Fontaine à Chambéry

Fontaine à Chambéry

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Under the Dome

Murder? Check. Drugs? Check. Love stories? Check. Psychos? Check. Mystery? Check.

Imagine you're going through your everyday life just being a normal person when suddenly a dome drops out of the sky, effectively trapping you, your neighbors, and your enemies in your small town. All of a sudden you're very aware of resources such as food and water and your fellow townspeople and their weird/creepy habits. You try very hard to keep your secrets and family safe. This scenario is what happens in Stephen King's novel Under the Dome, which has now been turned into a summer miniseries. It's my newest obsession. 

You know when you're reading a really good book or watching a great series and you want to put life on hold so you can find out what happens next in the story? Well, this is what's currently going on with us. R started watching Under the Dome when it first premiered this summer. He kept telling me about how good it was and how we needed to watch it together. I finally watched the first episode and was hooked. We quickly caught up on all of the DVR'd episodes and have stayed up way too late watching the show. 

I don't know how the series fares compared to the book. With other King novels that have been turned into film adaptations, I've been disappointed. So much of King's stories are psychological and scare the heck out of you while you're reading; some of that material just isn't easy to translate into a film. I'm on the waiting list at the library for Under the Dome so hopefully I'll be able to compare the two soon. Until then, if you need something to watch, I highly recommend this series! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ear Tubes

While Z may have hit the jackpot with her good looks, bilingual background, and her abilities to travel the globe (haha), she did not get great ears from us. Sorry, kiddo. Z has had chronic ear infections since January. In fact, I believe there has only been a period of about two weeks since then that she hasn't been on an antibiotic to treat an infection. That's not good because constant antibiotics can reduce her body's immune system, cause an upset stomach, and, as we found out with the most recent dose, can cause allergies. Yuck. 

Because of her history, we were referred to the Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor at Children's Hospital. Z actually had her consultation on her first birthday, poor girl. At the appointment, they did a hearing test to see if the infections had caused any damage. Luckily, her hearing was perfect and she didn't fuss at all. The audiologists were impressed with Z's laid back nature and said she had made their job easier and had subsequently made their morning. Way to go, Z! Next we saw the ENT. Z's ears were perfect and there was no fluid from her last infection. The doctor said at that point, the surgery was optional, but if Z got another infection, she'd definitely need the tubes. We left feeling excited and hopeful that she'd never come down with another infection.

Fast forward 10 days: Z was fussy all night and woke up with a low-grade fever. I took her to the pediatrician, and surprise, surprise, she had another infection. It took 3 days for me to get through to Children's because nobody was returning my voicemails, but I finally was able to schedule Z's tube surgery for this morning. 

The entire ear tube procedure is an easy one: the doctor merely inserts a tiny--and I mean tiny, since it's no bigger than the size of this 'i'--tube into the patient's ear drum, which allows fluid to drain out. When fluid is retained, it harbors bacteria and becomes infected frequently. Until the child's ear is fully formed, the fluid can't drain out. After 6-12 months, the tubes fall out on their own, the hole seals itself, and voila, you've got a happy kid with fully-developed ears. The tubes don't eliminate the odds of getting an infection, but they do make it easier to treat and often cut down on the number of infections a kid will have. 

We had to arrive at Children's at 6:15 this morning. Naturally, I didn't sleep much last night because I was afraid we'd oversleep and miss the appointment. Z was also really clingy last night, probably because she could pick up on our stress. When we walked into the Same Day Surgery waiting room, it was packed! From the looks of it, there were a lot of kids there for procedures that were far more invasive and serious than ear tubes, so once again I realized how lucky we are for our healthy little Z. Our nurse came and got us and took us to the pre-op room. She went over Z's health history, listened to her breathing, checked temperature and weight, and printed off Z's hospital bracelets. There was a cool playroom down the hall so we went to play there; we also waited in the room and were able to watch Clifford, which made Z a very happy camper. The ENT's assistants came and talked to us, then the anesthesia general practitioner came in and talked about Z's overall health. The nurse brought Z a mixture of Tylenol and oxycodone, which Z sucked down. The nurse and general practitioner were impressed and said they usually have to fight kids to take the medicine; we call medicine "yum yums" and make a big deal out of it tasting good, so we've never had problems with Z taking her medicine. Before we knew it, the anesthesiologists came to talk things over and take Z. They asked what flavor of laughing gas Z would like--cherry--then they took her off. She didn't even cry or look back. We waited in the room for only 7 minutes, then the ENT doctor came back and said everything was great and went well. There was no lingering fluid from her recent infections, and no signs of permanent damage from the infections. We have to go back in 4-8 weeks for a checkup.

We went to recovery to see Z. She was really mad at the nurses but calmed down when we held her. She took a bit to come out of it, and was sleepy. She woke up for some graham crackers and water though. On the way home, she projectile vomited, which is very common after this procedure. We came home and she ate a bit, then went down for a nap. It's been almost 3 hours and she's still dozing. The girl never naps! 

I'm just so glad this is over. Yes, it's best for Z to not be in constant pain or taking antibiotics constantly, but it's terrifying when your kid has to go under. There are risks anytime surgery is performed or anesthesia is involved. Yes, the procedure only took 7 minutes. Yes, everyone says it's harder on the parents than the children. It's still scary though. There's nothing like being down at Children's Hospital to make you realize how good you've got it, and how lucky you are for your biggest problem being ear infections. 

Friday, August 16, 2013


The past couple of weeks have been stressful for us. We've each had big job interviews that we're either still waiting to hear about or the job didn't pan out. There's some negative stuff going on at work for me. Z has been sick with yet again another ear infection; she's had them nearly constantly since January. She developed an allergic reaction to this last round of antibiotics and broke out in a rash, which was pretty severe on some parts of her body. It appears that the rash is now coming back again. We've been at the doctor four times in the past two weeks. Monday we have an appointment at Children's Hospital to get Z's ear tubes. Although it's a minor procedure, we're freaking out. Everyone says it's not a big deal, but that's easy to say when it's not your kid. The thought of the doctors putting her under anesthesia is absolutely terrifying.

When all is said and done...I need to be more thankful. I need to be grateful that we are each employed, have a wonderful healthy, happy daughter, live in a nice house with our pets, have supportive and loving families, etc. Sometimes it's hard to remember to be grateful for things when you've been under stress. So, this weekend, I'm going to take a time out from my to-do's and enjoy quality time with my husband and daughter. It's important to keep in mind that everything will work out perfectly and the way it should, even if it's been a little stressful lately. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

St. Louis is Lucky

We went to the Zoo on Saturday because the weather was so gorgeous. We got there at 8:30 (when you’ve got little ones, they don’t sleep in on weekends so you don’t either) and had a blast! The Children’s Zoo is free before 9, which is very cool. Z had a great time looking at everything and petting the goats. She even brushed one!

In the morning, all of the animals are alert and moving around because they’ve just been fed. Even the large tortoises were slowly walking around their habitat. We saw the newest elephant, Priya, eating a tree branch. Although she’s a couple months old, she’s still tiny compared to her sister and mother. Z had fun in the snake house and liked knocking on the anaconda’s window and whispering to it.

Our little excursion made me realize how lucky STL citizens are to have such a wonderful zoo.  I don’t think it’s really something we give much thought to because it’s always available to us, but having a free zoo that’s well maintained, operated, and exceptional at caring for animals is rare. The St. Louis Zoo also offers numerous programs, classes and volunteer opportunities.

For my sister’s birthday last year, we signed her up for the Zoo Parents Program. In this program, you can “adopt” an animal, and your membership goes toward providing the animal with food and care. All of the parents are prominently featured on flat screen televisions in the Living World, as well as on the zoo’s website. H is the proud mother of a red kangaroo; last time H visited the zoo, she saw her kangaroo with a baby in her pouch!

Bottom line of this disjointed post: it’s important to support our local nonprofits and their missions. We’re lucky to have such an outstanding organization so close to home.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Easy Taco Salad

If you’re like me, you look for healthy recipes that you can make with little cleanup in 15 minutes or less and that everyone will love. Such recipes are pretty hard to come by, until now. My mom has been making this meal for years. In fact, the only time we ever got Doritos when I was growing up was when she made this, so I think that’s partially why I enjoy this meal so much. It’s fast, healthy, easy, and everyone’s happy. How can you get any better than that?

1/2 bag of lettuce
1/2 bag of spinach
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 white onion, diced
1 tomato, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 can of red kidney beans
¼ to ½ cup of lite Italian dressing (to taste)


Cook the turkey in a skillet until browned. Add the can of beans to the skillet without draining and allow to simmer on low heat. Meanwhile, mix lettuce, spinach, onion, tomato, and avocado. Pour Italian dressing over the mixture and toss. Add the meat and beans without draining the liquid and toss again. Crumble a handful of Doritos over the salad. Serve with Doritos. Enjoy! 

Sunday, August 11, 2013


I just completed the third semester of graduate school for my master's degree! Having worked on this degree while balancing my role as a wife and mother and an employee has definitely been eye-opening. I really don't know how single mothers or military parents are able to balance everything. 

I'm currently halfway through my master's in Nonprofit Management. I'm really enjoying the classes and projects, but sometimes I wish I could fast forward and have the degree already. After a long day of work, coming home and getting ready for tomorrow, cooking, doing bath time and bed time and story time, the last thing I want to do is write a paper or do research about some aspect of nonprofits. I keep plugging along though, and reminding myself that the short-term annoyance will have huge payoffs. I really do like what I'm studying and I'm passionate about nonprofits. So that helps. I also have a wonderfully supportive husband who wants to start his MBA, so the sooner I finish my master's, the sooner he can start his!

My program is designed for working adults, so there are two courses taught per semester, and the entire degree takes two years because the classes are taught on a rotating basis. For some weird reason though, the classes that are offered this fall are the ones that were taught in the spring. So, I'm being forced to take a semester off. Not that I'll be nice to have a break. At the same time, I'm a little behind because I took two semesters off when Z was born, so having a break is probably not ideal. Oh well. I suppose I'll have more time to blog now that I don't have papers to write. Maybe I'll start some sort of artsy project. Or look into master's programs in art history or Egyptology  (Who am I kidding? I've already looked into those and have made a tentative game plan.) What can I say? I really like learning.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

First Aid Kit

I've been thinking for months about making a first aid kit. I know what you're thinking "You have a baby and pets and you don't have a first aid kit?" Stupid, I know. Until recently, we didn't even have band-aids in the house! The horror!

I was at Sam's club recently and stocked up on a jumbo box of assorted band-aids. We're set for a while, or at least until Z starts demanding cartoon character ones. Today at Target, first aid stuff was on sale for the back to school craze, so I got the remaining necessities for the kit. It's not perfect and I'm sure I'm missing something (crap, just realized I'm missing alcohol wipes!), but you know what? I feel SO GOOD about crossing this off my list. It's not a huge deal and certainly wasn't weighing heavily on my mind, but every once in a while, I suddenly think "Ooo, you've gotta make a first aid kit." I guess this is just one of those things you can do to feel prepared, especially with a mobile little one running around. Getting this checked off of my list feels great, and I'm now ready to tackle anything that comes our way. Well, maybe not everything, but you get the idea.

Oh yeah, we're set.

The red case was free with the purchase of three first aid items.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Finding Our Way Across the Roundabout

This gem comes from the first time I visited Paris with my sister H in 2009.

Upon arriving in Paris at the Gare de Lyon, we hopped in a taxi and went to the hotel to check in and deposit our bags. It was around 7 o’clock once we were settled in, so we headed out to explore and find something to eat for dinner. Our hotel was located only a few blocks away from the Arc de Triomphe, which was naturally the first Paris landmark we stumbled upon. 

This is the street we walked down to get to the Arc de Triomphe.

The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 and was a neoclassical interpretation of the triumphal Arch of Constantine in the Roman forum. We have all learned about Napoleon’s lofty aims to take over Europe, and by creating his arch, he solidified his role as emperor, or so he thought (the fact that he hadn’t won the battle was a moot point). The arch was built at the end of the Champs-Elysees, the iconic Parisian street that today is known for its high-end stores and world-class restaurants. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (from World War I) rests underneath the center of the arch.

After taking the obligatory tourist pictures of the arch, we started wandering around the roundabout trying to figure out how to get over to the Arc. We saw tourists milling about under the monument…and yet we didn’t see anyone going to or from. People certainly were not crossing the roundabout (it would probably result in sudden death), so we had no idea how to get across. How perplexing.

After walking around for close to 30 minutes, we decided to give up and find something to eat. A young guy in his mid-twenties came up and asked “Excuse me, but do you know how to get across to the arch?” Our problems started all over again.

Now, you learn from the time you’re little that you shouldn’t talk to strangers, especially if you’re a girl in a foreign country. But, Michael was a nice, good-looking Canadian who merely wanted to get over to the Arc on his last night in Paris. We had no choice but to help him. We were also in a well-lit, crowded area, so if he turned out to be a psychopath, we could just scream. So, we joined Michael on his quest by once more walking around the roundabout, only this time, Michael pointed out a staircase we had walked by numerous times and had failed to notice. It led to the arc! Hooray!

We walked down the stairs and in the tunnel that was under the roundabout. At the end, the staircase deposited you right at the base of the Arc. We started taking photos almost immediately. The detail on the interior of the Arc was gorgeous! 

Nice details
We wandered around taking photos and then decided to sit down and people watch. We sat with Michael and started taking photos of the weird tourists and the great view of the Champs Elysees. The Eiffel Tower was visible and at 10 o'clock, it lit up in its usual nighttime fashion. At this point it was still sunny and we didn't realize how late it had gotten. Michael had to take the Metro to the airport for his early morning flight, and we needed to find dinner. Before we left though, we had another tourist snap a photo of us, so we could remember our conquest and how we made our way across the roundabout.