Tag Archives: birthday

Another Disney Birthday (or Eating All The Foods Again)

I love getting to celebrate my friend’s birthdays at Disneyland. I don’t really get to do it since my birthday is during the summer blackout for my annual pass. But celebrating someone else’s birthday at Disneyland makes me as happy as if it were my birthday. And this week, I was at Disneyland to celebrate my friend Dani’s birthday!

And not only was it an adventure to celebrate Dani’s birthday, we also wanted to go and try more of the foods at the Festival of Holidays at California Adventure. I had gotten to try several things the last time I was there, but there was so much that I wanted to try. And I still had a lot of tickets left of my Sip and Savor pass and this was possibly the last chance I would have to use it.

When we got to the parks, we immediately headed to the annual pass area for the Festival of Holidays so Dani could get her Sip and Savor pass. We all knew we’d be trying a bunch of food, and the pass really was the best option for us.

Over the time that we were in the parks, we all got to try a lot of food. I personally got the brisket, a eggnog macron, crab salad on polenta, a pretzel, and chocolate pot de creme. It was all delicious and the serving sizes were pretty good. I ate a bit too much, but I couldn’t help myself!

And between the eating, we did get some rides in. We let Dani pick the rides since it was her birthday. She wanted to check out California Screamin’ before it goes down for refurbishment.

And we went on Guardians of the Galaxy where we finally had a new song on the ride! I have now heard 4 of the 6 songs so I’ll hopefully complete that list soon.

And we went on Dani’s favorite ride, Toy Story Mania. It took 2 tries to get on that ride because it broke down right before we rode it, but we returned later that night and we were able to get on before we left.

We usually have a plan when we go to Disneyland, but this time we didn’t. So we ended up doing a lot of walking and going back and forth a lot. It was great because we all got a ton of steps in (we figured we walked about 7 miles that day), but I was feeling some pain.

But when we went over to the Disneyland side, I had a chance to rest. My friend Christopher was at Disneyland with his wife and kids. They were hanging out on a bench waiting to watch the castle light up at night. So we decided to join them and check out the castle. It was a very windy day so we knew the fireworks would be canceled, so this was our only chance for nighttime entertainment while we were there. It was awesome getting to catch up with a friend and we all loved seeing the castle change to the winter look. And while the castle was undergoing its transformation, fake snow was falling which just seemed magical!

The last ride that we went on at Disneyland was Small World Holiday. It’s always so pretty to see all the lights on the facade of the ride.

And the ride is fun during the holidays too. It’s different from the version during the rest of the year and I’m always happy to ride it. I don’t mind the regular version, but the holiday one is much better in my opinion. Maybe it’s all the extra lights that they add inside the ride!

After our ride, we decided to get a nice photo in front of the castle. Michelle’s annual pass includes Photopass photos now, so it’s nice to be able to take advantage of the photographers that Disneyland has. There was a line for the photos, but it went pretty quickly so we were able to get our nice group photo without too much of a wait.

By that point, we had walked back and forth quite a bit between the parks and it was starting to get cold. The temperature wasn’t too bad, but the wind made it feel much worse. We all decided that even though we would have loved to have gone on a few more rides that night, we were ready to head back (and to get into a nice warm car!).

My pass is good for part of next week and then I’m blacked out until the new year. I don’t think I’ll be making it next week but I know I’ll be back in January when my pass is good again. It’s almost time to renew my Disneyland pass and there is no question that I’ll be doing it. I get so much happiness out of my Disney days and I can’t imagine not having them anymore!

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!

A Wizard’s Birthday (or A Full Universal Day)

When I got my Universal Studios pass again this year, I knew it would be worth it since you only have to go twice to make it the cheaper option than buying tickets. But I didn’t know if I’d go much more than that because I don’t love going there as often as I do Disneyland. I’m pretty sure that I won’t be getting another pass after this one expires, so I’m making sure that I get my Universal fix in while I have a pass.

So when my friend Erin told me that her daughter Olive was doing a birthday adventure at Universal, of course I wanted to join in! I’ve known Olive her entire life and I love that she is so into the world of make-believe. She loves everything Harry Potter and loves being in the park to do spells.

They wanted to get there when the park opened, so it was an earlier start than I’m used to. I was at the gate before it opened and it was raining a bit while I waited for them to join me. But fortunately that stopped soon after and it ended up being a pretty gorgeous day out.

Olive could easily spend the day just doing the Harry Potter ride 13 times. That’s actually what she said her plan for the day was. But the grownups in the group knew that wasn’t how the day was going to go so we encouraged her to pick other rides she wanted to go on. We went on the Minions ride, she and I watched when the others went on Jurassic Park, and I got to ride a few other things without Olive. But the main part of the day was spent in the Harry Potter section of the park.

It was nice to see that they were already decorating for the holidays and most of the buildings have garlands and wreaths on them.

We did the Harry Potter ride twice as a group and we also had a nice lunch at the restaurant there. While I can be a bit tired of the same things over and over again, I love being there with Olive because seeing things through a kid’s eyes is just such a fun experience. Seeing her believe in everything in the park as something real is a great thing. So many kids are jaded by her age and I appreciate that she still believes and is still a kid and not an elementary school aged teenager. Kids should get to be kids and that’s exactly what she does.

While we were at the park I was starting to deal with some pretty bad nausea. I had my medications with me and was taking them while I was there, but I was glad when we decided to take a break from the rides and go watch the Waterworld show. I see that show almost every time I’m there and it is still one of my favorites.

I was feeling a bit better after sitting down for the show, but I was not feeling like I could do any more rides. I don’t think I would have thrown up on a ride, but I didn’t want to risk that or do anything that would potentially make me feel worse. So while everyone else was getting ready to ride the Harry Potter ride again, I had to say goodbye so I could go home and try to feel better.

I didn’t feel too horrible about leaving early because some of Olive’s friends arrived just as I was leaving. And I had been in the park for about 6 hours which is longer than I’m normally there. So I had a full day and I think that Olive had fun while I was there. And from the photos I saw on Facebook, I know that she had fun after I left too. It looks like they stayed there until the park closed so they had a super full day!

I’m only about halfway through my year with this annual pass to Universal so I’m sure I’ll make it back there again before it expires. Some of the employees there mentioned that they were going to do a special castle show for the holidays so hopefully that will be this year so I can see it. And I’ll probably go back right before my pass expires to ride all my favorites one more time before I know I won’t be going back for a while. And maybe Olive will want me to go with her again and we can have another Harry Potter filled day!

A Disney Birthday! (or Princesses and Awesome Ears)

I love Disneyland and I love birthdays so when those get to be combined it’s so much fun! And this week, I had a fun Disney adventure that was to celebrate my friend Michelle’s birthday! We also wanted one more Disney outing to see the Halloween stuff before it switched over to Christmas decorations, so this was perfect timing.

Since we were going to celebrate Michelle’s birthday, Dani and I tried to do some fun planning. We got her some Peter Pan themed ears and told Michelle to make lunch reservations somewhere fun and festive. Michelle is going to wear the ears we got her another time because this time her outfit was Maleficent themed. We all tried to have cute outfits this day because Michelle had recently added MaxPass to her annual pass which includes Photopass so we can get all the cute photos from Disney photographers!

We had to take advantage of getting fun photos right away. When we got to the parks, we started on the Disneyland side and did a bit of shopping at first so Michelle could get some ears to match her outfit. And then we were over to get some photos with Star Wars characters. When we saw Kylo Ren, there wasn’t a Photopass photographer, but we still got a cute photo.

But there was a photographer when we got to Darth Vader and we got so many photos! I knew they took photos while we were posing, but they also took so many photos while we were interacting with the character. It was fun to look at those photos, but my favorites are still when we posed.

After our photos we went over to Tomorrowland to do Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (Michelle and I still have our year-long competition with the points on that ride), and Star Tours.

I wish I had a photo from Star Tours too because Michelle ended up being the Rebel Spy that time! I’ve never gotten to be on the ride when someone in my group was the Rebel Spy and I’m sad I didn’t think to have my phone out to take a photo when she was on the screen. Oh well. Hopefully that will happen again and I’ll remember!

After those rides, we headed over to California Adventure since our lunch reservation was over there. We had some time before lunch so we went on Soarin’ Around The World and then walked over to Ariel’s Grotto. I had never had lunch there before (they also do breakfast) and I was impressed by the decor and the view when we got inside.

When you walk downstairs to the dining area, you first take a photo with Ariel. We thought we could use the Photopass for that photo, but it isn’t part of that and we didn’t want to spend $30 on the photo. But we did take advantage of all the princesses that walked around during lunch and got photos with them. The only negative was that there wasn’t a photographer walking with the princesses so most of our photos ended up being selfies.

The food at Ariel’s Grotto is a prix fixe meal. You get soup or salad, a choice of entrée, and then a dessert selection.

I went with the crab chowder and the tri-tip and those along with the dessert were really good!

And we made sure that they knew it was Michelle’s birthday so she also got a cupcake with a candle in it along with her desserts.

After so much food, we wanted our stomachs to settle a bit before riding anything too intense so we went on The Little Mermaid ride and then went to the Animation Academy to do some artwork (I’m finally getting better at drawing circles).

Then it was time to ride Guardians After Dark. Since this was a Halloween offering we wanted to make sure we got to ride it again, and Dani hadn’t had a chance to check it out yet. We didn’t get to do the Guardians ride during the day, but I’m sure we’ll do that next time we are there. But the nighttime Halloween version is fun so I’m glad we did it.

After that ride, California Adventure was closing and we were going to go back to the Disneyland side. But we were taking our time and did some shopping and discovered something amazing in one of the stores. Disneyland now sells ears that have changeable bows! So you can have one set of the ears headband but change up what character it represents! I loved that idea and so did Dani and Michelle. All of us ended up buying ears and a second bow. I kept mine with the original bow, but I liked it that way too!

We then headed back into Disneyland to ride the Jungle Cruise since it’s so much fun to ride that when it’s dark out. But as we walked over, it started to drizzle/mist rain. It was so weird and none of us thought it was going to rain that day. But fortunately, the boats on the Jungle Cruise have canvas on top so we were protected from the rain.

And after that ride, we all felt like we were done for the day. But we decided to try to get a cute photo of all of us with our new ears and there was no line for the Photopass photographer in front of the castle! There is always a big line there but maybe the rain scared people away? But within minutes we were taking a bunch of photos in front of the castle. And I love how the rain almost looks like glitter in the photo!

It was a nice full day at Disneyland and we didn’t feel rushed around at all. And some of the Christmas decorations were already up when we were there. But I know we’ll be back at least once or twice to see all of those holiday decorations. But I was just glad that we got to see all the Halloween stuff one more time and got to celebrate another birthday at Disneyland. I never get to celebrate my birthday there since it’s during my pass blackout, but now I’m thinking I should celebrate my half birthday there next year!

Unexpected Birthday Present (or I Love Having Technology That Works!)

I was not planning on asking for anything for my birthday from my parents this year. They helped me get my car at the beginning of the year so I didn’t feel right asking for anything else. I still feel a bit guilty about my new car, but I know that they are happy to help me out. But there was no way I was going to tell my parents I wanted something for my birthday.

I usually get a check from my grandma for my birthday, so I was thinking about what I wanted to use it for (she prefers that I get something fun with it and not use it to pay bills). I was talking with my dad before my birthday and mentioned how my iPad was pretty much dead at that point. It was taking hours for it to turn on and for me to open an app could take close to 30 minutes. And that day, I couldn’t get it to turn on no matter what I did. I didn’t think my iPad was going to be usable anymore.

The iPad I had was about 5 years old, which is a pretty long time for a piece of technology. I used to use it much more often, but over the past 2 years I used it less because it was getting so slow and several apps that I like to use wouldn’t work anymore. But I didn’t want to get a new one because at that time I knew I’d spending a lot on a new laptop and technically my old one still worked.

I’m aware that this is totally a first world problem. I don’t need an iPad, but I like having it and it is something I do work on. But I think I also knew it wasn’t a necessity to get a new one so when my old one pretty much died on me I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get a new one for my birthday. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it would be the perfect thing to use my birthday check toward.

This call with my dad was just one of our usual phone calls and the iPad thing just happened to come up. And he agreed that getting one for my birthday would be a great thing to use my check for. I didn’t think much more about that conversation after we hung up. But then the next morning, I got an email from my dad with the subject “Birthday Surprise”. And my dad wrote that he and my mom had discussed it after he got off the phone with me and they wanted to get me my iPad for my birthday!

I was totally not expecting this and I even called my parents to tell them that I didn’t tell my dad about my old one dying to try to get them to buy me one. I kept asking if they were sure they wanted to get it for me because I was considering my car my birthday present (and I’m totally considering it my Hanukkah present for this year too). But my mom said that they wanted to do that for me and I couldn’t express how grateful I was for it!

I was originally going to get the new one before my birthday, but there were a few delays in me getting it. But the delays worked out well because I was able to make a decision on which one I wanted to get (after getting input from a friend who works for Apple and from my parents) and I realized that they had a back to school special for their educational discount (which I get for being a substitute teacher). Not only would I get the normal discount, which is about $20 off, I would get a free pair of wireless Beats headphones! So this past week, I headed over to the Apple Store near me to buy my new iPad!

It was a pretty fast purchase since I knew exactly what I wanted to get. I just had to decide on what color I wanted (I went with gray to match my laptop). And I’ve spent the past few days making sure I get everything set up on it before I try to erase all the data off of my old one (if I can get it to turn back on again). Just like with my laptop, it’s a crazy difference between the old one and the new one. Things are working again, I can get work done so much faster, and I know that it is going to make me more productive.

If I could figure out how to do all of my day job work from my iPad, I’d do that when I go out-of-town. But for right now, that’s not possible due to the phone calls I have to do for my box office job. But I think I might actually be able to run everything else from it which is a nice idea. The iPad can use a keyboard so if I figure out how to do it all (or if I don’t have to take phone calls for my box office job), I think it will be pretty easy to work with it and I think that will be a nice feature for me when I get to travel again.

This present was so unexpected but beyond appreciated. I am so grateful to my parents for wanting to get me this because they easily could have just gotten me nothing for my birthday which is exactly what I was expecting. And I love that now whenever I use my iPad I’m going to think about this awesome birthday this year and how amazing my parents are!

Birthday Party Adventure! (or Another Traditional Celebration)

I’ve celebrated my birthday at Bodega Wine Bar a couple of times now. It’s such a great place to have a casual birthday hangout so when I was trying to plan what to do for my birthday this year I had going back to Bodega at the top of my list. I looked at having a party at other locations, but I kept coming back to thinking Bodega would be perfect. So I gave them a call and they were able to get me the same section I’ve had in the past for a birthday party this past Saturday! So it was another Bodega birthday adventure!

Before my party, I actually decided to go to DryBar to get a blowout. There is now a DryBar right by my house, so that’s so much easier than having to drive 10-15 minutes to another location. I could walk there, but that day was so hot and humid and I didn’t want to ruin my hairstyle on the walk back. Fortunately there was a meter right in front of the salon for me!

The blowout only took about 30 minutes so that gave me plenty of time to go back home so I could relax a bit before getting ready to go out. I didn’t take a photo of my outfit, but I decided to try to be dressy and casual at the same time so I wore a basic black sundress with some cute heels. And then it was time to head over to Bodega!

And I lucked out with a parking meter again! I found one that was right around the corner and it was free since it was after 6pm! It was perfect and I walked right over to see who was an early bird for the party.

I’m glad I wasn’t the first person to arrive because I always hate waiting for people. And right after I got there more people started to arrive. I’m glad I got a reserved section again because it made things much easier for us. The bar was a bit crowded with some other parties and this way we didn’t have to worry about finding space for everyone. Although at one point there were maybe 15 of us there and it was getting a bit crowded. But I don’t think that anyone really minded that.

I hadn’t had a drink since my birthday party last year, but I knew I’d be ordering one at my party this time. My liver surgeon has told me that I can drink, but I haven’t been drinking since I don’t want to put more stress on my liver than I need to. But this was a special occasion so I figured it was a good time to have my first drink in a year!

I knew my tolerance for alcohol would be down, but I was actually surprised how low it was. I’ve had time without drinking before and it never seemed like I lost too much of my tolerance. This time, I was able to drink maybe about half of it before I felt like it was hitting me. I ordered food to help me feel a bit better, but I ended up not drinking any more of my drink. It was delicious, but I guess I need to realize that I can’t drink the way I could before (at least not for a while).

But I didn’t have my party to be able to drink. I had it so I could hang out with my friends and have fun. And that’s exactly what happened! I love when different groups of friends come together and meet. And this had people from so many different parts of my life there. It was so fun watching my neighbor talk to someone who is part of the leadership of the Unite for Strength slate. Or to see one of my Disney friends talk to someone from my WIF mentoring group. It was just awesome sitting back and watching people get to know each other and have my worlds combine!

I didn’t want any presents (although I did tell people if they wanted to do something they could donate to Unite for Strength) because I wanted this to feel more like a regular fun hangout and not a birthday party. I didn’t want anyone to sing Happy Birthday to me or make anything a big deal. Some of my friends did pay for my food and drink, so that was special and I wasn’t expecting it. All I wanted from my friends was to have them there and get to have fun with them.

We ended up being at Bodega for a pretty long time. It was getting a bit noisy and I think most of us aren’t usually late night people so by 11:30 we were all ready to go. People had been coming and going all night so it was a rotating group of people there, but pretty much everyone who was still there decided to leave when at the same time at the end.

I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday adventure. It was fun and no-stress. Everyone there seemed to have a great time and that’s what I wanted. I always want everyone else to have fun and that’s what makes me happy!

While this was the main birthday adventure for me, what I have to write about in tomorrow’s post was almost the grand finale of the birthday fun!

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Birthday Workouts (or Just Having A Good Week Of Workouts)

This past week of workouts was my birthday workouts! Since I usually have a birthday week, it only makes sense to have a birthday week of workouts. I didn’t have any expectations going into my week of workouts since I’ve had some really great running weeks and some really bad running weeks lately and I didn’t want to have something in my head that I wasn’t able to get done.

Monday was another 2 group class (instead of the 3G the it is supposed to be now) and it was a power workout. I was actually pretty excited since I know that power days are usually the best ones for me to work on running (and I wanted to run to burn off the calories I’d eat at Truxton’s later that day). In the 30 minutes on the treadmill, there were 13 all outs. It was pretty crazy!

There were 3 treadmill blocks and all of them started with a push pace which I ran. Then we had all out pace intervals with walking recovery in-between. The first block was 1 minute intervals, the second block was 45 second intervals, and the last block was 30 second intervals. I did the first block with my speed at 5mph and the second and third block with my speed at 5.5mph. I know I could have gone faster, but I’m really working hard at not burning myself out because I’m wondering if that is what has been causing the off weeks I’ve been having lately.

The floor on Monday also had 3 blocks. The first block had skaters, ground to press squats, row with weights, and a 100 meter row. I was pretty happy with my skaters because I was able to keep my back foot up the entire time (something that I still struggle with). With the 100 meter row, we were supposed to do both timed rows and counting the number of pulls. For the timed row, I did it in 18.1 seconds, which isn’t the best I’ve done but also isn’t that bad. And for my number of pulls, I got it down to 8 which beat my goal which was 9. The next block was lunges, ab twists, sit ups, and a 150 meter row. I only got to the timed row and did it in 28.6 seconds. And the last block was 200 meter rows (I didn’t focus on my time) and squats between each row set. Considering that this was my last workout as a 33-year-old, I was pretty happy about it!

Wednesday was a birthday workout! I was hoping that I’d have some friends with me in class, but it’s not easy for my friends to meet me at the time I go so I was on my own for the workout. But that was fine because the studio manager, Adam, decided to take that class and made sure that he pulled the treadmill card for my favorite treadmill and he took the treadmill next to me! And it was as if the universe was working in my favor because my birthday workout was a run/row!

It was also a strength day which means running on inclines, but I was determined to see what I could do. Usually a run/row is for the entire block and you go at your own pace. This time, there were 3 blocks and we repeated what we could in each block during that time. And then we switched with the floor between blocks. So I figured that since we would be switching I would try to run on the inclines. The first block started with a 400 meter row (which went down by 100 meters each time) followed by a .2 mile run. The run started at 2% and each round went up 1%. I was able to run the entire thing and even made it back to the treadmill to start the .2 miles at 3% incline. The next block was a 300 meter row (each round went down 50 meters) with a .15 mile run starting at 3% (each round went up 1%). Again, I was able to run it all but I only did the run once before time was called. And the last block was a 200 meter row (it stayed the same) with .1 miles at 4% incline. And I ran it all but only made it one round on the treadmill. Even though I didn’t do a ton of running, I ran all of it and did it at inclines which is a pretty awesome accomplishment for me.

The floor work was also 3 blocks and each block was a bit tough in the beginning since I was still catching my breath from the run/row. The first block was shoulder work, rowing with weights, lunges and abs. The second block was squats, flys with weights, and plank work. And the last block was all tricep work.

I would have to say that this was a pretty successful birthday workout. I’m glad that I spent my birthday at Orangetheory since it is such a huge part of my life now! And I think they were pretty happy to have me there that day too!

Friday was a power day (again, super happy because I could work on my running!). This time, everything on the treadmill was 30 second intervals. We had 5 blocks and the first 4 blocks all had the same pattern. Each block was 30 second push paces with 30 second base paces and the last minute of each block was a 30 second push to a 30 second all out. The first block was 5 minutes and each block got a minute shorter. The very last block was a slightly different pattern but the same concept with push to all outs with walking and more all out paces.

I was able to run all of my pushes at 4.5mph and all of my all outs at 5mph. I tried to do my base pace at my new faster base pace but I could only do that for a bit of the first block. All the running made me need to have a walking base pace that I’m comfortable with. But to me, being able to run as much as possible was more important than to work on my increased base pace. I’m glad that all the intervals were only 30 seconds because running was a bit tough for me that day. I was dealing with some nausea and I’m still experimenting with that time on a workout day it’s best for me to take anti-nausea medications.

The floor work was the same block pattern with the first 4 blocks being one minute shorter than the other. The 4 minute block and the 2 minute block were both rowing with the same intervals as the treadmill. The goal was when doing the 2 minute row to get at least half of what you got in the 4 minute row. In the 4 minute row I did 850 meters and in the 2 minute row I did 460 meters so I’m pretty proud of myself. With the other 3 blocks, we had a mix of squats, burpees, plank work, and biceps.

I felt like I had done a lot of great running work during the week and I was not expecting to be able to do much running on Saturday. But then I found out it was going to be a 15 minutes for distance challenge and I knew I needed to run. But there was no way I could work on running for the entire 15 minutes so I decided to follow the intervals that we were given.

It was a mix of endurance, strength, and power in the workout so the treadmill started with a 3 minute push pace. After that, we started to do push paces at inclines and I was able to run those as well. And the end of the treadmill block was 30 second intervals that were similar to Friday’s workout. And as always, we ended with an all out pace. I know that if I had run the entire 15 minutes I would have gone farther, but I’m pretty happy with the distance that I got to at the end of the cardio block.

Next I moved to the floor where we had one longer block and one short block. In the longer block, we had single leg deadlifts, squats, weighted swings, and strap work. Single leg deadlifts are a tough one for me since I don’t really have the ability to balance on one leg for that long right now. So I balance by holding onto the weight bench with one hand and then doing the single leg work. It is so much harder than regular deadlifts, so I know that I need to keep doing them to get stronger. I have no clue if I’ll ever be able to do single leg stuff without assistance, but I know the only way to find out will be to keep doing the work and trying. And the short floor block was situps and plank work for 3 minutes.

And I ended on the rower starting with a 3 minute row for distance. My goal was 650 meters and I wanted to scream in frustration when I got to 649 at the end of the 3 minutes. It was so annoying to be so close! After that, we had squats and more rowing. I didn’t go too hard in my rowing because I knew we’d be ended with another 3 minutes for distance and I wanted to beat 649 meters. The last 3 minutes for distance was a push, base, push, all out pattern similar to the treadmill and I really tried to do pushes and bases on the rower. It’s not easy for me to do that all the time because I’d rather be steady, but I wanted to see the difference compared to the 3 minute row I did at the beginning of the row block. I think my stubbornness paid off because I was able to get to 668 meters this time!

Overall, I’d say this was a pretty epic birthday workout week. I wasn’t expecting to do a lot of great running and somehow I did have that. And because I think I took it a bit easier than I could have done, hopefully this week of workouts won’t suffer from what I did the last week. I want to get over this one good week one bad week pattern and just have more consistent weeks. Hopefully that will happen for me soon!

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Birthday Twin Tradition (or An Almost Free Meal)

One of my favorite birthday traditions is going to Truxton’s with my birthday twin Joanna for dinner. We’ve been doing this for pretty much as long as we’ve been friends and it’s always a fun night for us. We try to have more catch up hangouts throughout the year and we’ve been getting better at doing that. But our birthday dinner is something we always look forward to.

We were going to try to do our dinner on our actual birthday again this year, but our schedules didn’t quite work out that way. So we ended up going 2 days before our birthday which was a great way to kick off each of us celebrating our birthday week!

We did a later dinner than normal, but that was fine because parking meters in Santa Monica were free! We both found parking pretty easily and walked over to the restaurant together. Because it was a later dinner, the restaurant wasn’t that packed, but that was nice since it wasn’t horribly noisy either.

When we started going to Truxton’s the birthday deal was a free entrée and free dessert. That made things really simple for us but we also always felt like we didn’t need 2 desserts. Now, the deal is $20 toward the bill. They used to combine the coupons (so we could get $40 total) but now it has to be split onto 2 checks. We decided to try to see if we could make it so when it was split each half would be $20 and we would get our totally free meal again.

We originally wanted to get Monkey Bread as an appetizer (it’s so good there!), but unfortunately they were all out! It was crazy that they were out, but we figured it just wasn’t meant to be. And for our entrees, we both were kind of debating between the same two things: the brisket sandwich and the club sandwich. So we decided that we would order both and would each have half.

It was a bit messy when we tried to cut the sandwiches in half, but it was fine. And it ended up being the perfect thing since we both got to have some of each thing we were craving. We also did one sandwich with garlic fries and one with regular fries so we got to have both options.

And dessert is always the highlight of the meal for us. We decided to go for the giant cookie that has ice cream on top. It’s pretty decadent and seems like one of the more festive desserts they have there.

They brought plates out for us so we could try to split the cookie and ice cream up, but there was no way to really do that. And we are fine sharing a plate so we each grabbed a spoon and pretty much stuck to one half of the pan. And even though we were both full from the sandwiches and fries (it’s probably a good thing we couldn’t get Monkey Bread), somehow we were able to finish the entire dessert!

We really tried to do some planning on what we were going to order to see if there was a way that we could make sure that each half of the bill would be $20 or less. Technically there was a way to do it, but it would have been with the dinners we really weren’t wanting. As much as we want a totally free meal, it’s better to order what we want to eat. And even though we didn’t have our free birthday tradition, it was still a very cheap dinner out.

And even though the bill was super cheap, we like to leave a big tip because we know that servers make most of their income from the tips (we left about $20 on what would have been a $41 bill).

And while the food was awesome, getting to catch up with Joanna was even better! It had been a while since our last catch up meal and we both had so much to share! Joanna has gone on some fun trips and has had some changes in her day jobs. I’ve become a medical miracle and also have had some changes in my day jobs. But I’m lucky because even though it’s been a few months since we had seen each other, when we get together it seems like we can always pick up where we left off.

We ended up hanging out at dinner for about 2 hours before we both had to head back home. The next tradition we have is our cheesecake outing that we do around the new year, but I know that we both are going to keep trying to make an effort to see each other more often (even if it isn’t a free meal that we are meeting up for).

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Happy Birthday To Me (or I Can’t Wait To See What 34 Will Be Like)

It’s my birthday! You all know that birthdays are a big deal to me so I’m pretty happy that it’s my birthday today! Although I am working multiple jobs (most likely I’ll be working all 3 of my jobs today) so today won’t be too much birthday celebration. But I still enjoy all the phone calls, texts, and Facebook messages I get even if I have to look at them between customers at work.

Birthdays are always so awesome for me, but this year seems even more amazing. And that’s because 33 ended up being such a great year for me. If you had asked me when I turned 33 if I thought it was going to be so amazing, I wouldn’t have guessed it would have turned out the way it did. And a few months after my birthday last year, I started to have what felt like a horrible streak of bad luck.

I had the discovery of the tumors in my liver and then my car breaking down multiple times, spending money to fix it, only to have my car die on me. I also had issues with my eating disorder and some other personal things happen that made me feel like my luck was just awful and good things weren’t going to come my way. I didn’t want to feel so negative about my life, but it was hard to ignore the feeling that things were just going horribly for me and I didn’t know how or when that would change. But then things turned around so much starting with my tumors shrinking!

I still don’t know what changed my luck, but I’m so glad that it did. It’s not that I’ve always been unlucky, but I feel like my luck is better now that it ever has been in my life. And I feel like the good luck is allowing other good things to come into my life and I don’t want that to stop. I’m trying to not worry too much that my good luck is going to run out because I know it can end at any time. But I’m working hard to enjoy it while I can since things are just so much fun right now for me!

And if when I turned 33 I had no clue how awesome my year was going to be, I’m thinking that 34 will be even more incredible since I’m getting off to a good start. There are so many things that I’m looking forward to this year already and I know that things will continue to be added to that list. I’m so grateful that things in my life seem to be going so much better for me and I have hope that it will continue to be this way. I know that there may be some tough stuff this year, but I’m trying to stay optimistic about things this year.

I’m not trying to stress about my liver and the scan that I’ll be having this fall. If my tumors have grown, I’ll have surgery and that will be fine. I don’t want surgery, but I think I’m in a much better head space now to have surgery than I would have been if I had it in April. And I’ve got some stresses at work right now that I really can’t control. I’m just working on getting through it and dealing with things as they come. Hopefully things will turn out my way, but I also know that I’m doing everything I can to make that happen and I can’t worry about it any more.

Today isn’t going to be the most exciting day for me, but that’s ok. I knew having my birthday on a Wednesday meant that I would have to plan celebrating on other days. I’ve already done some birthday fun and I’ve got more coming up this weekend. But today will be a relatively normal Wednesday for me. But to know that I’m working hard, going to the gym, and doing stuff that makes me happy is all I could really want for a birthday.

I’m actually kind of excited to think about what my blog post will be like 1 year from today. I hope that being 34 will be just as great as being 33 has been for me. But again, I have no clue what my future holds and there is no way for me to predict it. I just hope that I continue to have fun and that whatever happens makes me happy and makes my life even more amazing!

So Many Birthdays and Anniversaries! (or A Month Of Celebrating And Remembering)

August is a pretty amazing month for me. Obviously it’s amazing since it’s my birthday month and I usually have lots of birthday celebrations. I think the birthday month thing started because growing up I wasn’t always able to celebrate my birthday on my birthday. When I was in school I would be out-of-town a lot on my birthday. I spent multiple years at summer camp on my birthday so I’d celebrate at camp and then have my birthday party when I got back home toward the end of the month. So I think it’s just a continuation of that when I have a birthday month now.

It also is such a full month of other celebrations so it naturally feels like I can continue my celebrations as well. I don’t want to steal the thunder at someone else’s birthday, but if I’m at a birthday party in August and it comes up that I just had a birthday usually people will say happy birthday to me as well. That doesn’t always happen, but it has happened a lot. And because I have so many different friend groups and we are all so busy, having multiple birthday celebrations seems required.

And it’s not just me that we celebrate toward the beginning of this month. In my birthday week we have my parents’ anniversary, my cousin’s birthday, a friend’s birthday, my birthday twin’s birthday, and my acting coach’s birthday. All of those things take place within 5 days. It’s a lot and it can be a bit overwhelming. It’s especially overwhelming when I have to get cards for everyone. I write down each person and what they are celebrating so I don’t forget anyone. And I usually mail all the cards off at the same time to make things as easy for me as possible.

I love getting to celebrate the people in my life. It’s so fun getting to do that and I love picking out the perfect present for people. And I know I’ve talked about this before, but this is also a bit of a tough time for me. My friend and my acting coach have both passed away in the past few years. I don’t get to celebrate them anymore the same way I used to and it can put a bit of a damper on everything. I miss all the birthday jokes we had together because of the back to back birthdays. And it’s not the same without those stupid jokes.

I try to not be sad about not getting to celebrate them anymore. I’m trying to focus on the happy memories I had with them and to celebrate their lives on their birthday. It’s still weird and I’m still getting used to it. I don’t know if it will ever feel normal that they are gone. And there are still times I forgot that either of them passed away. I will have something happen to me and my first thought is to call one of them. I can’t seem to erase their contact information from my phone so it’s still in there. And just as I’m about to look up their number I remember and stop. Fortunately it’s not that way on their birthdays, but it’s still a bit heartbreaking when it happens.

It does take me by surprise when it hits me this hard each year that they have passed away. I keep thinking that I won’t remember or that it won’t affect me. But it’s still a hole in my heart and I can’t forget about it. But that’s probably just a sign of how much I loved them and how important they were to my life. I know that both my friend and my acting coach changed my life for the better and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without one or both of them in my life. And I’d like to think that if they were still around that they would be proud of me.

There is so much I feel like I’m celebrating this year on my birthday. I wish that I had everyone I love who usually celebrates around the same time as me still alive and able to celebrate too. But this is the reality of life and I know that while things might keep getting easier it will never completely go away. I will always remember that I’m not able to celebrate them the same way, but hopefully I’ll be able to focus on celebrating all the fun that I did have with them while they were still alive and can make their birthdays a positive and happy day for me.