Just a quick note as I come up to breathe from studying, my (first and hopefully last) Arabic language test is on Friday 10/3. See you all in a week!
I raced my first 5k over the weekend. Camille, my awesome amazing and to be much thanked running buddy, and I have been training both separately and apart. She, to get back to running after a few kids, and me, to get to a point where I wouldn’t embarrass myself by collapsing on the course after the first mile. We both succeeded, and I made it through the entire 5k while pushing a toddler (UP GODDAMNED HILLS) in a stroller.
The Rockin’ Stroller 5k was designed with families in mind. Everyone in the race was pushing a stroller (although some kids were ornery enough to want to walk or run the entire race THOSE FOOLS). My toddler, no fool is she, sat in comfort as I pushed here 5k up and down Eisenhower Avenue in Alexandria.
I had to slow to a walk a few times, but I’m pretty pleased with having made it to the finish line without puking, collapsing, or dying. Four months ago, I couldn’t even run 200m without stopping to walk, so 5k with a few short breaks sounds reasonable to me.
Note: I only selected one shot of my hilariously bouncing breats here, but in the series Bertrand took, you can see them bouncing from side to side as you flip through the slideshow. Which I will not show on this blog. Because, while it IS hilarious, I do still like to pretend that I have some dignity left.
My running buddy and I, that is, my adult running buddy and I, hit the second spot on our DC running bucket list last weekend. I’ve walked around the tidal basin, but not in years, and I’ve certainly never run around it.
My toddler running buddy came too.
We had a good run. Camille was kind enough to let me stick to my C25K running plan (yeah, I’m a few weeks behind), and the weather was absolutely amazing. Warm enough that we didn’t need extra layers, but cool enough that we weren’t dying from the humidity like last week. Again, what a difference decent shoes and running clothes make. And a couple of months of exercise.
Today, I had a lot of fun at CrossFit. Which is actually unusual. I enjoy CrossFit, in the same way that I enjoyed being pregnant. Being pregnant was pretty much the stupidest worstest thing I ever did to my body. But the end result was totally worth it. Usually, CrossFit is pretty miserable, but when I’m done, not only do I feel like a million bucks, I can say, “Well damn. I just dead lifted half my body weight.” (Note: half of my body weight is a LOT OF WEIGHT.)
Today, I was appalled to find myself kind of … having fun. I’m starting to get good enough at things that I can focus on details. I can hold the bar and move some weight, so now I can focus on why I’m getting stuck in the hole (hint: I’m lazy and let my core relax). I know how to do most of the warm-up movements, so I can focus on actually warming up, rather than desperately trying to figure out how to move. And now I know enough to know how to ask for help, which the coaches have been great about providing.
Also, I love squat days. So there’s that too.
As my four month CrossFit mark approaches (four months is important b/c it’s my CFSA contract renewal date), I’m sitting back and taking stock at what a difference regular exercise has made in my life.
- I am less crazypants (Bertrand may disagree).
- I am less stressed (hahahaha, language test in two weeks WHO AM I KIDDING I AM STRESSED TO THE MAX).
- I am more likely to chase Jasmine around outside, instead of dreading taking her to the playground (OK, just kidding, I still hate playgrounds because OMG WHERE DID ALL OF THESE CHILDREN COME FROM).
- I do not huff and puff when I have to run across a wide intersection because the traffic light is changing (although I am still likely to lollygag because I’m an asshole like that).
- I can carry a hell of a lot more groceries in one load.
- I’ve got another conversational topic to chat with strangers about (and this socially awkward diplomat needs all of the conversational help she can get). Basically, anyone who reads this blog knows I CrossFit, and anyone who’s into exercise has an opinion on CrossFit, so bring on the haterade, because at least it’s something to talk about when we run out of things to say about the weather.
Basically, CrossFit and running are awesome, and I should have started a long time ago. So it goes.
Family = <3. My brother and his family drove down to DC this weekend so that we could visit museums together with the kids. When we arrived at the Air & Space Museum, we were surprised and pleased to discover that there were a ton of special activities going on to celebrate women in flight, and to encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in aviation. Awesome.
Here we all are, building planes with and for our toddlers.
It took a short while to convince Jasmine that it would be fun to build her own plane, but once we did, we had a blast. I did the majority of the building and piecing the plane together, but she was thrilled to be able to test it! The plane was pink and purple and covered in glitter. “A princess plane!” said Jasmine. And she loved it.
I always forget how terrible the food is at the Air & Space Museum because every other museum in DC has great food. Our choices were McDonald’s or pizza. Ugh. The kids were so worked up, it was hard getting enough food in them without suffering through junk food. So it goes. Jasmine ate all of her apples and three bites of her sandwich in return for an ice cream cone. And then I had to get one for her cousin too. FINE. FINE. Whatever it takes to keep the kids one step ahead of a breakdown while we’re out and about.
Turns out, Grace loves ice cream too.
Visiting a museum with young kids means lots of herding, lots of chasing, and not much actually getting to see the exhibits ourselves. After we’d seen everything we thought the kids would love (planes, yes, space, yes, history of flight, no), we realized that we were completely and utterly exhausted.
Every time I go out with another family of toddlers, I’m all like, “Yeah! This’ll be so fun! The kids are going to love it!” And they do! The problem is that I’m also like, “We’re going to be able to show the kids SO MUCH STUFF!”
I gotta remember the “three things” rule that served us so well with Jasmine. Three things in a day. And for us, it was 1) Michael and his family visiting, 2) taking the metro, and 3) the museum. Getting lunch at the food court was actually #4, and we should have known that we were pushing our luck.
We bought umbrellas on our way to the metro to escape the downpour. Jasmine insisted on carrying her own. No fools in the Sondjo family–we let her do it.
With a great deal of help from the Foreign Service blogging community, I’ve put together a list of FS Blogs. At that link is also an OPML file that you can download to import the list of blogs into your newsreader of choice.
We had a lovely birthday. Yes, that’s a royal “we,” since Bertrand and I share a birthday. It works out pretty well, since neither of us can forget. Last year, he got to pick the event (going out to dinner), and I got to pick the venue (the only sushi joint in Freetown). This year; we both agreed we needed to do something relatively peaceful.
I started out the day with a quick run. It’s addictive. I was going to stop and take pictures of the sun rising over the Patomac, but I was in the middle of a “run” cycle of C25K, and didn’t want to cheat (not cheating my reps/ runs is kind of a “thing” for me).
Then brunch! Liberty Tavern is one of my favorite brunch joints here in Arlington. It can be hard to find an upscale place where the food is good AND the atmosphere is toddler friendly. My parents drove down (no, I didn’t get ANY pictures), and we had a lovely brunch, followed by a quiet afternoon at home.
What a great way to ring our next year together!
I got up early this morning and went for run with a fellow FS runner (she actually IS a runner, as opposed to my shuffling and whuffling) around Teddy Roosevelt Island this morning. I repeated last week’s mistake and dragged my toddler along, which was fun, but detrimental to our plan to get a good training run in before our 5k in two weeks. So it goes.
My running buddy was much more patient with my toddler than I was.
The esplanade where the memorial sits was great for stretching and letting Jasmine run around like a maniac (and letting me show off my box jump skillz by jumping up onto one of those benches).
As our time in DC starts to wind down, I’m realizing how many memorials and parks and museums and events I want to see before we depart. I keep remind myself that if I stay in the Foreign Service, we’ll roll through DC every couple of years for training anyway, but I can’t help but feel that this visit is beginning to slip through my fingers.
Next week, the National Mall!
I am a planner, but I hate putting shit away. My husband is a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants kind of guy, but can’t stand a mess or a disorganized room. Between the two of us, we’ve finally got our (short) trip routine down to a science. Or at least, as much of a science as it can be with toddlers in tow. I usually take care of the up front planning and packing, and my husband takes care of the back end, that is, unpacking after the trip while I collapse into bed or head into the kitchen to start making the next meal.
Here’s what we do to set ourselves up for success with the rugrats (and ourselves):
Keep a set packing list.
Evernote is my best friend. Always faithful, and never lets me down. I keep a quick list of basics (for two nights) in Evernote, and SURPRSISE! It’s also the list we use for our carryons when flying. It’s not as minimalist as I’d like, but that’s OK. With the kids, I’d rather have half a dozen extra diapers than a blow out on the way home and no way to deal with it. The night before I need to pack (so two nights before traveling), I copy the list into a new note, then make any quick changes (add swimsuits, delete raincoats, etc.). Packing’s a lot easier when I don’t have to think about how many extra pants to pack for Jasmine.
Clean for 10 minutes before walking out the door.
Yes, this means getting up 10 minutes earlier. But it also means not coming home to a house torn about by the packing frenzy. I never did this before I met my husband, but dammit, he’s right. I hate it when that happens, but it really is magical to walk into a clean house after travel.
Stop when the toddler needs to stop.
If that means eating inside a McD’s twice during a three hour trip, so be it. Better to let her out to stretch her legs and relieve the boredom than listen to her scream out her frustrations for thirty minutes.
Maintain the routine, but don’t sweat deviations.
We do our best to get both kids down for naps at lunch time. Sometimes we’re successful, sometimes we aren’t. But we always do our best to make it happen. Same for bedtimes. Same for mornings. Same for snack times. Sure, it means that we’ve become those parents that we’ve always made fun of for being crazy pants about their kids’ routines during travel, but when we get back to the hotel at the end of the day and there aren’t any temper tantrums because the kids aren’t hungry and exhausted to the point of no return? LOOK WHO’S LAUGHING NOW.
(But seriously, I am envious of those parents whose kids don’t need ruthless adherence to a routine).
Keep kids (and grown-ups) fed.
Yeah, I carry bags of Cheerios and bananas and pouches of apple sauce in my
mom bag purse. It’s occasionally embarrassing when I forget to take everything out before returning to work, but it’s well worth not having to manage hungry kids.
Unpack as soon as you get home.
We get home, feed the kids, then begin a whirlwind of emptying the car and suitcases (actually, usually I feed the kids and Bertrand starts unpacking). Everything goes back where it belongs, and Bertrand immediately starts a load of laundry for the kids. No ifs, ands, or buts. If it’s two in the morning, we might might wait until the next day, but … probably not. Waking up the day after a road trip and having your house look like you never left is AMAZING.
I got up yesterday morning thinking I’d catch the metro to go for a run* downtown with Jasmine, only to discover that it doesn’t open until 7. WUT. Washington DC, it’s like I don’t even know you anymore. Yesterday, I had a blast running with Jasmine. I expected her to fall back asleep in the stroller, but yesterday, she got really into the workout! She insisted on getting out and running and walking with me (such that she could), and then at the end, stretched with me too. SO MUCH FUN.
It’s true. My favorite running buddy is a two-year-old.
Today, Jasmine didn’t want to get up. The noise we made discussing the relative merits of sleeping vs. going out woke Grace up. Since Grace didn’t seem inclined to go back to sleep right away, I went ahead and brought her with me. Just kidding. She was out like a light the second we got outside.
I run outside on the weekends with Jasmine (and now Grace) to get used to running with a loaded down stroller. Turns out, I love running outside, and running outside is way easier for me than running on the treadmill (MapMyRun says I run slower). This is a good thing. At this point, it’s better for me if I train hard on the treadmill, where it’s easy to pace myself, and then relax on my longer outdoor runs, I think.
This morning, I was surprised at how much I was looking forward to the run, and then how damn happy I was while I was running. I can’t believe it’s taken me my entire adult life to figure out how much I need this. Certainly, it’s cheaper than therapy. Watching the sunrise over the Washington Monument was beautiful, and something I could get used to doing on a regular basis.
The best part is that when I got back this morning with Grace, Jasmine bounded out of bed and asked me if it was time to go run! She was bitterly disappointed that I’d already gone, since she hadn’t wanted to get out of bed. She made me promise to take her next weekend, no matter what, even if she didn’t want to wake up (that’s a pretty advanced sense of time and self-awareness, for a two-year-old).
And that, of course, is why I do this. The personal benefits are great. But encouraging activity and a love of the outdoors in my kids? Worth it at any price.
* And by “run,” I mean, continuing c25k and doing a kind of walk/ jog/ shuffle/ lean on the stroller because I am going to die.
What I want you to know is that tonight there are three extra kids sleeping in my house because their mother is homeless. She is young, has no family, and has three children under the age of five. I want you to know that we get, on average, seven emails a week about kids who need placements from Safe Families and I fight between wanting to take every child and wanting to ask them to stop emailing me. I want you to know that I have wondered whether or not it’s appropriate to ask the mother of my extra kids if she would consider adoption because they’ve been here for months and we love them and every time they call me Mama my heart aches. (Side note : It is NOT appropriate and I would never do it.)
I didn’t even know Safe Families existed. If we were going to be here in the States for a while, it’s the kind of thing I’d like to believe I’d volunteer for. Check out Safe Families for more information.
And P.S. Rage Against the Minivan is where I first got the idea for formatting my link dump posts the way I do.
I can do it later. Sure, you can always do it later … but your later self will also feel the same way. Why should the later self be more disciplined than your current self? In fact, because you’re allowing yourself to slide now, you’re building a habit of procrastination and actually making is less likely that your future self will be more disciplined. Instead, do it now, unless there’s something more important that you need to do … don’t let yourself slide just because you don’t feel like it.
Smart advice for someone like me, who’s all promise and no follow-through when it comes to self-care.
More insidious, perhaps, is a not-so-obvious deception that permeates the language from the fitness industry–that dieting and exercise are things that you should be doing in the first place, and that failure to do either stems from a lack of personal responsibility, or some moral deficit.
Let’s put this notion to rest. Dieting and exercise are crazy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with people who fail to do either, and the sooner we can all acknowledge this, the happier and healthier we’ll all be.
Repeat after me: FAT IS NOT A MORAL FAILING.