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Easter in Jerusalem at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Watching the sun rise over the Old City in Jerusalem on Easter
Sunrise over Old City Jerusalem on Easter morning

On Easter morning, we got up before dawn, dressed the girls, and drove downtown for Easter Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. What could be more spiritual than Easter in Jerusalem, supposedly on the spot where Jesus was crucified two thousand years ago?

Well, a lot, actually.

But it was a good adventure, and we’d definite recommend it to anyone without young children.

Easter in Jerusalem - outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The church was deserted when we arrived — part of the reason we got there so early.

Once we got downtown (the city was deserted that early), we parked at the Consulate (yes, that’s one of the perks of working for the Americans—free parking in downtown Jerusalem on a Sunday morning), and walked to the Old City. We entered through Jaffa gate, and made our way through the deserted Souk to the church.

We arrived at the church around 7:00, and started asking where the Catholic mass would take place. The church is shared by Catholics, Syriacs, Armenian, and Greek Orthodox, so we wanted to make sure we were sitting in the right place. We found some wooden benches, and sat down with Jasmine in my lap, Bertrand to my right, and Grace still in the stroller (where she miraculously stayed until the service was almost finished).

The church slowly filled, and a Syriac mass began behind us. We quickly discovered that we’d chosen our seats poorly—the Syriacs had to walk through our aisle in order to touch the edifice in the middle of the church as part of their prayers. Oops! We were pretty easy going about it, much more so than the folks around us, and just pushed our bench back a foot or so to make room (it was standing room only behind us).

Easter in Jerusalem - Mass inside, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

About two hours into the mass, a young man came through, shouting at us to get up! And move! We did, and he pushed the benches out of the way so that the Catholics could make their procession around the the church. Previous to that, sitting and standing with Jasmine was no problem, but once we found ourselves without seats and pushed into the crowd, the experience was much less fun with children. Folks who’d previously been very kind about our stroller made several nasty comments, and, as we were pushed and jostled and Jasmine protested, we got a few comments about the noise as well.

Eventually, we just decided to leave. We couldn’t see, I was carrying Jasmine (who is getting big), and frankly, another hour of watching the Catholics march around the church and sing while being pushed and shoved in every direction didn’t seem like a terriblly spiritual experience for Bertrand or I. With the help of some lovely Syriacs, we lifted the stroller over the barriers, and pushed our way out of the church.

Perhaps the coolest part of the whole experience was listening to the three different Christian services going on at the same time in the church. It’s true that the different sects get along so poorly that they had to designate a Muslim family to hold the keys to the church, but at the same time, the fact that they somehow manage to share the space at all in a city as fractious as Jerusalem is beautiful to me.

Easter in Jerusalem - Snacks in the Old City after Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Post service snacks in the old city — pizza and calzones.

After the service, we drove down to First Station to meet another family for brunch, and had a lovely time letting the kids run around like morons.

Easter in Jerusalem - Breakfast at First Station

Not only was the food delicious, but there were tons of events going on for the kids, like live musicians and face painting.  One of the very real advantages of being in Jerusalem with Easter overlapping with Passover.

Easter in Jerusalem - Breakfast at First Station

Happy Easter.

Easter in Jerusalem - Jasmine is all tuckered outсистемы бесплатной раскрутки сайтов

Diary of a Fat CrossFitter – A Week of Workouts

I’m starting to warm-up to my new box’s formatting. It’s a lot more loosely run than CFSA was, but I really enjoyed Sunday’s workout.

Partner WOD, split 50/50, broken down into sets of whatever we want

100 American KB swings
75 partner wall balls (toss the ball up to the line, and then your partner catches and tosses it for you to catch)
50 burpee pull-ups (or, in my case, burpee, then jump up to the bar from a pile of 20 kg plates because HAHAHHAHAH pull ups HILARIOUS)
25 dips

It was pretty brutal, but the woman I partnered with was an aboslute machine. I ran out of gas during the burpees, and she jumped right in to keep us going.

Monday, I did a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am lifting workout at the gym between work and a work event. I was dumb and didn’t warm up enough, didn’t stretch, and didn’t rest enough between sets. Failed my deadlifts, and that really bummed me out.

Tuesday, I (re)started c25k in hopes of getting a little bit faster and running for a little bit longer before getting bored out of my mind.

Wednesday, I had a terrible no good very bad day at work (nobody’s fault—I was just crabby pants). I really wanted to grab a drink or two after work, but instead I hit the gym and I PR’d* my squat and PR’d my OHP**. Fuck yeah, Starting Strength and linear progressions gainz.

Today, Thursday, I ran some more.

And Friday, I’ll lift some more because SRSLY GUYS, I love lifting so fucking much.

My building has a pretty sweet gym facility, and I take advantage of it several days a week after work. One of my fitness goals this year is to find community in being active. Another is to own the fact that I am active, fat or not. Part of that, for me, is being confident about working out with people I know. It’s kind of weird working out with my work colleagues (there’s a reason I don’t wear running capris to the office), but pretty awesome too. We totally give each other weird bro-grunts and half-waves when we see each other (seriously, we don’t talk at all), but it’s nice to be working out alongside people I know, instead alone in a tiny Oakwood corporate housing gym.

Anybody else doing a great job about establishing routines now that we’re a month into the New Year?

* PR’d = beat a personal record for a lift (I lifted heavier than I ever have before)
** OHP = Military Press

Conversations with my three-year-old, Sondjo edition

Jasmine: I want a surprise!

Me: You can only have a surprise if you behave yourself!

Jasmine: I want to behave myself!

Me: Good.  Behave yourself, and you can have a surprise.

Jasmine: I’m behaving myself!

Me: Yes, you have to behave yourself for more than 30 seconds.

Jasmine:  I’m behaving myself RIGHT NOW!!!

Me: Are you screaming?


Me: That’s not behaving yourself, Jasmine.



Livin’ la Vida Crystal City

I have gotten four emails/ FB messages about life in Crystal City in the couple of weeks. And three the month before that. It might be because I’m such an evangelist for the neighborhood (it’s seriously underrated), but it might just be because there isn’t a ton of information out there about living in Crystal City as a Foreign Service family. Everyone who’s anyone either stays in Falls Church (folks who have kids), Rosslyn (folks who don’t have kids), or DC (the cool kids).

My family is staying in the Crystal City Oakwood. We like Oakwood because I’m lazy and don’t want to have to find housing before arriving in DC. We like Crystal City because we don’t have a car. This is actually the third time we’ve stayed here, and until we need to start thinking about getting our kids into elementary schools, we’ll probably continue to stay here when TDY to DC.

Location Location Location

The Oakwood is right on the blue line. You have to walk through the adjacent Marriot and underground mall, but you don’t have to step outside and brave the miserable DC winters and summers to get out and go places.

Costco is within walking distance, and apparently has an agreement with all of the nearby apartment complexes whereby residents can just take the damn carts home, park them outside their building, and then Costco will come pick them up whenever. SO AWESOME. Not just for consumables shopping, but for making feeding my family a little less expensive. Bulk meats, vegetables, and coconut oil are amazing.

The Harris Teeter is 9/10 of a mile away (we measured it when I was trying to walk it 9 months pregnant in the rain), which can be rough, but you can also purchase a small food cart at Costco, and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. We walk it about once a week. The weekly farmer’s market is on Tuesdays, and although it’s a little bit expensive, the produce is actually less expensive than at Harris Teeter. We’ve subscribed to a CSA that delivers to a local office building once a week, and I love it.

There are a fair amount of decent food options. It’s true that Crystal City is kind of a suburban hell without any character, so you’ll find a ton of chain restaurants. I’m OK with Starbucks, Chiptole, and Ted’s Montana Grill, but YMMV. 23rd Street is just a few blocks away (although 8 blocks seems long, in CC, it’s a pretty short walk, since the streets go 15, 18, 22, 23), and there are a TON of local eateries, including Mexican, Thai, and Ethiopian.

And of course, playgrounds. There are great playgrounds. Our favorite has a special fenced in toddler jungle gym and swing set where we can let Jasmine and her friends run free ad wild.

Oakwood Crystal City

I like the Oakwood. Sure, the apartments are a little old and outdated, but not having to deal with the hassle of rent and a landlord is well worth it for me. We’ve never had any problems with getting problems fixed within a day or two. We’re in a two bedroom apartment with an OK view. We’re high enough up that we don’t get all of the noise pollution from the city below. And now there are a TON of toddlers and babies in the building, which has been great for us. The sunsets are spectacular.

The kitchen is OK. There’s no counter space, so we bought shelves to free up as much surface area as possible. The dishwasher is OK. The washer and dryer are OK. Basically, everything’s OK. Nothing is NEW and EXCITING and BEAUTIFUL, but everything is functional and works. We are a high energy, low maintenance family, so any place where my toddler can spill wine (MY wine, not HER wine) on the floor without inspiring panic about reimbursing the landlord for the carpets is an A+ in my book.

The bedroom’s fine. Comfortable bed, large walk-in closet (that has been 1/2 converted to scrapbooking storage). Decent view. We never use the TV, but it’s nice to have when I’m sick and want to cuddle, but Bertrand wants his daily dose of violent TV.

And the view’s pretty great during sunsets.

Getting to FSI and back

There are three shuttles to FSI in the morning, and three shuttles to FSI in the afternoon. The shuttles aren’t as frequent as if we were living in Falls Church, but if we’re really stuck, we can take the shuttle to Roslynn and metro back to Crystal City. Our shuttle drivers are AWESOME and drop us outside the daycare every day after discharging the other passengers.

So that’s Oakwood. We want more families to come so that we can continue our weekend playdates until we leave in December. We like it.раскрутка

Diary of a Fat CrossFitter – Crabby McCrabbyPants

If you’re hollering out encouragement to EVERY runner who passes you during the workout, that’s awesome. If you’re only hollering encouragement to the fat chick who’s struggling, well, fuck you, buddy.

Here’s the thing that I think a lot of people forget about fat people in the gym, ANY GYM, not just Crossfit:

  1. Fat is not and should not be a moral judgement (so don’t fucking lie to me and tell me I’m not fat).
  2. Fat does not equal a lack of confidence about my non-fitness achievements. Seriously. I am fucking awesome, and I don’t ever forget it. Neither should you.

Listen, I totally get that I’m the slowest person in the entire membership. And no matter how many new members arrive, I’m still the slowest. But it does means when I’m running slowly, it’s because I’m slow, not because I’m not giving max effort on a workout. If I take a short break between burpees, it’s because I’m likely not going to be able to get back up after the next one if I don’t.  Certainly, I am not scaling box jumps and pushups because I want to.

I occasionally feel like I have to prove that I’m working hard. And I do eventually prove it. To everyone. Because I am working my ass off.

But dammit. I wish I didn’t have to.раскрутка

Several unrelated thoughts

  1. My CrossFit gym box hods a nutritional coaching program a few times a year, and I am participating in the current round. I will not be blogging it here in detail here because t’s a pretty restrictive program (although designed to become less restrictive when you finish), and I’m still trying to figure out where the fine line between “trying to get healthy” and “orthorexic” is.  It’s a Whole30 writ large, and it’s important to me to get through the eight weeks of the program. If you’re interested in my food choices, holler at me and I’ll send you the link to the tumblr I’ll be using to record Every.  Single.  Meal.  UGH.
  2. Speaking of Jerusalem, the countdown has begun!  We’ve begun the long process of pre-departure planning, arranging pack-outs, and getting ready to leave the U.S. for two years.  I am super excited, but also super stressed.
  3. Grace is walking.  This is amazing and frightening, all at the same time.
  4. My spouse and I have decided to eschew the orgy of pre-departure purchases in favor of purchasing just about everything locally in Jerusalem.  It’s kind of freaking me out, but I’m really pleased that we’re not going to spend a fortune on consumables over the next two months.


5k training

Yeah!  5k!  Holy shit, it’s less than a month away and I AM SO NOT READY.

I’ve been complaining for months now (seriously, since before we left Freetown) that the tires in the Bob are flat.  The damn thing still pushes pretty easily, but not so easily that I want to run with it.  Sure, I could take care of it myself, but it’s far easier to bitch about a problem for months until my husband gets so tired of the complaining that he takes care of it himself.

My husband took the tires apart on Tuesday night, only to discover that one of the tubes is completely destroyed.  I mean completely.  As in, the tube has actually been shredded into multiple pieces and was just sitting there in the tire.

Anyway, we’ve ordered new tubes and a repair kit and some spares, but that’s why I’m still not training outside with the stroller.

That, and I’m a lazy-ass.раскрутка сайта

Diary of a Fat Crossfitter – Time cap? What time cap?

Post-Helen Theresa
Post-Helen Theresa

The best way to get one-on-one time with the coaches at my gym box is to finish last. I like to think it’s because the coaches are admiring my determination and fortitude, but I’m pretty sure it’s only because they’re worried Imma hurt myself.

My box appears to have some rhyme and reason to its programming, and part of that is testing. How much can you lift? How fast can you get through this benchmark metcon workout? How far do you have to scale the workouts to complete them under the time cap? How much have you improved since the last time you tested?  I’m happy to be done with benchmark week. I could do the last two workouts in the progression this weekend, but I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend snuggled up with my family and my Arabic flashcards.

This week I’ve discovered that I can deadlift a decent amount for a novice. I still can’t do a single goddamned pushup. And I infinitely prefer ring rows to rope raises.

Also, I have completed zero benchmark workouts under the time cap. Bless the coaches’ hearts, they let me finish anyway.раскрутка