Sunday, March 26, 2017

Exercising Woes

Can we talk for just a moment about my eating and non existing exercise  habits and how it's not helping me get back into my pre-pregnancy shape?  I had to be careful when I was pregnant with Mack.  I couldn't exercise much at all and let's be honest, I was too tired to anyway.  Then I had Mack.  C-section.  It was the greatest C-section ever.  But you are still left with no ab muscles whatsoever and you are taking care of a baby now and so you are too tired to even have any ounce of desire to get out there and exercise.  Then you find out you are moving out of the country after only being in the country long enough to have a baby, and your mind goes into overdrive and the list of things to do is so long that it is too long and you feel like you can't even process how to do anything but eat. 

And then you move to that new country and the cycle starts all over again.  The list of to dos is ridiculous now.  And suddenly, the pastries, the yogurt, the cheese, the chocolate and the schnitzel are on every corner and it makes you happy because IT TASTES SO DARN GOOD.  And you have to go to the grocery store every day anyway, because the refrigerators are so small, so why not pick up a few more yummy things to eat?  Every day.

Well, I have to say.  It hasn't helped me lose my baby weight.  When we found our house that we have now moved into, one of the things we fell in love with right away, was the incredible farm land that is right up the hill from us.  I saw it an I envisioned myself running there every day.  Those visions dissipated with every box that I had to put away.  Until one day, the sun peaked out behind the dreary weather and called to me.  This is it!!!  I'm finally going to take advantage of that beautiful farm land!!!  So, I dropped the kids off at school and came home, loaded Mack up into the cobweb filled jogger, opened up Map My Run, only to see a disappointing alert that my last logged workout had been some time in the dark ages.  

Undeterred, I turned on my music and pushed the jogger out of our court and made the 90 degree ascent up the hill to the farmland that awaited us up at the top.  My throat was burning.  My legs were cramping. Sweat had already begun to drip off the end of my nose.  My heart was pounding in my throat when I realized I had gone about a block.  Are you kidding me?!  I wasn't even running.  I was walking.  It wasn't even walking.  It was more like a ram trying to push another ram up the Alps.  When I ascended to the top, I took a big sip of water and continued my attempt at getting back into shape...only to hear a voice in my ears tell me that I had completed my first mile and the time that it had taken to accomplish it.  Oh the wretched realization that my pace was on average my COOL DOWN pace in my prime.  And here I was practically heaving on the side of the road.  

This was going to be a long journey ahead.  I was depressed.  

But then I looked up.  

And suddenly I forgot about the lady in my ears and the burning in my throat as all of this beauty was staring at me.  I could get used to this.  So I walked.  Didn't even attempt a jog.  I'd save that for another day.  I fed Mack pretzels to keep him happy and we explored the country side.  When I turned back into our court I was ridiculously sore and exhausted for not having jogged an inch, but I was HAPPY.  And I felt so good.  Maybe getting back into shape wouldn't be horrific after all.  

Every country has it's issues.  But I have to say, Switzerland does it right when it comes to preserving farm land and putting that land in locations for all to enjoy.  Cars aren't allowed up on the paths.  It's strictly for pedestrians and bicycles.  The paths connect the towns so it's actually a much faster way to get from here to there.  And everyone gets out there and takes advantage.  As I walked I saw young and old.  I saw a trillion dogs with their owners, I saw the families who owned the farms out planting flowers and veggies, I saw the berry fields being prepped for summer... and I started to understand where the love of gardening was instilled in my parents.  When we came home to California from Germany when I was 4 years old, my mom and dad rented a little house up in the hills of Saratoga.  They spent HOURS turning the hill that ran down to the creek below into the most gorgeous garden, full of strawberries and vegetables and yummy produce that our family got to enjoy.  They were surrounded by this in Europe and brought it home with them when they returned.  

It is so important for the Swiss to have gardens, that even if you live in an apartment, you can rent plots of land and set up an outdoor area for you to plant your produce, possible set up a little play area for your children and even a table and chairs to enjoy your time outside.  They are scattered all over the countryside.  I love it.  And I think I'm going to love my excursions as I go past them--even if I am slower than molasses.  

Happy Day Jake!

Love him so much. 

Fasnacht 2017

Fasnacht, the oldest and biggest carnival in Europe, begins on Monday morning at 4am and ends on Thursday morning at 4am.  We got home late Tuesday night.  So after Joe left for NYC, we thought we'd try to experience at least a little bit of this wild tradition.  
Thankfully, our friends the Nordstroms, called us up to see if we'd like to join them.  So we spent all Wednesday learning about the Waggis and how to run up and get these crazy masked people to give you all sorts of goodies.  We learned that you have to be wearing the right Fasnacht pin on your clothing or they will come up to you and shove HUGE amounts of confetti down your backs (still finding pieces of confetti in jackets, the stroller and the car by the way...)
They use this time to make political statements to display their feelings about issues that they feel passionate about...some are really funny, some are cute, some are strange, some are gross, some are frightening... But it was really interesting to be in the middle of it all.   
Next year we will have to get up and be at the city at 4am when the whole thing kicks off.  I've heard it's pretty incredible.  And maybe we will hit the day for children instead of the Wednesday parade... it might keep the nightmares away ;)  

In the End, Detours Aren't so Bad!

After we crammed our tiny Renault Espace full of ski gear, luggage, carseats, bodies and snacks, we were headed home.  It had been a really great trip and we decided that we'd make our way back to Switzerland and stop along the way if we found anything that looked interesting.  Well, of course I had about 4 places that looked great.  One was a cheese farm where you could actually get the cheese out of a vending machine year round if the store happened to be closed.  We could stop and have some Spatzle for lunch and it was supposed to be in the most glorious setting high up in the Alps.  So we started headed towards it.  And before long, snow was falling. And soon the snow was falling faster the higher we climbed, and everything was white around us.  And then the wind began to really whip.  We were about 20 minutes from our destination when we hit a steep hill and the car began slipping backwards.  Chains!!  We need chains!!  Joe pulled over to the side of the road and he looked at me with that look of "Do you REALLY want to do this?!  Are we really going to get out in this weather and put chains on?!" 

I sighed.  We were so close.  "We don't even have chains, what a bummer."  Then Joe stated, "Yes, we do!  They are right at your feet in that bag that came with the car."  I looked down and saw the package at my feet that had indeed come with the car.  "That would be a first aid kit.  Not chains."  I started laughing.  Joe started laughing.  I got a little hysterical and might have shed a few tears.  We were in the middle of who knows where in the middle of a snow storm and Joe assumed that all along we had chains but never looked.  I assumed we didn't need chains because of the snow tires on the car, so I never looked into it.  This is what happens when you just throw a trip together last minute.  And really, we should know by now to  NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING.  If we could just learn that lesson, we'd have a lot fewer "adventures."  

We turned around and headed back down the windy roads and decided maybe we should just head home.  We were starting to hear a bit of whining from the back of the car and the weather really wasn't great.  I was a bit disappointed because there were probably so many things we were missing as we were driving along!!!  And then we came upon Feldrich, Austria.  I put my foot down and told everyone we were stopping.  We were going to go look at a castle.  People were tired and hungry.  I got it.  But this sounded really incredible.  We drove around the DARLING medieval town and tried to find something to eat, only to discover that ALL RESTAURANTS CLOSE at 2pm and don't reopen until 6 or 7pm.  More pretzels from the car to tie us over, I guess.  Another lesson learned.   

All complaining ceased as soon as we walked through the castle doors. 
Everyone was mesmorized and suddenly our growling stomachs were forgotten and we were looking at pianos and chess boards and beds and weaponry that dated back to the 1300 and 1400's.  
Kate discovered the ancient method of texting...
All were completely astonished at how short the beds were.  There was no way our family would have fit in the furniture!  

It was incredible.  It was freezing inside.  I know they had thick walls for a reason, but still, I am so grateful for modern day heating.  We left and everyone was happy.  A little hungry, but happy.  We were on a mission to find some food and make our way back to Switzerland.  In doing so, we happened to drive through one of the smallest countries in Europe-- Liechtenstein--  So small that we said goodbye as quickly as we said hello!  

We made it home safely that night and Joe got up and left the next morning to go to NYC for a big meeting.  Our first European trip under our belt.  Time to start planning the next one :)

Our First Berryhill European Road Trip

Our house wasn't even totally unpacked and put away and we were headed on a mini vacation.  It felt good in a way to get going on discovering some of the beauty around us--otherwise all of my energy would be focused on getting the house in perfect order and we'd probably not get to our first trip for 6 months!!!  So, we haphazardly threw this one together, piled everyone in the car and took off for Austria.  We were late in the game when it came to making reservations for our trip (should have done that before we even knew we'd be here!!!)  So I ended up finding a place that I thought was only about 15 minutes from the Serfaus ski resort that we had heard so much about.  I didn't know it was actually an hour away until we had left Kate's last basketball game of the season and were on the road.  The adventure begins.  Hahaha!  I started having flashbacks of all of our Chilean trips and the "adventures" we'd get ourselves into.   But everyone was THRILLED to be going skiing.  They couldn't wait.  

We got in late on Thursday night and had lessons scheduled for the kids at 10am the next morning.  Lesson #2 learned.  Don't make lessons so "early" on your very first day.   Driving an hour to the resort, getting everyone outfitted in their ski gear, tickets being purchased, trams being taken, figuring out a new ski resort and which gondola goes to which part of the ski schools... Oh!  And of course, trying to drop your baby off at the little day care.   By the time we were actually up on the mountain and everyone was where they were supposed to be, it was NOON!!!!
The kids only got an hour of the 3 hour lesson.  Joe and I hurried to the top to see if we could squeeze in a little time together, and as soon as we got off the lift, our phones began to ring.  Mack wasn't happy.  He had been crying and we needed to come get him.  I thought to sweaty self, "PLEASE don't let our entire trip be this way!!!"  
Thank heavens it wasn't.  First day was a huge learning curve.  2nd day there were 90 kph winds, so the resort was closed, but the rest of the time we were there, it was AMAZING.  We figured out how to help Mack be happy during the day and the kids were in lessons learning how to ski like pros during the morning, and then we all skied together in the afternoon.  They had the most incredible set up to make skiing fun for kids.  Like the huge bear above that actually ROARS when you ski through it.  There were all of these fun little pathways through the trees that had little houses to explore and animals that made sounds and places for kids to try and throw snowballs through dinosaurs mouths and an entire area to practice little jumps and turns...all for kids.  Ours were in heaven.  It happens to be there new favorite sport now, thanks to Serfaus.   

The hotel was far away from the resort, but what a beautiful setting!  We didn't mind.  It is set up so you go to the restaurant for breakfast and dinner every morning and evening.  You sit at the exact same table and you start to recognize the other guests because you see them so often.  Well, we were definitely the only family there with more than 2 children.  And our table happened to be in the very center of the restaurant.  The looks and the stares were quite remarkable.  We tried to explain to the kids that people are just curious, so they needed to be on their best behavior and really make sure they were using their manners.  The woman sitting right next to Jake had a stare that--take your pick of any Disney movie you'd like-- reminded us of an evil queen.  It was brutal.  And poor Jake was so uncomfortable.  "But staring isn't polite!!!!"  He'd say night after night.
Then we told him we'd try an experiment.  Every time we happened to look over and catch her staring at us, we would smile really big and make eye contact with her.  He didn't want to.  Hahaha!  So, Joe and I blatantly started smiling.  Even when Mack was beyond exhausted and starting to fling food and flail his arms at night to signal that he needed to be in bed instead of at a restaurant waiting to be served his dinner.  One of us would usually take him upstairs and then we'd box up our dinner.  Worked MUCH better!!!  But I digress.  We smiled.  We tried to say "Guten Abend," and be polite.  
On our very last morning, we were bringing our food to the table when the evil queen was walking towards the omelet station.  I looked at her and said hello and she stopped me and broke out into a huge smile I never imagined could have existed on that face.  She then asked all about where we were from and how wonderfully behaved our children were and what a nice family we had.  I was shocked.  I rushed back to the table with our 40 plates of food (that's what it felt like compared to everyone else's little side plates of bread and cheese and meat slices that were apparently satisfying their appetites) and announced to the kids that it had worked!!!  We wore her down with kindness!!!  We broke her in a good way!  We were all feeling pretty darn good.  Jake still didn't prefer to look her way that morning, and frankly, I wouldn't have either after all of the curious and unintentional glares, but hopefully he learned something other than just snow is his new best friend.  

Thursday, March 2, 2017