Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas traditions (old and new)

It's been a fun month and we've been enjoying a few Christmas activities as a family...

~Christmas jammies and then off to check out the neighborhood lights!  And as always, each night in December, Lily and William unwrapped one Christmas book to be read before bed. 

~We spent an evening at our favorite park…McCormick Stillman Train Park.  The railway is completely blinged out in holiday lights, fake snow, huge blow-up characters, and lots of Christmas music.  We arrived an hour early so I could get in line while Ryan and the kids ate dinner, rode the carousel, and scoped out the hot chocolate line.  However, William was so concerned that he would miss his train ride, he wouldn't stay away from me too long.  Luckily the train ride did not disappoint!

~After our ride, Lily sipped a hot chocolate while William played with the Thomas the Train table.  He could have stayed here for hours!  We were then off to walk around and explore Christmas lights up close and personal.  A great 'new' tradition this year…we'll definitely be back!

"waving to Santa" (a helicopter was flying by!)

Lily's class party

The Kindergarten room mom's outdid themselves organizing Lily's class Christmas party.  We made reindeer hats (with Lily's hands as antlers), played marshmallow bingo, decorated mugs, enjoyed a hot chocolate treat, and ate snowman donuts.  It was a special morning for me as I don't get into Lily's classroom very often (something to do with a crazy two year old boy!).  I loved focusing on my favorite gal, seeing her interact with classmates, and spending an hour just being together.  William was in attendance as well, but played quietly with a friend…I barely knew he was there!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A holiday party!

Our family friends, the Johnson's, work for Southwest Airlines (he is a pilot, she is a flight attendant).   They ended up with four extra tickets to the company's holiday party, and we were the lucky recipients.  The event was held in a hanger at the end of Sky Harbor airport, and William's favorite part was watching the planes take off right over his head.  

A few amazing highlights from our fun-filled day:
~A car show with lots of classic cars.  Lily and Emery's favorites were Tow-Mater and Lighting McQueen replicas.  

~A petting zoo with lots and lots of goats.  Also, pony rides, but William was too chicken to try and Lily was too busy riding the tilt-a-whirl with Daddy.  

~Balloon animals.  A princess sword and Olaf, the Snowman.  I stood in line for 30 minutes for these darn things so made them immediately pose for a picture before they popped. 

~Santa rode into the party on this plane for WWII.  We were then able to explore the inside and hear a little bit about the history of the plane.  It flew over 2000 combat hours during the war!

~Lily, William, and Ryan had a blast on this slide.  It reminded me a bit of the creepy slide from 'A Christmas Story' so I stayed on solid ground.

~Free range to sprint down the runway.  Heading toward the SW airplane for a photo inside one engine! 

Emery, Nash, William, Lily

But the highlight of the day…seeing the big guy up close and personal.  Lily asked for a princess and glasses (?) and William, well, he just wants his mommy for Christmas.  Fine with me!

Such a fun filled day with great family friends!  The party was a truly a child's dream and put us all in the holiday spirit.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Turkey Day

This is the third year we've spent Thanksgiving in Arizona, and I believe we've settled into a fun, yet very relaxing, tradition.  A few highlights:
~Mom, Dad, and I shop for our "traditional" non-traditional meal of beef tenderloin and a bit of red wine at Costco.  
~Long walks around the neighborhood/Safeway/AJ's/Starbucks
~Dining out with and without kiddos
~Celebrating Papa Kurt's birthday each year!
~An amazing Thanksgiving meal.  In addition to the tenderloin, we dined on a family favorite, Cowboy Ciao's Stetson salad plus roasted asparagus, mashed potatoes (Ryan's impulse buy while at AJs!), and of course Costco pumpkin pie (ya'll know I do not bake!). I'm still full...
~Nanny and I enjoying a few shopping hours on Black Friday while the boys put up Christmas lights.  We then trade off for nap time while Papa Kurt and Ryan grab a quiet drink at our neighborhood restaurant.  

We have so very much to be thankful for, each and every year!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ragnar Trail AZ

A few months ago, a friend in the neighborhood approached me, asking if I'd consider joining her team for the upcoming Ragnar Trail AZ race.  Little did she know, this type of  race had been in the back of my mind for quite some time, and while I was intimidated by the idea, I felt it would be a 'bucket list' type of event that I could not pass up.  So I quickly agreed and Ragnar Trails AZ was booked on my calendar.

A little background:  Ragnar is a overnight team relay race, historically on the road, but recently being offered in certain locations as a trail run.  Ragnar Trail AZ is set in the McDowell Mountains, which are literally in our backyard.  The race consisted of 8 teammates, three loops of 3, 4 and 8.4 miles respectively, for a total of 15.4 miles individually, and almost 124 miles as a team.  Teams pitch tents, camping near the start/finish of the loops, and enjoying the Ragnar Village while waiting for your next turn to run.

For me, this was an experience of a lifetime and I'm now hooked on overnight trail running (I guarantee Ryan just rolled his eyes and is praying I won't sign up for another one of these soon…though I've already planted the seed that we should do a co-ed team together, ha!).  While I'm no stranger to long distance running, this was completely different from anything I'd done before.  My major concern was running in the dark, on trails normally frequented by huge rocks/rattlesnakes/javelinas/jumping cholla/mountain lions.  Followed by the fact that I don't sleep well in my own bed, with the perfect temperature, a sound machine, and a fan.  And also that I wasn't sure how to re-fuel and hydrate without over(or under!) doing it and still being able to run my next leg 5-6 hours later.    Lots of concerns for this novice relay racer….

However, IT WAS AMAZING and absolutely beyond any expectations I might have had.  Running in the dark with a full moon, just the sound of footsteps and your own breathing, plus the sight of a headlamp or two off in the distance, was out of this world.  It was both calming and almost meditative, while also being a crazy energy boost and motivator to run hard.  Our team had a start time of 1pm and I was the anchor runner…therefore, my first run was 4 miles around 7pm and then 3 miles around 3:30am.  When I first received my leg assignments, I was relieved to not have my longest run in the middle of the night…but after the event, I can honestly say I'm jealous of those gals who did 8.4 miles before sunrise.  In between my first two runs, I laid down from 9pm-1am, and tried to sleep, but to no avail.  However, experiencing my teammates excitement and love for the nighttime trails was energizing, and I was able to stay awake and alert.  I finished up my second run around 4am, changed clothes, snuggled into my sleeping bag and napped for 45 minutes before being up for the day.  I watched an incredible sunrise, cheered on teammates, had two {amazing!} cups of coffee, and truly enjoyed every moment of this crazy experience, while waiting to wrap up our team's last leg.

I took off around 11:30am for my longest run with temperatures unfortunately soaring into the low 90s.  After not sleeping and not fueling properly, it was a loooooooong hard run.   I went out too fast and too confident in my abilities, and let's just say the last three miles were pretty miserable.  I knew I had overdone it, and knew enough to back off and run/walk as needed.  I can only equate it to the first time I ran Chicago in 90 temps and 90% humidity….miserable.  But the moment I saw my teammates at the finish line {we all wanted to cross together} the pain was forgotten and it was absolutely worth it.

It was a weekend to remember with a great group of friends, old and new.  Truly an experience of a lifetime that I'd do again in a heartbeat   {And that post race beer never tasted better!!!}