Friday, August 30, 2013

Week of August 26 Highlights

When we walked to dinner Sunday night, my long lost phone was sitting out on the fence of a neighbors house a few doors up, placed for pickup, no worse for the wear (which doesn't say much for those of you that have seen my shattered screen with tape holding some large shards in place).  Very strange.  No nude photos added to the phone - or at least none worth posting.

MONDAY - We have been emailing with Lily and Caden's St. Joe teachers - Mrs. Bassett for Caden (same fantastic teacher Lily had), and Mrs. Shetterly for Lily's second grade.  They are so sweet, keeping us in the loop on happenings there and offering to share details of Lily and Caden's lives here with the class.  Lily emailed Mrs. Shetterly too, telling her about the diorama of the husky she is working on.  Mrs. Shetterly asked Lily to send a photo once complete that she could share.  Lily is thrilled.

Monday both kids rode their bikes to school.  Corey and Lily went on ahead, as she needs to be seated in her classroom about 10 minutes before Caden and Corey teaches Mondays.  Caden, Gia and I headed up at a more leisurely pace.  Caden was selected to ring the bell today.

The covered area where the kids hang their backpacks.
Caden's classroom
Lined up for sports time
Afterwards Gia and I walked up Marmion to 9 Seeds Cafe.  Gia colored and played on her Kindle while I treated myself to a read of the paper.  A man was eaten by a saltwater crocodile over the weekend!  The story went something like, 'Two men swimming across a murky lake...'.  Why would one swim across a murky lake?!?!?!?

The other big news focus is on the dangerous state of gun ownership in the U.S. in response to the young Australian man gunned down in Oklahoma.  The statistics on provided were staggering, and did not do any favors for the image of the U.S. that Australians have of needing to duck when one goes out to pick up the morning paper!  Guns were outlawed in Australia over the past decade - despite a lot of pressure by the NRA, but they claim a drastic drop in shootings.  It couldn't possibly get worse, right?!?

Monday afternoon I made banana chocolate chip muffins with all of the ripe bananas we had, resulting from the kids having to buy the "baby bananas" then complaining they were not getting full enough at snack time on baby bananas.  Warm muffins when the kids got home resulted in exclamations from both Lily and Caden that I am the best mommy in the whole world.  Not Australia or the U.S. - but the world.  Take that June Cleaver!  I am having a shirt made.

For breakfast the same day I made Mommy Pfrommy Apple Pancakes (trademarked name for my mom's pancakes) -  and Lily said, "These are almost as good as your moms!" :)

We capped off our evening with a volcano launch, which has been a long time coming, so that the used volcano could morph into an igloo for Lily's diorama.

Gia stayed in her own bed all night - despite a brief little 12am re-tuck.  Sadly I stayed up until 4 after the re-tuck.  Good part was I got to see Corey off to the airport for his flight to Singapore.  Then Lily up at her usual 6am time, agreed to head out to the living room on her own to use her Kindle and eat a muffin, and more importantly let mommy sleep.  Then she came back 10 minutes later - right after I had just fallen back to sleep - saying we forgot to pray the night before and wanted to pray for daddy to have a safe trip :)  So sweet.  Great start to my groggy day.

Gia up at 6:30 and proudly announced she stayed in her bed all night.  She asked if she could get her dolly now, and then proceeded to the laundry room where "Lulu" was being kept and got her out herself.  I could here Lulu's recorded voice as Gia picked her up saying, "Hello mommy".  Lulu is Gia's mini me.

I must admit getting everyone ready for school with a still stiff body after little sleep was a bit of a challenge.  I was further compromised by heavy rain.  We still had to get to school, so Gia tucked into the stroller, Lily sat her feet and held an umbrella over them to make a little house, and Caden sat on the handlebars and attempted to keep an umbrella over us both, which meant I walked without being able to see anything but the umbrella!

So the rain was teaming down, and I'm pushing 150 pounds of kids in the stroller up the crazy steep hill as fast as I can as we are running a bit behind, and my marathon-wrecked quads are screaming!  I couldn't believe how difficult it felt!  That is until we reached the school entrance and I realized that I had the brakes locked on the entire way!!!  Ugh!

After drop off Gia and I headed to George Street to get a coffee and wait for the rain to pass.  We were due to meet my good old friend Dan Sholdas who owned the Napoleons Cafe I worked at when I was 24 at 9 Seeds a mile up the road.  The rain did not let up, which is very unusual, so we changed our meeting venue to Cookie Dough on George Street - which enabled a little shopping beforehand.  I picked up a beautiful necklace/bracelet handmade here in Australia :)

Catching up with Dan was like stepping back in time.  We chatted easily about friends, the paleo diet (he is a big fan), and how great it is being a parent.  His little guy Alex is Caden's age.  We have a picnic planned for end of September - when Uncle Randy will be here!

WEDNESDAY - Finally feeling back to normal.  Rehydrated and eating.  Gia and I went to the Wine Shop for breakfast - and no, I didn't crack a bottle for breakfast.  Just coffee and an interesting muffin I had to try that was sweet potato and chorizo sausage.  We stayed for a couple of hours coloring, and doing a bit of iPad time so I could catch up my inbox that inevitably grows out of control.

After our daily play set visit, we set off for a walk by the river.  The sun was out in all its glory and the breeze coming off the river felt magnificent.  Gia started off walking, and then agreed to pack it in as she became more and more sleepy.  We walked for a couple of miles, Gia sleeping for much of it.

I found a shady spot at the park and read for a bit while Gia finished her nap.  So love the Kindle - being able to carry the iPad and read any book at any time - and break out the Disney Princesses when needed on the same device.  Absolute genius.
The sky is our favorite Perth blue
After picking up Lily and Caden, we headed back to George Street so they could ride their bikes and play a bit.  Next we headed up the street to George Street Bistro for after school snacks.  We ended up getting a few different desserts of theirs and packing them up to take to the next play set on our way home that has a sidewalk surrounding ideal for kids to ride their bikes around.  It is about 1/2 mile.  Lily did 7 laps, in honor of her age.  She is doing excellent on her bike.

The play area here is surrounded by boulders that have flat table-top like surfaces.  There we laid out our "dessert picnic".  Caden and I favored the Ginger Squares.  I liked the passion fruit on top of the cheesecake, passed on the cheesecake.  Gia loved the carrot cake.  Lily liked the chocolate and banana cake pop.  Great team.

We got home just as it was getting dark.  Ate some veggies, to counter the dessert picnic, did baths, and hopped in bed for reading.  Starting to get in a rhythm, but really missing Corey.

I hosted a 'mom's with husbands working late or away' pizza night.  Attendees included Kat, with Olie and Charlotte, and Trena with Mimm (Lily's class), Kipp (Caden's grade), and baby Teo (really).  We set up a pizza bar for the kids to make up their own pizzas and grill them out.  They had a blast - and so did the mom's :)

This Sunday is Father's Day in Australia, and as a result, the school has had a ton of activities centered around dads, including a little breakfast that Caden's class prepared and were serving to their daddy's this morning.  Caden was in tears that Corey was not available - and Corey nearly was too.  We have gotten so used to such a low travel schedule!  So Caden, Lily, and Gia and I went out to breakfast on our own and went in after it was over.  We ate like kings :)  Lily licked her plate clean with strawberry stuffed french toast and goat curd cream.  We then hopped on the 8:29 bus and were to school early.  Love it when things go off as planned!

There was a school Assembly this morning where Lily was honored for the great work she is doing!  Very sweet.  I love that they honor the kids this way each month.

Lily on stage

All of the awardees

Leaving the assembly area, which is covered, but outdoors.  Lily is holding her carpet square, as all of the kids are responsible for bringing a square to sit on in the younger grades (Caden's class shares a square) or a chair. 
 Lily was promised she could have a sleep over if she received a perfect score on her spelling test.  She did it!  20/20

After school the kids and I headed into Fremantle a bit early for a dinner with my running friends and their families at Clancy's - a great little place on a big gated park right across from our church.  Such a nice visit.  The kids climbed trees and ran around, and kids meals were just $15 (which strangely now seems reasonable to me), including a drink and an 'icy pole' - freeze pop kind of thing.

We headed home around 6:30, all kids stacked on the stroller.  The night was beautiful with fluffy white clouds, which provided us great shape-naming entertainment the whole way home.

Here are a few random photos of the cuties...

Gia, looking like Aunt Lindsay and her Cousin Marlee

Lily as 'Diaper Girl' - she is the resident comedian for Gia and Caden

Just some pretty flowers up the street.

Gia's 'Go-To' at Hubble, accompanied by her baby cino.

My little nature lovers - aside from counting snails, butterflies, stopping to smell flowers, they notice things like the dew drops on these floors.  So thankful.

The front of our house from outside the gate.
Some of the cute things the kids are saying:
Gia - "Couple of whiles", as in, "Can I do this for just a couple of whiles?"
Caden - "Diet their hair" and "Cupitor" - really into solar system.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Let me first thank my lovely wife for encouraging me to take 24 ND students to Singapore while she held down the household back in Fremantle.  As you'll see in the pics, it has been all work and no play. Also I want to give her a shout-out for managing the Angst Family Blog.  I too absolutely love reading about our lives and as one of my former students pointed out to me, it is an incredible way of documenting our time here ...and a way for our kids to remember it!  Thanks honey!  Some of you might remember that back in 1997-98 when we were last living in Aus, I was the one who was chronicling our time here.  Things were easy back then - no kids, we had a car, and we didn't have to bother with things like making sure our children received an education.  But it is much better this time around.  I love seeing Aus through our children's eyes and watching Wendy embrace this freedom.  In addition, we have met so many wonderful families through our kids.

Well that was a long digression.  Back to Singapore.  I'm currently in my room on the 51st floor of the Swissotel with a lovely view overlooking the city.  

I just ate this for lunch.  I have no idea what it was except that it was #1 and it was a Malaysian restaurant and the guy serving me said not to eat the heads.  The little tiny things on the left are crispy anchovies. I think they were sitting on a bed of nuts.  The 2 big things are some sort of fish (re: don't eat the heads). There was obviously a fried egg and rice and a couple slices of cucumber but I have no idea what the fried patty was.  I'm not sure if you'll think it looks appetizing but it was delicious and $4.50.  I know that is cheap but most things here are extraordinarily expensive.  Had a beer last night and it was $18 and not even a full pint.  

The architecture is extraordinary.  Some of my favorites.  

Oh, and Wendy you'd love this. It is a small shop that sells ONLY tiny molten cakes.  Each one costs $8.00!

I have to run to a big dinner but I also had to snap a pic of this....

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


When Rachel and I were walking from the marathon bus drop back to our hotel room Sunday, I commented that I couldn't wait to take a shower.  You wouldn't believe the salt dried on the body! Rachel agreed.  The conversation went something like this:

Rachel:  I can't wait to get home and put on my thongs!
Me: Really?!?  I have never found them that comfortable.  I am constantly trying to shift them around - but that I do have many friends that swear by them and say that's all they'll wear.
Rachel: Oh. I couldn't live without them.  I have both a black pair and a white pair because they go with everything.  It's all I wear!
Me: You have just two pairs?
Rachel: Yes.  That's really all I need.  I can't believe you don't wear them?!?  You must be the only person I have ever met who doesn't wear them!
Me: Are we talking about the same thing???

Answer: NO!  Thongs in Australia = flip flops.  We laughed long and hard on that one :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pool plunge and marathons

We awoke to a beautifully sunny Saturday morning.  We snuck in a  little school work, a little house work, and then headed outside to play.  The kids are becoming pros on their borrowed bikes, setting up challenges for themselves where they ride around the court yard out front, down the bricks along the side, and go around the horsey tire swing, through the play set bars, up around the other side of the house into the outdoor dining area, and back.  They can do this for hours.

Caden resting on the tire swing.

We bought Caden a new bike from the gently used shop Friday, as mentioned, which Corey was able to masterfully get up and running in short order. The bike is a bit big for Caden, but he was able to ride around the yard.  Just the stopping was an issue. Details, details.

All of this riding made the kids sooooo hot, they begged to swim in the pool, and actually convinced their daddy to open the pool!  Their mom thought them all crazy, but they had a ball. Our friends are in shock - viewing this to the equivalent of polar bear plunge :)

We also spent some time organizing our growing shell collection.  So many stunning designs made by nature.  We set aside our favorites in a couple of jars, and set aside another bowl of the shells with the little necklace holes, and those for coloring.

Our soft yet-to-be-identified shells that the kids have carved and our big coral pieces from M. River
A fairly easy-going kind-of day, without heading anywhere and no guests to entertain (which as many of you know can make me a little twitchy), but it was really nice.  I had a chance to get my feet up and pack up my bag to head into Perth for a night stay before the marathon this morning.

I have been training now for some 4 months, the last 1.5 with Rom and Rachel, so I was devastated to get the 3pm text from Rom (the one I pace most closely with) that she was too sick to run and was dropping out.  She had worked so hard, and I know it was a very tough decision, but given that she spent 4 of the last 6 days in bed, I think the right one.  On the selfish side, a little voice in my head was saying - 4+ hours of mind-numbing solitary running that will likely have a low crowd attendance and just a thousand or so runners...  my little voice was right.

At 5:15 Saturday evening I headed out to Perth with Rachel to check into the hotel she was kind enough to organize right at the convention center, which was kind-of the start.

Once in our room, we luxuriated in the quiet and the spoke giddily of our impending full nights sleep without interruption from our littles.  We reviewed the course map, discussed our fueling strategy, and were in bed by 8:15p with alarms set for 4:30a.  I awoke at 4:20, and began the prep - bathroom, lube up with anti-chaffing, drink water, bathroom, eat cheerios with a banana, bathroom, drink some coffee, bathroom, you get the idea.  We needed only head down the elevator and walk out the main entrance to be in the marathon chaos.  We checked our post-run bags so we would have a "jumper" to put on for the bus ride back from the race finish, used the port-a-pottys, and commenced to the stretching area.  

In the holding/stretching area we did moderate stretches while checking out the other runners.  Our assessment was 75% male, 3 running skirts (I ended up not wearing mine), 1 running skirt with compression socks, which look like knee-highs, which of course makes one look like Brittany Spears in a music video, a lot of runners for Team Chevron, and one runner wearing a full pink bunny suit.  I said a silent prayer that the guy in the bunny suit did not match my pace, and we were off to the races...or rather almost.  We then walked nearly a mile, in the darkness through the empty streets of Perth to the start.  Very bizarre to have such a long trek to the start.  And of course it started to rain at this point?!?  

Rachel and I were enthusiastic, confirming to one another all of the things we did right with our training runs, eating, etc., to attempt to convince both body and mind that this was not madness.  And then we were off.

Our running pace goal was 9-minutes per mile by my system, and 11-km by Rachels, which has made for many, many, discussions as we attempt to work out our actual mile v. km pace and distances that our respective running watches calculate.  So 9 min/miles would = a finish in 4-hours, which to tell you the truth, was just a mere guide for me, secondary to FINISHING - and finishing with a smile on my face.  Our pace for the first 11 miles vacillated between 8:07 and 8:20.  While it felt effortless, the voices in my head started to shame me with, 'What are you doing?  You will have nothing left in the tank?  You can't hang with Rachl'  They were right.

About 1:45 into the run, I dropped back from Rachel.  I felt a 'niggle' as my running mates would say, in my left quad.  On I ran, still maintaining a sub 9, up, up, up into Kings Park.  And then down, and then up, and then down, and then up.  I kept thinking about the protests of runners in the Paris marathon who complained of the "devastating hills" where we ran along the Seine and the road dipped down under the streets the led to bridges across the tunnels a few times.  Pansies.  Me included :)  

Kings Park seemed to go on forever.  F-O-R-E-V-E-R!  Despite the stunning views looking down on the Swan River and the city of Perth, I wanted out.  We actually had done a run here to see what these hills felt like for our training, but the training did not have an 11-mile "warm-up".  It hurt!  I mean little voices in my head saying to me 'WTF?!?  You can't do this!'  You have 2 more hours to go hurt.  Telling me I should quit.  My heart felt fast.  I walked and stretched a bit, and plodded on, unsure if these pains in my quads were a precursor to cramping that would cause my legs to buckle at any moment.  

The games I play with myself to get through are setting little milestones for myself to achieve.  Not carrying water bottles for my first marathon yet, I was counting the drink stations - 10 in all.  Each one I would drink at, and I would walk through every other one, slowly ticking them off.  I was eating gel chewies every 30 minutes - three, then two, with the celebratory caffeine ones planned at the 3-hour mark for an added jolt.  Corey and the kids were going to try and spectate in Subiacco, mile 21, at around the 3-hour mark, and I was carrying Corey's iPhone, which he so sweetly and painstakingly spent hours loading music onto for me.  I so love that guy!

So Kings Park, wanting to quit, but powering on.  I broke out my head phones as I walked for 3-minutes up a hill.  I had to see my support team in Subi.  This required a 7:30am start for Corey and kids, a bus, a train (luckily no plane) and all this when there was a slight drizzle on and off throughout the day.  The thought of seeing them made tears sting my eyes, which I kept countering with the fact that in all likelihood they wouldn't be there.  But joy of all joys, they were there!  And they had little signs!  It was the highlight of the run!  Here are some of the pics Corey snapped. 
The support crew warming up.  Must keep them fed!

The sign holders.

Gia enjoying the rain on her cheeks.  I hope she always makes time for this.

One happy kid.

Now where is that mommy???

Wait, is that a white hat I see off in the distance?
It was, and I was elated to see them!  It brought tears to my eyes.

And a big smile to my face and heart.

Sweaty kisses for everyone.

And off I went.  Putting on a brave front.  Only 1 more hour...

I had to include this photo Corey snapped of a spectator.  No idea.  But I do plan to check his collar in the morning for fuchsia lipstick.
So by all accounts, after seeing the kids, I could conceivably make a 4-hour marathon.  My quads were still screaming, so I decided to pop some more gels, out of sequence mind you, to see if I had any potential for recovery.  We continued to head up and down and up and down, and I decided to walk every up.  Or rather, my quads decided.  I played leap frog with other runners, looking as spent as I felt.  My running watch provides the distance, so I would attempt to console the other runners looking as panged as I felt with news of - Only 2.7 more miles!  And I am sure they were thinking, 'Thanks a lot. What the hell does that translate to?'

One agonizing step in front of the other and 1 mile to go. I adjusted my goal to 4:10, which would still be a personal best.  But then that little voice started chiming in, 'you could just walk the last mile and finish by 4:30'...  thankfully she was interrupted by the Barenaked Ladies singing If I Had a Million Dollars. I entered memory lane of karaoke with Corey to this song on so many occasions, and the fact that once this song ended, I would be able to see the finish line.  On I went.

I passed the finish line at 4:08 by City to Surf time, and 4:07 by my watch (which also said I ran 26.36 instead of 26.2 - bastards!).  Either way, so thrilled to have finished the most difficult run I have ever done with a best time.  My running mate Rachel crossed at 3:45, qualifying for Boston her very first marathon!  I have invited her to run a nice flat one in the U.S. so that she can qualify for the Olympics! :)

We crossed through the finish line, had a medal weighing a good pound placed around our necks (to be sure we were sufficiently differentiated from the decreasing weighted medals for the other distances ran that day), and wouldn't you know it, had to walk down a steep hill to get to the recovery tent.  Punishing!  I was able to fight off the nausea, meet up with Rachel, and make it the buses for a 30-minute ride back to Perth, alternating sitting and standing with Rachel due to no room while attempting to keep the post-run queasiness at bay.  Can you imagine the smell?  Whew!

We made it to our room at 11:30 for a quick shower and a cup of tea before 12pm checkout, feeling like a whole day had passed.  Only 4 more continents to go.  And while thinking this yesterday seemed incredulous, after a good nights sleep (kind of) I say bring it on.
Me and Rachel sporting out bling.  We have pink sworn to never take it off.

We made plans to have an early dinner with our friends the Potters that evening.  We decided to walk into Freo so the kids could ride their bikes in, and I could keep the lactic acid from pooling in my muscles.  Feeling 90% now.  So why am I awake?  Gia came into the bedroom at 12:30 crying because she thought we forgot her birthday.  She was having a nightmare of sorts.  We are on night 4 of trying to get her to sleep in her own bed.  I carried her back to bed, whispering plans of a birthday filled with a lot of "sprinkles" (her one demand), balloons, and friends, and sang her happy birthday while she drifted off to sleep.

Not long after, Caden came in because his mosquito bites hurt.  Put some lotion on him and got him back to bed.

And then the thud - Gia fell out of her bed.  Luckily she is on the trundle.  Put her back in, re-tucked.  However it is still just Corey and me in this queen-sized bed, so I am winning.  There is a bit of wind making a wonderful sound in the chimney to our room, and the rain is gently tapping on our tin roof.  So what better to do than to write paragraphs about my run in my blog dedicated to my children?!? :)
Love to all! -W