2.17.2015

Fun While it Lasted

Picnic at Balboa Park
You will never guess what he was actually doing

This odd looking maneuver is the end of MJ's cartwheel!  He claimed he could do one, but I kept forgetting to make him show me.  I can't believe that it has taken me (a former gymnast) seven years to get around to seeing this man's cartwheel.  I have no idea how he ended up in that position at the end of a cartwheel but technically, he can do it.  He needs to work on his form but I promised to help.

 

After my parents moved to Vegas I was happy to find out that they had decided to come back every four months for my Dad's Doctor's appointments at UCSD Medical Center.  My dad can see a doctor there who knows about kidney's but not one who does kidney transplants and is used to seeing patients that have had one, so they decided it was worth it for that reason alone to make the drive three times a year.  Plus, they get to see me.  The timing for this appointment couldn't have been better since I had Friday and Monday off for President's Day.  The weather couldn't have been any better either so we decided to take advantage of it and do a Picnic at Balboa Park.  Valentine's Day was a footnote.  We went to dinner that night just to go, but we are not big Valentine's Day people so despite the parade of Red and Pink on social media and the random gift shops that popped up in gas station parking lots selling tacky stuffed animals and garish balloons it was just another date night for us.  I didn't even get a picture and MJ forgot his wallet!
A photo posted by Cece (@pinksunshine94) on

My mom and I spent an entire day running errands and we were in Kohl's so long that by the time we came out we were shocked to see that the sun had gone down but we knew exactly what happened.  We are REALLY slow shoppers! By the time we finished we were starving.  I made a Chipotle run while my mom ran into the Grocery store to get Ice cream sandwiches for my dad.  I was sitting in my car waiting for her.  She sent me a text message asking me what kind of Girl Scout cookies I wanted.  I knew I wanted the Peanut Butter Patties not to be confused with Peanut Butter Sandwich but I couldn't remember the exact name so I checked.  A Girl Scout asked me if I would like some cookies and I said, "My mom is coming to buy them, I just wasn't sure what kind."  Tagalongs, I texted her back.  When she got into the car with the cookies she told me as soon she said she wanted Tagalongs one of the girl scouts said, "Oh, your daughter was here, asking about these."  We laughed when I told her I felt about 12 years old saying that my mom is buying them no matter how old I get have to admit that sometimes I like that.  When you are an adult ensconced in bill paying, laundry, doing and fitting it all in when you are not at work it's nice to feel like a kid again sometimes.  Up to and including your dad driving you nuts because that is what he does, but loving him anyway. 

We shopped.  We went to the movies.  We cooked spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.  And then sooner then you can believe it the weekend is over and you are back at work, but it was so much fun while it lasted.

2.03.2015

I'm Reading Again!


For someone who loves reading so much I can't believe this is the first book review to ever grace my blog but I shouldn't be.  I'm sadly aware that I haven't done a whole lot of reading over the last five years.  Yes, FIVE.  I'm blaming MJ because the reading stopped the year we got married.  I was so distracted by my him and everything else that I didn't make time for it.  Then I was so occupied with blogging and trying to write my own book that I forgot how much I enjoy it.  I didn't make New Year's resolutions, but if I did read more would be at the top of the list and I'm trying to make that happen.  I checked out five books from the library over Christmas Break and finished four in January.  After one renewal I knew I was going to run out of time and that one would be going back to unread.  That last pick turned out to be my favorite one of the bunch.  When I returned them I limited myself to two because realistically, with work and everything else I figured that's all I'd have time for.  I already finished one!  Instead of choosing from just the 'free' or 'cheap' books off of Amazon I went to the library and found books I was really interested in reading so when I have spare time I reaching for a book instead of the remote.  And they are still free!  Project read more in 2015 is going good so far.

Without further ado, in the order in which they were read....

Best Friends Forever, Jennifer Weiner 
Addie Downs and Valerie Adler were eight when they first met and decided to be best friends forever. But, in the wake of tragedy and betrayal during their teenage years, everything changed. Val went on to fame and fortune. Addie stayed behind in their small Midwestern town. Destiny, however, had more in store for these two. And when, twenty-five years later, Val shows up at Addie’s front door with blood on her coat and terror on her face, it is the beginning of a wild adventure for two women joined by love and history who find strength together that they could not find alone. -Via Amazon

My thoughts:
I really liked it!  I was interested right from the start and that remained throughout.  Addie's friend Val was a super annoying character, but she was so annoying because that was her character and the author did a really good job of conveying that.  There was a really cute love story worked in there as well.

Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult
Sterling is an ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens--until the day its complacency is shattered by an act of violence. Josie Cormier, the daughter of the judge sitting on the case, should be the state's best witness, but she can't remember what happened before her very own eyes--or can she? As the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show--destroying the closest of friendships and families. -Via Amazon

My thoughts:
I've never read a Jodi Picoult book I didn't like.  She had me at My Sister's Keeper and at some point I want to read everything she has written.  There are quite a few at my public library, with multiple copies even, so I should be able to get my hands on quite a few from there.  She is an amazing storyteller and my only critique about it is that sometimes she's such a good storyteller that the storytelling words go on longer than I wish they would.  Sometimes I just want her to get to the point and found myself skipping over a sentence or two to get there.  It does not prevent me from wanting to read more from her though.  There was also a lot of going back and forth between the past and the present which was confusing at first but I got used to it. The story line was really interesting.   We see the shooter as a monster and based on their actions they are, but there are two sides to every story and this book does a wonderful job of telling both.  We get some insight into what can turn a person into a monster and it is heartrendingly sad.  She makes the reader love him a little bit which is really hard to do because he has ruined so many lives and in the end I felt totally conflicted.  

Ladies' Night, Mary Kay Andrews 
Grace Stanton’s life as a rising media star and beloved lifestyle blogger takes a surprising turn when she catches her husband cheating and torpedoes his pricey sports car straight into the family swimming pool.  Grace suddenly finds herself locked out of her palatial home, checking account, and even the blog she has worked so hard to develop in her signature style.  Moving in with her widowed mother, who owns and lives above a rundown beach bar called The Sandbox, is less than ideal.  So is attending court-mandated weekly "divorce recovery" therapy sessions with three other women and one man for whom betrayal seems to be the only commonality.  When their “divorce coach” starts to act suspiciously, they decide to start having their own Wednesday "Ladies' Night" sessions at The Sandbox, and the unanticipated bonds that develop lead the members of the group to try and find closure in ways they never imagined.  Can Grace figure out a new way home and discover how strong she needs to be to get there? -Via Amazon

My thoughts:
It took me a while to warm up to this book and even half way through I still wasn't sure if I wanted to keep on reading.  I soldiered on because it's really hard for me not to once I start reading or watching anything.  The writing was a little bit repetitive in some places but overall it was a good story.  I was glad I stuck it out to the end, although I'm not sure I would recommend it just because it was so slow and hard to get into.

Girl in Translation, Jean Kwok 
When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family’s future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition. Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles. -Via Amazon

My thoughts:
Out of all the books I read in that bunch this one was my favorite!  I read it in all in one day on one chilly glorious Sunday where I spent most of the day in my granny robe cozied up with this book.  The author is an amazing storyteller and captures Kimberly's experience so well.  I really enjoyed this character.  I was rooting for her so hard to make it and overcome the life circumstances that had been thrust upon her.  It's definitely a must read.


1.27.2015

Body Talk

It dawned on me around November of last year when people were being struck down left and right with illness that I hadn't been sick for a single solitary day in the calendar year 2014.  Not once.  I actually had to check my blog to find out that the last time I got sick enough with a cold to miss a day of work was January 2013 and it had been a year prior since I was sick before that.  Last month there was one occasion where I had a weird cough and another that I felt a little stuffy at night for a few days but nothing that materialized into anything requiring a day off work, medication or even tissues.  So what's my secret?  The truth is, I don't have one.  I am absolutely not perfect in my diet and exercise and I've only recently gotten more regular with vitamins.  When I'm not eating hamburgers the size of my head I have a solid awareness of what a healthy diet is and that's what I eat.  I exercise regularly except when I'd rather watch reality TV or snuggle in bed with a good book than work out.  There isn't always an explanation for good health just as there isn't always one when it's bad.

My first thought when I realized I haven't been sick in so long was Holy immune system you are really good!!  I'll probably get the plague, the measles or at least a really rotten cold for publicly acknowledging that I haven't been sick in two years; but it's the truth and it's pretty awesome. My second thought.  You are mighty ungrateful for someone who has been graced with such good health.

I don't floss but I don't get cavities.  I've never had anything like bronchitis or strep throat.  I don't get the flu shot and I don't get the flu.  I have vague memories of shivering and sweating in bed as a teenager so I may have had it before but it's been so long that I can't remember.  I have a stomach of iron and I don't know what heart burn or indigestion feels like because I've never had either.  Exactly one year ago I had surgery and was back at work in three weeks.  Like a perfect all knowing machine my body knew exactly what it needed to do to heal and get me back to living the life I love.   I can barely see my hand right in front of my face but it's correctable with contacts.  I have loud creaky knees and a sometimes bad back but I still climbed a really big mountain a few weeks ago.  It aggravated my old lady knees and I could barely walk for days days, but I was able to do it because my body allowed me to.

I know I'm lucky and I don't take my good health for granted.  I never did, although my actions told a slightly different story.  An unhealthy aversion to fat and calories dominated my life for a really long time but in my mind it wasn't a problem.  I wouldn't listen to anyone who said you have to put gas in your car in order to fuel it because I was getting away with it.  There was hardly any gas and yet there I was chugging along.  My trusty body stood up to the abuse like a champ and thrived in spite of my poor nutrition.  Things are different now.  Over the last year I had to accept this whole eat to live concept, but the voice in my head that drove my actions all those years remains.   I should be grateful for my good health.  I am grateful, but sometimes I have to ask myself; how truly grateful I can be when I don't love my body?

I love my body for what it has done but not at all for what it is and sadly, I have never loved any version of my body no matter the size.  I can pick up any journal I've ever written since I was ten years old and find something negative about my shape or weight.  My physical form is a vehicle for life but also a source of conflict.  It's like being trapped in an unwanted shell that you cannot escape.

One day I was in the bathroom using a hand mirror to stare at my butt when my husband walked in.  Let's be real.  I can't be the only woman who has ever done this.  Normally, I hide my hate sessions and would have quickly put the mirror down but I didn't bother.  He's heard me give every excuse in the book to avoid dinner and held me while I cried about my thighs.  There are really no secrets left when it comes to this and as much as he loves my body the way it is he already knows I don't.  He gave me a funny look.

"What? Haven't you ever used a hand mirror like this to look at your butt?"  I asked sarcastically because I already knew the answer.  Of course not.

It struck me as some otherworldly state of being not to have ever done such a thing because I really don't know what it's like to not hate my body.  I can't imagine an existence where I don't use a hand mirror so that I can hate-see my butt.  Where I don't avoid the mirror because I dread what I will see or am compelled to look so that I can shake my head in disgust.  I've pinched, criticized and compared for so many years that I don't even know what I look like anymore.  Objectively, I know that I am not this hideous creature I see in my head and that my harsh opinion is terribly skewed and therefore lacks merit.  I know this, and yet those negative thoughts still speak the loudest.  I've starved.  I've overexercised.  I've called myself fat.  The physical war is over, but the mental war inside my head won't quit and I haven't figured out how to shut off the voice telling me my body is not good enough. There is no reason that any woman at any size should look in the mirror and be so blinded that they can only see what needs fixing. Who's to blame?  How does this happen?  I can't very well blame the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show because this all started before I even knew what Victoria's Secret was.  I can't say that I'm not affected by those images, because I most definitely am, but it's so much more complex than that.  

I've loathed it to the moon and back but all it has ever shown me in return is love.  My body has never let me down.  It does everything it's supposed to do and I should love it wholeheartedly because that's what it deserves. My body deserves better.  I deserve better.  There are people with chronic and/or life threatening illnesses and people get sick every time the wind blows so it does feel kind of ridiculous to be so hung up on something like this.  I'm not one to cuss much, but really; I'm too old for this shit.  Life is too short to spend it hating the very thing that allows you to live.  I'm working on it.  That's really all I can say and hopefully one day I'll learn to appreciate my body for the amazing things it does and for what it looks like.

1.20.2015

Old Lady Shoes

Confession time!

I confess that we change our thermostat from our Ecobee App even if we are sitting five feet away from it.  One time the only thing within our reach was my i pad which did not have the app on it.  When we wanted to turn on the heat we just downloaded the app instead of getting up. Hey, if the options there-I'm gonna use it. The main reason I'm really glad we have the option is so I don't have to get upset if we leave the house and I think I left the thermostat on because I will make him turn around and go back.  Half the time it's not even on!!  Same thing with my curling iron.  I wish I had an app for that.

I confess that I made coffee but forgot the cup.  I hit 'brew' and didn't even realize I forgot the mug until I saw it shooting out of the machine.  I always wondered what would happen if some idiot did that.  Well, that idiot is me and it turns out the machine has a pretty good plan in place when people are silly enough to forget.  Most of the coffee pooled into the base area so it didn't make that much of a mess but I was really annoyed that I wasted a K cup.

I confess that I ate both hard boiled egg yolks for two days in a row without even realizing it.  I realized I'd done it for two days on Wednesday and remembered not to but had to check the trash because I couldn't remember if I remembered.  Then I forgot again on Friday.  MJ called to remind me on Monday or else I might have done it again.  I eat two hard boiled eggs in the morning as part of my breakfast but only one yolk because it's too much cholesterol.  The confession here has less to do with the yolks and more to do with my awful memory and how weird it was in the first place that I just randomly forgot.  Yes, I'm losing my mind.  See coffee confession above.

I confess that I started calling my sleeping pills dolls after I watched Valley of the Dolls last month.  I know, I'm weird.  Anyone ever seen it?  I read the book a long time ago and loved it so I was really excited to see it in Netflix.  It's from the 60's and Patty Duke is in it.  Her character becomes addicted to prescription medication and she calls them dolls.  And yes, I still take sleeping pills dolls Sunday through Thursday because of chronic insomnia.
I confess that since we have a no shoes allowed rule I get ridiculously excited when I get a new pair of and get to wear them in the house.  I always make sure to put them on early so I can prance around the house because it's such a novelty and it's fun to feel like I'm breaking the rules.  Don't laugh at my old lady shoes.  That's what MJ calls them anyway, but they are so comfortable that I don't even care.  If you are interested in what it feels like to walk on a cloud they are Grasshoppers by Keds.

I confess that I finally threw away my wedding folder from 2010.  It was not even cute.  It was just some tired heavy stock folder with a pocket on each side stuffed to the brim with wedding stuff.  Let's just say I had a really hard time letting go of my wedding.

I confess that I'm driving around with my Goodwill drop off  in my trunk.  I have bags and bags of clothes and shoes just rolling around with me every day.  If I didn't know me and I saw my trunk I'd think I was homeless and living out of my car.  I'm not homeless, I'm just a hoarder.  Pulling all that stuff out of my closet was a big move but I'm afraid to pull the trigger for real.  I've got issues.

I confess that I bought a shoe stretcher.  I've taken my shoes for stretching enough that I finally decided to just go ahead and buy one.  Turns out they really aren't that expensive and it's one of those things that will pay for itself.

1.12.2015

Worth The Climb

"We should go hiking sometime."  I said that a really long time ago and I don't know what we were waiting for considering there are tons of amazing hiking trails in San Diego.

Miles to go
Two weekends ago the conditions were perfect.  The air was crisp and the sky was blue so off we went for our first hike of the new year at Cowles Mountain.  It took us 1 hour and 10 minutes to hike to the top and back.  The way up was a serious work out.  I had to spend a lot of time looking at the ground to avoid any missteps.  The way down was more enjoyable.  It's easier and I got to look around more.  My body was really tired afterwards but I was not sore at all the next day.  4.7 miles was challenging but not extremely difficult.  

So what happens if we double the miles?

We decided to tackle Mt. Woodson at Lake Poway next.  We're talking 8.4 miles round trip.  When I went downstairs MJ was packing snacks.  Is this hike so hard and long that we going to have to stop for a lunch break?  Maybe I have no idea what I'm getting myself into.  It was another perfect day for hiking.   70 degrees at 12 noon with blue skies and a perfect touch of chill in the air.  It was beautiful and this is just one of the reasons I love San Diego so much.  You can do almost anything you want here any time you want to. 

This is one tough hike.  Some areas are steeper than others but there are some serious inclines.   Again, I had to keep my eyes on the ground a lot to avoid taking a wrong step.  It's actually best not to look too far ahead.  It's beautiful, but when you see all the little ants marching along the mountain which are actually people way ahead of you who still haven't made it to the top you realize how far you have to go.  I knew we'd get there, but when your legs are already on fire and you know you aren't even half way there it's just a tiny bit discouraging. 
The edge of the world
We took one break on the way up at the halfway point.  This trail has gigantic boulders everywhere at many points along the way so it's not too hard to find a rock and make it your own little spot to chill out and enjoy the view.
We spent about 30 minutes at the top snacking, checking out the view and resting our legs.   Then it was time to make the trek down.  Eight miles of crazy mountain inclines is no joke and going down is not as hard but it's still really challenging.  I got a new pain in my instep but kept on trucking. We did a lot of running  because it was easier to allow the momentum to push your legs into a jog than trying to resist it.  If gravity made us run we ran and there were times when my body was going so fast that my legs could barely keep up.   The whole thing took us 2 hours and 40 minutes.   I was a dusty, filthy mess but I didn't mind it because sometimes it just feels really good to be dirty.  It means I conquered a mountain and felt the wind on my face.  I also felt dirt blow on my face and tasted it, but it goes with the territory.  By the time we made it to the car my body was so beat down and my legs were kind of numb but that didn't last.  By the time we made it home they hurt so bad I could barely get out of the car and by the time we hobbled to dinner that night I felt like I had been hit by a bus.

The view from the top is worth the climb and so are the food shenanigans that are likely to occur afterwards.  I burned 1,257 calories and MJ burned even more.  We had breakfast and mountain top snacks but we were at an extreme calorie deficit that required burgers and beer at Nicky Rotten's.  This burger was so big that when it landed in front of me I wasn't sure how to handle it.  If you've ever eaten blue cheese you know how strong the flavor is and they are so generous with toppings I had to scrape off chunks to tone down the flavor.  It was so delicious.  I got draft instead of a bottle just so I could drink out of a frosty glass and it was seriously the best tasting Coors Light I've ever had in my life.

Las Vegas // Lake Tahoe
And we weren't the only ones in my family hiking that Saturday.  While we were hiking in San Diego my parents were exploring a trail in their new home Las Vegas while my little sister was out doing a little hike in Lake Tahoe.  Great minds think alike.

So this is how it feels to burn 1,200 calories in one workout.  It hurts, but I had a lot of fun.  Even with the pain; I loved the challenge and I definitely want to do it again.  Not right away.  There are plenty of other trails to explore in the meantime while I let the memory of the suffering part of Mt. Woodson go away.

We saw an older man with white hair at the top of the mountain.  Amidst the crowds of spandex clad young people he stood out the most and it had nothing to do with his high rise white polyester pants with the elastic waistband or the giant fanny pack he was wearing.   He stood out because it's a tough hike even for the young hard bodies with bare midriffs and even at his age he was out there just like the rest of us getting it done.  I am so inspired by active old people because that's how I hope to be.  If my body feels this much pain now I can only imagine how it will feel 15-20 years from now.  That old guy is a rock star in my book.  Maybe I won't go as fast and maybe it'll take me longer to recover but I want us to be out there together hiking mountains for a long time to come.

1.04.2015

Cheers to The New Year

It was my idea for him to teach me how to play poker.  We would be staying in for New Year's Eve and I figured it was as good a time as any.

Last year we were dancing in the streets on New Year's Eve.  Not exactly in the streets but in a bar, which is almost the same thing and it was really fun.  I officially declared that going out for New Year's Eve is not overrated.  I still believe that but you gotta be able to get your booty dressed and out into the cold frigid air first and that is the hardest part.  This year dinner and drinking at home would do.

We went to Tiramisu Trattoria because it was closer to home than downtown, the parking is plentiful and free, and the food is good.  I got the lasagna because I find it very difficult to go to an Italian restaurant and order anything else.  He got the sausage rigatoni.  After filling up on bread and salad we took home more than we ate.


Poker is harder than I thought.  I kept getting the hands confused.  Is it suit or number that makes the hand?  I think I got it; sort of and will do better next time but I had to take a break so I got out Yahtzee and proceeded to play the worst three games I have ever played in my life.  Ever.  And I've been playing Yahtzee since I was like 10 years old.  It was me and my older sister's favorite game for a long time and I used to be good but I couldn't roll anything good to save my life and had to fill in zeros for almost everything.  While we played MJ put on silly movies that nobody really wants to admit to making an effort to sit down and watch.  Scary Movie 2 was just down right ridiculous but Bad Grandpa was actually hilarious.   We switched over to countdown shows and then toasted the New Year with champagne and a smooch.

A photo posted by Cece (@pinksunshine94) on
Two weeks at home is plenty of time to feel refreshed, be productive and have fun and just long enough to almost make you forget that you have a job.  Which is awesome.  The holidays are over.  Food for the week has been prepped and my staycation is all but over.  I'm not exactly thrilled about that but the new year has begun and there is something to be said for being alive and well to see another one.