American ??? day 35

8,210 steps 

Zari planned dinner tonight: Avocado-Mango Salad With Blue Cheese, Bacon And Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. We added grilled chicken breasts to make it a meal. 

The kids were moaning in delight, rhapsodizing on how amazing it was. 

</div><br />Inga requested "hair like Ada Hegerberg," a Norwegian soccer player. <p></p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="293" src="" width="391" /></a></div><br />And photos from a few days ago, when we had our sourdough fail. The silicone molds worked great!<p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="300" src="" width="400" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" src="" width="320" /></a></div><br /><p><br /></p>

American ??? day 34

My fitness tracker battery is dead... 

I was busy last night applying for CPD from the ACM (continuing professional development from the Australian College of Midwifery). And then bam! I had another horrible bout of insomnia last night. It's not so bad the first few hours. Then I start getting so bored and so tired but my mind won't turn off and I just want it all to STOP. 

Today's sourdough was an absolute runny mess. I didn't fold it as much as I should have last night--I forgot about the dough for a few hours. You can see the "boule" soon after folding and shaping. It's not a boule anymore; it's a blob. (Edit: I can't transfer the files off my phone, so you can't see it until tomorrow's post.) We salvaged the dough by putting it into silicone molds of various shapes. The buns were dense but still delicious and crunchy. 

At dinner we discussed The 10 Commitments ( I like how these value are so simple and obvious, but putting them together forms a very powerful message. As does doughnut economics; I look at it and think, "Well, duh!" and "Of course!"

American ??? day 32

9,746 steps 

3 trips to the mulch place for a total of 9 cubic yards. We've spread half of it so far. I'm tired! 

Inga had a soccer game in town. She requested Ada Hegerberg's hairstlye: a sideways French braid across the front, swept into a pony tail in the back. (Her team won 6-0, with Inga scoring 2 goals.) 

Ivy requested a "crown braid with roses." She's copying a hairstyle of 4-year-old Zari at my older sister's wedding. 

Our new neighbors (family with 5 kids, replacing the family with 7 kids) came over to play capture the flag. They discovered a well-camouflaged toad sitting on the fairy house's ladder. 

</div><br />I woke up in the middle of the night with an out-of-the blue panic attack. (Long back story...but I started having panic attacks back in 2018 when Eric and I were apart for an entire semester. Apart, as in I had the 4 kids in France and he was teaching in the States. I haven't had any panic attacks for 2 years until last night.) It wasn't very intense as panic attacks go, but I didn't sleep much after. <p></p><p>If you've ever dealt with panic attacks, you'll know what I'm talking about. I've learned it's useless trying to figure out why and just to accept them. But still...why? I'm going through these past few weeks and can't point to anything exceptionally stressful. </p><p>Dio has been really withdrawn lately. I think he's suffering the worst from the social isolation but doesn't have the self-awareness to understand why he's feeling that way. Instead of joining the other kids when they're playing, he often stays in his room, staring at his computer. </p><p>I insist that he can only play games once he's done with his school work and reading, so in *theory* he's working on school...but mostly he's staring at the screen despondently as it's really hard to figure out what to do for school. Even I have difficulty navigating all of his classes and assignments and passwords. And sometimes he just watches inane videos even though he's not supposed to. We've had several talks about it this past week.</p>

American ??? day 31

10,492 steps 

One month back in the States. France's covid-19 infection numbers are exploding again, back to the highs we saw in March and April. However, the deaths haven't risen as steeply as they did during the first wave. I wonder what the numbers will look like in a few weeks. The US rates are still much higher per capita, to put things into perspective. 

Today I drove around a big, battered dump truck. The windows and locks are manual. Very old school. I feel like I'm an actor playing at being a country girl. My first real car was a little Ford Ranger pickup, so I'm familiar with driving trucks. But this truck is definitely bigger and badder. 

Why the truck? We're spreading mulch. It's great fun for the kids, too. They found several grubs inside the mulch. Inga: "They look like aliens with their white bodies and red eyes! 

</div><br /><p>We took a trip to the library yesterday and came home with around 30 books. Zari might last a week if she doesn't read too fast. Inga will be close behind her.</p>

American ??? day 29

7,380 steps

Zari and Dio had to miss their soccer games because they still have stuffy noses and/or sore throats. 

I'm working on Ivy's 3rd fabric creation, "fire," and I think I might have gone a bit overboard. We could have done a simple fire--maybe a few different colors for the flames--I had this idea of depicting the goddess Pele. It's turning out just how I envisioned it but it's way more complex than the other two I've made. Inga assures me it's a masterpiece. 

One of my sisters recommended the book Let's pretend this never happened. I started reading it and passed it along to Zari. I keep hearing her laughing or saying "eeewwwww" and "uhhhh....what????!!! Is this real?" 

A picture of Ivy's scavenger hunt finds from yesterday, and another picture of me and Zari working from a few days ago.

American ??? day 28

14,621 steps 

After 4 weeks of putting it off, I finally went running. Blame it on covid inertia? I miss our schedule in France, where I drop the kids off at school at 8:30 and go on a run right after. 

Eric did all of his classes via Zoom as a precaution. We had to tiptoe around the house during class hours. 

Ivy designed a scavenger hunt this morning. I couldn't convince Dio to do it as he's still feeling unwell, and Zari was busy with school work. Inga got mad at Ivy because Ivy finished first. Inga definitely has a "flash flood" temper. Quick to come, quick to dissipate. 

A video of soccer practice in the evening, followed by a few minutes at the playground.

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American ??? day 26

 9,952 steps 

Eric and Inga are on the mend, although Dio is still feeling icky. I'm trying to remember what we did most of the day...oh yes, house cleaning in the morning, followed by watching a documentary about raising and training seeing eye dogs called "Pick of the Litter." 

In the afternoon? Piano practicing, reading, cleaning, talking to family on Zoom. Generally a laid-back day. Eric made chicken soup upon Dio's request. After dinner we went outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. I weeded while everyone else played soccer in the front yard. (Story of my life, but I really like weeding.) 

I convinced Zari to come on a walk with me at dusk. I was talking to Zari about a book I was currently reading, telling her she'd probably like it. As I was describing it, she said, "hmmm, I read a book kind of like that recently." Turns out she HAD read it last month. I told her, "There's a saying that great minds think alike!" She enjoys fantasy and science fiction, as long as there's not too much romance. Cue the gagging and shuddering. 

Here are pictures of the latest stitchings and art pieces that we hung up. Ivy and Inga made these 3 or 4 years ago, and we finally did something with them. And I finished "air" for Ivy's room, the 2nd in a series of the 4 elements. Inga drew the hummingbird and flowers for me.

American ??? day 27

16,257 steps 

We had a fire pit that was close to one of our neighbor's house, and apparently the fires would aggravate their asthma. No problem--we'll just move it! So this morning we relocated it about 150 feet away. I like the new spot much better, plus we finally found a place for an unused old bench that was on the edge of our property. 

</div><div><br /></div><div>Despite some light rain, we had a celebratory fire and ate Smores with our new neighbors. (In case you're wondering, I set up 2 Smore stations, one for each family. Separate food, roasting sticks, etc.) </div><div><br /></div><div>Inga and Ivy practiced whittling. Inga wanted to make a bow and arrow and kept holding up her crooked stick, asking, "Does this look like an arrow now?" Sorry, no! She eventually turned it into something else.  </div><div><br /></div><div>I found an old frame in a box in our attic that was the right size for a stitching Dio made a few years ago.</div><div><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1554" data-original-width="2048" height="380" src="" width="500" /></a></div><br /><div><br /></div>

American ??? day 25

Sunny and dry today, with wind chasing away the bugs. I love being able to keep my windows open day and night. 

Today was a "get things done" day for me. I purchased new bolts, nuts, and washers for our old play set that we finally put back together. Ivy helped ratchet the bolts tight. The tower was still a bit wobbly even after tightening, so I reinforced two of the sides with diagonal cross-braces. We also put new washers on the garden hoses and set up the sprinkler in the back yard where we had reseeded. 

With Zari's help, I climbed up a ladder and trimmed some of the lower branches on the maple tree in the back yard. Then I got out our extension ladder and cleaned out the dryer vent. When I lifted up the ladder, I got an unexpected dirt shower. I'm still scratching dirt out of my scalp. 

And I made 4 big sourdough loaves that turned out perfectly! I tweaked my recipe (yet again) and I think I've hit the perfect one. 

I was inspired by this way of doing sourdough but 800 g water per 1000g flour turned into a soupy disaster. Even with all of the proper techniques, I couldn't get the dough to hold together. It was more liquid that solid. 

I brought the water down to 725g and...success! I like the long overnight rise with relatively little starter, then the daytime "nap" in the fridge and baking right around dinnertime. 

My sourdough (I always double this recipe and it makes enough for a week):
50 g starter (pulled straight from the fridge, no need to wake it up)
1 Tbsp salt (around 22 g)
725 g water
100 g whole wheat flour
900 g all-purpose flour

Start in the evening. The first 2 hours fold every 15-20 mins, then cover and let rise overnight. Shape into boules the next morning as per the directions (2 large or 3 small). Cover and let rest in the fridge until late afternoon.

Take the boules out of the fridge at the same time that you turn the oven on to pre-heat. Bake 440 F (convection) for 40-45 min. I don't have a Dutch oven so I bake 2 loaves at once on parchment paper, on top of a pizza stone. I have an old metal pan on the bottom rack, into which I throw a cup of water when I put the loaves in.

I have one banneton basket and use random mixing bowls for my other loaves. I line the mixing bowls with a cloth napkin and use rice flour, not wheat flour, to keep the boule from sticking to the cloth. (I make my own rice flour in a coffee grinder).

(There are lots of sourdough techniques that I haven't elaborated here. The Perfect Loaf is a great place to start for folding and boule shaping techniques.)

Eric sunbathed while I was working. Well deserved and probably the best medicine for an illness that's going around the family. Whatever it is, Vitamin D will probably help. We can't get tested for covid-19 this weekend--all local testing places are closed--so patience, rest, and sunlight are our protocols. Inga, Dio, and Eric all have something involving a stuffy/runny nose; sore throat; fever (Dio and maybe Eric), coughing (Eric), and general malaise and body aches. I've felt "off" the past few days but no specific symptoms. 

Speaking of Vitamin D; I just read about a new double-blind RCT out of Spain with covid-19 patients. Even with the relatively small numbers, the study showed significant results with the group treated with Vitamin D, versus the control group. I'll be following larger RCTs with interest. 

I found several things for Zari and me at a thrift store, plus more old picture frames to repurpose. I altered a pair of pants this evening and need to shorten a pair of shorts for Zari tomorrow. I just finished framing two stitching projects that Inga and Ivy made several years ago. Pictures tomorrow as it's getting late and I want to lie in bed and do NOTHING for a little while.

American ??? day 24

 Ivy's test came back negative. I'm not surprised as she had a fever for only half a day with no other symptoms. But...Eric has a bad sore throat and has started coughing. Ugh. Again, normally something like this wouldn't even ping my radar. 

It's been a busy few days getting our online courses ready to launch at Breech Without Borders. I'm hoping to spend most of tomorrow away from the computer. I have all sorts of home improvement things that need attention. 

This video isn't anything remarkable...just a few things we did this afternoon (soccer training in our yard, going on a family walk/bike ride).

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