Holiday Traditions…

Let’s talk holiday traditions here.  I love hearing about the things people did growing up and what they are now doing with their families.  Here are the traditions we do every year:

  • Photo Christmas card – Each year we get professional pictures taken and have Christmas cards made with our family photo on them.  I always save one of the cards and with my kids, we make a scrapbook page out of it.  I let them decorate it however they want (and yes, even if it means putting a sticker over one of our faces).  I love pulling out that scrapbook every year and can’t wait to see how their art skills progress over the years. Christmas Card 2013
  • New pajamas on Christmas Eve – My mother did this with us, so I am also doing it with my kids.  Each year I get them new pajamas and wrap them up.  They get to open them on Christmas Eve and wear them that night.  This year, my 4 year old wanted to make her pajamas, so we are in the middle of doing that.  Stay tuned! IMG_5295  IMG_5223
  • Snowbabies collection – When I had my first baby, I wanted to start a collection of something for her that I could add to each year.  I looked around a bit and really fell in love with the Department 56 Snowbabies.  There are so many different figurines to choose from and each year I get each of my girls a new figurine that depicts something either in their personality or something that interests them.  Last year, I got Annalie this superhero figurine snowbabies and I got Stella this Mickey figurine. snowbabies2 This year, Annalie is getting this t-ball figurine (since she just wrapped up her first season in t-ball) snowbabies3and Stella is getting this cute little monkey figurine because this is about how the three of us look most of the time since she always wants to be picked up. snowbabies4
  • Baking cookies – When I was growing up, we made a massive amount of goodie plates every year for our friends and neighbors.  My mom has the absolute best recipes for holiday goodies.  My sister and I have attempted to recreate it several times and I tell you, it is a ton of work.  But, each year, even if I don’t have time to make everything that we did with my mom growing up, I try to have my kids help make at least a couple of things to give out to coworkers and neighbors.  When they get older, we’ll go for the huge variety. 392576_10150435443457509_1854831664_n
  • A real Christmas tree – I have never and will never, ever, ever get an artificial tree.  We never had one growing up and still to this day, we always get a fresh tree.  Unfortunately there are no Christmas tree farms in Las Vegas, but each year Costco gets one truck full of the most amazing Christmas trees (and you really have to be on it to get one before they quickly sell out), so we get one and take it home and decorate it each year.  Nothing beats the smell of a fresh Christmas tree and when the holidays are over, we take the tree to a recycling center where it will be turned into mulch. IMG_5269
  • Ethel M Chocolate Factory – This is a great little place that we visit every year.  They have a cactus garden that they decorate with millions of lights each year and you can walk around sipping hot cocoa, listening to holiday music and even get a picture with Santa if you feel so inclined.  You can also walk through the factory and see all the workers making yummy chocolates and sample some inside.  It’s really close to our house and it’s free!  Definitely a must do if you are in Vegas. IMG_5294
  • Love Actually – Hands down my favorite holiday movie.  I mean there really are some other great classics (Elf, A Christmas Story, The Holiday, etc.), but this one tops my list. untitled

 

What are some of your holiday traditions?

It’s in! Our official 2014 Halloween Photo!

Ever since we had our first daughter Annalie, we’ve been taking an annual Halloween photo of her in her costume each year.  When Stella was born, we added her into the mix.  Each year, we pick out a cute Halloween picture frame and put the official Halloween photo in it and put it up on our mantle.  I love getting out these photos each year and looking at the progression.  This is the first year they each picked out their own costume (Annalie picked hers our last year, but not Stella).

So, in honor of today being Halloween, I’d like to share with you our official 2014 Halloween photo!

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Happy Halloween!

It’s a Sad Day When You Don’t Feel Safe Running Outdoors

Saturday morning I had the most terrifying experience on a run that I have ever encountered.

I like to get my long run out of the way early and not take too much time away from my kids, so I headed out the door at 6:30am all set to run 10 miles.  Typically, on my shorter runs, I will stay within the confines of my immediate community.  I live in a gated community because while we certainly don’t live in the worst part of town, there are some sketchy areas in the vicinity of our community, so I do feel safer that every person entering our community has to pass through a guard first.  But, on my longer runs, unless I want to run multiple loops around my community, I need to venture outside the gates.  I’ve been doing this for over a year now with no issues at all.  In fact, most of the people I encounter on my runs are very friendly.  Usually I will see other runners, walkers, bicyclists, dog walkers, etc.  But on Saturday, I had quite a scare.

I was on mile 7, and having a really great run.  I was listening to my favorite Howard Stern and just in the zone, enjoying the crisp fall morning.  The sky was so beautiful.

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I was running down a street that borders my community, almost to my gates.  To the left of the sidewalk is some landscaping with large bushes, apparently large enough for people to hide in because all of a sudden I was being verbally assaulted by someone next to me hiding in the bushes.  This person started screaming gibberish laden with expletives at me at the top of their lungs as I ran by.  I’m not going to lie, it scared the living shit out of me.  Because the bushes are so large, I couldn’t see this person, I could only hear them.  I had no idea if they were going to come out and attack me, if they had any weapons, or if there were more than one of them.  My heart practically jumped out of my chest and I immediately ran as fast as I could across the street and into an apartment complex.  From there, I could still hear the person screaming at me from their hiding place inside of the bushes.  I called 911 and reported them, shaking like a leaf, and then called my husband to come pick me up.

When my husband arrived (armed with a baseball no less, haha) we drove past the area where the person or persons were hiding, but couldn’t see them, so we parked down the street and waited for the police to arrive.  While waiting, we could hear voices from inside the bushes.  About fifteen minutes later two Metro police cars showed up and we told them what happened and pointed them in the right direction of the perpetrator(s).  We sat in the car and watched them pull out a lady, much to our surprise because either there was a man also hiding in there or this woman had a very, very deep voice and had been talking to herself.  In any case, after that we went back home.

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My husband thinks it would be best if I kept my running to the confines of our community from now on.  Being somewhat shaken up, I have to agree, but with marathon training coming up soon, the thought of running 20 miles in loops around my neighborhood is enough to make me want to shoot myself.  So, I will have to figure this all out.

This morning on my run, I was still a bit shaken up.  When I first headed out at 5:30am, it was still completely dark outside and my usual neighbors that I see out there were not out yet, so I was running solo in the dark.  And even though I stayed within my community, my eyes kept playing tricks on me.  I kept thinking I was seeing the form of a person hiding in the trees up ahead.  I actually turned around once and ran the other way because I could swear I saw someone up ahead just standing there.  Needless to say, it was not an enjoyable run.

So, for now, I’m going to buy some runner’s mace, stick to running inside my community, and hope that this was an isolated incident.

 

Have you ever felt unsafe on a run?

The Dreaded Family Photos…

Is there anything more stressful than family photos?  I don’t think so.  First you have to book a session with a photographer (thankfully we have an amazing photographer that has been doing our photos since before our kids were born).  Then you have to choose outfits that match just enough to look good, but not too much because you don’t want to look cheesy.  Then come photo day, you’ve got to get yourself ready, and all the kids (which means I actually have to do their hair for once and not just put it in a ponytail).  Then you have to head over to the photo location and hope that in that 20 minutes your kids don’t spill anything on their clothes, fall and dirty up their outfits, pull out their hair, etc.  Then once you get there, you have to bribe them with little bags of candy in between each pose in hopes that you might just maybe get one picture where they are both looking, and bonus points if they are actually smiling!  Not to mention trying to keep them from getting dirty in between takes.  It is enough to drive a parent to drink.  A LOT.

But, in the end it is all worth it because we will be able to look back at these beautiful photos and remember when our lives were full of blissful chaos.

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Do you think family photos are stressful?

Grapes and Hops Festival

On Saturday evening, my husband and I attended the Grapes and Hops Festival at the Springs Preserve.  We love wine and beer tasting events, and had been wanting to go to this one for a couple of years now, but always had some prior engagement.  We were really excited to be free to attend this year as we had heard such good things about it and always love events at the Springs Preserve.  Well, we were not disappointed at all.  This was hands down, in my opinion, the best wine, beer and food tasting Las Vegas has to offer.

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First of all, the venue couldn’t have been any better.  It was all outdoors, and anyone who knows anything about Las Vegas weather knows that October is the best time of year here.  The weather is just perfect right now, sunny and warm during the day and cooler, but not cold, at night.  Top that off with the beautiful surroundings of the Springs Preserve and you’ve got yourself the perfect spot for a social event.  My favorite part of the Springs Preserve is the gardens.  Lots of walking paths surrounded by greenery.  Little seating areas everywhere, fountains, art work, etc.  It is so peaceful and beautiful.  I just love walking around there.

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And because the Springs Preserve spans such a huge area, even though the event was sold out, it didn’t seem crowded at all.  Some wine tasting events we’ve gone to, you end up spending half your time in line waiting to get a sample.  But not at this one.  There were more than enough sampling stations set up that we practically walked up to each one without waiting.

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And speaking of samples…the wine and beer was top notch.  Great wines, even some reserves and a really good selection of beers and hard ciders.  Not only that, but the people pouring the samples were all really knowledgeable about what they were serving.  When I go to these types of events, I like to learn a little about what I’m trying and nothing is more disappointing than asking some questions about the wine or beer and having the person tell you that they were just hired for the night and they don’t really know anything.  Just about everyone we talked to at this event knew about the history of the beverage they were pouring, extensive background on it, where to buy it, what food it goes well with, etc.  I really enjoyed talking to each person and finding the story behind the drink.

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And then there was the food.  Oh my, oh my!  When I saw there was going to be food samples, I pictures little bites of this and that, not really a full meal, but enough to get us by for the evening.  Wow was I wrong.  They had food stations set up for at least 5 restaurants (Stripburger, El Segundo Sol, Mon Ami Gabi, M Street Kitchen and Stella Barra Pizza) and were serving full on meals.  Like you walked up and they gave you an actual dinner sized plate full of food!  They were cooking it all right there so it was fresh and hot and you could go through the line as many times as you wanted.

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Not only that but the desserts too.  One station they had set up was baking chocolate chip cookies the size of my head and serving them right out of the oven still warm.  Another station had all these amazing Halloween goodies to sample.  Let’s just say it was a good thing I ran 11 miles that morning because I definitely indulged!

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Top this all off with a really great live band that was piped throughout the entire event, pretty lights strung everywhere and some great company and it was just the perfect night.  Oh and did I mention that it only cost us $33 each for the tickets?  I’ve been to wine tastings that were triple the price and not half as great.  This one is definitely on our must do event list every year.

 

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A Wedding That Should be Anything But Bittersweet

Last weekend two of our wonderful friends, Rocco and Marek, got married.  We are so incredibly happy for them and wish them all the best in their marriage.  Unfortunately we were not able to attend their wedding because Rocco and Marek are a gay couple and gay marriage is not yet legal in Nevada, so they had to travel to another state for the wedding.  I say “yet” because coincidentally Marek’s law firm, where he is a partner, is currently fighting the constitutional ban on gay marriage in Nevada.  I have very high hopes that the courts will make the right decision and overturn the ban.

I remember the very first time in my late teens that I heard of couple being denied marriage because they were a same sex couple, and without even reading into it further, the first thought that immediately came to my mind was, “How is that legal?”  How could a person or persons be denied something in the United States of America because of their sexual preference?  This goes against everything that our country was founded upon.  Our country, which should be on the forefront of freedom is lagging behind on this issue and it appears to me that the biggest protestors are the religious organizations.

The three biggest arguments I’ve seen in opposition to gay marriage are 1.  It’s a sin.  2.  It’s a slippery slope.  3.  The children will be adversely affected.

So, I’d like to take a minute to go through these three arguments.  Number 1.  Gay marriage is a sin.  Okay, so some religions believe that gay marriage is a sin and therefore it should be illegal.  Well, what about the other things that are considered a sin that are legal?  Devout Catholics believe birth control is a sin.  Should we make birth control illegal?  Muslims believe eating pork is a sin.  Should we outlaw bacon?  Mormons believe that premarital sex is a sin.  Should we throw all those couples in jail that have intercourse outside of the bounds of marriage?  I’m all for religious freedom, and all of these religions have existed very comfortably being protected by laws in the United States for a very long time, yet when a religion actively opposes gay marriage based on their beliefs, they are practicing such an appalling form of hypocrisy.  They are imposing their religious beliefs on an entire population that may not hold those same beliefs.  It is wrong and unconstitutional.

Number 2.  It’s a slippery slope.  How many times have you heard this:  “If we let gay people get married, then pretty soon people will be marrying their dogs.”  Really?  No, really?  Comparing the marriage of two loving people to such an atrocious act as bestiality is not only incredibly insulting, but completely absurd.  Gay marriage is marriage between two PEOPLE.  How would this ever become a slippery slope to allowing humans to marry animals of a different species?

Number 3.  The children will be adversely affected.  Do you know what adversely affects children?  Broken homes.  Do you know what kind of homes children thrive in?  Homes with loving parents.  Regardless of the gender of the parents.  With a 50% divorce rate in the United States, we really should be celebrating the fact that two loving people are willing to take children in and raise them as their own, since often times gay couples turn to adoption when choosing how to have children.  Do you really think a child would be better off in an orphanage or in the foster system than adopted out to a loving gay couple?  Absolutely not.

The most baffling thing about opposition to gay marriage to me is that people are opposing love.  LOVE!  There are so many horrible things in this world we live in and people are against love?!?  I just don’t get it.  So, I will continue my support for gay marriage and will celebrate the day when people in my home state can get married and have their marriage recognized right here in Nevada.  I am very optimistic that gay marriage will be legal in each and every state in my lifetime.

Congratulations Rocco and Marek!

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Midnight Cowboy Run Recap (and Lavilin winners!)

Well, I’m pretty certain that my 5k days are over.  My body just does not like running 5ks.  Here’s why.

A while back, Jus Run, a local race company was offering a deal on their races for one day, so my husband and I decided to sign up for their Midnight Cowboy Run.  Vince opted for the 10k, while I wanted to try to PR a 5k since I hadn’t done one in a while.

I am in the middle of training for my next half marathon, and didn’t want to get behind on my long runs, so I met up with my run club Saturday morning and did a 7 mile run.  I took it nice and easy so I wouldn’t tire myself out for the race that night.

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This was another midnight race and once again I was questioning what in the world I was thinking signing up for a midnight race.  I was pretty tired Saturday night, so after we dropped the kids off at Nana’s, I took about an hour nap before it was time to head over to the race venue.

It had been raining on and off all evening and there was a ton of lightening and thunder all over the valley.  We were actually wondering if the race would be cancelled, but once we got there the rain had mostly subsided.  We picked up our packets and got our bibs and timing chips on.  Then it started raining again, so we went back to our car and waited it out.  We had about 10 minutes until the start time and the rain was starting to subside so we got out and headed over to the start area.  Before the race started, we all sang the national anthem and right in the middle of it, we got a complete downpour.  Everyone headed for cover hoping it would subside as quickly as it came on, but we were not that lucky.  We had about two minutes until go time and it was just a torrential downpour.  We all reluctantly headed over to the start line and everyone was just completely soaked from our head to our toes.  My shoes and my socks were drenched.  Ugh.  Finally it was go time and we were off.  It was still pouring rain, but thankfully after about five minutes into the race it stopped.

I could tell almost immediately that I wasn’t going to PR this race.  My legs were tired from my morning run and combined with having soaked shoes and socks, I just knew it wasn’t going to happen.  But, I gave it my all as best as I could.

The course was on a trail that parallels our beltway freeway here, so nothing really scenic.  Just an out and back which was mostly flat except for one area where there was a ramp going up to a bridge that crosses over the freeway.  There were two girls ahead of me that I was trying to catch, but at the turn around, one of them kept going, so I knew she must have been doing to 10k, which meant I was in 2nd place for the females.  After I turned around, I saw Vince and he yelled at me to “Go!” which was just the push I needed to wrap this thing up.  I was running neck and neck with a guy on the last mile.  I think we were really pushing each other, which was pretty cool.  The finish line was finally in sight and I pulled ahead of him and ran as fast as I could towards it.  And then….disaster!  I started dry heaving.  I kept running but it wouldn’t stop.  And then, literally about 5 feet from the finish line, I started throwing up.  Horrible.  I stumbled across the finish line, threw up some more (I can’t wait to see my finish line photos ::insert sarcasm:) and sheepishly apologized to the photographer and the people handing out the medals.  I was so embarrassed.  I grabbed some water and headed over to the computers to see my time.  I still ended up getting 2nd place overall for the females, with a time of 22:55, but it wasn’t a PR.

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Oh well, I can’t complain.  I did the best I could given the circumstances.  Oh and I got this pretty award!

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After I got settled, I waited at the finish line for Vince.  When I saw him coming, I could see he was almost neck and neck with another runner.  They were hauling towards the finish line, and the other guy just barely got there before him.  They shook hands and congratulated each other.  Vince did such an amazing job.  The guy he was so close with was in his age group, and ended up with 2nd place, which put Vince in 3rd place in his age group!  His official time was 53:55.  Awesome job my love!

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The race was put on very well, as usual and Jus Run always gives out great awards.  All the finishers got this cool bottle opener medal and a nice tech shirt.

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So while everything ended up okay, I don’t know if I want to do any more 5ks.  The last 5k I did, the exact same thing happened, except earlier in the race, so I actually had to stop twice to throw up.  My body wants to run faster, and is fully capable, but my stomach just won’t allow it.  When this happened before, I thought maybe it had been something I ate, but I think this is just my body’s reaction to really pushing myself.  Sometimes I feel this coming on when I do speed work, but doing the recovery laps in between sets makes it subside.  If anyone body has any suggestions, I’d love to hear it.

And, now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for!  Our Lavilin winners!

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Congratulations Billie and Robin!  I’ll be in touch to arrange your prizes!