Category Archives: Family

A Day In Joshua Tree (or The End Of My Trip To Palm Springs)

My trip to Palm Springs was 4 days (although the first day was really just getting there in the evening and having dinner) and for the first 3 days we were pretty much just in Palm Springs. But for the last day, my mom really wanted us to go to Joshua Tree and I’m always happy to follow her plans and was excited to end my trip on a fun adventure.

According to my mom, I was at Joshua Tree when I was 7 and when I was 10 but I really don’t remember those trips (and my mom had limited memories and stories from those trips). So in some way, this felt like the first time that I was there. It was about 45 minutes to drive there and after stopping at the visitor center to get a parking pass we were on our way to our first stop.

We wanted to go to a lookout point to see a nice view of the area. And it happened to rain the night before so it was so clear out!

And it was freezing out! It was about 38 degrees outside and while it felt nice in the sun, whenever the wind kicked up it was pretty cold! But my mom and I still took an opportunity to take a photo together since I realized we didn’t have any photos together yet on the trip.

When we were in the car to drive to our next stop, I realized that the photo of my mom and I reminded me of another photo of us. So I found that photo in the cloud and put them together.

The top photo was from when my mom and I were in Paris in January 2005 to celebrate my college graduation. It’s so crazy to think that the top photo is 13 years older than the bottom photo! And I don’t think that we look 13 years older either.

Our next stop was to do a hike around Skull Rock. The hike was about 2 miles and it started at a campground. We were walking to the hike and we already were seeing amazing views of the Joshua Trees all over.

Once we were off the paved road and onto the sand/dirt trail, I’ll admit the hike got tough for me. There was a lot of going up and down which is tough on my hips. But being on an unstable ground was even worse and I was hurting a lot. I tried to limit how many breaks I took but fortunately my mom and her friend were understanding and they didn’t mind stopping when I needed to. But even when we were stopped, we always had something amazing to look at.

We noticed a rainstorm and some ominous looking clouds while we were hiking, but they never reached us. So having those clouds just made the view look even better!

When we got back to the car, we drove to a picnic area to have a quick snack before heading to our final stop in Joshua Tree. My mom was so excited to see the Cholla Garden and once we were there I was so impressed by it!

It was crazy to see these fuzzy looking cacti all over when we didn’t really see them that many other places. They do look like they are teddy bears and would be soft to touch. I’m guessing a lot of people have tried to touch them because there was a first aid kit in the parking lot of the garden in case someone got stuck. I was just careful since there wasn’t that much separation from the cacti and the path we walked on. And there were little broken off pieces very close to the trail and I don’t think my shoes would have protected me much if I accidentally stepped on one.

After that stop, we got back into the car and did the drive back to Palm Springs to go back to the rental house. We had a little time to rest before we all headed out to downtown Palm Springs for dinner. It was getting colder out, but the place we went to had a heated patio so we were able to eat outside and enjoy the people watching on the main street of the downtown area.

After dinner, I quickly got my stuff packed up so I could head home. Originally I wasn’t going to head back until the next day, but I realized that I could avoid traffic (and not miss another day of work) if I went home that night. I think my mom preferred to know I wasn’t going to deal with traffic, plus she still had her friend with her so I didn’t feel like I was ditching her. I said goodbye and thanks to my mom and headed back to LA.

I’m so glad that my mom invites me to travel with her. I really couldn’t afford it without her right now and she really is one of my best travel buddies. We are already talking about a potential trip for next year (we are thinking maybe a spa vacation) so I’m getting excited to start the planning for that!


A Weekend With My Mom (or An Adventure In Palm Springs)

I don’t get to take vacations that often. And when I do, more often than not they are for me to go somewhere to Thanksgiving or San Diego for my grandma (now I’ll be visiting her in Northern CA when I get a chance). While those are vacations, they don’t necessarily feel like one because they are usually for a family event or to help with family in some way. I also don’t really have the money to go on vacation, so when I get the chance to take one I jump at it!

My dad and brother were going on a ski trip together and my mom asked me if I wanted to go on a trip with her (she invited my sister-in-law but she ended up having to stay home). Of course I said yes! I’m not sure if everyone is the same, but I love traveling with my mom. Part of this is because she pays for the trip (which allows me to go), but she really is a great travel companion. We have similar taste in traveling and she’s great at planning. And for this trip, she wanted us to go to Palm Springs.

I had been to Palm Springs when I was a kid, but I don’t remember that trip. And the last time I was in Palm Springs was when I was a college freshman and we were actually outside of Palm Springs. So I was happy to get to go back since it’s not that far from LA and I haven’t been in forever.

I drove down after work and a workout on Saturday. I didn’t really think about other people going out-of-town in the afternoon, but I dealt with more traffic than expected. And by the time I got to Palm Springs, it was already dark so I couldn’t see too much. My mom had gotten there a few hours earlier and once I arrived we did a quick run to the grocery store for some stuff for the week and we ┬áspent the night relaxing at the house. Even though I didn’t go outside, I was already loving the house and the pool looked amazing in the dark!

The next morning when I woke up, the pool looked just as amazing in the daytime.

But we had no time to be lazy by the pool in the morning because we had plans to go to The Living Desert. The Living Desert is a zoo and garden that is all about the animals and plants of the deserts in North America and Africa. I had never been there before and I love going to zoos so I was excited to check it out. And fortunately, it was colder than normal in Palm Springs so we weren’t too hot while we walked around. And since it wasn’t too hot, the animals were out too. The giraffes were enjoying their breakfast when we got to their area.

And the warthogs were all spooning together in the sun (although one was spooning the wrong way).

And we were able to be at the cheetahs when they were doing their run demonstration and feeding.

We did a lot of walking around and we managed to cover the entire place. It’s a nice sized zoo that has a lot of offer. But it’s not too big that you can’t see everything in a day, especially on a day that isn’t unbearably hot like we had.

After The Living Desert, my mom and I headed back to the vacation house so we could relax by the pool and be lazy. The rental house also had a small putting area and I discovered that I totally suck at that! I haven’t played mini-golf in forever so I guess I couldn’t expect to be good at it.

The next day, my mom and I started the day with a walk around the neighborhood. We were checking out all the mid-century modern houses and how gorgeous the view of the mountains was.

Then my mom and I headed to the airport because one of my mom’s friends was flying in. My mom was going to be in Palm Springs for a week and I wasn’t going to be there for the last half. So my mom invited a friend to join her for the second half of the trip and we had a little bit of an overlay.

After the airport, we headed to the Palm Springs tram. It had been cold near where we were staying, but we knew it was going to be much colder at the top of the tram. So we bundled up and got on the tram headed up the mountain. I had been on the tram when I was little, but since I didn’t remember that I was excited to check this out. And since the last time I was on the tram (or my mom was on the tram), they had changed up the tram cars and now they are round and rotate while you are going up. So you will get to see all around as you are going up and can enjoy all the views.

Because there hasn’t been a lot of rain or snow, there wasn’t much snow on the top of the mountain. But it did smell like snow (or Tahoe) to me and it was freezing cold! While I was in the sun I felt fine, but in the shade or when the wind kicked up I was wishing I had gloves or hand heat warmers with me.

I didn’t end up doing the hike around (it was a very steep incline and my hips were a bit sore), so I just sat in the sun while my mom and her friend went on a mile and a half adventure that they enjoyed. But I was happy sitting in the sun and just looking at the view.

When they returned, we checked out the various movies and displays inside the mountain top building and then took one more look at the view before heading back down.

And we got to enjoy another lazy afternoon/evening at the rental house which was perfectly fine with me. I love going on adventures on vacation but also having time to relax too. And we did just that.

There’s still one more day of my Palm Springs vacation, but since that was a trip outside of Palm Springs that will come later!

One More San Diego Day (or I Don’t Know When I’ll Be Doing This Again)

This past weekend I did a day trip to San Diego for what will possibly be the last time for a while. My grandma is moving from San Diego to up north where she will be close to my aunt, uncle, and my parents. I’m super excited for my grandma because I think this move will be a really great thing for her. But it’s still a weird feeling that I won’t have any more family in San Diego anymore.

My entire life my grandparents lived in San Diego. They bought their house a year or two before I was born. Then a few years ago they moved to their apartment which was only a few freeway exits further from their house. When my grandpa died, my grandma moved to assisted living but it was in the same building as their apartment. So that move didn’t really feel like a big move. But now she’s doing the biggest move in my lifetime.

On my drive down I was trying to not think about how this was probably the last time I’d be doing this drive for a long time. I’ve been going to San Diego my entire life. And once I moved to LA, I started to do the drive on my own for visits with my grandparents and for Thanksgiving. I would guess that I probably did the drive 3 times a year on average for the last 16 1/2 years. So that’s about 50 times that I’ve done that drive. I have so many random landmarks that I look out for on that drive to help pass the time. And I’ve had a lot of random driving adventures on that drive as well.

I probably won’t be driving to where my grandma is moving to (it’s about a 7 hour drive for me) so I’ll be flying to visit her and for Thanksgiving. In some ways it’s nice to know that I won’t be doing that drive again because it is a bit tiring, but it’s sad to know that I can’t do a day trip to see my grandma and that I will have to do more planning when I want to see her.

For this last trip to San Diego, I went down to help with the prep for my grandma to move. 2 of my aunts where there as well as my parents (and the dog). There were so many people in my grandma’s place that it did get a little crazy in there, but I was just trying to help wherever I could. My dad and I put together boxes and got artwork off the wall. I didn’t really do any of the packing, but I also wasn’t going to be the person unpacking so I wanted to let others do that job. They would know what was in each box so I didn’t want to ruin their planning.

And the main job that I knew that I would have that day would be to be a distraction. While I think my grandma is excited to be closer to family, I think this move is a bit scary and overwhelming for her. We are doing everything we can to make it as easy as possible, but it’s still an unknown for her and I think she still sometimes struggles knowing that it’s just her and not her and my grandpa. But I made sure that my grandma was feeling ok throughout the day. And I joked to her how her only job was to sit back and enjoy us doing all the work.

We got a lot of stuff packed up while I was there. I went back home that evening but there were movers to help move all the heavy stuff the next morning (and there will be movers at the new place to help unload all the heavy stuff). Fortunately, my grandma’s new place will be just about the same size as her current one so we didn’t have to worry about downsizing her things. We’ve done that when they moved from their house to their apartment and then again when my grandma moved from the apartment to where she was living. It was stressful trying to do that and I know it made my grandma emotional deciding what to keep. So I’m glad that we didn’t have to do that part again.

On my drive home, I was a bit sad. I’m so happy for my grandma and I am so glad she won’t be as isolated as she has been in San Diego. But this is the end of something that has been a part of my life for my entire life. I am not someone who moves that often (it’s almost been 8 years since I moved into my house) and my parents still have the house that they got before I was born. So maybe I’m just not used to transitions like this. I do still have some friends who live in San Diego (although normally they come to LA to see me) so I know I’ll be back down there eventually. But for now, I’m saying goodbye to San Diego and closing the chapter of my life that has family living there.

Girls Day In San Diego (or It Might Be My Last Time Doing This Drive)

Even though I was just in San Diego for Thanksgiving recently, I was back down there this week. My mom was down with my grandma and I decided to use my day off work to go down to be with them. I don’t usually have time with just my mom and grandma so it was pretty nice to get to do that.

I got down to San Diego just after lunchtime and met my mom at the hotel she was staying at. Right after we got there we headed over to my grandma’s place to spend time with her. She does have some memory issues, but she was having a good day while I was there. We went for a walk to sit outside in the sunshine and when we got back to her place we spent some time looking through photo albums of trips she had done in the past.

My grandma was saying how she didn’t remember going on the trips, but she still enjoyed looking at the photos. And she did remember the people on the trips and some of the specific activities they did.

We spent a few hours with my grandma and then my mom and I had to go back to the hotel. My mom had some business stuff she had to take care of and the person we were working with was meeting us there. But I think my grandma appreciated our visit that day and it helped to break up the routine of her day.

After my mom was done with the business stuff, she and I walked to a restaurant for dinner. It’s not too common for my mom and I to have dinner alone, so that was a nice treat for me. And I thought the sign outside of the restaurant was pretty funny. We went to a brew house for dinner, but neither my mom nor I drink beer. But we technically went to the beer side of the sign.

I thought about spending the night in San Diego because I was originally going to meet a friend of mine who lives down there, but he wasn’t able to meet up with me that evening. So I decided to drive back home. Some people consider it a bit much to do the drive to and from San Diego in a day, but I don’t mind it. Also, I prefer to sleep in my own bed and I knew that I had stuff I needed to do around my house the next day.

The drive to and from San Diego is pretty routine for me. I’ve been doing this since I moved to LA in 2001. My grandparents have lived in San Diego my entire life so I’m just so used to going there to see them. Even when they moved from their house to their new place it was still in San Diego and only a few freeway exits further for me to go. I have the drive down so much that I have landmarks I use to help me figure out how much more I have in my drive. But this might have been the last time I do the drive to see my grandma in San Diego.

Next month, my grandma is moving to be closer to family. Right now, I’m the person geographically closest to her and I’m 2 hours away. I could always go down in an emergency, but I can’t go on a regular basis to visit her. But she is moving somewhere that is minutes from my aunt and uncle and pretty close to my parents too. This way, she can have visits from family more often and we all know that this is going to be the best thing for my grandma.

I’m hoping to be able to go down to San Diego for the day to help pack up my grandma’s stuff when my family is there, but as of right now I’m scheduled to work that day. I’m hoping to get the day off so I can help, but it depends if someone else can cover the time that I’ll be missing. It might be very last-minute that I find out that I can go that day so I’m not really planning on it.

So if I don’t go down to help pack things up, I’ve just had my last day trip to San Diego to see my grandma. It’s so weird to think that could be true since I’ve done it so many times. I do have friends down there so I might still go down from time to time to see them, but it’s different from going there to be with family. I also know that when my grandma isn’t in San Diego I won’t necessarily see my parents as often as I see them whenever they come down to see her.

Those are all very selfish thoughts when I know that my grandma is going to benefit so much from the move. But it is a sad thought to think about something that I have done for so long isn’t really going to be a thing for me anymore. But that just means I’ll have to go up to Northern California to see everyone and I’m ok with that!

Family Thanksgiving (or Relaxing In San Diego)

As I have the past few years, I was down in San Diego for Thanksgiving. My grandma lives there and she cannot travel, so the rest of us come to her to celebrate. And again, my parents rented a house that was big enough for a good chunk of my family to stay in so I didn’t really have to worry too much about planning for the trip.

I ended up going down after I was done with work on Tuesday. I know traffic could be potentially bad so I was prepared to spend a long time in my car. I had to make a quick stop first to pick up some pies I was bringing with me, but it was technically on the way so it wasn’t that much of a detour for my trip. With no traffic, it’s about 2 hours to get to San Diego. But there was one time (not Thanksgiving but another holiday) where it was over 7 hours to get there. But somehow there really wasn’t too much traffic when I was driving and it was under 3 hours to get there. And I arrived just in time to see a gorgeous sunset.

The next day, I started by having to work one of my jobs for a few hours but it was before much was happening at the house. And once I was done working, I grabbed my Kindle and went outside to read. It was pretty hot so I was hanging out in the shade. But I wanted to take advantage of the amazing view that we had from the house.

That evening was my grandma’s birthday party. Even though we had stuff planned every day, the trip was pretty lazy and I didn’t have to do too much at all. It was nice to have time to relax and I definitely took advantage of that.

On Thanksgiving, I had my workout with my family and then I tried to help my mom get everything ready for dinner. We’ve found that it’s actually much easier to make most of the stuff we eat in advance so there wasn’t a ton that had to be cooked. But I did help get the table ready with the plant/place cards I made and decorated with the photos that my mom had printed out.

Everyone loved the plants, especially after we explained the meaning behind them. And it was so fun having family photos on the table because we were all checking them out and remembering when those photos were taken. And while the kid’s table didn’t have photos, they did have their plants and I think they were able to entertain themselves.

It was a bit stressful for my mom to do dinner again, but it turned out amazing! All the food was so good and getting to spend time with almost all of my family is something that I know I am lucky to get to do. It’s nice that we do this every year and that we know this tradition will continue.

After dinner we cleaned up and then things were pretty casual. We were mainly hanging out as a family in the living room and my cousin’s kids were entertaining us. It was the perfect way to spend the evening.

The day after Thanksgiving I had to spend the morning working but for most of the time I was working in the kitchen so I was around everyone. My great-aunt, great-uncle, and second cousin came by later and when they arrived I ended up finishing my work shift in the room I slept in. But I was done about an hour after they arrived so I didn’t miss out on too much family time.

I spent most of that afternoon outside with my grandma. My cousin’s kids were playing in the pool and my grandma and I were watching them. And Tucker seemed to be very focused on them too.

My grandma has some memory issues, but she was having some pretty good days while I was there. So we were talking about the pool that she had at her old house and how all the grandkids loved to play in it. We were always in the pool whenever we were visiting them. And my grandma loved to see kids playing in the pool and having fun. My cousin and her kids aren’t in San Diego that often, so I know my grandma appreciates the time that she does have with them.

And no family gathering would be complete without a game of backgammon. My grandma is amazing at the game and my grandpa used to say that she was a witch because she can always get the roll she needs. She struggled a bit with the game, but she still managed to beat my cousin by getting all the doubles that she needed to come back in the end to win!

As much as I would have liked to have stayed longer, I did have to get back to LA so I could get ready for the next day. I left just before dinnertime and was lucky again that traffic wasn’t that bad. But to get to spend 4 days with my family is something that I know not everyone can do so I’m glad that my schedule and jobs allow me to do that.

The next time we will all be together will be Thanksgiving next year. I’ll see my immediate family before that (and hopefully my grandma too), but to get everyone in the extended family is a once-a-year thing. But that’s ok because we seem to maximize the time we have together.


Thanksgiving Workouts (or Getting My Family Involved)

This past week of workouts were pretty awesome. I only got in 3 workouts (and yes, I’m laughing at the idea that 3 workouts is almost a letdown for me), but it included my Thanksgiving workout with my family! That is something I look forward to each year and I love that we have this tradition.

Monday’s workout ended up being a 2 group workout instead of a 3 group one and it was endurance focuses. As much as I wanted to run, I woke up that morning with a lot of hip pain so it ended up being a walking day. Not only did it have to be a walking day, I was walking slower than I normally go on the treadmill. There were 2 blocks on the treadmill and it focuses on longer push paces with base paces in between. I wasn’t too happy about the work I did on the treadmill, but I figured I’d make it up a bit on the floor.

The floor also had 2 blocks. The first block focused on arms and burpees. And each set had 12 burpees in it which is a lot. The idea was to do 3 rounds of those moves and then get to the rower, but I was just finishing up my 3rd round when the block ended so I never did rowing that time. But in the second block we started with an 800 meter row. I did it in 3:51 which isn’t too bad considering it was a bad hip day. After that we had a set of 5 moves with decreasing numbers of reps. We had 50 running men, 40 squats, 30 low rows on the straps, 20 push ups, and 10 4 point planks. I was just finishing up the moves as time was called so I was glad to get it all in.

My next workout for the week was on Thursday for the family Thanksgiving workout. We’ve had a decent sized group the past 3 years, but this year was our biggest group ever! We had 8 members of the family in class (over half of the family who was at Thanksgiving) and it was amazing! We had the same coach this year as we did last year and he even gave my family a shout out before the workout started. And this workout ended up being a 3 partner workout which was a nice thing for the family as well. We started with a quick tornado style workout where we had 3 minutes on each section of the room (3 minute run, 3 minute row, and burpees and abs on the floor). Then we split into groups.

I ended up being in a group with my dad and my brother and the rest of the class was a workout that we controlled the pace of. The person on the rower rowed while waiting to switch, the person on the treadmill ran while waiting to switch, and the person on the floor controlled the pace of the switching. On the floor, every round had hop overs and then each round had increasing numbers of exercises. Those exercises included tricep extensions, pushups, low rows using weights, lunges, and burpees.

While I trusted my brother and dad to work quickly, I wasn’t sure how long they would take to finish the floor work. So I decided to walk on the treadmill each time. We also were supposed to be on inclines and I don’t really do well running on inclines. But I still got in a great workout between the floor and rowing. It has become one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions and I’m so glad that so many people in my family are joining in for the workout now.

And of course, we had to take a group photo when we were done with the workout.

I don’t know when we will have a group bigger than this, although we did figure out that in a few years my cousin’s oldest son will be old enough to come to a class and we will be able to have a class with 3 generations of my family!

My last workout of the week was on Saturday. I thought about trying to do a Friday workout, but there was no way for me to get back to LA in time and I didn’t have more workout clothes with me to take another class in San Diego. But I was feeling ready for my Saturday workout. It was a 3 group workout and had elements of strength and power in class.

I started on the treadmill and since we were going to be doing hills I walked again. There were 2 blocks on the treadmill and both of them had 3 minute hill climbs in it. I was able to get my inclines a bit higher than I normally have them so I was pretty happy with that.

Next I was on the rower. The first block started with a 500 meter row. Then we had frogger squats and then 100 meter sprints on the rower. We continued with the squats and 100 meter sprints until the block ended. Then in the second block, we started with a 500 meter row and then had wall sits for 30 seconds with 100 meter rows. I really wanted to get a new PR on my 100 meter row, but I just wasn’t able to do it. I was close, but I’m wondering what it will take to get a new PR. And on the floor, we had pull overs, curls, ground to presses, hamstring work, and roll outs. It was a pretty good all over workout on the floor.

The end of the year is coming up and I’m getting close to hitting my goal for workouts this year. Now I’m just trying to do some planning to see how I can go past that goal and do even more. And I’m already starting to plan on what I want to set as goals for 2018. But I know that one workout goal for next year is going to be to have another amazing Thanksgiving workout with my family!

Happy Birthday Grandma! (or Double Birthday Celebrations)

When my family gets together for Thanksgiving, we also celebrate my grandma’s birthday. Her birthday is usually the week of Thanksgiving and the tradition in the past was to go out to celebrate the day after Thanksgiving for a fun celebratory meal. More recently, we changed the tradition to be the day before Thanksgiving so the day after could be leftover day.

This year, my grandma’s birthday was the day before I got to San Diego so I missed the celebration on her actual birthday. But plenty of my family was there and my mom cooked a steak dinner for everyone. My mom is such a good cook and I wish I had been there for dinner (but fortunately my mom saved me some leftovers for when I got there the next day).

I’m sad that I wasn’t able to be there, but it would have been a bit difficult for me to get there a day earlier. And I know that I can’t always be at everything that I want to be at. But I’m glad that my grandma seemed to have a great time and that she was able to celebrate turning 90 with lots of family with her.

But we did have our traditional day before Thanksgiving birthday celebration for my grandma. We went to an Italian restaurant that we’ve gone to a bunch of times in the past for her birthday. It works out well being there because there’s a private room that we can have (we had 14 of us in the group this time) and my cousin’s kids can run around a bit without worrying about other people in the restaurant. And it works out well for us to have our own room since we all move around so much and I’m sure we’d annoy other people in the restaurant.

The room is nice to have but the table always seems too big for the group. There is a lot of wasted space in the middle of the table so it can be tough to talk to everyone there. But since we moved around a lot during dinner everyone was able to talk to each other. And since this was my first chance to see some of my family on this trip, it was nice to get to have time to chat and catch up. And I knew that I would be spending a lot of time with everyone the next day so if I didn’t get to catch up with them as much as I would have liked, I wasn’t too worried about it.

The dinner is always good, but that’s not the highlight of the meal. It’s always seeing everyone having a good time and talking around the table. And while my grandma has difficulty hearing and couldn’t always participate in the conversation, she looked happy seeing everyone together. But we all did take time one at a time to go over to my grandma and talk to her. It’s easier for her to have a conversation with one person and she seemed to like having time with each person who was there.

I’m sure we were a pretty loud and crazy group, but that’s why the private room works out perfectly for us. And then when the waiter brought out a dessert for my grandma with a candle in it, we could sing as loudly as we wanted to!

It was so great to see my grandma so happy and enjoying herself. I know how important any time I get to spend with her is and I try to take advantage of it the best that I can.

Turning 90 is a big accomplishment and I’m glad we were able to celebrate my grandma’s birthday twice. And while I was only able to be there for one of the celebrations, I’m glad that I could be there at all. I know that I’m lucky to be able to travel for this and my work is flexible enough that I don’t have to worry about taking time off.

I’ll do the rest of my Thanksgiving trip recap next week. I hope that you all had a great time doing whatever you decided to do for Thanksgiving and you got to eat some delicious food!

Happy Thanksgiving! (or Just A Quick Post)

I just wanted to have a quick post on here to say Happy Thanksgiving! I am hanging out with my family today (and hopefully kicking some butt in the family workout at Orangetheory) and I hope that you are all spending the day with people who you love and doing something that you love.

I know that not everyone is close to their family that they were born into, but the family that you create with your friends can be just as important. So whether you are with family that is blood to you or family that is like blood to you, hopefully you are surrounded by awesome people today!

Now I’m off to be with my family, get in all the time with my dog that I can, and probably eat more than I should at dinner!

Thanksgiving Prep Day (or How Much Can I Fit Into A Day)

While I didn’t try to procrastinate and do things at the last minute, that’s what seemed to happen this week for getting ready for Thanksgiving. I had every intention of getting stuff done the week before and then doing all the last minute stuff the weekend before. But somehow it all ended up happening the day before I had to leave.

Part of the reason was that I ended up going to the Vulture Festival, but that was an awesome reason to procrastinate. And then with the food I had to make I wanted to do things at the last minute because I knew that doing them too far in advance meant that things could spoil. So somehow pretty much everything ended up happening in one day.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but timing was tough. I had a workout in the morning and then had to take my car to the dealership at some point. I had recently taken my car to the dealer for an oil change (I was told that I might get a free oil change at the dealer which is why I went there) and right before taking it in I noticed one of the bolts holding my floor mats down was gone. So I mentioned that at the dealer and they had to order a new part for me. Fortunately my car has an awesome warranty on it so that new part was free. But I had to go back to get it taken care of.

I probably could have waited until after Thanksgiving, but I wanted to get it done. I also didn’t want to wait too long and have them ship the part back or something. It took about an hour and a half at the dealer since it was so busy, but I managed to get some work done while I was there so it wasn’t completely wasted time.

And for the food I had to make, it wasn’t as difficult as expected either. My main concern was that I only have one bowl for my food processor and I needed to use it for 2 different things. But since I made my banana bread and one of the dips in the food processor first, as soon as things were done I washed everything and by the time the banana bread was out of the oven I had my food processor bowl clean and dry to make the feta dip that I needed to do. I also had a few other things I needed to get to help out, but everything else was store-bought so that was super easy.

Packing was also a last minute thing. I had to pack my work stuff but I worked right up until I left so that couldn’t be done in advance. And while I tried to plan what outfits to bring ahead of time, I was still changing my mind right before I left so that ended up being done quickly too. Besides my workout clothes, I don’t think anything that I originally planned to bring as far as outfits go ended up being what I brought with me.

But not everything was left to the day before. There was one project that I started over a month ago that I’ll be bringing to Thanksgiving. If you are in my family and reading this before Thanksgiving, stop reading now or you will have something spoiled for you!

It’s kind of become a tradition in my family that we try to present something to everyone at Thanksgiving. It started a while ago when my aunt and uncle hosted and they created an awards ceremony for us all. We all got an award (even Dante!) and that kind of created a new thing. We haven’t always done something big but there have been some epic gifts for everyone in the past. A few years ago we gave everyone a cookbook that was a collection of family recipes. I use this cookbook all the time (the banana bread and feta dip are in it) and I think everyone in the family loves it!

And the year my grandpa passed away, I helped to find someone to create memory bears out of his sweaters. I don’t know if we will ever create a better gift for the family because those bears are so special and everyone was so surprised that we did it. Only my parents and I knew about them and it was really awesome to see everyone’s reactions to them.

This year, I volunteered to do the gift for everyone. We wanted to do something special, but we also knew that we didn’t need to go crazy with it. My parents and I were thinking about what we could do and it finally came to me one day. When my grandpa passed away and my grandma moved to a different apartment, all of their outdoor plants were going to be tossed out. My grandma doesn’t have an outdoor space and there was no reason to keep them. When I went to San Diego to pick up some stuff that I was taking home I decided to take some cuttings of the succulents to bring back.

I had planted some of the succulents at my house and gave some to my parents as well. And if you know about succulents you know that they can be cut and replanted a lot. So I decided to get some small jars and put a cutting of one of the plants in each one. I made one for every member of the family and there will be a sticker of someone on each one. So these will be gifts as well as place cards for dinner.

I hope that everyone likes them and that they are able to replant them at their homes. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow when they are on the table!

While Thanksgiving prep was a bit more stressful than I would have liked this year, I’m excited to get to be with my family this week. We are so lucky that 4 generations of us get together each year. Not everyone in the family can make it this year, but it will be almost all of us.

How Is It Almost Thanksgiving?!? (or Working On My Checklist)

I swear this month has flown by way too fast! I was just looking at my calendar and realized how little time I have left before Thanksgiving! And of course, I have a bunch of things that I need to get done before I go down to San Diego to be with my family and most things I haven’t even gotten close to starting.

The biggest thing I needed to work on fortunately was something I am already done with. I am working on something for the family that will be part of our name cards for dinner. I can’t share too much about it since I know my family reads this and I want it to be a surprise, but it’s been a multi-step project. But I have worked on this over the past month and I’m down to the last few steps. And I think most of those steps are going to be things I need to do once I’m in San Diego so that’s taking some of the stress off of me.

And as it has been the past few years, my mom has asked me to help out with some of the food. I’m very happy to do that because I get to make things that I like and I know that everyone else enjoys them too. I’m going to make the same dips that I have made before and those are pretty easy to get together. I only have one bowl for my food processor so that does make it take a bit longer, but it’s easy enough to do in an afternoon. I’ll also probably make banana bread again too since everyone likes having that as a breakfast or snack option.

My mom also asked me to help out with getting some of the pies for Thanksgiving dinner, but she asked me to order some instead of having to make some. So I placed an order online with The Pie Hole for some Thanksgiving pies and will be picking those up on my way down to San Diego! We always have amazing desserts but I think these will be extra amazing! And since I’m ordering these it’s a pretty simple thing I can do to help out.

Most of the other stuff I need to do to get ready for Thanksgiving are things that can’t be done until right before I go. I’ve already double checked what my work schedule will be during that week (I’ll be working from San Diego) and I know what work stuff I need to pack with me. I’ll eventually figure out what clothes I want to bring, but I know for sure it will include my workout gear since I’ll be doing a family workout on Thanksgiving morning! But the rest of my wardrobe will be figured out the weekend before I leave since I will have to do laundry and that type of stuff before figuring out what I want to have with me.

There isn’t that much time left between now and Thanksgiving especially since I have been adding things to my calendar without thinking about how soon I will be going to San Diego. But I’m working on blocking out time to do all the things I need to take care of so the weekend before I go isn’t going to be too crazy or stressful. At least this time I don’t have to do an MRI the day before I leave! That was just added stress on top of planning stress last year!

But this time, I get to just have fun while stressing out a bit for the next week and a half before I go and when I get down to San Diego I won’t have to worry about much at all. I can focus on having a nice time with my family and enjoying the craziness that having 4 generations of a family together brings. And knowing my family, there will be at least a little bit of craziness happening. But that’s what makes getting together once a year for Thanksgiving so awesome!

And before I know it, I’m sure I’ll be posting on here how I can’t believe that it’s almost 2018, or the 4th of July, or my birthday, or something. Time really does fly by faster as you get older and it always takes me by surprise.