Welcome to the Wandering Drays!

Not all who wander are lost...

Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

So Much Can be Accomplished in Just One Week

In the week since I blogged about joining the Biggest Loser competition at work, so much more has been accomplished.

I am now able to run 5K+ distances.
I am fitting back into my regular pants.  That don't involve elastic waistbands.
I am eating healthier.

I still enjoy chocolate.  But in moderate quantities.
I still enjoy coffee.  But probably in too large of quantities. [Note: some things are really hard to change.] Oh, but with much less sugar in each cup!

I am stronger.

But most importantly, I simply feel better.

Since the fab hubby is pretty security-conscience (duh), I decided to take it to heart when he said he's really ok with me running the Wadi by myself.  So I got past the 'it feels so desolate here!'  Twice this week I ventured out solo to the Wadi for a run.

I still feel like I'm going to be attacked by this.
 I'll admit - it's still kinda creepy.  A good part of me feels like I'm a character in Star Wars about to be attacked by Tusken Raiders.  Turns out the desert part of Star Wars was filmed in Tunisia.  Ummmm....hello!  Tunisia is totally two countries to the west of here.  No wonder it looks the same.

In any case, I rocked out a a 4.5 mile run today, and it felt good.  (And if you're wondering, I was not attacked by Tusken Raiders.)

The rest of the week's workouts were spent at the gym or on my own elliptical at home.  I've also thrown in some free weights and the fab hubby taught me some great upper arm exercises I can do with the free weights that were different from the routines I've been doing.

Things I tell myself?  Even if it's only 20 minutes on the elliptical, it's worth it.  Because it's much more than I was doing before.

If I eat too much, I'll be uncomfortable.  And I don't miss the elastic-waist pant.

If I eat too much, I'll also have to work out a lot more, and I'm already short enough on time as it is.  At work, I spend my lunch hour at the gym.  There is only one lunch hour.  Not two!

This coming week?  I'm adding more free weights.  More time on my runs (headed toward the 10K distance!).  And I'm also going to work on getting to sleep earlier.  My friend Jen recently blogged about giving up being a night owl for Lent.  I think I'm going to hop on that train as well for Lent this year.  Since I'm focused on taking better care of myself, this is definitely something I need to do.

It's been a good week!  3 weeks down in the Biggest Loser, 6.5 lbs lighter, 13 weeks to go.  I'm not going to say it's been easy - because it certainly hasn't been.  But I feel like I'm on the path to success.

Half -way through my 4.5 mile run today.
It was awesome!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Twelve Pounds

Twelve pounds.  As in the number of pounds I've gained since arriving in Egypt.

As in the number pounds it took to crumple my self-esteem.  Put on in a mere five months.

I suppose I could blame it on the stress.  A new country, a new culture, a new school for the kids, a new job for me, new...new...new.  Chocolate helps.  So does a sweet yummy latte.  Sometimes I'd wallow in cookies.  I've got lots of other excuses.  No place to run safely.  Don't like the gym.  Working long hours.  No time to work out.  Just had baby #3 a little over a year ago.

But I've dealt with stress in the past.  I know the best ways to handle it.  I know exercising and healthy eating are essential.

But the more I gained, the worse I felt, and the less I worked to fix the issue.

I used to be a runner.
I used to be in shape.
I used to eat healthy.
I used to feel good about myself.

I don't want to be those things.  I don't want the best run I ever did to be over with already.  I used to be a runner.  It tears at the very definition of myself.  Was a runner.

So what am I now? I ignored that voice in my head.

Unable to fit in my jeans, I found myself wearing stretchy yoga pants and slouchy shirts at home.  Baggy clothes to work, trying to hide the pounds that seemed to pile on so easily.

Ignoring my health for what?

I used to be am a runner.
This is from my favorite 10K ever.
Santa Monica, CA - Fall 2009
I'm the chick in the "I *heart* LA shirt.
I am angry.  I miss running and I hate that I can't find my stride here in Egypt.  Can't run safely in the streets.  Can't make it to the Wadi as often as I thought.  And honestly, I feel uncomfortable there by myself.  It feels so desolate. So unsafe.  I admit it.

But it's not a good enough excuse.

I have an elliptical in my living room.  It was gathering dust.  I have free weights in my living room.  They were tucked away in a cabinet.

Choices.  Poor choices to be honest.  Feeling trapped by my choices.  And the weight piled on.

::Deep Breath::

That's the thing about life.  So many choices.  I have choices.  New choices.

The embassy is currently sponsoring a 'Biggest Loser' contest.  I signed up and it began two weeks ago with some friends (and the fab hubby) - and we're dedicated to losing 10% of our body weight.  It feels good.  Having a goal.  Having a support group.

It was HORRIBLE stepping on that scale the first day.  Having to admit all those choices I've made over the last five months.  But I was tired of it owning me.  Tired of the weight following me around and dictating who I was.

I work out.
I eat healthier.
I know what I want to be.

Two weeks later, I'm six pounds lighter.  And I know I have so much more to do, more to lose.  But I was able to button my jeans again this week.  Building that self-esteem back up.

The elliptical and those free weights are no longer covered in dust.  I run at the kid's school track.  I hit the treadmill at work.  I absolutely loathe the treadmill.  But it's what I've got.

It's not the kind of running I love, but it's the running I can do right now.  Because I am a runner.

Next July, we'll be in the U.S. for four weeks.  And of those four weeks, I'll spend two of them in Colorado Springs for my Army Reserves Annual Training.  I love Colorado Springs.  I love running Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. [I went back and looked at my blog from when I ran Garden of the Gods last year.  It's really a beautiful place to run.  Here's the blog entry if you'd like to read about it.]

Garden of the Gods is some of the greatest running I've ever done.  If I don't run now, I won't be able to run then.  The altitude is killer and I have to be in good shape to run those trails.  I won't let that happen.

Two weeks down, and fourteen weeks left to go in the Biggest Loser.  10% of my body weight to be shed.  Miles to run.  Good food to eat.  Skinny jeans to wear.  These are the choices I make now.

The 1/2 Marathon I ran in 2010.
Almost 2 Years to the date of starting
the Biggest Loser Contest I'm in now.

That's me in the 1/2 Marathon.
I'll be that again soon.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Photo Journey of Cairo's Crazy Roads

I loooove driving in Cairo.  Super insane, no rules, no lanes.  Doesn't matter if you drive down a one-way street headed in the wrong direction.  Honk all the time for no purpose other than to say "I'm here!"  Don't stop at intersections (if you do, you'll get rear-ended!); just honk and keep rolling through.  No stop lights.  That's right - None.  And never turn on your lights at night.

It's all so crazy.

Especially when I look at it through my ER-RN-trained-eyes.  The streets are full of traumas-waiting-to-happen.  Death traps!  But in Cairo, well, it's just normal.

So I've spent the last week with iPhone in hand, trying to capture as many of these moments as I can.  And while sometimes I was too slow to get the "Oh-my-gawd-did-you-see-that? Only in Cairo!"moments, I did manage to click a few of the goodies.


Where else would you sit in a moving truck?

Can't fit your kid inside the truck?  No worries.  He can sit
on top of your haul.

Just because I couldn't believe it, I took another photo.

This truck has a light load.  Oh, yeah.  Not tied on.
And we're on the freeway.

They will stack at least 4 - 6 more of these filled bags on top.
And then the guy will ride on top of those bags.

Free air conditioning.

This is a microbus.   It's very scary.
1. It will ALWAYS take the right-of-way.
2.  It doesn't care if it hits your car.
3.  Seating for 11?  Nope.  Seating for 50?  Yes.

This is a black taxi.  Also very scary.
1.  No meter, so you don't know how much
the driver will charge you.
2.  It doesn't care if it hits your car.
3.  It will always take the right-of-way on the road.

Look very carefully up ahead!
See the dude sitting on top of the microbus?  

The best way to enjoy the sunset over the Nile?

Just when I thought it couldn't get any crazier,
this dude on the Moped U-Haul pulls up beside the
packed microbus with roof rider.

Back of truck packed with people.
Hauling a cement mixer.

We can all agree this is NOT the safest way to travel.

Back packs not secured.
But I was so happy to see it was the back packs,
and not the children on top of the roof.
And to be clear - these were not my children or their backpacks.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

He's The One Turning Nine Years Old...

...so why do I suddenly feel so much older?

Maybe it's because he says things like:

"Mom.  I'm a tween.  You know.  Between being a kid and teen.  That's why I sigh A LOT and stomp my feet."

"Mom.  I can pick out my own outfit."

"Mom.  You don't have to hold my hand!"

Or maybe it's because I can actually trust him to watch his baby brother for a few moments.  And know that neither of them will be [permanently] maimed.

Or maybe it's because he can read his own stories at night, snap his own seatbelt buckle, make his bed, make his breakfast, feed the dogs, and find his way around a computer and the internet better than his Grandma (sorry, Mom!).

I blink oh-so-briefly and he's not little any more.  Where did time go?

What was once this:

Became this...

And this...

And is now doing this on his own...

Successfully building these...

Cheesing it for the camera like this...

 And hanging out with his pooches like this...

Happy 9th Birthday, Owen!  You sure know how to make me feel old.

BUT, as you've already learned, getting older is pretty cool.