He Blogs, He Knits!

Mauve With Buttons

I thought I had seen all fashionable sides of Michael.  Evidently our friendship carried on in warm weather.  It’s getting chilly here in Southwest France, which means for some of us the fleece and heavy jackets come out.  For others, it is fantastic knitted sweaters (or jumpers for the Commonwealth).  Michael and Munson live in the villa across the way.  Each day I’ll see him for an espresso or a hello or a “have you seen Minty?”  Each day lately, he has a different, bold sweater on.  So inspiring, I grabbed my camera and caught two to tell my friends.  What makes these jumpers even more special than their nouveau-retro-faux-faux-chic is that he knitted them himself!  One of my favorites, Wowzers (named by me and featured below), is simply spectacular.  Each sweater comes with it’s own story.  I look forward meeting each sweater as we launch into winter and hope that Michael will pick up the ol’ needles again.  It’s time to knit one pearl two in France.

Wowzers Side 1

Wowzers Side 2

Wowzers Side 3

In other news, we should be meeting little Quattro soon.  During the summer, Lucy constructed a little Quattro out of what she could find in the recycling box.  Lucy’s Quattro has been a part of the household for some time now.  Brent’s hoping for a brown eyed child to mix it up a bit.  Lucy used Babybel red for eyes.  I’m hoping for two and leave it at that.

Lucy's Quattro Project

Our First Harvest!

strong man

Well that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  We have a pile of vines that are going away and buried in the leaves and roots are large pieces of dry wood.  Now that Mr. Green is alive! We need food for him.  Brent had a plan to harvest the posts of which we did three rows today.  I snipped the wire that attached to the post and Brent wriggled and pulled the post out of the ground.  It’s been wet and rainy for the past week or so which softened the soil up.  There are the occasional stubborn ones that will meet the chainsaw shortly.

It was a gorgeous, crisp day and I kept singing an NRG -radio (prounounced “Energy”)  overplay song by Rhianna.  Wantchoo to Make. Me. Feel.  Like I’m the only girl in the world. Boom chuck. Boom chuck.  You go Riri.

wire snip

my little part


Worker Wear

Brent's Best Work Jammies
While shedding our Seattle life in preparation for our move to France, we got rid of a lot of shtuff. I went through a few pregnancies and sizes, I optimistically brought my skinny jeans and those things that went with them. Brent gave away a pile of rugby jumpers that were well worn or too big. Both of us cut our clothes down hugely. (okay, Brent more than me) We were headed for a small European house with a small car and small rooms and small everything. We had no intention of farming. And here we are. Doors are getting installed. Business is getting set up. Kids are getting raised. Laundry is backing up. The work around here is dirty. Brent has a supply of work pants, but even those have a limit to how many days they can be worn. After workpants comes the old yuppie-day designer jeans, which don’t handle much beyond meetings, air hockey and Friday beers. So what’s after that? Brent loaded in bricks in his steel-toe boots and jammies. Oh those rugby jumpers would have come in handy right about now and the seemingly endless supply of old jeans.

Armani Farmer

A Place For The Tire Swing


The JCB came today and the kids had to stay inside to avoid any potential dangers. It turned out to be a gorgeous, warm day of which we got to catch the last bit of. Lucy found the old Skoda tire swing that Brent hung in the barn at the old place. She tried to drag Minty in it like a sled, but quickly found that to be like an event in a Strong Man contest. We searched around for the perfect tree to toss the rope over. There’s a great one that faces the picnic spot. We all tried a few methods to get the rope around the branch, but with no luck. It was too tall. Lucy found a smaller tree to use while we seek another way to hang the swing. She did her creative rope move around a piece of wood and made a standing-hanging-sitting swing that did the trick. Otto was pissed that she threw the rope over the branch, but quickly ran off to continue banging wood on wood to find the many different sounds they made.




I Feel Like This Dog

tired smeggs

It was a crazy, but exciting day today. The kids were home from school. The chimney man cometh. The door and window men were here. Chimney is clean and a new door hangs. But wait … in the midst of it all, Brent managed to crank out three jars and one terrine of head cheese. I feel great, but the minute I sit down, I remember that not only am I pregnant, b-day is just days away. I saw Smeggs grab a few zzz’s by the front door and wanted to join her.

head cheese

F’in Music

In my (almost) two years here in France, I’ve noticed a lot of music that is played at the various stores. What stands out to me is the frequent play of any song sung in English that have “fuck you” in the chorus. Lily Allen’s Fuck You and Cee Lo Green’s Fuck You song have been seriously overplayed. I can only imagine the radio DJs getting a huge giggle out of picking these songs. Also, i see a great opportunity to start a little side career when I’m not farming by creating pop songs with English swear words for the French pop market.

A Wee Bath

quattro's bath

Lucy, Otto and Clementine call this “Quattro’s Bath.” Lucy will tell you that really it’s a “butt washer.” For now, it’s another pink thing in our very pink bathroom. I’ve Ikea-ed a lot of the bathroom to diffuse the intensity so It’s looking much better now. When Mr. Drill Man helps me hang the final hardware towel rack things, I’ll do a little before after post.

… Quattro is the codename for the fourth Curtis.

Drop Your Pants

… see, more pregnancy.  maybe I DO want to write a pregnancy blog.  But I forgot this bit with the last post …

I totally left out the most different part of the prenatal care in France. I guess I got so used to it. While the prenatal care is very similar in both countries, time spent with that doctor is very different.

In America (Seattle specifically), I speak to one sometimes two well-trained, friendly nurses. One escorts me to the little room by first stopping to take my weight, then taking my pulse and blood pressure. She asks me if I have any issues or pain, writes down notes and then hands me a sterile cup and points me to the bathroom. Upon return to my room, a light has been turned on to tell anyone walking by that there is a patient waiting in the room who could be partially naked. A curtain is drawn to guard the door and a little night gown thing and blanket are waiting for you to put on and cover up while you wait and wait and wait for the doctor. The doctor comes along at last, you have a very brief conversation with her/him. Belly measurement is taken. Baby heartbeat is heard. Any questions? She leaves. Then it’s back with the nurse for any follow up. The nurses were great. The doctor was great. The time spent with each is mainly with the nurses.

In France (Southwest specifically), I saw a doctor. The first nurse I met was at the hospital when I went to meet with the anesthesiologist. Even then, she was helping me with the administrative side of the hospital. Other than that, I didn’t meet with a nurse during my regular prenatal appointments. When I meet with my doctor, he sits at his desk and we talk about the pregnancy. He runs through a typical set of questions. He asks if I have any questions or concerns. He writes out a note to go get my blood taken and then we hop over to the little table. He tells me to take my pants off and gets a few things ready for examination. I wait for him to leave the room and look around for my nighty and blanky which aren’t there. He speaks a bit slower this time and repeats his request and waits. Aaaaaah! I get it. You mean like, get undressed now … as in here … as in here and now without the puritan comforts of home. And then laugh at myself and hop on the table. Belly is measured. Blood pressure taken. Baby heartbeat is heard. Then a quick pelvic exam. Yep. Everytime. France has a very low preterm birthrate. They are quick to put you on bed rest if the cervix is seemly overzealous for labor. Then weight is taken, which is more stressful than the pelvic exam. Pants return to their rightful bottom and we finish up at the desk looking at the next time we meet what will occur. The whole experience is comfortable, quick, straightforward and conscientious.

I really like spending the entire nine months talking with the doctor. I appreciate the nurses in America, but there was a high rotation with them. I appreciate the doctor in America, but she hardly saw me and I felt she was in a hurry. This was the biggest difference I noticed in prenatal care between countries. Though I believe for all pregnancies that everyone was interested in my healthy pregnancy. As a patient, I felt working with one person allowed for less things to go unnoticed. And I’ve never really understood the whole song and dance with the curtain and the blanky in America, so this drop-your-pants style of doctor visit is more my type of groove.

Holy Crap! We’re having a baby!

otto hugs

I never planned or had the desire to write up my pregnancy in France explaining how things are different or not different here. And this being my fourth pregnancy, I’ll surely leave out the interesting bits as they are not so interesting the fourth time around. There are women who love being pregnant; I am not one of them. I do love my children and I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to make my own people. So when it gets to the last couple of gestate-able weeks (as it now has emerged), I’d like to get on with it and start the three months of zombiedom while the cross-eyed little eating sleeping machine gets to know his or her body outside the womb. But since sitting is what I should try to find time to do, here are a few interesting things I’ve learned while being pregnant in France.

The Fat Test: When you think you might be pregnant and go looking for a stick to pee on, you’ll quickly find “le test de grossesse.” Yet in your condition, your weak grasp on French vocabulary and despite the other clues (ovulation tests, baby bottles) you leave the store empty handed thinking how weird it is that French woman have a test to see if you’re fat.

Toxo: Every month blood is taken and tested for toxoplasmosis. They do this once in America right at the beginning of prenatal care. Here in France, they are hardcore. Every time I visit the OB/GYN, he sends me to get a blood draw. In America, instead of a blood draw, I’d pee in a cup. America was much more focused on gestational diabetes. France does glucose tests occasionally with two fasting-drink-yucky-sugar-wait tests.

Weight Gain: meh. Same recommendation really (around 25 pounds or so). In the first trimester I gained weight rapidly so the doctor told me to stop eating sugar. Which worked like a charm. If my doctors had told me that with my previous three pregnancies, I may have gained less weight. As it went along in America, my weight gain was never mentioned because my blood sugar tests were normal to low. With this baby, my weight gain has been dramatically lower than with the other three pregnancies. The baby, however, is growing about the same, which gives me this basketball under the shirt look I’ve not seen on myself before.

What Not To Eat: Over the last eight years, the diet restrictions for pregnant ladies has grown. The list I received in America for what fish not to eat was so long and confusing that most pregnant ladies don’t eat any fish. And all French food is totally out. With its soft cheeses and fancy deli meat. So what do the French doctors tell the French pregnant ladies? No salad. No cigarettes. No wine (alcohol). So this baby got soft cheeses, dried deli meat (without nitrates) and a lot of foie gras. As an interesting side note, since I didn’t eat much sugar (this includes rice and pasta as they truly are sugars) I skipped a common pregnancy issue of bleeding gums.

Everything else during my pregnancy has been great and very similar to the American prenatal regime. I’ve met with the anesthesiologist and I’m already checked into the hospital. I feel very well looked after. I’ll do a pregnancy part two to see how the end game compares to America. France’s healthcare system is fantastic, so it’ll be interesting to contrast any differences.

brent, alfalfa and me

… I’m totally up for questions!  If there’s anything you’re curious about.

Lucy’s Hair Did


Lucy brought on a sudden haircut when she took it upon herself to cut the bubblegum out of her hair all by herself. Two hair ladies spoke firm french words with her using that finger they do, but managed to blend it all in with some “fringe” and “le plunge” action.