Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Full Thanksgiving Week (or Lots Of Family Time)

I feel like I’m still decompressing from my Thanksgiving week. It was such a great week and even though it was the same length as most of my Thanksgiving trips, I felt like I got more family time this year than I have in the past.

I was able to get my work shifted to be a bit earlier during Thanksgiving week, so I could start my drive to San Diego 2 hours earlier than normal. That made a huge difference in my drive since I ended up missing the big rush of traffic and was able to get down to San Diego in about 2 1/2 hours (normal for me is 2 hours and last Thanksgiving was over 4). My drive got a bit delayed when I was almost to the rental house when I got pulled over by a cop. Turned out my loaner car from the mechanic didn’t have the current registration sticker on it! It took some time for the cop to write the ticket, but since I’m not the owner of the car it isn’t my ticket.

Even with the time spent waiting for the ticket, the drive was easy and fast and once I got to the rental house I relaxed. I felt like I was totally in vacation mode and the view we had from the house really helped.

first-sunset

And Tucker decided to make himself very comfortable by using me as his personal pillow. At least I know he loves me since he was always laying on my legs if I was on the ground or on my feet if I was sitting in a chair.

tucker

The day I arrived, we didn’t do too much. Most of us had gotten to San Diego that day, so we were fine with relaxing and not rushing around. My parents, brother, sister-in-law, and I went out to dinner that night which was nice since we were going to be around a ton of family the rest of the week.

On Wednesday of Thanksgiving week, I had to work from the rental house in the morning. There was a breakfast bar in the kitchen so I worked from there. It was a bit noisy, but it allowed me to still hang out with my family while I was working. I didn’t want to isolate myself so it worked out nicely! After my shift was done, I went with my dad to take the dog to a dog park (he needed to get out some energy). It was another pretty low-key day until dinnertime. We all headed over to my aunt’s house for dinner that night. Almost the entire family was there (we were only missing 1 person) and it was awesome!

It was a casual dinner which was nice. I ended up at a table with my brother, sister-in-law, cousin, and my cousin’s kids (so we were at a kids table), but that was fine. Eating dinner was pretty quick and most of the time we were there was spent in the living room talking. I was telling my grandma how you can look up census paperwork online and showed her how I found the paperwork her parents (my great-grandparents) filled out when she was little. Their maid was listed on their paperwork since she lived there and my grandma was telling us all stories about the maid and her parents. It was a really special thing to get to hear  since we don’t know a ton of stories from when my grandma was growing up.

Thanksgiving day was pretty busy. My morning included the family workout at Orangetheory (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite traditions!) and then I was trying to help out my mom with getting dinner ready. A lot of stuff was done in advance but there was still plenty to do the day of. One of my jobs was to help with the big table we were using, but unfortunately even with all of the muscle in the family, we weren’t able to get the extra leaf in the table. But we managed to get everyone in between the main table and a card table (for the little kids), so it worked out well.

table

On Thanksgiving Day, my cousin Adam and his girlfriend arrived and with them there we had the entire family at Thanksgiving for the first time in a very long time! It was a very full dinner, but it was incredible to have 17 people from 4 generations together.

img_1499

This was also the first time in 6 years that the 5 of us in my generation (my cousins, brother, and I) were all together. I’m hoping this will be happening more often, but we had to get a photo together just in case it is a few more years before we can do this again.

cousins

The day after Thanksgiving, I had to work a full shift for work. I was able to get my hours shifted early again, so I only had to work from 8am-1pm. And I worked in the kitchen so I was spending time with my family in between customers (we didn’t get a ton of people calling or using our chat system so there was a lot downtime). My brother and sister-in-law left to go back to Santa Barbara while I was working, but everyone else was going to be coming back to the house for dinner again that night.

That last night in San Diego had another incredible sunset and my mom and grandma pulled some chairs over to the big windows so they could relax and watch the sun go down. We also tried to see the green flash with the sunset, but it was a bit too cloudy.

family

After having leftovers for dinner, I got back into my loaner car to make the drive back to LA. It would have been nice to spend another day in San Diego, but I really needed to get back. I said goodbye to everyone (a lot of them I might not see again until next Thanksgiving) and made the drive back up. Fortunately, I had a very easy drive (and didn’t get pulled over again) and was home in time to unpack before needing to go to bed.

Overall, it was a pretty wonderful Thanksgiving week. I know that I’m so lucky that my family can get together like this and I’m very grateful that we all make the effort to continue this family tradition.

Thanksgiving Prep (or So Little Time)

Leading up to Thanksgiving, I knew there was a lot of stuff I had to get done and I was really trying to plan things out the best I could. Of course, things never work out the way you think they will. I’m just glad I got all my prep work done before I left last week!

The main part of my Thanksgiving prep was getting the food made that I knew I was bringing. I only was bringing 3 dishes with me, but when you have a tiny kitchen making 3 dishes can seem overwhelming! Especially when I don’t have multiples of the kitchen things I was using!

The first thing I made was banana bread. This has become a tradition over the past few years and I’m glad I’m able to make it to help out. It’s a pretty easy recipe to make and I happened to have some bananas that were overly ripe that I could use. I had almost all of the ingredients that I needed for the recipe at my house (except some of the dairy and the blueberries) and it was a quick thing to put together and get into the oven so I could make the 2 other things I needed to make.

The other dishes I was bringing were dips. I made the feta dip that is a tradition with the family (usually my mom makes it but it is now my thing to make). This is another easy thing to put together, but it is something that I usually don’t have the ingredients for in my house. But once you have everything you need, you just throw it all in the food processor and it is done! The other dip I made was a white bean dip that I found online. It was another really easy thing (just white beans, garlic, parsley, olive oil, and lemon) that was a food processor dip. The only complication I had was I only have one food processor bowl. So I made the feta dip, washed and dried the bowl, and made the other dip. Between the dips and the bread, I got everything done within about an hour.

thanksgiving-food

Packing was something else I tried to plan out, but it ended up being something that I was doing while I was working the day I was going to be driving to San Diego. My family now does casual Thanksgiving and that does make things easier with packing. But because I have lost a pretty significant amount of weight lately, I’ve been realizing that many of my clothes don’t fit anymore. So I grabbed all of the things I was thinking of packing and was trying them on between customers. I guess I should just feel lucky that my work is online chat and phones and my customers can’t see me!

Between packing and cooking, I felt like I had enough on my plate. But I also ended up having my liver MRI the night before driving to San Diego. I was at the hospital for a few hours getting it done so that was a bit of a time suck. The MRI itself wasn’t too horrible. Once the IV was in and I was in the machine, it was about 45 minutes. And at this hospital, you can listen to music while in the MRI tube. They had Pandora as an option and I requested the Broadway station. All the songs that played were things that I knew, but the best moment was when I heard my friend AJ singing on the “Heathers The Musical” soundtrack in-between 2 songs from “Hamilton”! That really made me happy and forget about all the stuff I had to do to prepare for San Diego the next morning.

And because all that craziness wasn’t enough leading up to San Diego, on Monday morning as I drove to my workout the power steering in my car died. I’ve never driven without power steering before and I knew that it was something that needed to be fixed before driving down. I took my car into the shop around 10am on Monday and discovered that the power steering in my car isn’t the standard one used so it would be tough to find a replacement part. They were hopeful that my car would be fixed by Friday, but that meant I wouldn’t have my car for Thanksgiving. Fortunately my mechanic offers free loaner cars so I got one of those and drove that to and from San Diego. As I’m writing this, my car still isn’t fixed. They got the replacement part in on Friday, but it’s still not fixing it. I’m hoping I’ll get my car back this week, but at least I have a loaner car to use so I don’t have to pay for a rental.

My Thanksgiving prep did end up being a bit stressful, but it all worked out in the end. I got everything done that I needed to (plus some things I wasn’t expecting) and I had an awesome Thanksgiving trip. But my Thanksgiving recap won’t be until tomorrow’s post!

Thanksgiving Workouts (or Continuing A Tradition)

This past week of workouts included some in LA and 1 in San Diego. It’s pretty much a once a year occurrence that I work out somewhere other than my Brentwood Orangetheory, but it was awesome to get to work out with my family in the middle of the week.

My workout on Monday was in LA and it was an endurance day. We had a lot of long push paces but I pushed myself a lot. I was preparing to work out with my dad and I wanted to make sure I was in the best running shape possible. For the 3 minute pushes, I did my 1 minute intervals. For all the pushes that were 2 minutes or under, I ran the entire time. We also had a progressive push for 4 minutes where we were supposed to get faster every minute. I know I can’t really run for 4 minutes yet, so I set up my own intervals. I did 90 seconds of running, 30 seconds of walking, and 90 seconds of running to get through that long segment. And when we had a 1 minute all out, I decided to go really fast to see what I would be able to get for my distance in class. And to find out I did 2 miles again was a nice confidence boost!

2-miles

For the floor on Monday, we had 2 blocks. And each of those blocks started with a 750 meter row. That’s a pretty decent distance to row and I knew it would be tough. But I still wanted to go as quickly as I could to see what I was able to do. I managed to get them done in 3:37.6 and 3:26.7 which isn’t bad at all! We also had a lot of arm work including chest presses and flies and using the straps to do rows and bicep work. By the end of the class, I felt pretty prepared for my Thanksgiving workout with my family.

My next workout was on Thanksgiving at the Orangetheory in La Jolla. As usual, my dad was able to join me (one of my aunts was supposed to come for the 3rd year, but she was dealing with some injuries that prevented her from working out). My aunt who came for her first class last year was also with us. My brother came back after missing the workout last year. And my cousin and sister-in-law were there for the first time! We had a pretty large group and our experience levels were a big range, but I was so excited about it. I think my cousin and sister-in-law were both a little nervous (and having me explain the workout wasn’t making it better), but I think everyone was happy that we were doing something to help burn off the calories we’d be eating later.

This workout was a 3G (or 3 group) workout like it is every Thanksgiving. We were able to start on the treadmill and it was an 8 minute distance challenge. My dad and I were on treadmills next to each other, but I knew he could go farther than I could since he can run pretty well. But it was cool to have my dad next to me since this was the first time he was getting to see me run. I did 2 minutes of running with 1 minute of walking for my intervals and I managed to get .6 miles done in those 8 minutes.  We were back on the treadmill one more time and we had a 5 minute block with pushes and all outs. Each segment was 90 seconds or under, so I was able to run the entire time for those.

We also had a bit of a partner workout between the rower and the floor. The people on the rower were rowing for distance while they waited for their partner on the floor to tag them out. On the floor, we had to do squats, squat half swings, and push ups. Because of how the partnering worked, none of my family was partnered with each other. But that might have been for the best because then we didn’t have to be mad at each other for taking too long to tag us out. On the other half of the partner workout, I didn’t end up having a partner (it wasn’t a full class). So we had 1 minute row sprints and then went over to the floor to do shoulder pressed, one leg deadlifts (I did them one-legged but held on with one hand) and more push ups.

For the end of the workout, we had 5 minute rotations where the rower was quick pushes and on the floor we did some plank work. It wasn’t an easy workout, but it wasn’t the worst I have done. But for my family who isn’t used to the pace or pattern, I know it was a bit tough on them. But fortunately everyone had a great time (my sister-in-law even said that she would join Orangetheory if there was one in Santa Barbara for her to go to) and I think that everyone will be joining us again for the workout next year.

And as always, we had to get a photo as a family with our coach. We had someone different this year (the past 2 years we happened to have the same coach each time), but this guy was awesome! I hope he will be our coach next year!

family-otf

We also got a silly picture after the workout. There had been an ongoing joke about if my brother would get sick from pushing himself too hard in the workout this year, so in the silly picture he is pretending to throw up (he’s hidden behind my dad’s arm).

silly-otf

I got back from Thanksgiving late on Friday, so my next workout in LA was on Saturday morning after work. It was a strength day and I was pretty glad for that. I was a bit tired from Thanksgiving and was happy to have a lot of walking during the treadmill time. But it ended up not being a standard strength treadmill day. We had 3 blocks on the treadmill and each started with a 90 second push pace at no incline. I ended up running for all of those. Then we had our hill climbs. Those ranged from 3 minutes to 90 seconds and I walked at an incline between 8-12% for all of those. Then we ended each block with an all out pace (between 30-90 seconds) and it was at a 4% incline. Normally, I wouldn’t run those, but I figured I’d try it because 4% is my walking flat road. Running at 4% isn’t easy, but I was able to do it and I’m glad that I tried.

On the floor, the first block was more focused on arms. We had push ups with weighted rows plus bicep curls (I was using 20 pounds for the bicep work) We also had some ab work in that first block. In the second block, we had lunges plus some strap work and then rowing. The rowing was between 300-400 meters so it was more like a sprint than some of my rowing in the beginning of the week. I was glad that I chose to do a workout on Saturday because it really helped me to get back into my normal schedule after being out-of-town for a few days. And I also knew I ate a bit more than normal over Thanksgiving so I wanted to make up for that.

For the next few weeks of workouts, I don’t think I have anything too crazy going on. There is a contest at my Orangetheory where you have to do 15 workouts in 6 weeks, so I know that should happen for me (if you get that done, you win tickets you can use for various drawings for prizes). I’ve heard there is a sprint dri-tri coming up, so I’m going to look into that and see if it fits with my schedule. But mainly I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing to make sure I end 2016 better than I started it!

Happy Thanksgiving! (or Time To Be Grateful)

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that all of you are having a great day celebrating with whoever you choose to celebrate with. I am with 4 generations of my family (plus the dog) and I will post a recap of my Thanksgiving next week. But for today, I just wanted to do a short post of things I’m thankful for this year. Things have been so negative lately in the country (and the world) so I just wanted to put a little bit of positivity out there.

I’m so grateful for my family. I don’t get to see them that often, but spending time with them at Thanksgiving is very special to me. And this year, I also got to spend time with my dad’s side of my family. I don’t get to see them that often (because they are on the east coast) so it was really wonderful to spend any time I could with them. I’m hoping I can see them more often, but I know that with the difficulty for me to go back east (or for them to come out there) it might be a few more years before I see them again.

I’m beyond grateful for my friends. This year so far could have been a very difficult one for me, but because of my amazing friends that didn’t happen. I’ve had more fun adventures this year than I ever could have imagined and I know that more crazy outings are coming up for the end of this year and through next year.

I am grateful for my health. I’ve had a couple of health setbacks this year (I’ll have an update on my liver tumor next week after I see my liver surgeon again) but they are not life-threatening. Having a tumor isn’t great, but it is far from the worst thing that could be happening to me. And I know that whatever my surgeon says next week about what needs to happen next, it will be ok and I will not have any problems getting through it.

I’m grateful for my eating disorder recovery journey. The journey is not as easy as I would like, but I am seeing progress and things are getting better and easier over time. While I really wanted to be fully in recovery by the end of this year, I know now that it’s not realistic to have a timeline set in my head for recovery. It is coming to me when it comes to me and I just need to keep working on building my recovery skills so I can use them when I’m recovered.

I’m grateful for my fitness. This year, I started to run again. Not only did I start running at Orangetheory, I was doing a really great run/walk interval in my last 5K. And that run/walk plan got me my new PR! But it’s not just running that makes me grateful for my fitness. I’m lifting heavier weights and I’ve noticed that the strength I’m gaining has made more of my day-to-day stuff easier. This is just going to keep improving and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.

And finally, like I say all the time, I’m grateful for this blog and my readers. This has been a great sounding board for me and I’ve gotten some incredible advice from you all. Thank you for joining me on my journey and hopefully you are all excited to see what the future will bring!

Now go and enjoy your Thanksgiving however you chose to celebrate the day!

The Roadrunner (or More Memories In My House)

For several years, I’ve been getting things of my grandparents’ to put into my house.

This started when my grandparents were selling their house and moving to their apartment. They had to do a big downsizing and lots of things were given to various family members. While I didn’t really get any pieces of furniture, I got some cool things from my grandpa’s office. That never felt weird because since they were downsizing, they chose to give those things away. And none of the things I got had significant memories to me because they were mainly things from my grandpa’s office (I wasn’t in his office that often in their house).

Then after my grandpa died, I got more things that belonged to my grandparents because my grandma was moving from the apartment she shared with my grandpa into a smaller apartment.

Some of the things I got then were sent to me by my parents (like the mattress from the guest room) and were selected for me. Some things were things that I specifically asked to get to keep (like the martini swords I got). And some things were things that I saw right before the old apartment was closed up when I went to lunch with my grandma and aunt. Everything that nobody had claimed was in the living room and I was allowed to select anything that I thought was cool and wanted to keep. I took a couple of things, but again they weren’t really things that had specific memories for me.

When I went down to San Diego for Thanksgiving, I knew I’d be bringing back the bear made from my grandpa’s sweaters. The bears had been shipped to my parents’ house, so I didn’t get to pick mine out until Thanksgiving. But I wasn’t expecting to take anything else home with me.

But when I was hanging out with my parents the night I arrived, I saw two painting from my grandparents’ house sitting in the rental house. I asked my mom why they were there, and she said that they were taking them back to their house because they had previously been stored.

One painting I’m not sure where it was in my grandparents’ house. But the other painting was very familiar to me. It used to be in the kitchen eating area of my grandparents’ house. I always called it “The Roadrunner” because it reminded me of the roadrunner in the cartoons. I think my brother and cousins might have called it that as well, but I’m not too sure.

I told my mom that I’d like to have The Roadrunner one day because I’ve always loved that painting. My parents then decided that they really didn’t have a place for The Roadrunner to be in their house, so I could take the painting home with me when I drove back to LA (thank goodness I have a decent sized car).

The day after I got back to LA, my parents came to my house for the afternoon. They were driving up to Santa Barbara to see my brother and sister-in-law and made a stop by me to have lunch, see my house, and help me do projects in my house. Fortunately, almost all the projects in my house were already done (I installed the a/c without my dad being there). But my parents did help me hang The Roadrunner in my living room.

New Decorations

Right below The Roadrunner is the acrylic chair I got from my grandparents’ apartment (it was my grandma’s makeup vanity chair in there) and on the chair is my bear.

I love having these things in my house, but it is a bit odd having The Roadrunner in there. I have thousands of memories of that hanging in my grandparents’ kitchen and even though I haven’t seen it in that space in years the memories are still strong. I’m almost doing double takes every time I pass it because it doesn’t feel quite right yet that it’s with me and not with my grandma.

It’s weird that this painting is the first thing that made me feel like I’m stealing something from my grandparents (which is not the case at all) and nothing else I’ve gotten has had anything but positive feelings. It might be because of all of the memories attached or it might be because it’s the most obvious thing in my house that I’ve gotten.

I know that the weird feeling will hopefully go away soon and I will only have the feeling of gratefulness that my family let me have this painting in my house because it is special to me. And I can create new memories with The Roadrunner now.

Full Thanksgiving Trip (or Being With My Family In San Diego)

My Thanksgiving trip to San Diego was from Tuesday until Friday last week. I had to work on Wednesday and Friday, but since I work from home I was able to bring all my stuff with me to San Diego and worked from the place we were staying (I did the same thing last year).

Those few days in San Diego were pretty packed, but it was a great family visit. I was nervous how it would be without my grandpa there, but it wasn’t as weird as I expected.

Tuesday I drove down to San Diego (it took 4 hours) and arrived there to have some dinner and spend a bit of time with my parents, aunts and uncle, and grandma. We really didn’t do too much that evening (I was pretty exhausted), but it was good to be around my family.

Wednesday I started with a short work shift. I worked in the kitchen so I had my family hanging out with me. It wasn’t a horribly busy shift so I’m glad that I worked in the kitchen and not in my room. That afternoon my mom, aunt, uncle, and grandma had some errands to run. So I spent a lot of time relaxing at the house and hanging out with my dad and aunt.

Wednesday evening was my grandma’s birthday dinner. We used to do this on Friday after Thanksgiving, but a couple of years ago we moved it to Wednesday before Thanksgiving and I think it’s better that way. We had a private room for the family, so it was nice that we didn’t have to worry about being too loud or my grandma being distracted by a lot of noise. While my grandma isn’t as involved in the conversations as she’s been in the past, she had a nice birthday dinner and it makes me happy to see her so happy.

Grandma's Birthday

Thursday starting with the workout at Orangetheory. After we got back from the workout, we helped set up the dining room for dinner (we did this in our gross gym clothes so we didn’t get our nice clothes dirty). The dining room has a gorgeous view and even though we weren’t able to see it at dinner, it was very nice to look at during the day.

Thanksgiving Table

I did a last minute grocery store run for my mom after that (who would have guessed that grocery stores would be out of green beans?!?) and then helped my parents get the bears set up to give out to the family before dinner. We put all the bears on a couch and covered them with a sheet so nobody would see them before the presentation. Of course with our sick sense of humor we thought that we made it look like we were hiding a dead body and my dad added some shoes and a hat to the pile to make it look even sillier.

Hiding the bears

My cousin Stephie and her kids arrived after that and my cousin Adam was able to take a Thanksgiving day flight to arrive in time to help carve the turkey (we’ve named him the official family turkey carver).

Adam and the turkey

We had a pretty nice spread for dinner and the evening went really well with no awkwardness with my grandpa not being there.

Thanksgiving Food

I didn’t end up using the face paint on my cousin’s kids (they took the face paint home so it won’t go to waste). It was a bit weird not doing that tradition, but the evening was pretty full. And after dinner was done, I went to see the final Hunger Games movie with my cousin and her husband (that’s been our tradition for the past few years).

The next day, my grandpa’s ashes were being scattered at sea. The entire family was going on a boat, but I was not able to get the day off of work so I stayed back with the dog. I’m a bit sad that I wasn’t able to spend time with the family, but I’ve gotten seasick in the past so it was probably for the best.

I had fun with the dog at the house and took lots of silly photos of him. This is him trying to help me work.

Tucker Helping

After my family returned from the boat, I had enough time to get some leftovers for dinner and then I packed up my car to head back to LA.

I’m so lucky that I got to spend as much time with my family as I did. I know that not everybody gets the time off from work or have the ability to travel. I might not have had the time off of work, but I have the luxury of bringing my work with me and since San Diego isn’t a huge drive it’s not a big trip for me.

We are planning on going back down to San Diego to the same place again next year for Thanksgiving. It’s a great house that fits the family nicely and the set up is pretty ideal for a big family meal. I know I’ll be back in San Diego before next November, but I’m glad that I have next Thanksgiving to look forward to as well.

Pre-Burning Thanksgiving Calories (or Working Out In LA and San Diego)

Because of Thanksgiving this past week, I knew my workout schedule would be a bit tough to fit in. Not only did I have the schedule of when I’d be out-of-town to think about, but I had limited time when I was in LA because of work and class. And since I still want to make sure I hit my workout goal for the year, I planned my workouts carefully and managed to get 3 in for the week.

My workouts in LA were on Sunday and Monday morning. Both days ended up being days where the workouts were half treadmill and half floor work without switching between blocks. So that means about 30 minutes on the treadmill without a break. Those days are tough, but they aren’t horrible. I just have to be careful because I know that I can try to overdo it to get my mileage to be as high as possible (I’m super competitive with myself).

I’m still struggling to get my treadmill speed or incline up, so I’m just trying to be ok with where I am right now. I’m testing the speed increases but it’s not maintainable for me just yet. I’m working hard to be patient, but it’s tough when I know that I can do better.

My floor work on Sunday and Monday were a bit tough too. I’m so used to having shorter blocks with the treadmill blocks as a “break” from the floor work. When that happens, I push myself harder because I know I’ll have some recovery time on the treadmill before I have to lift heavy weights again. But as always, I’m trying my best and I feel like I can start using the heavier weights more often.

I left for San Diego on Tuesday as soon as I was done with work, so the next chance I had to work out was on Thanksgiving morning for the workout tradition that we started last year. My dad was totally ready to join me again this year and so was my Aunt Cindy. My brother couldn’t make it to Thanksgiving this year so he wasn’t there, but my Aunt Nancy decided to come for her first Orangetheory class ever. And we actually had the same coach that we had last year for the class!

We worked out in the morning and it was a 3G class (which means 3 groups instead of the usual 2). But it wasn’t “tornado style” so we spent about 15 minutes at each station (last year it was 5 or 6 minute blocks and we moved between every block). We didn’t know that at the La Jolla location you have to get a card to be on the treadmill first, so we started with our floor work.

My Aunt Cindy hated the burpees that we had to do last year, and we had to do them again this year (although without the BOSU so that made it a bit easier). There was also lots of arm work and pushups in the floor block.

Next we had our rowing block. And our first row was a 2,000 meter row! As much as I wanted to beat my recent PR on the 2,000 meter row, I knew that since I had just done my floor work that I’d be a bit tired. So I just wanted to do the row without stopping.

I didn’t PR on the row, or even really come close (I was about a minute slower than my PR), but my dad totally kicked my butt on the rower! He did his row so incredibly fast and he never uses the rower at his gym! I said that I’d possibly be able to kick his butt on the row (I knew I couldn’t on the treadmill), but clearly I was wrong.

Our final block was on the treadmill. The treadmills in La Jolla are different from the ones in LA, but I found one treadmill on the end of a row that was the same one that I’m used to. That made things easier on me because I knew where to press to change my speed and incline and could just focus on my walking. It was a couple of inclines, but mainly just a lot of push paces (and my dad would like you all to know that he was going 10mph during the push paces).

As we did last year, we had to get a post-workout photo with the coach.

OTF La Jolla

When I compared it to last year’s photo, it was kind of funny how similar it was. Same coach, my Aunt Cindy and I were in the same spot, and my dad had the same shirt on.

Last Year and This Year

It wasn’t my highest calorie burn class, but It felt really good to get a workout in before eating a big dinner. I have a feeling that this tradition is here to stay and more family members want to join in next year. I’m pretty sure that there is a Orangetheory near any location we might have Thanksgiving at, so we are pretty set for the future.

Now that I’m back from Thanksgiving, I’m back on to a more normal workout schedule for me. Only a few more weeks before the end of the year and I’ve got a bunch of workouts still to do in order to reach my goal!

Grandpa Bears (or Our Thanksgiving Surprise)

When my grandpa passed away, my grandma immediately wanted us to remove his things from their apartment. I totally understood why she wanted us to do that and most of his things were either easy enough to get rid of or someone was going to take to their house (like his computer so we could get all important things off of it). But when we were in his closet, we weren’t 100% what we wanted to do with all of his clothes.

Some of the things we set aside for various family members to keep, but most of it was going to be donated to a charity. While I liked the idea of donating his clothes, I thought it might be nice to keep some of it for us to remember him by. My grandpa had some epic and colorful sweaters and didn’t want to donate those.

Grandpa Sweaters

Then I remembered seeing on a website at some point that people turn baby clothes into bears to have as keepsakes from when their kids were little. I figured if you could do that with baby clothes, we could do that with my grandpa’s clothes too. My mom and dad decided to help with the plan, and only my Aunt Cindy and Uncle Steve knew about it as well.

So I did some searching online and found several people who make memory bears. But the person who made the ones that looked best to me and my mom was Paula of Paula’s Bears. She totally understood that we had multiple sweaters and wanted to create mix and match patchwork bears. So everyone would have the same sweaters on their bear, but all the bears would look a little different. I also had some of my grandpa’s ties and Paula said we could use those for the hands and feet.

Paula was undertaking a big project for us, but fortunately we got her the sweaters and ties in April and we didn’t need the bears back until October. I had asked Paula if she could take pictures of the bears as they were being worked on because I knew we’d all love to see the process of making them.

Sweater PatternBuilding The Sweater

She cut each sweater into a bear and then mixed and matched the pieces. So each bear had a part of every sweater on it. Some had the same sweater in the same spot, but they were all a bit different.

Bear

Bears

Every time I got an update from Paula, I passed it on to my parents and we were all shocked and amazed at how the bears looked. We had no idea how they would look when they were in bear form, but Paula did such a great job making them all look perfect.

The bears were shipped to my parents house (my mom added various fraternity pins, boy scout things, and my grandpa’s dog tags to each bear to make them even more unique) and when they got the bears out of the box and lined up, we joked that we created a bear army.

Bear Army

We made enough bears for one for each single person or one for a couple to share (as an example, I get a bear but my parents will share a bear). I know that I will treasure this bear for forever and I hope that the rest of the family feels the same way about them.

Having Paula make these bears for us is such a nice way to remember someone by that doesn’t feel morbid or weird to keep in your house. I’m not totally sure where my bear will live in my house, but I know I’ll find the perfect spot for him.

If any of you are looking to have a memory or keepsake bear made, I highly recommend using Paula for them. She took so much care in making sure each bear was perfect and those touches really made all the difference. I know that tomorrow is Small Business Saturday and I really encourage you all to participate in that. Small businesses are sometimes just someone working out of their home and they can make the item you are buying even more special.

I know that having Paula was the perfect person to make these bears for my family and I’m so happy that I found her online. I know that for any future projects similar to the bears, I will be going back to her immediately. I’ve been wanting to tell you all about Paula and the bears for months, but I had to keep it a secret so that we could surprise the family. I’m glad that I can finally share her with you now!

What I’m Thankful For (or Happy Thanksgiving!)

I hope that you all are spending Thanksgiving exactly how you want to be. Whether that is with your actual family, with your chosen family, or just hanging out by yourself.

I’m with my family in San Diego right now celebrating but I just want to share with you all what I am thankful for this year.

First of all, I’m very thankful for my family and the fact that I get to be with so many of them today. We are celebrating with 4 generations of the family (plus the dog) and we are only missing a few people who couldn’t make it. We all live crazy lives so it’s a miracle that we can all get together as a family once a year. I’m glad that I have this tradition in my life.

Beyond being thankful for my family in general, I’m so thankful for my parents. We’ve had our fights from time to time, but almost all of the time our relationship is unconditional love. I didn’t realize how lucky I am to have that until an adult when I learned that many people I know didn’t have the same relationship with their parents. I know that they don’t get why I don’t have a “real job”, but they try to understand my passion and they support it.

I’m also super thankful for my friends. So many of my friends have become my family over the years and I don’t know what I would do without them. When I’m having a bad day, they remind me why things are really good in the world. When I need to rant about something stupid, they are there to listen. And when I need to celebrate even the tiniest thing, they are celebrating as much as I am. I try so hard to be as good of a friend to all of my friends as they are to me, but they are all so awesome that I’m not always sure that I can compare.

I’m grateful for my day jobs. Both my day jobs are from referrals and for the most part they are both exactly what I need. I could use a bit more flexibility in one of my jobs, but it hasn’t really caused an issue for me lately. But to be able to work from home and pretty much make enough to get by is such a luxury that I know that many of my actor friends don’t have. So I’m grateful that the friends who got me these jobs considered me when they knew of the job openings.

I’m thankful for my acting class. It’s been tough to get back into improv classes, but each week things are getting better and better for me. I’m feeling more comfortable and like I’m doing the right thing at the right moment for me. I’m still trying to plan out what the future will bring as far as more classes go. But each week I’m leaning more and more toward taking the next level of classes. I’ll just have to see what my schedule looks like in the new year and what my money situation is like.

Finally, I’m thankful for the communities that I’ve been welcomed into or that I’ve created. I’ve had an acting related community around me for a while. But now I have a blogging community and a workout community that I can turn to for support and advice. Those have been so invaluable to me and I know that within those communities I’ve made some lifelong friends.

I’ll do my Thanksgiving recap next week on here. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing with you all the big gift that my immediate family will be presenting to my extended family at Thanksgiving dinner tonight!

Scripted Jewelry (or My Mom’s Hanukkah Present)

I take a lot of pride in the fact that I’m pretty good at giving gifts to people. I listen to what people say off-hand throughout the year and use that as inspiration for birthday and holiday gifts. And most of the time, the gift is a hit!

Most of my awesome gifts have been things I’ve gotten my dad. He’s much easier to shop for, so I can figure out something he’ll love pretty quickly. In the past, I’ve gotten him an iPod, a gym bag (that has a lifetime warranty and he’s had replaced twice since), a ski bag, and a chair made out of old skis. This year for Hanukkah, my dad got TRX straps from me, but I gave them to him back in April since I figured he’d want them.

My mom is much tougher to shop for. She always says that she doesn’t need anything and even when my dad does spy work for me we sometimes can’t figure out what to get her. I had an idea for a gift that didn’t end up panning out, so I was stuck a bit ago with no idea what to get my mom.

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I got her and I matching bracelets with the word “positivity” on them. We both have loved them, but since they are made with an elastic they have stretched out. I’ve gotten us replacements before, but I was thinking that maybe a stronger piece of jewelry would be the right Hanukkah gift.

I did lots of random searches and couldn’t find what I wanted. But I had stumbled across the ScriptedJewelry page on Etsy and realized that this could be the perfect gift. I decided to make my mom a piece of jewelry for her to remember my grandpa by.

I did need a lot of help with this project. I actually don’t have any handwriting of my grandpa’s in my house. Everything I got from him was typed or my grandma wrote it. So I initially asked my dad for help, but he wasn’t able to find any handwriting samples either. I asked my Aunt Cindy and Uncle Steve for help next, and they found a letter that my grandpa typed to them on their honeymoon, but he signed it “Dad” at the bottom. So that was perfect to start with!

I realized that I would have to get my mom involved because we knew that she had old letters of my grandpa. So I lied to her and said that I wanted to do something for Thanksgiving and needed some of my grandpa’s old letters. I’m glad she didn’t ask me too many questions about it because I have no idea what I would have told her. But she had a couple of letters that my grandpa wrote his parents during WWII and she scanned those in and sent them to me. At the bottom of one letter, he had signed it “all my love, Bob”, so I was going to take the “all my love,” part of it.

I had reached out to the woman behind ScriptedJewelry, Caroline, and she said that they could combine the two handwriting samples and make something really beautiful for my mom. Of course, I had to figure out what type of jewelry to make for her. So I told my mom that I was working on her Hanukkah present and that she was not allowed to ask me questions but had to answer questions from me. I managed to find out that she would want a teardrop necklace in gold.

A couple of weeks later, the necklace was at my house and I’m so amazed by how wonderful it looks!

Necklace

You can really see how the handwriting matches the necklace in this picture that Caroline took for me (it’s so much better than my iPhone photos!).

Necklace with Handwriting

As I’m writing this, I haven’t given my mom the necklace yet. But by the time you are reading this, she has gotten it and hopefully she loves it!

The cutoff for Christmas present for ScriptedJewelry is December 1st, so I know that it might be too late for some of you to order from her for Christmas. But I highly encourage you all to make something to remember a loved one by. She can also turn artwork from kids into jewelry if you don’t want something with handwriting on it.

I’m so lucky that my random searching online led me to ScriptedJewelry and that I was able to have my family help me in making what should be one of the best gifts I’ve gotten for my mom ever.