Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Purpose of Life

Funny the things you think about when you're up super early for a run and have some quiet time alone. In the quiet hour between the end of last Thursday's morning run and my commute to work, I was thinking

I don't often get too contemplative these days - I think I left a lot of that navel-gazing behind with my teens - but I had read this comic from The Oatmeal recently and I think it was lodged in my head:
This is just an incomplete snapshot of the entire thing. He goes on to write that the things he loves don't often bring him joy - sometimes they make him suffer but they are compelling. That's how I often feel about writing and running!
I hate the two ends of the "meaning of life" spectrum: the positive side that thinks life is meant to bring you happiness and that you should feel fulfilled always, and the nihilistic side that thinks we're all just existing and there's nothing more to it, and that life owes us nothing so if we're not happy who cares?
Although I do find the Nihilist Memes page on Facebook pretty damn funny if you're into dark humor.
Side note: There are a million articles online about how to find happiness in life, and I feel like if you're reading those articles trying to pick up tips, you're going about it the wrong way.

Then I was thinking, really, what do I think the meaning or purpose of life is? Because when I'm just living it, I'm not enjoying it, and when I'm enjoying it, it may all still be meaningless, but at least I'm not miserable. I came up with three things that, to me, speak to the purpose of life:
The reality of the world we live in is that we won't enjoy every minute of every day. We need to do some things we don't love or aren't passionate about in order to survive, and I think anyone who says differently has more privilege than I've ever known. But we do need to enjoy life if we want to thrive, and there's a difference between surviving and thriving.

When I'm satisfying my curiosity, learning new things, exploring, and experiencing the world around me, life feels a lot richer.

We need to seek out things that engross us and prioritize them in a way that makes them part of our lives on a regular basis. If you don't know what that thing is for you, it's time to explore. Take a class. Volunteer. Learn to cook. Read more. Take a day trip. Go to a museum. Try your hand at drawing. Go camping. Whatever. For me, obviously, one of those things is running. It doesn't always make me happy, but it compels me.
Life itself may not have a definite purpose (to paraphrase the Oatmeal: that's okay) but it feels better when we're engaged with living. It's like I used to tell my students: you have to be here, so you may as well make the most of it!

How's that for a marriage between blind optimism and nihilism?

Do you think there's a purpose or meaning to life?
What enriches your life?


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Surprise Races!

You all know I've been training for this 10k in October. It's my goal race for the season in the sense that my year of short/speed is coming to an end and it will probably be the last race I run in 2016.

Well, that was the plan anyway. But two races kind of snuck up on me this week and I couldn't say no!
Overused, always accurate. Fun story: when I first saw Elf I wasn't a runner yet, so I didn't get this line; now, I feel like he knows my soul.
The first surprise race is a nighttime 5k this Friday. As in, three days from now. The race is a bit of a drive for us, but I'm excited for it because 1) Sean (remember him?) loves it and swears it's great 2) the after-party/dinner is supposed to be fantastic (even though I won't be able to partake), and 3) this year is the race's 5th anniversary so there's a finisher's medal!
I plan to run it HARD and see if I've kept up my fitness from May's 5k; if I can keep paces in the 8:40s again I'll be totally surprised and stoked, but that's kind of my goal/hope.

The second race is after the 10k. The other CRT (whose office I share) and one of our 5th grade teachers have been talking about training for their first 5k. They've been excited to run it but I can tell they're also a little nervous. This week, they jokingly challenged me to join them, and I immediately agreed.

They hadn't signed up yet, even though they've been training since summer, and I had the feeling they might chicken out, so I signed up and forced their hands.
First races are a big deal and I know they can either hook you and make you love running, or they can kind of scare you off for awhile. I want this to be a good experience for them, so I plan to run it at an easy and fun pace (because it's a themed race and I'm not sure if it's worth busting my butt over, but we'll see how I feel!) and meet them at the end with big cheers and smiles.

I want Elizabeth to run either race with me, but I really wish she could run the first. She's never run a a race before, and it would give her a race experience before our 10k (she's not sure how she'll be in a race atmosphere, understandably!) and because there's a finisher's medal, I think it would really make her feel excited and accomplished. Either way, I'm still (gently) working on her to join!
I want this to be EVERYONE'S reaction after their first race!
I've missed running 5ks; I can't justify running a race every weekend like I used to, but I'm really glad these two races popped up on my radar so I can fit in a few more before 2016 draws to a close.

Do you have any last-minute races coming up?
If you're a more discerning racer, how do you decide if you're going to participate in a race?


Today I linked up with Erika @ MCM Mama Runs for Tuesdays on the Run!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekly Workouts 9/19-9/25

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: Elizabeth and I ran 5.3 miles over the bridge. It was really humid and warm, and I felt completely useless. I had to walk a lot and just felt really sick and lightheaded. The run took us an hour, which was much longer than I had counted on for the mileage, and my right calf was tight the entire time.
We ran up the bridge both times and then walked at the top before the descent; I also needed a walk break in mile 4. Obviously our splits speak for themselves. 
If Elizabeth hadn't been with me, I would have quit early. This was one of those days where having a workout buddy really paid off. I think my issue was partially low blood sugar (I had a Coke as soon as I finished the run and felt better.)

Wednesday: Wednesday I was still having some weird lightheadedness. I went home after work and did this video...
...followed by lots of stretching and some planks, etc. I was really just focusing on getting my calf feeling right.

Thursday: We had to run in the morning because I had another 5-8pm training. We did 3.4 miles at 5:15am and I felt really good. I took a salt tab before the run, and I think that made a big difference! I need to remember this and keep taking salt pre-run until the weather breaks.
I like that morning runs are all about fitting in as many miles as I can before I have to get back home...there's less pressure for mileage and more of a focus on time.
Friday: When I got home from work, there was constant thunder but it didn't quite look like rain. I got changed and went outside to run around 6:30, but literally made it five steps before lightning streaked across the sky directly overhead. NOPE.
LOL...that quick turn-around!
I really was excited to run and was feeling really good, but had to take my workout inside. I did some core and ab work, then squats, lunges, and some pushups and kettle-bell swings. Just a general full-body workout. It felt good, but I wish I had a treadmill!

Saturday: Rest.

Sunday: Elizabeth and I took a new route and ran 9.5 miles. The run felt awesome. It was 75 degrees with 91% humidity, but I felt great! My calves were still tight for the first 2.5 miles or so, but once they warmed up my legs felt strong. Considering I have a few little races coming up now, I need to figure out how to warm my calves up so they're not tight early in the run.
The one thing that sucked about this run is that our tracking failed at the very end. The Nike+ app has been going through some changes, and it's been awful. It glitches all the time. Today, it was working on my phone and watch without trouble, and I saw our splits about halfway through and heard the voice feedback at the end as it gave us our final pacing updates, but when I went to turn it off, it froze up and completely deleted our splits! I know early in the run we were at a 10:58 pace; at the halfway point we were at a 10:45; and by the end we were at a 10:35 overall pace, so I know we had some good negative splits. I'm pissed that the app ate my data.
I've contacted customer service and I'm glad I'm not the only one having issues - usually Nike is pretty good about changing things when many people complain.
I'm not the only one having this issue; the comments on the support pages and app store reviews all reflect that the new update is garbage. I've used Nike+ since 2009 and am comfortable with it; I like it better than using a Garmin. But if they don't clean up the new app, I'm going to have to stop using it.

Other than that, this long run was perfect! Again, I still need to figure out what to do about my calves early on during runs - if it takes 3 miles to warm up, then I need to bear that in mind on race days. Still, this was an improvement to how I felt Tuesday, so I'm happy! It was a great way to end the week!


Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Five

Today I'm linking up with Mar on the Run! et. al. for the Friday Five. Let's dive right in, shall we?

1. Pumpkin Spice: I know it's become so popular that now there's backlash against it, but certain pumpkin spice things still get my attention. And I love pumpkin pie and pumpkin rolls. I really want to try this Cheerios flavor before fall is over.
Sorry to disappoint you, Anthony Bourdain.
But I draw the line at PSLs. And can we all just acknowledge that pumpkin has almost no flavor and "pumpkin spice" is really just a fancy way of saying "cinnamon and other spices used in pumpkin pie"?

2. Coconut Oil: A few weeks ago a company called Skinny Co. (yeah, another really terrible company name that turned me off a bit) reached out to me to see if I'd want to try and review their coconut oil products. I said yes...but maybe I shouldn't have. Most of the products I received are skincare, and last time I tried coconut oil on my skin, I broke out like crazy.
I can try the razor burn moisturizer and the mouthwash (even though I think "pulling" is total bull...along with most of the other supposed benefits of CO).
I know it works for some people, but not for me.

I did want to try it for my hair and to cook with, but I didn't receive anything along those lines. So I think I'll hand these off to my sister and let her test them out and see what she thinks. The products are really beautiful and smell delicious.

The company supports Fair Trade and sustainability, and the oils are 100% CO without fillers. Do they boost metabolism, improve thyroid function, and maintain healthy blood-sugar levels? I don't think the FDA has approved those claims. But it does smell good!

3. Running/Reading/Writing as Punishment: Elizabeth and I had this discussion recently:
I know some runners like the "our sport is your sport's punishment" mentality, but I've harped on running-as-punishment or running-in-PE multiple times on my blog. No wonder so many people think they hate running! Our first experiences with it are usually negative!

It's the same for reading and writing. How many of you have been told to "write a letter apologizing/explaining why what you did was wrong" in school? Or to read silently because you had lost a privilege? It's hard to get creative, I know, but I hate seeing things I love used as punishments!

4. Technology Updates: The new iPhone OS is really a bit busy for me, if I'm being honest. I feel like the entire phone has gone Snapchat crazy. However, I DO love that texting facilitates replacing words with emojis, and that the female runner emoji is finally here!
Debating running at 5am for a second day in a row.
In other technology news, Pottermore has finally released its Patronus quiz! I'm a proud Ravenclaw and think I was sorted perfectly, and I think my wand matches me really well.
I'm a little disappointed in my Patronus, but the quiz was really cool and - nerd alert - I'm going to research the Chow a little bit to see why it fits me, because I trust PM and its sorting process.

5. Time Management: This seems to be the time of year where things all pile up. Work, workouts, writing, reading, the's just so hard to divide my time! I feel fulfilled when I'm really busy, but I also feel like I don't have any downtime. This week, Elizabeth suggested we (along with another friend of ours) have a girl's night and as I was saying, "Yeah, I need girl time!" I realized that actually, I haven't had quality time with Matt in weeks! I actually need husband-time, and usually it's my friendships that suffer when I'm super busy. I need to prioritize and fix that.

Bonus: How weird is it to get a phone tripod just to take better running/post-running photos? Because I'm seriously considering getting one of these babies so I can branch out from selfies:
It's like $10 on Amazon and would easily fit in my running bag!
Do you like pumpkin spice flavor?
What's your favorite fall flavor? I actually love candy corn because I'm disgusting.
Do you use coconut oil for anything?
What do you think your Patronus would be? It's not an animal representation of yourself - it's a protective shield made up of your best, happiest memories.
How do you prioritize family/friends/alone time when your schedule is packed?


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Rethinking My 10k Goals (& PR, Apparently)

I'm beginning to think my goal for the Sanibel Race for FISH 10k needs to be adjusted. (And so does my PR, apparently...skip to the bottom for a weird twist.)

When I first decided to make 2016 the year of short distances, setting new PRs wasn't really a factor a goal but it was on my mind as a way to keep myself on track. I wanted to get consistently faster in a way that would mean on a daily basis I could hold a faster pace than I'd been doing since marathons entered my life. 
My average pace in 2012 was comfortable sub-9 for distances up to the 10k.
Generally, that meant I wanted to be back in the 9s, but hopefully racing in the low-9s or high-8s. That meant a 5k PR in May.

But as I look at my paces on my 4-mile runs and how much effort those paces are taking, I'm wondering if the goal I've been thinking about for the 10k is totally outlandish. 

For reference, most of my 4-mile runs are in the low-10s or high-9s right now. My A goal for the 10k was 57:00, which is a 9:10 pace. Can I run 40+ seconds faster per mile for two extra miles? I don't even know if I could push that pace for four right now!
I do know that I'm not ready to give up, but I'm already feeling discouraged. I'll continue speed work and building mileage, and I still have about a month to go until race day, but because I'm beginning to doubt my capabilities, my motivation is diminishing, too.

My current 10k PR is 58:41*, which is a 9:27 pace. I'm honestly not sure I could match that right now, let alone beat it. But I do know that if I could hold a 9:39 pace for this race and break an hour, I'd be happy. After all, getting faster is a process with no real end in mind. One race and its outcome isn't going to define the progress I've made; it will be a checkpoint on the way to continued progress.
This first year was the only year this race has been chilly (in the 60s/70s) and I was running the bridge 4x a week and running long every weekend in preparation for my first (real) half marathon.
Because the truth is, I ran 58:41 years ago when my running looked very different, and my 10k paces more recently are closer to 1:05 (on average - I've run them faster and slower in recent years). 
This is from 2014...In 2015 I ran my slowest yet at 1:14, but it was part of a 13-mile long run, so it was slow on purpose.
So if I can at least see some progress, I'll be happy.

I'm not totally giving up on the idea of a PR for this race, but looking at the work I'll need to do in the next month to get there, I'm trying to figure out how realistic that dream is, and if it needs to be least for now.

*When I wrote the original post about the 2012 race and my PR, I recorded my time as 58:41 so I must've gotten that from somewhere. But when I checked Athlinks just now, it says my time was 1:00:05, so maybe I can readjust my goals and still technically PR. Does this mean my PR has been a lie/figment of my imagination all this time?! Where did I get 58:41 from?! Was that the time originally recorded but I somehow missed an adjustment the race organizer made later on?! Have I never broken 60-minutes in a 10k?!

This post has officially raised more questions than it's answered.

Help me out guys - what's my PR?
Do I have a chance to break it, whether it's 60-minutes or 58:41?
I'm beginning to feel the PR is arbitrary because it's so how do I set a realistic and challenging goal for this race?


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Weekly Workouts 9/12-9/18

Monday: My last day of recovery from my cold. I felt pretty good but opted to take just one more day off.

Tuesday: Elizabeth and I celebrated my return to health with a 3-mile run. I pushed the comfort zone a little bit and my legs felt great. Afterward, I did some planks.
Funny story: we turned around at the end of our road, which has a stoplight. The guy waiting to turn there called out, "Looking good, keep it up!" or something to that effect...and it was actually genuine sounding. Elizabeth and I were both like, OMG I think he meant that. It wasn't sleazy or weird at all. So I guess there is a way to shout at runners without being a jerk! Color me shocked.

Wednesday: I was really in the mood to work on my core because my planks were so pathetic after Tuesday's run. We did T25 Ab Intervals.
Thursday: Unintentional rest day. I meant to run in the morning but overslept. I had a training from 5-8pm at the district and wasn't home until after 8:30, so running at night was out.

Friday: We ran the bridge and added a little loop through a neighborhood that's being built at one end. I felt really good for the most part. I think maybe the weather was a little nicer - 83 degrees instead of being in the 90s - and it may have even been a teeny bit less humid than usual!
Still, that run had me thinking about my goals for October's 10k. More on that later.

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 9 miles in 93% humidity. I honestly think I felt pretty good for this run, but toward the end my lungs and heart rate were just a mess. My legs did feel tired toward the end, but despite the fact that it's been a hot minute since we've run long, they didn't feel as tired as I expected them to. Our overall pace was 11:05, which disappointed me a little.
We were absolutely drenched by the end and just happy to be done.

This wasn't a stellar week, but it was a good one back considering I was sick last week and took seven full days off.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fall Running Clothes are Here, but I'm Still Waiting on the Weather

Today, I'm thinking out loud about fall fashion. Kind of.

One of the annoying things about working out pretty much everyday and being very consistent is that I have to do a lot of laundry. And if I don't do laundry - like I didn't last week because I was feeling sick and totally unmotivated to do anything - the first things I run out of are athletic clothes.

And underwear, obviously.
So I'm really happy that being an ambassador for Skirt Sports means that this year I suddenly own more workout clothes than I ever have before. And it's all cute stuff that makes me excited to wear it!

Anyway, this fall some new prints came out and I waited patiently for all the styles I wanted to be available in said prints, and now I can't get enough! Our weather may still feel like summer, but at least my clothes are feeling fall.
I knew I'd love the Enchanted print because black and pink are my favorites, but I was surprised by just how pretty it is!
I wasn't sure I'd like Frolic as much but I think I may like it best. The bright orange is surprisingly flattering!
Skirt Sports is having a birthday celebration, which means you can get $20 off your purchase using the code BDAY20...You might even be able to use it in conjunction with my 20% code (ABK20) for an extra deal.
Click here to shop. This isn't an affiliate link because I'm too lazy to figure out how those work.
I'm currently justifying all the stuff I have in my cart because clearly I need one of everything.

When Skirt Sports shared the birthday sale news, they posted a clip of founder Nicole DeBoom winning the 2004 Wisconsin Ironman in a skirt. LOVE IT.
Click here to watch the video.
I don't really know how to explain it...I wrote a post a little while back about this, but it was still so hard to put into words...I just seriously love when women accomplish great, badass feats while still totally embracing their femininity.

Do you follow season fashion/color trends?
What's your favorite thing about fall?
How often do you buy new workout clothes?


Monday, September 12, 2016

Upriver Ceramics is Up and Running!

This past week I didn't work out at all because I was sick, so I can't really write any kind of weekly review post. Instead, here's an amazing update on Matt's ceramics studio!

Last time I posted about Upriver Ceramics, Matt had gotten his new equipment and was making pieces. He hadn't fired anything yet. I think he was nervous about the kiln. Would it work? Would it destroy the cottage? Would it destroy the pieces? Would it leak poisoned gas and kill everyone who came near it? (These are all very real possibilities, by the way.)

Over the last few weeks, he's been testing that out. First he did two test-firings, which means he heated the empty kiln up to about 1700 degrees F and then let it cool down. The cottage got up to 100 degrees even with the AC set at 75, but otherwise nothing went wrong.

Then, he put the pieces in. Time to fire them. Obviously we were nervous, but everything turned out beautifully!
I made that ugly cup! See my initials?! Go me! I'm so talented.
The next nerve-wracking test was glazing. The glazes Matt bought are new to him, and it's been a long time since he's glazed anything. He had to put on the right number of coats and make sure the glaze didn't run (thereby making the pieces stick to the kiln shelves). Then, he had to fire them, which meant heating the kiln up to 2000 degrees!

Yesterday we went in to see how it all came out:
He put all the sea horse mugs on the top row but he did make other designs, too!

I am so freaking proud of him. This is the first time Matt has fired a kiln himself and been fully in charge of the entire creation process from start to finish. (His ceramics master used to fire everything for him.) It's a huge deal that everything turned out perfectly the first time around! Soon, his Kickstarter pieces will be done and he'll be able to work on his bigger projects and take custom orders!
I picked out the dark blue and red glazes. Clearly I have an eye for this sort of thing.
Side note: Most of these pieces have a "Florida" theme (sea life/water) but usually Matt's designs are very abstract. I think he wanted something that would appeal to tourists and would be cute and fun for his Kickstarter backers!

While the kiln runs, Matt stays in the cottage, so he's been leaving the house at 6am to start everything early. It takes well over 12 hours. I'm hopeful that now that we know everything is safe and in working order, he won't feel the need to be there the entire time.

As if that's not exciting enough, Matt had another big success this week!
Matt and his pieces!
He entered three pieces in a local gallery and one of them won first place! (The curator admonished me for taking pictures in the gallery but that's not stopping me from publishing them here! I'm a rebel and too proud to care!)

Do you prefer functional or abstract art?
Fun fact: many people don't pronounce the "n" in "kiln"! Pronouncing it either way - "kill" or "kiln" - is considered correct.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Five Stages of Getting Sick

Blame it on traveling or the back-to-school-plague that's gripping our students, but I woke up this morning and it had all caught up with me. I'm sick.

As usually happens when I come down with my first cold of the year, I had to process it before I really accepted it.

Stage 1: Denial
*Upon waking* My throat hurts. I can't swallow. Everything feels like glass! Maybe it's post-nasal drip. Maybe it's allergies or a dry throat from moving the bed right under the AC. Yeah, that's probably it. It will feel better after I eat breakfast.

*Examining the back of my throat in the mirror* It doesn't even look that red. If I have orange juice before my coffee I'll feel better in a matter of hours. That's how vitamin C works, right?
Work. Faster.
Usually by now it would feel better if it were just allergies...

No but seriously, I feel fine, this is all in my head.

Stage 2: Reluctant Acceptance
Why is it getting worse? This isn't fair. I'm a healthy person!

I want a popsicle.

Stage 3: The Blame Game
What did I do to deserve this?!

This is what I get for breathing recycled air trapped in a plane with a bunch of coughing old people.
This is what I get for letting kindergarteners hug me.
This is what I get for talking with Elizabeth about how gross kindergarteners are. Karma!
This is what I get for eating junk food all weekend and destroying my immune system.

Stage 4: Regression
I want soup.
I want ice cream.
No, soup.
Why won't anyone make me soup?
I moved the furniture around on Tuesday afternoon and as a result, Matt and I switched sides of the bed. I think this was a mistake!
Why doesn't Matt care that I feel icky?

Stage 5: Denial, Revisited
I should go to bed early...but I'm sure this is just a 24-hour thing.

So honestly, I feel okay enough that I could have worked out today, but on top of my sore throat, the top of my right foot and my ankle have been a bit achy today. I think I've pushed my limit of working out without properly stretching so I took today off with the intention to foam roll and really stretch. Neither of which I've actually done yet. But there's still time.

I'll be using this random day off to my advantage. Hopefully soon my calves, ankles, and throat are all feeling right as rain!

Do you go through denial when you start to feel sick?
Do you have to sleep on your side of the bed?


Monday, September 5, 2016

Weekly Workouts 8/29-9/5

Monday: I was craving a run because I didn't run Sunday. After a really awesome circuit, I decided I didn't need a run...but I went anyway. It felt good to just take a jaunt around the golf course before dinner!
I cooked, stuck dinner in the oven to stay warm, ran 1.65 miles, and came back to gorge myself on tacos.
Tuesday: I conquered my fear and did 3x1600s! I now know I can push those faster next time; oh yes, there will be a next time!
We made sure to warm up with dynamic stretches and an easy loop first, and I think that really helped.
Wednesday: Elizabeth and I did the cardio boxing video from last week again. We just really enjoy it! It gets your heart rate up, but it's fairly low-impact, and it's a nice full-body workout.
I am in LOVE with Skirt Sports' fall prints. I was skeptical of the orange but in person they're so bright and fun!
Thursday: Rest.

Friday: We ran before work because I had a flight to catch in the afternoon. The humidity and heat were back with a vengeance, so it wasn't our best run, but at least we got it done!
Running before school is hard. We never go quite as far as I'd like because of time constraints.

Saturday: We got a few miles of walking in at Chagrin Falls and downtown Cleveland, so while I didn't do a workout, I was still active. I did try to get up early to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and run Saturday, but I was too tired!
Steph and me climbing birds in Cleveland's new downtown Square.
Sunday: Travel and rest.

Monday: We pushed our long run to Monday (because there was no work for Labor Day) and did just about 7 miles. It felt good to run long again but part of me is just not enjoying long runs right now.
My legs are tired for the first few miles and I'm having trouble breathing in the humidity. I need to be more diligent about doing warmups first!

Did you have a good week?
I hope you enjoyed your long weekend!


Friday, September 2, 2016

Cleveland Bound!

My grandparents are the best. They met in the Navy, where Grandma was a nurse and Grandpa was a dentist; Grandma says she saw Grandpa on base and told a girlfriend, "I'm going to get that guy." And then she did.
Can you find my mom in these pictures? Hint: she's the one who looks like me! Bonus: Find my dad in the last picture.
Grandpa was our dentist growing up, and Grandma was his assistant. They lived about 30 minutes away from us and have been in the same apartment for as long as I can remember. My grandpa's favorite memory of me is that one night, I was having a sleepover at their house and they promised they'd drive me home if I got homesick.

That night, I puked in my bed and got it all in my hair. (I have no idea why this is my grandpa's favorite memory of me but he tells it literally every time I call.) Even though they gave me a bath, I still wanted to go home.

So they drove me home, and when we got there, I had fallen back asleep; the next morning, I woke up and had no idea why I wasn't at their house.
My grandparents had six kids, and my mom is special because she's the oldest. She was apparently a great big sister. When her brothers were little, she'd crawl into their cribs and give them their bottles before going to school - or so the story goes. Obviously, my grandparents have a lot of grandkids (and now some great-grandkids, too), but I know we're their favorites.
I'm pretty sure this center photo is the first time they met Matt.

My grandparents always send us really thoughtful gifts. When we got engaged, they sent me a silver ring-stand. They send flowers every year for Passover so we have a beautiful centerpiece for our seder.
When Matt's Nana passed, Grandma wrote him a card and sent a gift for his ceramics studio so he could make something in her memory. She somehow always remembers to send birthday and holiday cards on time, and even though my grandparents are Catholic (we used to celebrate Christmas at their house), they always remember to send cards on Jewish holidays, too.

Grandma is also the best cook ever. The last time we visited, she made her special lemon meringue pie, which has a meringue crust, lemon filling, and homemade whipped cream topping.
When I visit, we eat this for breakfast every day, and Matt is always horrified by it...but in a loving way!
Don't let that sweet side fool you; Grandma loves to have her fun. She's the one who taught me to play cards and she loves to gamble!

My grandma has been having some health issues of the past year; she and my family are all very practically-minded about aging, but it sucks. Of course it does.

This summer, I overheard my mom on the phone with my sister as they discussed plans to visit Cleveland. Apparently Mom's high school reunion is coming up and she still goes to these things, and Steph saw an opportunity to jump on board and visit my grandparents.

Of course I wanted in.

And then, of course, Matt wanted in.

So we're on our way to Cleveland this weekend to visit my grandparents! I can't wait. With the tropical storm out there in the Gulf, there's a chance we'll have a delayed or canceled flight. There are supposed to be tornados Friday night, too. So keep your fingers crossed for us, because if this trip falls through, I'm going to be very disappointed!

Tell me something about your grandparents!
When did you last travel "home"?