Wednesday, July 30, 2014

(Not) walking to the beat of a different drummer

Sterling turned 10 months old on the 28th. I've been looking forward to this age because it's when my babies tend to learn how to walk. Miriam and Magdalena both were walking at 10 months + 10 days. Motherhood is a lot more fun for me when I can put my child down and have him walk on his own two legs (plus, the other developmental milestones that come around soon after walking are fun, too).

But Sterling doesn't seem that interested. He's stood up on his own without help a few times, but he prefers to get down and crawl. He finally fixed his form and so now he is quite speedy on all fours.

I'm having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that Sterling will probably not be walking in 10 days. The girls were so similar in their development that I just expected little brother to follow along.

Have your kids been on different schedules for achieving milestones?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jeremy at the Chiemgauer 100k (26 July 2014)

(I mentioned that we went to Catholic mass on Sunday because we didn't have a car, because Jeremy was out of town. He was out of town because he was running his first ultra marathon - a 100k in Chiemgauer, Germany. Here is his (very long, but no apologies!) account of his first ultra marathon. I am so proud of him!)

On Friday July 25, 2014 I left Königstein for Ruhpolding in southeast Germany to participate in a 100k ultra marathon race. I signed up for this race after we bought plane tickets to spend our summer here. I have never run more than 50k in one day, and that 50k was just a few weeks ago here in Germany by myself at a leisurely pace on multiple hiking trails in the area. In preparation for this event, I ran a total of 270k in May and 370k in June. This race is called the Chiemgauer 100. You can read about it here.

The home page has a map showing the whole 100k route in red. The cost was only 50 Euro. I am happy that I chose this as my first ultra. The organizer avoids a large media presence, sponsors, and other frills. There isn’t as much pageantry or giveaways as would probably be elsewhere. It’s almost like a local event that a few outsiders join each year. The problem with choosing this event as a first-timer, though, is that the elevation change is considerable and the cutoff times for each stage are not generous. The total elevation change for the 100k is about 4,500 meters (nearly 15,000 feet).

Before leaving Königstein, I entered into our GPS the address of the farmhouse in Ruhpolding where I was planning to stay for two nights. The GPS showed that it would take some 3 hours to get there. I started off in our nice affordable rental car (Seat Ibiza from Spain). After only 10 minutes of driving I picked up a stout young man dressed in what I thought was traditional German festival clothing. The young man asked for a ride to the next village, Plech (Yes, it sounds like you have some sort of a phlegm problem when you say it). We first determined that his English was better than my German and off we went. (Side note: the other night I was on a long run and tried to hitchhike home but no one stopped for me (it was dark), so I paid this one forward.) I asked the young man if he was on his way to a festival – which showed my lack of local cultural tradition. It turns out that he was a carpenter going to an interview for a new job. His duds were pretty cool and they were the uniform of his trade. When I dropped him off I asked his name – Bieber, he said. I replied: “Oh, like Justin Bieber?” He gave me a courtesy laugh and said, “zat is an owld choke.” I like this guy. Here is a random photo of the carpenter’s traditional clothing.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Catholic for a day

Jeremy has been out of town for a few days, if one can be out of town on vacation. He took the car with him, which left us without a ride to church this morning (the Mormon chapel is a 30-minute drive away).

So we decided to be Catholic for the day. The handy thing is that most villages here have the worship times posted on a sign as you drive into town, so we knew when mass started. Bright and early this morning, the kids and I walked down the hill, through the main part of town, and back up the hill on the other side to make it to St. Michael's, the Catholic church.

The Catholic church here has the more modern-looking building (1965, above), while the Protestant (Evangelische) church inhabits the building that dates back to 1817. I guess it used to be the other way around, but they switched some years back?

The bells started ringing just as we were walking up the stairs to enter the church. The girls were so impressed - seriously, in awe! (Note to the Mormon church: look into bells.)

My maternal grandparents (and mother) were Catholic, so this wasn't my first time attending mass. But it was certainly my first time in a long time, so the girls and I read up on protocol the night before. This morning, the first thing I asked the man we sat next to in a pew near the back was if it was OK that I had the kids with me - there wasn't another one in sight! To my great relief, he said it was "kein Problem" - no problem. To my even greater relief, a young boy walked in with his mother just a few minutes later.

We did all the sitting, standing, and kneeling during the mass, though I hadn't seen where to pick up the hymnals, so we couldn't join in the singing. And of course, beyond the Alleluias, I did not know the proper responses to some of the things the priest said. There was a reading from 1 Kings, which is interesting because we just finished studying that in Sunday School. Another reading was from one of the Pauline Epistles; not sure which because German. The main sermon from the priest was about treasure, which I know because I just barely learned that word from a billboard that is all over the place here (something about driving safely, but it uses the word Schatz, treasure).

I was just getting nervous about the part where we'd have to perhaps awkwardly sit out communion, but Sterling started making a lot of noise - just happy, cooing noise, but still noise in a very quiet, very acoustically gifted room. We slipped out and left a little early.

Those of us who belong to churches know that we are very welcoming to visitors, and we want them to come, but this morning's experience reminded me how intimidating it can be to not know the ins and outs and behavioral expectations for children, etc. Even though it wasn't what we're used to, I'm so glad we could be Catholic for the day and get some worship in.

Friday, July 25, 2014

July 25th, outsourced

This reporter put TGI Friday's "Endless Appetizers" promotion to the test on a 14-hour mozzarella stick binge. The twist is that even the first one was gross (language warning).

You will not be able to stop watching these goats playing on a piece of bouncy metal.

Inglorious fruits and vegetables - malformed produce for cheaper!

Remembering your first language - really interesting thoughts about forgetting your native language after 25 years.

Has it been 10 years since Lori Hacking was killed? It has. An interview with her mother.

Nothing like a good old gender switch to make you see things in a new light - here's what happens when you replace women in everyday situations with men. [HT Cait]

Beautiful photos of motherhood around the world from 50 years ago. [HT Kat]

Every episode of The Simpsons will soon be available online. You guys, I look for Simpsons clips to use on this blog all the time and I can never find them! No more. [HT Crys]

Six funny Alex Trebek moments on Jeopardy!

I found this animation of the history of Israel/Palestine/Canaan to be beautifully drawn and very, very sad. [HT Suzanne]

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hiking in Bavaria

I take the kids on a hike every morning here. The trails start about 50m from our front door. We have a few favorite routes, though there are enough criss-crossing trails that we can mix and match the path we choose to get anywhere.

There's Ice Cream Mountain (we hiked that one when we were here before).

Johannes Kappelle, where you can go inside and ring the bells (!!!!).

and Amy Kappelle, which is actually called Romanische Kappelle.

We call it Amy Kappelle because a dog named Amy lives in a house near the trail, and she often joins us for some play time near the chapel. That's her on the stairs, in fact.

Sometimes we get lost in the network of trails. Sometimes we have to blaze our way through a stinky cow manure field and up a steep, forested hill to get back on track. Sometimes Sterling starts to fall asleep in the backpack and we have to laugh and goof with him like fools so he will wake up again and take a proper nap once we're home.

We run into a lot of spiderwebs. We pretend we're Hobbits or some of Robin Hood's merry/henchmen. We get caught in the rain. We do Choose Your Own Adventure hiking where each kid takes a turn deciding whether to go left or right at each fork in the road. We come across signs that say "Botanische Lehrpfad" and do not understand what that means.

That happened last week. I kept the phrase in my head all the way home and looked it up first chance I got. Except I typed it in wrong and Google Translate told me it meant "Botanical Instructive Mortgage" and I was so confused.

It actually means "Botanical Learning Trail," and we went that way this morning. I think all the lehr (learning) has been taken out of the Pfad (trail), though. It was just a regular trail. But still a nice hike. We came across this old wall.
Who knows how long that's been here?

I'm soaking in this summer of hiking. Trails and forests and spiderwebs in the face, even, are good for the soul.


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