Not Nanowrimo November Blog challenge

career
I started Nanowrimo last year and didn't finish. This is definitely still on my to do list.

But what keeps me sane and helps me is blogging regularly. Thanks to running, writing has taken a back seat. Well, after Sunday the marathon is done and dusted and a new challenge begins

I will blog every day in November, no matter how short and swee.t. And will try and catch up with the pending posts that I have been wanting to write for a year or more. So there will be some out of date entries, but hey, it's my journal and I don't care. I want to celebrate and record the life I have and live and enjoy :-)

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New York, New York!

jogging
One of my @40 challenges was to run a half marathon - which somehow turned into - Let's run the New York Marathon!

Well, it is this coming Sunday, best mate Sal and I will be trotting across the start line at 1055 New York Time (5pm GMT) and will, all things considered, cross the finish line at about 1700 (11pm GMT).

You can track my progress here: http://liveresults.nyrr.org
My number is 67742

I hope that my phone will receive text messages, so feel free to sms me during the race. i will be taking frequent water and walking breaks :) 0041 78 856 44 00

Oh and here's the route in 21 minutes, courtesy of youtube!
makes me feel seesick and exhausted before I even start - lol :-)

Slow, Steady, Stubborn, Strong....

running
IMG_9694 (2)... is my New York Marathon mantra!

In exactly a week, I will have finished the 26.2 miles and will be recovering. My best mate Sal and I start running 11am New York time, which is 6pm Swiss time, 5pm GMT. My goal is to finish without injury, my secret goal is to complete sub 6 hours :-)

My strategy will be run 9 minutes, walk 1 minutes for the first half, and then for as long as I can. When it gets too much, run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute. I want to enjoy the atmosphere and see New York. The atmosphere and crowd support is meant to be wonderful.

Today I did 1.5 hours (definitely into taper territory now). The longest I have run is 25km (I failed to complete 30km a week later), but the last few weeks i have been under weather with cold, ear ache, period, too much stress at work. So I have been trying to rest as much as possible and get some strength back.

I feel as though I haven't trained or prepared enough. One the one hand, this is true. On the other hand, I have done what I could given my job and family and other commitments. And compared to a year ago, I am so much fitter and stronger. I am proud of the progress I have made. This year alone I have run 2 10ks, 1 10 miler and 2 half marathon. I know what my pace is and I know what my strategy needs to be.

Everyone around me is convinced I can do this. My mater Kerry sent me the book "A race like no other" which give a really good description of the route and the atmosphere. This is the big @40 challenge, which originally started as run a half marathon. It is goal just for me. About finding time and strength to go out and run. And I am deliberately not running for a charity. I am just focussed on me and my running. I am scared and excited, but I will feel the fear and do it anyway...

I will post details next week on how you can follow me on the day!

I am slow, I am steady, I am stubborn, I am strong. I will cross that finish line :-)

Perfect afternoon off!

balance
A Facial, eyebrow shape, quick shop for some new clothes, haircut, one wash done at home, now chai latte and carrot cake at starbucks.
Perfect - balance temporarily restored :-)

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A Cup of Tea and a Nice Revolution

tea break
I subscribe to the Guardian's Women in Leadership Series and this week's editorial was titled "A Nice Cup of Tea and a Revolution", and is about how men should also change in the workplace. My favourite bit? The concluding paragraph....

"And finally, pour the coffee! Are male hands too large for this? Has no-one ever taught you how to put a teabag in a cup and add hot water? Ladies, we need to help on this. Do not offer to fetch the drinks. Eventually one of the men will break and we'll have changed the world through tea."

A No Pram Family

balance
Once upon a time I wrote about becoming a three pram family (for a short period of time!). We packed away the double pram at least 18 months ago, might even have been 2 years. And for the last while we have been down to just using the cheap travel pram (best bargain ever - 20chf secondhand and we've used it non stop for about 3.5years!) Best ever return on investment. And this weekend I finally packed this pram away. It is ridiculous, but i feel very attached to it. It was a member of the family almost! Markus loved pushing Patrick in it, or sometimes the other way around. I am not quite ready yet to give it away. So it is languishing outside our cellar with the double pram.
2014_08_25

It's strange, but we miss the "last times" of everything. We record all the firsts, but the "lasts" ust slip away and you look back and think - When was the last time I pushed Patrick in that pram? And you realize that you honestly can't remember. And that does make me feel a little sad. We are leaving the baby/toddler/small child pram zone, but entering a new (faster!) phase...

I have to admit though that it is now a lot easier to get around town. And for that, we are now a two bike with child seats family. And we did our "first" family cycle on Saturday which was lovely - all the way to the fork and bottle for our Saturday supper. The boys were egging us on to go faster. I think Markus was a bit disappointed that Mummy couldn't outcycle Dadd for very long. And Patrick just sat in his chair and roared with joyful laughter as Daddy sped past us!

Working versus Being at home with kids

mummy
Just read this wonderful piece on Huffington Post UK about the different challenges of working in an office versus being at home with kids. If anyone ever asks me why I work 80%, or "Is that not too much?" then I will point them to this article.

I am actually very okay with our setup. Our boys have really gained from being at Kinderkrippe. Markus is settling well into Kindergarten. And I enjoy my day at home on a Monday, even if it is sometimes harder work than work (as the article also says). But I loved her comment in the article that you don't get hugs at work or sloppy kisses - well, not at my workplace anyway :-) But at home for sure. And now I am blogging, cleaning up, checking work emails whilst Patrick is happily playing away with the cars in the front room. Balance achieved for the next 20 minutes at least.

But the downsides for me? Always a logistical rush to get everyone where they need to be. Both Mr.ncot and I have meetings tomorrow at 8am, which means a really early start for everyone. My 80% at work is not enough time to get my work done. 80% is good and bad. People basically treat you like a full-timer, which is great for projects and challenges and responsibility and visibility. Not so good for getting your work done. 4 days just does't give you any wriggle room if anything goes wrong. And I end up working from home in the evening, or on a Monday, or at the weekend :-(

But all in all, we are happy balanced campers - at least for the time being!
running
Today I ran for the first time in about 3 weeks (bad combination of holidays, school starting for eldest, stress at work) and boy do I feel achy now! I did 21km (ie 13 miles) in 2hrs 40mins and it was hard work.

nyc badge

And now I realize that I only have 10 training weeks to go before NYC marathon on 2nd Nov - and only 8 weeks until my longest long run. I can run a half marathon now at least, but need to increase my mileage and time on my feet in the next weeks. I would ideally like to do 22 miles ie 4.5 hours before the big day. Time to get cracking I fear. My final race before marathon in the Greifenseelauf Half Marathon on Sept 20th.

In the meantime, I have downloaded the New York course map and laughed hysterically at the 21 minute video of the entire course, which I will prob. take 5.5 hours to complete :-)

I am not running the marathon for charity, I am running it for me, as part of my @40 challenge. My best mate Sal and I have a few days holiday in New York (my first time) and a marathon to run. What a luxury for me to have this time to myself and to be able to afford to travel there. I cannot wait. Just need to get my butt into gear and increase the training!

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Biking Selfies - Before & After

bike
In the last month my cycling to work commute has changed:

then - 10 min sprint along the river path to work, take bag from basket at back of bike, walk to desk
now - Get M on bike, get me on bike, squish bags into basket on front, no sprinting on bike, slowish 10min sprint to Kindergarten, unload small child, leave bike in hallway, settle small child for 5 mins, leap back on bike, up and down a steep hill, 5 mins later arrive panting at work, stagger to desk

But I love it! Markus loves cycling with me, tells me "can you go fast mummy?", chats to me all the way and prods me in the back if he thinks I am slowing down! We have matching helmets and high-vi jackets and I proud that we get to work and school under our own steam!

final solo cycle IMG_9245

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My year of mentoring...

career
The best thing to have happened this last year at work, has been the HR mentoring scheme. I have been mentored by a senior manager and it has really helped! 11 meetings Sept 2013-August 2014 and now at an end. I made a word cloud from all my notes - I think it's pretty clear what we talked about! Next week I get to present at the kick off for the next mentoring round.

mentoring word cloud

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5 years ago...

mgm11
I cannot believe that Markus is 5 tomorrow! He brings such joy to our life, is such a loving brother and makes us laugh! The cake for tomorrow is baked and iced. The tshirt and proper cake will be made for his party on Sunday.
My beautiful, quirky, gorgeous boy...


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Endings and Beginnings

mgm10
July and August this year has been a time of endings and beginnings! I have to constantly remind myself that this is the way it has to be and that our kids are always in the process of growing up and away from us.

Markus had his final day at Kinderkrippe on July 25th and it was a bitter sweet day, full of lots of good memories, cup cakes, hugs goodbye and a few tears (from me!). I think Markus was the most balanced about it all!

final pick up (4)final day (2)final day (3)
final day (4)final day (6)

The day before his final day, I picked both kids up (mr.ncot usually picks up and drops off) and we enjoyed a final walk home together from nursery, which takes a variable amount of time, depending on how much wall walking and jumping goes on!
final pick up (1)final pick up (2)final pick up (3)

Today was Markus' first day at kindergarten. The entry age is 4 or 5, so Markus will be one of the eldest in his year. In the first year of Kindergarten, the children have to attend for 15 hours and in the second year, for 20 hours a week. Doesn't make being a working parent very easy, hence our decision to send him to a private kindergarten which is open 0730 to 1815 and only closes for 3 weeks a year! Anyway, we all took him there this morning, Mr.ncot left, then Patrick and I stayed with Markus to settle him in. Markus stayed until 1330 and got good feedback from his teacher! The first two weeks he will do shorter days, but will then go 4 days a week to the Kindergarten. Mondays we will still have together, Mummy, Markus and Patrick.
first day kindergarten (1)first day kindergarten (2)
first day kindergarten (3)first day kindergarten (4)

Having two kids in two different child care locations, means that the logistics just got trickier! I will cycle Markus to Kindergarten using my new child seat, then will cycle back up the hill to my work. Alan will take Patrick, since the nursery is quite close to his workplace. Last weekend we bought a secondhand bike for Alan, so it may be that he also ends up cycling.
This was a selfie taken during my last solo cycle to work - i always enjoyed my 10 min adrenalin sprint on my bike. But now I have a passenger on the bike - more a workout, less a sprint!
final solo cycle

I am curious as to how Patrick will deal with these changes. Up til now, he has always been with Markus, at home, in nursery. Now he will have 4 days a week alone at nursery. But today it was really nice just to have the time alone with Patrick and to really talk and play with him.
patrick alone (3)patrick alone (1)
patrick alone (2)

Here's to the melancholy of changes, and the positive outcomes that come through letting go of our old patterns.

Patrick at 32 to 35 Months

pmm6
Month 36, 35
month 36month 35
Month 34, 33, 32
month 34month 33month 32

Patrick has changed so much over the last few months - he really is a proper little boy now. he has shot up in height, and looks freakily like Markus. In photos sometime I can't tell them apart, particularly when Patrick's hair is longer and wavier. Month 34 above is the spitting image of me at that age! The last months I have had lots of people asking if they are twins!

They do get on quite well now and can play together nicely for some period of time, along it doesn't last long before there are arguments. Patrick is often the "aggressor", although he often just gets a bit too physical and then Markus overreacts! On the other hand P can be very sweet and loving. One morning (sitting alone finishing his breakfast) he said: "I want play with the Markus!". I do wonder how Patrick will get on when Markus leaves the kinderkrippe. Some mornings they wake up and play together, without waking us. Although not as often as I would like! One day i went in to wake them up, and they had both chosen their favourite books and were sitting on their own beds, "reading" q
morning routine, someitmes play quickly together in bedroom before we wake up
went into room one morning, to find that both of them had got a book and were sitting on their respective beds reading quietly!

Patrick is the action type, we reckon he will be a stunt man. He knows his limits, but scares the live out of us. He loves the water and is convinced he can swim, even though he can't. In the bath, he practises "diving" and putting his head in the water. He loves to dive and given the chance will "dive" off the sofa head first onto the floor!

Nightime is still tricky, he is the master of distractions. He is completely inseparable from his pillow, teddy, muggie ("Nuggi" ie dummy). When upset during the day, he will often fetch these things to comfort him. At night he uses every trick in the book. He wants water, will then say "Mummy, i love water" - beautific smile. One night he woke up crying, "Mummy, Zog flew away!" And in desperate times he will ask for "cuggles" and will ask "mummy, you sleep with me?" Hard to resist him! Has also learn to poo in the toilet, so every evening I get to witness half an hour (at least) of poo performance art - "Mummy, you hear that? That's mine bottom. Big big splash! I do a BIG poo poo" etc etc

Milestones
June - first bike (without pedals)
22.6.14 first poo in toilet
15.4.14 one deep cut in chin at krippe, one real stitch without anaesthetic
28.4.2014 Finally pottytrained - in pants all weekend, But not yet for poos!

31.5.14
songs
It's the weekend
Rainbow Song
dum dum dum
Twinkle Twinkle
Pingu
mit der fingerli

words & phrases
Walk to the plank
splash in the water
That's perfect
snuggle down (when going to bed)
It was only an accdident (this is said a lot!)
Airy-plane
Funky monkey juice
I like mine teddy
likkle likkle teddy
my teddy is very very beautiful
All by mine self
I really like water
the train is on the track
me too
ipeed train
Watch likkle likke funny? (ie watch television?)
helihopter
schmiedi wiedikon
bahnbof wiedikon

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Markus at 55 to 59 months

mgm10
Month 59, 58
month 59 month 58
Month 57, 56, 55
month 57 month 56 month 55

As I posted earlier this week, markus is in his last week of Kinderkrippe (nursery) and starts Kindergarten on August 11th. Time is flying past so fast :-)
He got his first (proper) bike in June from his mate Jamie. Markus has been riding an isla "like a bike" ie without pedals for 2 years now. It took him less than 60 seconds to get on bike and ride off - I was completely unprepared!
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We have been working hard on learning the days of the week and what happens each day. We have a chart on the fridge which tells everyone where they are each day. He had been asking lots of questions before this, trying to get a handle on the shape of our week:
Is it the weekend?
Is it Kinderkrippe?
Will Venus be there?

His drawing and letters have really improved in the last months. He draws and draws and draws (and pictures are beginning to look like pictures) and then he explains what it is!
He is also into role playing, the favourite at the moment is being a shop keeper. He sets up shop, but no doesn't put any goods on display, then gives you one choice of car, plane, penguin and always charges me 100chf - right little swiss shopkeeper!

We discovered a while back that he did have some hearing loss and on 1.4.14 he had two grommits put in under general anaesthetic and now he hears a lot better :-) the day after the operation he said "Mummy, don't talk so loud!"

Actions and songs
Walk to the plank, walk to the plank
It's the weekend
Rainbow Song
dum dum dum
Twinkle Twinkle
Pingu
mit der fingerli

Other words and phrases
Mummy, why dont' you like your hair bumpy? (on watching me straighten my hair with hair irons)
I told him that i had gone for a run in my lunch break - "Mummy, why did your lunch break?"
nonsense!
thats amazing!
He remembered today that aunty cake doesn't like mushrooms (like him) and that i don't like peas
"Mummy, you told me that once"
"i am like an elephant, aren't I?"
Talking about visiting Josefswiese park with padding pool
"Mummy, that's a marvellous idea!"
"opening an egg" (rather than cracking an egg)
ceebeedeebies
Did you have a nice sleep? What did you dream?
Let me think
put it off (for turn it off)
put it out (for take it out)
"tell me why..."
"i always like going to jamie's house. that's my best place"
jaffic jam
all of a suddenly
sofa room (for living room)
Can you push me bit further please?
Me - Do you want to watch in Ger or Eng? "I want to watch like we talk"

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Just another (perfect) Monday

mummy
Today is my last Monday in the old routine, ie Markus and Patrick at Kinderkrippe & I had a day at home with the boys. It was perfect in its "normalness". They actually played nicely together and separately for most of the day. They watched "Planes" then spent the rest of the day throwing planes to the floor, whilst yelling "mayday mayday mayday!" There was drawing, stamping (also on the tablecloth), balloons, bubble blowing and books. We played shop. I sneaked in some work emails. We played in the garden, it rained :-)

"Life is good. Enjoy the little things. One day you may look back and realize they were the big things"
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pmm6
As usual, mr.ncot was right. A few friends. no elaborate food. One game (pass the parcel) and a lot of playing at being pirates. Perfect party and the adults slumped on the sofa with a glass of prosecco :-)
I was pretty happy with the matching cake and tshirt!!
Now to plan a "minions" / despicable me party for Markus in august!

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mgm9
One of the hardest things I find about being a parent, is accepting the end of each stage. Markus has one week left of Kinderkrippe (nursery) and I am finding this really hard. Granted, I sometimes find it quite hard to deal with change. Markus is more than ready for Kindergarten (2 years of state pre school which starts at 4 or 5 here) and is really excited about taking the next step. Plus, the nursery has been doing a special "kindergarten" project with the leavers, preparing them for the next step.

But.... I don't feel ready and I feel so sad that he is leaving Kids&Co. They have cared for him 4 days a week since he was 6 months old and have done so a great job. He got a glowing report from them at my last parent meeting. He leads other kids, has a highly developed sense of right and wrong, stands up for other kids etc. He has two best friends there, and they are going to a different Kindergarten. On Friday I saw their wall chart, where the kids in boats float up the chart and then leave. Got a big old lump in my throat.
IMG_8622 IMG_8623

The krippe has really brought Markus up alongside us. He has learnt so much there and been so happy. I cannot believe it has been 4.5 years. We have trusted them completely, he has thrived there and this security allowed me to go back to work. I always enjoyed taking him and picking him up there. I loved creeping in and seeing him at play. I love it when he seems me and yells Mummy and charges over, followed by Patrick and I have two small boys clinging at my legs. I love catching up with the staff. I love seeing this "second home".

So why am I so sad the he is in his last week there? I guess because it means he is growing up and moving on. Because generally, I find leaving the status quo hard. But he is ready and happy. And I keep reminding myself of my favourite quote about change:
"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another."
Anatole France

Here are two photos of Markus celebrating Fastnacht (carnival) when he was about 18 months old
2011 (1) 2011 (2)

And here is here with this best friends Venus & Mila at the start of this year
Scannen0001Scannen0002

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Happy 3rd Birthday Patrick

pmm6
Well, as tradition dictates, the evening before Patrick's birthday, I'm baking cakes and painting tshirts!
IMG_8611
He is entering the pirate phase, hence the design! The cake has been baked and will be iced tomorrow. Then I will do a new cake for his party on sunday.
I find it hard to credit, but he is a proper little boy now. By no stretch of the imagination is he a toddler. He talks A LOT (we understand about 60%!), he throws the odd tantrum, he comes in for kisses and rapsberries on the neck and he is my little charmer.

HAPPY 3rd BIRTHDAY PATRICK - we will have a lot of celebrations the next couple of days. Mummy has been running around like a mad woman, buying presents and getting the party ready....
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Updating my Twitter Bio....

career
I looked at my twitter bio today..
A tea-drinking, book-loving, gadget-girl who aspires one day to be a runner again, but in the meantime charges around after her two small boys!

Yesterday I ran 16km (10 miles) in 2 hours, with a phone app tracking kilometres and my new garmin watch tracking my mile splits. I am slow and steady and strong. I am most definitely a runner....

A tea-drinking, book-loving, gadget-girl, in training for the New York Marathon 2014, who is slow and steady and trains by sprinting around after her two small boys!

IMG_8542

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balance
Am finding it hard to keep on top of my online life at the moment. I only seem to blog about running, but running is taking over 2014 somewhat :-) Work is busy for Mr.ncot and I, the boys are fine and I try to spend as much time as possible playing with them and enjoying the moment. Blogging, photos and reflecting is taking a back step and that makes me somewhat sad.

Can someone wave a magic wand and given me an extra hour a day in which to blog?

And before Markus starts Kindergarten (ie start of school system here in CH) I desperately want to create and finish his baby book :-)

hastags for today #wheredoesthetimego? #howcanmybabybenearly5? #lifeisgood #butstoptheworldIwanttocatchup!

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Who is nice-cup-of-tea?


nice_cup_of_tea

A tea-drinking, book-loving, gadget-girl, in training for the New York Marathon 2014, who is slow, steady & trains by sprinting around after her two small boys.

I am a british expat who writes about living, working, running and bringing up my family in Zurich.

You can find me online @
helenpalmer.co.uk
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