November 25th

Per usual, I was up early on our travel day. While John and G rested in bed watching videos and the news, I hit the gym for a long workout. It was so invigorating. While I was exercising, George found Manny hiding in our hotel room.

Manny

After my workout, I met John and G at the hotel cafe where they were having breakfast. I grabbed some hot water (to make my throat coat tea) and then went back to my room to shower, get dressed, and pack.

By the time John and George arrived back into the room, I was packed and ready to go. Family started to stop by our room to say goodbye as we were finalizing our packing.

Once we were ready to go, we checked out of the hotel and made the quick drive to the airport. We checked our bags with United, passed quickly through TSA Pre Check, and made our way to the United Club. John and George had snacks while watching planes go by, while I spent some time getting things organized for the flight  (which in this case means downloading videos).

watch
Before long, we made our way to the gate. Along the way, I picked up some snacks for George in case he didn’t care for lunch service on board.

We boarded without incident and took off on time. Meal service began almost immediately after take off. I chose the paella for my entree, and we got a kid’s meal for George (which we supplemented with a Lunchable that we picked up at the airport).

meal

George really enjoyed his lunch and I ended up just picking at mine. It was only so-so. We spent the rest of the flight watching movies and shows on our iPads. Well, most of us did. George passed out even though he claimed he wasn’t tired and said he absolutely wasn’t going to sleep on the plane.

sleep
We landed early, quickly gathered our bags, and left the airport without incident. We drove straight to Pico’s Mex Mex for dinner because we were all craving local comfort food.

We had a great Thanksgiving trip to California and we are grateful for the experience and the time spent with family.

November 24th

We woke up at 5:30AM – giving us all an extra hour of snoozing time.

sunrise

Once we were up, George was thrilled to see that Manny returned…and brought him new Christmas pajamas.

Manny

We visited the hotel Starbucks for breakfast again before embarking upon a long walk on the beach.

breakfast

The views from our walk were amazing and I was so grateful for the experience.

dunes
Once we got back to the room, we all crawled back into bed for some relaxation. While George watched cartoons, John and I worked to purge our emails of the typical “Black Friday” spam.

After our brief respite, we walked back to the beach and set up a little area for relaxation.

jand g beach

Our local friends came out to visit us again and we had another great time relaxing at the beach.

g playing

I rented two beach umbrellas that day to give us maximum shade and comfort since the sun was unusually hot.

me on beach

Once the kids started to get hungry, we walked back up to the hotel and had lunch at Sheerwater.

kids lunch

On the outside, this restaurant looks completely respectable and quite nice. However, the customer service and quality of the food were severely lacking. It took us over 40 minutes to get our food and when it arrived it was atrocious. Needless to say, this place was a disaster. A quick search of Trip Advisor and Yelp suggests that we were there on an “off” day.

cheers
After quick showers, George and I both went down for a really long nap. While we napped, John did some shopping and some exploring. Once we woke up, we got ready for a special dinner.

We all meet up at 1500 Ocean, the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, to celebrate my MIL and FIL’s 50th wedding anniversary. Naturally, we kicked things off with champagne to get the festivities going.

We each had a three course meal and the food and service were fabulous.

din

I started with the beet salad, chose short ribs and porcini mushroom ravioli for my entree, and then chose a warm butter and cherry cake for my dessert.

dessert

All of my dishes were excellent. George had a fruit plate, filet mignot and fries, and homemade vanilla ice cream. John had grilled octopus, the same entree as me, and an apple tart for dessert.

After our 2.5 hour long dinner, we a trudged back to our rooms and passed into food comas.

family

November 23rd

We slept like logs on our first night in San Diego. Unfortunately, we were all up at 4:30 AM. Welp.

sunrise

We made the best of it by visiting the hotel Starbucks, picking up drinks and breakfast items, and going for a long stroll along the beach (with me pushing G in the BOB).

break

We had a glorious long walk and got to take in the magnificent sunrise.

meandg

We changed into our beach clothes after our walk and set up an area to relax on the beach.

gthanks

Our friends who recently located to San Diego joined us for a fun morning on the beach. George and Landon (who were in the same class at school up until a few months ago) made up for lost time. They played like crazy.

kids

Not sure who had more fun, the kids or us watching them.

kids2

Well, maybe I had more fun because I really enjoyed catching up Lina, Landon’s Mom.

g
After a few hours of beach time, we went back to our room and got ready for a very fancy Thanksgiving luncheon in the hotel’s infamous Crown Room. The beautiful ballroom was bustling with people and we enjoyed a truly memorable lunch with our family.

fam

Even though common practice says one should over indulge in Thanksgiving lunch, I couldn’t do it. I tried to eat sensibly because over eating tends to make me feel miserable. So I tried to get a little bit of everything I wanted to try on one plate, then went back for some small portions of desserts I also wanted to try.

plate

Every dish was good, although I really missed my Mom’s traditional sides and my brother-in-law’s fried turkeys.

plate2

George was tickled by the hotel’s chocolate bar – complete with marshmallows.

gmarsh

After our luncheon, John and George went back to the room to nap, and my MIL and I hit the hotel shops. I ended up buying a cute swim outfit for George and spent the rest of my time lusting after diamond and citrine pear sharped earrings that were to die for. But, alas, they didn’t come home with me.

After my shopping experience, I napped for an hour in our room with John and G. After nap time, we hit the shops as a family and found a few sweet treats for family and friends. Then we visited Eno, the hotel’s oven-fired pizzeria, for dinner. We shared two excellent pizzas – a sausage pizza and a pepperoni and olive pizza.

pizza

After dinner, we swung my my IL’s room for a quick visit, then went back to our room for bedtime (we were still clearly on TX time).

November 22nd

The morning of our trip to San Diego, CA, I was anxious and up very early – 3:30 AM to be exact. Since there wasn’t a chance in hell that I was falling back asleep, I got dressed and made my way to the gym for a long run and cool down.

run
By 5:45 AM, I was back at the house getting ready for the day. Just as I was putting the finishing touches on “getting ready,” George woke up. Perfect timing.

At 7:00 AM, everyone was dressed and ready and the car was packed. We drove to IAH and parked, checked our bags, and were through security before 8:00 AM. We immediately made our way to the United Club in Terminal C.

cereal

We organized our bags and George and John had a snack while watching planes.

plane watch

Just before we walked to our gate, I picked up some water and a few snacks at Cibo, my favorite airport store.

We boarded the plane without issue or delay (amen!) and easily nestled into our seats – 2B, 2E, and 2F.

board

We took off on time and before we knew it, we were in the air and meal service began. I selected the protein plate with cinnamon roll and fruit sides. John had the same meal as me.

meal

Because I knew George wasn’t going to be interested in the protein plate or egg white casserole, I spoke to our friendly flight attendant and she generously offered George a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit from the “bistro on board” menu. George ended up devouring this along with fruit, yogurt, and a cinnamon roll.

g meal

After our meal, we all enjoyed watching TV via the Direct TV screens on the seats in front of us. Naturally, I watched Law and Order.

Once we landed, John and G went to pick up our rental car while I gathered our checked luggage. Once they picked me up and we left the airport, we made the quick drive to Coronado Island and stopped for lunch at Leroy’s Kitchen and Lounge. We dined al fresco and had a super casual lunch.

lunch

I had a deconstructed chicken Stir Fry dish that was delicious.

lunchmeal
After lunch, we checked into the Hotel Del Coronado and settled in for a quick afternoon nap. Afterwards, we met John’s family on the beach to take in the sunset. It was glorious.

sunset

Later, we walked to Primavera for a casual Italian dinner. It was a typical carb fest and unfortunately our service was only so-so.

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel, unpacked our luggage, and settled in for the rest of the trip. After bath and story time, George and I passed out. Given the time change, John followed soon after.

Thanksgiving Week

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!

We had a great week over here.  The first part of the week (Monday-Tuesday) was great. George and I spent time running errands, but we also got to spend time with my family…

Mom

at the Zoo…

Bug

and at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Dino

On Wednesday, we flew to San Diego, California to celebrate Thanksgiving with our extended Arnold family.

CA Beach

I hope to blog more about our trip this week.

In the meantime, I hope you have a great day/week!

 

2017 Houston Half Marathon

I ran the Houston Half Marathon last month (10/29) and it was a great running comeback for me.  Even though Hurricane Harvey wrecked my training plans and kept me under-trained, I ran the race anyway and had a great time. Take that, Hurricane Harvey!

bib

The Race: The 2017 Houston Half Marathon. I signed up over the summer as a way to motivate myself to continue to run and to keep moving. I also knew that I would want to improve upon previous half marathon times. Mission accomplished.

Training: I followed a Hal Higdon twelve week training plan. For the most part, I did my runs when I could, but they usually occurred during lunch (short runs) or very early on Friday mornings (long runs). Due to a crazy travel schedule and circumstances related to Hurricane Harvey, all of my training runs were done on a treadmill. That’s right – not a single training run was done on pavement or trail. And it worked out. Boom.

The Course: The half-marathon course is a giant loop and starts and ends in downtown Houston. The course winds its way up to, and through, Memorial Park, then makes its way back to downtown. I kept things steady and never walked during the race. I should also note that this course is largely flat, save for a few “hills” along Allen Parkway.

race3

Race Amenities: This is a great race with lots of course support. There was plenty of water and Gatorade along the course, along with an army of volunteers and terrific crowd support and signage. There was also a great deal of security and I never once worried about my safety. There was a food village after the race, and George snaked the long-lines with me.  We ended up sharing a plate full of fruit, pancakes, breakfast tacos and Cheez Its (don’t judge), The medal is also pretty neat (and heavy!) and the race shirt is a usable dri-fit technical shirt.

withG

Fueling: I was in a rush before the race and didn’t get a chance to eat beforehand. I did manage to down a Gatorade Prime on my drive over though. Thankfully, I had a (smashed) bag of Honey Stingers in my gym bag and ate one after crossing every mile marker. I chugged water and Gatorade all weekend and felt very hydrated during the race. I consumed water at every offering during the race too.

My time: 2:01:57 — a 9:34 pace. Not bad for an under-trained runner!

race2

My Support: John and George met at the end of the race. These two also supported me throughout my training and are always there for me. I am a very lucky woman. I should also note that my beautiful cousin also ran the race – it was her first half marathon and she conquered it.

withJ

Would I run this race again? Yes.  Should you consider running it? Yes.

 

George’s 4th Birthday Celebration

George turned “4” on Monday, October 9th, and we celebrated all (long) weekend long.

On Saturday of the long weekend, our friends and family helped us formally celebrate our Georgie with a party at Hermann Park.

Invite

George has been really into trains lately, so we thought a train-themed party was appropriate.  And since the Hermann Park train is George’s favorite train, it seemed natural to have a party featuring said train.

G sign

We had all of the food catered (via Hermann Park, Whole Foods, and Shipley’s) for this year’s party.  Having the food catered was a great move on our part – we had too much going on the day of the party to worry about cooking and cleaning the kitchen – not to mention the fact that I had two work trips that week.

food table

The kids (and adults!) went on a special (private) birthday ride on the Hermann Park train.  Everyone had a great time!

3SMS

During the party, the kids ate snacks at long tables that Hermann Park set up on their covered patio.

party scene

To boot, our party package included decorations (of our choosing) that our party planner (also included) set up that morning. I also made this special decoration for George – it conveniently doubled as a decoration for his party at school the following week.

cake table

Now, onto the cake. You know it isn’t an Arnold party unless we have a Three Brothers cake.

Cake

The red-velvet cake was melt-in-your-mouth amazing and was the perfect size for our party.

cake2

All kid guests left with a special goodie bag (that I prepared!) with candy, train stickers, and a special train whistle (to drive their parents crazy!). I also had special coloring books made via an amazing artist on Etsy.

John, George, and I had a great time visiting with family and friends at the party and we greatly appreciate the effort our friends and family made to join us.  Because we are currently displaced due to Hurricane Harvey, the love and joy that stem from our friends is appreciated more than ever.

cousins

Since some folks will ask, here are the vendors we used for the party. To be clear, we paid for all goods and services, and the opinions expressed here are our own.

We love you, George! Special thanks again to our friends and family for helping us celebrate this milestone, especially those who traveled from far away.

Arnoldfam