Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bob vs. Instep

We are double jogger junkies in this house. It's a complete necessity to us and it's used almost daily. So you should consider this opinion completely and totally correct, as I always am:)

When my 2nd child was born, we were walkers and bought a Schwinn double jogger. It was a base model that fit our base budget at the time. NO bells or whistles, but it did the job.

5 years later I gave that stroller away and upgraded. Big time!

I bought the BOB...The Bob is the Cadillac of double joggers. So I thought. I thought this because it costs about as much as a Cadillac. I assumed a $600 stroller would be loaded with bells and whistles.
I pushed that stroller all summer long. Up huge hills, paths along the golf course, trails up the canyon, walkways in gardens, and even Disneyland. I spent all summer being disappointed. Let me tell you what I dislike about the Bob:
1. There's no locking mechanism for when it's closed. You're supposed to wrap the leash around the whole thing and velcro it. PAIN!
2. To close it there is a 2 step process- fold the top part down with one latch and pull another to collapse the rest of it (and every time I did step 2, I thought I was going to break it. It was so sketchy)
3. Because of the 2 step fold and no lock, you have to pick it up just right (and with 2 hands! If I have a DOUBLE stroller do you think I ever have 2 hands free?) or it will come back open
4. There's no "roller coaster bar" (named by me). You know that bar you hold onto when you ride a roller coaster? The one that lowers down to your lap and you look around to make sure yours isn't the only fat squishing out. Only me? Ok, so there's not that bar that goes over the lap of the rider, which I find unsafe. Plus, if you have a newborn in a carseat, you can't lock it onto the stoller (although you can buy one that is a pain to install and costs $80, which makes this a $680 stroller!)
5. You have to manually lock the front swivel wheel (which means climbing under the stroller and fiddling blindly with a latch, then ultimately making your riders climb out so you can flip the darn thing over to lock it. By then your heart rate has dropped and you don't want to run any more, so you have to unlock in the same way)
6. There's no cup holder for the pusher
7. The lower basket is small and hard to access
8. When going at top speeds (I'm a rockin' rollerblader), the Bob does NOT perform better than a less expensive stroller

In no way did I find the Bob superior to any other double stroller.

My sister has this Instep Safari Grand double jogger and has loved it, so I thought I'd give it a try. Let me tell you what I like about it so far:
1. Roller coaster bar is a tray and cup holder for riders
2. There's also a cup holder and tray for the pusher
3. Pushing bar adjusts for height and comfort
4. Lower basket is easily accessible and much bigger
5. Folds in one easy step
6. Locking mechanism keeps it closed when it's folded (one handed pick up- I AM WOMAN!)
7. A trigger on the push bar locks and unlocks the swivel front wheel
Thank goodness I was smart enough to buy the Bob from REI, who has a return policy like Costco, so they took it right back and refunded all my money. I pocketed $480 (yes, I bought the roller coaster bar) and spent $200 on the Instep. I feel much better about this purchase and will update you in a while on it's long term performance.

That's really how I feel about it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Widow's Mite

"And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: And many that were rich cast in much.
And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
And He called unto him his disciples and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in than all they that have cast into the treasury:
For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."
I have always loved this short, yet meaningful story in the New Testament. Always. Since I first read it in high school.
I watched my parents play the role of the widow. I watched them "cast more into the treasury."
Not just in money, but in everything. They cast in all they had.
My teenage actions may not have reflected at the time, but a small fire ignited within me. I decided "Give Said the Little Stream" was my favorite primary song and I have never gotten through "Because I Have Been Given Much" with dry eyes.
I knew then I was blessed and it was my responsibility to make sure others lives are blessed too.

Even if it took my 2 mites.

My patriarchal blessing tells me "You will know the meaning of sacrifice in your life." It's the only part that I remember from when I actually received the blessing.
In high school, I would lay awake at night and run scenes through my mind of a small home, worn clothes and a mom awake late to sew dance costumes or can peaches and then write the tithing check...anything for my children and my Lord.

Even all my living.
I was sure I would raise a family on a very tight budget. I was well prepared.

Then I met John.

My future has not turned out like I thought (I say that with a smile), but the widow and her mites have still played their part.

I still lay in bed at night and think of her...old and crippled. Stooped and waddling to the treasury with a hand on her hunched back. Children off building their own lives. Husband in Heaven and terribly missed. And those thoughts turn to prayers "Help me be like her."

I saw this hanging in an art gallery. Painted by Liz Lemon Swindle. I stared. No hunched back. Not crippled or even old.

It was me. The woman I dreamed I could be when I was just a teenager. Giving all her living. Knowing the Lord would provide.

I stared longer. It was my mom, my sister, my grandma, all the women in my life who have exemplified this to me. The tears came slow and hot and I wiped them quickly. I gained composure and turned to John. "I want this"

And he bought it for me...
It's framed so perfectly with gold writing that says "For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had."

My life is ever changing, but the widow is always there to remind me that I have been given much and I too must give.

Help me be like her.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Why AREN'T French Women Fat?

This became a topic of conversation (husbands included) as we indulged in luscious French food. Everything was deep fried, baked with butter, made with white flour and sugar, smothered in mayo and topped with cheese. It was heavenly. And fatty. Before we went, I was worried about nightlife in Paris. On our first night we learned that night life is dinner. We ate dinner about 9pm every night and it was always an event, taking at least 2 hours. Fruits and vegetables were hard to come by. In fact, after a few days, when our bodies were craving something natural, we sat a restaurant with a menu item "veggie platter." Perfect for our cheese stuffed bodies! When Nicole placed her order our grumpy server asked what kind of vegetables she'd like. Goody! A choice! She asked "What are my options?"

His reply "Green beans, french fries, noodles, or rice."

She had the green beans. And we all suppressed giggles at the choices for "veggie platter."

Even at a food market that we wondered through, the fruit and veggie choices were slim.

I understand that their lifestyles are less sedentary than ours. As tourists, we walked about 10 miles a day. I would imagine they walk a lot too, but probably a little less than that. Even so, it's not consistent cardio exercise.

So what is it?

Why is it that my diet is at least half fruits and vegetables, I strictly moderate treats, and I work out an hour a day and I'm struggling to maintain a normal body weight?

One theory is the smoking. It seems like everyone there smokes. They probably do that instead of snack. I'll take my dried fruit and nuts over a cigarette any day.

Another theory is their serving sizes are smaller than ours. Maybe. Could that really be it?

Any other theories? I've never read the book, so please- enlighten me!

Monday, September 13, 2010

London: Day 4

Today was so low key and enjoyable. My dear friend Dana, who lives 2 hours outside London, brought her whoel family in to spend the day with us.
Dana and I are forever bonded by sharing our first pregnancies and babies together. Our husbands are similar. When we realized that we didn't have to apologize for a rant or rave from a husband around each other, we knew we were friends for life.
Her husband Marc is in the army and based in England right now. Although we talk on the phone all the time, we have not seen each other for 3 years.
It was so so great to spend the day with them.
We ate lunch in a park and walked a bridge over the Thames. Then the boys went to see STOMP (rave reviews)
While the girls shopped
Thanks a million for coming Delucas! We love you.
I'm on my way home

Sunday, September 12, 2010

London: Day 3

This day is low on pictures and narrative as well. We went to the market and antique shops on Portobello Road. Somehow John and I became separated from Dan and Nicole in the hussel and bussel of getting out of the tube station and we never found each other! It turned out to be a nice day date for just John and me. We wandered the shops for hours and sampled way too much of the incredible food there. We shopped a little more on Bond Street after lunch, then decided to pass the afternoon with a nap.
We met back up with Dan and Nicole that evening at the hotel. Refreshed from our naps, we changed, had dinner and went to see....
WICKED!!!And loved every minute of it. Next time I see it, it's going to be from the front row! (although row 10 smack in the middle was great too)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

London: Day 2

We tried to watch the changing of the guard in the morning, but it was so crowded that we couldn't see anything, so we skipped out and went to Westminster Abby. Last year when we were here we didn't go in, so I really wanted to. I love these old cathedrals. I'm so glad I talked John into it. We, of course, couldn't take any pics inside, but the outside is beautiful too.

If you walk from The Abby to Trafalgar Square, you get some great views of Big Ben, Parliament, and the Thames

And you can make a phone call

I love this picture Nicole took
After lunch in Trafalgar Square we went to the National Library which houses documents such as the Magna Carta, original, hand written notes of Beethoven and Da Vinci and John Lenon (GASP), and a 2nd century manuscript of the Gospel of John. The greatest thing about the library is there is a "treasures" room, so you don't have to go tromping through the whole darn thing to see what you want. After a week of this, I really appreciated that. Especially since we had to get back to the hotel...

to get ready...

for the evening...


And here we are on the very front row. It was incredible. I felt like the whole performance was just for me and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.
I had to sneak a little chocolate into the theatre (my mom taught me nothin' but class!)
I was just in Heaven the whole time. I didn't want it to end. This is my all time favorite. Maybe we will fly the cast into Versailles for the wedding receptions to give us our own private performance. And maybe Raoul will sing "All I ask of you" just to me.

Although, I quite like the man I got to sit next to. Isn't he cute?
Before heading back to the hotel we spent a couple minutes in Picadilly Circus (London's Times Square)

Then we ate chocolate cake and ice cream on the bed. Right before bed. My scale is going to hate me, but that's back in real life and I'm not.

London: Day 1

I'm detoxing you from picture over-dose since not much was picture worthy on this day.

We took a train from Paris to London with just a small mishap. Our tickets said we arrive in London at 10:30, but we thought we left Paris at 10:30, so by the time we got to the train station, we'd missed our train. It wasn't a big deal. We just hopped on the next train. It actually worked out nicely because John had 30 Euros in his pocket that needed to be spent and I was put on that job. I found a chocolatier!

Once in London, I sent the group to the National Gallery (seen it) because laundry was my first priority. I found a laundromat just down the street from the hotel and had a classy lunch there while my undies washed.

We met back up with just enough time to cute-ify ourselves, grab a quick dinner and get to The Lion King. I saw Tarzan in New York a few years ago. It was cute. That's all. Just cute. I was totally expecting the same thing with this, but was totally blown away. It exceeded all my expectations! They followed the Disney movie almost exactly, but added a few songs and scenes that complimented and enhanced it so beautifully. Rafikki was flawless and hysterical. The costumes. props and scenery were pure perfection and totally amazing. This is a must see!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Paris: Day 5

Versailles (SIGH)
This picture says just what I feel about this place

I'm changing things up on you...here's a pic of Dan and me in front of the Versailles Palace I read up on Marie Antoinette before the trip, so I had to get a pic with her
OK, this is the most under-rated part of Versailles. It is, in my opinion, the very best part of the whole property. Marie Antoinette wanted a place of refuge from palace life, so she had this "hamlet" built to replicate a common village. Complete with a dairy farm, vegetable gardens, animals and a pond. It's a place where she could kick up her heels and wear and do as she pleased. This is a place straight out of a fairy tale. It's quiet and quaint and beautiful. I think it's enchanted

Nicole snitching from the vegetable garden (yes, the small village is still kept functioning)

There's even a swan gliding on the pond. I'm ready to move in.

(does this picture make you embarrassed to be my friend?)

I HAD to stop and smell the roses. What else do you do in a place like this.
And, of course, an arch of grapevines.

If you go to Versailles (and you should), you canNOT miss The Hamlet. It was just beyond dreamy. Just looking at the pictures again makes me swoon. I can say things like "swoon" because I have been to MA's Hamlet.

So here's the real secret. John had this brilliant idea to hit the gardens first and then the palace. Since the line for the palace was probably 200 yards long, it was not hard to convince us. This left the gardens, hamlet, and other parts of the grounds slow and quiet.

And just plain LOVELY

I loved the gardens and the views they offered
including the backside of the palace
Sorry, we are as sick of taking lame pictures of us as much as you are of looking at them
This is me resisting the urge to take a picture of every single flower in the gardens and spend the rest of the trip on the internet researching each of them.
We finally made it inside the palace with no line and far fewer crowds. Here is the room where my girls will have their wedding receptions. I am planning it in my head...we will fly in 50 of our closest friends and family (and if you leave ONE mean comment about my greasy hair- you're out!) (I blew up my blow dryer)
We each got head sets for an audio tour
Oh wait! This room is much bigger and much more ornate. The receptions will happen HERE. I can up the number to 100 ( like *I* know that many people. I plan on my girls being very popular). There's plenty of room for all of us to stay in the palace. I call the hamlet.

When we were bored of our headsets, John did great narrations of Rick Steve's thoughts.
Back in "reality" we had dinner at a highly recommended restaurant.
It was such a perfect day that ended in tears because it was our last in Paris...for a time!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Paris: Day 4

The Catacombs (scary music...)
In the 18th century (snoring) (no seriously this is cool) Paris was in crisis, with people living in such close quarters because land was slim, sanitary was undeveloped (that's another tour) and disease was rampant. The population realized that valuable real estate was being taken over by the dead in beautiful church courtyard cemeteries. So they dug up their dead and piled the bones in a spent limestone quarry below the city. 6 million bodies were moved here. I'm sure the task went from exciting to gross to dull, so they had to express creativity somehow, right? These are, for real, 250 year old bones. Talk about mayhem at the Resurrection!
There was miles of this stuff
AND...back to the real Paris with satisfied husbands (since they got to see dead people). After a quick curbside crepe, we wander through Luxembourg Gardens

I have been informed that I have reached my kiss picture quota, but he will take a hug from me
I could've spent more time in the gardens (and kind of wish we had), but there was more to see.
This is San Chapel. These walls are covered in stained glass depicting bible scenes
The husbands were tired and grumpy by the end of the church, so we sent them off to rest and we got ourselves some gelato which provided a second wind for shopping in the Latin Quarter
Once back with the husbands, we grabbed Gyros from a corner stand and boarded a ship for a sunset cruise of the Seine River
We started with a great view of Notre Dame. You cannot get this angle of the flying buttresses on land

There are dozens of bridges you pass under as you cruise along, each from a different century with a different story that I like to make up in my mind.
My fav from the Seine
and a close up (sorry about the blur)
We got to watch the sparkle of the tower from the boat this night. It's so magical. This is a Paris must.