I passed my Arabic test

There have been a couple of excellent retrospectives on language training over the last couple of months. Now that I’m finished with Arabic, I have a only one thing to add: it’s very easy to forget that, while individual teachers employed by FSI may care about me as an individual, FSI-the-institution does not.

This goes double for EFMs.

The good news is that I am done language training! Hurray! I’ve been getting emails from ConGen talk about how intense the class is, but you know what? It can’t be worse than the unbelievable amount of time I had to put into studying Arabic. I passed my test, and by better than the hair of my chinny-chin-chin, and I am relieved.

The countdown to Jerusalem has begun!

Diary of a Fat CrossFitter – Four months in, it could be worse

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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.

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Post-run selfie. Because if it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen.

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.

Air & Space Museum – Out with the Sondjos and Carpenters

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.

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Here we all are, building planes with and for our toddlers.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

Hahahaha.

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.

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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.

Happy Birthday to Us!

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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!

Dairy of a Fat CrossFitter – Still Running

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Pre-cool-down selfie with Grace. She slept the whole time!

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.

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Sweet sweet Grace. Easier to run with than Jasmine, but not as much fun to stretch with afterwards.

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.