L’infirmière

L’infirmière, or nurse, came to our house today at 11:30am.  Her name is Sophie and she lives in our little village of Sanilhac.  She was super nice and tried to make Sophie as comfortable as possible.  Our Sophie became more and more uncomfortable as the nurse was slowly unwrapping her bandaging.

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One thing to note is that the hospital staff did not explain anything to us on checking out. We were handed a folder with a few papers and told to go to the pharmacy to inquire about a nurse in our area.  They forgot to explain that there were supplies that we had to provide for the nurse when she came.  Neither Aaron or I looked through the folder and when Aaron went to the pharmacy, they did not look through it either.  So, when Nurse Sophie started looking through all the papers upon arrival and asking if we had the supplies, etc. she must have thought we looked pretty ridiculous!  There was one paper that needed to be copied that gave her permission to treat Sophie and a list of all the supplies and a special antibacterial medicine we needed to give Sophie.  We were clueless!  Nurse Sophie was so kind and laid back that she used her supplies and Aaron quickly left for the pharmacy after it was done.  Live and learn, especially in a foreign country!

Back to our Sophie…

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This first unwrapping will be and was the most uncomfortable for Sophie.  Some of the gauze was sticking to her finger so it needed to be soaked in water.  This was the painful part for Sophie.  She was scared and apprehensive.  Plus, it hurt as Nurse Sophie was very gently removing the gauze.

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Once all the bandaging was removed we got to see her finger.  It looks great!  A little swollen, but straight.  I was so happy to see that!  The surgeon did a great job.  Seeing her finger again made Sophie cry.  I could tell the nerves in her finger were making her body squirm!  I have had a finger injury and I know how that feels, so I felt so bad for her.  After a few minutes of tears Nurse Sophie had her finger wrapped up again and sweet Sophie could relax.  Nurse Sophie will come thursday and sunday of this week and then we will see what the bandaging schedule is for the following week.  Sophie cannot go to school for a month.  It works out great because she will only miss two weeks of school.  The kids have a two week vacation starting April 12th.  The timing works out well for her recovery. Thanks for all the love and support from everyone who has reached out to our family!

Our Sweet Sophie!

Saturday was an eventful day!  Eventful in the sense that we will never forget the day.  AJ was outside with Jack and Sophie looking curiously under a large heavy cement block.  As AJ was putting the block back down, Sophie’s left hand got in the way and unfortunately crushed her middle finger.  Screams and sobs were heard immediately from not only Sophie but from her brothers who were so scared by what they saw.  Aaron and I have experienced a lot of broken bones, gashes that needed surgery, bacterial meningitis, etc., but this scared us both.

What to do in an emergency in a foreign country?  Aaron and I jumped in the car with Sophie in hand.  I drove, Aaron tried to calm Sophie down and control her shock and pain. First, we went to the logical place, the hospital in Uzès, but after seeing there was no emergency room or doctors that could help us, we were instructed to go to Nîmes.  The kind nurses in Uzès could see our panic and had Sophie soak her hand in a cleaning solution, made a few phone calls, wrapped her hand in clean wrappings and quickly blew up a balloon to help sooth her.  The solution helped Sophie calm down a little, but once we were in the car her screams began again.  She kept saying, “I want Jesus!”  Aaron finally was able to help her relax for a moment and she fell asleep.  She needed those 15 minutes of sleep to give her body the comfort and peace it was seeking.  Jesus definitely heard her pleas!

We arrived at the Polyclinique du Grand Sud at the Urgence Room (similar to an American Emergency Room).  Sophie woke up calm and with a smile on her face.  We entered the Urgence and it was filled with people.  It was dirty.  It was different.  It was overwhelming. Aaron approached the counter with urgency and explained that someone needed to see Sophie immediately.  They asked her age and gave a quizzical look.  They told us they didn’t think they could help us because of how young she is.  We then asked where we were supposed to go.  They weren’t sure!!!  You can imagine our frustration.  They told us they needed to make a few phone calls.  We didn’t understand why a doctor couldn’t just look at her finger and give their assessment.  I waited in the room and Aaron took Sophie outside for fresh air.  He came back in 5 minutes later and I noticed her bandaging had been unwrapped.  Aaron went right to the counter and told the nurses someone had to see her because her finger was going to be dead.  It looked purple/black.  As soon as they understood how serious this was, they let us back and a doctor came in immediately. They sent her to radiology for x-rays. Within 15 minutes they knew her finger was crushed, broken and needed stitching.  Phone calls were made to the surgeon and anesthesiologist.  We still do not know why they were initially going to refuse to see and treat Sophie because of her age.  This hospital was the only one in our area that had a hand surgeon.

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Sophie had to be admitted to the hospital for surgery.  Our family had plans to spend the evening with the Mallets, Maria and her husband Paul.  I had called her while waiting to tell her the situation and she ended up coming to the hospital.  She stayed with us for hours. She was an angel!

The nurses brought Sophie her hospital clothes and Sophie thought she was so cool!  She had huge smiles on her face and melted the hearts of the hospital staff.

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When it was time for her to go upstairs to her hospital room they brought her a wheel chair.  Sophie first thought it was awesome.  She was getting royal treatment!

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As she was getting wheeled thru the hospital her demeanor was slowly changing.  Her smiles changed to looks of concern and nervousness.  We got into the hospital room/recovery room and she was put in the bed and then I had to explain to her what was going to happen.  Aaron and I were not going to be allowed to be in the surgery room with her.  Sophie took each minute in strides and was somewhat calm.  She understood that the doctors had to help her and she needed to listen to them if she wanted her finger to get better.

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One of the nurses came to get us and Aaron carried her down to the surgery area, Bloc Operation.  She was very quiet.  The anesthesiologist came to us and was so sweet.  She got eye level with Sophie and asked her if she was a little girl or a big girl.  Sophie, of course, said she was a big girl.  (Everything was in French and Sophie understood perfectly!)  The doctor then proceeded to tell Sophie her two options and she needed to decide what she wanted to do.  First, do local anesthetic to her arm, or, second, put her to sleep.  Sophie immediately responded she wanted just her arm.  We all felt this was best.  They would try with the local anesthetic and see if Sophie could relax enough to proceed with surgery.  I took these two pictures below while Sophie was listening to the anesthesiologist explain what was going to happen.

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We were so proud of Sophie.  She was concerned, but she was so brave!  The anesthesiologist explained how they would numb her arm, etc. and Sophie did not panic or start to cry.  Then, the doctor asked Sophie to come with her and away they went!

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(Sorry for the blurry photos!)  This was a helpless feeling as a mother.  We could not be there to hold her hand or give her encouragement.  I couldn’t believe she just walked out with the anesthesiologist to an unknown place speaking a foreign language.  Over the course of about 2 hours Sophie was in the surgery room.  The anesthesiologist came out a few times to give us updates.  She said Sophie had not cried and that she was the best pediatric patient they had ever had.  She kept saying how adorable and kind she was. She told us Sophie was telling all the doctors and nurses about her brothers and sisters.  I was so proud of our 4 year old daughter!  How amazing and blessed we are!

At one point the anesthesiologist came out and invited Aaron back because Sophie kept asking for “Papa”.  They said they NEVER let anyone into the surgery room but they loved Sophie so much they met her request.  How cool is that?!  They needed Aaron’s help to get her distracted so they could proceed.  She was having a hard time relaxing her arm, even though it was “asleep”.  Overall, Sophie did awesome.  She did everything that was asked of her and she did it with a calm spirit.  The best news was that we did not have to stay the night at the hospital like we were originally told.  Sophie kept asking to go home.

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After surgery she was rolled upstairs to her recovery room and they brought her some food.  She was hungry and thirsty.  She did great!  They told us we could go home as soon as she ate and they had to remove the IV.  If she would have been “put under” she would have had to stay the night.  I am so glad local anesthetic worked.

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The boys were so excited to see her.  We had talked to them throughout the day and evening to give them updates.  Aaron and I had left the house with Jack sobbing in the garden, AJ sorrowfully walking down the road, Tristan aimlessly crying and worried and Austin cleaning up blood and in a panic.  They were so happy to have her home and to know she was okay.

The surgeon said her finger should grow back normal.  Her fingernail will fall off and he wasn’t sure if she would have a fingernail again.  He couldn’t tell us what would happen to that area of her finger.  He is hopeful that it will heal correctly and that she will have full usage of her finger.  We have to have a nurse come to our house every few days to change the wrapping and check her finger.  We feel so blessed that the Lord heard our prayers and fasting.  It was a scary experience, especially being in a foreign country.  I have a few new words that have been added to my french vocabulary.  I am so grateful Aaron was home and not traveling.  It was very emotional and exhausting for all of us.  I know the Lord gives us trials to make us stronger!  He is real and I know he hears and answers prayers!  I have always been a firm believer of prayer and this was another example of the Lord’s love for me and my sweet family.

We love you so much Sophie!

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Schloss Hellbrunn, Salzburg, Austria

The Sound of Music gazebo can be found on the grounds of the Hellbrunn Palace.  It was originally kept on the grounds of Leopoldskron Palace, where the outside facade scenes were filmed.  But, because people would trespass on the privately owned Palace grounds to see the pavilion, it was moved to the gardens at Hellbrunn Palace.  There wasn’t a single tourist the afternoon we found the gazebo, only locals frequenting the park.DSC_0413 DSC_0415 DSC_0414

After finding the gazebo and getting pictures we noticed it was on the outskirts of a public park, Schloss Hellbrunn.  It was a lovely park with cross country skiers dotting the snow covered fields.  The children found a playground in the distance and a small zip line.  We had a few minutes to spare as we waited for the next bus to come, so we all burned off a few breakfast calories at the park.  It was fun!  Everyone tried the zip line and Sophie loved it.  She would laugh so hard and loud the whole time!  If no one thought we were Americans upon arrival to the playground, they did after watching, seeing and hearing all of us!  We, Americans, can be so loud!  But, we had a great time and it was a fun pastime amongst all the sightseeing.

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The Sound of Music

“The hills are alive, with the sound of music!”  I was like a kid in a candy store the morning we woke up in Salzburg, knowing we were going to be seeing the Sound of Music film sites.  As a little girl, I would anxiously await the once a year broadcast on TV of the movie, The Sound of Music.  Since a little girl, Austria has been on my list of places to visit. Salzburg was lovely.  Those of you who have seen the movie, as you look through these pictures see how many scenes and locations you can remember from the movie!  So fun!!!

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This was the “I have confidence” song location as Maria walks by the fountain and splashes water.  Almost all the fountains were covered in Salzburg.  This made me a little sad!:(  (Residenz Square and Residenz Fountain)

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“Do- Re- Mi- Fa-…”  I was disappointed that the stairs from the end of this song were closed off.  We could only see from a distance.  When the older kids saw the stairs they said, “look Mom, it’s where they filmed the song!”  (Mirabell Gardens and Palace)

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This residence was the back drop for all the outside Van Trapp home scenes.  For example, when Maria and the children capsize the canoes and fall into the water.  If you look close, you can see the stone balusters that are filmed numerous times in the movie. (Leopoldskron Palace)

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“I am sixteen, going on seventeen!”  (Hellbrunn Palace Gardens)

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Abbey Scenes!

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Both from children singing, skipping along the river and hanging from the trees!

Prayers

My prayers go out to those who lost loved ones in the plane crash in France today.  It crashed near Barcelonnette, the ski village where Tristan first skied in the Alps.  Last week we were skiing within an 1.5 hour range of the crash.  Very devastating, especially those children traveling together.

Vars #3

This is more of a photo post today!  I am going to be creating a book of all my blog posts when we get back to the States in August, so I want to make sure I have all the memories in pictures and words.

I was able to find a spot in the trees, located next to one of the many snow parks that the kids frequently skied, to get some “action” pictures.  The rest of the photos are random from our three day vacation in Vars, France!

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Vars #2

We arrived at Vars on a Sunday evening and it began to snow, thankfully, after we made it up to the top of the mountain!  The Moreau’s had sleds and as soon as we got our belongings out of the van and into the hotel room the kids went straight outside for some sledding!

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The children were so excited to be in the snow!  After a few sledding runs down the hill, we walked down through the village to look for some dinner!  While the kids were sledding Jack and I quickly remembered that he did not have snow pants.  We did not have a pair for him from the States because they were too small and the next size up was an 8/10. So, Monday morning I had to run to the village to find something in his size.  Because it is close to the end of the season, a lot of the stores did not have his size.  But, I got lucky and found a little boutique nestled at the end of the shopping village that had one pair of size 6 snow pants!  Hooray!!!

We found a few good restaurants while we were in Vars.  The kids like to take pictures of their food! :)

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Because our hotel room only was equipped to sleep 5/6, Tristan stayed with the Moreau’s.  What is it about a hotel room that gets kids and adults so excited and happy?! My kids love to experience new sleeping accommodations and this was no exception!:)

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Sophie made a new friend while we were in Vars!  We didn’t find out her name but we will call her the “lift” friend!  For three days the same sweet lady worked the bunny slope lift.  I watched her for hours as she helped and instructed beginner skiers.  She knew Sophie’s name within a few hours and Sophie had interaction with her every single time she went on the lift.  The day I skied, this lady was helping and encouraging me too.  By the time our trip was over, I realized she knew so much about our family and I didn’t even know her name!  How selfish of me to not get to know her as she was so quick to become acquainted with us!

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Vars, France

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We decided to take a quick ski trip to the French Alps.  Tristan’s friend, Arnaud, and family were going and invited Tristan for the week, but we decided to go as a family for 3 days. It was awesome!!!!  Vars is a beautiful ski village.  We were able to get the last hotel room available in the same residence as the Moreau family.

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This was our view from our hotel room!

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We were one of the last housing accommodations up the mountain.  Our poor mini van almost didn’t make it.  We could walk to everything and the best part was the slopes were right out the doors of the hotel.  We went to the ski room in the basement of the hotel, found our coordinated ski locker/hotel room number, stored our shoes for the day, or ski’s and boots for the night, climbed a few stairs and hit the slopes.  It was so convenient with all the kids!  We loved it!

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This was Sophie’s first skiing experience!  The first day she was a little timid and didn’t enjoy herself very much.  The second and third day she was so comfortable going up and down the slope by herself!  It was so fun to watch her!

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We had to rent a lot of the gear.  The Moreau’s had a few pair of ski’s and a few helmets for the kids to use.  That helped out a lot.  It was definitely a process getting everyone suited up and out on the slopes!  After that first day it was easier because we knew where everything was and everyone felt a little more comfortable in our surroundings!

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Sonja, Arnaud’s mom, kept expressing how exhausting it must be to have 7 children.  Her and Christoph helped Aaron and I out a lot with the whole process of getting gear on and ready for the day.  It was funny to hear and see their french expressions in regards to our large family.  They enjoyed it and didn’t make us feel uncomfortable in anyway! :)  In fact, they were always looking for ways to help out.  Whether it was on the slopes, at meal times or just having a few more hands in the morning “getting everyone out the door”!

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We had a wonderful time in the French Alps!  I tried skiing the last day.  I was Sophie’s companion on the bunny slope!  I tried skiing as a teenager in upstate New York and never liked it.  (I had some good laughs back then!)  I don’t feel like I have control of my surroundings when I ski and I get freaked out by the height and speed that happens when you get up higher than a bunny slope! LOL!  But I tried it and I skied the last day we were there.  It was fun and I am so glad I did it.  Aaron took me up the mountain once and I was so scared.  I made it down, of course, but never went back up.  Too much in one day! Baby steps for me when it comes to skiing.  They other kids are awesome!  In fact, Jack is fearless.  He went up to the top with all the “big” kids and adults and Aaron said he had no fear and never freaked out.  Sometimes he was in the lead down the slope.  He was going on the snow parks with the rails and jumps.  My little Jack was getting some air!

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We had an awesome time and we are all so grateful for this opportunity we had to ski in the French Alps!  I will do another post in the next few days with more pictures!  I haven’t had a chance to download photos from my camera.  These were all our iPhone photos! :)

Bäckerei, Hummel, Cuckoo Clocks and meandering Streets of Salzburg

The morning we woke up in Salzburg, we set out for the day on foot.  We left our hotel, Hotel Via Roma, and started for historical city center.  We were wandering around the quaint neighborhoods and came upon this bakery.  We were all hungry for breakfast and this is just what we love to do in a new place:  find a local bakery or delicacy specific to that area!

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Any time our family enters a small European establishment, we have heads turn and we never can go unnoticed!  This is exactly what happened as we walked into this bakery.  It was typical of European bakeries:  small, quaint and familiar.  There were about four other customers inside so we all felt a little cramped, but, nonetheless we proceeded to decide what might be good to try.  Everything and everyone speaks german in Salzburg so we did not understand what everything was.  A nice man in front of us overheard us speaking english and trying to make out what each item was.  He kindly turned and asked, in english, if we needed some assistance!  We happily accepted.  He then told us we were lucky because this particular bakery was the most famous and well known to all the locals. It is “the” bakery to frequent.  Jackpot!  I love when this happens during a new experience! This man then explained what each item was and we were able to make some choices. The ladies behind the counter were so friendly!  They even let me take a photo of them “on the job”.

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We all enjoyed some of their local delicacies.  They are also known for their pretzel rolls. They were good, but a little heavy for the morning!  It is always fun trying new things!  A lot of their pastries were filled with fruit or a custard.  They were heavier than most of the pastries here in France.  We enjoyed our “breakfast” so much we returned the next morning!  The outside of the bakery was so picturesque, yet simple, with the darling gold pretzel hanging from the wire hook.

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We proceeded to meander up and down the beautiful side streets of Salzburg and we came upon the largest retailer of Hummel figurines and collectables.  It was amazing!  My Mom has a small collection of Hummel figurines so it was a little walk down memory lane as I explained to my children about their Grandma’s collection and other memories associated with Hummel.  I wish I could have taken a picture on the inside!  It was incredible!  My Mom would have been in heaven!  I wish I could have afforded to get one for nostalgic reasons, but the price tags were a little too overwhelming!

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Right after we left the Hummel boutique we turned a corner and came upon an awesome little retailer of Swiss Army knives and Cuckoo Clocks.  The first was, of course, for the male members of the family.  They had a cool collection to choose from and the three older boys were able to enjoy a new knife for scouts/emergencies.  While the boys were looking at the knives, I could not keep my eyes off the cuckoo clocks.  Again, another childhood memory.  This time of my Grandma Wittwer.  She had a cuckoo clock that she got from Europe many years ago and I remember it so well.  I had no idea how many emotions would be felt on this day in Salzburg.  I hadn’t even seen one Sound of Music site yet, but my childhood memories were coming to the surface!  It was exciting and special for me personally!

Below are a few pictures I took of our walk from the hotel to the city center in Salzburg. We saw beautiful rooftops, Abbeys, Cathedrals and quaint little roads!  We all loved it, especially me!  I am grateful we did not stay in the city center.  We were only a 10-15 minute walk to city center and it was worth every step!  (Plus, it didn’t break the bank being a little further from city center!) :)

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Duvets

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I learned some information about Duvets on our trip to Germany that I found interesting.  I love duvets.  I prefer a good down duvet over a comforter or quilt any day of the week and at any time of the year.  In the States, one buys the size of duvet according to the size bed one has.  France is the same way.  But, Germany has a different way of doing duvets. They use twin size duvets for any size of bed.  If one has a king size bed (which is usually two twins put together), the twin duvet gets folded in half and lays across the width as the above picture shows.  There is usually space between the pillow and duvet.  It is meant to look like an oversized pillow laying on top of the bed.  Sometimes, there is only the fitted sheet and one only uses the duvet.  Since I use duvets on all our beds in the States, I never buy flat sheets anymore.  They have become a nuisance!  My kids do not sleep with a flat sheet either.  In fact, they get frustrated here in France because a few of the beds only have comforters and/or sheets and the sheets always get ripped off and thrown on the floor!  Haha!

When we stayed at the Sneddons, I was helping Jenny make up the beds and she explained this to me, after I had noticed the guest bedroom having two duvets folded the width of the bed.  I found it interesting because I use duvets.  I had never seen this done before.  So, when two people sleep in the same bed, they do not share the same duvet.

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These pictures were taken at our hotel in Salzburg, Austria after having seen this in Germany at the Sneddons.  I chuckled as I entered the hotel room and was happy that I knew the German custom of duvets.  There are a few other European countries that use this twin size style on their beds.  It worked perfect for the kids, because there was no debate the following morning as to who pulled off who’s covers!  I love learning little tidbits of information like this!

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