holiday snaps

I hope everyone is enjoying a bit of holiday cheer. I am taking a bit of a break from my home-office and computer but wanted to share a few photos from December. Two of David’s cousins are in town from New York so it has been fun to see the kids together. I will be back with some Friday Finds and my 2016 bucket list … but until then, have a good one!

1The great tree hunt of 2015. Unlike Clark Griswold, we have no problem going to the local lot. David got his own tree this year.2We made a heck of a lot of shortbread cookies
3.1My favourite view in December
3.2An early Christmas at the Ackerman’s. Your eyes are not playing tricks, that is half-a-tree!
3.3David squeezed in a morning at soccer camp session. He loved it.
4I may only go once a year but when I do, I make sure to find the cutest church out there.
5What’s Christmas without matching PJs?
6David and Margaret are adding raisin buttons to the cookies for Santa.
7 8A little quality control.
9Christmas Eve. Erin, Jill (and Sam) played some beautiful holiday songs on the piano for us.
10If I can’t have a white Christmas, I’ll happily take +15 degrees and sunshine. Perfect weather for an 8km run with Alex and Allie.
11Jill’s friend made a plate of amazing sweets for our Christmas dessert.
12Boxing day hike in Wentworth.
13Rocks do not work as great tripods. You get the picture – a big family walk.
14Better late than never. David and I drove around looking at the Christmas lights in Halifax. Photos by David.
15Dinner with the Hulk and Darth Vader.
16Turns out suitcases with wheels were a big hit for all three kids this year. They all loved them.
17 18 19And finally, the three sisters had a pasta night at Jill’s house. Margaret and David helped.

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let’s stalk

Hello Sunshines, 2015 is wrapping up so I thought it’d be fun to share the top ten posts from the year. Spoiler: I am not the only nosey neighbour… If you missed any of these and were feeling left out from water-cooler conversations, enjoy the catch-up. After all, as we all know, holidays are for binging.

10. Just Because It’s Christmas : The time I made a East Coast Christmas CD.IMG_4044

9. Pottery, Willow and Leather : Our ninth anniversary.Details_MG_5253

8. Thirty Six : My 36 thing to do before I turned 36 list.IMG_2060

7. 10 Under 10 Stocking Stuffers : Conclusion, my readers are cheap. Ha.IMG_3998

6. Team Work : The Cabot Trail Relay.QE2Quest_2015

5. Save the Holiday Letter : My attempt at bringing back the holiday letter. It has been sent and well received but I am still waiting for one in return.Newsletter_1

4. Want To Go For a Walk? : The eco-challenge, winter edition, Good news for those who are interested and wishing they joined us… it’s happening again!DSC00093

3. Mission: Halloween : I made an astronaut costume for halloween and David was not totally impressed.4

2. A Whole New World : David’s bedroom update with new red bunkbeds made by Mike and a big ol’ map of the world.DSC_0250And the most read post!!!

1. Neighbourhood Stalk : My walking and driving tour of some of my favourite houses in Halifax.IMG_3205Thanks all!

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save the holiday letter

If video killed the radio star than Facebook killed the annual family holiday letter.

I take card writing very serious – I mail +60 and keep track of who sends cards back. The following November, I pull out my list of “sent” vs. “received” and make sure everyone is accounted for. A lot can happen in a year (babies/new addresses/deaths/marriages/new pets/divorce) and I try and stay on top of my spreadsheet and fact-check thoroughly.

As I wait for our 2015 cards to get printed, I got to thinking about making them more personal. Don’t get me wrong, I love anything that comes in the mail from friends and family but I especially love the ones that are homemade with an extra personal touch like a note, school photos, or a holiday letter!!! Kids of the newer generations may not know what I’m talking about… A holiday (news)letter is a recap of a family’s year – like a really long Facebook status. The good ones are on festive letterhead or a Pinterest-approved template and include pictures and fun facts! I love them but only receive one (maybe two) a year. So with this being said,  I am attempting to start a new trend in my circle of friends – I propose 2015 is the year to bring back the holiday letter. Who’s on board?*

Spoiler alert: I’ll show you mine (it’s double-sided)Newsletter_1*As an incentive, I will mail a desktop calendar (made by me) to the first person who sends me a holiday letter this year.

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run, there are bears in Chicago!

So many people, so many great signage but my favourite was RUN, there are bears in Chicago!

Marathon 4 is done. Sorry this is long but so is a marathon…

357082_208083846_XLarge(Photo by race photographer about one minute after the finish)

I am going to write all about the fabulous city of Chicago in another post but today it’s all about the run. The training seemed a little off all summer; I never had a fist-pump-that-was-awesome long run and felt like everything was a struggle compared to last year. As the tapering approached I had these knee and ankle pains that I hoped were just phantom problems but part of me was worried. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t go into this race with big expectations and just wanted to have fun and enjoy the craziness of the event. After all, 45,000 runners and +2 million spectators is something to get excited about.

My goal was to finish with a negative split. Ha, that didn’t happen but to be fair, it was a hot day and with the promise of sun and temperatures reaching +24 by noon, I decided it was better to run faster before the heat kicked in.

We arrived in the city on Wednesday, giving me many opportunities to see parts of the course. There was definitely hype building and a lot of fit tourists roaming around. The energy was awesome (probably because the Cubs are HOT right now and the city is going nuts) #gocubsgo. After a great 8 km run around Oak Park on Thursday morning and a ton of sightseeing, I decided to skip my last 5 km run on Friday. I was nervous I was putting in too many steps and not resting enough. On Friday, mom and I went to the expo. It blows my mind how well-organized such a big event can be. We caught a free shuttle and the ease of picking up my kit was great. Although it wasn’t that busy when we were there, we didn’t stay too long. I bought a visor because I was worried about the sun when they sent out a weather warning.

IMG_3617 IMG_3669 IMG_3672(iPhone photos: Subway ticket, weather alert, race expo)

Fast forward to Saturday night – one of the perks to staying at an airbnb is homemade food. My mom made spaghetti and I tried to go to bed early. My alarm was set for 5:00 am and we were out the door by 5:40 am. I have never mastered eating a lot before or during a run – gels and power bars are not my friends and I can only drink a little bit of water and Gatorade so had a piece of toast and peanut butter plus a swig of coffee before I left and sipped on water. I went into the city with my Mom and it was great to see more and more runners boarding the subway at each stop. It was a beautiful morning and not too cold but I layered up and decided to check a race bag for the fist time ever. My mom got off before me and made her was to our first planned spot on the course where she was meeting Mike, David and Dad and I went to the start.

Once I got off the subway I quickly saw what 45,000 people looks and feels like. There was a mob of people flowing through security and I had a quick moment of panic when I realized it was 6:30 and I only had 50 minutes to get through security, check my bag, line up for a porta potty and get to my corral before 7:20. However, what amazed me was how smooth everything went and I was standing in Corral D with 10 minutes to spare. I wasn’t too cold and only wore my arm-warmers but what concerned me was my stomach was growling… I was hungry and knew it’d be a long time before I’d be eating again! After the American anthem and wheelchair start, the race started at 7:30 and we herded our way to the start. I passed though at 7:41 and quickly thought, this is it, go time!

357082_207371364_XLarge 357082_207447805_XLarge(Photos by race photographer)

IMG_5452(Photo by my mom of the leaders)

We started inside the park, where there were no spectators allowed, and flew through a tunnel. It was filled with echoes of cheering and men pulling over to pee then we funnelled out on to the street and the crowd erupted. I couldn’t hear my music and thought this is insane! What surprised me more was it stayed like this the whole way through the race. It honestly felt like you were at a finish line every 5 km and the signs, high-fives, music, dancing, and noise can really move you along. I saw my mom at 4 miles and was feeling great.

IMG_5458(Photo by my mom near mile 4 – I pulled one of my arm warmers (aka cut up nylons) down and kept it to wipe my face)

DSC_0476(Photo by Mike about 4.5 miles into the race, I didn’t see them but they saw me)

At 10 km, I began to question a slight pain in my left knee and right ankle and decided to only think about one at a time to distract each part from bothering me. At 16 km I started looking for my family and sure enough, there they were. A high-five from David pushed me on and before I knew it, I was back downtown and approaching the half-way mark (still feeling pretty good). We passed over timing mats a lot and knowing I was being tracked by my family and friends near and far kept me motivated.

DSC_0486(Photo by Mike near 16 km – I was very excited to spot them)

The second half – this is when I always slow down and struggle. I stopped for my first sip of gatorade and water at 23 km and was feeling weak (remember how hungry I was at the start). The 3:50 pacers passed me and I was mildly discouraged but I focused on PILSEN knowing my family would be near the 30 km cheer zone. Sure enough, there they were. I stopped and popped one energy bean in my mouth and said I was okay… which was mostly true. I felt weak and was hurting but at this point, I thought 12 km… no biggie and kept going.

357082_207703877_XLarge

I stopped at almost every gatorade stop and started drinking gulps and pouring water over my head. The 3:55 pacers passed me and I was very discouraged but decided to keep them on my radar. The last of major turn onto Michigan ave. was tough – I could see the city in the distance and knew the end was close but those 4 kilometres dragged on… my watch was reading more distance than the course markers were and I tried to pick up my pace a bit. I couldn’t see my family at the last turn but knew they were there so gathered the last bit of strength and pulled myself up the (only) hill and through to the finish. Official time: 3:56:20 and my watch read 42.9 km! My first thought was damn I could of had 3:55 had I made the 30+ turns more efficiently but then I smiled because it was so much fun.

357082_208490732_XLarge 357082_207813927_XLarge(Photos by race photographer not sure when but at least after 25 km because my sunglasses are on)357082_208513374_XLarge(Photos by race photographer near 35 km – I think the jazz hands are my attempt at looking happy and positive…) 357082_208006978_XLarge(Photo by race photographer at the finish – my first ever fist pump finish)

What amazes me is how fast this race flew by. Sure, there were hard and painful parts but overall, it never felt like I hit a wall! I had a lot of fun and smiled more than I ever have during a race. The crowds and volunteers were amazing and I can’t say enough about how beautiful Chicago is.

357082_208206862_XLargeScreen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.56.04 AM

My only criticism would be the finish. We finsihed back in the park and unless you pay big bucks, spectators were not allowed. It is a bit of a let down for family and friends to not see the finish. I walked for what felt like 100 metres before finding water and I really wished there was chocolate milk. As I kept walking and gathered more and more loot (a bag of food, my race blanket, a banana, a cup of Gatorade… it was getting to be a handful but then there was beer. Free cold beer. Sure, chocolate milk is awesome but a cold beer… I think I said I love you to the beer lady. With all of my stuff I kept walking to bag check and then on to the family reunite area. Although it was incredibly organized, it felt like I walked another few miles. I finally got to the “R” sign where I found my family right away. We stayed for a bit longer and then made our way to Cloud Gate (da bean).

IMG_3719 IMG_3726 IMG_3730 IMG_3732

Looking back, I am thrilled – I got a personal best by 2 minutes despite some pain, hunger and weakness. The flat course is fast but not as easy as I expected. I can’t believe I am saying this but I think I missed the hills – there was never a point in the race when you could climb then fly down an I think 42 km of the same gradation is hard on your body because every step you pound down feels the same. Even though there were 45,000 runners, it was never too crowded – very little congestion and unlike PEI, I never felt lonely. Chicago, thank you – it was such a great experience!357082_207447654_XLarge

I’ll be back to write about everything not-running we did in the city.

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it’s back

Take it in folks – the long weekend in May has come and gone and that means summer is coming! In celebration of this joyous occasion and back by popular demand is my 100 days of summer to-do wish list! The rules are simple and I welcome all of you to join in with your own list – it started this weekend and ends on September 30. Get what you can get done because summer is here for a short time so it is best to make it a good time.

(You can see last year’s list here and the results here)

I am not going to lie – it’s hard to get them all done, and because I didn’t finish all of them last year, I am going to pick up a few and try again. I am also adding some from my thirty-six before thirty-six (because I am not 36 yet) and a few completed repeats because they were awesome and worth doing again! Have fun and remember to wear sunscreen.

  1. swim in a lake*
  2. swim in the ocean
  3. swim in the Wallace River
  4. go in a sail boat*
  5. hike Cape Split*
  6. go strawberry picking*
  7. make strawberry jam
  8. watch an outdoor movie*
  9. play corn hole*
  10. play croquette
  11. play washer toss
  12. night swim*
  13. make smores and eat them*
  14. have a campfire and sing a campfire song
  15. roast veggie dogs over a campfire
  16. leave the province*
  17. accidentally get a sunburn*
  18. buy a rash guard
  19. train for a marathon
  20. sleep in a tent*
  21. go to Cyclone 5 times in one week*
  22. see Shakespeare by the Sea*
  23. ride a horse*
  24. mini golf*
  25. take David to Citadel Hill*
  26. fly a kite*
  27. bike over the MacDonald bridge with David*
  28. picnic at the ocean
  29. picnic at Public Gardens
  30. do a kart-wheel
  31. go the the Bicycle Thief
  32. clean my black car (mike told me to put this in)
  33. make iced coffee
  34. run laps (speed work) at least three times
  35. hill train once a week
  36. run in 5 races
  37. visit Taylor Head Provincial Park
  38. jump on a trampoline
  39. redecorate our bedroom
  40. plant a vegetable garden and enjoy its bounty
  41. plant basil and make pesto
  42. run the golf shore loop (again)
  43. make rhubarb pie
  44. host a women and whiskey night
  45. eat a banana split
  46. kayak down the river
  47. tube down the river
  48. play sandbar soccer
  49. eat on an outdoor patio
  50. drink on an outdoor patio
  51. hang out on the Halifax waterfront
  52. go to Shubie Park
  53. go to Point Pleasant Park
  54. drive in a convertible
  55. buy a summer dress
  56. wear summer dresses everyday for a week
  57. wear heels
  58. hear bag pipes
  59. watch a parade
  60. dance
  61. visit the new North End farmer’s market
  62. have a taco party
  63. run in a race
  64. go for a run and jump in the water right after
  65. bike to the skate park and watch David in the skate park (this was David’s request)
  66. watch fireworks
  67. watch 500 Days of Summer
  68. watch Dirty Dancing
  69. make a spiralized dinner (this)
  70. start and finish Jill’s bathroom makeover
  71. attend a party
  72. go to 2 movies
  73. make ice cream sandwiches
  74. finish my rug hooking pillow
  75. cheer on David’s first triathlon
  76. play hooky
  77. read a magazine outside
  78. read a non-fiction
  79. read a fiction
  80. eat from a food truck
  81. only use the clothesline
  82. try rock climbing
  83. buy new running sneakers
  84. visit a cottage
  85. drink beer from a cooler
  86. drink a road rocket. “kidding”.
  87. run across the bridge before they close it to pedestrians (June 29)
  88. ride the ferry
  89. get muddy
  90. get sandy
  91. ride a slip & slide
  92. ride a water slide
  93. visit magic mountain
  94. hike Cape Breton Highlands National Park
  95. get highlights
  96. go to a yard sale
  97. watch a sunset
  98. watch a sunrise
  99. declutter
  100. have David plan a prefect pre-first-day-of-big-school / end-of-summer-day

* 2014 not completed GreatSummer_6109

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Photo: Scout’s Honor Paper