Monday, June 30, 2014

An Ocean Wedding

While in Maui, we would celebrate our 10th anniversary.  A pretty big milestone, you know.  We got married on 6-5-04, a very easy date to remember.  What I couldn't anticipate was the surprise that would await me.

After enjoying a nice morning at the pool, Greg told me he had booked a massage for me around 1:00pm.  As soon as my massage concluded, the masseuse greeted me with a card that explained we were having a vow renewal on the beach and there would be a dress waiting for me.

Girls getting ready.

Greg had arranged for an oceanside wedding, a photographer to take family photos (which we've been wanting to do for awhile), and a back-up minister.  The best surprise is that he and Megan had been conspiring for months to do this...and she got her minister license so that she could perform the ceremony! In 2004, she walked down the aisle with me and in 2014 she would be the minister.  Hysterical!

These are just a few of my favorite pictures.  What a wonderful surprise!

Afterwars, we were famished.  The sunset vow renewal meant that it was after 8pm and it was time to eat! Greg had made reservations at the italian restaurant at the Four Seasons.  On our walk over to the hotel, we popped in at the Maui film festival and Meg got to be up close with Emma Roberts.  May have been the highlight of her trip! Since it was getting close to our reservation time, we headed over to the Four Seasons for what may be one amazing meal.  We even tried a new drink - an Italian Shandy, which was a Perioni with Lemoncello...Mmmm!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fun Around Maui

We arrived safely on our little 8-seater plane.  Holy crap, I had never been in a puddle hopper before and was surprised over how low we flew.  I could see the water VERY WELL.  I had to be brave and hold Bridget's hand, who sat across from me and not let her know that I was freaking out as well.  But our pilots were fantastic and got us there just fine.  Phew!

Maui is stunning.  I was not prepared for all the natural beauty.  While the Big Island is a bit barren and full of lava rock, Maui is lush with foliage and greenery.  Every day was a calm 80-85 degree day with sun and a clear sky.  A tropical paradise.

We checked into our hotel and I would soon realize that the Fairmont chain would compete for my love and affection with Kimpton.  The Fairmont Kea Lani was amazing from every single vantage point.  Just look at this.

Top left: view from lobby. Top right: view from our room.
Bottom left: great action shot of B enjoying the pool. Bottom right: Me & pumpkin sporting our beautiful leis.
For our first night in Maui, Greg had booked us for the Old Lahani Luau.  What a treat! There were several kid-friendly activities for Bridget, learning to dance for me, and other little activities to enjoy before dinner.  We even were greeted with mai tais to drink when we arrived!

One of our first sightseeing activities during the day was our trip to the Maui Plantation Farm.  The best part was sampling fresh pineapple in the fields and learning about the 3 different types of sweetness.  Even better was receiving 4 large pineapples to take back to CLE!

Sunset ocean cruise would have to rank toward the top on this trip.  Beautiful views of Maui from the ocean, a great little ukulele performer, and talking to the captain made this excursion so much fun!

Not everyone was happy about the boat ride!

And now I would have to get ready for the biggest surprise of the entire trip!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hawaii Family Fun

After a shower and a good night's sleep, we spent our final full day on the Big Island at Volcano National Park and sightseeing around the island.  Such breathtaking scenery.

After a little fun and sightseeing, it was time to check out of the Orchid and head over to Maui.  Our ride awaits us!

Is it just me or does this look really small?! They had to weigh us and our bags...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summertime Activity List in the CLE

Last year we started the tradition of making a list of summertime activities that we would like to do as a family.   It's impossible to check ALL the items off our list, but we make one heck of an effort doing so.

In honor of the first day of summer, we hope to tackle these 20 activities in or around Cleveland:

  1. Go to Edgewater Live sponsored by the Cleveland Metroparks.
  2. Wade Oval Wednesdays in University Circle.
  3. Hale Farm in Peninsula
  4. Akron Zoo to see their amazing penguin exhibit.
  5. Goodtime III.  It's a joke in our family that I've never been on this (cheesy, yes).
  6. Catch an Indians game.
  7. Attend a Browns practice at their Berea facility.
  8. Ride the Towpath.
  9. Have lunch at Szalay's Farm.  Best corn-on-the-cob!
  10. Go to Put-in-Bay.
  11. Go to a drive-in movie.
  12. Attend the Summer Market in Avon Lake.
  13. Get scoop of Honey Hut Ice Cream in honor of the Bean, who would take my husband there every summer.
  14. Go to the Irish Festival.
  15. Kayak in Lake Erie.
  16. Go to Yoga at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
  17. Attend one Cleveland Orchestra concert at Blossom.
  18. Enjoy Summertime Treat Night - hotdogs, s'mores, roasted marshmallows).
  19. Go to Cedar Point.
  20. Attend at least one farmer's market or pick fresh fruit and vegetables at a farm.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Two Islands, One Big Race, 50 States

We did it.  We hit 50.  50 states, that is.  And just like that, a goal was reached!

Hawaii was amazing and was everything we thought it would be and more.  We arrived mid day in Kona to one of the most beautiful sights we have seen.  Just look at the view from our hotel.

For the first 5 days we stayed in Kona at the Fairmont Orchid.  Absolutely beautiful with friendly, attentive staff.  Highly recommend this hotel, if you're planning a trip to the Big Island.  First thing we did when we landed late Wednesday was check-in to the hotel which, by the time we landed, was well after our bed time.  Dinner, relax and take in the scenery was all that we planned to do.  And sleep.

The girls enjoying one of the many cool activities at the Fairmont Orchid - lei making!

Thursday, we headed over to Kona to pick up our bikes we had reserved.  I got a sweet Cervelo named Gino and Greg found a Cannondale that would be his ride for the race. We brought our own pedals, but never thought about bringing our own seats.  We would soon learn the importance of that mistake!  Rest of there day was spent poolside and relaxing while squeezing in a little scuba and light open water swim.

Friday, was packet pick-up and athlete check-in.  If we weren't nervous before, we would be now.  We grabbed our packets, ankle timing chip, swim caps, signed our waivers, and drank lots of water.  The race would be hot, hilly and humid.  Hydration was necessary.  Oh, and we hit the expo shop and found a couple cool shirts with all the racers names on the back.  What a great keepsake!

Friday evening, we took our bikes to mandatory bike check-in.  The Ironman 70.3 Honu race was unlike any other triathlon I had raced.  Normally, you check in your bike the morning of the race and lay out your towel, organize your transition area, and then head down to the water.  Not this Half Ironman.  We had to drop off our "T2 Run" bag during check-in.  No room for mistakes at this point.  Then, early Friday evening, we rode our bikes to the bike checkin, which was about 7 miles from the hotel.  Holy crosswinds, batman.  What the hell was I thinking when I decided to enter this race?! I know, I thought "Go big or go home." Now this was suddenly feeling like a super crazy, super insane choice!  We found our assigned rack, checked-in our bikes, and took the bus back to the silence...freaking out inside.  We don't get CROSSWINDS in Cleveland.  My right hand and shoulder blades were already aching from the death grip that I had trying to prevent myself from tipping over on the bike from the forceful direction of the winds.  This was after a 7-mile ride.  I had to come out of the water, hop on to the bike, and cycle 56 miles! Uh oh.

The rest of the evening was light and easy.  Early dinner, early to bed.

It's 5am? How can it be 5am? Holy crap, we're doing this.  And off to the Athlete Bus we went with all the other racers at our hotel.

As soon as we arrived at the T1 Transition Area, I dropped by T1 cycling bag and headed down to the open water swim.  Nerves were on heightened alert.  I knew I could swim the distance.  I even felt comfortable with the open water and channeled my inner Crowie Alexander Got Milk Commercial (The open water is my playground, he says).  I knew I could do this.  But could I do it with nearly 1,000 other athletes, with waves, in salt water, and under 1 hour 15 minutes? And the women were the last wave, so there was no cushion for finishing as the clock started ticking with our group.  Greg and the male group got a 7 minute cushion over the women.

I did.  Made it out of the water in 1:03 and change.  A bit slow, but I'm pretty sure I zigged and I zagged way more than necessary.  My dad always said I ran like a Singer sewing machine on zigzag stitch.  Pretty sure I swim the same way.  But hell, I did it.  But this is where the first of many mistakes began.

I walked across the sandy beach to the showers they had to rinse off the salt.  I piddled.  Seriously, I stood there and enjoyed the rinse.  What was I thinking?! Then I walked the 200+ yard hill to the transition area, thinking I was conserving energy.  No no no.  The (and yes. there's another "then"), I couldn't find things logically in my transition bag, had to dump out the contents, sort through my crap, find my gels (which would NOT slide into my back pockets in my race top because I was soaking wet), and had to insert my gels into my bra.  Mental note, get a bento box and organize your fuel, Robin!  I start to head out of transition and then realize I forgot to apply my hoohah cream.  No way was I going to tackle 56 miles on an uncomfortable seat without the miracle of hoohah cream.  So back to the port potty I went.  By the time I hopped on my bike and exited transition, I spent nearly 20 minutes in transition! Stupid.

There was a giant hill immediately out of transition.  And this was only the first of MANY hills I would encounter on this fine Saturday morning.  The hills, the headwinds, the crosswinds, and the fact that I was not at a good racing weight, would all challenge me.  I raced a good portion by myself, which also meant I didn't have to worry about drafting concerns!  No penalty tent for this girl.  Since we weren't allowed to have music, it also meant I had a lot of alone I sang.  And I only know the words to a few songs...mostly rap songs.  And my voice is awful!

While the scenery was beautiful, I remember very little about the course other than it was hot, hilly, humid, but filled with breathtaking views of the ocean...and lots of lava rock.  The turn around was in a neat little town called Hawi (pronounced with a "v" instead of "w") and I was so grateful to be able to say I was over halfway!  About 40 miles into the race, I ran into Greg, who was with the medical team due to leg cramps.  I pulled over to check on him and chatted with the medical team to make sure he was ok.  It was a wicked hot day and it got the best of many athletes.

The final 5-mile stretch was through lava fields and I was stunned over just how how my body would soon feel.  I was rounding the last couple miles and a volunteer told me that it was nearly 12:30pm - the cutoff and I better hurry.  As I entered the chute, I was told I missed the cutoff by 4 minutes.  4 lousy minutes! I racked my bike and paced a bit, considering whether I should just dart off on the run anyway.  The run cutoff allowed athletes in the transition area until 12:45pm to get out on the run course.  I still had 10 minutes and only needed to slide my feet into my running shoes, throw on my hat, and head out.  I wanted to do this so bad because I had the legs to do it.  It's my thing, running.  But I'm only a rule follower and that was that.

So I wandered off to the medical tent to see if Greg had checked in.  Afterwards, we grabbed our t-shirts and a couple beers and watched as the finishers came through the run cute.

Amazing experience.  I conquered the swim.  I handled the bike just fine in all the heat.  And I knew I had the legs left for the run.  This could only mean one thing...I just HAD to sign up for another half ironman to prove that I could do this.  I had to have closure.

But first, I needed a shower.  Boy, did I smell!

Monday, June 16, 2014

First Day and Last Day of First Grade

Time is flying way too fast.  I can't believe I have a soon-to-be second grader and a soon-to-be junior in college.  You can see her face is looking just a little bit older.  Thank goodness she's still a kid so I can keep smothering her!