Friday, June 29, 2007

Insult to Injury

I think just about everyone knows that I have been off work for the last 5 1/2 months. Due to recurring sinus infections and a hideous cough that keeps me up at night and gasping for air most days.

About 6 weeks ago my GP sent me to a Lung Specialist. I didn't think there was anything wrong with my lungs (x-rays had shown that) and that my cough was due to sinus problems (I've also been to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist because I have problems in that area).

So I go and the Lung Specialist says I have very badly inflamed bronchial tubes. Bordering on asthma, but he thinks we've caught it in time. Take this inhaler, come back in a month.

I feel a bit better, until my allergies kick in and keep taking the medication, and go back after a month figuring he will say great, you're all better.

Not so much. After a month he's worried about my LO count (??) and is convinced I have allergic asthma and I need to do a histamine test in two weeks. Huh?

So this morning I go for the histamine test (not as bad as I thought). I don't have asthma the technician tells me - wow!

Next visit with the doctor. He confirms I don't have asthma. Yeah! But then... belittles me for thinking I did (I guess I was wasting his time? I never thought I had asthma?) and tells me that my cough is undoubtedly because I am HOMESICK (huh??? I didn't know that people get INFLAMED BRONCHIAL TUBES from being HOMESICK??) and when I said I have lived here almost 8 years he then said it's just nerves (??) and that there really isn't anything wrong with me, refused to give me a report of his findings for the caisse de maladie and then said - and I am NOT making this up:


Mir wolle bleiwe wat mir sin - long live Luxembourg!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I've been to hell on Earth - it's in Belgium

Over a year ago Marc and I took the kids to an indoor playarea in Belgium called Atomic Kids. You know the kind of thing where they have ball pits, huge slides, lots and lots of padded wall type things.

Almost every weekend since Stuart had asked to go to Atomic Kids (usually on a Sunday afternoon when they are closed).

Given the crappy weather this morning I said "Sure, let's go!"

We arrived and were accosted by NOISE. Oh well, it's a kids place, it's bound to be loud. The guy explains that there's a price for 1 hour, 90 minutes and unlimited and that you pay at the end. I say "Oh I think that 90 minutes will suffice." and he says "Wait and see - you may find that an hour is more than enough."

I though he was being ridiculous, but man, was he RIGHT.

Shoes off, Stuart hesitates and wants to play all the video game type things right at the front door. Times like this he is definitely my child, loud noise and rambunctious kids screaming are not my thing.

We make it over to the climbing structures and hang out for a few minutes in the ball pit. Then we head into the area where they have huge balls you can crawl around on. Yeah, this is fun I think (there's no 6 year olds SCREECHING in my ears) and show the kids how to roll around on top of the ball on their stomachs.

BAM! And there I go right off the ball onto the concrete floor covered in about 5 cm of foam - and land right SMACK on my tailbone (same tailbone that has never fully recovered from my first delivery). As I writhe in pain on the floor one of my children rolls another of the balls onto me face.

I am not having so much fun. And I have about 13 seconds to move before I am trampled to death.

An hour is starting to sound like an eternity. We climb up and down, up and down, slide, crawl, bounce, swing... Julia is just that bit too small that she needs help getting up most things, and I am just that bit too big that I have to do my best imitation of a contortionist to get up or down.

The noise level is unreal. And while there are a few parents around having a look, most of the kids are running savage through the place - I find in these situations that I am always surprised at how RUDE kids are. I know Stuart is a little on the timid side, but Julia was terrified too. It's a miracle there haven't been any casualties at the place the way the little beasts knock each other over and shove their way through.

So - kudos to me, I made it through the hour trying to keep both kids in sight and then when Julia had dissapeared for the 3rd time to the top of the structures and screeched to be brought down, I laid down the law and insisted we left.

I think the kids are enjoying the fact that Mum can't turn her head left or right so she can't shake it to say NO...

Friday, June 22, 2007

But you see... it's a different COUNTRY

Marc left this morning for 4 days of golf. Today on a course that (if I am not mistaken) some holes in France, some in Luxembourg and some in Germany.

From there he will head to Baden-Baden Germany for the "Canada Cup" with the boys - I feel bad for them that there is rain in the forecast.

And I am not thrilled about said rain for me and the kids either - weekends can be pretty long when it pours all day and as tomorrow is the National Holiday we are talking about 2 days when everything is CLOSED.

Which might not be such an issue if the festivities for said holiday were not going to be waterlogged.

So, I hit weather underground to see where we could go for the day tomorrow... Brugges? Raining. Nancy FR? Raining. Maastricht? Raining. Cologne? RAINING.

Then I realized - subconsciously I somehow hope that places will have different weather because I am crossing a the border. Yeah, not so logical.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The week in review

A lot happened in the last week and I have a feeling there's more like it on the way...

Tuesday - brought two house showings... one a potential offer. And a counter-offer from the below our asking price - a counter-offer that was still too low.

Wednesday - had us in a pseudo bidding war with the second couple saying they were going to make an offer of a certain amount (20K more than the other offer) but that they couldn't officially do it until they heard back from their contractor - so how did we hold off signing with the other couple without losing the sale??
In the end it was a moot point - we spent 4 hours in the emergency room with Julia because her high fever was back and she was crying, lethargic and generally not well at all and we were worried (and she had red spots - she tends towards red spots). They thought she had a Urinary Tract Infection and that she would have to stay in the hospital on antibiotics through an IV and that she would be there until 48 hours after her fever broke...!!!! In the end, 3 urine samples and a blood test later, they let us take her home on the condition that we returned the next morning for another urine sample and blood test.

Thursday - hospital with Julia, and she was okay, they decided it was viral. Marc and Stuart both sick, took Stuart to the doctor (virus). Found out that the other offer (20K more) was a no-go - we think the guy was trying to force us into waiting and possibly losing the first offer so we'd take less. Took first offer and signed a "compromis" to sell our house.

Friday - Stuart up for 2 hours at 3 am complaining of stomach pain. Do we go to Paris? Yes? No? Somebody decide? Tracy at lung specialist first thing. Not a good report from one of the tests, she now has to go for a histamine test where they will pump her full of histamines and see if it provokes an asthma attack. Doesn't that sound like fun? Appointment took a hideous amount of time, we rushed to train station and made train to Paris with 4 minutes to spare, all in foul humour. Arrive in Paris in middle of torrential downpour and foolishly struggle to get to hotel by Metro (I know, we're idiots, but I grew up in Montreal where they have these neat things called ESCALATORS in the metro!)Spend the evening at the base of Sacre-Coeur church in Montmartre watching the kids ride the carousel and ducking into a cafe for ice cream when the skies opened up again.

Saturday - everyone much better it appears - except Tracy who is on major allergy suffering (it only took 6 hours to figure out it was actually a cold!). Through occasional rain showers visit the Eifel Tower (line up was 2 hours long so we didn't go up) and took a Bateau Mouche along the Seine, did a little shopping at Printemps and Galleries Lafayette before heading back (another downpour) to the hotel and dinner at the adorable little restaurant next to it where they served Marc his Terrine Maison by bringing a ginormous terrine and letting him cut off what he wanted. Things we will miss.

Sunday - Headed off to the Champs Elysees for Marc to make his meeting with some people over from Canada (the reason we were in Paris in such poor health). The sun was out, so the kids and I headed up the Champs Elysees for a look at L'Arc de Triomphe - Stu was pretty impressed, there is a smaller one in Nancy that he had been through a couple of weeks before. Cafe au lait on the Champs Elysees... who could resist? Met up with Marc, walked some more, had lunch in a little resto just off the CE and played in a playground as we headed back towards the Louvre. Julia passed out and was carried through the Tuilleries and the rain started again so we headed back to our hotel to catch a cab to the train station. Upon asking the boy (Stuart kept saying he looked like Prince Charming in Shrek 2 - the hair!!) to call us a cab were told :

"Well it's raining. That's a problem. You can't get a cab in the rain."


"it's raining and we don't call a specific cab, we call a taxi rank and they won't get out of the car to answer the phone when it is raining so you can't get a taxi."

Welcome to FRANCE!

In the end I pushed enough that he called (only to prove to me that he was right and that we would get no cab, damn North American that I am) and guess what? GOT US A CAB.

Home again home again, thank goodness we're back!

Monday - No school in the afternoon. Two cranky hot kids. Wicked allergy attacked for Tracy and asthma kicked in. This is why we are leaving this country. have to remember that when I have doubts.

And that is all that happened. I think. Now I can't remember ;-)

Monday, June 11, 2007


On the drive back from picking up the cat:

"It's okay Denby, you're going to be home soon."

"You're okay Dens, I love you."

"It's okay Denby, don't be scared I am here."

All the way home various variations on a theme.

Makes you think that all those middle of the night hugs for bad dreams and back rubbing when they are throwing up and kisses for booboos really do mean something to them.

Okay, maybe no eBay today.

Newsletter from the House of Ill Health

Thank you for checking in on your favorite sick family the Booger-Snots.

Last week brought gastroenteritis into our home - starting with Julia, who had a mild case. By Wednesday Marc had a full blown case and stayed home from work for two days without any prodding from his nagging wife. Friday Stuart started - but also a mild case and seemed to be pretty much back on his feet (or at least he was on his feet and running roughshod through the house playing) by Saturday afternoon.

Ah, but fall not into the trap of thinking we were done - do not make my mistake.

Stuart had a birthday party to attend yesterday afternoon. A birthday party that he spent glued to my leg and cranky. Marc and Julia came to get us and she was cranky and screaming.

By 8 pm Stuart had a fever of 39.6 degrees. By 10:30 Julia was up at 40.0 degrees. They are still feverish this morning and staying home.

And if you thought that by any chance we were getting any sleep in there - NO! My allergies are worse than ever and I was up most of the night sneezing or honking the horn that used to be my nose. Just started to drift off at 5:30 when Stu got up.

There needs to be some law of nature that ensures sick kids act sick - that they are subdued, sleep a lot, willing drink lots of liquids and in general are QUIETER THAN NORMAL. My two are up there battling as I type.

10 hours till bed - two visits with moving companies to get estimates, one viewing of the house, on our way in a few minutes to pick up the cat at the vet... gotta love a challenge!

P.S. - anyone want advance notification if I list them on eBay?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The fine nuances of international relations

Friday night, 9:15 pm.

Our doorbell rings.

I answer it to find three people I have never seen before on my doorstep - a middle-aged gentleman, a lady and a girl. He starts to mention our house and Eric O (a friend of Marc's at work).

Luckily Marc had mentioned to me (in passing) that there was a new Turk at work that was looking for a place to live, but that he was fully booked with appointments for the weekend and would call Marc on Monday if he hadn't bought somewhere.

2+2 = this must be the guy.

I am gracious - I invite them in. They resist - standing out in the rain. I say, no please, of course you must come in. The resist again.

I am not clear on why they have rung our doorbell at 9:15 if they don't want to come in. I ask a last time and yes, they come in.

We sit in the living room. I offer drinks - he declines, she accepts. The child looks confused. I foolishly offer apple juice thinking I have lots in the fridge. I don't, I fill the 2 glasses best I can and take them out to the living room. He looks expectantly and I say "Would you like something?" and he says "yes, the same". So I hunt in the basement and find some juice boxes I cut open and pour into a glass.

We make small talk for about 30 minutes - difficult small talk as his grasp on English is somewhat tenuous and she relies on him to speak for her for the most part. I am not faulting them - I don't know a single word in Turkish I realize and lamely throw out that we were in Turkey last summer.

Worried that they will be offended that we did not go on a single excursion and spent the entire week at the resort - I say something really bright like "Unfortunately we were there the week they were bombing and so we stayed at the resort."

Open mouth insert foot and half my leg. Because discussing the fragile politics of Turkey entering the EU (the bombs were aimed at tourists by a group against entrance into the EU) is FAR better than saying we were more into chilling on the beach. Good one Trace!

In an effort to recuperate we switch quickly to safe topics... schools, Luxembourg and the mens' common employer.

I am still not clear on why they are in my house. But I try to be charming and hospitable because they have only been in the country for three weeks. This is what we do here - offer advice on what grocery store has what, what activities are of interest, discuss the local English weekly newspaper... remember how difficult our adjustment period was and offer what we can.

After a somewhat strained half hour, and as they ask a few questions about the house, I ask if they are interested in seeing it - but stating very clearly that my children are asleep in bed (this had been mentioned before). They jump up, eager to take a look so I think "Okay, so they are interested in the house."

We do the tour. We describe our house in detail, the renovations, the addition, the garden. They follow us upstairs and even go as far as to poke their heads into the rooms of our sleeping children (I mean it's the exact same room on both floors!). They visit our attic, and then all of the rooms in our basement.

At the end they ask the price. We tell them. Then they discuss prices for real estate in Luxembourg. From this conversation we glean that they are looking at apartments. We have a lovely house but they are not looking for a house.


They leave. I say (and mean, because she is a nice lady) that if there is anything I can do to let me know. She invites me for coffee one day.

And Marc and I look at each other and both say "What the??" at the same time.

We don't mind that they stopped by unannounced. Or that they weren't looking for a house, but rather an apartment. We don't mind the time we spent talking to them as there were some interesting points.

What we find strange is that they poked around our house, in our SLEEPING childrens' rooms when they had no intention of buying the house at all.