Friday, December 19, 2008

Wrapped in Love

As we were getting ready to put on pajamas tonight, Brooklyn told me that she had an idea for Family Home Evening. When I asked her what it was, the only thing she would tell me was that it was a surprise. As she pulled out the wrapping paper and scissors, I was tempted to tell her that she couldn't cut any because we didn't want to waste it. But, in a fit of holiday indulgence, I let her start cutting and watched what happened.

For fifteen minutes, she cut the paper into long narrow strips. I didn't think much of it as I bustled in and out of her room, tidying up for bedtime. Then all of a sudden she gathered the golden paper together and put it in a bin to make a bed for baby Jesus. She proceeded to dress herself as Mary and Talia as Joseph by using a some dish towels and a couple of Daddy's ties.

Gathering the family together, she insisted that we read the nativity story from the scriptures. It was such a sweet moment as our little family gathered by lantern light (a preschool project) to remember the birth of our Savior. In reflecting upon the experience, I realized that wrapping paper has never been more wonderfully used than to create a bed for our Lord.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Our Trip to the ER

Disclaimer: This blog posting is probably not for the squeamish. If you dislike boo boo pics, I recommend that you close your eyes and scroll on by...

So I didn't go the doctor like I said I would. I really don't enjoy medical visits, so after taking the girls to see the médécin, I decided that I was feeling much better.

I think that caused some bad karma, because later in the day I was forced to go see a doctor. Most people do feel obligated to seek medical attention when they look down at their thumb and notice that it is gaping open with the insides hanging out.

In many ways, that's really how it happened. It was 6:30 and a quiet evening at home (okay, it's never quiet with a two and four-year old, but you get the idea.) Jason was off home teaching**, and I was fixing dinner. I went to reach for a glass on a very high shelf, but it was stuck and shattered. As the glass crashed, I remember thinking, "Oh great. I broke another one." It wasn't until I looked down and saw the gaping wound in my hand that I knew something was seriously wrong.

**Home teaching is a program in the LDS Church where members are given a couple families in the congregation to visit monthly in order to make sure that they are doing okay and their basic needs are met.

At this point I started to go into mild shock. After all, this was no little paper cut. I grabbed a clean kitchen towel and immediately started to apply pressure while shooing the kids out of the kitchen. I luckily had the sense of mind to immediately turn off the stove, oven, and blow out the tea light candles on the fireplace mantle. I called Jason, who was fortunately already catching a ride home with his home teaching companion.

Even so, it took them about another 20 minutes to arrive. In the meantime, I did my best not to panic and keep the house under control (hard to do when both of your hands are occupied--one being wounded and the other applying pressure.) Brooklyn was helpful and put on her coat and shoes so we would be ready to go. Talia was two and cried instead about how I wouldn't let her wear her froggy raincoat.

When Jason made it home, he looked up the address to a hospital that seemed close and had a number listed for "Urgences." His hometeaching companion kindly offered to drive us to the ER. Well, despite the GPS, we still had trouble finding it. When we did finally make it (around 8:00), we discovered that they only accept gynecological emergencies. Not applicable, although I do think somebody there would have been qualified to stitch me up.

Got lost again looking for the right hospital--finally hopped out of the car at 8:30 pm. Not surprisingly, the ER was packed. They admitted me to the back immediately in order to disinfect the wound and apply more appropriate bandages. (Let's just say that after two hours, it was still a "gusher" that shocked the nurse.) It became evident, however, that I wasn't going to actually see a doctor anytime soon, so I went back into the normal waiting area to send Jason home with the girls.

At home, Jason fed the girls, put them to bed, and called Kate, a friend from England, who kindly agreed to stay with the kids. That way Jason was able to walk back to the ER so I wouldn't have to wait alone.

At midnight, they finally admitted me again. Much to my chagrin, they wouldn't let Jason come with me, despite my protests that he is a much more fluent French speaker. It is a really vulnerable feeling to need serious medical attention and not have a strong command of the language. The doctor-patient relationship is already so imbalanced: I hated to sound like a child as well.

Fortunately, the first doctor who saw me (45 minutes later) was a young girl who had completed an ERASMUS exchange in England a year earlier. She was friendly, careful, and delighted to have a chance to speak English. Unfortunately, after anesthetizing the wound and having a look around, she told me that it was too deep and too close to the tendon for her to stitch up. She would need to talk to her boss and have a surgeon do it, for fear I might lose mobility in my thumb if it didn't heal correctly.

Well, the next woman came in like a whirlwind. You could tell that she was determined to get the ER back on schedule. It's funny: while waiting for five hours, I wanted them to hurry, but when it came to my turn for medical attention, I definitely wanted them to take their time.

I don't think she was the surgeon. She didn't introduce herself, and I had a hard time understanding her language, as she spoke as quickly as she worked. She immediately grabbed the gauze and started pulling and prodding my wound in every direction, opening it way up to have a better look inside. I remember having this kind of out of body experience as she set off new bleeders that squirted little jets all over. It seemed less like my own blood than a gory movie.

After her "examination" (let me tell you, NO anesthesia is strong enough for that), she declared, "I'll do it." I guess she must have decided that my case didn't merit a surgeon after all. In retrospect, I kind of wish I'd asked for a second opinion or something. I mean, your right thumb is kind of important. Humans have grown rather attached to their opposable thumbs and found them quite useful.

Here again, it was much harder to navigate the terrain in a second language, as the only word this doctor spoke to me in English was "pain." I did manage to ask if I was going to suffer any serious problems in the future, and she assured me that I wouldn't. I hope she's right... Anyway, I left it at that. After all, you really don't want to annoy the person who's going to stitch you back together.

On the positive side, when stitching me up, this doctor seemed both competent and confident. My guess is that my thumb will heal well and I will have only a scar as a memento for the day. After all, while I'm not thrilled that I cut myself badly enough to be close to the tendon, I'm extremely thankful that it was "close" and not more.

We finally left the emergency room at about 2:00 in the morning. Even though the local anesthetic was wearing off, it was oddly romantic as Jason and I walked home through the quiet streets hand-in-hand. While I don't recommend going to such drastic measures to get some alone time with your significant other, I hope everyone will takes some time this holiday for some hand-holding--just be gentle with the thumb. :)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Human Side of Teaching

While walking home from school yesterday, Brooklyn saw one of her teachers carrying a bag with two big baguettes. She looks at me and asks, "Why is she carrying those?" "Because she's going home to have lunch," I respond. Brooklyn stops, her eyes wide with astonishment--"Corinne has a house?" She then proceeded to ask me about all of her other teachers and whether or not they have houses as well.

It's always such a shocking realization to discover that teachers are real people too who need bodily nourishment and a place to reside. I remember as a child always thinking that my teacher slept in the janitorial closet.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Question #4: Home Remedies

Several weeks ago I composed the following post but decided not to post it (not quite sure why--perhaps it seemed like to much information.)

Yesterday Jason and Brooklyn came home from the park to a house filled with the scent of bleach. "Do you smell that?" I said proudly. "That's the smell of germs dying."

We are waging merciless war against all viruses, harmful bacteria, and any other little creepy thingies that dare to cross our threshold. We've had enough! In the past two and a half weeks, our family has battled four nasty colds, four bouts of the stomach flu, and a urinary tract infection. While we've grown in our cultural awareness through trips to the doctor, laboratory, and pharmacy, enough is enough! The victory will be ours.

Well, apparently the victory was not ours. Since that time our family has been through a whole new series of really lousy, rotten colds that aren't getting better. Talia's nose constantly drips with green 11s, Jason's dry hacking cough keeps him awake at night, and the back of my throat looks like something from a horror movie.

I surrender. Tomorrow I'm lugging the whole lot of us back to the doctor to see what can be done. Even so, I have questions:

How do you keep your family healthy when living in very tight quarters? We just can't seem to stop passing around all the germs. Any suggestions would be great, as I really don't want to be sick all the way until spring.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Picture Day

This past Monday afternoon was supposed to be school picture day. While Brooklyn doesn't usually attend school in the afternoon, Jason and I were both eager to send her so that she could have a memento of her education in France.

Unfortunately, Brooklyn was not as keen on the idea. You see, a while back we explained that if she went to school in the mornings without complaining, she wouldn't have to attend in the afternoon. (While Brooklyn adores morning class, the afternoons are terrifying because they involve a nap without a binky.)

Well, after much discussion, reasoning, logic, and even bribery, Brooklyn won the battle. We'd promised and we had to keep our word. And so, we went for plan two: we dolled her up and took some pictures in order to photoshop her in after the fact. I thought they turned out kind of cute, so I'm sharing:

By the way, Brooklyn came home from school on Tuesday and said that she'd had her picture taken after all. Apparently the photographer couldn't make it on Monday. I guess all's well that ends well--I just wish I'd washed the jam off of her face.

Tree Trimmin' Time

I love Christmas. I shamelessly listen to holiday carols in August. While I refuse to break out the visuals before Thanksgiving, I love decorating the house and above all, trimming the tree.

This year I've wondered how we could bring the holiday spirit into our home since we don't have our usual stash of garland and lights. While staring up at our nine foot ceilings several weeks ago, I got an idea. I wanted a tree. A big tree. After all, when else in my life am I going to have such tall ceilings and an absence of furniture?

Fortunately my darling hubby was in favor of the idea. Today we went out and treated each other to an early Christmas present--a gigantic Christmas tree!

Logistically, just getting the tree home was quite the ordeal. We had to find a babysitter to watch the girls so that we could walk the kilometer to the shopping center and then lug the tree 1 1/2 kilometers back. (Yes, the return trip really was longer since we had to walk the long way around. Jason didn't want to tote the tree through the center of the mall--I can't imagine why.)

As you can see from the pictures, it was exhausting work. Yet seeing the top of the tree scrape our ceiling was worth it. Despite our limited budget, the tree makes me smile and feel wealthier than King Midas--I'm overflowing with the Christmas spirit. Our patriotic "red, white, and blue" theme (an IKEA special) reminds me of home, yet no one can accuse us of being too Ameri-centric. After, all France's national colors are the same!

Now we just have to pray that our tree stays alive. Nobody here has even heard of a Christmas tree stand that lets you water the tree. Instead, you simply wedge the trunk in half of a log and hope for the best. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Creative Cooking

I came home late from class tonight and discovered that Jason had gotten creative in the kitchen. The menu:

- Pancake patties made from winter squash, eggs, and oatmeal
Served hot on a baguette with lettuce and ketchup.

Jason and I disagreed about the appropriate conclusion for this blog entry. Take your pick.

My version:
Looks pretty questionable, but tastes pretty good. Watch out all you culinary connoisseurs, here comes Jason!

His version:
Jason better not quit his day job. Oh wait, he doesn't have one!