So we jumped off the indecision fence Friday and got the whole family vaccinated against this H1N1. Great fun abounds when you are trying to tell three young children that "really, it won't hurt" at the same time you are trying not to twist your intestines into some sort of balloon animal.
I hate shots. Let me rephrase that: I hate vaccines. Shots, if they consist of some sort of fruity alcohol are just fine. It's the kind that put dead or live diseases into my body that I don't like. First off, they hurt. I don't care how much I've lied to my kids, those shots hurt. And then your arm hurts for DAYS after.
Mini-Husband was scared to take off his band-aid last night because he was convinced the pain was being kept at bay by that little strip of plastic and cotton. He was sure that if we took that sucker off, the shot spot would explode and shower us all with H1N1.
So why did we vaccinate everyone in the end? I don't know. It just seems like the right decision to have made. Compounded by the fact that now my mother has had the H1N1 and it's lovely companion, pneumonia, I'm thinking we did the right thing.
People are starting to get sick over here. There are more and more people getting ill and even though a lot of them are trying to claim it's just the seasonal flu they have, watching a healthy 13 year old girl in the village nearly keel over from coughing isn't convincing me.
It was interesting to interact with the other people at the vaccination centre on Friday night ,other families, small children, older folks, and the few adults between 25-40. We all shared that same look about us: apprehension and concern, glad to see others making the same decision we had but still nervous about the outcome.
At this point, we are the only people in the village, to my knowledge, to have had the vaccine. Perhaps we are being too cautious and all this hype will have been for nothing. Only time will tell. Overall, I believe we've done the right thing but the stress of making this choice has been "worrying" at best.
Aren't the choices of modern medicine just so wonderful?
Perhaps the next time an epidemic shows up, I'll just ask for a shot of that tried and tested WWI medicine that is now served on draft at the Trap Bar, Grand Targhee: Jagermeister. I'm sure the taste is better than H1N1 and a sore head is something I'm a little more familiar with...
*Fours hours there in the car with The Princess and Rosebud. I never knew The Princess could sing so sweetly.
*Passing the giant wind turbines next to the A-75 between Orleans and Paris reminded me of that fact that sometimes in my life I need to stop being like Don Quixote. Sometimes things are just windmills.
*Seeing the joy on The Princess' face when we arrived at her best friend's new house near Paris. I only hope she and Cordelia have each other in their lives just as I've had my friend, The A. These people who mean so much to us at 5 years old can still mean so much to us 30 plus years on.
*Who would have imagined that I would be confidently moving through the Paris Metro, fourth child strapped into her stroller, not worried about getting lost?
*I forgot how much I love the Rue de Rivoli. All the fancy shops right next to the touristy ones. The humanity you see and pass through is mind boggling.
*Why do English speaking tourists in Paris feel the need to look at the books in the English bookstore? And how smug am I to admit the pleasure I get when I use my French credit card to buy things there. "Yes. I live in France..."
*Nothing like leaving my hotel in one of the western suburbs early in the morning only to catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, hazy through the sunrise. Seeing it from a distance and from unexpected angles makes it even more amazing and beautiful.
*A market in the banlieue. Old men and women. People of all colours and races. Each pulling behind them their bag on wheels, filled with fresh fish, leeks, potatoes, and bread. Diversity as it should be.
*The sense of panic I had when I realized that I was driving straight towards the Arc de Triomphe, not knowing if my turning was before or after that dreaded etoile. The relief I had when I found my turning seconds later. Not a moment too soon.
*Four hours home with my girls through wind and rain with the occasional tear from The Princess who was sad to have left her best friend behind.
*Home. To my Hubster. To my beautiful boys. To my poop infested mud patch of a garden that lets me gaze for miles over the hills and mountains.
*Paris and this country amaze me. I count my blessings that all of this is part of my life. God, how lucky am I?
Last night, we swapped out The Princess for Hippy-Love Française's little guy, Annicet. He's a lovely little kid who doesn't seem to mind Mini-Husband dictating what they will play with so that makes everybody really, really happy.
My only issues with friends sleeping over is that this inherently means they (in which ever form, boy or girl) will be up at the crack of dawn ready to build a life size model of the Eiffel Tower out of teddy bears and Playmobile.
Someone please explain to me why on school days, I have to literally pull those grumpy bumkids out of bed, threaten them to within an inch of their lives to get dressed, and hope that they eat something before I wrangle them out the door, all the time yelling, "We're gonna be late for school!" Then on weekends and Wednesdays, they are up before the sun, smiling joyfully, singing and chatting away while I beg with every fiber of my body for just 5 more minutes.
The other problem with this early waking is that I get Bubba-Love next to me, begging to play NickJr. You see, dear readers, my blog is nothing compared to the latest Dora and Diego games. He could give a monkeys about what we think about vaccines, language issues, and dog poop. He needs to play Lazy Town NOW.
So with that in mind, I'm off to drink the rest of the coffee that Hubster made before he left for work. Bubba-Love can click happily away on the computer while Annicet and Mini-Husband create a beltway for their Matchbox cars around the kids' bedroom. I'll sip my coffee slowly as I sit next to Rosebud, who's taken to waking A LOT during the nights again. (Is there a Facebook group, "Teething Sucks?")
I'll hold my cup of nectar close, yawn, stare out our front windows and think how beautiful it is to watch the morning shadows as the sun rises behind the village church. Dare I admit that there is something to lazy early Wednesday mornings? The day is ahead of us. Let's catch it if we can!
The French government started it's vaccination campaign against H1N1 last week. Since Rosebud is considered "at risk," we recieved our papers for the vaccine fairly early. Granted, Rosebud can't have the shot (too young) but the government is recommending that everyone who shares a household with a young baby should be vaccinated as soon as possible.
It's a funny thing, this whole H1N1 vaccine. I'm not sure either Hubster or I would be worried about getting it if it weren't for the children. But since there is a history of respiratory issues in his family and in our boys, we are trying to muddle through and decide what's the best thing to do for the kids and for us. Truth is, one minute, we're all for it, the next, we worry. Is it really the best thing to do?
So in true Dig waffling nature, I've been asking various and sundry neighbours and friends in the village what their take is on the whole situation. To my profound surprise, all of them, without exception, are against the vaccine.
"It won't do anything."
"The flu virus will mutate and the vaccine will be useless."
"The stuff in the vaccine could cause more harm than good."
"I don't see the point of vaccinations at all."
One friend is even convinced that it's all a conspiracy and that the Minister of Health, Roselyne Bachelot, was given a fake shot when posing for press pictures last week. And it turns out that of the 15 members of the volunteer fire service (who were all offered the vaccine earlier than the general population,) only 3 agreed to be vaccinated.
I can understand the hesitation about vaccinations. It's scary stuff. (Perhaps not as scary as H1N1 but only time will tell.) But what really boggles my mind is that the French are the most pill happy people in Europe. I kid you not, it's not uncommon to leave a doctor's appointment with a prescription that rivals a school shopping list. They love their medicine. So why are they so afraid of this one? A news piece about the opposition to the vaccine made it seem as though the general population thinks that Sarkozy and his group are out to get them and get them they will! With the H1N1 vaccine!
"AAAAHHAAA! We've tricked you! There is NO H1N1! We've injected you with rotten pickle juice and from now on you will all like peanut butter and wear track suits!"
All I ask is, why? Good lord, good French people. Why?
So far, we haven't seen very many cases of H1N1, if any, in my neck of the woods. That's not to say it isn't in France, but so far, where we are, things are calm. Will that change? Will this flu hit us as hard as it seems to have hit the US and the UK? Will the French conspiracy attitude change when all around them are coughing and sick?
Yes, I'm worried about this vaccine. It's new. It's untested. I'm also freaked out to think about Bubba-Love or Mini-Husband on life support when we had a chance to help them before hand. But what I am fairly sure of is that this is not a conspiracy by Sarkozy to turn the French into mindless mortally ill drones.
Talk to me. Tell me what you think about the vaccine. And while we're at it, mindless French drones.
Last Friday, at the end of Anouk and Abaka's great escape, our friend was trying to get those two nutty Siberians into her car, when Anouk started a fight with Abaka. Here, she had had all day to fight with Abaka out in the wilds and woods, BUT NOOOOO. She had to do it in Marie-Christine's car.
The small boo-boo over Abaka's eye seemed ok till yesterday when she scratched it with her paw and all kinds of fun smelling pus and blood poured out. So after school, me and tribe took the poor little thing on over to the vet. (Yes, 4 kids, one bleeding dog, all in the same car. How many ways can you spell F-U-N?) Luckily, the injury is nothing serious and after an antibiotic and some deep cleaning by the vet, Abaka's going to be fine.
As we were settling the bill, I started talking to the vet about how crazy Anouk gets about Abaka, how it's like she's an overzealous Catholic school principle, attacking Abaka for the slightest reproach. Not to mention straight out attacking her if Anouk thinks she's going way out of line. I get it now why people call mean women, "bitches."
The vet told me a story about a really aggressive stallion he treated not to long ago. He said they had tried all the mainstream medications but nothing did the trick. As a last resort, they tried a homeopathic remedy and LOW AND BEHOLD! The horse calmed.
I bought a small bottle of the stuff to try out on Anouk for the next two weeks. But if how she's acting today is any hope, we might be on to something.
It's November. This drab time of year when all I want it to do is snow. The happy fall colours are starting to disappear, it's wet, it's cold, it's blah.
My brain seems to have decided to start a winter hibernation a wee bit earlier than planned. I can't think straight, I can't talk without fumbling into Franglais, I can't motivate myself to scrub out that dish I cooked dinner in two nights ago.
I want to sit and read but I have nothing to read. I want to go run but my back hurts and I hate having to go past the guys working on a building project down the street. Having to run with a "uniboob" is one thing, having people look at it bounce on by is another.
I want to clean out all the bedrooms and transform them into something you might see in the Ikea catalog. But the problem is, what do I do with all of our shit that's in there already? Minimalist is not our thing. Clutter, stacking, throwing on floor...that's our thing. And we are really, really good at that.
I need inspiration to write. My muse seems to have gone on vacation and left me here to wonder and pine for it's return. Just how does one make my mundane sound exciting, my mundane, important and consequential? Does it really matter what I say? I'm someone who's life has been blessed, someone who's life has flowed easily from one place to another. What do I know about anything? What have I to share?
There's snow on the mountains and my idle brain is full of winter. The smell of wet wool, burning wood, snowmobile engines, roast goose, steaming huskies curled into themselves. I crave clean snow, blinding me in the sun.
I suppose I should have known that my parents' visit would be slightly out of the ordinary when on the first or second day of their visit, BaPa came back from his daily walk only to tell me that he had been hit by a car.
It seems that a little white van had taken a corner just a wee bit too sharp and whacked BaPa on the arm with it's wing mirror as it drove past. Since neither the van nor my father were moving very fast at this particular moment, he was hardly any worse for the wear. He was happy to tell me that the driver did stop to check on him and, luckily for BaPa, the woman behind the wheel actually spoke some English, which of course meant that BaPa could tell said woman what he thought about her driving.
I'm still waiting to find out which neighbour caught the wrath of this man wearing a "Marquette Dad" sweatshirt, but so far no one has admitted being anywhere near the scene of the accident. I'm thinking that's a good thing.
BaPa was also ever so lucky to see that road rage manifest itself in 3 out of 4 of our little people. He got to witness Mini-Husband getting angry over his little brother stealing his toys, watch Bubba-Love having major conniption fits over DVDs and the lack of juice in the house, and the most magical tantrums of all, those from The Princess. I think my father has finally met a little girl whose stubborn streak can almost, almost, beat out her cute factor on any given day. I used to think Dad didn't like dealing with my boys and now I'm not so sure he really likes dealing with my daughter. Let's just hope by the time the littlest one starts her tantrum career, the others will have grown out of theirs.
And if screaming fits weren't enough for a fun filled two week vacation, there was also a massive dose of Catholic Guilt BaPa got to enjoy. Here we were on Friday morning at 7:30am: Kitty, BaPa, Rosebud and me ready to head off for a day at Oradour-Sur-Glane, one of the most tragic places in France, when by accident, BaPa let the dogs out. (CUE MUSIC..."Who let the dogs out? WOOF, WOOF, WOOF...")
Hubster and I took off in two cars, frantically searching the fields around the village. We were able to catch the aging lump, Typhon, rather quickly, but the two Siberian prima donnas decided they weren't done harassing cows, chickens, and sheep just yet. After two hours of frantic searching, Hubster told me to head off to Oradour all the same and he'd call me when he had found them.
So off we went. Me, convinced all small furry animals around the village would be toast by noon, my mom anxious about Hubster, and my dad, unable to do or say anything except feel guilty. We toured the site at Oradour, taking in all of the horrors that happened in that village over 60 years ago, awed and silenced by the fact that these atrocities continue in other places still. I'll admit, the whole time I couldn't stop thinking that this was happening in the form of furry huskies on innocent sheep. Not at all the same level of horror, I know, but horrifying to me all the same.
The return home was a quiet one with still no word from Hubster about the dogs. We got back about 7pm, to be greeted by a lonely Typhon and some very worried children. At that point, we had given up hope of finding Anouk and Abaka and BaPa was quietly beside himself.
"We've all let them escape at one point or another," Hubster told him. "It's just stinks that this would be the one time they haven't come back."
Can you feel how UGH that was? Really, seriously, UGH. No idea what to say to each other, no idea what to do. Just UGH. YIKES. BLAH. UGH.
And then a little miracle happened. Musher Boy's mom shows up. She's jumping up and down, ringing the front bell, and yelling,"I'VE GOT THEM!! I'VE GOT THEM!"
Thirteen hours later and at least 10k from our village, she found them wandering near a main road. There they were, Anouk and Abaka, tired, muddy and only slightly tainted pink. (So far, we've only had reports of 3 chickens taking a hit. At this point, I'm cautiously hoping that's all they killed.)
I don't think I've ever seen my father so relieved as he was when those dogs got back.
Well, until this morning when he knew that this insane holiday at the Birth Control Bed & Breakfast was coming to a close. I know he loves being with us and loves seeing us, but I think BaPa is going to be very happy to get back to chez lui, where he can walk on safe sidewalks, only fight with Kitty over the remote, and open his front door as wide as he wants.
My folks have been here for about a week now and I have to admit, I'm loving the extra arms. I've been lucky that I have parents (and in-laws) who seem not to mind when I throw my children at them and run away.
This last week has been no exception. I've needed the outside alone time more than I realized. Who knew how lonely you could get when lost in the cacophony of 4 little people?
These runs with the dogs and my own traipsing through the trails with my friend have done me the world of good. I feel more like myself again, albeit myself with creaky bones and no endurance, but me all the same.
I look at all those beautiful trees, shaking off their summer clothes, with the only sounds being our breath as it rustles the leaves. I think about everything and nothing.