Sarah Joy Albrecht

“Mommy” and “Motorcycle” in the Same Sentence (+ Update)

Mar
29

KAWASAKI ELIMINATOR® 125

Today was the first day of the driving segment of my motorcycle class.

Above is a picture of the bike I rode in class: a silver, 2007 Kawasaki Eliminator 125.

The pace of the class was just right – it was challenging, but I gained a little more confidence with each skill I mastered.

Prior to this class, the only time I’d ever been on a motorcycle was as a passenger – once – on my father-in-law’s bike. I am tickled that I went from knowing nothing about driving a motorcycle to riding around in (go ahead, laugh!) third gear.

Admittedly, as I watched the instructor do the dry run, there were a few exercises that made my stomach feel like it does at the crest of a tall roller coaster. They seemed impossible for me to do. As I approached the course, I just took a deep breath and relaxed. I ended up doing just fine. (Everyone stalled a few times, so my stalling doesn’t count!) No crashes or bike-dropping to report.

There are two things I need to practice:

One, I have very small hands. I really have to stretch them to reach the clutch or the brake levers. The instructor said that I can put my wrist at the very top edge of the grips in order to operate the levers – this is a little trickier than it sounds! I really have to almost let go of the throttle or the left handle bar in order to squeeze the levers completely. Obviously, my hand isn’t going to grow, so I need to just be smoother in transitioning.

The second thing I need to work on is shifting. There were a few times when I felt like the bike was getting away from me. To compensate, I’d try to do the clutch/downshift and I’d lurch a little. Or, I’d be looking through a turn and would be trying to shift up a gear and would have trouble finding or feeling the gearshift through my boot and then would kick it more than what I needed to. Eek!

Again, though, in the last quarter of the class, I was much improved compared to the third quarter. Really, if I can do this anyone can. The instructors are so thorough and really coach the riders each step of the way. Exercises were followed by a discussion time during which we identified the skills we used and the instructors offered pointers.

About 20 minutes before the class ended, Tom brought the kids by to watch. It was so cute to listen to them talking in the back seats about mommy on the motorcycle – two “m” words that I never thought I’d hear in the same sentence, EVER. :)

UPDATE -April 5

Well, I passed the written test but failed the driving test.

My foot touched down in the middle of a “figure-8” (which is done within in a very small rectangle on the pavement) and I went a few seconds over in the lap/sharp corner test (gaging speed before going around a sharp corner – apparently, I could have gone faster) . I passed the quick-steering around an object (counter-weighting) test and the “stop on a dime” test.

So… I’m really bummed. BUT, the instructor said that I did great and that it’s just a matter of having more practice.

To have a little perspective, Saturday was only the second time I’d ever driven a bike in my life. Many of the other students had been riding for years, illegally, and then were regularly riding their bikes since recently obtaining their permits for the class.

I’m not sure if I’ll take the PenDot test at the driver’s license branch or if I’ll retake the free class. Either way, I’m focusing on the Bradley Teacher’s Training for the next few weeks. The next motorcycle class opening isn’t until I get back from Florida anyway.

In the mean time, Tom’s once-frightening bike doesn’t seem so scary to me anymore and I think I’ll take it to a parking lot for a spin to see if I am comfortable enough to take it out in traffic. With my permit, I can ride during the daylight and without passengers.

What do I think about motorcycles now? If you know how to ride them safely, you won’t be as afraid of them. Ladies, if you are afraid of your husband getting a bike – may I suggest that you and he take the class together and see if it changes your mind :) Even if you are not the primary driver of the motorcycle, and plan on just riding on the back, this skill is helpful to know if you are ever in a situation where your husband is unable to drive and you are stranded somewhere with only a motorcycle to get help or go home.

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25 Ways to Simplify Your Life with Kids

Mar
27

“You won’t get to ultra-simple if your life includes children … but you can find ways to simplify, no matter how many kids you have.”

Long ago, we implemented a majority of the things mentioned on this list, and I can attest that they do work well and contribute to sanity in the home. If someone was looking for a succinct how-to list, this one comes highly recommended by me.

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One More Reason Why I’m Not an Organ Donor

Mar
24

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (AP) — Zach Dunlap says he feels “pretty good,” four months after he was declared brain dead and doctors were about to remove his organs for transplant.

Dunlap was pronounced dead November 19 at United Regional Healthcare System in Wichita Falls, Texas, after he was injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident. His family approved having his organs harvested.

As family members were paying their last respects, he moved his foot and hand. He reacted to a pocketknife scraped across his foot and to pressure applied under a fingernail. After 48 days in the hospital, he was allowed to return home, where he continues to work on his recovery.

Dunlap said one thing he does remember is hearing the doctors pronounce him dead. Asked if he would have wanted to get up and shake them and say he’s alive, Dunlap responded: “Probably would have been a broken window that went out.”

His father, Doug, said he saw the results of the brain scan. “There was no activity at all, no blood flow at all.”

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Favorite Kimchi Recipe

Mar
20

I’ve only tried about a dozen versions of kimchi in my lifetime. Obviously, I’m not a connoisseur – however, I do know what I like when I taste it!

When we were in Tokyo, we bought a container of kimchi from the Seven-Eleven. (Seven-Elevens are to Tokyo what Wawas are to the Philadelphia area – one on every corner.) By far, it was my favorite of the kimchis I had tried.

The ginger and garlic were well balanced, perfect for a light snack or a compliment to dinner. Fresh and simple, it tasted homemade.

The recipe below is reminiscent of the one we experienced in Tokyo. The only difference was that the one in Japan was redder in color – perhaps powdered red pepper was used instead of flakes.

Heat-wise, this recipe is just right. It’s spicy enough to make me reach for a beverage, but not so hot that it takes my breath away or ruins the flavor of everything else I eat for the next week!


Kimchi

Kimchi


Recipe from The Accidental Scientist (< -Check out this website! Lots of interesting facts about food are waiting to be discovered here!): [caption id="attachment_7729" align="aligncenter" width="960"]Kimchi made from this recipe, fermenting in my fridge! Kimchi made from this recipe, fermenting in my fridge![/caption]

Koreans possess a passionate fondness for kimchi, serving this spicy fermented pickled vegetable dish at most meals. While many other types of pickles (such as store-bought cucumber dill pickles) are fermented in a prepared salty solution, kimchi ferments in the vegetables it their own juices. Although there are scores of varieties, kimchi is usually made primarily from cabbage.

2 1/2 pounds napa cabbage (if smaller, reduce amount of salt slightly)
1/2 cup kosher salt
a walnut-sized knob of ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bunch scallions, minced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons crushed red chili pepper
2 jalapenos, minced fine
fish sauce to taste (my addition to this recipe… I like about 1/4 c. in mine)

a glass or plastic bowl
2 to 3 1-pint sterilized glass canning jars
Plastic wrap and rubber bands OR Loosely sealed lid, so as to allow the fermentation gasses to “burp” — NOTE: you do NOT want a metal lid to touch the kimchi

1. Wash the cabbage, then chop it coarsely. Toss it in a glass bowl with the salt and let it sit overnight.

2. Drain the water off the cabbage and rinse it very well to remove the excess salt.

3. In a large glass or plastic bowl (don’t use metal), mix together the ginger, chili peppers, jalapenos and scallions. Then, add the well-drained cabbage. Toss the ingredients thoroughly to coat the vegetables. Save the juice that accumulates in the bottom of the bowl.

4. Pack the mixture tightly in sterile glass jars and cover with the juice. Add water if necessary to achieve 3/4-inch headroom. Cover the tops of the jars with plastic wrap, secured with a rubber band. Keep the kimchi in the refrigerator for 3 days before eating.

Follow-up:

After this batch of Kimchi sat in our fridge for a few days and turned into fermented goodness, we decided to serve some with lunch this afternoon. Leah, my youngest, kept wanting more. When she came back for thirds, she made sure to blow on it before eating. :D

State Department: March 10 Meeting to Open Borders, EU links

Mar
17

WASHINGTON — A largely unreported meeting held at the State Department discussed integration of the U.S., Mexico and Canada in concert with a move toward a transatlantic union.

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Shocked and Appalled: Today’s Pharmaceutical Adventure

Mar
13

Pharmacist by Paul-W via Flickr

After failing to sleep during their scheduled nap time, Aiden, Micah and Leah fell asleep in the car, moments before we arrived at the Lionville Natural Pharmacy.

Thomas and Tabitha were reading library books, Parts and More Parts, both by Tedd Arnold, to be exact. They said they’d be “bored” in the pharmacy and asked if they could stay in the car to read.

Not wanting to wake up the other children, I agreed. After all, it was a breezy 49 degrees outside and the tiny parking lot was pretty empty – not many other customers – and I knew I wouldn’t take very long.

“Keep the closed,” I instructed. “I will only be a few minutes.”

(Ah, my famous last words.)

While I stood at the pick-up counter, I asked if the pharmacist could recommend a substitute for one of my supplements that was no longer being carried by my grocery store. I handed him the empty bottle. He flipped it over to evaluate the nutritional information.

The pharmacist opened his mouth to speak, and, at that very instant, a woman’s voice started yelling for help.

It was odd. The sound seemed to be coming from him, yet he was so masculine looking. It took me a confused second, but I realized that the sound was, in fact, coming from a woman, arms flailing, who was running up behind him. We both turned to look at her at the same time.

HELP!” she yelled again. “There are children outside who are screaming and trying to get out of a green S.U.V.! Who would do such a thing to children?!!”

She had said “SUV” in a most punctuated fashion, as if it’s carbon footprint was making the situation even worse. As if the words “green” and SUV couldn’t possibly be in the same sentence together.

I smiled at the pharmacist.

In the sweetest voice I could muster, I said, “I’m sorry – will you please excuse me for a moment?”

I didn’t wait for him to answer. I bolted. I left him standing there with my grocery store supplement bottle in his hand.

When I opened the door to the pharmacy, their once muffled screams combined with the sound of the honking car alarm blasted into the pharmacy. Thomas was in the front seat, blocking the open drivers side door, arms and legs spread out, crying, screaming “STAY IN THE CAR, AIDEN!”

Meanwhile, Tabitha, Micah and Aiden were clawing at the windows (Aiden at the windshield, of course) desperately trying to get out. They looked like children trapped in a glass cage along with an invisible swarm of bees chasing after them.

Leah, who has a grotesque bloody, fat lip from losing a fight to the pantry door earlier today, and whose lower sad-lip couldn’t possible stick out any more if she wanted it to, was squirming to get out of her car seat. A giant tear was stuck right in the middle of each cheek.

I hit the “UNLOCK” button on my key chain and the extra-loud honking stopped – but the screams did not.

When they realized I was standing there, they all started blaming each other at once.

Calmly I asked for each of the children to tell me their version of what happened.

The shocked and appalled woman came out of the store, put her pointer finger up as if preparing to lecture me. Instead she just yelled “UUUUUUUGGGGGGGH!!!!” and stomped to her car.

Apparently, Aiden woke up from his momentary nap and freaked out. His demands to get out of the car woke up the other kids. When they realized that the child locks were engaged, panic set in. Aiden unbuckled himself and climbed from the way back seat, stepping on and hurting the middle seat kids, and managed to get to the front of the car to open the driver’s side door. He succeeded. Because the car was locked from the outside, even though the front doors are still able to open from the inside, it set off the car alarm.

They all quietly climbed out of the car. I kissed and hugged each one of them. I asked them to forgive me for leaving them in a situation that was too big for them to handle.

“I was so scared!” Tabitha sobbed.

What a horrible parent. Me – the one who could be a very rich insurance saleswoman because of my ability to foresee the worst case scenario in every situation – who, for once, chose to chalk it up to merely paranoia and pessimism that Aiden could possibly wake up from his nap and panic.

Silently, obediently, and still sniffling, they walked in a straight line behind me, all the way through to the back of the store by the pharmacy counter.

“I’m sorry about that,” I said to the pharmacist. “The three younger children had just fallen asleep as we got here, and the older two asked if they could stay in the car with them to finish reading some library books,” I explained, not sure how he would react.

The pharmacist said, in a quite serious tone that was fitting for masculine his face, “When I first started working here, many years ago, I used to bring my kids with me. I had a little play area set up for them over there.”

(Keep in mind, this sort of place isn’t like your average, antiseptic commercialized pharmacy. This is a “health food shop”, complete with herb bottles and apothecary jars behind the counter.)

“When my customers used to tell me how cute they were,” he continued, “do you know what I would say to them?”

My children were staring intently at this white-haired bearded man, hanging on his words as if he had great authority. The shook their little heads, eyes very wide.

“I’d tell them, ‘If you think they’re so cute, then take ’em with you! Bring ’em back when they’re 21 and I’m no longer responsible for them!'”

Tabitha gasped and firmly clenched the back of my bell-bottomed jeans.

The pharmacist chuckled, his eyes twinkling.