Friday, December 31, 2010

Awesome Read

While on our trip, I finished Complications by Atul Gawande. Amazing read. Quick, witty, intelligent, and very easy to follow. I became interested in Gawande while teaching at Ohio University. When we left Athens for Cleveland in mid 2003, he had just published Complications. His parents teach at the College of Medicine at Ohio University. I came across the book while browsing at Half Price Books and grabbed it up. I jumped into this book and simply couldn't put it down. Completely made me appreciate and fear the medical profession at the same time. I'm now reading his second book, Better, and will immediately move into his newest non-fiction book, The Checklist Manifesto.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sedona and the Grand Canyon

The United States really has some spectacular natural beauty. Sunday and Monday we visited Sedona and the Grand Canyon. The red rock formations and the amazing panaramic views just took our breath away.

I simply could not believe the vastness of the Grand Canyon and we must have taken several dozen pictures. Each direction you looked, the view just kept getting more and more impressive.

Highlights included staying overnight in Flagstaff. We were so tired, that we ordered a pizza, sat in the lobby and enjoyed Toy Story 2 on Disney. We practically had the lobby to ourselves, with a roaring fire and reminiscent of a ski lodge (but was actually Embassy Suites!). It was like our little traveling pizza and a movie family night. I absolutely loved this. Oh yeah, and I was still in my shorts and flip flops while watching the snow falling in Flagstaff. How freaking cool is that?!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas in the Desert

Phew - what a whirlwind of a trip! We landed in Vegas in the middle of the night...and would you believe, we got a room upgrade! Of course, when we're completely exhausted. But we rallied! Come on, it's Vegas, Baby! We stayed at Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower and Bellagio fountain. Vegas lit up at night really is quite spectacular.

Rise and shine so we could belly up to the buffet. Megan can't pass up a Vegas buffet. After tackling a buffet, what else would make sense than to head out for our long 5-hour drive to Phoenix. Hoover Dam and Lake Mead were pretty cool and must-sees. Stopped for the obligatory Del Tacos. I wouldn't step foot in a Taco Bell (sober), but Del Taco takes cheap taco making to a whole new level. Love the fish tacos - they could be made up of Mrs. Paul's fishsticks for all I know, but I love them.

Christmas Eve morning began with a Zumba class with Sharon and Megan while the kids went to one of those bouncy places. I couldn't believe how awesome and energetic this class was. I had been putting off getting on the Zumba bandwagon, but how can you pass up latin dance music with hot instructors. One of the Zumba instructors was dressed in a white running skirt with knee-hi red/white stripe socks with fur at the top of the socks. I will be stealing this outfit idea for Christmas 2011 races.

Christmas Eve also included a mondo gift wrapping session while visiting with the family. Santa came Christmas morning with Bridget getting "just what she wanted" and Megan loving her new Ugg boots.

Enjoying the newest addition, Quinn.

Breakfast strata, too many cookies, and a Shiner Bock every time I turned around resulted in a definite need for a Christmas Day run (an annual gift to myself). In 68 degree weather and a sleeveless tank, I tackled an exhausting 4.5 miles. How did I get so out of shape? And how did 4.5 miles become a long run?! Whatevs, it was the best present ever :)

Christmas Night we enjoyed a nice evening walk around the Phoenix Zoo for Zoo lights. The kids loved it and the adults enjoyed the peace and quiet. And a nice walk helped burn off the additional Shiner Bock (hello, my new favorite friend, Shiner Bock).

Next morning the girls went for a little light shopping at Nordstrom Rack while the guys took the kids to a bar to watch the Browns game. Progressive parenting, eh? Win-win situation for everyone.

Next up, Sedona, Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas from PHX

It's been a wonderful Christmas in the land of sunshine and 70 degree weather. I thought I would be whiny because I wasn't spending the holidays at home with snow and freezing temps. That lasted for 10 minutes...until I changed into a pair of shorts and my flip flops! More on this wonderful trip as well as an equally fantastic Christmas morning run in 60+ degree temps tomorrow. But for now, I am glad to be home and back in my crumpled bed!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Run and a Ride

I felt my "old self" this weekend. Saturday I worked in a 30 minute ride on the trainer. Sunday, I ran. Yep, a short one - 3 miles. Snow and ice be damned, but I managed to enjoy myself. Even with the 20 degree weather, I still love to run this time of the year. There's a section of my run where I get to look down and see the frozen river that leads into Lake Erie. Only a northern girl could find that such a great sight to see. I also ran past my favorite running store and saw their store window. Santa, I've been a very good girl and I would like the gray zip-up jacket on the right :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Movie Magic

Tonight our family will change into our pajamas, gather around the TV, enjoy Greg's special popcorn (made only on the stovetop), and watch a wonderful Christmas classic - Elf. My family knows I love the shower scene where Zoey Deschanel and Will Ferrell are singing Baby, It's Cold Outside. Elf has become our family's favorite modern Christmas classic with Greg and Megan repeating lines throughout December - "you're so pretty, you should be on a Christmas Card" and "Santa, I know him!"

Other must-see classics for us are Christmas Story (hey, we are from Cleveland!), Christmas Vacation (thank you, Nitmos, for the month of quotes), and It's a Wonderful Life (Jimmy Stewart makes me swoon).

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season enjoying your own traditions or making new ones.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Old Man Winter

These wonderful boots just came in the mail yesterday and I love them. I previously owned a pair of Ugg boots, but they seem to go to High School every morning during winter ( does that happen). Months ago when the "shape-ups" fad started, I thought it ws silly. But, I recently fell victim to this new craze. I wore them last night while making dinner and then washing dishes. After an hour, I felt like I was walking on a bosu ball. Crazy. I felt like I had been working out on an elliptical machine. Best of all, I can brave all the snow that Old Man Winter throws my way and I'll be firming my tush in the process! Bonus!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When Does a Running Break Turn into a Hiatus?

It's been 4 weeks since my last race. Granted, that race was a marathon. But since that race, I have ran twice. What?! Two times? I've changed my bed sheets more than I've run?! So my question: when does a break from running/racing turn into a hiatus? And more importantly, why is it so hard to start back up again? I know I can't be alone on this.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Short, But Wonderful Weekend

Just returned from a wonderful weekend with my brother, sister-in-law and their family. It was a spur-of-the-moment trip compliments of a Continental last minute specials (Yippee for the $119 round trip fares). Way too short, but full of fun, great conversation and complete excitement filled with family activities. We had a leisurely breakfast and morning, then spent Sunday afternoon at the aquarium, where I think Megan had the most fun petting the sting rays. Enjoyed a great dinner on the grill (a treat in December..especially being from Cleveland). And best of all, I came back with some wonderful decorating ideas (thanks, Char!). Bridget even came back with ideas for her room and toys (thanks, Zoe!).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My View from High Atop the Terminal Tower

If you haven't done it already, I highly recommend going to the top of the Terminal Tower. As a Cleveland transplant, I have learned to appreciate and enjoy so many wonderful aspects of Cleveland - it's history, the museums, the culinary scene, the top notch microbreweries, and the metropark system (to burn off this IPAs and great dinners). But the view from the top of Terminal Tower is just incredible. We could see the Snow Days at the old Jake (now Progressive Field), the Browns stadium and even as far as the gold coast. Here's a neat article of the terminal tower tours. Great experience!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Violet's Back on the Rollers

You know it's winter when the bike goes back on the rollers. Greg set Violet (my lavender Fuji road bike) up and she's ready to ride in the morning. Yippee yi yah!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Polar Express

As Cuyahoga Valley National Forest members, we have the first shot at Polar Express train tickets. So I've had these tickets for the four of us since September. I was not a fan of the movie (sorry, Tom Hanks), but I figured we would make it magical anyway.

The train left the tracks for it's 2-hour ride to the North Pole. The elves entertained us by playing games with each child, singing Christmas Carols, filling our tummies with hot chocolate and fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.

After an hour ride, we arrived at our designation - the North Pole. We were greeted by dancing elves outsid the train, the Grinch (hello, scare the small kids), gingerbread men, geese in a small red wagon, dancing Christmas trees, and other assorted characters. I was disappointed that we didn't get to deboard. But it was cold and snowy, and I had lost my head and wore ballet flats sans socks, so I guess it was ok to stay in our seats.

In the end, the train ride last almost 2.5 hours, which is tough for a 3-year-old, and even tougher for her 17-year-old sister, and downright punitive for the dad (no beer or wine to be found!). It's kind of like a 3-hour movie, where you walk out saying "that would have been better if they cut an hour from it!"

Happy holidays!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dear Santa: I've Been a Very Good Girl

An amazing thing happened. Bridget actually sat on Santa's lap, told him what she wanted for Christmas, then hugged him before handing him her Christmas wish list. The wish list was so cute. She cut out a picture of herself, glued it to a piece of scrapbook paper, scribbled a few notes (not readable, of course). She's also been telling everyone they need to be nice and not be on the naughty list. How long can this good behavior last?!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Project: Pine Cone Wreath

In an effort to spend less time in front of the TV, and more time having fun together, the girls and I decided to tackle a couple holiday projects each week. I'll blog about them, highlighting age appropriateness, ease of project, cost factor, and fun factor.

First, Bridget and I gathered pine cones from various nearby locations. Lots of fun and she enjoyed picking out the "perfect" pinecones. Cost: free.

Next, we bought the supplies - a wire wreath circle form, light wire and wire clipper. Cost: about $5.

Then Megan assembled the project. Megan, at first, wasn't really interested, but then could not push the project away.

SO the cost for this project was very minimal - roughly $5 for a beautiful wreath. Bridget started out attaching the pine cones, but it was too difficult (and boring) for her. Megan loved it and gave it as a gift. Fun evening with my girls.

Next project: stamped holiday greeting cards.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Little Things

The little things...there's nothing bigger. Tonight, I loved watching my youngest daughter putting on her gloves and pressing on each finger to make sure they were in the right spot. So cute. And I couldn't tear myself away.

Hope you're finding those little magical moments this month, too!