Tuesday, April 23, 2013


For a variety of reasons, I've not been blogging much lately.  One reason is that I'm tired of the work around I've been doing after reaching my picture limit, so I'm fixing that by moving.  I'm giving wordpress a try.  I was going to wait until I got it all set up, but I'm not finding myself spending that time, so I'm just going to start.  If you want to keep up with our doings, come find me at Homeschooling?  Sort of.... 

See you over there!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Pictures from Climbing

I made the pictures from our first (we've been back) rock climbing excursion into a video.  Check it out, if you like.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Davan and I had a great time in Seattle.  We took the train up on Monday, which just gave Davan enough time to sleep in a bit, unpack and repack before leaving.  I took a ton of pictures which I have not had a chance to do anything with yet, as we've been keeping busy on our spring break.  I'll share a couple of teasers here and will try to do more with them later.

On the train ride up, we both discovered that we get motion sick on trains.  That was too bad, really, as we'd taken the train as a treat (we could have easily driven for less money) and we had to take the train back again the next day.  Sigh.  We were glad to arrive. 

Now, I'd taken the train before, frequently, in fact, when I was a young adult, going up to Seattle to visit my best friend who was living there at the time, and used to do homework during the ride.  When I was pregnant with Davan, I got motion sick on the train, but I had no idea it was a lasting thing.  Davan only occasionally gets motion sick, so that was a surprise, as well.

Still, we were able to play card games some of the time.

We weren't able to read at all, though, which was a bummer.  We spent a fair amount of time looking out the window, even when the view was so-so due to the motion sickness.  I introduced Davan to Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, which she enjoyed, but I'm not sure she did as much as I do.

We walked through downtown Seattle in a meandering way to our hotel when we got in, picking up dinner along the way.  After eating, we walked some more

and picked up some dessert for the hotel room.

In the morning, we hit the town again.  Highlights were the Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, vegan Pho for lunch, the library and lots, and lots of walking.

Oh, and there was a pretty cool Target downtown.

We decided to try watching videos on the train on the way home, at least after dark, which I've discovered on planes is better than reading for managing motion sickness.  I downloaded a couple episodes of the Amazing Race onto my iPod.  We had a much better trip home with careful snacks and the videos to help ease the way.

The trip was wonderful, really, motion sickness aside.  We had a blast eating and walking our way through Seattle.  I got to hear a lot more detail about the IPSE weekend as the trip went on, which was great.  My impression now is that it went even better than Davan let on when she first got home.  I do understand that there were lots of amazing teens there, so it wouldn't be a shock if Davan isn't selected to go, but it also wouldn't be a shock if she were.  Meanwhile, she's been inspired in so many ways and has a lot of ideas for next year if she doesn't go involving a variety of things ranging from volunteering to joining a model UN.  Whatever comes of this whole thing, it's been a great experience for Davan even this far.

Since we've been back, we've done a library tour for our Wednesday adventure (more details later, I hope), Davan has gone to her fabric class at Night Flight (who, as they're for adults, doesn't follow the school schedule and, thus, has classes this week), done a rock climbing class, gone for long Ranger walks, had a show rehearsal (that would be Davan), gone for a bike ride (that would be me) and have caught a few more Amazing Race episodes.

Just this afternoon, we decided to take a last minute trip this weekend.  This time Anthony gets to come.  And Ranger.  The weather here is lovely for March and we've decided to go camping for the weekend.  We whipped together a meal plan and have done our grocery shopping.  Tomorrow morning we'll pack up and take off for a couple of days at the beach before we have to get Davan home for yet another Do Jump rehearsal.

We're having a great spring break!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Breaking Radio Silence

Yes, yes, Davan came home and we were never heard from again.  Sorry to leave everyone hanging!  Although, Mom, it's not like you hadn't heard from us - such drama.

Anyway, let's see if I can give a really quick run down.  We have been quite busy and that isn't changing anytime soon!  I've been creating blog posts in my head, but not having the time to actually write them.  Let's see how far I can get until my insomnia wears off.  (It's currently 2am and I'm up due to lack of ability, though not desire, to sleep.)

Davan was really tired her first Monday back.  She had trouble sleeping past 3am her first night back and ended up having had about 6 hours of sleep in the previous 40+ hours between travel and jet lag.  Anthony and I had both taken the day off to spend with her.  The two of us had decided we should do a fun and active family thing.  We knew she'd be tired, but physical activity would help her adjust.

At first, when I told her that plan, she groaned, being so tired, but when I said it could be something fun and different from our usual activity, she brought up, not seriously, rock climbing.  Well, we'd been talking about going to The Circuit Gym for over a year without making it happen, so I said, "Why not?"

It was certainly physical!  We all had a good time and a got a good workout.  Davan was a natural, though.  I'm hoping to do more with the pictures we took, but, for now, here's a teaser:

After that, we've been mostly busy with regular life, trip recovery and preparing Davan for her next trip.  I'm a little embarrassed to say that the down time we've had has been filled with things like catching up on The Amazing Race rather than blogging.  However, we've also done the usual of baby sitting Kai, me working, Davan doing Zig Zags (and filling in for a Tic Toc who is out of town for their rehearsals), me working in the Do Jump office a bit still, finding Davan an interview outfit for her interview for both the Vietnam scholarship and the YES Abroad In Person Selection Event (IPSE), Wednesday adventures (more on that later), the Vietnam interview, a dance recital for a friend, a gig at Do Jump for Davan and a much delayed cast viewing of Seeds of Hope (the December show Davan was in).  Whew.

Wow, I just realized I never posted about her making semi-finalist for YES Abroad!  Not only did she make semi-finalist, but she just spent the weekend at the IPSE!  She flew out super early on Friday (5:30am) and got back last night, Sunday, at 8pm.  The IPSE was just outside of Washington D.C. this year, so she spent much of her weekend jet setting across the country.  She was nervous and excited before she went and came home...well, changed. 

She had a great weekend - one of the best weekends of her life, she says.  She really, really wants this scholarship for many reasons and I think one of them is to spend more time with the people she met this weekend.  She says she felt really good about her one on one interview at the time, but is less certain the more she thinks about it.  There were also two group evaluations, done in small groups of 5, which she said were fun.  She feels really good about her performance in one of them and a little more iffy about the second. 

Sadly, she had a killer cold all weekend (she still sounds pretty bad now), which made things challenging.  Imagine that it was one of the best weekends of her life, even so!

When I say she's changed what I mean is that in just the couple hours I spent with her before bed last night, I see a whole new maturity, confidence and spark in her in a way I haven't seen upon her return from any of her other travels in the last year (and there have been several).  It's more than a little surprising and I think part of what is keeping me up this evening. 

There are several other semi-finalists who live in the Portland metro area with whom she flew there, back and roomed with (in various configurations) and they are planning a Portland area IPSE candidate get together as soon as they can. 

As for her chances...I'm not sure.  She's come home with stories of how amazing everyone is - how well spoken, what ambition and personality.  Yes, there were a couple of people she met that she didn't hit it off with, but by and large, it was an amazing group.  She feels that others were more well spoken than she was, which would make them come off better in the interview.  She was also one of the youngest.  Most of them were sophomores or juniors, not freshmen.  She met several people for whom this was their second year applying, most of whom hadn't made it this far before, but it was a repeat IPSE for one girl.  She says they didn't say how many applied, but they did say that over 600 people start applications and don't finish them.  I'm thinking, "Wow, if that many started and didn't finish, how many went through the whole process?"  It's got to be a good number.  The fact that she even made semi-finalist between being a freshman and having an irregular application (her references were Do Jump teachers, but they're really supposed to be academic teachers) is a huge honor. 

She's hopeful and really wants it, but she's also telling herself that even if all she got out of it was this weekend, that's big because it was such an amazing experience.

Meanwhile, she had the interview for Vietnam the day before she left.  She told me she thinks it went fine, but doesn't want to jinx it.

Her interview outfit (thanks Goodwill), is this:

And, with sweater:

We were able to find her a nice pair of slacks that make her feel like she's wearing yoga pants, but look more professional.  The dress code for the ISPE was casual, so we were also going for nicer than jeans and a good shirt, but not too dressy.

While Davan was gone this weekend, Anthony and I got in a lot of bike riding (56 miles on Sunday, which is a good, long day for me right now!), some housework and general being together.  While I did have a bit of time here and there I could have sat at the computer and done a blog entry, I'd have had to fight Anthony for the computer and didn't have the heart.

This week is spring break for schools here in Portland and I asked for the week off at work.  While there is no after school program, there is day camp for the kids on break.  Luckily, we have teen black belts looking for a little income to cover some shifts and I was able to take the week to spend with Davan.  I'm really excited about it - a whole week of fun with my girl.  I wanted this time with her post trip (and I was thinking Switzerland/Germany at the time, but now it's also post IPSE) to just connect and have fun.

We've got a busy week planned, for which I really should be getting some sleep.  I will go back and try in a minute or two here.  Later today (sigh), we're taking the train to Seattle!  We're leaving in the afternoon, spending the night and taking the train home Tuesday evening.  It'll just be Davan and I due to both trying to figure out Ranger care and Anthony not being able to take time off this week.  I'm really looking forward to it and it's something Davan has been wanting to do for a long time - take at least a day trip to Seattle.

So, goodnight and I hope it takes this time.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Various Adventures in Germany

As predicted, I'm having a busy week.  I'm either working at Do Jump or baby sitting every morning and working every afternoon.  In between, I'm visiting the doctor and dentist to drop off/pick up forms for Davan for her application and, of course, walking the dog and other regular life tasks.  I haven't managed to get in a single bike ride this week, which is a bummer, but things will settle out.

What I've also not been doing is sharing pictures with you, even though I've gotten quite a few.  So, here's a bit of a picture dump from Germany.

Visiting Burg Elzt:

Making dinner one night:

On the planes where the medical team Mom supports flies.

And now I'm off to Do Jump for my morning working hours.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

On the Wall in Germany

I've gotten more pictures now that I've kicked up a fuss here on the blog.  ;-)  Davan and my mom took a trip to Rothenberg this week for an overnight trip.

Here are some pictures from that excursion.


What is particularly fun for me about this is that my mom and I went to Rothenberg when I was just a few years older than Davan.  Well, okay, five years older, but still.  And Anthony was with us.  We'd been dating just under a year then.

Here are some pictures from that trip, a little over 20 years ago:

And because we seem to only have pictures from Anthony's camera that day, here's another a picture of him from the same time frame, just to be fair.

We'd just gotten out of the Army and he was going through a scruffy beard stage. 

And, because that's now gotten me on a nostalgia kick, here are more pictures of the two of us from our younger years.

In this picture, I was a just barely 20 year old and Anthony and I were fairly newly dating.

Here's Anthony from the same time frame.  He was 22.  We started dating about a week before I turned 20, which was November of 1990.  He felt like he was robbing the cradle at the time.  Now, of course, the difference is nothing.

Our trip to Rothenberg with my mom happened about 9 months later.

In between, in the spring, we went bungie jumping with some friends.

And, on the 4th of July, we went skiing on a glacier in Australia.

There were other adventures, as well, but I'll stop there.  My gosh, though, weren't we just babies?

I'm glad that Davan is getting in adventures of her own (not that ours are over) and that hers will be much better documented though the miracle of digital photography.  (I could hardly find any of Anthony and I together!)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Working in Germany

While Davan is in Germany for the second part of her European adventure, one of the things she's doing is going to work with her Oma (my mom - Oma is German for Grandma and the name we picked for my mom when I was pregnant with Davan, having all spent some time in Germany).

My mom works for a contractor to the military.  She trains and supports medical personal in the use of the computer based charting program they use.

Here are a couple of pictures of Davan at work in Germany:

I'm told they are doing other fun things together, like climbing the hill to the local castle and such, but these are the only pictures I've received thus far.  Ahem.

I have, though, on a couple of occasions, Face Timed with Davan, which has been lovely to see her and hear her.  One thing I've learned from her in our conversations is that she's been invited to teach in the language camp that Karin runs when she's old enough (17 or 18), which is an exciting opportunity.  It would mean more time in Europe for my poor child.

What has been more challenging for her is managing the various scholarship application processes from overseas.  She's heard from two programs now.  One was for Germany and she appears to be out of the running now due to not being able to attend the Oregon and Washington in person interview weekend.  Just this week there was a call from a local volunteer for Youth for Understanding, wanting to set up an interview with her for the Vietnam scholarship.  He's said that it's time sensitive.  Davan has both emailed him and called him in an attempt to work it out, Vietnam being near the top of her list for country choice for next year, but, to my knowledge, hasn't heard back yet.  Yikes!

Davan expects to hear today about if she's a semi-finalist for the YES Abroad scholarship, which is kind of nerve racking.  She says that they say they'll tell people mid to late February and all the blogs of scholarship recipients she's been reading say that they heard on the last day of February (the 29th last year).  If she is a semi-finalist, she'll need to see the dentist pretty much as soon as she gets home in order to fill out health forms.  Her most recent doctor's visit was recent enough that we'll just use that, but I'll still have to get the form to them for her so it will be back in time to take to the dentist.  Whew.

Additionally, we're starting the process of applying to En Famille as another option for next year.  Davan says this program is really exciting her and is thinking it would maybe be near the top of her list.  Currently, to the best of my knowledge, that list is looking something like this:  Ghana, Oman, Vietnam, France with En Famille.  Others are good, too, and would certainly be accepted by her if it worked out, but not ultra top choices.

I feel a little mixed about it.  En Famille would mean I'd get to have Davan home for 6 of 12 months, as the program is a match for 12 months with a child from France (or Spain or Germany, but Davan really wants France for language purposes), wherein both kids spend 6 months with one family and 6 months with the other family.  I think this would be great fun!  The down side is that we'd actually have to, you know, pay, as opposed to these scholarship situations.  At any rate, to keep them in the running, we've got more applications to fill out and a trip to California next month to take for an in person family interview.

What all this means is that, while, right at this moment I'm doing very little about it, things are about to get very busy.  I'm working extra next week, doing some filling in at the office for Do Jump in the mornings before going to work in the afternoons, getting this En Famille application filled out, working on the medical part of YES Abroad for Davan, scheduling trips and then Davan comes home and things will really pick up.  Whew again.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Davan in Germany

On Saturday, my mom drove from Germany to Switzerland, where she spent the night at Lena's house. 

On Sunday, Davan bid a sad farewell to her Swiss family and drove to Germany with her Oma for part two of her European adventure.

My mom regularly goes to Germany for work.  Davan will have two weeks with her to do some exploring on her own (while my mom works), go to work with my mom, and do some sight seeing with my mom.

I got to Facetime with the two of them yesterday.  It was great to see and talk to Davan.  She had such a good time with Lena and Lena's family.  It's clear to me that insuring she gets to visit again in the not too distant future is going to be a priority.  Thanks so much to Karin, Sophie, Lena, Julia and Lena's whole family for making Davan so welcome and giving her so many fun experiences.

Lena, I can't wait to see you this summer!  Davan, I'm so excited about you coming home and getting to hug you, even though I know you'll be sad to see your adventure end.

At the Homestead Update - Health and Fitness Mostly

I abandoned the 10 foods challenge after a week.  It was plenty for me and I still don't regret it.  I'm glad I gave it a try, as I'd been wanting to, but I'm also quite glad it's over. 

Anthony and I have been going for weekly bike rides together.  We don't ride together more often because he is a much stronger rider than I am.  Our once a week rides are work for me and recovery days for him.  It's been a lot of fun, though.  Sundays are my favorite day currently with our Sunday morning pancakes, a bike ride and Thai food for dinner, which is a pattern we're settling into...at least for two more Sundays, then Davan comes home!  Yay!  At which point, we'll establish a new Sunday pattern, still anchored by our Sunday morning pancakes, though, of course.

I tried to go back to running last week.  My ankle went right back to where it was after the marathon.  To say I'm not pleased about this is an understatement.  Here's the thing:  It's been 5 months.  It should be better.  Perhaps it really is a stress fracture and I keep not letting it heal.  That's my best guess currently, but the fact is that it doesn't really matter.  Whatever it is, it's not getting better with me constantly testing to see if it'll not hurt when I run this time or when I jump this time.

I could go back to the doctor and get an MRI, but I don't think that's the way I'll go.  We have a really high deductible plan and it's my fervent hope that we won't make our deductible this year.  An MRI would blow that out of the water. 

I've decided that what is called for is more ardent dedication to letting it heal.  For at least a month, maybe two, I will not run at all, even to cross the street, and I am going to take a break from martial arts.  I can go to class and modify or work separately, but the fact is that I don't.  I hate going to class and not participating fully, so I do stuff I shouldn't.  Thus, a break.

I'll just have to be super mindful at work.

Meanwhile, though, Anthony and I each took the President's Fitness Test to see where we are and, while we both did fine - Anthony is an animal in aerobic fitness, I do well in strength and neither of us feel below the 50th percentile in anything - I was not thrilled with my aerobic fitness in particular.  I'm in the 70th percentile, which doesn't seem too bad, but then I looked VO2 Max charts to understand that number.  My number is 36.9, which, depending on what chart I look at is something like "fair" or "above average".  Sure, sure, that's all okay, I guess.  I want better.  I want to be "good" at a minimum, or, you know, even maybe excellent.  I'm a little competitive.

I'm making it a goal to improve there.  Thus, I need to find time for bike riding and/or swimming because walking just isn't getting me there.  I walk Ranger all the time and my results still don't thrill me.  So, now I need to walk Ranger and ride or swim at least a few time a week.

I also need to stretch more.  My flexibility was my lowest percentile ranking, which came as a surprise.

I'd be happy to improve all my results, frankly.  I'd love for my over all to be 90th percentile eventually.  Anyway, we're going to retest in a couple of months. 

To keep me honest with changes between now and then, here are my results.  Keep in mind that women do modified push ups.

Congratulations! You scored above average on 4 of the 4 elements of the adult fitness test. Keep up the good work! Remember to be active every day and work to maintain a healthy weight.
Congratulations, your aerobic fitness estimate is consistent with a lower risk of health problems associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It is still important to continue or possibly increase your physical activity level to maintain and improve your aerobic fitness and health status.

Fitness Component  Test Event               Your Results                  Your Score
Aerobic Fitness*      1-Mile Walk           13:25                              70%ile
Heart Rate   165
VO2 Max     36.9

Muscular Strength    Half Sit-Ups            46                                  80%ile
Push-Ups                                                  30                                  90%ile
Flexibility        Sit-and-Reach                  18                                  60%ile

Overall Score (based on percentile average)  75%ile

Body Composition   BMI:23.0   Normal
Waist Circumference   29

*Normative data for VO2max are based on a population that is 20 years of age and older and are re-printed from the 2006 Physical Fitness Specialist Course and Certification Manual, with permission of The Cooper Institute, 12330 Preston Road, Dallas, TX 75230

When evaluating your performance on this test, you should look at your results on each of the tests and consider how the individual tests contribute to your overall fitness. Your percentile scores are based on normative data, which represent the average achievment of people in your age group
performing the test. For example, if your score is in the 75%ile (read as 75th percentile) that means that 75% of the scores among people your age fall below your score. In general, the better you score on each test, the more fit you are. On the other hand, it is not necessary to score at the very highest level on all of the tests in order to be at reduced risk for a number of diseases. Scoring poorly on one test may help you identify specific fitness activities you need to do to improve your fitness score on that test. However, this does not mean you should ignore the fitness activities associated with the tests on which you performed well. Your goal should be to score well on as many of the fitness test items as possible, maintain your fitness level in those you did well, and improve the rest.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

More Skiing in Switzerland

I still don't know what the full story is from the race, although Davan did tell me that Lena's family was all excited for her to participate because it's something they've all done.

I do, however, have a few more pictures from today to share.

I did also hear that it was a lot colder today than it has been, but still a fun day of skiing.

Ski Racing in Switzerland

Karin sent me two pictures today and with a caption for each.  From this, I gather that Davan participated in some sort of race today.

"Davan getting ready for the ski race."

"After the ceremony - Davan with the silver medal."

Now you know as much as I do.  Sounds pretty cool, though!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

More Snow Sports in Switzerland

Yesterday was another day of skiing for Davan.  When I got these pictures, I made some sort of scoffing noise which brought Anthony over to see what was going on.  When I showed him the pictures, he made some sort of noise, as well.  It's just the juxtaposition of what she's doing vs what we're doing.  Makes me feel boring.

Anyway, here are the pictures from the day.

In the evening, they went to a ski show that involved torches...

Today, they skied in the morning and then did traditional Swiss sledding in the afternoon.