Monday, February 28, 2011

We interrupt this 30 day blog challenge for... PHOENIX!

I've had BLOG on the top of my "to do" list for the past week, however, I have had a workshop in Phoenix.  Throw in 7 hours of meetings with no internet in room, and it leads to NO blog posts while I was away.

But... I AM BACK!!!

So... back on track for tomorrow, but today I'll show you what I have been up to this past week.
I fell in love with Phoenix on this trip.  Perhaps because of the amazing hotel we stayed in (Sheraton downtown), or because of the great food (thanks to my YELP app on my phone/ipad), or because of the warm weather I was able to run in the second morning we were there (50 degrees :)  The Phoenix Suns arena and Chase Field (AZ Diamondbacks) were both within blocks of our hotel... it would be fun to go back and catch a game at both places sometime.
 My events/dining/etc for the 3 days:

Cibo (dinner).  5 stars!
Sheraton check in.

3.5 mile run (treadmill)
PLC conference (great keynote speakers)
My Big Fat Greek Restaurant (lunch).  Horrible wait, average food.
More conference.
Drive to Scottsdale.
Cantina Laredo (dinner) A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.! 5 stars!
My H & M shopping fix (had to replace Aspen's shoes we lost on the ship)

3.4 mile run in downtown Phoenix.  Picked up a couple extra runners in the lobby.
More conference.
Thai Elephant (lunch).  4 stars.
More conference.
Hike up Camelback Mountain (this deserves a write up of it's own at the bottom)
Maggiano's (dinner) in Scottsdale.  4 stars.  Bread at Maggiano's... 5 stars.

More conference.
Alice Cooper's-town (lunch). 5 stars!  Great fries, chili, and mashed potatoes.
Airport & home.
1.2 miles up the side of a mountain with boulders and terrain that required hand holds, and an incline of 1300 feet.  One teacher ended up stopping when we had to start climbing using the poles, and another kept trying to stop, but I kept persisting.  We made it to the top just before sunset.  What an amazing view.  The hike was not a trail hike, per say, but a climb over large boulders.  Even in broad daylight we got lost a few times because it is hard to tell where the trail even is.

SO... as we watched the sun set, I realized we were standing on top of a mountain with an "older" hiker to get down the trail... over boulders... without getting lost... IN THE DARK!!!
That was an interesting hike.  Fun day!
hiking up the "trail"
Downtown Phoenix in the distance

At the top: me, Jared, Michael & Audrey

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day 5: A favorite Quote

One of my favorite quotes comes from John Greenleaf Whittier.
For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: "It might have been"

I watched a video many years ago of my wedding reception.  People came through my line, and I hugged and loved on many friends and family.  My grandpa came through, and unbeknown to me at the time, I shook his hand and turned away from him looking for the next person in line. 
I cried watching this clip.
My Grandpa was not a hugely affectionate person. He had a stern personality, but I never wanted to lose him without his not knowing how much I truly loved him. 
I made it up to him before died.
I visited more often.
I hugged and kissed him each time I saw him after that. 
But what if I hadn't seen that video?

At one point in my life I had 3 young children, ages 6, 3 and a newborn.  Life had boiled down to a series of tasks.  Laundry, dishes (with no dishwasher), vacuum, baths, diapers, mow, dishes (again), garden, dinner, etc.  
I just wanted an hour to myself to sew or whatever. 
I wished they would be old enough to entertain themselves for an hour.
Well... I wished, and my wish came true.
They were toddlers no more.
Fast forward 14 years.
I have a 3 year old, and I see remnants of the toddlers that I once took for granted. 
Every day that passes I breathe her in.  
I smell her hair. 
We cuddle.
I tickle her face.
We read books. 
I hold her in the shower.
We sit on the heater and watch movies.
Sometimes my laundry gets to wait while I love on her.
Dinner sometimes gets to be made from a box so we can play blocks.

I do my best to make up those moments with my kids... but its a bit more difficult with a bunch of teenage boys. But we cook, play games, and spend time together that would have gone unnoticed had I not had a 3 year old to remind me what I took for granted.

I mourn the days that I lost with my little ones because I was too caught up in "being productive".
I won't let "what might have been" haunt me.
I've been trying to intervene.  
To find things that I might regret someday and make a difference now.
I'm sure there are things I'm not aware of... I'll tackle those as they come.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 4: Favorite Book

Yeah... I was prepared to be consistent with my 30 day blog posts, but the power went out last night.
So today... Day 4 and Day 5.

Favorite Book:
To be honest... I don't have tons of time to just sit and veg with a book.  I'm lucky if I get in this months Runner's World before the next one arrives at my house.  I still love books, I just, well... cheat a little.
My cheating = BOOKS ON CD!
It's amazing how much I get done (or how many miles you cover) when listening to something as captivating as a good book.
So... that being said...

Picking out a favorite book is like picking out a favorite actor, or a favorite candy.
Is that really POSSIBLE??
I have books that stand out.
I have authors that I love.
But a favorite??

My first author I fell in love with: Victoria Holt.
My mom got me started on her books, and I have been a fan ever since.
I've read pretty much anything she has written (under her pen-name of Victoria Holt, anyway)
Favorite V.H. book:
On the night of the seventh moon.

Other stand out books/authors:
Kite Runner
1,000 Splendid Suns

Anything Dean Koontz (with the exception of a few strange ones).
J.A. Jance.
and my most recent read? (which I loved, by the way)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 3: Favorite TV show

Favorite TV show
How do I pick just one? 
The past 2 years, Hayden and I have never missed an episode of FRINGE
Great actors... well, amazing actors. 
Not sure how to describe this show:
A mix of science fiction, parallel universes, and mystery and suspense.  Definitely a show I would recommend.

Others I also love:
I've watched all the seasons of Grey's Anatomy, and love them.
Law & Order (any/all).  Been an avid watcher for almost a decade.  Never gets old.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 2: Favorite Movie

Day 2: favorite movie

This is a close one for me... Between Princess Bride and Man From Snowy River.
Princess Bride is a fun movie that I can quote almost word for word.
Fun actors.
Great story.

Man From Snowy River, however, is a movie that is just ME.
It has :
Interesting family dynamics.
An underdog hero.
Music I can play on the piano.
A bit of attitude, with a great ending line.
"He's not a lad, brother.  He's a man.  Man from Snowy River"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

if you get bored...

ipod with video + 17 year old kid (bored)= quality entertainment.

p.s. I had to send his ipod in for repairs, so I stole this video before it shipped. Thus, this "copy" is an "unauthorized by Brenden" video :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

30 days of Blogging Love (day 1: favorite song)

Inspired by some of my fellow bloggers... I've taken up the challenge to blog 30 things in 30 days (now that my vacation blogging is caught up).

Today is day 1:
Favorite Song

"Time to Say Goodbye" by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli.
I have gotten chills listening to this song from the first day I heard it...
I was at the Bellagio in Vegas and saw the water show to this song.

My favorite songs of the moment come and go, but this one I think has been around long enough to qualify as my favorite.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tell me what you REALLY think...

Me (to Hayden): HEY... how do you like my hair today?
H: It's nice.


H: To be honest, you could do whatever with your hair, and wear no makeup.  It wouldn't matter.  It won't take the focus away from your jacket.

Yeah... he isn't a fan.
p.s.  I love this coat.  The tag said $145 but I got it for $6, and it's a Juicy Couture jacket.  It's SO me!  Even if my student's ask me why I'm wearing a garbage bag :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Doors of Old San Juan

What a beautiful place to spend a day.
What an amazing place to take a whole bunch of pictures.

Puerto Rico, part 2

 We LOVE LOVE Puerto Rico.  Our hotel was amazing, with the ocean out our door, basically.  Hammocks, swimming pools, and a beach, and some pretty retro decorating.  Our ship got into San Juan early in the morning, so we had time to drop our bags off at the hotel, and explore.  Aspen and I wandered around the hotel, and relaxed by the ocean and went swimming while Hayden took a nap. 
At the top of the waterslide @ the hotel
 The ONE thing I really wanted to do while we had time was to go into Old San Juan.  We took the city bus for 75¢ and it dropped us off right on the corner of our destination.  What an amazing place.  I probably walked around with my jaw on the ground for the first 15 minutes.  It felt like we were walking on a movie set.  Everything seemed too beautiful, too unique to be part of an actual city.  The colors of buildings were amazing, the doors of the buildings were amazing, the cobblestone streets were cool, and the shops were very unique. 
Waiting for the bus
Aspen and her "glass slipper" chair
 We walked around a bit, in awe, then hunger got the best of us.  We found a nice little place and had some great food.  Aspen loved sitting on her "glass slipper" chair.  There is so much cool stuff to say about this town, I don't even know how to say it all.  The fort walls were huge and amazing.  The old cemetery was picturesque (if that is possible for a cemetery).  The weather was perfect.  The people were fun to watch and very friendly.  There was an amazing hotel that used to be an old convent for nuns.  Cats roamed the street all over town, and it appeared that people would just leave food around and collectively feed them all.  On Sunday's (the day we happened to be there) there is a whole section of town down by the water that has merchants out selling their goods... from food to jewelry to treats.  We had a frozen coconut ice freeze (like ice cream).  Delicious. 
 At the fountain in Old San Juan, people would feed the birds, and this was HEAVEN for Aspen.  She feels lucky when she has one or two birds to chase... but 50???  And... 50 birds that kept coming back after she ran after them.  When it was time to move on she said "Mom, just 4 more minutes".  Yeah... we stayed.  I'm a sucker for a little girl having fun.
 The church was closed on the day we were there, but I managed (in my very bad broken Spanish) to tell the guy we were leaving the next day and wouldn't be able to come back, so he let us in for a peak. 
 One of the highlights of the day was coming up over the ridge to see the fort and noticing something dotting the sky.  As we came over the top of the hill, there were people EVERYWHERE flying kites, having lunch, playing soccer and such with their families and friends.  It was like a scene from the movie Kite Runner.  What a perfect backdrop for it too.

We would love love to come back this island.  We missed going to the rain forest and Phosphorescent Bay.  We would love to make it to some other beaches.  I would love to make it back to Old San Juan.  What a perfect ending to a great trip!
Cemetery @ the old fort
Aspen looking into one of the old holding cells

Sunday, February 6, 2011

St Martin/St Maarten

 St. Martin if you are on the French side... St. Maarten if you are on the Dutch side of the island.  Looking for a little flair and culture in our day, we opted to taxi to the French side.
Very French.
Funny sounding ambulances (like in the movies).
Slow relaxed pace... 2 hours to finish lunch.
Lots of French speaking people.
Very delicious pastries. YUMMY!

We have already looked into coming back to this island.
We didn't hit a beach this day until we were on our way back to the ship, in order to grab my shells and sand.

Feeding and chasing birds

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