Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring Shed - Week 4-6

Apparently I'm doing my Spring Shed reports in three-week increments... After the week 1-3 report, here's an update on how I did during week 4-6. The full back story of this blog hop hosted by Kathy at Bereaved and Blessed can be found here.

Edit: I wrote this post a bit to quickly yesterday so I forgot a few things. First of all my goals for this Spring Shed! Copied from my previous Spring Shed post: my only goal is to keep finding things to not fall into complete mommy mode again (because I do think the Winter Shed accountability helped me get out of mommy mode) and so my weekly report will be on what I did to make that happen (or what I didn't do and why I fell back into mommy mode), whether that be reading more, getting more paid work, blogging more frequently etc.

Week 4 was a relatively calm week. M. Gourmand's double ear infection got better once he was on antibiotics (although administering it was a twice-daily struggle, but we persevered for the full six days) - once when he was screaming because he didn't want to take his medicine I saw something white sticking out of his gums: turns out there were four molars emerging!! Poor baby...

With him doing better I had a chance to get out of full-on mommy mode again. I had a very small translation job to do and was waiting for another one (both from the same client I did the huge project for last month). I also went to a concert with a friend that week on Thursday evening, which was a nice break in the normal weekly routine.
Edit: I also wrote two blog posts: my second participation in Time Warp Tuesday and the second installment of my Cultural Differences series.

Week 5 was gearing up for and attending my dad's wedding, plus hubby was away on business for most part of the week (we met up in Holland the day before the wedding), so not much opportunity to get out of mommy-mode, but I did get a babysitter on the Saturday evening to be able to go out with two friends to celebrate the birthday of one of them.

The second translation job came in but unfortunately I couldn't complete it because the end-client didn't send all the texts (clauses and disclaimers) before I had to leave for Holland. I have no idea if they found another translator to do that or if it's still on hold. I'm hesitant to contact the agency as I currently hardly have time to work with the kids home during the school holidays...

This past week (week 6) was still mainly full-on mommy mode as both kids have been home the entire week - M. Sensible has school holidays (two weeks - this and next week) and M. Gourmand's sitter was also on vacation this week - plus hubby again away on business as of early Wednesday morning (until tomorrow afternoon). The kids missed a lot of naps during our four days in Holland and it was very tiring for me too, plus after the four molars M. Gourmand also had two emerging canines, which resulted one night being broken up by two 30-minute long screaming fits...  so all three of us took very long naps this week. We also worked and played in the garden - I have a whole project to start a small vegetable/herb garden in raised beds together with M. Sensible, so I hope the weather next week will not be as bad as is currently forecast and we can work on it together while M. Gourmand is at the sitter.

Overall the week went okay but I do miss having some time for myself and today I yelled at the kids (mainly M. Sensible) a few times for no real reason - so I can't wait for hubby to come back (although some real me-time will have to wait until the school holidays are over).

The wedding

Can you imagine being on the plane to attend the wedding and thinking "well, at least I can visit my mom's grave while I'm there"? Ever since they announced it I'd be yo-yoing between going and not-going. I missed my sister (for whom it was just an impossible date - yes, we were both frustrated that we got the message that they wanted us to be there, but they didn't consult the date with those who live far away, i.e. us). The ceremony at city hall was very surreal. Luckily I could pretend to make sure my kids weren't tearing down the place so I didn't have to look at the bride and groom. I still cringe when my dad calls her 'honey' (well, he doesn't call her honey because they don't speak English to each other, but you get the idea). The little party at their house afterward was nice though. But I was still too busy with the kids / too tired / not interested to strike up a conversation with her two daughters (who will remain 'her daughters' to me, I will never ever call them my step-sisters, nor will I call her my step-mom. Luckily no-one expects me to either). I do like her. My kids adore her. I'm glad my dad has found happiness again. But this was not easy.

I visited my mom's grave the next day. Mr. Sensible had fallen asleep in the car so hubby stayed with him and I took M. Gourmand with me. He loved the little stones on my mom's grave - and on the grave next to  hers, and oh, there was a little jar on that grave where you could put all those stones into - and why am I not allowed to climb on the big family tombstones...?! (We'll see what kind of phase he's in next time I get a chance to visit).

We visited my maternal grandmother two days later. I had asked my dad to call her beforehand, because I didn't want to be the person who had to tell her, not did I want to lie about my reason for being in Holland, nor did I want M. Sensible be the one to tell her (my dad first thought that would actually be very convenient, if the innocent (great)grandchild would give it away, but luckily he came to his senses and realized that it would still have to be him to make the call).

Of course my grandma didn't take it very well. My dad used to be her favorite son-in-law. Ever since he has a new relationship he has become an outcast. They both don't do well in trying to improve that situation. But for the first time since my mom died hubby and I had an honest conversation with her. She is suddenly bringing the stillborn child into the story (whom she never ever mentioned when my mom was still alive!), blaming my dad for not taking my mom to the grave, apparently looking for past flaws in my dad's behavior... I don't expect her to change, she is 95 and grieving her daughter, but it is such a shame. She has seen so much in her lifetime, but her judgments can be brutal.

This week I've been home with the kids (school holidays and the sitter is on vacation too). Emotions and missed naps during our stay in Holland have resulted in the theme of this staycation being sleep. So I have a lot of catching up to do in the blogging world. I'll get back into gear soon.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cultural differences - at the doctor's

Welcome to the second installment of my Cultural Differences series, now with it's own real blog button (thanks Kathy)!

After last month's topic of meeting someone, this time we'll go to the doctor's office!

In Holland I didn't go to the doctor very often. I was hardly ever sick, so didn't make it much further than GP and dentist. It was pretty simple: there would be a receptionist and/or assistant and the physician him-/herself. No nurses or other staff. If you had to have a physical examination, you would undress (behind a screen) and then be completely naked so the doctor could examine you.

When watching US sitcoms or movies I always thought that all those blankets and other cover-ups were because we were not allowed to see the actors without their clothes on, but that in real life those covers wouldn't be there.

Until I moved to the US... First there was receptionist/admin person who dealt with the finances, then there was a nurses station, where I had to fill in forms with medical questions. Then a nurse called me and asked me to step on a scale - fully dressed, even with shoes on! She then brought me to a room, took my blood pressure, asked me to undress, gave me all kinds of covers and told me the doctor would be there in a few minutes. Wow, I hardly knew which cover to put where... How did it all work? So it wasn't just for the movies...? And what took the doctor so long?

My sister, also living in the US, told me that she never used the covers, but I somehow grew to appreciate them (and got a little less clumsy with them too). Because naked is really very naked...

Then four years later we moved to France. I was getting out of my denial phase regarding IF, so a gynecologist was one of the first doctors I saw. There was a receptionist, and the doctor herself. After a short chat it was time for an examination. Please get undressed. Please lie there. Wow... I was cold. No covers. Just like in Holland. What I used to think was normal. They call it "à poil" in French. But hey, this is the first time I see this doctor (it was also the last time, but that's a completely different story). Hmm... ok, get over it, this is a doctor, they're used to seeing people naked...

After two pregnancies in France I've gotten pretty used to it - undress in front of the OBGYN, step naked on the scale, be completely naked during the whole examination. Get dressed quickly once it's over. It's normal. It doesn't really bother me. But hey, I wouldn't mind a little cover...

What is the usual practice in your part of the world when you have to get a physical examination? Are covers involved? Would you be shocked if you would go to a different country and it would be completely different than what you're used to?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April revisited

This is the second time I'm participating in Time Warp Tuesday, hosted by Kathy at Bereaved and Blessed and this month's topic is "April".  Kathy writes:
April represents the beginning of the second quarter of each New Year, it is filled with rainy days and all things blooming. Some years Easter and Passover fall in April, bringing forth important and special events in many faith traditions. Choose a post from your archives that you wrote during the month of April. It can be about any thing or topic that speaks to you. Then write a new post on your blog about why you chose the post that you did and what has happened in your life since.
I had several posts to choose from, but ultimately selected one from two years ago, called Random Thoughts, because it really has a connection with where I am now. It was about a month before the FET with our lonely frosty and I was a bit pessimistic about it all. I wrote:
We only have one embryo frozen, how big is the chance it won't thaw properly? It's the same Grade A excellent quality as one of the embies that was transferred for IVF#2 - which didn't make it. So why should I believe its frozen brother or sister will have a better chance?
Well, turns out our little frosty did have a better chance than his two fresh siblings! He thawed properly, he nested comfortably in my uterus and stayed there until he was fully finished and ready to see the world. M. Gourmand completes our little family and makes me look at the bright side of things - and if his hands are cold I sometimes joke that it is because he was frozen for his first three months...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring Shed - Week 1-3

After completing the 10 weeks of Winter Shed, I happily said yes to Kathy when she asked me if I wanted to continue on with a Spring Shed (the full back story of this blog hop hosted by Kathy at Bereaved and Blessed can be found here). Well, what a way to join a good resolutions series by being two weeks too late! You'd think that only a change of name wouldn't wreak so much havoc in the routine I had built up with the weekly Winter Shed posts, but apparently it did...

Anyway, it doesn't matter - I took a sprint and am back on the wagon (and actually, I didn't really fall off, I kept my resolutions, I just didn't report them here).

The reason I didn't post anything last Friday was because I went on a 2-day trip to Spain with my sister (who came over from California just to spend some time with me!). It was wonderful! Two days of quality time with my sister, without kids, without obligations. We went to see a concert of Bach's St Matthew's Passion by an ensemble we both admire. The work is very dear to our hearts as well for several reasons: in Holland it is a real tradition to perform this during Holy Week. From well-know professional ensembles to the local choir, every city will have at least one St Matthew's Passion performance the week before Easter. My mom used to sing in a Bach choir when we were kids, and my sister now does the same, and we listened to it often at home as well, so we basically all know it by heart. It was very special to attend the concert (and also a bit emotional - I had tears streaming down my face during my favorite aria (performed by my favorite Bach interpreter) "Mache dich mein Herze rein", as images of washing my mother's body after she died played in my head - if you don't know it, you can listen to it here). It was even more special being in this Spanish city during Holy Week, with the famous processions (we missed the ones at nighttime because we were at the concert hall, but the daytime ones were quite impressive too). The concert ended at midnight and we went out for tapas afterwards, yum (and yawn too)!

The next day we had a late flight back home, but it was delayed and we were afraid it would be cancelled because there were only five passengers... Then the captain told us there was thick fog at the destination and an airplane had veered off the runway so the airport was closed, but we would take off anyway, hoping it would be open again once we would be there... And oh sorry, there's a technical problem with our plane so we're going back to the gate. The technical problem was quickly solved but the fog was still there. If it wouldn't have lifted by the time we would ben there, we would turn around because all airports nearby had the same problem. I had a bit the feeling this was a bad April Fools joke, and just hoped it would be allright. It was. It was still quite foggy, but luckily there was enough visibility to land. When my head finally hit my pillow at home it was 3 am. The kids were overjoyed at 6:30 am to find out that I was back home...

My sister flew back to the US the next day and had to take a 5:50 am train to the airport. Only daylight savings time started last weekend here in Europe, so we had the feeling it was one our earlier. Hubby had to take the same train the next day to leave on a business trip. I was so tired I felt like I was stuck in a continuous jetlag. Then when I finally started feeling normal again, M. Gourmand came down with a fever. Two days between 39.2 and 39.6 degrees Celsius... Called our doctor but she was on vacation... Found another one who could see us this morning: poor baby has a double ear infection, so is now on antibiotics (and he hates it! - but it does make him feel better). He already had pink eye when I came back from Spain, and a severe nose cold, so the boy is one snotty mess. And of course I now have pink eye too...

It feels appropriate to end this post now by saying that because of all this I didn't get anything done regarding my Spring Shed resolutions and I'll see you all next week, but... after finishing the Winter Shed series I had decided that for the Spring Shed I wanted to do it a bit differently. The reason I joined the Winter Shed is because I wanted to get out of what I call "mommy mode", i.e. only doing stuff that is related to me being a mother. But then I started listing things like reading more novels, follow the news, get my website up etc, and that was good, but they were mainly tools in my effort to get out of "mommy mode". So for the Spring Shed, my only goal is to keep finding things to not falling into complete mommy mode again (because I do think the Winter Shed accountability helped me get out of mommy mode) and so my weekly report will be on what I did to make that happen (or what I didn't do and why I fell back into mommy mode), whether that be reading more, getting more paid work, blogging more frequently etc.

So without further ado, here's a recap of what I did during my Spring Shed Week 1 to 3 to stick to my goal to not falling back into complete mommy mode:

  1. I completed my translation assignment in the first half of week 1 and did some final proofreading the following week.
  2. I also completed my web intelligence assignment - I felt a bit awkward the way I reported during the last two days, because it was when I was in Spain and I didn't have internet access all the time - the client called me when I was watching the Holy Thursday Procession and I had to rush back to the hotel (where I had WiFi) to check something I had missed earlier that day, but I still got a very kind email from the client that they were very happy with me and wouldn't hesitate to work with me again, so that was nice.
  3. I also got a request to quote for another, pretty small, translation job from the first client, so new projects are already coming in, which is good! 
  4. The biggest getting out of mommy mode thing for the past three weeks was of course the trip with my sister, which was absolutely amazing!
  5. Mainly because of this trip (and of getting back into full mommy mode because of sick M. Gourmand) I didn't blog and read as much as I would have liked to (and I do want to write the next installment of my Cultural Differences series!), but that is what it is, and I'm sure I'll pick it up again.