That’s so Sweat of You

After a two week self-induced state of bed-rest I finally decided to venture to the gym on Monday. I know they missed me there based on the signs they crafted by hand and the thunderous applause that roared around the room as I entered.  I hadn’t been to the gym in over a month due to my Carmen San Diego-esque travels as of late. That, plus the time I spent laying in my bed wanting to cry of boredom, lead to a lengthy hiatus from my workout routine. I knew to take it slow so as not to throw myself right back into an injury zone. I mostly sat on the stationary bike and threw around a couple of dumbbells. Tuesday had the same agenda, although this time I hit up the gym in Horgen as I’m allowed to have my way with the eleven different locations scattered around Zürich. I pushed the pedals on the bike a bit, laid on the ground and engaged my abs, and finished my sad little routine with a visit to a few circuit training machines.

Here I am, sitting on an instrument designed to give me Hulk-like quads and the kind lady from the front desk approaches me. “Germangermangerman?” she asks, following the question with a surprisingly genuine smile. “Um, sprechen Sie englisch?” I reply, all American-like. “Ah, yes. Do you have a towel? For the seat? With the sweat?” WHAT?! I’m not even sweating! That was the whole point, not to exert myself to minimize injury. “Entschuldigung. Tut mir leid. Ich habe nicht towel.” Excuse me. I’m sorry. I don’t have a towel (yes, apparently I still couldn’t figure out the German word for towel). She smiles and says no problem as she scampers back to the desk to get me my own towel, with which I can cover the seat. I graciously accept my new accessory and continue to buff up. When she turned her back I couldn’t help but furrow my brow in puzzlement. An emoticon to describe my feelings would be: confused, insulted, and feeling like this woman doesn’t know what she’s talking about face. Maybe a bead or two of sweat escaped, but honestly, this is nothing compared to what I am capable of. Kind of reminds me of another time at the gym…

It was c-r-a-z-y hot, this day, and I couldn’t stand the thought of putting on a t-shirt to hit the gym (which doesn’t have air conditioning thankyouverymuch). I have seen other women doin’ their thang with just a tank top on, so I thought, Be bold. Join the other women who shun the t-shirt rule. Picture me, fresh from the eliptical, lifting weights and sculpting my guns. I’m thinking to myself, Look at me breaking the rules. Good thing no one cares I’m a wild sweat monster and am sweating all over the place. Just as the words begin floating around my brain I see an employee headed my way, t-shirt clutched in his fist. With daggers in his eye and a smile that looks like it’s physically hurting him, he asks me to put a shirt on. Apparently, I was exposing too much flesh (Too Hot for TV!) and purposefully rubbing my sweat on all the machines. I donned the men’s large t-shirt and turned back to my biznass that was the dumbbells. I glance in the mirror and check a view of my front side. The shirt reads “Top of the World,” on which was the last place I was feeling. I had just been humiliated in front of all my cool, popular, chic, and dry Swiss friends. I promise I’m not a (total) weirdo, I just have a high metabolism! From now on I’m thinking about just wearing a terry cloth robe to workout and saving all of us the trouble.

It’s ALIVE!!

Phew! I can’t believe my personal game of Cruising the Continent has finally come to an end. I remember sitting down in May with the Mom and planning the calender through today. As we put our planners away I thought, Self, this summer is going to fly by and all the sudden it will be mid-August. And here we are. I’m not sure where to start as there is simply so much to cover. Chronological order has worked for me in the past so I suppose that is the route I will take. How does one compress the past four weeks? I figure pictures will do the job better than even my master wordsmith-ing could.

IRELAND & SCOTLAND

I anticipated this week for a couple months. I can’t fully explain how excited I was to see my family. It had been six months since I last hugged dad and although I adore our regular Skype sessions, there’s nothing like a big bear hug from him. I last saw mom in March, but again, I just wanted to give her a hug and have her call me her “Angel Bunny.” Of course, I always enjoy hanging out with Matt and Courtney and it was so great seeing them as well. We were long overdue for a dinner triple date. They put together a stellar holiday and it was so nice to just sit back and experience what they had in store. Ireland and Scotland are rife with history and stories. I loved seeing the new countries and, guiltily, hearing my Muttersprache was an excellent change of pace. Overall, it was exactly what I wanted: a chance to put some distance between the host family and I for a bit and, forgive me for the blatant cliché, “recharge my batteries.”

After discovering the art of Guinness brewing. Who knew I loved it so much?

Location of a tradition High Tea we had in Belfast

Edinburgh Castle; pretty major.

Dad, Mom, and I in front of Salisbury Crags in Edinburgh. Dad and I climbed them the next morning.

Sir Walter Scott Monument that Matt, Dad and I climbed up. Over 200 steps if you were wondering.

Dad and I in the largest private collection of Whiskey in the world--over 3,000 bottles.

LAKE NEUCHÂTEL

High on a week spent with my family, I boarded a train bound for the western part of Switzerland. The family has a holiday home on the lake that was built by the Dad’s grandfather. In previous discussions, this location, which I never been to prior, was referred to as a châlet. Now, I have never taken French, but if I am to use any deducing skills based on what I saw I would have to presume that this translates roughly as “camp cabin.” The house was hardly larger than my room here at the house. When someone walked in the hallway-width kitchen, I could feel it in my room located on the opposite corner. But it wasn’t the indoors that mattered so much, as the outdoors were simply too good to be true. This is what a lake should be like. Before you go defending the Lake of the Ozarks scroll down a bit and see for yourself as that public toilet bowl has nothing on this lac. The two weeks I spent here were some of the most relaxing I’d had in quite some time. We laid around in lounger chairs, took baths in the lake, lazed about, and life generally felt much slower. It hardly felt like work. I also had a lot of time to go running. I averaged about 3-5 miles a day and loved having some new territory to explore. Each afternoon the parents would ask where I had been running that day and I was lucky enough to tell them a new route almost every time. I was cutting through fields, running along the highway, and jaunting down the marina. In some languages I think this type of running might be called “trespassing” but I prefer to write it off as “exploring.” True to fashion the Dad thought of some ingenuous adventure I could take. One morning he asked if I wanted to take the bike out for a spin. Oh that contraption hanging on the side of the house? Yes, I thought that might be fun to cruise around on. The words were barely out of my mouth before he had it down on the ground, tires pumped up, seat adjusted. No turning back. I wasn’t sure where to take it, but thankfully the Dad had the perfect place. I kid you not, these were the directions he gave me: “When you get to the roundabout by the post office take the road on the right and go uphill. You will go for a while and then take a left. After that you should take a right. Then go some more and at some point take a left and then there will be a right some time after that. Then just keep going and you will be there.” Riiiiight. So I set out with my rudimentary directions and the spirit of adventure. Turns out, it was a great ride. I almost forgot how much I enjoy pedaling around. The bike only had one operable gear so no matter the incline I had to pedal with the same ferocity. This made for some comical huffing and puffing as  I made my way up the first, and only, steep hill. When I got to Estavayer I found that I had covered 13 kilometers. Not bad for an amateur. The way home was without incident and it was the perfect day for a ride. All in all, it was a great holiday with the family and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to spend time relaxing such a beautiful location.

View of the lake from the front porch

Another view from the front porch

Final Destination of my bike excursion

The kiddos watching a movie in bed. One of the quieter moments.

PORTUGAL

After three weeks of holiday one might presume I would be burnt out on travel. But one would be WRONG. I was beyond ready for this trip to Portugal for many reasons, one being that I had not taken a trip with friends since Italy in May and I was ready to macht a holiday with others. Another au pair, Allie, went on Friday and my friends Adam, Phil, and I met her on Saturday in Lisbon. For the next couple of days the four of us cruised the (mostly uphill) streets and took great advantage of the thriving after-hours scene. The lifestyle demands a late dinner, which usually didn’t start until 9:00 or 10:00. We were treated to many a great meal including a memorable steak with peppercorn sauce (Phil’s) and slow-roasted pork cheeks (mine). After a pre-dinner ritual of drinking local wines in our apartment and snacking on cheese picked out by our own cheese monger (Adam) we headed out to take on the night. This usually consisted of us finding a bar (or three), picking up some drinks, and dancing like maniacs. Besides the castle and, oddly enough, the Oceanarium, we didn’t see too many sights, but needless to say we enjoyed the nightlife enough to make up for whatever we passed by during the day. Unfortunately, Allie had to come back to Zürich so Adam, Phil, and I stole a rental car and made a run for the southern coast. OK, so we didn’t steal it, but we definitely headed down the coast and made our way to a little beach town, Porches. We spent the following four days tripping along beaches and soaking up as much vitamin D as possible. At the beach closest to our apartment the guys decided to follow in the footsteps of some local youth and cliff jump. After extensive research and mathematical equations it was determined that their jump was approximately 60 feet. Pretty impressive if I do say so. Their level of manhood jumped about at an equal distance in my eyes as well. The nightlife was considerably more quiet and we contented ourselves to sit in the apartment, drink more local wine and play cards. We ended the week with a bang by venturing to the nearest “big” town and cruised up and down the streets with a couple with befriended that same night at Albufeira’s finest kebab shop. Somehow karaoke got mixed into the night and although I made a tremendous fool of myself, it was still great fun. In the end it was a great holiday, filled with good company, food, drinks, and memories. It was the perfect end to a string of holidays and prepared me to settle back into the routine of work.

Lisbon crew: Allie, Phil, Adam, and myself, tearing up the streets.

Cool "wall-art" outside our apartment

Beach platz for the afternoon

This is the cliff off of which the dudes jumped. Yikes!

Sunset on the beach

This Just Happened

It took me a while to adjust to living in the house for a couple different reasons, one namely being new housemates. I have never lived with young kids without being a little critter myself. It’s definitely a shock when the cries, laughter, yells, and general noise of children fill the house from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can’t escape the sound. You also can’t escape the little intrusions. I think I mentioned before that I have had a couple of issues with Taz about defining personal boundaries. Well, it appears that Rapunzel and I will be having a similar discussion in the morning. Allow me to explain.

The parents are out for a dinner party and I am babysitting. I was scheduled to start working at 6:45 and managed to roll in the door at 6:30. I had time to quickly check my email and empty my day bag before heading downstairs to help the kiddos get into jammies before a night of watching TV. As soon as I put them to bed I did a running leap for the shower. I laid by the lake this afternoon and followed my vitamin-D session with a trip to the gym. It’s safe to say I needed a hose-down.

Now, here I am, in the shower, doing my shower thing, when I hear the unmistakable sound of a child outside the door. Next thing I know the door is being opened and Rapunzel is standing there with a mask of concern on her face. I should point out now that the shower is just one big glass vestibule, and not even the frosted kind. “Umm, yes. Can I help you?” She says that she needs water before she can sleep. I remind her that she can get this for herself and to go downstairs and do it. Tears are about to spring from her eyes when she says she would but she can’t open the lid to her sippy-cup.

So, I open the door, remove said lid and send her on her way. She leaves the bathroom and fails to shut the door behind her. I should now point out that the bathroom opens up to the office which has a convenient row of windows facing right into the bathroom. The houses here are ridiculously close together and we all have intrusive views into one another’s lives. At this point I am looking into the dining room of the kind folks behind us. I am operating under the “I can see you so you can see me” mentality and assume the neighbors are getting a little more than they bargained for when they bought the place. “Hey, Rapunzel, could you maybe grab that door? Yeah, OK. Cool.” She shuts the door and I am left scratching my soapy head in wonder at the lackadaisical attitude of children.

It couldn’t be more than 4 minutes later and I see the sliver of light begin to expand at the doorway. Apparently, she has such weak muscles that she is unable to screw the lid of the cup back on. Once more I open the shower door and assist her. She says thank you and begins to close the door. Just as I feel I will be left in peace she whips it open again and asks me if I’m coming with them to Laax tomorrow. I assure her that I will be there, bid her goodnight and ask her to shut the door on her way out. She then inquires if I will be going to Portalban (the other holiday home) with them in two weeks. Seriously? Is this the time to have this conversation? “Yes. As a matter of fact, I will.” “OK, good!” It isn’t without a couple of tschüsses that she’s finally out of the bathroom and on her way to slumberdom. Obviously she’s not fazed, but I think we might have a little girl talk about occasions when it’s not OK to bust in on someone.

At a Loss for Words

Yesterday I was presented with a question that I was not prepared to handle. I like to think I have pretty good response time and if I don’t exactly know the answer, I will either admit that or make something up (only with the kids, you see). But in this instance the question directly related to the recreational habits of cows. Let me explain…

I took Taz and Little Bean to pick up Rapunzel from school. As I have mentioned before there are cows everywhere. I think it is kind of ironic that I’ve spent my entire 23 years living in a predominantly farm/livestock-friendly state and managed to have little or no contact with either one. Yet, I move on the other side of the world and if the alarm clock doesn’t wake me up the sweet sound of a cowbell surely will. There are cows, horses, sheep, and goats all within a stone’s throw.

So, yesterday we are all walking home from school and Rapunzel, who was lingering behind as usual, comes running up to me. “Kristina, Kristina! I just saw two cows and one was behind the other and it had it’s arms around it like so (mimes a hug from behind). What were they doing?” Oh, golly. Hmm, let’s see…I guess they were…well, it’s just that…great that you brought that up…maybe, uh…when a bull and a heifer love each other–no, no, that’s not right*. “Well, Rapunzel, cows are silly just like people and they really like to play games too. I bet they looked pretty funny then.” She looked at me thoughtfully and then started to giggle, “Yes, they did look funny. (Pause for effect) I love cows.” Ok, good, that’s nice. I was spared having to explain more because Taz fell into a it’s-100-degrees-and-I’m-eating-ice-cream meltdown. I’m not prepared to have that kind of talk with the kids, especially when so much seems to get lost in translation. As far as I’m concerned babies still arrive via stork. Until I have little critters of my own, I think I will attempt to deflect all similar questions with my side-splitting humor and penchant for breaking into song.

*Thank you for the joke, Adam.

Espana

I have finally arrived home from Spain!! After a disastrous day of traveling home yesterday, which included a cancelled flight, I made it back to find it snowing this morning. Worst April Fool’s Day joke gone wrong. I have a slight tan on my face, a burnt chest, and arms that are peeling; I don’t belong in snow! It can’t be denied how pretty it is though. Almost reminds me of Kansas weather…

I’m not exactly sure how to begin my tales of Spain. May be best to just work in chronological order. I’ll skip through some of the boring bits and only share the true gems. So, here it goes:

Day 1: Jill and I arrive in Madrid, only to catch the first bus to Granada. We travelled with our Spanish comrades south and finally made it to the beautiful city by 10:30 P.M.. Upon arriving at Hostal Arroyo we discovered we would be slumbering in the Princess Suite. This is a self-coined names as there is no such placard. It just happened to sit about 80 floors up and was tucked away in the corner. We spruced ourselves up a bit and headed out to find some decent tapas. We stumbled around the streets a bit before settling on a seafood joint. With a sangria sitting in our hands, we were a happy duo. Now, I have debated telling you what happens next, but I must share because it is one mistake I hope you never to find yourself making. In Granada the tapas are free and plentiful. With the ordering of one drink you are treated to a smattering of tasty bites. So, there we are, a couple of Americans just sitting, imbibing in a sweet cocktail and this plate of fried sardines is placed in front of us. I love trying new foods and Jill has no qualms so we just popped those suckers in our mouth. The whole thing; the entire fried fish. I am talking fish head, spine, fins.We assumed this is how you eat it. Thirty minutes later we are sitting at a new table and Jill happens to look at the plate of our neighbors. Her eyes wide, she catches my attention and directs my gaze to follow hers. There, sitting clean and organized on our fellow diners’ plate are discarded bones and heads of the fish. Being natives, they know to eat only the meat and leave the skeletal portion for the trash. Why we didn’t assume this is was the correct, and frankly more palatable option, escapes me. We burst into a fit of laughs, drained our drinks and uttered the phrase that was to follow many more uncomfortable situations, “We need to leave here immediately.” We busted out of that joint, vowing never to show our shamed faces again. We found another tapas bar and were served the World’s Strong Mojito Ever. Again, this is a self-imposed title, but it’s still true. Two ham and cheese sandwiches and a fistful of fries accompanied our drinks and we were thankful we knew how to eat them. First night in Spain and we had only made one major faux pas. Off to a good start.

Day 2: A visit to Alhambra was on the agenda today. We strolled through through the gardens and admired the views of the Sierra Nevada range. Afterward we found a square at the base and enjoyed a beer and some time in the sun. On our walk down the hill I shed my cardigan, under which was only a tank top. Sitting in the sun after a 7 month hiatus leads to uber-sensitive skin. After only a short while Jill ventured a guess that I was getting pretty burnt. Turns out I was tremendously so, and am now sporting one of the trendiest looks of the season- a farmer’s tan. That afternoon with increasingly sensitive skin and some red wine we jumped on a train and headed toward Cadiz. We had a layover in Dos Hermanos with just enough time to run through the streets and find kebabs for dinner. To wash down our Middle Eastern delights we grabbed a couple of Spain’s most DISGUSTING beer–Cruzcampo. It should be noted that Spain is apparently not known for their beer. Coming from a Germanic country I am used to particularly good brew. This beer was so gross in fact, we were using our overcooked, soggy fries as chasers. I would rather drink 29 kegs of Milwaukee’s Best than drink another Cruzcampo. This beer ended up becoming the running joke for the remainder of the trip in the fashion of a “Would you rather…”game. Such as, “Would you rather drink water that the pigeons are bathing in or have to drink Cruzcampo for the rest of your life?” The choices we came up with were ridiculous and it was clear we were the only ones entertained by it. We met some guys (more on them later) in our hostel that night that actually loved the stuff. One guy even declared it “full-bodied.” If you are indicating that it makes you feel bloated and rotund, then yes sir, you are correct. Otherwise, you have no idea what you’re talking about and are clearly too drunk to know what good beer tastes like. In any event we arrived safely in Cadiz only to discover we were staying at a commune/hostel. A full-on jam session was in progress as we entered the lobby. It was apparent our J. Crew ensembles and perky attitudes were in stark contrast to many of the other residents. We were led to our accommodations– an eight person mixed dorm. This normally wouldn’t be a problem but Jill and I were the only girls so there was no “mixed” about it. We were in a straight-up dude’s dorm. The bathroom for use was one step up from an outhouse. The water pressure in the shower was practically non-existent; I think I have woken up drooling harder. I don’t want to complain by any means, but the reviews and descriptions on hostelworld.com made it out to sound much different. Had we been properly prepared I want to believe our attitudes might have been different. Jill and I feel asleep in the same bed with dreams of beach time in our heads. Big hopes for the following day.

More to come…

Drink, drank, what?

I was informed this morning that a family friend would be coming over to dinner and I was more than welcome to join. Seeing as though I live in this house I thought it unusual to be invited to dinner, but nevertheless I made sure to be home from Zurich in time to shower and be ready for a 6:00 curtain call. When I got home at 5 the lack of noise made it quickly apparent that no one was home. I took a quick detour toward the kitchen to grab a glass of juice and a sparkling water. I headed up to my quarters and made myself presentable by 5:45. To be brief, preparation for dinner took longer than necessary and we were slightly behind schedule. I offered to help and was awarded the task of setting the table. I opted for the nicer set of plates, which would prove to be a minor mistake later in the evening. I found we were waiting for the Dad to get home before starting, and when he walked in the door at 6:30 several hungry people herded toward the table. This is also when the trouble began.

Drinking with the family is something that I still don’t always know how to handle. They always offer to serve me whatever they are drinking, which is not only kind, but appreciated. The Dad’s parents own and operate a winery so most of the vino comes from them and it’s decidedly delicious. At the same time, I don’t ever want to look a fool, like some kid that just got out of college and is used to hitting the bars with friends on a pretty consistent basis. Hmmm, sounds oddly familiar… Back to the story, we are all settling around the table (the boy is at Grandma’s for the week) and the Dad asks if I would like a little taste of home with dinner. Um, excuse me, it is only the anniversary of my arrival, of course I would like a celebratory whatever-you’re-offering. Turns out, it’s a Miller Beer. Now, I happen to find no favor with this particular brew, but as if I am going to turn away something that he thought would made me feel nostalgic for my motherland. He sets it front of me with his humongous smile and proceeds to set two Coronas on the table for himself and the guest. What is this, a joke? I happen to really enjoy Coronas, but  I shall grin and bear my “homebrew.” Not a problem.

Through the salad course I am casually sipping my beer, deciding that it isn’t as bad as I perhaps thought. Maybe I am recalling Miller Light, which I definitely know I don’t like. I happen to really like beer anyway, so it’s not like anyone’s forcing something down my throat. Moving forward, I discover that the Dad has pounded his beer and I have no more than 1/3 of mine finished. Listen, pal, if I knew this was a competition I would have put my game face on, but I thought it was just a casual dinner. He jumps up from the table in his typical fashion only to grab four wine glasses and a brand-spankin’-new bottle of wine from the cellar downstairs. Oi. He goes through the customary “tasting of the wine” proceedings and deems the grape juice worthy. I am presented with a glass of wine with my chicken curry. I look at my place setting and find and almost full beer, a glass half-full of sparkling water, and several ounces of Barbera wine. And these people want me to watch their children?

I try to pace myself through dinner, but it’s apparent that the alcohol is affecting me faster than I would like. I will stop to point out two things: (1) I drink far less than I did at home, mostly because it is so expensive to go out here and I don’t do it nearly as much as I did at home, and (2) Jill and I had a drink at lunch today so I already had a little alcohol riding my veins, not that this is a viable excuse. Either way, I digress. I make it through the dinner course, cracking a few more jokes than usual, paranoid that the family and guest know that I am feeling a little funny from the drank. When it’s obvious that everyone is finished I go to clear the plates, as usual. Wow, have I always had jell-o for legs or is this new? Perhaps I embellish, but everything is exaggerated because I feel I am being watched. While I am packing the dishwasher, dessert is dished up and yet another glass of wine has been poured for me. Meanwhile, I am clank, clank, clanking their nice (probably wedding gift) dishes into the dishwasher. “Oh, er, ya that chip has always been there.” Baby sips, I tell myself. I am definitely not drunk, but still, I always feel a little funny while drinking around the family. I remind myself that they always offer and have told me on numerous occasions that I am allowed to “store” whatever I need in the fridge (insert single eyebrow lift). So, I imbibe.

When we are all thoroughly smily and red-faced it is time to retire. I make a quick cup of tea and make haste to get up here and tell you all about this evening. Before I can climb to my chambers they ambush me. “Kristina, we are afraid you are using too much washing powder for the washing machine. Really, you don’t need as much as you may be accustomed to in the States. It’s just about protecting the environment.” So, you liquored me up only to remind me to use less resources? “Ok, not a problem,” I grin. What a silly night. Maybe next week in Spain I will set upon the difficult task of building a tolerance…

Watch Out Lindsey Vonn!

Today afforded me another opportunity to hit the slopes. You guessed it, this was a suggestion of the Dad. He thought it would be great if I watched the Baby in the morning and then I could have all afternoon to ski. Oh, and don’t forget the mention to “give him a buzz” when I got to the top so we could all ski together. All= the Dad, the Mom, and the Grandpa. Excellent. This is exactly what I want to do– potentially harm/humiliate myself in front of them all so they will have something to talk about at dinner lest the conversation come to a lull. I actually really wanted to ski today so I suppose this was a good idea. But, in my mind’s eye I pictured myself going solo project down the mountain.

Side note: the guy who gave me my ski equipment is a gentleman I have seen there every time. He recognized me and greeted me by name (hmm?) and proceeded to set me up with something “really groovy.” He must spend quite a bit of time downstairs in that rental room as “groovy” is not so much in circulation anymore. Upon seeing my skis this afternoon, the Mom exclaimed, “Wow, those are really bizarre!” Yes, I suppose the giant skiing squirrel and flying bat decorating my footwear are slightly strange. I felt like a fool all day.

I reluctantly texted the Dad to let him know when I arrived at the top of the mountain. He promptly called me to tell me they were about to go down a really difficult Black, leaving from an entirely different lift, and would call me in and hour and a half. Yes! How did I score this fortunate turn of events? Now I would have time to perfect my craft and make shredded cheese out of all the Blues I could find. This is exactly what I did. I think by the time my solo time was over I was feeling a little cocky. “You want me to try my hand (or feet) at carving down this mountain? Well, why didn’t you say so sooner!” I was so full of myself I even thought for a minute I could actually speak German. I shared a two-person tow lift up a hill and was chatting with my partner. I warned him, “Mein Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut” but he proceeded to chat away while I sat with a goofy, ignorant grin on my face. I exhausted the few phrases I know by heart and we finished the ride with him speaking German and me saying random phrases of English. We bid farewell just as the Mom was calling me to see where we should meet. Oh no, the time had come.

She met me at Crap Sogn Gion and suggested we make our way down to the bottom via route #60. I first attempted this run when it was snowing and the whole side of the mountain was enveloped in a cloud. I literally couldn’t even see my skis the conditions were so bad. One might say I was less than eager to try it again. She assured me after watching me ski for approximately 3.5 minutes that I was good and definitely ready. So, we set off. I can say now that it in no way reminded me of the previous time I went down. Of course, being able to see was a minor improvement, but I honestly believe I have gotten better over these last few times. I felt much more confident and as if I had an actual form going, rather than merely “sliding” down the steep bits. Perhaps I don’t give myself enough credit. A good portion of the way down we stopped for a tea and when she asked if I wanted alcohol in it I politely declined and replied, “I still need to make it down.” And make it down, I did. I felt so good about it, in fact, that we took the lift a little more than halfway up and repeated some of the run. It was great. Despite feeling pressured to do some activities out of my comfort zone I realize I am not afforded experiences like this all the time, so it’s best to answer the door when opportunity knocks!

EXCITING NEWS: 1) I booked my ticket for Spain today! Going the last week in March. 2) My mom comes on Sunday–Wahoo!