Monday, June 30, 2008

Pain and taper

I can see why they call it taper -- perhaps to reduce your pain so you're ready on race day. I'm not sure why but this morning I woke up and my entire body was sore. My calves, my back, my arms. I debated whether I would go to Bikram Yoga this morning and I just couldn't get out of bed. I usually feel this way after a run (the worst leg of a triathlon, in my opinion) but yesterday I swam, so I was a bit confused. I haven't swam in two weeks, so that could be part of the problem. I was out of breath a lot quicker and that worried me. I have two scheduled swims this week and I may try and get one more in just to get ready for race week. I can't believe I'm about a week away from leaving for the race and less than two weeks to race day.

It's exciting but I'm also very nervous. I think it's the fear of the unknown. I've always been a sucker for that kind of fear, giving into it for a few brief moments, but then it passes quickly because I jump into things anyways, realizing there's nothing to lose. And I realize afterwards there was very little to be afraid of.....

But one thing I just hope doesn't happen....what if the bike gets a flat? I asked my friend Andrew if the bike has a tube changing kit and he said he'd be sure there was one to go with the bike, but even if there is, I'm not sure I'd know how to change it. I guess I have to watch some You Tube clips on that?

My friend Lara is going to meet me in London and we're going to take a few days to see the city. I'm excited about that. I haven't seen Lara for two years and I've really never seen London. So the pain will be worth it in the end and I'm just hoping I'll be ready.

more songs by Rita....ahhh, my heart

these songs are doing something inside of me....setting my heart in the direction of the one that I love and who first loved me...... thank you, God, for hearing my prayers and for bringing a place of fresh perspective.

On a side note, although I've been a World Vision sponsor for several years, I recently checked out their website because I wanted to see what type of things they had listed for volunteer opportunities, job opportunities. Today as I was looking at Rita's you tube clips, I found out she's a World Vision sponsor too and as a musical artist, she's using her influence to encourage involvement. Here's an interview she made while in Malawi with World Vision. I'm absolutely loving what she brings to the table. :D

I have to believe

Although this is a keyboard song, it only takes two guitar chords to play. I suck at it but honestly, this song is really bringing my heart into a great place with my Heavenly Father. :D So happy for that! Also, I like all the you tube pictures on this inspiration for me.

Here's where I got the lyrics and guitar chords - just two. There have to be more in there but I'm not skilled enough to find them. For now, this is good.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Just heard about Rita Springer. I'm enjoying her these days. I just added a song "You are Good" to my playlist. It's my new favorite.

Cosmopolitan (part II)

This is the continuation of my Cosmopolitan story. If you haven't read part I, you might start there first.

So....where was I?

Well, let's just say it was good that I landed several babysitting jobs for lawyers in Carson City. Not only did babysitting in the legal community broaden my world so that I heard interesting stories of courtroom cases and legal situations, but it actually gave me a vision for my future. At 12 years old, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer.

At the same time, I found myself in trouble with the law quite often. What a paradox. I've got lots of stories, but I guess you could say I wasn't the smartest kid when it came to being street-wise. My parents were often getting calls from the police for everything from toilet-papering, shoplifting, a hit-and-run accident (I wasn't the driver; my friend Mike was and I was begging him to pull over--by the way the teenager we hit was smoking pot and didn't even feel it. He left the scene shortly after,didn't press charges, because he didn't want to be caught for illegal drugs. My friend Mike, however, lost his license (rightfully so) until he was 18 years old), busted parties, and it just seemed like I couldn't stay away from trouble.

So at 15 years old, I ended up having a probation officer for a year. It's a long story that I may tell you once I know you better, but for me this became the breaking point. For the first time during my teenage years, I started thinking seriously about my life and trying to figure things out.

Why was I doing these things?

Is this who I really was or wanted to be?

Yes, I loved fun, adventure, friends. I was usually the one friends dared to do the crazy things and I'd do them too. But I was also the one that my drunk friends would come to with their problems. I could hardly handle my own. I didn't have anything for them. I wrote in a journal entry once "Everyone comes to me with their problems, but who do I have to go to?"

Although I never questioned the existence of God, His presence in the world seemed distant. I didn't understand Him. Going to Catholic mass was a religious duty for me at the time and I felt I had failed my parents and God completely. I wasn't about to try and make things right. These were the thoughts of a troubled teenager and honestly, most of the time, I felt really alone. Partying, boyfriends, getting into trouble was getting old and I started to take life a little more seriously. I started to do better in school and decided to try and get my grades up my junior year. I got a job in a law office in Carson City. I became a "runner" and organized files for two attorneys in an office of four attorneys. It was exciting, interesting, intriguing and became a positive place in my life for many reasons.

Besides the great work experience, I became friends with Sharon, one of the legal secretaries in the office. She was in her late 20's and had a very strong faith in Christ. One thing that bothered me about her (in a good way, looking back) is that her faith in Christ usually came out in some way or another during the week. She had character, opinions, convictions and sometimes she got on my last nerve because I was Catholic and I thought she should keep her faith to herself.

For Sharon, following and trusting Christ had everything to do with her life. I didn't understand it and frankly it bothered me.......sometimes her comments would haunt me at night. I was still busy partying and being with friends, but having a probation officer did something to me. I realized I didn't want to be a "bad kid." On the other hand, "religion" and going to mass wasn't really something I wanted either. I only went because I had to. It was for Sundays, fulfilling my duty. So I was trying to figure it all out. Her Jesus looked very little like the Jesus I knew from my childhood, yet He was so attractive. I secretly wanted to know more and I started the process of discovery. Who was Jesus anyways? And what did He have to do with life and specifically my world?

As these questions were answered, other questions followed. The ramifications of my discovery began to transform my heart, my life and my vision for the future. I began to realize there is purpose, destiny, design surrounding our every breath. And I became interested in many, many things.

The world became an open book and I realized I had actually only read just the first page! (part III coming soon, I hope!)

Santana's Sound Check & Concert

Nowadays, I'm bringing my camera everywhere with me in an effort to capture Budapest for future posterity. I don't want to have regrets when I'm gone that I didn't take pictures of the things I'm doing, seeing and enjoying while living here.

I went for a run in the late afternoon yesterday and brought my camera. They were setting up in the park for the Santana concert last night and I could hear them doing the sound check as I ran. Yes, I saw Santana play in city park last night, right across the street from my flat for FREE. There were 6 huge screens as well as a huge stage.

My friend Lisa and I met at a coffee shop and walked over to the concert.

She wanted to meet up with some other English teachers who teach at the International Christian School of Budapest, but we just couldn't push through the crowds and crowds of people to the front where they were. So, we camped out near a big screen, had a blast with "Maria, Maria," "Make It Real...or else forget about it..." and a few others.

After the concert, we met up with Lisa's teaching buddies and relaxed in a cafe/ice cream/pub.

I found out a few interesting facts about Santana -- In 2003 Rolling Stones Magazine, Carlos Santana was ranked #15 out of 100 greatest guitar players of all times. He was also influenced by one of his favorite Bay Area HUNGARIAN guitarists, Gabor Szabo, back in the 60's and 70's.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I'm babysitting again.

Anna's in the States for the Summer and I asked her if she'd like me to watch her baby.

There I go again, offering to watch someone's kid.

But this babysitting job rocks!

He doesn't wet the bed and expect me to change it in the middle of the night.
He doesn't ask for juice or snacks but doesn't like to be left alone either.
He begs me to pick him up and play with him all the time.
This kid sings to me when I play with him.
He's got a melody for everything.
He sounds really bad when grumpy........
That's when he needs a check up from the neck up (aka a tune up).
And I find myself pulling out old tricks I once knew to make this kind of kid happy.
(aka relearning some basic chords because I'm a novice at playing)
It's not a difficult job.
He just keeps begging me to play.
Yep, this babysitting job rocks.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Who is Barak Obama?

I recently received an email from a Christian discounting Barak Obama as a legitimate candidate for President of the United States. He had his reasons and I can respect his choice because we live in a free country (thank God) and we can vote for who we want to vote for and we should vote informed.

In my opinion, although the President of the U.S. is notably the most visible and holds very distinct powers within the three branches of government, I would have to say in many ways he is a figurehead. Of course he holds a unique place as one who can spur the other branches of government in a particular direction and holds the ultimate veto power, can declare war, and do other things that are quite powerful. But I'm a romantic and I believe that even the President should hold a sense of purpose as a civil servant. He should hold quite a bit of inspirational power and in times of crisis, should be a man who can bring the country together to do what needs to be done.

For me, I appreciate the following You Tube clips because they allow me to hear from and know more about this man who might become our next President. So far, I like what I see......much more than what I see and hear of Hilary. I think I'm just tired of the Clintons period. Barak's perspective and real experience on social justice is refreshing which is something desperately needed within the US. I'd love to see our larger cities and the people who gravitate to them be able to raise their standard of living, especially marginalized people.

It's funny but being overseas has created a desire within me to return to the U.S. and be someone who gets involved in the community. Not politics, but in some type of way. I don't know.

I also appreciate Barak's perspective on bridging the gap between faith and politics. In the clips from his 2006 speech below (the last 5 clips), He doesn't shy away from declaring the benefits of faith in community and He also makes it clear that his perspective and grid of understanding includes a personal faith. He's intelligent (was the president of the Harvard Law Review) and can hold his own in conversations. I think that's important and I like him.

I also think that his capacity and ability to represent the US on a global level is possible. He is quite multi-cultural but I was originally concerned as he doesn't have a lot of experience internationally. However, I do think he is capable of growing into that role. We are an international world and I firmly believe our next President needs to know how to communicate on an international level. Globalism is real and it's not going anywhere anytime soon. So, whoever our next President is he must also be able to bridge that gap.

You may be tired of watching Presidential candidate coverage clips, but here in Budapest, I get nothing. So I truly appreciate You Tube. Here's what I've been watching. The first five clips are about his life and the last five are from a speech he gave in June 2006 on faith and politics. There are more clips on you tube as well but I think this is a good start. :D

Elevator Music

My former roommate Anna left for the states yesterday for the summer. She'll be back at the end of August. I told her I would like to babysit her guitar while she's gone.

It was quite the adventure taking Anna's guitar from her flat to mine a few nights ago. We had ALOT of fun doing it though. Most people are so somber and sad looking on public transportation. I think we brought a few of them some joy, atleast I'd like to think so!

It's rare to see a guitar out in the open and two girls being silly with it too. At one point, Anna went to take a gulp of water and then started to laugh and ended up spitting it out because she was laughing so hard. This is not normal, especially when you try not to draw extra attention to yourself sitting on the underground metro.

Can I just say that riding public transportation is a lot like going to mass? I remember it was so dead silent when you walked in for that hour, you could hear a pin drop. And unless the priests were talking, there shouldn't be any other noise. Anything out of the ordinary is quickly identified and often looked down upon.

Oh well....We were enjoying our elevator/tram music.

Four years ago, I tried to learn a few chords and just play on my own in my bedroom, try and learn a few worship songs and write a few of my own. Mainly, I wanted to learn so I could sing in the privacy of my own place. I'm not going pro with this thing, just want it for myself.

Well, I have a guitar that desperately needs to be restrung at my parents home in Carson City and I toyed with the idea of bringing it back with me this past January but then I thought about having to bring it back across the Ocean. It's not a priority. It's more like a side hobby - sort of like painting and my curiosity with art.

Bikram Yoga continued....

So, I've been doing Bikram for four days straight. I have a 10 day pass for the price of about $!2 and so I'm trying to use it up. It's well worth it. Already I can feel so much happening as I stretch and flex. And you sweat SOOOOOO much, it's got to be doing something. Seriously. My clothes are DRENCHED when I'm done.

I was able to get my newest houseguest, Taylor Ann from Florida, and my newest friend Lisa who teaches and lives in Budapest to join me. We were having fun trying to do one of the postures. Power in numbers, you know?? I'm so glad I'm sharing this experience with someone since I can't share it with sis Noel just yet until Christmas time rolls around.

Six more days to go on this Bikram Yoga pass but honestly I'm a bit achy tonight. You wouldn't think that something as mellow as yoga would do this to your body but wow. Then again, I also ran 3 miles and kept it within the 8 and 9 minute range. I have a lot ahead the next week and a half before the taper starts and the race comes on July 12th.

I'm currently planning all the details for the race in London and it's a bit scary, to be honest. I can't believe I'm doing it. I got a little nervous yesterday thinking about it. I truly hope I can survive. I think I'll be alright. Here's the race path I'll be taking.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cosmopolitan (part I)

My sister recently sent me a drink on Facebook - a Cosmopolitan. Can't say I've ever had this drink, but it made me curious as I was a little fuzzy to what the word actually means by definition.

Here goes: multicultural, international, worldwide, global, worldly-wise, well travelled, experienced, unprovincial, cultivated, cultured, sophisticated, suave, urbane, glamorous, fashionable; jet-setting, cool, hip, stylish.

I think the first part of this being international is really true - not so much the rest of it, although officially I have now been to the Opera three times, though it's not my favorite.

But how does it happen that a poor girl from rural Nevada has had the chance to see some of the corners of the earth? As her mother says, "Jen, people in our family just don't do that." Well, mom, I guess people in our family do now, especially when HE has got the whole world in His hands.

I grew up in a poor Catholic family. My parents worked really really hard to provide for 5 kids. Originally it was 4 kids, and along came Jeremy. It was tough sometimes but somehow my parents managed. Both my parents worked but my mom found a way to still try and be a part of our lives by doing something she loved, which was watching children. It started in our house and it grew -- actually exploded -- and she opened a daycare business while I was in Junior High.

I had my first job when I was 12 years old. I loved to work and earn money for myself so I could buy things I wanted. It was a good feeling but it also got me in trouble. As a child, you don't realize what's happening but for a number of reasons (of which I won't go into detail with you here), I became an angry, rebellious child and started to distance myself from my family. It started slowly as I'd find ways to get out of family gatherings and hang out with my friends. Besides seeing my grandma, I hated going to my grandparents and cousins house in po-dunk Silver Springs, Nevada. I found ways to enjoy it but mostly it just sucked. If Carson wasn't rural enough, Silver Springs was creepy, creepy rural.

I became quite familiar with partying and always having boyfriends. Somehow I was gaining a sense of satisfaction in it all. I loved my friends and I was not afraid to do or try anything (I never was introduced to hard drugs, thank God, or who knows what would have happened). Excitement. Adventure. Fun. I've always been one who enjoys the thrill of things. But let me just tell you that after four years, the thrill was gone.

I remember being around 16 years old and sitting on my best friends balcony, completely wasted, and looking up to the stars in the sky. As a Catholic, I had no doubt God existed. He just wasn't real in my life and being a Catholic was just something handed down to me by my family, sort of like an heirloom or something. I remember my parents had this huge black Bible and it sat under the bed, mainly because it was old and they probably wanted to preserve it, but also because it was so "holy" no one could read it. All of it seemed like a bunch of wasted time to me. Actually, quite ridiculous really. Even though I went every Sunday with my parents to mass, I would always try and get out of it. It rarely worked so I made the most of it.

I'll never forget one Sunday when our family sat up in the balcony at St. Theresa's. My sister and I sat alone, maybe with a few friends? I don't remember. Anyways, there were some guys from high school sitting a few rows in front of us from my class. They didn't realize that my parents were sitting with my brothers and sisters in the back of the balcony. The guys thought they'd be funny or cute or something and they mooned us -- but not just us -- my parents too. Needless to say, being a Catholic didn't mean much for most of us kids in Carson.......

Little did I know that my life was going to change...and with it dreams and a heart as big as the ocean for a big world full of other cultures and people.....This is my cosmopolitan story. (to be continued....)

Bikram Yoga

I've heard about Bikram Yoga for a few months now from both my sister Noel, who is an avid Bikram Yoga fan and from Brooke, a fellow blogger who, I believe, teaches it too. I have wanted to give it a try for awhile now as a recovery workout regime. But, haven't had the time to do it. Now that summer is here, I have the time and I think I even have a partner in crime. My new friend, Lisa, said she wants to go with me in the future and I think I'm going to go with her to a few spinning classes as well. I'm excited about it.

The Bikram Yoga center is about 40 mintues from my house and sort of outside the city...what a trek to get there! I think I'm going to bring a book or listen to a book from now on. That's almost like two hours wasted in traffic! Yes, I like to people watch, but I'm also the sort of personality that has to feel like my time is being productive with my time.

Apparently, this Bikram Yoga class is a beginners class with 26 different postures and two breathing exercises. The stretches are meant to strengthen muscles and ligaments in your body, especially joints that are needed for good posture. Because you are in a hot, steamy room it also stimulates organs, glands and nerves to move fresh oxygenated blood to your body in an effort to restore defective parts of the body.

The instructor said I should focus on just staying in the class for the full 90 minutes and make that my goal the first few times. After that, I'll be able to concentrate on the postures/moves, because they are the same in every class.

I have to admit -- at first glance, it's hard to believe it actually forms your body but the 90 minute workout was awesome! I sweat so much (which is the point) and it felt great. There were a few I couldn't do. It was tough. But I think I'm going to like this. I can definitely afford their first deal which is 10 straight days of Bikram Yoga for the equivalent of about $12. I can come more than once a day if I want to (not that I will) but that's cool. Anyways, I think it's a great set up and a great program to get me kick-started on this.

Thanks Noel and Brooke. I might be blogging more about this recovery workout in the future.

Today's park experience made me laugh

Today ended up being a "get it together" and work out day.....wish I were joining sister Noel in Lake Tahoe for their Monday lake day, but oh well. I'm making the most of my summer in Hungary and it's going to be great! Lots to do, see, etc. :D

I love the summer time, even if it is scorching hot right now in Hungary. There's more free time to take life a little more lazily. Most university and high school students are now traveling and I've only got a few people that I'm meeting with regularly through the summer. Hopefully, I can use this time to train, get organized for teaching in the Fall, and enjoy the extra time -- seeing a few places over here.

Although I woke early and said goodbye to my French guests, it took me awhile to actually get out and run. But by the afternoon, I ran 4 miles. It was incredibly hot outside. While running, I saw a few interesting things.

1) All the serious bikers are out training along the one running loop I love. I enjoy seeing them bike the loop with full concentration because frankly seeing other people working out while I'm working out pushes me when I really don't want to be out there.

2) There was a couple standing in the park making out with their hands all over each other. What struck me as a little bit funny was the girl was atleast a head taller than the guy. OK, maybe that's not funny but for whatever reason, it was funny to me today. I'm always amazed how people are attracted to each other. I think I'd be a little insecure if I were taller because then it would be tough to wear heels, not that I wear them that often, but if I wanted to, I'd have to think twice. OK, obviously that's not the most important thing in a relationship. Funny, nonetheless.

3) I saw an older guy in his 70's who was dressed fairly decent and definitely not the type of someone I would normally associate this action with -- - Yep people. He was peeing on some trash. That's right folks. In plain view in Budapest's city park, the man was taking a wisser. I really laughed at that point. Because when he was done he just carried on like no big deal and kept walking, even looked at me unashamedly. Hmmm, Where am I?
In the afternoon, I had to take Chris' bike to the bike shop again to have a tire tube changed. While I was there, I also checked out their older bikes again. Can you believe it? I've been so indecisive, plus the fact the dollar's value is down --. I think it's because I don't know enough about bikes, I haven't been forced to have to get one yet and I'm not sure I want the hastle of shipping it back to the U.S. I also looked at helmets and felt like such a dork because I just don't know anything about these things. Yes, folks. I put the bike helmet on backward and we all (me and the salesmen) got a good laugh. Am I really doing this sprint tri thing? I make myself laugh. Such a dork sometimes!

Last week I had a cumulative 19 miles of running. I'd like to increase it this week to 25. I'm also planning a few good swims. I'm going to blog about Bikram Yoga separately, but tonight I had my first 1.5 hour session and can I just say.....I love it!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bon Vivant

So my French couchsurfing guests left this morning but last night we gathered in my livingroom to enjoy a meal they cooked for us. It was some kind of pasta and vegetables and it was delicious! My former roommate Anna joined us because she called to hang out and I invited her to join us since she taught in a French school in Dallas and loves the language, people and culture.

We talked about a lot of things over a nice meal, a glass of wine, and our "Magnum" bars -- the best ice cream bar in the world.

But one thing that I wanted to blog about was a misconception that I believe many Americans have about the French. In fact, I too had this misconception. Claire asked me, "Is it true that most Americans think that the French hate them? Americans ask us this all the time."

I said, "Well, yes. The rumor has been circulated that the French hate Americans so in many cases, without understanding, Americans may hold a grudge against the French - generally speaking."

Claire said, "Well, it isn't true. It just isn't true. We may not like George W. Bush but we don't have problems with Americans."

So, my American readers out there who have that misconception, take it from Claire and Alexandra, two 22 year old French girls -- the French don't "hate" Americans.

Last night they taught us some words in French and my favorite new saying is "Bon Vivant" which basically translates -- the good life.

I'm so thankful to God that despite challenges and pressures and all the in between, God is good and because of His presence in my life I truly believe I'm livin' the good life....Bon Vivant!! Bon Vivant!!

Today's thought

It was miserably hot outside today but for lunch a few of the girls wanted to eat Thai food outside. It was a delicious meal and one of my favorite places to eat here in Budapest called "Buda Noodle". At the end of our time, another American girl and I had 5000 forint bills- the equivalent of about $30 and we needed smaller bills so we could pay our part. I asked the waiter if he could "break" our big bills and bring us 5/ 1000 forint bills each so we could then figure out the bill. He sounded like he understood and said OK and would be right back. He came back with change from our entire bill -- like 3000 forints.

I looked at it and thought, huh? So I had to try and explain again what we were asking for and I just got tired. In the middle of trying to explain what we wanted, I got tired. If this were just one incident and rarely happened, it would be no problem. But almost every day there are language barrier issues and of course this is just over change in a restaurant -- not a big deal -- but all the little ones add up sometimes. So, I got tired of always trying to explain myself. And I realized I need a nap. :D

Even though I've been living here for two years, I forget that it's better when I don't ask for things that are overly complicated. (I didn't really think it would be that's why I asked) Because then I get frustrated and irritated for not being understand. And I thought later to myself, "How stupid Jen. Why did you get so frustrated?" I guess when you try to communicate all day long and things get lost in translation, it's a novelty at first. But after two years, and learning Hungarian and a different version of English as well (Hunglish)- all in an effort to be understood and you're still not understood -- it gets old. You can't even make your simple point or get the simple thing you asked for. OK, so it's not life or death and it's not the biggest deal.

I think it's the idea that I'm not being understood that bothers me the most. Especially when I think I am being understood. I can either laugh or cry....or take a nap, which is sorely needed after last night's museum tour.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Night at the Museum(s)

Apparently, there are over 50 museums in Budapest. And for the last six years, to celebrate the summer solstice, Budapest's museums open after hours for a special program where people visit several museums between 6 pm and 2 am for a minimal price. Originally, I thought it was free but apparently I was mistaken. The price ended up being less than the price of one entrance fee to a museum and we were able to see five museums, so, it's definitely worth it.

I met my new friend Lisa and two of her friends - Justin and Michelle. Lisa is an American teacher who is going to start running, swimming and doing Bikram Yoga with me this summer. Actually, this week we're finally going to try Bikram Yoga! I can't wait to get some good core training with this!

Our first museum was the House of Terror. I've been here in the past, and let me tell you, folks, it's difficult to stomach. It’s also very hard to imagine that in this very building hundreds of thousands of people were tortured during both the German and Soviet occupations in Hungary. The secret police for both regimes housed their questioning and torture chambers here. It’s quite morbid and at the same time they have incredible video coverage playing of Hitler, interrogations for one of their famous resistance leaders Imre Nagy and others, as well as recent video interviews with people who are now in their 70s and lived through that time. The most moving for me was the interview with a Jewish man who was paraded through the city with other Jews and taken away to a camp. Obviously he survived but he talks about the feeling of wondering if you'll ever travel back through that road again.

Here's a picture of the wall that covers all four stories of the building - filled with victims of the German and Russian regimes. Near the end of the tour, there is a room dedicated to the faith of those who triumphed over communism. Specifically Hungarians are thankful to a Hungarian Catholic cardinal who stood up to the regime and fought for liberty. Interesting. I love it.

Our second museum was the Museum of Modern Art. "What's Up?" Is the hanging title for the museum and we decided to take pictures. Inside the museum it was strange. It's amazing some of the things people call "art". For example, Lisa and I walked over to this clump on the wall and it was a bunch of rocks glued together. OK, whatever. I could do that. But interesting nonetheless. One room was called "Room o fart" and there was literally trash all over the place and a disco strobe light. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

But there were some really funny things too! This guys rendition of taking public transportation and elevators/escalators/etc and doing it for exercise was classic funny. I took a few pictures of the display regarding public transportation.

Other displays were incredible, like this display of log wood.

Our third museum was the Museum of Classical Art. I've been to this Museum as well over two years ago when there was a Van Gogh display. For me, rooms and rooms of old Catholic art with boobies, buts and fat angel babies just doesn't do it for me. However, there was a quartet playing jazz music in the center of the museum with a woman who had an amazing voice, and that was incredible.

I was really excited about our fourth museum, the Transportation Museum.

I run by this museum all the time and have always wanted to go inside. The Museum houses the history of ships, trains, planes, cars, bikes and covered wagons/coaches. It was really interesting and fun! This full size ship display (although a bit unclear) is something I see almost every day when I run. It was great to be inside and see the history of ships. They also had bikes and fun advertisement posters dating all the way back to 1926.

Our fifth and final museum was the museum of natural art. I hung out with all the stuffed animals and read all of their descriptions, looking on the map to see where they are primarily located in the world. That was amazing, especially since there are so many different kinds of animals and many of them only live in certain parts of the earth. There was also a few displays on Coral Reefs which I found interesting.

We didn't make it to 2 am and I rolled into the flat at 1:15 am. My French friends weren't back yet but arrived a few minutes after I did. They never ended up joining us for the museum night but met their other couch surfing friend in the city.

This afternoon I'm going to try and either get a run or swim in. It's really hot in the city today already and it's not even 10 am! Tonight I was invited to my friend, Arlissa's art display in the city. Can't wait to see what that will be like. She came last Spring from North Carolina to do an art internship for three months and now she's back in the states. But I met her art instructor/coordinator and she invited me to come to see Arlissa's art on display! That should be great.

My house guests....

So, I recently blogged about couchsurfing, the largest international hospitality network around with almost 600,000 members worldwide. Yes folks, this means people stay (surf) one another's couches in order to travel. But you can actually sign up as a couchsurfer and just agree to meet someone for a coffee or something. You always get to be fully involved in who you want to stay with you and where you want to stay.

My first experience took place last night when I met Claire and Alexandra, two French girls who are not novices to the couchsurfing community. Actually, that's part of the reason why I said "yes" to hosting them, because Claire has quite a few great references (which you can check for security and trust). They are both from the North Western part of France, an area called Brittany. They have been traveling for 2 months and primarily through couchsurfing. They spent almost one full month in Krakow because their couchsurfing guests wanted them to stay longer and longer.

This morning I made breakfast (which is not a requirement, by the way, but I love cooking for people...this hospitality thing is awesome, as long as I don't have to do dishes afterward!) and I gave them maps and a few ideas of things to see in the city.
A few tips they gave me in this couchsurfing adventure - bring your own sleeping bag. You never know. Now that's a good idea...You can also set your profile to just wanting one gender for guests. That's a good idea too as I've now had 15 couch requests and several of them have been from guys. I'm just not comfortable with that as a single woman but hopefully, changing the profile thing will help.

As we were talking, I thought I'd ask them about my last name as, apparently it's French. It's a long story but my great-grandfather was adopted by a French-Canadian family and thus our last name is French. They said it's a common name and that there is a region of France with that same name! Very cool.

My french house guests left this morning to meet another couchsurfer whom Claire once hosted for a week. This other Hungarian will show them around the city and I'm sure they'll have a great time. They will spend two more nights with me and leave on Monday. They may meet up with me and a bunch of Americans tonight to do the Hungarian "Night at the Museum" thing-y - a summer event where you get into all the museums for free.


On a completely different note, Dori's school approved her internship with us in the Fall and I'm very very excited. Basically, what this means is for good or for bad she will be around us 24/7 helping with translation and several other things. I can't wait because I really do believe that there are going to be a handful of Hungarian girls who really see how they can make a difference in their nation and maybe be inspired to do so....that's how I'm planning to work myself out of a job in Hungary :D I think it's the best way to do that because basically Hungarians reaching other Hungarians is much better any day of the week than Americans reaching Hungarians. Both have their place, but when it comes down to it, I'd rather be a part of seeing local people equipped and encouraged not to do the "American" thing but to walk in their faith as believers and do the "Christ-follower" thing.

Well, hopefully I'll have pictures from tonight! You can't beat a free night of museum hopping. :D


Friday, June 20, 2008

New Passport - American Quotes

So today we had to fax a copy of Riley's (3 month old baby traveling with Matt and Christy to France) birth certificate to the airport in France. Apparently, when Matt and Christy left on Monday they forgot Riley's passport but the Hungarian airport let them go. Coming back into Hungary tonight was a different story.

After faxing the new passport, I got a chance to look at her 3 month old picture and the design of the new passport. Much more interesting than the old ones! The new one is filled with quotes from former presidents, etc. Here are a few of them I found interesting.

"The principle of free governments adheres to the American soil. It is bedded in it, immovable as its moountains." Daniel Webster

"Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair." George Washington

"We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Declaration of Independence

"We have a great dream. It started way back in 1776 and God grant that America will be true to her dream." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." John F. Kennedy

"This is a new nation based on a mighty continent of boundless possibilities." Theodore Roosevelt

"Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America." Dwight D. Eisenhower

"For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert and the unclimbed bridge. it is the star that is not reached and the harvest sleeping in the unplowed ground. Is our world gone? We say "Farewell." Is a new world coming? We welcome it - and we will bend it to the hopes of man." Lyndon B. Johnson

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Impractical pool time.

Tonight I ran 3 miles, keeping my splits close to race pace. It was hot but the trail I ran today was the same one I ran yesterday 5 miles in the rain and it's beautiful. Surrounded by green trees, there were butterflies, lizards, wildflowers lots of sunshine and lots of rocky earth. I chose not to look at a few piles of dump and trash that were left in a few inconspicuous places. I guess that's everywhere but what a bummer! I started to get really hot into the second mile and tried to run closest to the shady trees. It helped! I did choose a warm time to run, but it was the only time I had. Early mornings aren't an option when kid sitting. :D

I returned to Matt and Christy's (all the while thankful that Andrea was watching the Rasch kids) and went to their back yard where I have wanted to get a real lap swim in because they have a beautiful pool. After doing one lap which only took 5 strokes before I hit the wall, I realized the pool is definitely too small. I stayed in for about 15 minutes and focused on the arms but it just felt like a completely impractical swim training time. I have lots of work ahead of me the next two weeks before I start tapering off for race week. I can hardly believe it's almost here!
Today went fairly well being a nanny. The kids are doing great considering mom and dad have been gone a total of 5 days tomorrow. That's a long stretch for a 5,3, and 2 year old. Once again, all I have to say is THANK GOD for Andrea. She is this amazing, beautiful Hungarian woman who has raised her own kids and now her full time job is to babysit for international families in Budapest.

Tonight after the kids were asleep she stayed and we talked for almost two hours about life in Hungary during Communist times. She has some amazing stories about her family! It's hard to believe that 18 years ago things looked so completely different here! I think I run into it or get glimpses of the differences when I'm talking to people because of their mindsets or their viewpoints on life or when I'm looking for good customer service and get sorely disappointed. Otherwise, for the most part, Budapest feels quite modern.

Andrea and I talked a lot! I encouraged her about her teenage daughter whose giving her a hard time. We talked about having faith in God and how good it is to trust Him with life. We talked about how everyone in the world has problems of various kinds but there is something so amazing to know that the God of the Universe longs to walk you through every problem and give you perspective on problems and on life. I shared some stories with her about my parents, myself and the way I've seen God work in my own life. She shared some stories from her life too. It was great!

She comes again tomorrow morning to help. All I have to say is 'we're on the home stretch!' woo hoo!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

London is a big city!

My brain is spinning....Tonight I started looking into the details for the trip to London in July. I love big cities, but this is ridiculous.

This might seem nerdy, but I like to line up details and do a run through before I do major things, especially like this. Maybe it's not nerdy for people who are into these events. But when things are unfamiliar, Yes, true confessions here. I get a bit nervous.

I'm wiped out tonight trying to figure out details. Besides the fact that London is ginormous (is that a word?), part of the problem might be that I'm trying to fit too much in as well. Catching up with old friends, organizing the triathlon and meeting a friend to take a few days for vacation is a lot. It all sounds great at the time but then I seem to lose sight of my main goal, which was to finish this race.

Andrew and I haven't emailed for months and that makes me a bit nervous since I just got an "out of office" reply from him. The bike I will be using, the places I will stay (for the most part) are all being organized by Andrew and Berna. Never having done a tri and not knowing what to expect on race day is piled on top of the fact that I am at the mercy of other people's kindness in hosting me to save a ton of money.....(so thankful for friends) I'm flying into an airport that is about 1.5 hours from where my friends live and atleast an hour from the tri site. I also started looking online to find a hotel near Eton College, just as a back up for the night before. As great as online maps are it's hard when you see on the map a railroad or something. Can you cross it and get to the site? Who knows!

Andrew did say he had some people I could stay with who live nearby. I'm hoping its biking distance and I can bike to the event really early in the morning. But worst case scenario?? I have no idea, so I was checking into hotels.

I'm a planner. I've learned to be laid-back and enjoy the ride. But at heart, I will always be a planner...and London is just a big city! My brain is spinning!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

room time, project time, outside time, happy heart time

Christy has a great schedule going which includes room time, project time and outside time in the mornings. Projects anyone? We have playdough, litebrite and school work. Yes, these were their choices for 'project time'. So cute! I'm really dreading outside time because honestly its a big ordeal getting them into the pool and I know they are going to want to get in the pool. Argh.

They are great kids and doing fairly good too. If they give me attitude, Christy has this thing called "happy heart time". Yep. They are banished to a place until they get a happy heart. If I was a kid I wonder if I'd learn how to master that one just to get out or if I'd actually get a happy heart in the process...Funny. So far no one has had to have this time, but we have come close.

I hope everyone takes a nap. Cuz when they do, I shall be joining in for nap time :D They have dogs in this neighborhood that bark at all hours of the night! Crazy! And Jo-Jo woke through the night almost every hour. I also heard Eliza talking in her sleep. Oh the joy. So, to say the least, I am going to be ready for a nap too.

Miss Andrea comes at 4pm again so I'll get a run in. Never did make it into the pool last night. I'm going to shoot for pool time tonight after they go down.

Minor meltdown

Bedtime tonight was rough. Luckily, their favorite babysitter was here to help me and will be here tomorrow night and Thursday night, thank God. :s They are little and they are a handful!!! Wooh! Talk about wearing you down real quick.

They loved pizza for dinner and bath time went relatively smoothly.....but bedtime is where things started to go bad real quick.

First, the oldest knows that mom and dad aren't here and so she tries to test the limits. "Hmmm, what can I get away with? What can Miss Jen get suckered into believing?" He he. The first trick tried was if they could all sleep in one bed together. That's fine if they want to do that when mom and dad are here, but since I came Sunday night to "observe" how nights are done, that was not part of the plan.

So, after story time, Jo-Jo (2 yr old with the greatest smile ever...) had to say goodnight and that smile quickly turned to crying. But, after a few minutes he was out cold - completely asleep. Then, the next trick mastered by the oldest was to try and have the two girls sleep together. Again, because they fight so much, I realized that wouldn't be a good idea.

About 10 minutes after story time, prayers and all tucking in took place, one of the girls came down and started crying that she didn't have 10 stuffed animals on her bed and that mommy says both the girls only get 10 animals on their bed and that the other sister stole her animals and on and on. Long story short we sat there and counted animals and came up with a plan. One of the girls threw a fit and the other cried about wanting mommy. Not the best for your first night! :D

That's where I had lots and lots of mercy and patience. The thing is...these kids know that they are going to be moving back to the states soon and there's lots of transition going on. Even though I'd venture to say that the oldest one crying for mommy may have been milking it a lil' cuz I'm not the normal bedtime routine, I still couldn't just be mean.

So, after trying to comfort, come up with a solution, sing another song and finally make it better - I headed out the door, with the girl still whining a little for mom. But within 2 minutes, there was silence and they have been quiet for 25 minutes. I think they are asleep. Lord may they sleep uninterrupted through the night.

Having Andrea to help every day for four hours is the best thing ever! She helped get two loads of laundry folded and put away. There's still about 4 loads waiting.

Today around 4:30 pm I got out and ran 4 miles. Now I'm debating whether I should jump in their pool and get some pool time. Hmm, I think I might.

Kids will be up at 6:30 am and I'd like to get a head start on them so I think I'm going to shoot for 6 amish to atleast get a little coffee before we're off and running for the day.

Let the kid watching begin

Matt and Christy left today for France where they will check out a language school, meet up with a pastor whose been there 20 years and scout out the port of Marseilles in Southern France as a place to start a work in 2009.

It's a big deal leaving three of your four kids for five days and I'm sure it wasn't easy for them. I hope it will be easier for us :D My prayer for this week is that everyone stays healthy, that there are no serious accidents & injuries (cleaned up my first pee-pee accident with Jo-Jo after getting out of the pool) , that I can handle Eliza's strong personality, no major meltdowns, lots of fun and wisdom to balance them with sibling rivalry. They are very cool kids but they are 5, 3 and 2 years old. Wow!. Every mother is my heroine. That's all I have to say about that! But I think we'll have a great time. I'm believing for the best! I can do this!! I just keep telling myself that in 5 days, I will give them back :D

The great news is that every day for four hours their favorite babysitter comes to help me and give me time to work out or do whatever I want. Thank God! Once the kids go to bed too, I can jump into the pool and swim laps in a lighted pool too.

Well, their nap time is over in about an hour so I better enjoy this "me" time while I have it!

God bless every mother out there!! You truly are my heroines.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day, Dad

"Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then, fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher's mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again."Jimmy Piersal, on how to diaper a baby using an old cloth diaper

"To be a successful father . . . there's one absolute rule: when you have a kid, don't look at it for the first two years." -- Ernest Hemingway

I've been working on this blog for quite awhile. It's going to be long, so you may want to stop now or get something to eat/drink before settling into this entry. I'm reposting the "Thank you men" blog from last Fall but before I do that, here's some kudos to my dad on Father's Day.

I've always admired my dad's strong work ethic. Slacker is not the first word that comes to mind when I think of my pop. I appreciate his bright mind, always reading books or listening to music and there's his sense of humor. I've also got great memories of him getting excited about some ball game on TV. In these most recent years, I appreciate my dad for his strong desire to build good relationships with all of his kids. I love this about my dad. He's not perfect but he is a good man and I love him for that.

My dad has been faithful to my mom since their wedding day 38 years ago. One of the best things about their relationship is that faithfulness has never been called into question. My mom once said to me that in all their years of marriage, my dad has never given her a reason to feel insecure around other women. That's the way it should be! Women want to be the only beauty in the story, fellas. And somehow my Dad is aware of that. I LOVE IT for how it secures my mom.

As I started writing this months ago, my Dad called to see how I was doing and to cajole me to move home this summer for good! :D We talked for awhile and I mentioned how thankful I am that he's a faithful man -- that he doesn't give into the culture but chooses to be different. The past 2 years in Budapest have made me overly sensitive to this issue. I've seen things and I've had more conversations on this topic of faithfulness than almost anything other than smoking and most people's views strongly hold to the belief that it's OK to be unfaithful. What a load of crock.

Anyways, my dad said that he thinks it's much harder today to live purposefully than it was when he was growing up. He said for most guys who just give in, there's no struggle. He said something really cool though. "But when you choose someone, and I chose your mom 38 years ago, then you continue to choose that person every day until you die." Wow! Go dad! You rock. :D
I wrote the following post last year but I want to re-post it for several reasons. First, I'm thankful that my dad is striving to be the man below.
Second, I truly believe in men and I will not surrender to a lesser view of men.
Third, these men (fathers and brothers) deserve to be admired, cherished, honored and encouraged in their manhood in this lifetime.

These men exist. They also exude genuine manhood for me. Who knows but someday I may have sons. I pray that they too would grow up to be these kinds of men.

So fellas - Prove these Hungarian friends of mine wrong. And to those who are living this and aspiring to live this.... THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU....for not being like the norm.

I'm writing this to thank all the men in my life whom I admire and cherish for truly walking in your manhood. A four-pillared man. No, not a monster; a modern day superhero.
a man of character and vision – a king.
a man of strength and power – a warrior poet.
a man of faith and wisdom – a mentor.
a man of heart and love – a friend.

Thank you for being an example of a real man. Thank you for being today's William Wallace, fighting for the honor of women and children through your thoughts, words and actions. It seems to me that shouldering the burden of manliness in this generation is a tough mandate. Choosing to be different and walk in the way of a William Wallace is not a path that gets much applaud these days. So I want to applaud you.

Thank you for broadening your shoulders—and walking in the discipline of heart something unseen but known in your thought life, and allowing your actions to reflect genuine manliness – everything from thinking rightly about women, opening doors, offering to carry things, listening with joy to our stories and being a protector of feminine mystique and dignity.

Barlow Girl's "Guy Song"recently reminded me that this world has tried to discourage and distract you. Yet it's so powerfully attractive and admirable when you live with a bigger purpose than just what your eyes can see in the natural. There's something so admirable about a man who does not conform his lifestyle to this world which devalues things of faith and real life. Every time you embrace a way of life that's counter-cultural, by what you choose to do and not to do, you are speaking volumes to so many watching eyes. You are to be admired, valued, and highly esteemed because you choose to look straight ahead and meditate on healthy things. Your life cannot be equaled to the man who just indulges his flesh. You far surpass this man on every level!

I want to applaud you. You mean so much to me! This kind of man walks with confidence to protect and provide a place for women to flourish in feminine beauty. Because you're willing to be a warrior and fight for a woman's honor and beauty, you are a king, a warrior poet. You don't indulge in porn or empty relationships to make yourself feel like a man. You choose to say no to these things and yes to real relationships, building with women as individuals and seeing them as image bearers – God's creation reflecting something of God's purpose and character - God's daughters. You guard and cultivate this in the women around you because you are God's son.

Thank you men. To those of you who are fathers and husbands, thank you for loving your wives and children with a supernatural love and choosing to be a king, a warrior poet, a mentor and a friend to your wife and children as well as the men and women around you. To those of you who are my single brothers, thank you for honoring women by not taking advantage of their emotions or their physical bodies for your pleasure. Instead you have chosen the harder way, seeing women as hand-crafted for a unique purpose, who need to be prized and treasured, our honor kept intact. You are a man of character, vision, strength, power, faith, wisdom, heart and love. To all the men in my life!

Like the "Guy Song" lyrics sing….."This world distracts you, lies to you and hopes to keep you from your call….don't be fooled….you can stand up to it all…..this is your day! Don't let them take it away…."Thank you for fighting the good fight, taking the narrow way and clinging to God's promises which keep you from falling. I admire you, I respect you and I want to honor you today. Thanks for being His four-pillared man.


Dependability is a highly underrated quality in people. Without going into detail, let me just say that I have come to realize something that's very important to me. I appreciate, admire and am your greatest cheerleader if you are a dependable person.
If you show up when you're supposed to,
If you do what you say you're going to do,
If you bring your part to the table so to speak,
If your actions which follow your words are consistent,
If you call when something comes up,
If you aren't constantly calling to back out of things you've committed to,
If you bring what you're supposed to when other people are counting on you,
If you do the little things and you do them in excellence, THANK YOU.
All I have to say is....I love dependable people.
If you're one of them, I'm your greatest fan.
Thank you for being who you are.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Missed workouts

This week I missed both my swim workouts -- one for 40 minutes, one for 30 minutes. Honestly, I have to admit that part of it was because of the money. It costs $7 every time I go to swim and I always want to go when I can feel like I get the full use of it. For example, time to enjoy the steam room or hot thermal baths. So, I kept doing every other workout on the plan while avoiding these.

I'm not sure how I can make it up next week as next week is actually the hardest week on the training plan (not to mention I'm "kid" sitting.) Although I fulfilled all my runs for the triathlon training program, I am a slacker by 10 miles for the 1/2 marathon training program. But I'm trying to remind myself to take it slow. Ughh!

Well, my training week isn't over until Sunday. I still have tomorrow.

Summer's here...

High school just got out yesterday so we held an end of the year party at my flat. Yes, this is my little kitchen nook. Notice how I'm still connected to the global world and i-tunes. I managed to make chocolate chip cookies, butterscotch brownies and banana muffins. I also bought a bunch of junk food from the store - pretzels, chips, salsa and things like that.

I LOVE hosting people in my flat! I love it! I think I'll do this until the day I die - a house full of people-- young people -- until the day I die! :D

I wasn't really sure what games we were going to play (I had a few ideas on backup), but Chris and Renea are awesome at that!
A few of the students showed up early and were downstairs smoking their cigs. Yes, almost every teenager here smokes cigarettes. Europe is just starting to get the memo that smoking KILLS. I try and tell them that with every pack of cigs they buy, they are paying for their own slow death with these death sticks. I also try to say that they are young enough to quit forever but they just ignore me. I even try and inspire them with my own life - - that I quit when I was 16 and they should quit while they are ahead. But alas... They ignore me. I guess that's typical. I think I ignored everyone who tried to tell me things when I was in high school too.

Well, PB & J sandwiches were the first order of business. I was surprised to find that no one had ever tried the "All-American" sandwich. I promptly made it for everyone who was willing to give it a shot. As they tried to talk through the sticky peanut butter and jelly in their mouths, one of the boys said, "Interesting. It tastes like a Snickers but with less caramel." Hmmm, not my first thought, but OK. :D

We must have been having a great time because some of my neighbors whom I've never seen or met came to the door and asked if we would keep it down. I guess the laughter carried through the building. We played a few rounds of the card games Mafia and Spoons and then the guys headed over to the park for some American football with Chris. Since Renea had the baby at my flat, I stayed behind and Renea and I talked for awhile. When the guys got back from playing football we played Texas Hold 'Em and I made it to the final round!! I shocked myself because even though I'm from Nevada which is famous for Vegas (and area 51) around the world, I can't gamble to save my life. I must say, though, that I'm the most incredible shuffler!! I got many oohs and aaaahs as I shuffled :D....Quite funny. Gabor won a snickers bar as the prize and our "chips" for poker were "apples to apples" cards. Interesting to say the least.

Well, summer is here! They may come over again this summer to hang out. If anything, I hope they see through our lifestyle that we care about them. I do worry for them. Some of them do stupid teenage things like go out until 4 am in the morning binge drinking. I remember the thrill and thinking it was the greatest thing to do be young and doing this. When I think about it carefully, the reality is if you don't give young people something better to live for, other aspirations and possibilities, they'll be convinced that this is all there is. And it's not. God has so much more. I wish they could see that. I sure love these kids and pray that God gets a hold of their hearts.

It's the end of the year but the beginning of summer! Woo hoo! Have a great summer everyone. :D

McCafe Coffee

Yes my friends.

Coffee from McDonalds looks this good in Budapest.

They have a unique thing called a "McCafe" inside McDonalds which is only separated by ambiance - more like a Coffee house within McDonalds where they sell only coffees and pastries/desserts.I know, hard to imagine, but true.....

And yes, this is their beautiful cappuccino of which I partook yesterday afternoon while meeting my new American friend, Lisa, who is a running, biking, swimming enthusiast. Lisa works for the International School in Budapest where foreign diplomats kids and missionary kids go to school. Lisa has quickly become my new training partner this summer since my other American friend, Nora, packed up and headed back to NYC a few months ago. I'm excited! She knows of a great spinning class on Mon/Wed/Fri evenings. I know where the Bikram Yoga -- so we're good to go!

Back to the coffee -- depending on your waiter, you may get these amazing designs whirled into your drink.

Cool huh??? You never knew McDonalds could be so "cafe" like!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Another day of running

As a new running enthusiast who doesn't really enjoy running, I must say I want to add speed and length quickly but everything I've read reminds me to build slowly. I have to just continue to be patient, consistent, and maintain what I've built so far.

Today I ran 4 miles non-stop! (I know, big deal for all you 1/2 marathon, marathon and ultra runners.) But for me, it was great! I felt like I had more inside too! My splits were decent, with the first one out the shoot always coming in as the fastest - 8:06 and then it's just downhill from there. My longest one being 9:46 or something. That part just stinks! But I did try something I read and that is changing my arm position to a relaxed posture closer to my hips versus tightened posture near my chest. I think it helped ALOT!

Part of me wants to jump out into double digits for distance -- like go from 5 miles to 15 by next week......but of course I know I'll crash and burn. Just build slowly. I know that's the key. As I was running I thought about consistency and why it's so difficult for me -- maybe for all humans -- to be consistent. We either feel really really high or really really low and for ladies this is especially true at a certain time of the month. Oh well. Consistency is a goal and maintaining what I've got is another one.

As I write this, I'm eating the last of my Albacore tuna for lunch. There's a girl coming from the states in a little over a week and she's bringing more. I can't wait! This is one healthy lunch I absolutely love with spicy mustard. Yum. I can eat it plain with no bread or as a sandwich. I LOVE albacore tuna.

I haven't had any pool time this week because I'll be making up for it a lot next week when I'm at Matt and Christy's house. They are going to France for 5 days to scout out a new work that they plan to be a part of in 2009. They asked me to watch their kids and they would even pay me but I honestly am so excited for them and their future in France that I offered to do it for free. I hope I don't regret that!!!

I'll be watching 3 of their 4 kids and staying at their house! They have a girl coming to help 4 hours every day so that's good. Also a few of the University girls live closer to them and I'm hoping they'll come over and hang out with me as well as pithch in when the need arises.

But Matt and Christy have a pool. I'm a little nervous about this because their two little ones don't know how to swim so I'm gonna have to have all eyes on deck and lots of coffee. But once they go to bed or before they get up maybe... I can have all the pool time I want!

We'll see if that is just my fantasy or if it becomes a reality! :D

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Alias music

I think I found new inspirational running music.

The Alias soundtrack music -- Michael Giacchino, techo-based, fast beat style.

Perfect for running! Although I'm laughing at some of the titles like "I'm so promoted," "I'm so demoted," "I'm so screwed."

I think my first two songs to put in a new running playlist will be "Rabat" and "On the Train" from season two.

Alias reruns

Tonight I pulled out a few old episodes of Alias because I was a bit bored. I wanted to watch something with action. I was invited to hang out tonight with some friends but you know those nights when you just want to "chillax" inside the comfort of your own home and not do anything? That was tonight.

I haven't watched an episode in years. Can I just say that Agent Sydney Bristow is the coolest CIA/under cover lady in this scary world?? Not only does she wear fun and stylish outfits (usually), interesting hairstyles (all colors), travel anywhere in the world (within a moment's notice), unlock any code (with only a little effort) and always makes it out alive (though sometimes barely) BUT the most important thing she can do is speak any language on a whim (of which I'm incredibly jealous) and I'm sure Hungarian one of them.

She's sort of like the female version of James Bond.

Although if my life looked like hers every day, I'd probably cry for relief. But it sure is exciting to watch! :D

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pubs - The Spare Key & Nevada Pub

So just before my run tonight, Nori sent a text and asked if I'd like to join her to see Peter's sister play at "The Spare Key" pub around 9 pm. This pub actually has a Hungarian name, but I'll spare you the confusion. We met at 8:30 pm, walked to the "Spare Key", and found a place near the front to listen to Eszter and her band. Their band has such a synergy as they've played together as a band since they studied music together in college.

I've been to a few Jazz clubs in Los Angeles but all of the musicians were much older. It was actually historic to see them play. In fact, one time my parents were visiting and my dad was so excited about the man playing (don't remember who it was) because he has a picture with the man from 30 years ago. My dad used to go around Los Angeles and hang out with the "brothas" to listen to real music - enjoying their jazz renditions and creations. I love that about my dad.

Watching Eszter's band play together is amazing because they play whenever they can do sets together. Eszter's voice is remarkable. The band will astound you because they are obviously doing it out of their love for music and their passion. It's not just another "set" to get through but they thoroughly enjoy it and you can tell. These aren't the best pictures, but my camera wasn't cooperating. Atleast you get the idea. All of those pictured are in the band, the girl in the green shirt isn't random. She is the incredible flute player!

Speaking of pubs, there's one called "Nevada Pub" in Budapest and it's just hilarious to me seeing that this is my home state and that I grew up in the capitol city :D. Noel and Andre were able to eat there when they visited in March. The food and beer is good. When Tanya was here, we also went. There's no live music but they definitely have the country music playing. (Not exactly my favorite, but it goes with the ambiance.)

As many times as I've tried to find out how the place got started and why they named it "Nevada Pub" and have all the "Wild West" paraphernalia, I can't seem to get an answer. I guess I need to take Nori one time so she can find out because their English isn't that good. The "Nevada Pub" in Budapest is funny nonetheless.

Summertime? Running again in the rain!

Last night I decided I'd do something interesting. In an effort to increase miles, I needed to make the run "fun." So, after every two miles, I'd stop and take pictures around city park and then keep running. Although my "long" run came in at 5 miles (I know it's pathetic especially for all you ultras out there!) but it's the longest I've done this training season and I ended up taking some decent pictures. My running goal is the 1/2 marathon in September. I'm not terribly concerned about the running part of the Tri, although maybe I should be. All I know is I'm definitely the tortoise in these things.

So, here's some pictures from yesterday's run.... There's creative graffiti, art formations, incredibly lined roads with trees and cyclists which I always enjoy. Yes, I even took a picture of sweaty me with beautiful trees in the background. On Monday you may remember that it rained. Well, tonight it rained again while running.

Tonight I was going to try and run 3 or 4 miles with the Expat group at Margaret Island. I thought I would bike over and meet up with the group. Unfortunately, I timed everything within minutes and when I wheeled Chris' bike out, I realized it had a flat tire. Not a problem. Quick change of plans, I decided I'd take public transport and hope to make it on time. But when I walked outside it was thunder clouds, lightening and rain. I knew it would be even worse at Margaret Island but I was determined to workout tonight. So, I walked across the street to the city park and ran 2 miles. After about 1.5 miles I started dripping with rain all over my body and figured I better get inside. I'm not one of those people who worries about getting sick, but when I got inside I already had a cough and figured I came in before it got worse. Oh well. Tomorrow morning is a scheduled swim.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Last night I said goodbye to Sarah after two years of teaching in Hungary together. She's an American who is now moving her teaching adventures to China. She's a brilliant girl with lots of opinions so I hope it doesn't get her into trouble in China, as censorship is still an issue over there. Crazy world we live in!

Anyways, she was telling me about this really cool traveling network. It's for travelers who would like to meet locals and don't mind crashing on someone's couch (AKA free) called couchsurfing. She's had nothing but really positive experiences.

I think I might just try it this summer so I can see more of Europe while I'm here!


Apparently, I've been tagged.

Here are the rules.

If tagged, your name is found at the end of the tagger's post.
Copy the rules (or your version of them), and questions onto your blog post. Give your own answers, and tag 5 new people.

Be sure that everyone tagged knows they've been tagged.
Go to their blogs and leave them a special comment letting them know.
Refer them to your blog for details. Once you've answered the questions go back to your tagger and let them know you answered.

Here are my responses.

1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?
Some treadmill, mostly non-existent. I really hated running back then.

2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?
I've only been in a few races and the one when I was like 10 yrs old around Lake Tahoe was pathetic because my friend and I didn't finish. We were playin' around. We were there more for her mom. I haven't had a "best" yet. Maybe this July??

3. Why do you run?
If I want to do a sprint-triathlon, it's sort of non-optional.

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?
Best: Relax! and increase mileage at about 10% each week.
Worst: ??? I don't listen to bad advice.

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.
I've had stitches twice. Once in the back of my head and once in my left knee.

And I tagged these 5 runners: