers to slow the fuck down and who had been playing host to Mr. My-wife-wears-real-fur-you-can-go-to-hell, drove off…without a word…and with Mr. Accident Victim’s handbag, including his license, ID, and credit cards.

The mustard cloud of bad luck strikes again…

Oh, and the itchy rashy thingy? Turns out my son has fleas—not your regular blame the cat or dog type fleas. No, that kind doesn’t usually bother humans, and considering how little exposure our animals get to the great outdoors it’s unlikely we’d be infested with those nice critters. Nope, he’s got a case of wood fleas, little bastards that make their homes in hardwood flooring and are, in the doctor’s words, a nightmare to get rid of. Lovely.

Now we’ve got to rip everything out of all the rooms with wood floors (everywhere but the kitchen and bath, thankyaverymuch), clean the floors with bleach, wait a week, and redo until the little bastards are gone. And when they are, we get to redo the floors, wax and all, because bleach tends to ruin the finish of hardwood for some reason.

So, lots more work with wonderful chemicals. Fun. But where in hell am I supposed to put all this stuff in the meantime?
posted by Doc at 09:53 | Permalink | 6 comments
08 January 2007
NO I haven’t taken the advice I once got to drop off the face of the earth and die. I’m here. I’ve been lurking. But I’ve been doing it from the dark corner of the room where I have been battling all sorts of demons, my husband, and various and sundry others to get to a point where I can look the new year in the face without running for cover or threatening to kill someone or breaking things.

It hasn’t been the best of starts, if you don’t mind my understatement.

Most, if not all, of the drama has something to do with the house. House? No, it’s more like a pile of shit, that thing. The latest is that the roof is now so deformed you can see it from the outside of the house. Inside, there are beams that are cracked and split. The leaks around the front windows are only getting worse and the odor of rot inside the building is becoming rather powerful. We keep the heat on so that things have at least half a chance of not rotting into oblivion before we get to court, but even that is an exercise in futility. The rot is everywhere.

We visited the house with Vi and Mô on New Year’s Day and as usual, I found yet another problem. This time there is water coming in in the front of the house, the part that’s under ground. Not a little water, mind you. Lots and lots of water. Now we have to figure out if it’s coming in from the walls (which have been treated with some type of waterproofing) or if it’s coming from the leaky windows and running down the walls from the upstairs, through the ground floor, and then into the basement. Neither situation is really better than the other. If it’s coming in from the outside, we’ll have to dig everything up and restart at zero—something we’re honestly already facing as the pillars in the front of the house that support the roof have been gently placed on the gravel and rocks brought in to fill in the hole around the front and not been taken down to the foundation like they should have been (this is only a tiny part of the reason the roof is deformed). If it’s leaking down from upstairs, well, we’ll have to rip out all the walls, replace all the dry wall which will eventually show signs of moisture, make sure the wiring hasn’t been compromised, and if it has, replace all of that. Basically more of the same we’re already looking at now.

We’ve both been back since and have discovered more and more. Once, with the man who may end up redoing the entire roof and who kindly pointed out to us that the huge beams holding up the roof (as opposed to the small ones the expert was worried would cave in under the weight of snow) were cracked—not like a little fissure running along the grain of the wood. That would be “normal”. No, cracked as in broken, against the grain, from one side of the beam to the other. And again, this time with the guys giving us an estimate to redo all the walls, yielding the information that the supports on one beam that actually hold the lateral beams in place is broken in half. BROKEN IN HALF.

I’m beginning to think that it may be a good thing, a VERY GOOD THING INDEED if the water in the basement is running down from upstairs and through the wiring. An electrical fire that takes out the entire house would be just what the doctor ordered at this point.

The sub contractor who has done all the work has dropped off the face of the earth and we are now definitely going to court just as soon as our insurance decides to let us. Marc is actually going to meet with the HMFIC of the insurance company to try and get things rolling along a little faster. Turns out our insurance company is the exact same one as the sub. In the mean time, the lawyer has all the papers drawn up and is simply waiting for the insurance to say ‘file’. After that, God only knows how long it will take. I have absolutely no experience with the French courts, but if all the rest of the bureaucracy is an indication, I’ll still be bitching about this next January.

Of course, all of this means that money is tight. I live with a cheap skate on the best of days, and now with a mortgage and rent hanging over our heads and double payments on everything from electricity to insurance and beyond, things are rather tense. We’ve just been through hell and back with yet another round in the car seat wars (though we both seem satisfied with the results on that one), but even that is not finished. We’ve got another monkey on the way and that means either another car seat (the three we have don’t quite fit together in the car) as a short term solution, or a different car as a long term one. We’ve also got to invest in yet another crib (Marc’s sister lent us hers for Christine, but as she’s due any day now, that’s no longer an option). And if the baby is a girl, we’ll have to invest even more clothing because the seasons don’t quite line up.

Do I even need to mention we have no space for any of these things? I’ve never claimed to be the world’s best house keeper. I’m actually right up there with the world’s worst. And as there are simply no more corners or nooks or crannies to hide things in, the house is overflowing with stuff—all of it vital. Hell, we’ve even got some vital stuff stashed next door at the in-laws’ because there’s just no more space here. And even in a best case scenario, it’s not going to get better soon.

The lack of space, lack of privacy, lack of money, lack of sanity, lack of (_____fill in blank____) has our nerves frayed to the point of snapping. And this is on top of all the regular day-in-day-out stresses of raising two babies, taking care of a farm, being married, and living with someone from a very different culture.

And those kids? They’re no help Matthieu decided the other day to eat a bunch of my birth control pills Yeah, I do have birth control pills, shocking isn’t it. So we had another round with calling the pharmacy/doctor/poison control folks, all of whom have probably listed me right under Britney Spears as Worst Mother of the Century. Either that, or I’ve pushed her out of the number one slot—doubtful as I haven’t shown anyone my nether regions since my last OB-GYN visit. (Yeah, that’s not helping things either.) And Christine refuses to stay in any clothes that resemble in any way her age group. Hell, she’s not even a year old yet and she’s already in size two years—has been for a couple of weeks (and don’t worry Anne, American sizes run larger than French ones, so we’re all good).

But lest I paint a picture of despair, let me assure you it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s mostly doom and gloom, but there are bright spots. The two monkeys are wonderful and they get along really well. They’ve really become interested in playing with each other and are learning how to wrestle and rat the other out. Christine has learned recently how to strip and we often find her in various stages of undress in her crib. Yesterday, while we were visiting friends, she treated the entire group of kids (all boys—go figure) to a striptease. Any wagers on who she gets this from?

The pregnancy is going fairly well, and I honestly feel better than I remember feeling while knocked up before. I go back and forth between thinking maybe this is my body finally working out its chemistry and thinking that it’s more to do with the no-more-need-to-stand-on-your-head fridge and the oh-thank-god-we’ve-got-a dishwasher that have saved me countless hours of work, shopping, and husband-related stress. (Just imagine what life would be like if we had a ‘real’ house!)

And we’ve had a right good number of visits lately, from the aforementioned Vi and Mô, to S&M, most of the old crew, and a bunch of other folks. It’s the visiting season and we’ve been doing a bit of it, back and forth. It’s been nice to spend time in the kitchen sharing recipes or just getting out of the house long enough to forget that I have 18 pairs of shoes too many for the space we’ve got.

I’ll leave off my grumbling for now. I have to take the older kid to the doctor as he’s got some odd rash type thing going on and if he scratches any more I swear I’ll snap his arm off. Anyway, happy fucking new year. Hope yours has been better than mine.
posted by Doc at 14:24 | Permalink | 6 comments