A Race & Weekend Report: Madison Mini Marathon

First, the stats.

Date:  August 20, 2016
Lifetime half:  Number 23
State:  Wisconsin – Number 13

I had been cussing myself for months for signing up for this one.  WHO in their RIGHT MIND signs up for an August race?  haha  “Just do it,” they said.  “It won’t be as hot or humid up here in August,” they said.  Yeah well, I still had to run here in the south in the summer to attempt to train for that day.  And we all know by now how I tend to slack in the summer.  I thought maybe having a late summer race on the calendar would prevent that.  NOPE.  It just means that I went into yet another race untrained.  lol  But this event was much more about a weekend with friends in a new state than it was any stupid ol’ number on a clock, so I consider it a success anyway.

My trip started out the Friday morning before the race.  It was supposed to have been right at a 9-hour drive and I had plans to make a pit stop in Rockford IL to meet some of my long-time internet friends for lunch.  They would be joining me the next day in Madison anyway, but I wanted to make the most of the time I had that weekend.  And this way I got to meet their hubbies and furbabies too!  It was a great kickoff to the weekend–Shelly, Julia, their husbands Brian and Trey, and I went to a local vegan restaurant/brewery I’d heard them both talk about before, so that was my restaurant of choice that afternoon.  If you get the chance to check out Pig Minds Brewing Co., do it.  Good food, great beer. I was all about their HappiDaze (a bluberry California golden ale).  It did indeed make me very happy.  After Shelly got me sufficiently buzzed, she took me home and took advantage of me.  LOL She’s a jewelry designer and she took me to her jewelry-makin’ room.  I left there with so many pretties!  I look at her web site frequently, but photos just don’t ever do jewelry justice.  Check out www.lavorodesigns.com to see her work and trust me when I say it’s even more awesome in person.

After hanging out with Shelly and her sweet furbabies for a couple more hours, it was time to head to Madison if I was going to make it to the expo in time.  It was only a short walk from my hotel.  It was your typical big race expo with all of the typical things.  I did get a good giggle out of one thing that happened…when I arrived at the hotel I realized that I had forgotten to pack a pair of socks for my post-race tour d’Madison.  And upon walking into the expo, the first thing I saw was a sign for free socks.  hahaha  I found it rather serendipitous.  I was in and out of the expo in no time flat.  One of the perks of going in its last hour.  I had nothing else to do that evening so I just strolled around downtown a bit in the area between the expo and my hotel.  It was really a beautiful evening.

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But as beautiful as that evening was, I still didn’t know what the next day was going to bring.  I had been stalking the weather like a mad woman all week because of the threat of severe storms.  The race director started sending out weather updates mid-week, and as of the time I pulled out of my driveway on Friday morning, I still didn’t even know if the race would be happening.  They said that they would make the call based on the conditions at the start time whether to go ahead as planned, delay, or cancel the event.  Honestly, had I not already had hotel reservations and plans with my friends, I may not have taken the chance and just taken my loss on my entry fee.  I had also forgotten to bring an umbrella, which I knew I’d need after the race with my friends if it was raining, so while I was out walking around after the expo I ducked into a Walgreens and bought an umbrella and one of those $2 poncho thingies for the race itself.  I also knew I should probably eat something even though I really wasn’t hungry given our late lunch that afternoon, but I grabbed a veggie sub and made my way back to the Doubletree and turned in for the evening.

When I awoke the next morning, it was to the sound of light rain, but a quick glance at weather.com told me that it looked like the threat of severe weather was going to miss us.  I got ready, grabbed my poncho, and hoped for the best.

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By the time I got to the start area, it was raining pretty steadily so I was glad I had my poncho, but by the time we actually started I had already taken it off.  It was down to just barely a drizzle and that thing was making me sweat like CRAZY.  It still looked like the sky cold open up at any minute, so I hung onto it just in case I needed it mid-race.  Spoiler:  I didn’t.

As I’ve mentioned, this race was solely for fun.  I still had a full day ahead of me afterwards as well as a long drive home the next morning, so I didn’t push it one bit.  My only regret is not stopping to take pictures.  However, if I had, my timing would have been off and I wouldn’t have been at the right place at the right time on the course to have met my new friend Wendy.  I ran up behind her somewhere around mile 5ish.  She had on a police unity tour bike shirt.  I asked her about that, and the rest is history.  lol  We ran (and walked) the rest of the race together talking about mostly races, traveling, and beer.  As it turns out, she’s an ambassador for the Asheville Half Marathon, and we now have a date to do that one together in March.  THIS, people.  THIS is why I love running so much!

My time was 2:30-something.  I could look it up to tell you an exact number, but I don’t even care enough to do that right now.  LOL  Wendy and I hung out at the landing at the finish long enough to get our free beer and parted ways as we both had plans to meet up with friends, but not before we got our selfie for The Facebook.

8-20-2016 - Pam & Wendy at Madison Mini
Nothing like sweating and being drizzled on for 13.1 miles to make for a glamorous post-race selfie.

And here are some other random photos from the finish area.  It was really a cool little spot.

So I made my way back to the hotel and was just finishing getting ready when Shelly and Julia made it in from Rockford.  They have another friend, Marie, that lives in Madison, so after FOREVER … lol… Julia and Mr. T finally got us to her house.  They fed me a spectacular post-race lunch of tacos and beer.  I can’t remember the name of the taco joint, but it was amazing, and they had this beer.  It, too, made me happy.

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Know what else made me happy?  I didn’t need that umbrella I bought the night before.  It turned out to be an absolutely glorious, sunshiny (and even COOL later in the afternoon!) day.  We walked, we shopped, we took silly photos, we had coffee, we laughed… a LOT.  It was just the weekend escape that I’ve been needing!  Love these girls so hard!

In the evening, they dropped me back at the hotel.  They had to get back on the road home, and I needed to get a good night’s sleep.  I was whooped and needed to get up really early to start my long drive to get home at a decent hour.

So just a few final thoughts about the race before I wrap this up.  It’s really a great one.  It’s big enough that you don’t feel like you’re running alone, but small enough that you’re not tripping over each other.  You have some AMAZING scenery throughout the course as you run past the lake and through the arboretum.  The aid stations are aplenty and the finish line well organized.  I definitely recommend this one to anyone considering it!

Next up… California!  Cloverdale Half on 10/23/16!

Our NYC Trip (including our late-night television debut)!

We’ve been back from vacation for over two weeks now, and I’m FINALLY getting a chance to sit down and go through pictures and throw a post together about it!  As I did with our Colorado trip in March–less words, more pictures!

We flew in on a Friday and got checked in to the Wyndham Midtown 45 late in the evening, so we did nothing that night except hit up this little all natural, mostly organic Amish grocery joint right across the street from our hotel to stock the fridge with a few necessities.  I absolutely adored this place!  We went back a couple more times through the week.  It was the first thing I saw of the city, so I was in love from the start!

5-8-2015 - Amish Market

For dinner that night, we walked to a nearby pizza joint that the hotel concierge dude recommended.  They were happy to accommodate my plant-based preferences and hooked me up with this sun-dried tomato, olive, and arugula cheeseless pie.  Hands down BEST PIZZA EVER!!!  And I don’t even remember the name of the place now!

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The next morning, we hit the ground running.  So much we wanted to do and see in one short week!  We went all out with the tourist thing and bought the 72-hour hop-on-hop-off bus package.  Well worth the money!  It helped us get oriented to the city and figure out where everything was.  We used it to kind of see everything briefly and figure out what we wanted to go back to.

5-9-2015 - Brooklyn Bridge 13
You can’t go to NYC without walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, right?!
5-9-2015 - Pam & Dewayne on Brooklyn Bridge
And you HAVE to take a selfie while you’re doing it. Duh.
5-9-2015 - Freedom Tower
Freedom Tower
5-9-2015 - Pam & Dewayne at World Trade Center Memorial
Don’t mind us. Just playing with my new selfie stick.
5-9-2015 - World Trade Center Memorial
Reflecting pool at the World Trade Center monument.
5-9-2015 - World Trade Center Memorial 4
Names of the fallen at the reflecting pools. So very sombering.
5-9-2015 - LAPD in NYC on freedom tour 2
Gazillions of police officers were in the financial district and I noticed the bikes said LAPD instead of NYPD. We stopped and chatted with the officers for a few and found out that they were in town for a unity tour. We made sure to shake their hands and tell them how appreciated they are.

We wrapped up our sightseeing for the day and headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up and head out to dinner then to the theater district because we had tickets to see Something Rotten that evening.

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Damn, I clean up pretty good, if I do say so myself.
5-9-2015 - Something Rotten on Broadway 2
You guys, I HIGHLY recommend this!!! It was SO funny! It just opened on Broadway in late March, but I hope it eventually goes on tour because I can’t wait to see it again!

After the show, we hit up Times Square

5-9-2015 - Times Square 2
So many lights. And SO MANY PEOPLE.

The next day we hit a couple of museums.  One of my favorite things we did while we were there was go to the Body Worlds exhibit.  It was positively fascinating.

5-10-2015 - Body Worlds Exhibit 3

Then we headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Some things in there were pretty interesting, but I wasn’t as awed as I thought I would be.

5-10-2015 - Metropolitan Museum of Art 18
I’m sorry, this is not art. If this is art, the contents of my mother’s cedar chest are worth billions.
5-10-2015 - Metropolitan Museum of Art 21
THIS, on the other hand, is art.

Then we made our way back downtown to the Empire State Building.  We waited till later in the day to avoid the long lines, which are told to be as long as four hours during peak times.  We breezed right through in like 10 minutes.

5-10-2015 - Empire State Building observation deck 11

On Monday, we got up early to go stand in line at the NBC Studios for standby tickets to go to a Jimmy Fallon taping.  That turned out to be kind of an all-day ordeal, but it paid off because we totally got in!  We lined up at like 7:00 that morning.

The people at the front of the line camped there all night to be sure to get tickets.  I'm not that hard core.  haha
The people at the front of the line camped there all night to be sure to get tickets. I’m not that hard core. haha

They came out and numbered us off at 9:00.  When we got in line, there were 20 people ahead of us, but by the time several douche bags broke in line in front of us (Dewayne wouldn’t let me kneecap them with my selfie stick), we were numbers 31 and 32.  We didn’t have high hopes of getting in, but we were told there was always a chance and to come back at 3:45 to find out how many seats they had left to fill.

There was still lots that we wanted to do and see, but we were afraid to go far because we wanted to make sure getting back at 3:45 wouldn’t be an issue!  So we just trekked around town on foot all day.  We went back to Times Square and milled around then walked over to Fifth Avenue for some window shopping.

5-10-2015 - Pam at M&M World
M&M World
5-11-2015 - Tiffany's
I tried to convince D I needed a souvenir. He wasn’t buying it. Literally or figuratively. Rude.
5-11-2015 - St. Patrick's Cathedral 4
St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Then we headed back to the studios to find out whether or not we would get in.  That was an emotional roller coaster.  haha  When we first got there, they were turning away anyone with a number higher than 60.  (Yay!)  Then we waited around for what felt like forever.  (Boo!)  Then they said they could take 36 people.  (YAY!!!)  Then they said, no, only 26.  (BOO!)  Then they told us to wait around because they may get a few more.  (YAAAAAAAYYYY!)  Remember, we were numbers 31 and 32.  They had taken 26.  Then they came out and said they could take six more.  Do the math.  We got the LAST TWO SEATS!  WOOOOHOOOOO!!!!!!!!  (Or so we thought.  During a commercial break, we saw one of the guys that was with the family of five that was behind us.  They went back for one more after they let us in.)  I was freaking stoked.  If you’re a Fallon watcher, we were at the taping with Tom Brokaw and Charlize Theron.  Several friends and family watched the episode and said they saw us several times.  A couple even sent me pics!  haha

Fallon 2

Fallon

As much fun as that was, we trumped it the next night by going to one of David Letterman’s last tapings.  We had tickets secured for that one, so it didn’t involve the waiting and wondering like Fallon did!  I just entered the ticket lottery before we went, and while we were sitting in the Nashville airport waiting to board the plane to NYC, the studio called and asked a trivia question about the show that I had to answer correctly to get the tickets.  I don’t have any screen shots of that one (you could barely see us if you knew where to look during one camera pan of the audience), but we were at the taping with Bill Clinton and Adam Sandler.  I was so disappointed when I found out who was going to be there.  haha  I couldn’t have picked two celebrities I would LEAST like to see.  lol  But guests aside, it was even more fun than the Fallon taping.  I freaking love David Letterman and miss him already.

5-12-2015 - Pam & Dewayne at Letterman taping

When we were leaving, we rounded the corner and found Adam Sandler signing autographs.

5-12-2015 - Adam Sandler signing autographs after Letterman taping 3

I don’t like him, but that didn’t stop me from getting him to sign my ticket stub for a souvinier.  haha

5-12-2015 - Adam Sandler's autograph
If you can make “Adam Sandler” out of that, you’re more talented than I.

After the taping we went for dinner and then to the Broadway Comedy Club.  We were one of the first to arrive, so we were treated to a stage-side table.  It was great because we got to interact with the comedians.  There were several there that night.  I think like 6 or 7?  I don’t know, I was hammered.  haha  I recognized a few of them, but I was really only familiar with one of them–Mike Vecchione.  We bought the tickets blind, not knowing who would be there, so I was excited when he walked out!

5-12-2015 - Mike Vecchione at Broadway Comedy Club 2

Oh and I forgot to mention that earlier in the day, before the Letterman taping, we went to the Statue of Liberty.  We didn’t go up in the crown or anything.  We basically just ferried over, took some pictures, and left.

5-12-2015 - Statue of Liberty 6

5-12-2015 - Pam & Dewayne at the Statue of Liberty

That night after the comedy club, we hit another bar on the way back to the hotel and then I crashed and burned.  haha  We didn’t have any solid plans for the next day until 8:00 that evening, and it’s a good thing because we didn’t get out of bed till 4:00 in the afternoon.  We were both exhausted and I was more hungover than I’ve been in a very long time.  We left the hotel in just enough time to grab dinner and get to the Best Buy Theater for a concert.  We saw Of Mice & Men with Crown the Empire and Volumes opening for them.  I loooove Of Mice & Men–they were the headliner and the reason we bought the tickets.  I only knew one Crown the Empire song and had never heard of Volumes, but they both put on a solid performance.  It was a great show and a great time, even if I was still hungover.  haha

5-13-2015 - Of Mice & Men 6

Neither of us were really up to going back out that night, so we just vegged out and watched TV in the hotel so we’d be rested and ready to make the most of Thursday, our last day there and our 8th anniversary!  We slept in again that morning and I FINALLY felt like a human being again.  haha  So much so that I decided to test out my leg on a run in Central Park!  After being sidelined for the better part of three months due to injury, I was ELATED to run a pain-free three miles.  And the fact that the comeback run was in Central Park was just the very sweet icing on the already sweet cake.

5-14-2015 - Pam after comeback run in Central Park

We hung out in Central Park for a few hours walking around, eating pretzels, watching street performers, taking pictures, just savoring our last day.  It was nothing short of glorious.

5-14-2015 - Central Park 20 (Orton)
I’m fascinated by bridges. I just think they’re so pretty.

Then while we were trying to decide what we wanted to do that evening for our anniversary, we decided we’d go back to Broadway for another show.  On a whim we bought tickets to see An Act of God.  We really didn’t even know anything about it other than it had Jim Parsons in it and we both love him.  It was an awesome show and so cool to see Sheldon as something other than… well, Sheldon!  hahaha

5-14-2015 - Pam & Dewayne at An Act of God

And then just like that, our trip was over.  I don’t think we’ve EVER crammed so much activity into one week!  It was so much fun and very rejuvenating for us as a couple.  Now to bust ass and save money for our next trip in October!

Live from New York, it’s ….. MEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

Good morning, Kids!  We’re a couple of days into our week-long trip to NYC, and it is shaping up to be everything I’d hoped for and then some.  We’re trying to cram as much stuff as we can into seven short days, so there isn’t much bloggy time!  I just wanted to pop in with a few teaser photos so you can take comfort in the fact that while you’re stuck at work on a beautiful Monday morning, at least one of us is livin’ large in The Big Apple.  You’re welcome.

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Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge

 

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Memorial where the North Tower of the Twin Towers once stood.

 

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Broadway baby!

 

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Times Square

 

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Body Worlds exhibit. Fascinating!

 

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M&M World

 

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Metropolitan Museum of Art. If this is art, the contents of my mother’s cedar chest are worth billions.

 

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THIS is art.

 

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Observation deck of Empire State Building.

 

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Observation deck of Empire State Building.

 

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New York Public Library

 

Up next–Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island!

Photo dump! Colorado Edition

We went to Colorado Springs a couple of weeks ago for a little family vacation with my husband’s sister, her husband, and their daughter.  Their son lives there, and we all went out to visit him.  They’ve been trying to get us out there for a couple of years since he relocated there, but the timing has just never been right.  It all worked out this year, and I kinda hate myself for not going sooner!  I loved absolutely everything about it.  But rather than bore you with details, I’ll dazzle you with photos!

PIKE’S PEAK – We couldn’t get all the way to the top of Pike’s Peak the day we went.  From the bottom it’s like 19 or so miles to the top, but they had it blocked off at around mile 16 because they had just gotten a heavy snow and didn’t have it plowed.

3-30-2015 - Pam & Dewayne at Pike's Peak

3-30-2015 - Pike's Peak Panorama 2

3-30-2015 - Pike's Peak Scenery 7

3-30-2015 - Pike's Peak Scenery 15

3-30-2015 - Pike's Peak Scenery 17

3-30-2015 - Pike's Peak Scenery 19

GARDEN OF THE GODS – I’d like to go back and spend more time here and hike more of their beautiful trails.

3-31-2015 - Garden of the Gods - Dewayne & Pam 2

3-31-2015 - Garden of the Gods - Dewayne & Pam 5

3-31-2015 - Garden of the Gods Scenery 11

3-31-2015 - Pike's Peak as seen from Garden of the Gods

MOUNT CUTLER – We all (dogs included (not ours–our nephew and his girlfriend’s) drove to Mount Cutler to do another short hike.  It was short, but it was challenging because of my hip.  Going up was fine but coming back down the steep parts really hurt.  But the view was totally worth it!

4-1-2015 - Mount Cutler - Ellie & Isis

4-1-2015 - Mount Cutler - Marty 3

4-1-2015 - Mount Cutler panorama

COLORADO WOLF AND WILDLIFE CENTER – This was hands-down one of my favorite things we did while we were there.  This is an amazing facility offering refuge and sanctuary to these beautiful creatures.  It was very educational about the fur industry and the impact of wolf hunting and how it’s harming our ecosystem.  It was amazing to be standing so close to these animals.  And when they all started howling?  OMG.  Goosebumps.

4-2-2015 - Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center 5

4-2-2015 - Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center 16

4-2-2015 - Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center 17

THE MANITOU INCLINE – This “trail” is known for being one of the most extreme and difficult trails in Colorado.  It’s slightly less than a mile long, but in that mile you gain 2,000 feet.  It was brutal, but it was amazing.  It starts off at a fairly low grade, as you can see in the first picture from the bottom looking up.  But once you get about halfway, the incline grade increases dramatically–up to 60% at times.  We hiked up the incline but rather than go back the way we came, we hiked down a section of the Barr Trail.  This is a must-do for anyone visiting the area looking for a challenge!

4-3-2015 - Manitou Incline

4-3-2015 - Pam, Taylor & Justin at the top of The Incline
Me, my niece, and my nephew–the only one of our crew who were willing to tackle this hike!
4-3-2015 - The town as seen from The Incline
View from the top.
4-3-2015 - View from the top
View from close to the top, just after starting the descent down Barr Trail.

By Land and By Air

Running and flying. That’s what’s on my mind today.

I ran in a 5K this morning benefiting one of the local high schools’ track team. It was a very small race. I think most of the participants were the track team members and their parents. Knowing that this was probably going to be the case, I was SINCERELY hoping that there would be no more than 3 people in my age group so I could bring home some bling. Alas, that did not come to pass. Some of the parents of the high school students were IN my age group. Now that I have to check the box that says 30-34 instead of the box that says 25-29, I’m grouped with people that are actually old enough to have teenagers. (They start breeding young in these small towns.) But bling or no bling, I set a new PR and FINALLY got that <30 5K that I’ve been dreaming about! My time was 29:27–a 9:29 pace. Never thought I’d see the day…

My training schedule called for a 9-mile run this weekend. I had to do a little schedule shifting and rule bending for this one. It’s supposed to start raining tonight and rain all day tomorrow. I don’t mind running in the rain. Did it last week. But not the kind of rain we’ve got coming. Hard rain with thunderstorms here and there? No thanks. I’ll pass. So no long run on Sunday. And I knew I wouldn’t have another 9 left in me after running the 3.1 this morning. So I did what any excuse-making easy-way-out-searching girl would do. I counted that 3.1 TOWARD my 9. When I got home I headed out for another 6. I was exhausted. My body isn’t used to running a 9:30 pace, so I took these 6 pretty easy today. Kept the pace around 10:30 for the first 4 miles then took a one-minute walk break, jogged to 5.5 then walked the last 0.5 home.

As for the flying… the plane tickets are booked! THAT took a good little chunk of change out of the ol’ checking account. We had been watching the prices hoping that they would go down, but they haven’t budged. And with the “experts” predicting that gas will be going back up this summer, we were hesitant to wait any longer in fear of the fare going even higher. So everything is set! Now I’ve just gotta wait for it to get here!

It’s gonna be a looooooong couple of months.

No Paparazzi Here

This has been the dullest, most boring, least interesting week EVER. No blogworthy events whatsoever. But guess what! You get a post anyway. Just so you don’t forget I exist!

I did run eight miles again Sunday. My training schedule called for a 10K, but there weren’t any around, so I just repeated the previous week. Nothing spectacular. Different route, more hills, and a minute and a half faster.

This pretty much sums up the rest of my week: Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Do laundry. Clean house. Cook supper. American Idol. Then there was a bonus yesterday. I did poop patrol in the back yard where the dogs go out.

Please. Try to contain your excitement. I know it’s glamourous, but the flash bulbs hurt my eyes.

There was a little bit of an upswing yesterday though. After Sunday’s run, my legs were pretty spent from the hills, so I didn’t run Monday or Tuesday. I laced up yesterday after work and went out for 4.5 miles. Now, in case you have forgotten, I’m slow. My goal has been 10 min/mile, and I’ve been inching closer and closer. I came so close yesterday I could smell it. I finished 4.5 miles in 45:40. So. Damn. Close.

Then I came home and got in the tanning bed. That REALLY put me in vacation mode. I’m funny like that. I can KNOW we’re going on a trip, but I never really get excited about it until I start physically doing something to prepare for it–like tanning for instance! It’s like it makes it official or something.

“Okay, it’s official! Pam’s tanning! Buy the plane tickets!”

Old, Young, Neither, or Both?

I need y’all’s help coming up with something. We have to coin a term. You know how kids around 11 or 12 are known as “tweens” because they’re in beTWEEN being children and teens? Well, what do you call us thirty-something folks? We’re not old, but we’re not young anymore either. Or do I have that wrong? Are we neither, or are we both? Judging by my skin, I’m gonna say both. At what other time in your life do you battle a monster pimple and the beginnings of crow’s feet at the same damn time?! I can handle one or the other, but COME ON. Both?! Seriously??? Ugh.

And it’s not just the skin thing. I notice I get excited about a strange combination of things, too. I got almost as excited today about a new vacuum cleaner (old) as I did earlier in the week about booking a trip to Cabo (not old)! And I also have a strange mixture of behaviors going on. Last night for supper I had chili from a can and washed it down with beer (not old). Then I was in bed at 9:00 (old).

So about this trip to Cabo… check THIS out. I and my gorgeous hubby will be staying here for a week for our third anniversary later this spring. Sweet, huh? Don’t hate. 🙂