Sep 28, 2009

The Tube

***Update: My pal Q gave me a hot tip on a website called sidereel and now my world has been rocked. Woohoo. I watched 6 consecutive hours of TV. The kids are fine, I only slightly neglected Gabe while catching up on my fave shows. I even watched some shows that I don't really even care for. I was binging, I admit it. When Matt gets home we are going to hook up the laptop to that darn 52" flat screen collecting dust, so we can watch TV on the TV while sitting comfortably on the couch instead of on the computer monitor and in a lame computer chair. Yes, I watched the end of Criminal Minds, I also watched 6 episodes of Top Chef, the premier of Biggest Loser and, drumroll please, the Amazingest Race. I'm happy. ****

It is highly challenging for me to catch my favorite shows over here in Germany. The network websites block all videos to IP addresses located outside the US and other ways of watching TV online, such as Hulu, are also blocked. There are a bunch of different sites that I have heard of that air US television shows but so far they require downloading, signing up, and other stuff that I don't feel comfortable doing without consulting Matt.
After missing all three of premiers of my favorite shows, today, I found out that I can watch them on youtube. Some people are cool enough to take the time to post the shows on their youtube channel. The bad part is that youtube won't allow people to post the entire episode, so you have to watch it in parts. This isn't too much of a problem, the commercials are all cut out so all you have to do is watch one segment at a time. The segments seem to be about 10 minutes long.
This plan worked fabulously for Grey's Anatomy. I just finished watching the premier. Yeah! And it was working well for Criminal Minds UNTIL I failed to find segment 5/5. I watched segments 1-4 and now I don't know what happened in the last 9 minutes. Lame. No luck yet finding the Amazing Race premier from last night but it is just now Monday morning in the US, so I am not giving up hope yet!
I haven't watched TV in over 3 months. Occasionally, I wish I could find something to just veg out and watch, but for the most part I wasn't missing it too much, until the premiers.

Sep 26, 2009

Heidelberger Herbst

The boys and I took the Strassenbahn to Heidelberg today to check out their Herbst (fall festival). The pedestrian zone was packed with vendors and entertainers, people garage selling in the alleys and there were a few stages with live music throughout the area. We walked around, ate some typical German street food, looked at some of the stuff the vendors were selling, and I didn't lose either of the kids.
I never liked Brats but I've tried to consume them twice now at these little city festivals. All it did was confirm that I don't like them. I don't like them on a bun, I don't like them on the run, I don't like them with a beer, I don't like them anywheeere. I will not eat a Brat again. I will not, will not, entschuldigen. (That means "excuse me", it doesn't make sense but it rhymes, a little).
I do love the Champigiones. They are some specific type of mushroom sauted in something that just makes them fabulous and then there is this delicious sauce on them - that tips them over the edge from just good to darn tasty.
The Pommes Fritas are basically fries. I'm not a big fry fan, but they are great as far as fries go. I'd much rather have the little pommes than any other fry I've had before. Yep I said it. They are better than Five Guys.
We shared a crepe with cinnamon and sugar, and Gabriel opted for some chocolate gelato. I stepped into the Starbucks today for the first time since we moved here. I think Matt may have grabbed me a regular Joe from there once before, but today I got a Venti Coffee Frappuccino and it was good! We walked to an open field and plopped down in the sun so I could focus on truly enjoying my drink.
So, all this food ordering confirmed that I have some serious pronunciation issues. I say all the right words but one minor pronunciation error and I have people looking at me in total confusion. Thüringer. T-huringer. T-h-ooouringer. T-h-ooourin-grrr. I don't know. After a moment of the guy looking perplexed and thinking "Was ist sie sprechen?" I pointed to the menu and the breakdown in communication passed. Believe it or not, Fanta, as in that nasty orange soda, can be pronounced by this California girl in such a way that the salesman is clueless on that one too. And this is why I spend 1 1/2 hours two nights a week in German class. To survive.
Always an adventure.

Sep 25, 2009

On Running, Again.

I know, I keep talking about running. Its because I struggle with it every day so it is on my mind. Or maybe, it is that my legs hurt so bad right now I can't think of anything else. At any rate I'm running again. The blister turned into a rock-solid chunk of flesh that is now so hard it is just daring those comfort shoes to try and break it down. All is well for the feet.
I have to say I love, really love Nike+. I mocked it when Matt HAD to have an ipod so that he could have Nike+, but now that I use mine all of the time, I must publicly apologize for making fun of him. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, it is basically a high-tech pedometer. I have a sensor on my shoe and the "brains" in my ipod. I pick my music and tell the brain that I want to run for distance, time, calories, or whatever and then push "start". A nice voice encourages me by telling me my pace, distance traveled, and time. It also keeps a record of your runs. Today, I looked back at my record to see what days I ran, how far, and how fast. It is cool.
I also like listening to "live" albums while running. At the end of every song, the audience claps. I like to pretend they are cheering for me.
A low tech bonus for my run today - I aired up the tires in the jogger. It is truly amazing how a few pumps of air in those tires can really change the difficulty of pushing it. So, the DOT really knows what they are talking about when they tell drivers to ensure their car tires are inflated properly to save gas. Who would have thought?
My last thought on running, for now, is with regards to the effectiveness of running as a method of weight loss. I read this one website that suggested you must constantly change your route and running regime in order for running to remain effective, because your body gets used to certain things and doesn't require as much to accomplish the same task if repeated over time. Fine. This may apply to most people, but me? I have been running 3-4 miles for 25 days now (with the few days off here and there) and it is still hard. In fact, today I returned from a 4 mile run and sat on the chairs in front of the apartment building for 5 minutes trying to work up the energy to make it up 4 steps to the house. It will take a lot more for my body to catch on to what I'm trying to do to it.
The other day I took some pictures of the forest that I run around in, they are posted here for your entertainment. It should be a slideshow but technology is not on my side. If you click on the picture to make it larger, you can also scroll through all the pictures. The password is still ourphotos.

My running path.

Click here to view these pictures larger

Sep 19, 2009

Saved by Mormons. . . seriously.

A few days ago someone told me about a park in Mannheim that was simply wonderful. It has a small zoo, playgrounds, gondola rides and much more. Since today is Saturday and there is nothing I have to do other than entertain my children, it seemed like a good day to head to the Luisenpark. I looked up information on the park online and found out that today IS the best day to head to the park, because it is kid's day. Not only were both kids' admission free but there were also special events taking place.
We arrived around 1pm and started through the maze of paths and attractions. There were about 50 booths that were sponsored by community groups that offered things like bounce houses, face painting, balloon animals, etc. There were also performances by bands, dancers and a magician.
One of the booths was sponsored by a local chapter of Mormons. I couldn't read a word from their banner but they were the only people in the park dressed in black pants, white shirts and a tie. Obviously Mormons. A closer look revealed their name tags. The only thing missing was the bikes, they would have come in handy today.
We visited the fire department booth and the boys took turns knocking down cans with the fire hose and then went around the corner to watch people climb the rock wall. 30 seconds pass and Eli is running around this huge fountain and Gabe is. . . . nowhere to be found. Never mind the details of the first 10 minutes of looking for Gabe, it was a lot of looking and praying. Once that time had passed I knew the chances of me finding him were slim. I needed help.
Who speaks English at a local kids fair? The Mormons, and they happened to be 10 feet from the very place that I lost sight of Gabe. I walked over to the Mormon tent and asked a guy "Sprechen Sie Englisch?" He answered "nein" but motioned for one of the young Elders to come over and told him I spoke English.
The Elder asked me "what's up?" and that is when I started to cry. I told him I lost my son and needed to know who to contact in order to find him. There was German spoken which I didn't understand and before I knew it a flock of bilingual Mormon missionaries were taking pictures of a photo I had of Gabe with their iphones and then they were off. They went in all directions calling his name. I was left standing at the place I lost him, trying to keep it together enough to console Eli, who by the way had already written off any chance of finding Gabe and was morning the loss of his "only brother".
A few of the Elders came back without Gabe and led me to some guy who seemed to know something about something. He made a call and then told us to go to the Suchdienst fur verlorene Kinder - the lost kid tent. As we were headed over there an Elder told us that he ran into a gentleman who thought he saw Gabe being escorted to the tent. That was promising but now we just had to find that darn tent. We were walking every way but the right way, turning around and heading in another direction at every turn. The Elder I was with got a phone call saying that his other Elder buddies were with Gabe.
About 10 minutes later we finally met up with Gabe sitting a table with 3 Mormons and another gentleman who had joined the Mormon search party early on. Gabe was sucking on a sucker and having a conversation with these men. I cried, wiped my tears and thanked each of the Elders profusely.
They then invited me to come to church with them tomorrow and gave me their business card in case I needed anything (like help finding my kids again). Thankfully, they didn't go into their whole high pressure speech, because I was so thankful for them I probably would have pretended to be super interested and maybe even agreed to come to church.
Those bikes would have really sped up the process of finding Gabe. They should definitely not go anywhere without them. In all seriousness, I'm so blessed by those guys today. The first thing the young Elder said to me when I told him Gabe was lost was "we should pray" and I responded "I have, that is all I've been doing since I lost him".
Dear God, bless those men and show them your truth. Thank you for delivering Gabe to me safely today and please help me to never lose him again.

Sep 18, 2009

God Timing

No, I wasn't trying to spell "good" and left out an "o". I really mean God timing.
Yesterday, the rough day, I was walking home from PWOC with Gabe. If you know Gabe's walking speed, you know it is s-l-o-w. We finally reached our street and were about to cross when at that exact moment Mandi was getting out of her car.
We stopped and chatted with Mandi for a few minutes when a girl named Stephanie showed up. Stephanie is Mandi's dog walker and she is the most desired babysitter in Mannheim. Perfect. I ask Stephanie if she can watch the boys for my German classes, you know the answer, she said "no". I asked her if she had ANY phone numbers with her of a person she could recommend to me. She had one. Sierra.
Today, all day I've been reminding myself to call Sierra. After an hour of getting in and out of the car running errands I make it home, put cold stuff in the fridge, leave everything else on the counter and call Sierra.
Her mom answers. Ah man. I don't want to keep leaving messages for these girls. I want to chat with one and get an answer now! Oh, but mom tells me Sierra is home. I chat with Sierra and she commits to watching the boys for the next 4 weeks on Tues and Thurs.
Yeah. Small victory. No big victory. Because as long as my kids don't scare her off, and she doesn't let them burn down the house, I'm claiming her. I'm going to find out how much people usually pay her and add a few bucks so she keeps coming back. Seriously.
If I hadn't run into Mandi, I wouldn't have known that the cute girl walking by was THE Stephanie, and she wouldn't have given me Sierra's number. That is God timing.

Sep 17, 2009

Pop Quiz

Your pop quiz consists of one multiple choice question.
No need to use a number 2 pencil, just write your answer down in your head. No cheating by scrolling to the bottom to find the answer. Cheating will not be tolerated.

Of the following events that occurred today, which of the following caused Clarissa to cry?

1. Didn't get to run this morning because I had to be at PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) at 9am. After my 3 day break to help my torn flesh heal, I was back in the forest on Monday and Tuesday but didn't make it out on Wednesday because I had to take Matt to the airport, and didn't make it today because of PWOC. I'm on track to be streaking in the wrong direction. I'm not supposed to be counting how many days in a row I DON'T run, I'm supposed to be counting the days I do run. Not a good restart.
2. When I returned from a good experience at PWOC, I was asked to move the van so that the roof destructos could move their truck where I was parked. I went to start the van and the battery was dead . . . again. So, I told the worker guy I would gladly move the van after he jumped it. He jumped it, I snatched up Gabe and headed to the auto shop. I quickly realized I was low on gas but was afraid to go get gas because I feared turning off the car again would mean getting another jump. I bypassed the fuel and went to the battery place. I left the van running so that it didn't die and ran in. Huge line. Faced with a choice a. keep van running so if they don't have my battery I can still get home but risk running out of gas or b. turn it off and face the consequences. I turned it off as soon as I found out they had a battery. I made it back home with about 10 minutes to spare in order to pick Eli up from school.
3. While out dealing with the battery, I bought a phone card for my cell. Somehow the last 15 euro card I bought managed to disappear in 12 hours. Matt loaded the minutes on the phone on Sunday night and by Monday morning the minutes were gone. It took 6 weeks to go through the minutes I bought last time so we knew something was up. Nothing we could do about those so I just bought a new card and loaded it up today. After loading the minutes I dialed the number to check my minutes about 5 minutes later to make sure everything went right. I dialed the same number today as I did yesterday to find them out and it wouldn't work. I was panicking that the same thing that sucked the minutes last time was happening again. I frantically was trying to get the sim card out of the phone so they didn't go down the toilet. The problem was I didn't know how to get the sim card out because I don't even know where they hid it. I watch a youtube video instruction for getting the card out. All I need is a paperclip. I don't have a single paperclip in my house. Trust me there is a path of destruction to prove I looked everywhere. I finally use an earring, get the card out and put it in my other phone. I called the number again to check the minutes and some German recording goes on about something and all I understand is "nein" meaning no. I tested out the phone by calling home. It works, so I have minutes on there but I still don't know how many.
4. German class tonight but Matt was told on Monday that he has to go to Romania on Wednesday morning for 6 weeks. I really like my German class. If I quit now I'll have to wait until next September to start again or I'll have to start section 2 without doing section one. This brings up a recurring problem, I need a babysitter. I was given a name and called her last night but she didn't call me back yet. 2pm today, class starts at 6. Still no call from sitter 1. I ran into a girl who was recommended to me by a friend and she cannot do it tonight or any other night. She gives me a name of one of her friends. I hate trying to find a babysitter and more than that, like exponentially more than that I hate trying to find one at the last minute. I signed up for the class because Matt was supposed to be here at least until October. We knew there was a chance that he would go, but I thought I would get at least 3 more classes in before I had to worry about getting a sitter. If Matt were here, I wouldn't have to worry about a sitter.

Your guess?

The phone. Something about technology not working when it should just freaks me out. Wednesday morning I dialed *100* send and it told me I had 4 cents on my phone. Why won't it work today? Why? WHY?

In the end, I had a good time at PWOC and it is totally worth missing a morning run. If I can, I'll try and run a little later on Thursdays, but if not - I'm fine with it. The van battery has been a thorn in my side for a year now. That darn battery. I was so glad to kick it to the curb (not really, although some people around here totally would) and so glad that it was pretty good timing for it to die on me. The sitter issue is SO frustrating and stressful but Mandi saved the day and watched the boys for me tonight which gives me a few more days to try and get a sitter lined up for the next 4 weeks.

Sep 13, 2009

Genesis, Exodus, Levitucus . . .

The first five books of the German bible are Mose 1-5. This is an interesting little tidbit. Today at church we listened to a message from Mose 2.
I also learned that just as there are different English translations, the German translation is different still. The German bible describes Moses' consecrations of priests as "filling their hands". While the English term "consecration" and "ordination" are big religious terms, the German translation "filling their hands" provides a pretty good visual. Moses was to fill the hands of the priests before he sent them out to do ministry.
Today we tried church number vier. It was a German church with English translation. Like one of the other churches we went to, we worshiped at this church in German and English, but there was a lot more German going on here. I think German worship songs are so beautiful and I doubt that I really need to know what I'm saying anyway so for now I just read the words and try to sing along.
The message was good too. I must say I am still trying to get used to the translation. Sometimes it takes twice as long for the German translation of an English sentence. And the 30 minute message turns into an hour when the whole thing is repeated.
The kids enjoyed their class as well. They also have a German teacher with an English translation. Most of the kids spoke German but the kids still played and learned about Moses and marching around in the desert. The English speaking teacher talked to me after class and told me the boys participated and seemed to enjoy themselves. She is and English speaker and seemed very pleased that we were visiting. She suggested that we go to her house for dinner sometime. This is what you do when you are starving for easy conversation, you invite the first English speaking family you meet over for dinner.
So, we are going to go back to this church in the coming weeks to see if this is the place we want to call our church home.

Sep 12, 2009

Dumpster Diver

The first time was the chairs. No actual dumpster was involved but the chairs had been set out on trash day. I do have to admit I took the neighbors' trash.
Since then, I have come to own a few more "found" items. Our neighbors moved out a week ago and before they left they just started tossing stuff to the curb (obviously no HOA trash rules here).
The first find was an 1800 watt transformer, a brand new one would cost $200. Since I relocated it from the curb to my house I can now use my 110 vacuum.
Next was some detergent, cleaner, downy ball, fabric softener and a little 75 watt transformer PERFECT for my flat iron.
Then came the ultimate find. The knife. I was all bent out of shape because they put a knife in the grass on the curb. The curb is on the street where kids ride their bikes, walk to school, and run wild. To make things worse it was MY curb and the knife would be a huge temptation for MY kids. So, I picked up the knife and started to storm to the dumpster, but then I thought that may not be a good idea, because someone might have to go through the dumpster at some point and might stab themselves. I had a box of stuff going to the thrift store in the house so I brought the knife in. As I was putting the knife in the box I realized that it was a JA Henckles knife. I recognized the brand because those are the knives in the locked case at Target. I decided to wash it and test it out.
One word= Amazing! This is a fabulous knife. I should mention that all of my other knives are the ones that came in the knife block we got as a gift when we got married, so there isn't much to compare it to, but it cuts so well. It is my new favorite thing and it makes me really want a new set of knives.
I do want to say that I held back and didn't swipe the vacuum cleaner, butcher block island, or pans. I do have some standards.

Sep 11, 2009

A House Full

Yesterday and today Eli's new BFF and BFFS(sister) came over to play with the boys. The kids played on the playground, then in the house, then they played the Wii, then they played house, then they had snacks, played some more and then I kicked them out. Well, I let my kids stay but I kicked out the BFF and BFFS.
As I was listening to the kids play I was so happy inside. This is the first time that Eli has ever had a friend over like this. Sure, there were some friends that came over in VA but most of the friends were Gabe's age, and then there was Mary but her mom came over with her.
This was the situation where the kids come running to the door and ask "can Eli play?" The BFF/BFFS family live right across the parking lot so there are no rides to be arranged, just hop on over and play - play until the parents send everyone home.
I'm sad because BFF and BFFS are moving very soon. Their packers already came and picked up there stuff and it is just a matter of days before they leave. I am so sad that, for the first time in Eli's life he has a friend that is his own age to play with right in our own neighborhood, and we just happen to live in a place that has a million playgrounds to run around on.
So, I had to remind myself of a little lesson I learned a few months ago, it doesn't really matter how much time you have with someone it is about what you do in that time. Eli's time with BFF will be short, but right now he is having a blast with his neighbor friend. And that is how it should be.
Looking forward to another day of a house full of kids.

Sep 10, 2009

Streaking

One day my friend Rachael told me that her husband Ryan liked to streak. For a moment I was trying not to picture Ryan running naked through the neighborhood, and then she clarified this streaking thing. He set his mind to doing something and then would see how far he could go without breaking the streak. Example: he decided to run every day and did it from Jan - August. He wanted to get his run in on the day his son was born so he headed out to the hospital parking lot to run laps. Don't worry, Rachael was totally fine with the arrangement.
So, when I decided I was going to start running, I decided I would run every day I dropped Eli off from school, except Thursday because I will go to PWOC, and then I would try to fit in runs if at all possible on the weekends as well. I'm not ready to fully streak but I wanted to come close.
I started running on the 31st, and have run about 5k/3 miles every day since except one. However, I got a blister from these really cool, comfortable LOOKING shoes last week and I have to take some days off for it to heal. I have put 3 layers of band-aids on this thing and still, by the time I get back from the run I have blood all over my sock and shoe. I have been running through the pain of this thing for a week now, but it just isn't healing. It is actually no longer a blister, but a gaping hole in my flesh. I've decided to go with the advise of my untrained pretend doctor husband to take 3 days off to let it heal.
I'm so disappointed, but I'm also determined that I'm starting up again on Monday.

Sep 9, 2009

Strassen Schaden

Matt and I are particularly fond of two German signs. One says "Ausfalt Freihalten" and the other is "Strassen Schaden". We like them not because of their meaning as much as how much we enjoy saying them.
Ausfault Freihalten (pronounced owsfault fryhalten) means "keep the car exit clear" or "don't block the driveway". We were pronouncing it "freehalten" for awhile and we think it sounds better that way, even though it is wrong. Randomly, throughout the day one of us might just blurt out "ausfault freihalten" and then laugh. The other laughs too. It is probably not funny, but we amuse ourselves easily. Out of respect for the native tongue and to keep from totally embarrassing ourselves we try to refrain from saying this in public.
Strassen Schaden is a fun one to say too. It means rough road. We have decided to use this to refer to all things "messed up". The house, a situation, my hair, my brain - all strassen schaden. Matt forgot to pick something up at the store and his only defense was that he was "strassen schaden". How can I argue with that?
The other day I was running on a gravel path through the forest, the stroller was bouncing all over, I was kicking pebbles and nearly tripping and the only thing that came to mind was "THIS is strassen schaden"! And because I have nothing else to do but think while running, I starting thinking about how our road has been a little rough over the past few weeks. Nothing too difficult to travel on, but just not that smooth Sunday drive that we enjoy. It is all little things: car buying, furniture buying, claims to turn in, boxes to unpack, church to find, missing things that I'm used to, the whole 220-110 issue, and so on. Stress in the little things gets us all riled up and then that makes everything else get crazy too. I can't wait to get out and go explore, get on the open road and discover this country, but I feel so weighed down by all these details we need to get sorted out and all the bumps we have to get around.
I have to remind myself that the road is strassen schaden but it isn't closed. It is passable with patience, understanding, and a sense of humor. And, thankfully, it doesn't go on forever. It is just a section of the road.
Slowly, we are starting to adjust and get used to this new life that we have here. I'm hoping that the end of this strassen schaden section is soon, until then I'm trying to dodge the big potholes and take the rest in stride - and avoid that path in the forest while pushing the stroller.

Sep 6, 2009

3 Churches

We started our hunt for a new church a few weeks ago. So far we hit three churches in as many weeks.
The first church we went to was an international church. It was small, this will be a recurring theme for our church hunt. A helpful lady showed us where the boys would go for their class and Matt and I made our way up to the main meeting area. They had a live band, complete with drums, bongos, guitars and a few singers. This was a good sign. Worship was an attempt at the modern worship we were used to at Fairfax. The songs were familiar, but the talent was lacking. I know I'm not supposed to judge, but I'm just saying, it was very different from the skill level we are used to. The very cool aspect of worship was our multi-cultural approach to songs. Some songs were in English, others in German and one was both. It was cool to worship in German. I'm sure we destroyed the language but it was interesting to worship in a different language. The regular pastor wasn't there this week, so we heard a message from a sub. He wasn't very good but he did speak to me and I walked away with something to think about and apply to my life. The pastor spoke English and the message was translated into German. This made for a long service. Sentence by sentence was translated before the speaker would move on.
Week 2 we hit the post chapel. Now this was a trip. We walked in and heard great worship songs with a fabulous leader. But there was nobody up front - the worship leader was on CD. This service was a mix of every protestant religion I've ever heard of. We had the doxology, standing for the reading of the word, contemporary worship, hymm worship, candle lighters, and a good old fashioned baptist depression song at the end. If you are Baptist I don't mean to offend but you have to admit the Baptist hymnal has a whole lot of songs about sinning and dying. The service felt like they were doing their best to make everyone get a little taste of their own denomination. The message was just odd. I can't explain it but it wasn't really biblical based and I'm not really sure what I was supposed to walk away with. The kids loved it because it was "back to school Sunday" and they got school supplies and candy.
Week 3. An international Baptist church. This one is in English but people may come from all different places aside from the US. The guy in charge of the closing prayer sounded like he was from Scotland, I couldn't help but look over at Matt and say "is that William Wallace?" Matt had a good chuckle and later on we were yelling "FREEDOM" to each other. It was a young congregation that met in an old Audi car dealership building. That little fact is irrelevant but it looked cool and I thought it was interesting. The pastor was really great. He preached a great message that was really interesting and relevant but not fluffy and topical. He did his homework and it was a great time of learning. Worship was interesting. We sang a hymm or two, and some more modern songs but we sang "Thy Word" by Amy Grant and that was a little odd. That song came out in 1980 -something, but OK. The people were friendly and it turns out that they have a small group that meets at our post every other Wed for dinner and bible study.
All of the churches were small. All of them had some quirky thing about them that made Matt and I look at each other with those eyes that say "really?" but it is a start. Now we just need to decide what we want most in a church and go from there.

30 Seconds to Disaster

The day started well enough, we all slept in, headed off to church trial number 3, had lunch and then Sunday obligatory naps. After we rested or slept we decided to head off into the forest as a family. Matt and Eli would ride their bikes and Gabriel would ride his bike while I run along side him. It was a great plan.
We assured Gabe that it was not a cobblestone path (too bumpy) and that there were no sidewalks to ride up and down (his big fear). He hopped on his bike and started toward the gate. Then it started. There was a white line at the gate exit, you know the kind that is painted on the road to tell you where to make a full and complete stop. He got off his bike and walked it across the line. I take a deep breath.
"Come on Gabe, you can ride on the paved path, there are no more white stop lines on the pavement and we can avoid all pot holes and bumps in the road because no cars come down here".
He starts to peddle, I start to pick up my pace a bit, and then disaster strikes. Less than .02 miles from the start of this journey he freaks. He sees a slight, minor, baby incline and starts screaming. "Oh no a hill".
Then he keeps screaming and crying and I put my hand on his back and help him up the hill so he doesn't have to peddle hard but he keeps crying.
Things get foggy here. I lose my mind. All sense of sanity goes out the window and I make the biggest, most embarrassing scene ever.
I stand him up on the side of the road and tell him "you will stop screaming and you will get on that bike and ride it now".
He screams.
"Fine you don't want to ride your bike? You are going to run with me. You got it? 5k in 30 minutes or less. Lets go".
He still had his helmet on and I took his hand and we started running. I abandoned the bike on the side of the road and we run.
Reality hits me. This child cannot run with me for another 100 feet let alone to the wild buffalo. I stop and ask him "do you want to keep running or ride your bike?"
He cries.
I look back and Matt is riding his bike while carrying Gabe's bike.
I'm flaming mad. Steam is coming out my ears. Gabe's life is flashing before my eyes, I want to duck tape his little body onto the bike and force him to ride the darn thing through the beautiful forest on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. NOW!!
This was supposed to be a fun family activity and Gabe, in his defiance and unrealistic psychosis fears has ruined it for me.
Matt and Eli head off to the buffalo and I storm home with Gabe. I have to walk past the guards who are probably laughing at the whole scene. I am telling Gabe how frustrated I am with him because he is not willing to even try. The neighbors hear me ranting at him, he is crying . . . still, and we finally make it home. I make him bring his bike down the stairs and into the storage unit - where it will stay, and we go upstairs. He sits on his bed. I sigh.
Such a great plan, such a great day, explodes into disaster in moments.
On to plan B. Matt and Eli are back from their ride. I'm off to run alone, and Gabe is sitting in his room where there is no potential for white lines, bumps, minor hills, and side walks.

Sep 4, 2009

Run Forest Run

It has been about 3 months since this body did anything related to working out. I was getting ready for the move in June, vacationing in July, and simply surviving August. Now that September is here I'm ready to run.
For the past 3 years I have been a member of my local Gold's Gym. There were two gyms within 5 miles of my house that I could use. They have childcare on site, a fabulous smoothie bar, and air conditioning. About 6 months after joining Golds I turned 30 and was in the best physical shape of my life. I loved the feeling of being strong and fit. I didn't diet as much as I just watched what I ate and worked out 4-5 days a week. It really was about working out, getting strong and being healthy.
Since then my weight and fitness level have fluctuated, but for the most part, when I am eating healthy and working out regularly I feel good and I'm comfortable with my body. When I found out that Gabe wouldn't be able to go to Kindergarten here, my first concern was "how am I going to work out?" The gym on post doesn't have childcare (or a smoothie bar and a/c but that is irrelevant) so I can't work out during the day. The thought of being out of the gym for a year scared me - so I decided to do the only thing I could think of, run.
My plan is to run every day after I drop Eli off for school. Right now, Gabe is in the jogger - which makes running even more of a work out, but hopefully he can get over his fears of falling off his bike (fully equip with training wheels) and start riding while I run. We are so blessed to have a forest right behind our house. It is so beautiful! There are a bunch of dirt trails that weave through it and a few paved paths as well. The sun shines down through the treetops and illuminates this beautiful natural area. There are a ton of walkers that go through there with their little ski pole looking walking sticks and they always say "morgen" to me. That is just a little bonus.
So, I started running on Monday. The first and second day were torture. My knee was screaming the whole time and my body was flat out protesting. Day three was much better, I picked up the pace a bit and was pain free. Thursday it rained. I'm not talking about a sprinkling, I'm talking about a full on downpour, tear leaves off the trees, puddle making rain. And I ran. I put the rain shield on the stroller and ran. I was soaking wet, water was dripping off my hat, I hid my ipod in my shorts to keep it dry, and I ran all 5k. It felt great. Today, I ran hard, finished in a good time, and saw a hedgehog along the way. Week one done. 5k a day for a week despite the pain, rain, and blisters from my hand-made German not-so-comfort shoes.
I know I can do it, now I just have to keep it up.

Sep 3, 2009

Thoughts on . . .

Throughout the past week I have often thought of something that I wanted to blog about, but haven't had the time to complete the thought or write it down, so today I'm going to write my incomplete thoughts on various subjects.

Laundry:
I was horrified when I found out our tiny apartment wouldn't have a washer and dryer in it. Who lives like that? However, I have come to enjoy my laundry situation. Since we are on the 1st floor and the laundry is in the basement it isn't a huge trek to go do laundry and once down in the basement I get to do multiple loads of laundry at a time! I usually only take up 2 washers just in case someone else needs to do some laundry too. I go down with two loads, toss them in the washer and go upstairs. I return 30 minutes later with 2 more loads, put the wash stuff into the dryer and put the new stuff in the washers. Return 30 minutes later to switch wash to dryer, check dryers (they are never ready in 30 mins). I return in a half hour to get the first 2 loads of stuff and 30 minutes later to retrieve the rest. So, in 1 1/2 hours I wash,dry, fold and put away 4 loads of laundry. That is cool.
I have also come to enjoy chatting with my neighbor while doing laundry. You can't do that if you are doing laundry in the comfort of your own home.

Neighbors: I think my upstairs neighbor wears high heels and is training for a marathon - in the apartment. My stairwell mates are all pretty quiet but when my house is quiet and my upstairs neighbor is going about her business in hard soled shoes, that sound of clickity clacking shoes on wood floors is close to nails on a chalk board.

Homeschooling: I started homeschooling Gabe this week. So far things are going well. We have a little routine and Gabe seems to be enjoying himself and learning a little along the way too. He has a memory verse, color, letter and number of the week, and we do fun things like practice recognizing numbers by measuring things (the kid loves a tape measure) and remembering body part names like "ankle" by playing "Simon Says". However, my kids clearly don't respect the idea of home school. Gabe keeps mentioning things like "in my REAL school with Ms Nancy..." (last year's preschool teacher) or "when I go to REAL school . . . " and my favorite was when Eli announced at the dinner table a few days ago that "Mom is PRETENDING to teach Gabe". Seriously folks, this is what I'm dealing with here.

Unpacking: I so badly wanted all the boxes out of my house that I just unloaded stuff into A cupboard somewhere in the vicinity of where I think the item might eventually rest and moved on. I didn't wait for shelf liners or to even wipe down the cupboards, I just piled stuff in. It is completely not my nature to just toss stuff there, but desperate times called for desperate measures. There is no room in this apartment for boxes.

Boxes: some of our most hilarious scenes have occurred after 11pm with moving supplies. I had to hoist Matt into the dumpster to smash down all the paper we threw in there. This shouldn't be entertaining but it was. As I put my knee out for Matt to stand on my thigh he decided it was the perfect time to pretend we were cheerleaders. I can't explain the scene, but I was laughing so hard that when he stepped on to my leg to get in the dumpster I couldn't stay still and I inadvertently (maybe) caused him to tumble into the dumpster. We had a lot of loads of paper and boxes to take to the dumpster - there was a lot of laughter. The neighbors probably think we are crazy.

Skanky T: While lounging around the house in a skanky tank top, it is highly recommended that you keep a respectable shirt by the front door in case of visitors. The emergency shirt was used twice in one day. Good plan.