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Breakfast With Santa

Breakfast With Santa

Today was our annual Breakfast with Santa at work.  I know what you may be thinking.  We’re far too old to be eating with Santa, but you’d be wrong!  Importantly, our annual breakfast is the culmination of our Angel Tree drive. In fact, this year we adopted 363 angels for Christmas!

Our Angels come courtesy of ARC Broward, which is an incredible organization that provides people with disabilities and other life challenges the opportunity to fulfill their potential.  Raising children in modern times is incredibly expensive.  Unfortunately, for parents of special needs children, the costs can be exponentially higher, which is where we come in.

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This event started over seven years ago when my CRO and his wife adopted their daughter’s classroom having seen the need first hand.  Thankfully, my CRO shared this opportunity with our military team and we took up the challenge.  Excitedly, this is my second year leading the event with my partner in crime MK.  By comparison to years past, our team is bigger, more diverse and incredible this year.  We made a concerted effort to expand the team outside of our unit, so it would encompass representation from units across the company.

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First, we started off our morning staging the gifts downstairs.  As a result, our employees could get their pictures taken in front of the gifts with Santa.  The sight was beyond impressive with gifts for over 300 people including 20 bikes staged in reception! What struck me as I looked at the gifts, was the amazing generosity of my colleagues.  In that moment, I felt truly blessed and proud.  Blessed and proud to be a part of an organization where community involvement and philanthropy are prized and encouraged.

Importantly, current employee engagement theory has shown that engaged employees happier and more productive.  Since I had the pleasure of taking the pictures with Santa, I got to witness our employees reaction to the event first hand. Without fail, our collective generosity blew away my colleagues.  Time and after time, people made comments about how awesome it is to work with such great people and at a great place.  Undoubtedly, for me, witnessing both their pride and their joy was a profoundly rewarding experience.  As a result, I have no doubt that today’s event was an employee engagement win!

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Afterwards, I headed back up to meetings.  Meanwhile, the team loaded the gifts up for delivery.  I simply cannot wait to go hand out the gifts later this week.  Last year, it was such an amazing, life affirming experience.  Unquestionably, the joy on the children’s face coupled with the gratitude of the teachers and parents is indescribable.  Meanwhile I’m filled with the joy and gratitude for today’s experience.

Tonight’s song performed by  music legends David Bowie and Bing Crosby   is “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.” 

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A Sartorial Emergency

A Sartorial Emergency

This morning’s cooler than normal temps, led to a sartorial emergency as I struggled to find my black leggings.  After all, how could I rock a great flannel shirt dress without leggings in these temps?  Admittedly, getting out of bed this morning was tough since it was so cold.  For a moment, it brought me back to when we lived in Minny and would have to get out of bed in the sub zero weather.  I can’t tell you how happy I am to not have to deal with those temperatures on the regular anymore.

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Fortunately, after a hurried and hurricane like search, I found my coveted black leggings.  As a Minnesotan, even though I’ve been in Florida 12 years now, I can’t bring myself to wear a jacket when temps are in the 50s.  Years ago, although not too many, when I was a kid we’d wear shorts as soon as the temperature hit the 40s and 50s again.  Truly, there would be no jacket in sight (sorry mom.)  Now, it’s bitter cold.  Honestly, a jacket would have wrecked the elegance of the outfit anyway. download (10)

In a twist of irony, now that the mercury has dropped into the 50s, the stores here have turned on the heat.  Consequently, you no longer need a sweater or jacket to shop at Target.  Rather, you’re better off shopping in a tank top and shorts.  It was downright balmy in Target tonight.  Unfortunately, the forced air heat does nothing for the skin, but I can’t complain too much since we only have like 5 cold days every year.

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Tomorrow we will be back in the low 70s (at least for the day), so dressing won’t be so complicated.  It’s always a sartorial emergency finding an outfit right for both the  indoor and outdoor climates.  Excitingly, we’re having our Breakfast with Santa tomorrow where we thank all of our colleagues that participated in our annual Angel Tree Toy drive.   This event is by far one of my favorite events of the year.  Unquestionably, every year I am blown away by the generosity of my co-workers. They’re truly amazing people.  Lastly, I had hope to share the pictures of Santa with you, but for some reason PetCo doesn’t like my email address.  Hopefully, I can get them before the end of the week!

Tonight’s song is “Happy Xmas (War if Over)” performed by John Lennon.

Wintry Weekend

Wintry Weekend

Our wintry weekend was cool, quick and quite jolly thanks to our hockey family.  Last night, we headed over to Finland’s house for Goalielocks’ team party.  As expected, the party did not disappoint.  All of us had a marvelous and jolly time from start to finish.  Heck, we would have stayed later if the Mayor wasn’t obsessed with getting enough rest for his games today.

Wintry Weekend
Wintry Weekend

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The food was exquisite and unending.  We brought chili cheese dip and a baked brie.  Unfortunately, the hubby worked late, so we were about an hour late.  As I was getting dressed, our dog Maya stole the bake brie out of its pan and devoured it quickly.  Fortunately, she didn’t break my brie pan and it wasn’t cooked yet, so she didn’t burn herself.  As I waited for the Hubby, I headed up to Publix to buy another wheel of brie.

We brought beer, ciroc and LaCRoix as beverages to accompany our food selections. As always, Peach Ciroc mixed with Peach Pear LaCroix was a solid beverage choice.  This drink, which is both low calorie and low carb was truly magnificent.  The best part, however, was the lack of hangover this morning.  I’ll have to buy another bottle before our next party!

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Like I said, we could have stayed at the party all night.  These people are our family and time flies when you’re hanging out with them.  Unfortunately, the Mayor had games this morning, so we had to be somewhat responsible with our night.  I love that my Mayor is so diligent about getting enough sleep before he plays!

This morning’s game was pretty good.  We ended up winning 2-0, but could have easily been much 6-0.  Their goalie was on fire that game!  Unfortunately, as well as the morning game went, the evening game was disastrous.  The sin bin was busy including a visit from the Mayor.  Of course, as he entered the box, he plead his innocence.  Truth be told, the Mayor had the hit of the game.  Unfortunately, there’s no checking at peewee. Doh!

As we left the rink, Air Force One was taxiing off to take off from PBI.   We drove down Southern until we found a spot just North of the road to watch the jet take off.  My kid’s are aviation fanatics, so this a takeoff we simply couldn’t miss.  No sooner had we pulled over when Air Force One started barreling down the runway.  While Hubby and the Mayor videotaped it, I face-timed Goalielocks so he could watch it live.  When I tell you they’re into aviation, I cannot emphasize enough how much they love it.

Air Force One took of into the sunset.  It was a beautiful, resplendent sunset as the world’s most advanced jumbo jet climbed into the sky.  The Mayor was beyond thrilled to have watched the big, beautiful bird leave PBI.  Now we’re home trying to unthaw as we cook fajitas!  The air temperatures are only in the 50s here in South Florida, which by are standards is quite cold.  Consequently, unthawing from a day at the rink is a bit harder tonight!

Finally, I wanted to again share the link for a family that is in dire need of our support during an imaginably difficult time.  If you are able to, please consider helping this family.  Here is the link: Youcaring

Tonight’s song is “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” as performed by Michael Buble.

 

Winter's Arrival

Winter’s Arrival

As I left the gym this morning, it became clear that the morning’s storms were our prelude to winter’s arrival.  When I left my house this morning, the temperature was 78 and it was humid.  No sooner had I parked my car when the cold rain started.  I made my quickly from the parking lot to the gym trying to avoid the rain.  I was moderately successful in this endeavor.

Fortunately, thanks to a heart pounding circuit burn class, I wouldn’t be cold for long.  My heart was soon pumping and the cold rain had given way to sweat.  Amanda’s Circuit Burn class kicked my butt this morning.  Post-class I started getting cold as you could feel the temperature had dropped and I was wet with sweat.  My yoga teacher turned up the heat in the yoga room, which helped immensely.

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Afterwards, I headed to my car in the light, cold rain.  The temperature had fallen immensely, which is not something that happens often in Florida.  When I was growing up in Minnesota, it wasn’t unusual to have a wild swing in the temperature (think 15-60 degrees) in short order.  However, in South Florida, it is quite unusual.  I plopped into my car, exhausted from class, turned on the heat noticing the temperature had dropped from 78 to 63.  Full disclosure, a South Floridians definition of cold is much different than most other people’s.  I would also say that being wet from two hours of hard workouts didn’t help keep me warm either.

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Nevertheless, I headed to get coffee and get on with the rest of my day.  Both the Hubby and Jake are working today, so its just me, Goalielocks’ and the Mayor at home.  Consequently, we decided to take our girls (Maya and Athena) to go and see Santa Claus.  Maya, our older dog, is a bit socially awkward when it comes dealing with new dogs, which makes me nervous taking her out.   Athena loves everyone and everything and is very social with people and dogs alike.

Maya, our socially awkward beauty, definitely gave Santa a run for him money.  She didn’t want to sit and face the camera.  Athena would sit nicely for a bit and then a new dog would come in distracting her from the mission at hand.  Thankfully, both dogs and both children behaved beautifully at the store.  There were no meltdowns or accidents on our excursion to PetCo.

On the way back home, I stopped at the Starbucks for a latte, hot chocolate and a couple of puppacinos for the dogs.  This was our dogs first time enjoying a puppacino and enjoy they did.  They made short work of the cups of cream.  We’ll definitely be treating them to those again.  Now its time to get ready for Goalielocks’ team party!

Finally, I wanted to again share the link for a family that is in dire need of our support during an imaginably difficult time.  If you are able to, please consider helping this family.  Here is the link: Youcaring

Tonight’s song is “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin.  Thanks TW for the inspiration!

varnish

Varnish

When I think of varnish, I think of the stains and varnishes that litter my garage.  Fortunately, most are currently closed so the overwhelming odor of varnish isn’t present.  When my Hubby is working the garage with varnish or even outside, the scent is omnipresent and overwhelming.  A good varnish brings out the grains and uniqueness of each piece of wood without covering it up.  The Hubby does an exquisite job picking the right varnish for each project he does.  Consequently, the finished product is amazing.

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Like a fine piece of wood, the more varnish we put on, the more our true nature is highlighted.   I love this quote from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectation, “”No varnish can hide the grain of the wood; and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself.”  Meaning the you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.  In the end, one cannot hide their true nature indefinitely.  In the end, one’s true nature always reveals itself.

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Usually one’s true nature reveals itself when someone’s back is against the wall.  Conversely, other’s are full monty out in the open with their true nature.  Ebenezer Scrooge, from Dickens’ great novel A Christmas Carol, was unapologetically mean, inconsiderate, and a  scrooge.  He pulled no punches and operated without pretense.  Of course, in the end Ebenezer Scrooge found his heart and a moral compass, but that’s not always how these things work out. The question is, what would more varnish reveal about you?

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As we edge closer to Christmas, I look forward to watching some of my favorite Christmas movies and specials.  Who doesn’t love watching Rudolph and Frosty this time of year?  Of course, there are several great move versions of A Christmas Carol.  One of my favorite versions is A Muppet Christmas Carol.  Whether or not you have kids, this move is enjoyable and well done.  Plus, the Dickens’ quote provided the perfect opportunity to plug a Muppet’s movie that I’ve loved since childhood.  What could be better?

Lastly, I wrote briefly about a mother’s worst nightmare last night.  Tonight this family is in need of our support during an imaginably difficult time.  If you are able to, please consider helping this family.  Here is the link: Youcaring

Tonight’s song is “Christmas Eve/Sarejevo” performed by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

 

 

Gut punch

Gut Punch

Today was one of those days that was akin to a gut punch.  The kind of day that brings you sorrow, angst, sadness, and grief. As if we haven’t already been here enough in 2017… Ugh.  This year has been tough and the last 24 hours indicative of its toughness. Unfortunately, my SIL lost her mother last night.  This is one of those times its tough to be here because we’re not able, as a family, to be there for her, my bro and their kids.  Right now all of us wish we were there with them.

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Meanwhile, in another corner, a mother’s worst nightmare is playing out in a horrific way and we’re all powerless to help.  If anything today has reinforced, the delicate nature of life and its unpredictability.  Life, our days on this earth, are not promised. We can choose to exist, which most do, or we can choose to live.  We can choose to make a positive difference in the lives of those around us regardless of our circumstances.

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Nonetheless, today left me wanting to do nothing, but gorge on Neuhaus chocolate tonight.  I’m proud to say that instead I went to aerial yoga.  This was definitely the healthier way to work through today’s sadness and grief.  Tonight’s class was a bit difficult as I hurt my hip some how, so I had to be careful with my left side.  Incidentally, the inversions are getting much easier with each class.  Additionally, my alignment in handstand/headstand is much better in my mat classes now.  Aerial yoga is definitely improving my practice.

Tonight’s song is “How Great Thou Art” performed by The Pentatonix.

Saintly Advice

Saintly Advice

Tonight’s blog is full of saintly advice meant to lift the spirit and encourage the reader.  Undoubtedly,  it has been a long, arduous week (although the sinus infection has abated) and it’s only Wednesday.   I’ve written before about getting caught up in life and forgetting to feed our souls.   For me, my yoga practice has been key in re-centering my mindset and my focus.  Here are some wise words to inspire your practice or your day.

“Fortitude is the disposition of soul which enables us to despise all inconveniences and the loss of things not in our power.” –St. Augustine

“Our body has this defect that, the more it is provided care and comforts, the more needs and desires it finds.” –St. Teresa of Avila

“A scrap of knowledge about sublime things is worth more than any amount about trivialities.” –St. Thomas Aquinas

“Joy is a net of love by which we catch souls.” 
-Mother Teresa

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”  -Saint Augustine

I love these quotes that focus on perseverance, humility, joy, love and knowledge.  Mother Teresa’s quote is fantastic and easily incorporated into every day life.   Make it a point to make someone smile. It could be through a compliment, a simple smile or a good deed.  I guarantee you making someone’s day brighter will fill you with joy.

I’ve peppered tonight’s blog with pictures of saintly places both natural and man-made from our Norway trip last summer.  I hope you enjoy the photos as much as we enjoyed experiencing the places.

 

Tonight’s song is “Halleluja” performed by Pentatonix.

Christmas in Florida

Christmas in Florida

This year we will celebrate our 13th Christmas in Florida after relocating to the area in 2005.  It seems like just yesterday that we moved South with Jake going into 1st grade and Goalielocks as a toe-headed toddler.  The Mayor was but a twinkle in our eye when we moved South.

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Our first couple of Christmas’ we headed back North to Minny to celebrate with the family.  This only lasted a couple of years because the holiday dinner circuit was exhausting.  It was tough only being in Minny for a couple of weeks because it never felt like we got enough time with everyone.  Inevitable, someone always ended up mad because we hadn’t spent enough time at their house or with their family.  It got old quick.

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While we were stressed, the boys loved the snow and being home with family for Christmas.  At least until Christmas of 2007.  We headed northwards for 2.5 weeks.  The weather when we landed was perfect, but that quickly changed.  In a mere 72 hours, the balmy mid-20 degree weather was gone and the temperature was well below zero. Damn Alberta clipper!  For the remainder of our time in Minny, we were homeward bound.  It was far too cold to take our boys out in the subzero weather.  Consequently, as we prepared to head back to Florida, I informed my parents that we wouldn’t be heading north for Christmas anymore.

Since 2007, we’ve spent Christmas here in Florida.  It’s significantly less stressful for us and more enjoyable.  In 2009, we started sending the boys to Minny for the summer, so they got ample time to spend with our entire family.   We miss seeing our family and the beautiful snow, but the novelty wears off far too quick now.  Plus, we’ve headed Northward for the last 5 years for out of state hockey tournaments.  We’ve had no shortage of winter weather.

Several years ago, we started a tradition of a Christmas brunch with my bro, his wife and friends.  I bake my caramel rolls, while the Hubby makes an amazing cholesterol bake.  Mimosas and presents about and everyone is happy.  In addition, we grew our tradition to include paintball.  Its amazing how much better you feel about all the caramels roll you eat after playing paintball for hours in the heat.  We conclude our Christmas with Chinese food.  Its not the most traditional Christmas, but it’s our Christmas.

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There are a couple of places I would love to celebrate Christmas..  My list of places includes: Norway, Germany (Christmas markets), France with my French family, Hawaii, Iceland and maybe even another Christmas in Minny.  If you could celebrate Christmas anywhere, where would it be?

Tonight’s song is “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlmen” as performed by The Pentatonix.

 

Hockey Mom Holiday Goals

Hockey Mom Holiday Goals

I’ve been thinking about the holidays for a couple of weeks now and thought it might be time to make a list of my hockey mom holiday goals.   Hockey moms, given our crazy schedule, take a little bit of a different approach to the holidays.  As much as I’d love to go crazy decorating the house, I have neither the time nor the money.  After all, Goalielocks already needs a new set of leg pads.

Here’s my list:

  1. Put the Christmas tree up before Christmas and take it down before Valentine’s Day.   So we’ll definitely get the tree up by Christmas, but Valentine’s Day feels a bit aspirational given our January/February schedule.  The oddsmakers have the odds at 25:1 for tree removal before Valentine’s Day.  Coincidentally, the Mayor will be taking bets….                                                                           images (34)
  2. Try not to gain the holiday 10 on top of the hockey 5.  This one will be tough with holiday parties, hockey games, cookies and drinks galore.  But, hey at least I have goals.                                 e4bef8c4247a68cf899b9d503ba10787
  3. I will try to bake Christmas cookies before Christmas and hide them so we have cookies through Christmas.   At least, I’ll have some awesome cookies from BG to tide me over until I can bake mine! 10._SugarCookie
  4. Spend loss money on things and more on experiences.  There isn’t a gift in the world that can compare to the fun we had as a family in Norway.  Truly our Norway trip was the best gift we ever gave ourselves and our kids.  I’d go back any day to see that beautiful place and the beautiful patina on its statues and metal work.  Of course for the cost of Goalielocks’ leg pads, I could buy a ticket to Oslo… (I’m only kidding Goalielocks.)IMG_0274
  5. My goal is to stay in the gym, on the running path and on my mat throughout the holidays, so I can stay sane.  Yes dear hubby, this one’s for you.  This should also help with goal number 2.
  6. This year my goal is to create a Christmas card on Shutterfly and order it in time for Christmas.  However, there is a slight chance here that your Christmas card may be delivered with your Valentine’s day card.  Christmas cards
  7. My last goal for this holiday season is to enjoy the time I have with my family and friends.  These are the people that make my world go round and I couldn’t imagine life without them.

Tonight’s song in keeping with the holiday theme is “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey.

Beach Training Day

Beach Training Day

Today the Mayor’s team held their beach training day at Phipp’s Park in Palm Beach with Coach Mike and their Coach Preston.  It was a remarkable day on the water with temperatures in the low 80s and nary a cloud in the sky over us.  The water temps were a bit cool for me at 78, but my son quickly reminded me how spoiled I’ve become.

For their training day, they did almost 90 minutes of off ice training in the sand and water.  Chiefly, Coach Mike put them through the paces with a number of exercises that you might see in a circuit class or at the gym.   Since I’m usually the one at the gym, it was nice watching the Mayor be put through paces.  Truthfully, some of those exercises are tough enough in the gym, so  I can’t imagine how much harder they would be in the hot Florida sand.

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Some the exercises, like the wheelbarrow race, relied on teamwork as they raced uphill in the sand.  It was quite fun watching these kids navigate the exercises together.  In between different modules, the kids would break for water, reapplication of sunscreen and then hit the waves for a bit.  Unfortunately, one kid did have a run in with a jelly fish as we started the day, so they didn’t go in too deep.  Fortunately, the jelly fish only slowed him down for a spell and he went on his way through the exercises.

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As their time on the beach winded down, they ran a race on the sand in the surf.  Once they finished their laps, they set up for their final exercises.  This exercise hails from Navy Seal training.   The kids sit  linked arms in the surf and have to stay connected.  Since there was jelly fish in the water, they sat right where the waves broke.  In the face of the surf, they had to stay strong and connected as a unit.  Truly, it was awesome to watch.  I look forward to Goalielocks’ team’s day at the beach.

Consequently, the sinuses are starting to feel a bit better.  My stomach still does not appreciate the antibiotics, but hopefully some yogurt will help that situation.  Fortunately, the beach is one of the best places to be when your sinuses are running afoul.  The salinity in the air is therapeutic and brought relief to my sinuses.  I do, however, look forward to finishing my course of antibiotics.   Once we got home from the beach, we went about the course of our day.  I wished I could hang the towels from a clothes line with some tenderhooks, but since I don’t have clothing line my shower will have to do.

Tonight’s song in honor of the “cold” water and the cold rink where we live is “Cold, Cold, Cold” by Caged the Elephant.  Enjoy!

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Words of Inspiration

“The future has several names. For the weak, it is impossible; for the fainthearted, it is unknown; but for the valiant, it is ideal.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
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