Wednesday, March 24, 2010

German Super-Babies!

My friend was telling me that she hopes to have her daughter out of diapers by the time she starts daycare in August. She's still got plenty of time to work on it of course but I'm still skeptical.

Why, you ask? Because her daughter will just turn one in June!!! I thought she was joking when she told me this but she showed me the tiny potty that actually fits Emma's little nine-month-old Po. And then I got to witness Emma actually using the potty. Sure enough, we sat her down, gave her a book to "read" and a few minutes later- ta da!

My friend does things a little differently so I still wasn't sure if this was a mainstream approach until we were talking to a neighbor whose nine-month-old son is also using the potty. What the heck?! Why aren't we onto this in the States? Are we the only ones that don't know about this? Are the Germans the only ones who do? I don't know anyone who misses the diaper days when they're gone. Maybe my million-dollar idea will be to import the tiny toilets to the States and hold "Potty Training by Age One" seminars. On second thought, I guess I should wait and see how things go for Emma over the next few months!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Paddy's Day 2010!

I can't believe I forgot to take my camera last night! The official mission was to entertain business customers- one American, seven Italians- but Aaron and I were determined to continue our St. Patrick's Day tradition from last year of going to the English pub in Flensburg. We picked up one of Aaron's colleagues and the American customer and headed to McMelson's for a pint of Guinness before meeting the rest of the crew for dinner. I just love how they can make a shamrock in the foam on the top of a glass! We even got scratch cards and I won- a top hat that looks a bit like a glass of beer but has a brim shaped like a shamrock. Wow! Cheap junk of course, but doesn't winning something just make your day anyway?

Afterwards we headed down the street to meet up with Aaron's boss, more colleagues and the Italians for a big traditional German meal: mountains of meat, sauerkraut and potatoes. All the guests were delighted, which was of course all that mattered. After dinner, we sang. We were treated to a surprisingly good rendition of "O Sole Mio" from the Italians and several German folk song solos from Aaron's boss. We Americans realized that we didn't know many folk songs but we did manage "Swing Low Sweet Chariot." The Italians wanted us to sing Bruce Springsteen or Elvis or Frank Sinatra. Ha! There is plenty of good American music but maybe not so many true traditional folk songs. We rounded out the evening with "Silent Night," sung simultaneously in three languages. You can imagine how lovely it sounded!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My new sport- AquaLauf

A few weeks ago while Aaron was in Korea, my neighbor (whom I've only spoken to a handful of times) came to the door and invited me to join her women-only fitness class. Yea! Something to do, and maybe a friend! I understood that it was some kind of water aerobics but otherwise I really had no idea of what I was getting myself into. This seems to be the story of my life lately- always an adventure!

We got to the fitness center, changed into our swimsuits and headed to the pool. I first noticed that Nicole and I were bringing the average age down quite a bit- like decades. I assumed I would be able to handle the intensity without a problem; no offense to grandmas who can outswim me! Anyway, the pool is pretty small, just made for aerobic activities I think. So about 10-15 women make two concentric circles and, led by our slim male instructor who stands at the edge of the pool, we start to AquaLauf.

Everyone wears a flotation belt and floats around their ankles. Then, in the deep end, you move in circles while doing various exercises with your arms. Lauf translates to either run or walk. I think it means run for most of the women in the class but pretty much means trying to achieve forward motion for me. It seems roughly like treading water, which I can do indefinitely but apparently I'm missing the part where you propel yourself. Those instructions must have come in the first few weeks of the class that I missed.

So, I'm doing my best but somehow my efforts to GO seem to be plunging me under water. I'm sinking and sputtering while trying to act cool, stay in the circle, follow the instructor's directions and smile at him to let him know that everything is fine (which it is a total lie). Meanwhile, the German grannies are passing me by and I eventually move out to the "slow circle, " where I still cause traffic problems. I can't believe it but I'm actually breathing hard and looking at the clock to see when this hour will be over. Ugh- still twenty minutes and we haven't even used the arm weights yet!

At the end, I admit to my friend that it's "a little harder than I expected." In my head, I am trying to console myself and maintain belief that I really am fit. I mean I just ran a half-marathon last weekend; I do yoga, strength training and I walk or bicycle everywhere I go. Not to mention that I love swimming and spent half my childhood splashing around in water. It really seems like this AquaLauf business should present no challenge to me. It must just be a difficult technique to master. Yeah, I'm sure that's it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

We did it!

The snow melted off the streets and the rain stopped just before the race started. These were good omens for the Kiel Half-Marathon that Aaron and I ran on Saturday. The sun even peeked out a few times. And it was a great day!
Aaron is fast and I'm- well- not fast, but we both met our time goals and felt great after we finished. The race was along the Kiel Fjord so it was nice to look out over the water as we ran. We even went past a Marine Life Institute and all the seals in the outdoor pool were poking their heads out of the water to see what all the commotion was about!
It was a big accomplishment for us both. I had never run such a long distance and as I've mentioned, our training conditions have not been great over the last two months. But it is amazing what our bodies are capable of when we don't let our minds get in the way!