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 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.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Skiing in Switzerland

Davan and Lena are still with Lena's family in Lenk, where Lena's grandparents live.  They had another day of skiing today.

Yesterday, as a special treat, they got pizza after skiing.  They even got a vegan one for Davan.  It's takes a lot of pizza to feed a big family.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Picture Dump from Switzerland

I received a few new pictures over the weekend from Karin plus Davan figured out how to send pictures from her camera and, as a result, I have a whole lot of pictures to share today.  Some are from the very beginning of the trip.  One is from today. 

Here we go!

Davan decided she would do a scale in every airport on her travels. 

She ended up doing one in an airplane bathroom, as well.

Lena has a cool room.

Up the hill behind Lena's house, looking over her village.  Lena's house is the one with the trampoline.

A snowman Sofie and Davan built together.

One day Davan, Lena and Sofie went to the zoo in Basil.

 Davan and Lena went to Basil alone another day and went to both a paper museum, which sounds pretty cool, and the movies.

Davan is also experiencing regular family life with it's ups and downs.  Karin's aunt passed away last week, which, while her aunt was quite old and had had a good life, was a sad event, causing Karin to be away for several days helping her parents deal with everything that needed doing.  There was also a funeral to attend for the whole family.  Karin, I'm sorry for your loss and my thoughts are with you.

There was a family trip to the three corners (Switzerland, Germany and France all bordering), causing partner trick celebration to break out.

Also last week, an epic day trip on the train took place.  They visited Bern and took a series of train trips on the way there and back.

Today, they went skiing.

Davan is letting us know in lots of ways that she is having a great time.  I'm so glad she's gotten this opportunity to have this adventure.

She may be in for more!  She got the news a couple of days ago that she is a semi-finalist for one of the scholarships to study abroad next year that she applied to.  This is the Germany one.  Unfortunately, the mandatory interview happens while she is still in Switzerland.  It's the interview for both Oregon and Washington.  She decided, with my blessing, to contact them and see if maybe she could do an interview in California or Idaho (if those interview dates happen after she gets back) and we'd drive there for it, but, to my knowledge, hasn't heard back.

On the plus side, this is the first date for hearing about any of the scholarships and, having made semi-finalist for this one, that's a good sign that she's a strong candidate for the others as well.  So, hopefully, it won't end up mattering if she can't make the interview.  The Germany one, while appealing in it's own way, it's at the top of her list.  We shall see what happens.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Partner Piece in Switzerland

This weekend, Davan and Lena sent me a link to this great video of the two of them.  They were working on this routine just before Lena left to go back home.  Now they've finally had a chance to complete it.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

10 Food Update

Today is day 7 of the 10 food challenge.  Meanwhile, Anthony has been eating any 'ol thing and there have been quite a few things at work this week, it seems.  My weight is going up.  His is going down.  Can you say unfair?

I'm having serious thoughts of calling it quits after today.  That'd be a week of eating only 10 foods.  That's a pretty good challenge.  Of course, it's not the challenge I set out to do, but it'd be pretty good.

I did realize this morning that the time period I'd planned on is really 11 1/2 days rather than 10 days, which is what I said I was going to do.  So, I'm really at a point where I'm considering three different paths:

a)  Stick with it until dinner on Valentine's Day, which was the original plan and would be a total of 11 1/2 days.

b) Stick with it for 10 days, which was also, sort of, the original plan.  I'd be free on Wednesday then.

c) Finish up today and call it good with a week.

I am truly up in the air about it at this point.

The hardest parts?  Going grocery shopping where there are so many different foods.  Having a craving on Thursday night for a peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip sandwich on Dave's Killer Bread.  Going to my work meeting on Friday and having to watch two of the guys I work with eat exactly that.  I mean, what are the chances?  Feeling full but not satisfied.  No eating out. 

I've gone through periods of being really down about food this week.  I don't know if I'm eating too much to make up for not eating what I really want to eat or what is causing the weight gain (after an initial loss - still down over all).  My Fitness Pal tells me I've been under my calorie goal every day, but the scale tells a different story.

Besides the not loosing weight in spite of feeling deprived thing, though, I just get depressed about the idea of meals.  It's not that the food is bad.  It's not that I don't get full.  It's just that, well, it's somehow depressing in spite of all that.

Cheery little post, no?  Ah well, there is the other one from today of Davan in Switzerland to balance us out.

Field Tripping in Switzerland

After Basel on Wednesday, it was back to school with Lena for Thursday.  Friday morning was back to school once more, but then Karin took Davan on a field trip to a Roman town called ‘Augusta Raurica’ and pictures were taken.

And then today, there was sledding and drinking hot chocolate/apple cider by the fire place.


What a life.  Keep enjoying your trip, Davan!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Homestead

So, what have the rest of us been doing while Davan is off on her adventure?  Well, a lot of the usual.  Anthony, Ranger and I went to a large off leash dog area for a hike after dropping Davan off at the airport.  There have been bike rides by various people.  I've gone to my martial arts classes regularly.  I'm walking the dog a lot.  The big thing I'm doing, though, is doing a 10 foods for 10 day challenge.  I'd been going to do it for two weeks, but there was this Groundhog's Day party on one end and Valentine's Day on the other, so there it is.  Now that I'm four days into it, I'm thinking 10 days is plenty long.

I got the idea from this book, which I have not really read.  I came across a review about this book somewhere.  I'm pretty sure it was a blog.  However, I no longer remember where.  I tried to find it.  Our library doesn't have it.  Powell's doesn't have it.  I found out what I could online, including her list of 7 foods.  You see, she does a different theme each month, looking to cut out excess.  One month, it's food.  She decides to eat 7 foods for a month.

Here's her list, if you're curious:

whole wheat bread
sweet potatoes

I became enthralled with doing something like this.  I did, eventually, find the book at Barnes and Noble, but I only read the first chapter.  Okay, more like skimmed, even.  Still, I really wanted to see if I could do something like this.  I met some resistance from Davan, though, who wouldn't have stopped me, but was definitely not on board and not real excited about me doing it, either.  With her off in Switzerland, I decided to give it a go.

I decided on 10.  I'm wild like that.  Here's my list:


Oh, and I do allow seasonings and cooking spray.  I believe Jen did salt, pepper and cooking spray, but I could be wrong on that.

I started on Sunday.  It's certainly a challenge.  I dropped weight that first day, but have been holding steady from there.  I feel hungry often, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  It's nice to be hungry for meals.  I have food cravings and, for the most part, these aren't healthy foods I'm craving.  It's more like pizza and cookies.  I do really want bread - whole wheat would be great! - so it's not all junk food I crave. 

Mostly, though, I think my body is just rebelling from the lack of sugar.  I'm an addict when it comes to sugar and I know it.  I've stayed away from sugar before, but I did eat other types of sweeteners.  Even not having the sugar helped.  I've done six weeks of eating only fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains and raw nuts.  I felt similar then as now.

From the start of the year, I've been logging food and exercise over at My Fitness Pal.  I'm not really a huge believer in calorie counting.  I feel that a better system is to eat whole foods until satiated, but I haven't been doing a great job of doing that lately, so I talked Anthony, my mom and my Aunt Caren all into making a community for ourselves on My Fitness Pal.  It's making me more aware of what I'm eating.  I usually make somewhat better choices because it's so hard to get myself to log the foods that I wish I hadn't eaten.  It has gotten me to move more, when I might otherwise sit on the couch, as well, to even out the calorie balance.

Anyway, I tell you this because I've continued to log through these days of 10 foods and, I have to say, I'm getting more nutrition from my food than I was prior to starting the challenge.  I'm getting 100% of both calcium and iron, which I usually supplement.  I always do well on the others that My Fitness Pal tracks - which would be Vitamin A and C. 

Here I am at the end of day 4.  Right now I feel full, but a little headachy, which, I have to be honest, I've been experiencing these last two days off and on.  I'm attributing it to detoxing.  I'm holding firm.  I will be glad when I'm done.

Latest from Switzerland

When last we talked, Davan it was Sunday in Switzerland and Davan had been sledding and making waffles.  The stream of pictures slowed down with the start of the school week and with Davan getting sick.  Bummer for her.  She had to go home early from school on Monday because she just felt so bad.  It was stomach stuff plus a killer headache.  If it was jet lag, a relapse of the previous week or some combination, we don't really know, but a good night's sleep set her mostly right for Tuesday and school again.

Lena's mom, Karin, took her in a little late to meet Lena after Lena's orthodontist appointment and sent us this picture.

By the evening, Davan was well enough to be doing this sort of thing, as well.

We got a nice long email Tuesday evening in which Davan, as Anthony put it, sounded all grown up.  She'd had a good day and was getting a handle on the whole immersion language thing - challenging!  She'd found her own way to the public library in town rather than attending the last class Lena had yesterday.  She was very pleased. 

Today, the word is that Davan went to Basel with Lena's older sister, Julia, for the day rather than go to school.  I haven't heard about it from Davan yet, but I did get these pictures.

Here they are, setting out from home:

And, in Basel:

The two girls did some geocatching.  Egads, what an adventure that girl is having.  Go Davan!