Tough To Swallow

It’s a bit tough to swallow that our vacation ended days ago and I’m still exhausted. Fortunately, the dinner I made in the Instant Pot was not! I love the convenience and quick turnaround of this magical device.

Tonight’s dish was Ropa Vieja and it did not disappoint. The meat (a roast) took only 90 minutes to cook. Once the 90 minutes had elapsed, I was able to easily shred the beef with my fork. I then added in the peppers, so they could cook without contaminating the entire meat (everyone, but me hates peppers) and added the olives.

What’s even better is that while the roast cooked, the Piggie and I were able to run an arduous 3.5 miles. It was not my best run and the first time in awhile I’ve logged over 3 miles. Fortunately, the weather was entirely perfect. There was not a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect (at least weather wise) run with temperatures in the upper 70s to low 80

During the 3rd mile we alternated walking fast with sprinting. We started with intervals of 1:1 and then moved 1:2 ratio of walking to running. Unfortunately, I still sucked at running. Yesterday’s run was pretty fast and relatively pain free. On the other hand, today’s run was arduous as it’s worst and painstakingly hard at it’s best.

So yesterday’s run was great. Well, except for the squirrelly incident. It was just after mile marker 1, when a grey squirrel popped out from behind the bushes. The Piggie couldn’t control herself, she had to chase. Meanwhile in my head, I’m saying “squirrel” and cracking up. Fortunately, the squirrel quickly made its way up a tree and out of sight. I was dying laughing literally and figuratively, when I had to stop and catch my breath. #squirrel

Despite the difficulty of today’s run, the Piggie and I were able to go the distance. We didn’t quit when it seemed impossible. Rather we kept fighting to breakthrough the wall. Luckily, or perhaps unluckily, we’ll be back at it tomorrow. With only 11 days until the corporate run, I’ve got plenty of work to do! I can’t wait to run tomorrow!

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Super Bowl Sunday

It’s super bowl Sunday!  I sure do wish my Vikes were playing, but oh well.  Unfortunately, according to Mick Jagger we can’t always get what we want.  So here I am cheering for the Patriots on account of the Philly fans poor behavior.  Thus far the game has been okay, but I am enjoying the commercials.  I love the tourism ad for Australia.  I’d probably follow Chris Hemsworth or his brother for that matter anywhere, but the ad was pitch perfect.  Moreover, I’d be curious to know the increase in flights to Australia after that ad.

JT’s half time performance just finished.  I love the tribute to Prince!  The city and stadium looked amazing lit up in purple.  Prince was an icon in that city and our state. Additionally, as a Gopher it was great seeing the University of Minnesota Marching Band out on the field backing up JT.  What an experience fr those kids!  His set was pretty good, but his outfit looked like he bought it at the local Mills Fleetfarm.  In fact, he may be leaving the Super Bowl to go hunting or something.

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We’re creatures of habit, so we have our usual chili cheese dip in the crock-pot for the evening.  Our sweet Athena is cuddling with us on the couch as we watch the big game.  Meanwhile, the BBQ rib thief Maya, is paying her penance in her crate.  Goalielocks was none to thrilled when she stole some of his ribs off the table.   In addition to our big game treats, I bought ribs for the boys tonight.  Goalielocks was thrilled.  Thank god for Target and cartwheel as I was able to save 20% on all three racks.

In honor of the big game tonight, I’d thought I’d share some of my favorite Super Bowl memes.

Tonight’s song performed by JT is “Suit & Tie.”  He performed this song tonight at the Super Bowl backed my by alma mater’s – the University of Minnesota – marching band.

Come Fly With Me

Come Fly With Me

Come fly with me, no seriously, you’ve gotta try aerial yoga at least once.  Now that I’ve have several classes under my belt, I’m starting to feel much more comfortable in the silk.  After an rousing hockey game last night and kick arse circuit burn class this morning, aerial yoga with Monica was the perfect way to decompress mentally and physically.   Additionally, the communal atmosphere of the class is awesome.  Everyone is supportive, eager to try new things and happy to cheer others on.

I know you’re wondering, what’s so awesome about aerial yoga. So let me tell you.  First, aerial yoga is great for your back.  While you’re in the inversions, your spine is able to decompress and there’s minimal strain on your back.  If you’ve got back problems, an aerial yoga practice may provide relief.

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Since the silk supports you in the inversions, you’re able to get into inversions, like handstands, and hold them much longer.  Consequently, you build not only strength, but also muscle memory for the poses.  This will translate into your mat practice.   Moreover, there are parts of the aerial practice that are nearly identical to TRX.  You’re able to use your own weight as resistance to build strength and flexibility.

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Thankfully, I was able to decompress both my mind and my spine this morning otherwise I would have lost my mine at the mall.   The Hubby and I are way behind the eight ball when it comes to Christmas shopping.  Although to be fair, the boys just posted their Christmas wishlists on the fridge yesterday.  Consequently, I headed to Kohl’s to find a present, but left empty handed.  I could not believe how picked over the shelves were. Since Kohl’s didn’t have what I needed, we headed to Macy’s and Dick’s.

What should have been a five minute ride took nearly 20 in the snowbird laden mall traffic. Ugh, Christmas shopping is bad enough, but throw in winter traffic and it is insufferable.  We ran in to Dick’s first, but again came out empty handed.  Afterwards we made our way to Macy’s, were we finally found what we needed to buy.  Unfortunately, we spent more time trying to exit the mall parking lot than we spent in Kohl’s.  Road rules and traffic regulations are not strong suits of Florida drivers.

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Later the Mayor and I went to Target, so he could by his brothers some presents.  Fortunately, Target was better stocked and well staffed.  We were able to get our groceries, the presents and check out in less than an hour. This was amazing especially considering we made a detour to Starbucks as we shopped.

Tomorrow we’ll finish out last minute shopping after aerial yoga and then head to my brother’s tomorrow evening.  Of course, we’ll have to wrap all the presents and start preparing the dishes for Christmas brunch.  My family looks forward to Christmas brunch as its usually the only time I make caramel rolls.  You may recall that for hurricane Irma I made an exception.  Unfortunately, we were house bound so we couldn’t work off the calories.  Consequently, Jake and I are already planning a long run Christmas Day to counteract the thousands of calories and carbs we’ll consume at brunch.

Tonight’s song performed by the Chairman of the Board Frank Sinatra is “Come Fly With Me.” This song is one of my absolute favorites.  Enjoy!

Norway is Calling

Norway is Calling

Norway is calling (so is my bed p.s.) me back.  There’s no way around it and the kids feel the same way.  As a family, we cannot wait to go back and explore it some more.  For my kids, the city of Bergen was particularly memorable.  They’ve even started planning how they can study their in college or move their as adults.  I’d say the city left quite the impression on them.

The most beautiful part of Norway, and there were so many, for me was being able to spend time with my family.  There were no distractions of work, school or hockey.  It was just us enjoying our time together as we discovered our Scandinavian roots.  In addition, it was even more special because my entire family was there together.

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As we approach the holidays and I put out the Christmas decorations I bought in Norway, I long to go back.  One of my goals is to spend Christmas in Norway to enjoy the Scandinavian customs and celebrations.    It would be nice to enjoy a white, snowy Christmas versus our tropical Christmas.  Additionally, I’d like to explore the Christmas markets in Germany some time.

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Oh the serenity of my house was broken as the boys returned from hockey practice.  Goalielocks some how managed to knock a grocery bag with my brie baker off the table.  Consequently, my nice pampered chef brie pan has seen its last day.  Ugh… This is why I can’t have nice things.

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I leave you tonight with some of my favorite pictures from 2017.  There were many memorable moments this year, so picking my favorites was quite difficult.  Nonetheless, I think you’ll find a theme in my pictures.  Hint, hint my favorite moments are all about my family and friends that have become family.

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Tonight’s song performed by Offspring is “The Kids Aren’t Alright.”  I know, I know it is a departure from the Christmas music.  However, I was jamming out on my way to Barre tonight to this song, so I thought I’d share it.  Plus, it seems to fit with the brie, football/invisible hand calamity.

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!

Last Night in Bergen

We had a brilliant lunch post Bergen aquarium near Bryggen with our family before J&B headed to catch the bus for Stavanger.  Tomorrow they’ll be on the hike of their life making their way up to Pulpit Rock.   Our waiter was incredible and bought us a round when the fryer broke and our food took longer than normal.  This was a great gift as beer and cider are extremely expensive in Norway even by South Florida standards.  The food was worth the wait and I enjoyed my fish an chips along with my cider.

 

Post lunch we hit the shops to find some useful souvenirs.  The Mayor found a nice knife he can use for fishing while Goalielocks selected a viking horn that sounds a bit like a kazoo.  The kazoo piece wasn’t intentional, so we’ll be looking for another viking horn for the house.   Jake got a nice Norwegian flag he can hang in his room.

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After two ciders at lunch, my favorite local coffee shop Dromedor was calling my name.   Not too far geographically from the tourist hub, but miles away in terms of its customer base.  This is a great local spot with quality coffee and pastries.   I have quite enjoyed their lattes these past couple of days in Bergen.

For dinner our kids wanted frozen pizzas, which was a complete godsend.  Food is extremely expensive in Norway and this was a perfectly economical way to feed the kids.        Post Pizza we headed to the wold famous fish market to meet J&M (my older bro and family), my grandma and my parents.

They were finishing up their dinner and afterwards we headed for dessert and shuffleboard.  We ended up at the same restaurant where we ate and drank yesterday as it had several shuffleboard tables where the kids could play and not interrupt all of the diners’ dinners.

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After two rousing shuffleboard tournaments, Priya and Zak and I emerged as champions.   Somehow I managed to figure out how to score a couple of points, which was enough for me to be successful.  The kids had a blast and enjoyed their desserts throughout the tournament.

After shuffleboard, we said adieu to our favorite spot, Bergenhus Bryggeri, and headed out to walk the city.   For the first time, we headed up Kong Oscars Gate where X&P found an awesome and cheap hot dog stand.  The group continued to make friends with dog owners and their dogs.   Norwegians love their dogs and take them everywhere.  Their dogs are meticulously groomed and extremely well behaved.

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As the sun started to descend in the sky, we headed back to our AirBnB to pack for our trip to Stavanger.  We have absolutely loved our time in Bergen and will be returning to this wonderful city hopefully soon.

Exploring Borgund, Husum and Laerdal

Today was all about exploring Borgund, Husom and Laerdal, which is where my dad’s family emigrated from in the 19th century. We started our day off with some scrambled eggs and bacon in the cabin, which were absolutely delicious. The cost of food in Norway is outrageously expensive, so we’re trying to eat in whenever possible. Food at the restaurant is taxed at 25% whereas food purchased in the grocery store is 12%, which makes for a big difference in cost.

After our protein filled breakfast, we set out to meet my parents and brothers’ families at the Borgund Stave Church. The drive, like most in Norway, was spectacular. The landscape here is absolutely amazing and awe inspiring. Our timing was spot on and shortly after we pulled into the museum parking lot in Borgund, my brothers’ cars followed.

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There is a small musuem at the site with artifacts related to the staves churches of Norway and also relics from the Viking Era that had been excavated at nearby sites. As a history nerd, I was in complete heaven. Once we made our way through the museum, we headed to the church.

What is nice about this site is that the staff monitors how many people are in the church and prevents the church from being overcrowded. This ensures you have ample time and space to view the church and explore the grounds without being overrun by other tourists. Their was a large group in the church when we arrived, so we started to hike the Sverrestigen, part of the Kongevegan (King’s Road.) My grandma, at 87 years old, killed the hike. I had Jacob escort her up the hill as the the terrain, comprised of grass, mud, rocks and tree roots, was a bit slipper and I didn’t want her to fall. If you are wondering what the benefits of walking 3-5 miles daily are, here it is. My Grandma T able to hike the Norwegian hillsides at 87 without so much as breaking a sweat.

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The stave church was amazing. It is very dark inside and modestly decorated with much of the regalia of it’s Catholic era long gone. The details and intricacy of the woodwork and carvings are beyond compare. Interestingly, this church, like the stave church in Undredal, combines christian symbolism with pagan symbolism. This simply does not exist in churches outside of Norway. There were even Rune letters carved into the door perhaps by a parishioner who had become bored during the service.

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After exploring the church, we explored the church and cemetery grounds it was surreal knowing that these were the very soil our ancestors had walked before emigrating to the Untied States. Jacob and I completed the entirety of the Vindhellavegen trail from Borgund to Husom.  Meanwhile Luke and the other two waited for us at a picnic table. The Vindhellavegen drops you right into Husum (Husom) where our family had its farm.  The Husom Store and hotel are found here as well.  We hiked back from Husum to Borgund on the Vidhellavegen taking a steeper, rockier short cut of a climb back to the church.

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I’m sure our legs will hurt tomorrow, but the view and experience were well worth the pain. Post hike we headed to the Husum farm and then on to Laerdal. I loved seeing my dad on this part of the trip. You could see that he really enjoyed seeing where his family originated. Another humbling, wonderful day in glorious Norway.

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My New Toy

After leaving the nice camera on the shelf for the last year or so I brushed it off, charged its battery and got the lenses ready for graduation.  I bought the T2i for our trip to France back in 2011.   If you’re travelling to Europe or planning any major trip, it is worthwhile to invest in a good camera.    Many museums, cathedrals, castles, palaces and other landmarks prohibit flash photography, so you’ll need a camera that takes good pics in low light.

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Since 2011 my Canon EOS Rebel T2i has served us well, but after 6 years, countless trips to Minnesota, countless hockey tournaments and countless school events culminating with Jake’s graduation it is time to move on.  Truthfully, some of the photos from graduation were a bit cringe worthy.  The T6i comes with an improved lens compared to the T2i.  In addition, the camera is a bit heavy by current standards and lacks the connectivity to smartphones and computers built into the T6i and T7i.

The Canon EOS Rebel T6i can be controlled from my iphone.  No more running and tripping to try and beat the timer when taking a group picture off a tripod.  You can also review and manage images easily on your iphone, which is a huge plus.

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In preparation for my trip overseas, I’ve been playing around with the camera to try and learn the different settings and familiarize myself with it.  Fortunately, my puppies, my guinea pigs  and my kids have been happy to oblige.  My initial review of the Canon Rebel EOS T6i is that it is a huge upgrade compared to the T2i.  It is light, easy to use and easy to navigate the menus.  After my trip I will write a more comprehensive review.   Here are some of the practice pictures.

The Notorious P.I.G.

We  adopted our second dog two years ago after our boys somehow convinced us that Maya would be lonely once hockey season ended and our billet Zach left.  We already had our hands full with the three boys on three different hockey teams, a relatively new company we were building and our Maya.  We told them they were crazy….  Unfortunately, neither Luke nor I had expected that the most powerful argument in favor of a new Lorbach dog would be the sweet face of a puppy.  How does one counter that very powerful argument?

Much like her sister Maya, Athena has a heart of gold and nothing but love for her family.  Both our dogs are rescues that we adopted as young puppies from Broward County Humane Society and Rescue Adoption.  Maya ruled the roost for almost six years by herself, when Athena was brought home.  Athena especially loved her big sister when we brought her home, while big sis Maya was really hoping the new obnoxious puppy would leave.  Thanks to twelve weeks of puppy kindergarten together, the girls bonded and have gotten along very well ever since.

Athena prefers her meals as an endless buffet.  We gave her the nickname the Notorious P.I.G because she’s oinks like a pig after she eats and drinks and walks around like a boss.  Her personality is as large as her appetite and her heart.  She loves to run with Jake and I, even in the Florida heat, as often as possible.  I always look and feel miserable when I run.  I don’t run gracefully and it is truly a struggle.  When the Piggy runs with though, she runs with a smile.  She’s always happy.  How she could possibly be happy while running 5 miles in the South Florida heat?  I don’t know…

She’s the Notorious P.I.G. because she eats like pig, smiles non-stop and loves unconditionally and all with a larger than life personality.  What are you notorious for?

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Our race

As tryout week winds down and my hockey mom nerves unravel, I can feel the tension leaving my shoulders and my stomach.  Friday night we had our last tryouts for the fall season.  Regardless of the outcome of tryouts, the ultimate decision is equally stressful.  I skipped the Monkey to get home earlier with the Mayor, so I could attempt to get to bed early in preparation for the Firefighter Eric Patrie 5k on Saturday morning.

I’m not a morning person, so when I have a race or early hockey game, I usually set several different alarms to ensure I’m out of the house in time to get to the event.  I prefer to get to the race about an hour early, so I can warm up, eat a little something, hit the bathroom and get acclimated for the race.   Saturday morning was not that morning.

I had set my Fitbit alarm, which usually works all of the time.  It doesn’t, however, work when you forget to put it back on after you shower.  I also set the alarm on my phone, but apparently it was for pm and not am.  Instead I awoke to my hubby saying aren’t you supposed to be somewhere by now?  It was 6:05 am and the answer of course was yes!

I ran out of bed, woke up Jake and gave him a ten minute warning.   We rushed to get ready and head towards Delray, so we wouldn’t miss the start.  I grabbed almonds in a rush and popped few on the way along with a GU gel.  We made it in time to park and head to the starting line before the scheduled start, but it felt rushed and our muscles (much like the weather by Florida standards) were cold.

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I had hoped to log a PR, but I was tired, cold and under the weather.  Honestly, I didn’t feel like running at all and was really craving the comfort of my bed and down comforter.  Nevertheless, Jake and I along with our KU running crew, including Evie the sweetest dog,  made our way to the starting line.  It was a gun to chip race, so Jake and I stayed near the front of the start corral to avoid the inevitable starting line traffic jam.

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As I ran the first mile, which felt like five, I fought through the desire to quit, the desire to walk, the desire to go back to bed and tried to maintain a decent pace.  It was a tough mile and slower than I wanted, but not horrible over all.  I grabbed some water continuing on to mile two.  Maybe it was me, maybe it was the weather or maybe it was the route, but mile two seemed to last forever.  I tried to maintain my pace as best I could and saw only a little degradation in pace between mile one and two.

Mile three beat me up.  The unusually cool and dry air dried out my throat and tightened up my lungs.  I had to stop to use my inhaler and was feeling the pain.  At this point, I had a choice to continue to walk and get comfortable or to run the remainder and try to hit my goal.  I chose to run. It hurt, it wasn’t pretty and in the end I missed a PR by tenths of seconds, but I did it.  I fought through the fatigue and pain to do my best.

Initially I was disappointed by my time (28.33) , but I think I was being too harsh on myself.  Two and half years ago, I ran my first 5k at a time of 34 minutes.  I started training in earnest last fall and whittled my time down to a PR of 28:32.  It’s not earth shattering fast, but it represents a lot of hard work and a lot of forward progress.  I didn’t feel 100% physically Saturday morning, but I didn’t let it stop me from giving 100% in the race and that was Saturday morning’s victory.

Meanwhile, Jake finished 6 minutes ahead of me, but was also disappointed by his time.  It was slower than his PR of 21 minutes, but he still  placed in the top 3 of his age group.  This was a very fast and competitive race, so I was happy to see how well he fared against the competition.  Even with the trophy, he was still disappointed with his result.

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Even though my time wasn’t where I wanted to be, I love the feeling of finishing a race.  I love the excitement of the start and the excitement of the finish.  I love seeing a first time 5k runner come through the finish line.  There is no better feeling finishing something you didn’t think you were capable of finishing and theirs is nothing better than seeing that sense of pride on a runner’s face as they finish their first 5k.  Joe – your KU crew was proud to see you cross the finish line and do great your first time out.  Can’t wait to see what you do in your second 5k!

Neither of Jake nor I, hit a time we were thrilled with Saturday, but we had a great time with good friends supporting a great cause.  For Jake and I, its back to training and working towards better results and greater distances.

If you’d like to know more about this event, here’s the website.