30 Before 30: 1. Sign Up For A Triathlon

What a way to start my 30 Before 30! I went to the Zurich Ironman Triathlon website to sign up for a triathlon (don’t start freaking out, I certainly didn’t sign up for the Ironman… I was thinking more along the lines of a 1/4 or 1/8 Ironman…).

Lo and behold, there was no way for me to sign up so early for the 2014 competition! And I find that kind of hard to believe because normally the Swiss plan so far ahead, I was afraid I might only be able to get a spot for 2017 or later.

Nevertheless, motivated by the idea that I will be participating in a triathlon in the future, I decided to go for my first jog since giving birth. And, let’s be honest, basically my first jog since I found out I was pregnant. That puts me at right around 10-11 months since the last time I jogged. Yikes!! I decided to keep it easy for my first time and I ran 2 miles in 21 minutes. Not great but actually not nearly as bad as I thought it would be! Plus, Switzerland has a lot of hills – can we blame my time on that?? Either way, I felt good about it, especially after reading myself some motivational quotes.

 

Though I then did 10 push-ups and 10 crunches and thought I possibly might die so I decided to call it a day.

Ok yes, technically I didn’t actually do what I said I would do, which was to actually sign up for a triathlon. BUT, I did put the date in my calendar and I did start “training”, so I count that as a half-success. .5 down, 29.5 things to go!
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I’m taking on the quest to do 30 new things before I turn 30! Read my initial post to see the full list of things I want to do.
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I’m Gonna Do 30 New Things Before I Turn 30!

Thirty. Thirt-y. The big 3-0.  On December 9, I can no longer say I’m still a young buck in my 20s (though you may remember I actually don’t celebrate my birthdays but rather the anniversary of my 21st birthday).

So what does a gal do to celebrate such a big milestone? Vegas? Romantic weekend getaway?  Huge birthday blowout party? Nope, nope, and nuh-uh. Sidenote: If you’re patting yourself on the back right now for already knowing what I’m going to say based on the title of the post, then you’ve earned yourself a gold star! That’s right folks, I’m going to do 30 Before 30!  I’ll try 30 new things before I turn 30.

The Basics
Don’t forget, my beautiful baby girl Emilia Rose is only going to be 3 months old. (I have to sneak a little pic in here, she’s just so darn cute!). 
I’m trying to be very realistic about what I can do so I’m keeping it relatively simple and you won’t see skydiving or a trip to Thailand on the list. I’m even cheating giving myself 45 days to do it all instead of 30 because, well, I probably wouldn’t finish it if I had to do it in 30 days 🙂

The List
This list is not complete and I need your help! Got any great ideas of things I absolutely need to try? Or do? Or eat? Tell me! Inspire me! 

Here’s my tentative list of ideas, though I won’t be able to do them all and I admit some of them are kinda lame but I was a little desperate:

Getting Creative
  1. Play something on some instrument
  2. Paint something
  3. Sew something
  4. Take a photography class
  5. Write a poem
  6. Write a letter to your future self
  7. Make a homemade beauty product
  8. Make my own professional-style photoshoot
  9. Learn how to use Photoshop (ADDED)

Getting Active

  1. Sign up for a triathlon
  2. Couples dance class
  3. Complete an entire P90x or Insanity workout
  4. Play flag football (this one’s for my husband!)
  5. Jog in Central Park in New York
  6. Climb the stairs to the top of the Statue of Liberty
Eating & Drinking
  1. Make my own pizza
  2. Try a “eat-x-much and it’s free” at a restaurant
  3. Eat a cronut
  4. Learn to differentiate wine tastes
  5. Bake my own amazing birthday cake
  6. Learn how to make a signature cocktail
  7. Get drinks at an old speakeasy

What an Adventure

  1. Visit somewhere new (Austria? Lichtenstein?)
  2. Fly with a baby
  3. Make my bucket list
  4. Drive over 200km/h on German autobahn
  5. Drive a car worth more than a house
  6. Say yes for an entire day
  7. Take something you already do and do it differently. Idea: pop-up yoga
Intellectual Stimulation
  1. Go to the opera
  2. Sign up for a class at Harvard
  3. Finally understand the Higgs Boson 
  4. Watch a classic movie (Gone With The Wind, The Godfather, etc). (ADDED)
Lifestyle (ie Miscellaneous I just wanted to give it a fancy title)
  1. Volunteer somewhere
  2. Speak only German for an entire day
  3. Learn to drive stick shift
  4. Tour my dad’s childhood neighborhood
  5. Cut my hair
  6. Plant a tree for Emilia (or something she can always go back an visit and watch grow)
  7. Be dressed by a stylist
  8. Attend a live fashion show
  9. Meet women in Switzerland who will actually continue to live in Switzerland and not move back to America and break my heart!
  10. Get my palm read/fortune told
Total Ideas: 41 43
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Think I can do it? Could you??


Adjusting To Life With A Baby

Everyone says no matter how prepared you think are for your baby, you’re never actually prepared. Here’s what I’ve learned about life with a baby that I wasn’t prepared for:
… that your new favorite song is a recording of a washing machine because washing machine = sleeping baby.
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… that you will always find strange substances everywhere and panic. And call the doctor fr the 14th time. And they will tell you that, once again, everything is absolutely fine. (kidding! sort of. I only called his office once.)

 … that you’ll be able to sleep in the most uncomfortable positions without any problems.

… that you’ll finally see the value in the horribly overpriced noise-cancelling headphones your husband swore he needed and that you argued with him about.
… that you’ll find out that your bitchy resting face is genetic.

… that instead of texting sexy/funny/cute pictures to your husband, you’ll start texting pictures like this instead. You know, just so he knows how hard you’re working and he doesn’t think your life is like this (trust me, you don’t need to understand German to watch this).

And the biggest adjustment of them all…
… that you’ll be so unbelievably, utterly, completely and unequivocally overwhelmed with love and gratitude for your baby, your husband and your new little family. Unconditional love takes on a whole new meaning.

My Over-24-Hours-In-Labor Story (Warning: Not To Read For The Faint of Heart!)

My daughter was born on September 3, 2013 at 4:26am. My water broke at 8:15pm on September 1. My contractions started at 3:00am September 2. Do the math…

Word for word, this is the email I typed to some close friends and family about going into labor with my daughter. Maybe it makes sense, maybe it doesn’t. I typed it while still VERY exhausted and on painkillers the next day. Read below only if you’re not squeamish – I say things like “vaginal checks” and “I had to have my contraction with the needle in my back but no medication yet!”. You’ve been warned! 

My water broke around 8:15pm Sunday evening [September 1] and I started early contractions around 3am. They were fairly regular but around 2pm (5-7 mins apart, lasting about 50 seconds) so we made out way to the doctor and he said I was 2cm dilated but flexible enough to be stretched to 5 so the baby would come tonight and I should work my way over to the hospital. By 11pm I was having crazy strong contractions every 3 minutes (where I could barely breathe through them and I was screaming!). I was convinced I was about at the point of transition because they were so fast and strong and regular and I got the chills, etc. Silly me, I had told florian I didn’t want too many vaginal checks so that I wouldn’t get an infection so he kept telling the midwife not to check me and we’d just wait for my urge to push. At 11:45 they said it wouldnt be much longer. 

At 12:41 I begged florian for her to check how far dilated I was. I told him if I was 8 or 9 cm I would keep powering but if not I wouldn’t make it to the end. She checked and I was only 5cm!!!! I told them to get me that epidural NOW lol They agreed that with the strength and length of my contractions and the fact that I wasn’t dilating would mean I would be too exhausted to push by the end and it would have ended as a c-section if I had tried to continue naturally. 

So, here came the anesthesiologist. We agreed right after a contraction would be the best time to inject so we said ok we’ll wait until right after the next one and then that bitch surprised us all and just shoved a needle in my back without telling me!!!! And of course I moved!!!!!!! You stab someone in the back unexpectedly they are going to move, I promise you that. Then, of course, came a contraction and I had to have my contraction with the needle in my back but no medication yet! Not cool.

But anyway the epidural was amazing, pain was miraculously gone and I immediately fell asleep and florian went outside to smoke because he said watching me in so much pain and watching me get stabbed was too much for him lol

I slept for about 2 hours but woke up because the baby’s heart rate was dropping too dangerously low. We tried a few techniques to bring it up but ultimately the midwife had to call my doctor and get him in to deliver ASAP because the baby was too at-risk. 

He came and saw the results of the monitoring and said we’re delivering now, let’s see if it’s csection or vaginal. The baby’s head was almost not low enough and I almost wasn’t 10cm but he said we could do it vaginally with a vacuum. Luckily the epidural was wearing off by now anyway so I could feel the contractions and push with them. 

I had to have an episiotomy (the one thing I REALLY didn’t want!!) but the baby came out and that was most important! Turns out her heart rate was dropping so much because she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck so it was good we got her out nice and quickly. 

Now she’s here and safe and everything about her looks normal and healthy 🙂 

Florian said next time he’s scheduling my c-section for me and we aren’t doing any of this ever again lol I think it was almost harder on him than it was on me!!!

And Emilia was thisclose to being named Annabelle but she just looks like an Emilia to me. 

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Two other random things I want to mention:

  1. Remind me to write a post about the Swiss healthcare system – it’s AMAAAAAAAAAAAZING.
  2. If you want to know what my birth plan was or steal it for yourself since I already did all the research, you can find it here. 

Welcome To The World, Emilia Rose!

We are so very proud to announce the birth of our baby girl, Emilia (eh-ME-lee-uh) Rose Christen. Mom and baby are doing well 🙂 Emilia has mom’s curly brown hair and infamous Epstein nose and she has dad’s beautiful eye shape and height! 

Name: Emilia Rose Christen
Date: Sept 3, 2013
Time: 4:26am local time (Switzerland)
Height: 52cm (20.5 inches) 
Weight: 3.65 kilos (8lbs)
Two funny little random notes. 
  1. Switzerland doesn’t really have “middle” names so Emilia’s actual first name is fully Emilia Rose.
  2. Had she been born in the US, her birthday would have been Sept 2. Hmmm… maybe we should allow her to celebrate twice a year, once her American birthday and once her Swiss birthday.
Also, I’m working on nicknames. So far: Emi (or Emmy or Emmie), Mili, Mila, Emma, Lia, Em, Ems, Emilie. Which one of those is your favorite? I just can’t decide!

My Top 3 Super-Easy Tips For An Easy Pregnancy

Basically the minute I found out I was pregnant, I started asking friends who had already been pregnant for advice. I consider it a right of passage to get pregnant, freak out, and ask a million questions of anybody and everybody you can (including strangers on the internet to help you name your baby). I was lucky enough to have a relatively easy and painless pregnancy and lots of women asked me how I did it. So, though I’m certainly no expert on pregnancy, I can tell you the top 3 things that helped me BIG TIME and would highly recommend for any other pregnant woman to do.

Tip 1: Don’t eat for two. 
I know it sounds awesome that you’re finally supposed to gain a lot of weight and you don’t have to pretend to diet anymre… I mean, you’re eating for two now, right? Except don’t. Eat exactly like you did before and maybe add a snack or two more. Be honest for a second. Is there really any woman out there who doesn’t eat more calories than she absolutely needs?  Dinner out with friends? Chips while watching TV? Cookies at book club?

If you eat more, you will regret it!!! Ask a woman who gained 25 pounds vs. a woman who gained 45 pounds how she feels during her 9th month of pregnancy. Think about it – carrying an extra 45 pounds around?!?!? Or 50!?! or 60 pounds!?!? How could your poor feet, ankles, or legs handle all that added pressure so quickly? You can’t. You WILL be miserable. And then you have to worry about trying to lose all that extra weight afterwards. Just say no. It’s not worth it.

Tip 2: Stay active (and do yoga!).
You’re pregnant, you’re not ill. Always remember that. Don’t act like you can’t walk, bend, take the stairs, or run errands. You can. Don’t have everyone carry your bags or treat you like you’re injured. You’re not. Also, keep a regular active routine (but don’t go crazy and start training for a marathon obviously). Even if you never did anything before, start now. The littlest exercises will add up big time later. Example: do squats every day. I know that sounds terrible but here’s a little trick – do 10 squats every time you brush your teeth. Easy-peasy, not time.consuming, no excuses why you couldn’t go to the gym. Even that is enough to get your leg muscles prepped for the weight that will come and the birthing process. I walk at least 30 minutes every day with my dog and try to do over an hour on weekends. Borrow a friend’s dog or baby for motivation if you hate to walk without purpose.

The best activity I did throughout pregnancy was yoga. Stretching every day and building stability made it so I virtually never had back pain, leg cramps, or any other problems most preggo women have. As soon as something felt a little stiff, I worked on it before it could get any worse. That’s why at 9 months pregnant I could still go for hikes for over an hour with no problems whatsoever.

Tip 3: Drink Water. 
A million bad things happen when you don’t drink enough water and most people don’t drink enough water. Drink enough water. I drink 1-2 glasses of water just with breakfast to start the day hydrated. If you think you’ve had enough, drink an extra glass just to be sure. And then another one. Carry a reusable water bottle with you everywhere you go.  Seriously, drink water.

I know many women who got contractions months early because they were dehydrated. I know women who were so swollen that by 7 months they could no longer wear their wedding rings. And have you ever seen sausage toes? You won’t be able to wear any shoes and you will look like Kim Kardashian. Oh, and fun fact I didn’t know until I was pregnant but those horrifyingly debilitating charlie horse cramps in your calf? Very common during pregnancy! How do you avoid getting them? Yep. Drink water!

Do you have any other tips you think really made your pregnancy easier?

You Wouldn’t Believe How Much Has Happened Since I Last Blogged

Yep, definitely my bad. I haven’t blogged in a loooooooooong time. Too much happened. Good, bad, surprising, wonderful, scary, exciting and everything in between. So many ups and downs and sleepless nights but we are in such a good place right now. Here, I’ll catch you up and you’ll see what I mean:

  • I went on my Babymoon vacation to Dubai with Florian (which was amazing and I will be taking more trips there in the future during the gray winters of Zurich). Which just now reminds me that I never officially announced on my blog… I’m having a baby!!!!!!

  • I went on a food and beach vacation to Spain with my friend Ashley (San Sebastian is amazing and I highly recommend it!)
  • I flew to NY to be with my family while my mom had emergency surgery and stayed for 6 weeks (she is recovering well and should be completely healed in another 5 months or so). Also loved spending time with the rest of my family and good friends. Below is a pic from Mother’s Day with my mom and my sister Elana (aka Lily’s mommy) and me with my mommy-to-be bump. 
  • My other sister Rachel had her first baby and my first nephew! I had the lucky job of holding little Grayson Forrest Eddey during the Bris ceremony (men, if you don’t know what that is, don’t click my link, you won’t want to know. I warned you). What a head of hair this kid has!
  • Some of my best girlfriends from college met up in NYC to have a big joint 30th birthday celebration together since we’re all turning 30 this year! (What happens in NYC, stays in NYC. Here is a nice civilized picture of us the next morning 🙂
  • My friends and family threw me and Florian a baby shower in NY and people drove and flew in from all over the country just to be with us (I always feel so darn so lucky to have such amazing people in my life!!). Even though we weren’t really sure about the sex of the baby, we took a chance and told everyone it was a girl. We really hoped those two suitcases of girl clothes weren’t gonna go to waste…
  • My best friend Kelly got married (we’ve been best friends since we were 7!) and I was a bridesmaid in her gorgeous vineyard wedding! She looked so beautiful and it was so much fun partying the night away with her big Italian family. I love her husband already so I didn’t even have to threaten him or anything! And her daughter Sofia was so cute that day in her little dress I almost melted away.
  • We found out we’re having a baby girl… whew! 🙂 And got a new doctor and switched hospitals for delivery and I began facing the idea of what a natural childbirth would actually entail… (note to self: work more on your squats!)
  • The builders started building our new house and we started picking out all the details (no, I seriously mean all of them. Every single tiny one I didn’t even know existed. What tiles, where to put a door, what stove to get, what faucet in the bathroom – you name it, we have to make a decision on it!). If you have any advice, remember that I need it
  • I started getting the apartment ready for the arrival of our little baby and buying all of our “OMG-this-is-really-happening” items like a stroller and diapers. Baby C is due to join us in just 2 months!! I actually texted Florian this exact picture and wrote “shit just got real.” He was not amused.
  • Poor Bella had to have surgery again to remove more growths on her ear. The last ones were benign so we’re hoping these will also be! Still, not fun to have surgery for this poor babykins. 
And for those of you who have pleaded for a pic, this is how preggers I am at the moment… please ignore the tired and unkempt look I’m sporting 🙂

Making Sense of Common Sense

Like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, Common Sense is a mythical creature that just alludes so many of us. But spending so much time in another culture has helped me to realize that common sense is actually almost purely based on previous experience and not on anything that is inherently “obvious.” It’s true, I still regularly do idiotic things that Florian audibly gasps about in astonishment (because, you know, it was so obvious!) but I’m feeling less and less guilty about my mistakes.

Examples, you say? You want examples? I’ve got plenty. Remember when the bus drove by me because I stood at the exact same place I had been dropped off earlier, but that obviously a bus going in the other direction would pick people up on the other side of the road? What about when I couldn’t open my gas tank for about 10 minutes because it was locked and I couldn’t figure out how to unlock it? And has anyone else made it to 29 years old without ever having made a pot of coffee before (what do you mean I have to grind my own beans??).

But take just last week for example. I went to work at Florian’s foundry because they needed some manual-labor help screwing together a few (thousand) little metal parts. After I threw a temper tantrum and tried to refuse to help happily volunteered to help, I pranced into the office in the morning looking great and ready to start working. Here is the dialogue that ensued:

F: What are you wearing?
L: (confused) What? It’s not that cold out. I’m dressed warmly enough. Is that what you mean?
F: I mean, why are you wearing a silk shirt? You’re going to do dirty hand work.
L: Don’t you guys wear, like, a smock or an apron or something?
F: No. And even if you were going to wear something we have here, it wouldn’t fit because it’s built for large men.
L: Oh…
F: And why did you wear high heels?
L: (sheepishly) Because I thought we would be sitting to do the work? (defiantly) I mean, the checkout ladies at the grocery store even get to sit! That would only be fair labor practices to let me sit!
F: (eye roll) Next time you need to think about this a little longer

But here’s the truth – I could have thought about this until the cows came home and I still wouldn’t have known to dress down and wear comfortable shoes!! Why? Because it wasn’t “obvious” to me how the work would be done. Yes, in hindsight of course it is obvious (like the words manual labor at a foundry shouldn’t have been the dead giveaway??). Sidenote: I often try to blame things like this on Florian and his lack of communication. He often tries to blame me because I lack common sense. I still think I’m right.

Pause for this hilarious image I found on Google:

This example isn’t the worst of my common sense lapses by any means. In fact, it’s barely even noteworthy when compared to my best moments but it happened and I had hours of downtime immediately afterwards while mindlessly screwing together metal to think and stew over this common sense issue.

And then I started asking other people about their worst common sense moments. Turns out, we’re all hopelessly stupid!! I felt better as I asked friends, family members, co-workers and they shared deliciously awkward moments in front of boyfriends and kids and bosses. I won’t bring them down with me in public shame

But I’d say this: take this simple Swiss “common sense” quiz I’ve created and see how much common sense you’d have if you moved here.

1. This speed limit sign tells you that the speed limit is no longer 50k/h (50 crossed out). So, what’s the new speed limit?

2. You want to buy both baking soda and baking powder (two different baking ingredients) at the grocery store. What do you buy?
3. You’re standing and waiting for the city tram. It pulls up to your stop but the doors don’t open. How do you get on the tram?

4. What is the difference in meaning between these two signs?

Do you have any lack-of-common-sense stories you want to share? C’mon, make us all feel a little better and leave it in the comments below. We’ll only judge you slightly.

Unabashedly and Blissfully Ecstatic

Do you ever just have one of those days or moments? When everything is just absolutely perfect and you are so happy that you literally have to stop and stand still and absorb it all? I had that yesterday.

Sidenote: I try really hard to be appreciative of everything I have while at the same time trying not to sound like I’m showing off. Strangely, it’s a tough balance because so many people focus on the negative or what they don’t have or what could be better, and here I am prancing around so happy about something as insignificant as a new follower on Twitter. Oh well, I’ll have to focus on the pitfalls of frenvy in another post.

So yesterday wasn’t extraordinarily life changing like the moment you get married or anything. It was just a great regular day in regular life. The night before, Florian and I had whimsically decided to book tickets to Dubai next month! I’ve been d-y-i-n-g from all the gray skies this winter and when you Google “warm places in Europe in March” the only response is the Canary Islands. We looked into going there but it was too expensive so our next obvious (and less expensive???) choice was… Dubai!  Amazing!

Neither of us have ever been but everyone we know who has been there just loves it. I was especially happy because the original conversation started when I asked Florian if he wanted to spend Easter weekend in Geneva. So, yeah, a week in Dubai is much cooler than a weekend in Geneva! After booking part of the trip in this exotic desert oasis resort (yes, the picture below is an actual picture of the place), my excitement levels couldn’t get any higher.

Then add to that happiness. Before I had known Florian could be so spontaneously cool, I had begged a friend to come to Spain with me in April (remember, I will do whatever it takes to break free from the gray skies here!). And thankfully Ashley has the same travel mindset as I do – have some fun in the sun, tour some cool city spots, roam around to get a feel for the culture, eat some delicious local foods and then crash in your 2- or 3-star crappy hotel that doesn’t need to be fabulous because you spend the whole day outside of the hotel. And thanks to some advice from friends on FB and this cool book my friend April bought for me, we made the decision to hit up San Sebastian.

On top of being SO so so excited about these upcoming trips, we got a call in the morning that our house was going to start being built in the next two weeks! Talk about a sigh of relief from our end. WHEW!! The housebuilders had been delayed since December and we weren’t 100% sure what was going on. They said paperwork delays, we suspected not enough homebuyers had actually bought the houses to make the project begin. This is a development of 13 houses and here in Switzy they could just decide not to build at all if they thought too many would remain empty and they wouldn’t make money. That news was a BIG weight off our shoulders. This is my dream house and I don’t know if I ever could ever have found something I would love as much as I love this house!! Next to Florian and Bella, this house is the love of my life!

Other things added to my happiness, but these were the things that just made me stupidly grin from ear to ear all day yesterday. AND, as if God knew how to put a cherry on top of that, it was warm and partially sunny yesterday. As the sun peeked out in the afternoon, I left Florian’s office (see, I do work!) and took Bella for a two-hour walk in the woods without my winter jacket. Normally I have to wear Under Armour cold gear under a fleece with a goose down jacket and a hat and scarf and gloves. Yeah, ok, it’s going back down to freezing and cloudy this weekend, but who cares. I had my day of glory!

Hope you all had a happy day, too! 

Fasnacht: The Uglier Version of Carnival and A Top 50 Event in Europe

I know most of you are like, what the heck is a fasnacht? Think New Orleans Mardi Gras minus the boobies and Rio Carnival minus the beauty. Fasnacht is Switzerland’s response to throwing an Ash Wednesday party… but with much uglier masks and floats. And Basel has arguably the best party in all of Switzerland (just don’t ask anyone from Luzern to confirm that – big rivalry).

Actually, Basel Fasnacht is one of the top 50 events in Europe! Last year I was back in the US so I missed it but this year rain and crappy weather were not going to stop me!! It’s actually a pretty spectacular affair, starting at exactly the time you would want to hear a huge party with street bands and a parade march by your house – 4:00am on a Monday. Then it continues for 3 days straight, lasting until, you guessed it, 4:00 am on Thursday morning.

I honestly have no idea where all these talented musicians come from or how long they must take to practice – it’s literally hours of different marching bands parading! Most of the floats were politically-themed and I assume funny or ironic for those who could actually understand them. My friend Jenna and I have some pretty good combined German knowledge and still couldn’t get a single one. What do you think? Any clues??

We spent a lot of time begging for flowers and the “good” candy (we wanted those gummy bears!!!). We got dissed every SINGLE time we begged (and who shuns two cute young women and a baby?? It’s never happened to us before!!!). Truth be told, basically every time we begged, we not only didn’t get candy but we got confetti bombed smack in the face. Here was the general sequence of events: 

“Please sir, my baby and I are adorable. May we please have one of those pretty roses?”
“NO! We are pure evil and we only want to confetti bomb your baby. BAM! In yo’ face!!”
























Overall we had a really fun time and I would highly recommend it to everyone! Next year I’m definitely dressing up. And since I already have a naturally big nose, I don’t have to spend a ton of time working on a mask! Score!