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Month: April 2013

Water Day

Water Day

I’m a true rookie in the world of living overseas and have so much to learn. I mentioned in the Laundry Day post that I’ve never done anything other than turn a knob and out poured an endless supply of clean running water suitable for cooking, doing laundry, washing dishes and even drinking. Ummmm….not the case here. At least it is not the case for the location we are currently living to learn language. Hopefully it will be a different story when we get to our final destination.

First off, let me introduce you to this little gem sitting in our kitchen because the water here isn’t suitable for us to drink.

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We use this for drinking, making coffee, brushing our teeth etc. It holds 5 gallons and cost 3 Dinar which is approximately $4.24 USD. It also doubles as a workout for Hubby each week when he gets to carry them up the hill to our apartment.

So, what about the water coming out of our faucet? That’s where the real fun begins.

The water coming from our faucets comes directly from the tank on the roof of our apartment. Each unit in our apartment complex has it’s own personal water tank sitting on the roof. No, I’m not joking. Ours is the one you can see in the top left corner of the photo.

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On just about every roof in our city there are gigantic water tanks that hold the water for each apartment and below the apartment is a second water tank for each unit as well. These two tanks get filled up each Saturday and that is all the water we have to get us through the week. If you empty both of your tanks before “water day” comes around you have to pay the water truck to come and refill your tanks.

These are the water tanks below our complex. Ours is the middle one.

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In order to get the water from your bottom tank to your top tank you have to have a pump. Water from the bottom tank will travel approximately 60ft in the air to the roof and fill up your top tank which allows you to have water coming out of your faucet.

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What happens if your pump breaks? Your water can’t get to the top and you won’t have water in your apartment for three days meaning no showers, no washing dishes, no flushing toilets, etc. Ask me how I know? Yes, I’m serious.

So, just to recap: One tank up top. One tank down below. Pump to get water from the bottom to the top. Tanks run dry….you’re outta luck!

Now for the most important piece of this puzzle….water day. Each street has a set “water day” each week. Water day is the day the city turns on the water that fills up your tank. I cannot explain to you the excitement surrounding water day. On water day I have to do all of my laundry, boil water to use during the week, wash my fruits and vegetables and do most of my dish washing. Sometimes we take two showers on water day just because we can.

Needless to say, it’s been a lot to learn but we are slowly but surely getting the details of day to day life figured out. And on a positive note, I’ve never been as excited to do laundry as I am on Saturday when water day rolls around.

The New and Improved Birthday Plate

The New and Improved Birthday Plate

Can we all just pause for a moment and remember the birthday plate tragedy before we move on with this post? Because without the tragedy, there would be no reason for what I’m about to say.

Last month when we returned to Alabama to stay with my parents after our 9 week stint in Virginia I walked into the living room to find a colorfully wrapped package. I later learned the package was for me. Ooooooh, I love surprises but this was more than just a fun little surprise.

I opened up the package and for just a moment I was REALLY confused. Tucked ever so carefully among yards and yards of bubble wrap was this…

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Now, if you remember correctly, the birthday plate had been shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces along the side of I-85 North approximately 2 months earlier.To make things even more confusing, I hand painted the birthday plate at a pottery place  nearly 7 years ago so buying a replica wasn’t possible. If I wanted another birthday plate like the original I was going to have to find time to get to a pottery store and paint it myself. Being that we were in the process of moving overseas, that  wasn’t going to happen.

It turns out my AH-MAZING Mom had taken one of the pictures from the original blog post and blew it up to an 11×17 size so she could see every little detail. She then went to the exact same pottery place I had visited all those years ago and found a plate that looked as close to the original as possible. The owner let her take the supplies home to paint in her own time rather than sitting in the studio. Night after night she sat in her living room painting away and making sure she came as close as possible to the original. When she was done she took it back to the pottery studio and had it fired just in time to surprise me when we got back home.

At the end of the day I know it’s just a plate but I will say that seeing this for the first time was a rather emotional moment and you better believe this little gem went in my carry-on and has arrived safely in our new home. I’m anxiously awaiting Breck’s birthday next month so we can use it for the first time.

My hope is that our family can use the new birthday plate for years to come and each time we do, we’ll think of my precious mom who worked ever so diligently on a little ceramic plate and all because she knew what a treasure it was to her daughter.IMG_8759

I love you Mom!

Laundry Day

Laundry Day

As much as I’d hoped to be fully prepared for our move overseas there are SEVERAL things that have caught me off guard and the learning curve is pretty steep. For instance, I thought I’d have a washing machine and a dryer….silly me. It turns out I have a washing machine, but not a dryer. This could get ugly.

My washing machine is a pretty small automatic front loader that sits where a normal dishwasher would be in an American kitchen. Because the washing machine is in the spot my dishwasher would be then where is the dishwasher???? Ha! I’ve got three and they are currently asleep because it’s way past their bed time. In other words, no dishwasher. Sigh.

IMG_8750So, let’s do the math, shall we? Six people, times a minimum of one outfit a day (shirt, pants, socks and the unmentionables) equals 42 outfits a week. I’m not even going to attempt to figure out how many that would be in a month because the answer would be too depressing. One thing is for sure, it’s time to change the way we wear our clothes in this house.

I have two drying racks and a whole lot of desert sunshine so when I take the laundry out of the washer I use the drying racks on our balcony and the safety bars to hang up the clothes.

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On any given Saturday you can bet my balcony is going to look like this, which brings me to my next subject…water day.

IMG_8735There’s just too much goodness wrapped up in water day for me not to write an entire post on our water situation alone. Stay tuned, that post is coming. For those who, like myself, have never done anything other than turn the knob on their faucet to get an endless stream of clean water… you don’t want to miss that post. I’m sure you’ll laugh and cry simultaneously, just as I have done this past week.

The short version on our water is this- The water supply is limited, so you only do laundry on water day, which is when the city cuts on our water supply. Water day falls on Saturday for us. Needless to say, we’d love to have you come visit us in our new home but don’t come on Saturday because we’ll be doing laundry. ALL. DAY. LONG!

The Traveling Circus

The Traveling Circus

The thought of moving our ten years of life together overseas sounded overwhelming. The thought of moving ten years of life together along with our four children overseas made my head want to explode. I knew we were moving to the Middle East, I didn’t know exactly how we were going to get our family of six from Alabama to the Middle East without a mental breakdown. For months I’ve scoured the internet for advice.  I’ve picked the brain of anyone and everyone I know that has ever travelled overseas with small children and I’ve exhausted myself formatting, labeling, strategizing and developing a plan I thought would make things go as smooth as possible.

The process took well over a year but we somehow managed to downsize all of our worldly possessions from a fully stocked 4 bedroom house in the suburbs of Birmingham to 19 checked bags, 4 carry ons and 3 backpacks. It’s impossible to see in this photo but tons of  hours, sweat, emotion and tears went into getting us to this point but I must say having everything you own in the back of a minivan is incredibly freeing in a strange sort of way. And no, that’s not our van…the Honda is long gone. That belongs to my husbands amazing uncle who volunteered to cart our luggage all the way to the ATL.

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 With lots of help from my parents, brother-in-law and Britt’s uncle, we stormed Atlanta International Terminal like we owned the place, got our bags checked in and received our boarding passes with no hiccups.

IMG_0006We boarded a plane in Atlanta and flew to London. The boys watched movies all night long. I mean ALL night long…

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When we landed in London we had a 12 hour layover, which sounds miserable, but it actually turned out to be an incredible blessing. We were able to get a “Yotel” (a tiny cabin style hotel room located inside an airport) in London that allowed us to sleep and take a nice shower (a must after flying through the night).

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After breakfast and a few hours in the yotel we felt refreshed and ready to tackle the next leg of our journey.

We boarded another plane in London and several hours later landed in our new home. There were a few car rides, bus rides and subway trips in between and after 32 hours of travel we finally made it “home.” Here are a few different views from different places in our apartment.

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Thank you to those that have prayed for us, encouraged us, called us or sent a text, email, FB message, Voxer or What’s App! Your prayers have been felt and answered. Our trip went amazingly well (minus a small melt down from Breck the last hour of the plane ride and one lost piece of luggage) and we are here. After a year of living in transition and not having a place to call home, we are over joyed to be here.

Now comes the fun part, learning this language.

Is Our Gym Worth the $?

Is Our Gym Worth the $?

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There is one common excuse that I hear over and over as to why others do not become part of the Iron Tribe community.  I’ve heard it in many different forms, but it all seems to be the same basic reason- cost.

Some say it this way- I don’t need to pay that much money when I can work out at ________ Gym for $15/month.

Others say- I’m not about to join when I can do all of those moves in my basement.

I’ve even heard- You seriously expect me to pay that much? (FYI: This is a statement in question form.)

I get it. But before you buy this line of reasoning (no pun intended) let me share from some recent personal experience that I believe obliterates it right out the ITF door.

For the past few months I found myself putting these statements, literally, to the test. My work took me to Virginia for 2 months at the beginning of the year. Upon arriving in VA, I realized I was going to have a crazy schedule with not a whole lot of options for workout facilities nearby.  I did find this doozy of a closet, urrrrr, gym near my temporary residence (see pic below). It allowed for unlimited access throughout the week for whenever I could find a 30-45min slot to WOD.

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To be honest, my first thought was, “Wow. I am going to save some $ and essentially do the same thing as I would do at ITF.” Sure, there were no bumper plates. And, yes, I had to use Jazzercize step-boxes.  The equipment was broken down, but who needs equipment? Not me when I am working with “functional movements”. I thought to myself, “All I need is my body weight and a few random objects and I can improvise, baby.” Luckily, there was no shortage of random objects.

Well, I just finished up my 8 week experiment in this struggling gym. I would WOD 3-4 times a week and follow ITF’s programming when my equipment allowed.  I mostly ate Paleo. The short is, I stuck to my training regimen, minus ITF.

Results? Not so good. I have lost strength. I have lost endurance. My times have taken a nosedive. I feel like I have taken a major step back in my fitness goals. And to top it all off, I really don’t enjoy working out as much as I did when I was a regular at ITF 280. I saved some money, but the experience was a big, fat FAIL.

Here is how I boil it all down, there are two critical factors missing in the “do it on your own” or “do it at the gym that costs less per month than an Outback steak.”

First off, you will be missing Competent Coaching. In my experiment I performed the WODs. I even pushed myself as hard as I could. A few times I thought I was going to loose my lunch.  But I did not have coaches right there in my ear when I was hunched over telling me to pick the bar back up.  I had no one correcting my form. No one was challenging me to RX the weight. I had no one to give me a helpful tip on how to maximize my efforts while in the middle of the WOD. I have been use to PR-ing most heavy lifting days. I did not PR 1 time these past 8 weeks. Not once. I am confident that the lack of results in my fitness was closely tied to a lack of qualified coaches.

Secondly, I was missing Competitive Community. Let’s be honest, working out by yourself is boring.  But even if you’re the one who enjoys isolation, solo WODs simply do not allow you to benefit from the competition.  Having another athlete push you makes the biggest difference in hitting your goals in fitness. Mark it down- you will plateau if you are the only one pushing yourself.

After these eight weeks I will not make the same mistake again.  I have learned much through this little experiment.  In the end, your fitness regimen should have both of the components listed above. I am confident that they are both necessary in reaching your fitness goals.