Saturday, November 16, 2013

Disneyland Half Marathon

Once in a while, luck is on my side and I get things I want without having to work for it. Such was the case in January when registration for the Disneyland Half Marathon opened and Adam happened to remember that it was the day to register. Also by some stroke of luck, he decided to sign up to do it too!

Between being burned out on exercise from the marathon/triathlon training and the ridiculously hot temps, I didn't start training for this run until the beginning of August. Actually, that's kind of a lie. I began training for the CIM in August, and this race just occurred at the beginning of that training cycle.

We flew down to Anaheim Thursday after work. The next morning we arrived at Disneyland and promptly bought our annual passes. In the words of the muppets, YAYAYAYAYAYA! We spent lots of time at Disneyland on Friday and hit the expo. The expo was awesome. So much stuff to look at, and things to do. Like get your picture taken in front of the "castle." They were also previewing a new Once Upon A Time spin-off but we didn't have time to see it.

I bought a sparkle skirt so I can pretend to be a princess when I run.

The next day we spent a lot more time at Disneyland, and went to the expo again because it was that cool. We went to bed early (or at least tried to) because we had to board the shuttle bus at 3:30 a.m. the next day. I was still awake when the Disneyland fireworks went off, so I wouldn't say I got a lot of sleep.

In the morning we got on the shuttle with a bunch of other sleepyheads and arrived at the park. There was a pre-event party going on where you could get water, check out people's costumes, dance, and not think about how hot it was. Seriously it was like Florida hot and humid. 80 degrees before the sun even came up. Disgusting.

Finally they released us to go to the corrals. I was very lucky to be in corral B. I only had to wait about 10 minutes from when the gun went off to when I crossed the start. They had some pre-race entertainment going on, like motivational words from Allison Sweeney, and a couple got engaged up on the stage.
Mickey and Minnie even showed up to see us off.

Before this race started, I really wanted to PR. I stayed with the pacer for the first two miles. Then we started passing characters and I decided it was more important to have fun and take pictures than to try to go fast and feel like crap.

Cars Land

Don't usually see these 3 walking down Main Street

Andy is nowhere in sight. At ease soldiers!

Why are they so tall?

She taught me how to pose like a princess.

Woo! We made it!

After the race we both took advantage of the free post-race massages. Even though it was the worst weather I've raced in, it was definitely the best race. I stayed properly fueled and hydrated, never hit the wall, had fun the whole time, and it was my second fastest half marathon. There were plenty of aid stations, entertainment along the way, and it was a flat course.

For those who don't know, you start out near the Disneyland Hotel, run around the outside of California Adventure, run through California Adventure, run around Disneyland, run through Disneyland, go out onto the streets of Anaheim, run past the Honda Center, run through Angels Stadium, and finish right near the Disneyland Hotel.

There were people cheering/playing music/showing off their cars the whole way, which was motivating and helped pass the time. My one complaint was the lady on a bicycle ringing her bell for 6 miles. Nonstop. No matter if I sped up or slowed down, I couldn't get away from her. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and I said (probably loud enough for other people to hear) Bleep Bleep it lady! Stop ringing that bleeping bell! Then we turned a corner to a part of the course where she couldn't go. THANK GOODNESS!

We returned to the hotel for a shower and a nap before meeting Kurt for lunch at ESPN Zone. Mmmmm blue cheese burger. Then we went back to the parks for as much of the rest of the day as we could stand. I stupidly agreed to go on Tower of Terror. It. Was. Terrifying.

I am not laughing in this picture. Thanks a lot Kurt.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Backpacking -OR- That time there was an ant in my pants

Ahhhh nature. The trees. The lakes. The fresh mountain air. The ants.

The giant mountain ants.

The giant mountain ants who have no respect for personal space or privacy and decide to take up residence in my underwear, while I'm still wearing it.


It all started with an impromptu backpacking invitation from Sarah. It sounded fun. I said yes.

We packed our bags, got some food, and headed for the mountains.

The views on our hike to camp were spectacular. The kind of beauty that cameras can't capture.

We kept saying, "The higher we go, the better it gets." When we got to camp, it was pretty amazing. The gorgeous lake. The pristine waterfalls. The huge granite edifices.

We decided it was time for a snack, so we sat down and ate.

Then I felt a tickle on my back. The tickle moved into my shorts. I wiggled and slapped frantically, hoping to shake it out. 

Sarah now refers to this move as "The ant dance."

I was fairly certain the ant was gone, or dead.

Not long after, I had to go

It was then that I found the ant, still half alive, its half inch body squirming.

After that, I was careful to make sure that all future Ant Dance situations resulted in complete ant removal.

At Least I TRI-ed -OR- That time I saw a leg while swimming in the river...

A month ago I set out to complete an olympic distance triathlon with two goals in mind.
1. Have fun
2. Don't die

It was much easier to have fun than it was to not die.

Before the race I got interviewed by a news reporter about my strategy for beating the heat (a forecasted high of 108). That was little embarrassing, since I didn't really have a heat busting strategy.

SWIM ~ .9 miles
I did my warm up swim across the river, which left me dizzy and disoriented before the race even started. I was really dreading the swim part because I've heard horror stories about how you get kicked, hit, and pushed under. Sure enough, as soon as my wave started there was some man swimming diagonally into me, other people kicking me, and other people smacking me. I didn't like that. I slowed down. Partly because getting kicked is unpleasant, but mostly because the current in the river was anything but "negligible" like they said it would be.

I made many rookie mistakes. Mainly, I wore Adam's wetsuit which filled with water, adding at least 10 extra pounds. I quickly fell several (hundred) yards behind everyone else. The water safety patrol kept checking on me to make sure I was ok. I kept telling them, "I'm fine. I've got lots of endurance, just no speed."

One of the spooky things about swimming in the river is that you see things float by underneath you. Most of it was plant life, but I'm sure there were also fish (I'd seen them the day before). What really surprised me was when I saw a leg. 

A human leg. 
Floating right under me. 

It's hard to panic in the water and not drown, so I quickly looked up. That was when I noticed the body that the leg was still attached to. The live body, that was apparently swimming even slower than me.

A few wasp bites to the neck and 1 hour 40 minutes later, I finally was done with the swim.

BIKE ~ 40K (24.8 miles)
The bike part wasn't too bad. It was four laps on mostly flat road. Because of my swim, I was the last person on the bike course. Towards the end one of the cops got on his megaphone and cheered me on. "Go 668! Last place! You got this!" 

The support crew was all surprised that every time I rode by I was smiling and thanked them. I'm sure it wasn't easy waiting for the slow poke in 100 degree weather. Also, I was really happy that I hadn't crashed and knocked all my teeth out.

RUN ~ 10K (6.2 miles)
When people say it only takes a few minutes to get your land legs back after cycling, they lie. It took almost the whole first mile before my legs felt solid again. I knew I wasn't doing too bad because there were still a lot of people heading in when I was on my way out. At mile 3, I was probably a mile or so behind the next few people. I kept going. The trail ranger kept checking on me. The aid station people kept pouring water on me and putting ice down my shirt and dousing me with sunscreen. They were awesome. They were also relieved to have me pass by because that meant they were done for the day. I caught up to someone in the last quarter mile. She asked if I wanted to cross the finish line together. She said she was going to wait for me and was impressed that I managed to catch up. We crossed the finish line together, the last ones to finish the race. Then, race officials came over to give us our awards. She finished first in her age group (60+). I finished 4th in mine. There were 5 people in my age group who started the race. Apparently only 4 of us finished it.

Even though I thought I came in dead last, I actually beat someone! My bike time was faster than 2 other people, and my run was faster than 10 others. With all three events combined, I ended up ahead of the lady I crossed the finish line with.

Will I do another triathlon? Yes, as long as it is a sprint distance. This one was harder than running a marathon.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

9-11 Memorial

Everyone who was old enough to remember the events of 9-11 has their own story about that day. The vivid recollections of exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard or saw the news.

As a 15 year old in California, with no ties to New York, it felt more like a movie than reality at the time, and I was unable to understand the gravity of the issue. The older I've gotten, the more the tragedy has sunk in, and the more I can imagine how horrifying it must have been for all of New York and especially the people who were on the planes or in the towers (or the Pentagon).

I first visited Ground Zero in January 2008, when it was still a gaping hole in the ground, surrounded by construction fencing.

The scene was a little disturbing. It definitely felt like there was something missing, and that the big hole in the ground was not supposed to be there like that. When we went across the street to St. Paul's church there were still very touching memorials and mementos out that made it seem like it had happened just yesterday. The memorials and mementos are still up, but in a more permanent museum-like display that makes it all seem so long ago.

The first thing I noticed this trip as we walked toward the memorial was the energy. On those streets where people would have been staring up in disbelief or running for their lives, I felt the panic and the sadness in the air.

I assumed the actual memorial would feel the same way, because the area outside of it was so crowded and very commercial. There were barriers up, a ticket line, police everywhere, and an airport-style security check. It didn't seem like a memorial at all. More like a circus.

When we got inside, it wasn't crowded. There was plenty of room for everybody. It wasn't sad or chaotic. People were being respectful, and although the mood was somber, it felt peaceful. I felt like all the people who perished there had moved on and are at peace.

It also seemed oddly quiet there. I think the rush of water pouring through the memorial masked the city sounds very well. 

The actual pools are mesmerizing and beautiful and full of symbolism.

And the freedom tower is shorter than I thought it would be, but beautiful too.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Muppet Mania!

It's no secret to people who know us that Adam and I are crazy about the muppets. We seriously thought about how we could incorporate muppets into our wedding (our first dance was to a song from the Muppet Movie). We learned that at FAO Schwartz you could make your very own muppet.

We forgot about this fact until we'd spent a day wandering around rainy NYC (thanks a lot tropical storm Andrea).

~Somewhere in Central Park~

Adam: Hey! If we keep walking this way we can get to FAO Schwartz.
Me: Ok... Why would we want to go there?
Adam: Because it's dry... and can't you make your own muppet there?
Me: Muppets? Let's go!

The way it works is you get a Muppet Whatnot Kit. Whatnot is what they call the muppet extras- the ones who you see in the background but who don't have names.

They have several Whatnots scattered about for inspiration.

Anyway, you start with your naked muppet torso.

 Then you add stickers of the different features.

Facial hair costs extra, which is why I didn't make this charming guy.

Instead, I let SNL be my inspiration and made Stuart. 
He's from Malibu and has no idea what he's doing here.

Our muppets looking like screaming naked babies.

 My brother has a muppet doppelganger.

 Adam's muppet looks on in surprise as...

 Stuart is strangled.

  The finished product.

This was probably the most unique thing we have ever done. I highly recommend doing this, especially if you want a one-of-a-kind New York souvenir.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Vacation FAIL -or- I went to Philly and all I got was a bloody knee...

In California, in June especially, if the weather report calls for "a chance of showers," that usually means it will sprinkle a little bit in the morning or in the evening. In Philadelphia, apparently it means it will start pouring from the minute you step out of the car until the minute you buy an umbrella.

That jacket is not water proof, as Adam claimed.

Under normal circumstances, this wouldn't be a huge deal. But when you've been wearing the same clothes for almost 24 hours, haven't eaten for 12 hours and have no where to be but outside, it suddenly becomes a big problem. 

We had no plan other than to wander the city. That would have been fine, if it was sometime later than 6 am and the tourist sites were open. 

Alas, they weren't. So we wandered. In the rain. For at least an hour and a half until we found somewhere to take refuge and eat breakfast.

Then we got an umbrella and it pretty much stopped raining.

We went to Independence Hall, which is about as striking as the Alamo. It looks cool on the outside but you only get to see two rooms where things might have happened.

Then we saw the liberty bell, which was pretty cool.

Then, since we are dumb, we decided to walk to Pat's to get famous Philly cheesesteaks. It was a 1.3 mile walk. In less than dry clothes. Through some not so great neighborhoods.

When we finally got there, the cheesesteaks were really good. So we were happy.

Fast forward 3 days. My shoes were finally dry. We'd been in semi-rural Pennsylvania (I walked a mile to get to the "village" of Frazer) since the 1.3 mile walk back to the car after eating cheeseteaks. I thought, "Hey! Today might be a good day for a run!" So I set out to go on a nice 3 mile loop. I quickly learned that semi-rural Pennsylvania is not very pedestrian friendly. I had to run on the sloping grass on the side of the road.

I saw a groundhog. That was easily the highlight of semi-rural Pennsylvania.

2.7 miles into my 3 mile loop, I encountered a severe problem. I could see the hotel, but to get there I would have to cross the street that had a freeway junction. There were "NO PEDESTRIAN" signs up every direction I looked.


I had to turn around and go back. So much for a nice short little 3 mile run.

About a mile later, I tripped. And fell. And my phone went SPLAT and my arms went SKID and my knee went THUD. And I said, "Really? Of course this would happen!" 

And then it started to rain.

Needless to say, I wasn't sad to leave the Keystone state.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Halfway To 13 in '13

13 in '13

Now that we are 1/2 way through 2013, I thought it would be good to see how I'm doing on my goals.

1. Run a Marathon
or two...
Successfully ran a trail marathon. Signed up for the CIM in December and two other half marathons between now and then.

2. Complete a Sprint Distance Triathlon
I'm one-upping myself and doing an olympic distance tri on June 30th. Never thought I would enjoy cycling, but it is so.much.easier. than running!

3. Give Up Meat for at Least a Month
Re-thinking this one. Maybe just no processed foods for a month?

4. Grow Some Veggies or Herbs
The tomato plant that one of my students gave me has not produced tomatoes yet, but it is still alive, so that's good!

5. Compost
Attempted. Failed. Who knew you could fail at trying to get things to decompose?

6. Perform in a Play

7. Sing in Public
Halfway check. I had the chance to sing the national anthem at the fun run on January 1 but chickened out. But I did put a recording of me playing guitar and singing on Youtube.

8. Go Somewhere I've Never Been
Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.
Coming soon: Philadelphia

9. Help Others
Haven't done this as significantly as I'd like.

10. Simplify
And by some miracle, the pantry is STILL organized!

11. Make an Item of Clothing
To be clear, I never specified it had to be clothing that could be worn anytime... I've made a tutu and a princess dress (but the top was just safety pinned to a tank top).

12. Go to Church More Often
So far I've gone once.

13. Work toward my financial goals
Hahahahahaha. Spending money is too much fun.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

It's not a race, it's a marathon!

"Good morning!" I said, maybe a little too cheerfully. "Is this where I check in for the marathon?"

"Yes. Name?"

"Huey. H-U-E-Y"


"Yes." They said my name correctly! This is going to be a good day.

"Good luck today!"

"Thank you. It's my first marathon!"

"Congratulations! Make sure you have fun."

"Thanks!" Fun? I don't know that running 5+ hours will be "fun," but ok...

15 minutes and 3 measly squares of state park toilet paper later, I found myself surrounded by runners who looked like racehorses prancing at the gate. Lean legs, camelpacks, and all that jazz. Where were all the recreational runners? Oh. Right. They were smart enough not to sign up for 2100 feet of elevation gain over 26.2 miles of poison oak lined single track.

We dashed off straight up a hill (wasn't expecting that!) and straight down a hill (eesh that's going to be painful on the way back!) and out onto the levee. People were passing me left and right. After the months of training, I did not want to find myself dead last. One mile in I checked my watch. 8:33. 8:33?! I didn't believe it was possible, because course records show most first places were barely under 4 hours. I slowed into something more my pace. And when the hills hit, I was happy to see I wasn't the only one walking already.

By the time I got to the half marathon turn around, I was thrilled that no half marathoners had caught up to me (they started 30 minutes later). The aid station volunteer warned us about a tree that had fallen onto the trail. She wasn't kidding! The tree had not fallen across the trail as trees usually do, but rather was laying on the trail. I picked my way through the tree, thankful that there was no poison oak on it, and continued on to the 2 miles of trail I had not previously seen. Turns out it was 2 miles of trail I technically still haven't seen because it was overgrown with long grass up to my waist.

The hills rolled on and somewhere around mile 10 I caught up with Bart and Tony, two marathon newbies I'd met around mile 4, when I cursed their long legs and they envied my ability to scramble down hills. About the time I thought we should be turning around, I heard one of them ask a returning runner, "Where is the turn around? It should be right about here!" The other runner said, "I thought so too, but you've got about half a mile to go." Rats.

Adam was waiting for me at the turn around, which was nice. It was nothing spectacular, just a curved flour arrow on the dirt. I'd made it there within the goal I'd set for myself, and headed back, looking forward to the aid station 2 miles ahead.

At this point, I must have been slightly delirious, because I thought, "hmm I made it to mile 13, and this aid station is two miles back, so 13-2=9. I have 9 miles to go!" Really though, it was 13 + 2 = 15, or 11 miles to go... I hung out at the aid station for a while.

Around mile 16 a group of 3 runners caught up to me. The man and the woman passed and kept on going. The girl passed me, but then I passed her. She decided to stick with me after that, so I decided to ask her name. Turns out she was 17 and also running her first marathon.

We encouraged each other for the next 10 miles. Jogging when we could, walking if we needed to. We almost jumped for joy when we got to the aid station at mile 19.5, because we were both on the threshold of running farther than we ever had before.

Her family cheered us on to mile 23.1, where the last aid station was. Her dad said, "You are going to blow that 6 hour goal out of the water!" I asked what the time was. He said, "You're not even at 5 hours yet." We hurried off, eager to come in at 5:30.

About a mile later, running became a true struggle. I knew we were so close, but I couldn't catch my breath. I told Taylor she could go on ahead, but she insisted on encouraging me the way I'd encouraged her when she was struggling at mile 16. We stayed together until the last mile. She took off down the levee, looking strong, while I continued with a walk/jog.

Taylor finished at 5:42, and I crossed the line 8 minutes later at 5:50.

After dining on some delicious salty/sweet snacks, Adam and I were ready to go. We checked the results. I'd come in 27th, and there was only one other 20-29 year old ahead of me! I finished second in my age group (out of 2, lol).

I definitely struggled with the desire to race and be competitive, and the fact that trail running is sooo muchhh slowwwerrrr than road running. I can say I truly understand what it means to say, "It's not a race, it's a marathon!"

And I've already signed up for my next marathon, if for no reason other than to prove that I can finish it faster.

Monday, April 8, 2013

20 miles, No Big Deal


I'm an over-achiever.

It's never bothered me, until yesterday, when something I should have been extremely proud of suddenly became ordinary.

Once upon a time, I thought I would never ever ever (like ever) run 20 miles. The two days leading up to the run, I was still in awe, thinking "Oh my gosh. 20 miles? That's sooo far!"

On the day of the run, it was fantastic! At least for the first 13.25 miles. It was cool, the sun was not in my face, and there were lots of friendly runners to wave to. Then at mile 13.26 everything started to hurt. Not a big problem- it usually happens at mile 9 for me. I told myself, "Eh, at least I made it this far. Only 6.75 more miles to go," and continued that conversation for the next 6.75 miles.

When I finally finished the run, I'll admit I had a few tears. One was a happy tear to be done with my greatest running feat to date. One was because my hips were screaming in agony, and the last was "Oh crap! I have to do that plus 6.2 more in 3 weeks?"

I went home, took a shower, ate some eggs and headed to the theater for Cinderella. Less than an hour and a half after running 20 miles I was performing onstage. Like running 20 miles was no big deal.

I hope that after I finish the full marathon, I can appreciate the 16 weeks of training that went into it and be proud of myself, instead of thinking, "Yeah, I just ran a marathon. Whatever."

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Wedding Transportation FAIL

*Disclaimer* Yes I am posting about these wedding fails, but that does not mean it was a horrible day. In fact, it was a beautiful, magical day, and what I remember most was the love we felt from everyone the whole time. What a great feeling to be able to experience! 

The fail stories are still entertaining, which is why I am sharing them.

You know how when terrible things happen on important days you just tell yourself you'll laugh about it later? Well, here is a whole group of those kinds of things!

Two of my three brothers live on the East Coast, and they didn't get into town until two nights before the wedding. It's kind of amazing they made it at all. 

First, #1's flight was changed without him being notified. He found out when he tried to check in for his flight. They changed it so much that his first flight would be arriving in Denver 15 minutes after his connecting flight would have departed. Needless to say, he missed his connecting flight. Luckily, he was able to catch a plane later that night and got in around midnight.

#2 was able to make all of his flights. His luggage, however, was not. He had packed his only suit in his suitcase. Which was lost. It turned up the day after the wedding.

#3's pants ripped on the way to the church.

My parent's car broke down in the parking lot just as my dad and brothers arrived at the church.

But here is the kicker... the ladies almost didn't make it to the church at all.

My mom hired a limo to take us from my house to the church in Clarksburg. It's not a complicated drive. Get on highway 50, get on I-5, exit and you're basically there. We were sitting in the limo, enjoying the ride when I start to think, "Hmm. We should be there by now. Where are we?" I look out the window and notice that we are in DAVIS! That is not on highway 50 OR I-5! And instead of turning around immediately, the limo driver said, "Well I'm just following the directions on my GPS. It shows that we're on track." After some convincing, the limo driver pulled off the road, re-checked his GPS and realized, duh, we were 20 minutes in the wrong direction. An hour later, we finally got to the church in time to jerryrig my dress (click here for that story) and take some awful photos (click here for that story).

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cori on the Run

At some point in my life, I decided to be one of those people who likes to challenge themselves.

This is how I ended up in calculus.

You think I would have learned my lesson. You would be wrong.

It's also the reason why I'm training for my first marathon (thanks a lot 15 year old self for setting that goal, and 27 year old self for deciding it's time to do something about it).

And finally, it's the reason why I decided to try to run a half marathon in under 2 hours after 1 month of training. If I was still in high school, it wouldn't be a problem, but I'm 10 years and 20 pounds past that.

I started training for the marathon/half marathon on January 1. I followed the program without missing a run and even added in yoga twice a week. I noticed my pace was slowly increasing, and realized sub 2 hours might be possible. Difficult, but possible.

The first several miles felt great. I was about 300 yards behind the 1:55 pace group until mile 7. I was tired, but on track to come in under 2 hours.

And then at mile 10 I hit the wall.

Stupid wall.

Everything hurt. I was so tired. I found myself thinking, "Why on earth did I sign up to run twice this far?"

And I slowed wayyyy down.

And then the 2:00 pace group passed me.

Sad face.

I managed to pull it together for the last few miles and was so happy when at mile 13 some spectators said, "It's just around the corner! You can do it!"

My goal was still in sight! I lengthened my stride (no energy to sprint) and watched as the race clock ticked over to 2:00.

I finished my race in 2:00:19.

Talk about disappointing.

But on the bright side, I set personal records for fastest 5k, 10k, and half marathon. I also ran faster for farther than I have in several years.

And I am very proud of those accomplishments.

Mile 1: 8:48
Mile 2: 8:45
Mile 3: 8:37
Mile 4: 8:31
Mile 5: 8:49
Mile 6: 8:51
Mile 7: 9:01
Mile 8: 9:04
Mile 9: 9:11
Mile 10: 9:31
Mile 11: 9:44 
Mile 12: 9:21
Mile 13: 9:20

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pour Les Enfants

Victoria Soto was 27 years old. She graduated high school in 2003. She loved teaching and she loved her students. I bet we have a lot in common, except on December 14 she died while protecting her students and I was left wondering if I could have been that brave.

The way Newtown's tragedy has changed schools seems similar to the way 9/11 changed airport security. At my school, students are now required to have an emergency bag in the classroom with a change of clothes, water, and snacks, in case we are ever in lockdown for a significant amount of time. Our classroom doors are locked at all times. The front door to the school is controlled by an electronic lock. To get in, we (teachers, staff, families) must enter a security code. Today we were encouraged to view the "Active Shooter Training" video available on the web. And while all of these changes are being implemented in schools across the country, one thing has not changed. There are still families grieving in Connecticut. There are still children in Heaven who went there way too soon.

Many years ago, I fell in love with a beautiful lullaby sung by the Dixie Chicks (written by Radney Foster), called "Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)." After the shooting, the song took on a new meaning for me. I decided to learn how to play it on guitar in remembrance of those 20 children.

The same with the Taylor Swift/Civil Wars song "Safe and Sound" from the Hunger Games soundtrack. Now it makes me think of the survivors and mourners. I hope they can find peace, and that they feel "safe and sound" even though they have suffered loss.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wedding Dress FAIL

*Disclaimer* Yes I am posting about these wedding fails, but that does not mean it was a horrible day. In fact, it was a beautiful, magical day, and what I remember most was the love we felt from everyone the whole time. What a great feeling to be able to experience!

The fail stories are still entertaining, which is why I am sharing them.

The trouble with finding a wedding dress started the first time my mom and I went in search of one. We signed up for an appointment at Alfred Angelo at a bridal fair, thinking "It's way too soon to start looking for a dress, so we'll just cancel the appointment later." Well, I never did cancel that appointment, and so one evening last January, after a harrowing day at work, we arrived to check out some gowns.

Here is some good advice... when people say you should look your best when trying on wedding gowns, they are right. Do NOT go try on wedding gowns when you a) forgot to wear deodorant that day, b) have greasy hair, c) are not wearing any makeup, d) are tired, e) are hungry, and f) on a day your school had a serious lockdown at the end of the day because of an incident in the parking lot.

But there we were. I tried on the first dress. It was nice, but not right. I tried on the second dress and wow! It was beautiful! It fit well! It sparkled! It had lace! And had I been feeling better about myself right then, it could have been my dress. In fact, we went back to look at that dress several times, eventually driving the sales lady to hate us (I'm sure).

The dress that could have been.

A few days later we went to another bridal shop. This shop was much more comfortable and way more fun. It also had dresses that were more like what I was looking for. I found one I loved! It had lace! It sparkled! It had a great trumpet fit! But my mom hated it. It was not fun.

The other dress that could have been.

I continued the search for the perfect dress at (sadly) a few other shops, and found one that just might be the one! It had sparkle! It had a unique lace petticoat! It didn't overwhelm my petite stature! Just one problem. The only way to make it short enough for me would have been to cut off much of the lace part at the bottom that I loved so much. So the search continued.

The other other dress that could have been.

At this point, I'd been searching for a dress for about 3 months. Pretty sure nobody (mother or bridesmaids) wanted to continue the search. And I was out of time, because many dresses take 7+ months to come in... and the wedding was just about exactly 7 months away. So I looked online, and called bridal shops to see if they had the dresses I liked online. One shop had one of the dresses. I rushed there after work one day and they almost didn't let me try it on. It was a size 18! I tried it on anyway and fell in love instantly. Like "OhmyGod. I'm-a-princess-and-this-is-my-dress!" I called my mom to come the the store right away and she did, and agreed that this was my dress. We found a veil that matched perfectly and thought everything would be fine and dandy. 

Did anyone mention that our sales lady was way past the age of being able to carry and zip up wedding gowns? She wrote everything down, and we checked it, paid the deposit and thought things would be fine. Then the dress came in.

The sales lady tried to tell me the dress was too small and she couldn't zip it up. That's an awesome feeling. To be "too fat" for your wedding dress the first time you try it on. In reality, she just didn't have the strength or dexterity to manage the zipper (but the damage to my psyche was done). Also, the veil was wrong! So wrong. Like poofed out to here and trailing out to there wrong. And the sales lady just said, "Oh well all we can do is bustle the veil." Bustle the veil? I don't think so lady.

Luckily, when I went back to show the manager how wrong the veil was, she agreed that it was not at all what I'd been expecting and fortunately was able to get the right veil in a few days before the wedding. The alterations lady was not so helpful. I was very clear about making sure the dress was trumpet shaped (since it appeared more a-line). Finally it got taken in as far as it needed to be, but there was another problem! The bust line was cut unevenly, which there wasn't really anything they could do about. But the bust was also too big on one side! And it was very obvious! And these infuriating people said they would not alter it to fix it. So on the wedding day, my mom and bridesmaids had to try to safety pin my dress tighter so there wouldn't be a horrible gap in the chest. The safety pin didn't hold, so in many of the pictures there is a gap and/or my bra is visible. So disappointing. Also, I don't have a nice professional photographer photo of the dress, or any nice photos of me in the dress showing the details of the dress (which shouldn't be surprising). At least it was a beautiful dress, even if it didn't fit perfectly. I wish I had a good reason to wear it again.

The dress that was.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Great Pantry Makeover

One of my goals for 2013 is to simplify things. I thought the pantry was a good place to start. There are no before pictures, but I will say it was bad. Like, don't open that door unless you want to be ambushed by brown paper bags and sprinkles bad. Luckily, all it took to tame the mess was quick trip to Dollar Tree. Here is the after.

Everything is neat and tidy! And it's labeled, so we will know exactly where things are! Is there room for improvement? Sure. The labels could have been typed, or there could be a pretty color on the wall behind the shelves, but this will definitely work for now. :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

13 in '13

Like many people, I don't believe resolutions should be saved up for the new year. I try to improve my life whenever I think it needs improving. In January, I prefer to come up with a to-do list for the year. Things I'd like to do but haven't gotten around to in the past. The list in my head contains many more than 13 things, but for now 13 seems like a manageable number.

1. Run a Marathon
This has been on my list since high school, when I figured it would happen in about ten years. Now those ten years have come and gone and I'm out of excuses. Time to show 15 year old me that I CAN run that far. Maybe not as fast as I could have many years ago, but if Oprah can do it, so can I!

2. Complete a Sprint Distance Triathlon
This was never on my radar until last summer, when at the gym I would run or bike (or both) and then go swim. I'm a little bit afraid of swimming in open water because I've heard sometimes the athletes do dastardly things during the swim portion, like kick your face or drag you back. I just want to have fun.

3. Give Up Meat for at Least a Month
This is another one a long time in the making. I'm not a big fan of meat. I generally don't like the taste or texture and I'm always worried I will undercook it and poison everybody. A few years ago I gave up meat for Lent but it only lasted a few weeks because I wasn't eating properly and ended up feeling really tired all the time. Now I know more about nutrition, we're signed up with a CSA, and I think it will be possible.

4. Grow Some Veggies or Herbs
This is another thing I've wanted to do for several years. I don't know anything about gardening, or when to plant what, so it should be interesting!

5. Compost
This seems to tie in with growing my own food. Time to give it a try!

6. Perform in a Play
It has been 6 years since I've been in a play. I would really like to be in another one.

7. Sing in Public
I always chicken out. Time to be brave.

8. Go Somewhere I've Never Been
I've become very comfortable in visiting my favorite spots-- San Diego, Monterey, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Tahoe. Time to go somewhere new, and hopefully outside of California.

9. Help Others
I feel fortunate to be independent. Not everyone is that lucky. I would love to be able to help others who are less fortunate than I am, in some way other than donating things to Goodwill.

10. Simplify
Life gets too cluttered with things. I want to simplify life by getting rid of things and streamlining the things that stay.

11. Make an Item of Clothing
Over the summer I made an apron. It came out ok. Time to tackle something more useful, like a skirt.

12. Go to Church More Often
Some people think church is boring, but I like to go for the feeling of unity and love. I also love to sing in church, and our priest has a really cheesy sense of humor.

13. Work toward my financial goals
One of the things that seems to come with adulthood is debt. I would love to get rid of a lot of it this year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

'12 Faves

I wanted to do this before it became 2013, but got a little too busy. Here is a list of some of my favorite things from the past year.

12. KitchenAid Mixer
A gift from my mother-in-law that makes baking so much easier! I'm still not a huge fan of baking, but with this bad boy maybe I can become one.

11. Crazy Days and Nights
I'm addicted to celebrity gossip, and this blog has all the juciest stories! Best of all, on January 1 and July 1 the blogger reveals who the "blind" or secret stories were about.

10.  Adobe Photoshop Elements
The full version of Photoshop was more than I could afford and Elements did everything I needed it to do. Thanks to this program, I was able to design everything for the wedding, and do our Christmas cards, and my new planner.

9. The UPS Store
I go to the one by my house to print things in color. They printed all our stuff for the wedding and various things we've had at parties over the last year. They are cheaper than Kinko's and very friendly. And, their color printer is a laser-printer so everything comes out looking fantastic.

8. Parties!
In 2012 we had a painting party (thanks friends!), a couple of game nights, a Mad Men inspired birthday party, a father's day party, a 4th of July party, a simple little Halloween dinner party, a chili-themed birthday party, a Christmas cookie party, and a New Year's Eve party. Each one was a ton of fun!  

7. Michael's/Jo-Ann
I love these places. Before the wedding I probably went to one, the other or both at least once a week. I've even thought about getting a job there just so I'd have a legit reason to go everyday.

6. Disneyland
I have no words for how much I love Disneyland. I was fortunate to be able to go about every two months for all of 2012. It was the wonderful year of Disney.

5. Pinterest
I love getting ideas from Pinterest. Thanks to Pinterest, I've got some great new recipes, ideas for decorating my home, had some fabulous parties, got new little teacher tricks, know what to do with my hair other than ponytail, braid, or headband, and dress (slightly) more stylishly.

4. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
This was a fantastic mystery novel narrated by an 11 year old girl in 1950's England. Couldn't put it down.

3.  Nike Dri-fit running gear. 
Sure, there are other companies that make great running clothes, but the Nike Outlet is just a few minutes away, so Nike it is. These clothes make running as comfortable as running can be.

2. Erin Condren Wedding Planner
This was great to have on hand while planning the wedding. There were stickers of various wedding tasks that could go on the calendar, there were lined pages and blank pages to take notes/sketch ideas, there was a monthly checklist, and it was customized! Now that the wedding planning is done, I wanted to buy the regular planner, but then decided to just make own. More on that another day.

1. My wedding rings
Gosh they are so pretty! I love them. :)