Another Year Older

Today celebrates another birthday. I love birthdays. I love getting to celebrate with friends and family; lots of food and treats. This year I realized I really am growing up. It’s funny that at certain ages you think you are all grown up. I look back at 18 or 21 and realized how little I was aware of. When my parents asked me what I wanted for my birthday the discussion was around a new vacuum cleaner, a Home Depot gift card and other things along this line. Who knew my late twenties would finally be when I started feeling like a grown up. I have no fears about turning 28. Another year older doesn’t bother me. (Let’s see what I say in two years, but as of right now 30 doesn’t scare me). I’m good with where my life is at right now. I have wonderful friends and a great family.

Instead of a baby picture this year I dug up a few from my 21st birthday. I was unlucky and turned 21 the Monday after spring break. Of course that didn’t stop us from celebrating. On the Friday of that week my wonderful friends managed to pull off a double surprise birthday for me and one of my roommates. Neither one of us had any idea. It was a blast. There was probably too much tequila and lots of dancing. Great way to celebrate.

I think this was my first  legal drink: a margarita at Fridas.
I think this was my first legal drink: a margarita at Fridas.
21st Birthday Party
21st Birthday Party
21st bday3
Best Friends
There was a lot of tequila and a lot of dancing. I assume this is tequila being wiped off my arm.
There was a lot of tequila and a lot of dancing. I assume this is tequila being wiped off my arm.
One of my favorites. Still friends with all of these ladies.
One of my favorites. Still friends with all of these ladies.

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Lucky Leprechaun 7k

This is the first year in four years that I haven’t run a March half marathon, specifically the National Half, which I still hate is now a Rock’n’Roll race. For obvious reasons it was not in the cards this year, but still sad to not run through my favorite city. Instead of running a half marathon I ran the inaugural Lucky Leprechaun 7k, yes a 7k. Now I don’t give a shit about St. Patty’s Day, but there was a fun race and I figured I could get back in shape for a 7k. Both of my parents ended up registering as well.

Now I did not go into this race thinking of it as a race or with excitement. Mother Nature is a confused bitch right now and we woke up to fresh snow and frigid temps on race morning. By chance my running windbreaker is green so I was all set. I met up with my parents near the start line. We all whined about the cold. I started questioning why on earth I paid money to run 4.3 miles. Basically I wanted to be anywhere else at that moment, mostly my bed. I shut up and ran once it started. The roads were slushy, snowy and slippery. Not exactly great for running. I ended up running with my mom the whole way. The first mile was SLOW due to the conditions and the crowds, but I decided to not dwell on it. Mile 2 we sped up some. And then we negative split on the way back. I’m super proud of my mom for our last 0.32 miles that we ran in at 8:46.

Lucky7k

I’m really glad I ran it. I had a blast running it with my mom. Would I do it again? Maybe. No desire to run in this shitty never ending winter anymore though. Good fun race for my last race at this age. I’m really hoping mother nature gives me a nice birthday present and actually brings spring this week, but I doubt that will happen.

Overall this was a great week. I ran three times and did #30DayShred 4 times. My vacation laziness seems to have finally worn off!

Vacation Reading

This is for those who asked what books I read last month. I read 14 books in February, 12 of them while on vacation. Some were good, some were weird, some were just bad.

I read Divergent and Insurgent after several people told me there were better than the Hunger Games Trilogy. I really liked them. I do not like that I have to wait until October for the next one.

I read Dead Until Dark, the first Sookie Stackhouse book (or for you TV people the first True Blood book). Kind of strange to read after having watched all of True Blood, but I still enjoyed it.

Next up was America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom. This is Meghan McCain and Ian Black’s book. I started it stack of booksawhile back, but had to stop when there was a section on guns and the Sandy Hook shooting has just taken place. I just couldn’t read the politics and experience all of that. Overall it was okay. Meghan McCain is one of the only Republicans I can read and listen to. I assume that has to do with her beliefs on gay marriage and her beliefs that some of the out-spoken a-holes in her party are exactly that. I’m not sure this book actually achieved what they wanted it to, and it got a bit long, but it was entertaining.

A Negotiated Marriage, not sure I should admit this one. It was brainless, mostly pointless, and definitely a beach read. I read it in one day.

The next one was intriguing; The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. It wasn’t at all what I thought it would be and I still don’t know how I feel about the ending.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – This is kind of about 9/11, but only kind of. And it’s through the eyes of a kid. I enjoyed this one. It was deep, complex and came together well. At times it was a bit hard to follow, but I think that was vacation brain.

The Millennium Trilogy – or Better known as the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Books.  I know I’m several years late to the party on this one and actually had the books on my kindle for over a year, and for some reason decided vacation was the time to read them. I read all three books in six days. They captured me and I needed to find out what happened next. For anyone who only read the first book I highly recommend reading the other two. They get a lot deeper and a lot stranger, but hold you until the end.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, ugh, what a self-absorbed woman. This was our last book  club book and it took me three times to get past the first chapter. Not sure why I stuck with it. Oh no, your life was hard and you decided to hike. Gah. Save yourself the time and don’t read it.

Another brainless vacation read: From Notting Hill with Love… Actually. Nothing wrong with this one. It actually had a plot. Simple and a nice break after the previous reads.

This was bad, Faking It, yet didn’t end how I expected it to, so at least there’s that. The character’s (ok, some of them) actually had substance to them.

I have enjoyed a lot of Ann Patchett books. State of Wonder was different. It was too fantastical or something. It was interesting to be reading it at the end of my trip considering it took place in Brazil. There are many of her books I would recommend, not this one.

So that was February. Since getting home I have watched too much TV. My DVR is overwhelming me and I’m ready to start reading again.

Spotlight Questions

My coworker who writes our internal newsletter asked me to be the staff member to answer the Spotlight Questions this month. I’ve never done one of the answer 7 or 11 or whatever questions blog posts, but thought since I was answering these anyways I would share them. I also won’t tag anyone in this and actually don’t need anyone to copy these. I’m mostly just bored at work right now.

What do you like most about living in Wisconsin?

Being close to my family and being able to go to Badger games.

Is your favorite meal something you cook, or something you go out for, and what is it?

My favorite meal is almost anything my mom cooks. She makes phenomenal food from the basics to gourmet.

What was a hobby you had as a child you don’t have anymore?

Swimming. I used to swim 5-6 days a week from age 9-18. Now I don’t remember the last time I was in a pool. I still love the smell of a pool though.

What were you doing prior to working at COMPANY?

Graduate school in Washington, DC.

If you could go back and talk to yourself the day after you graduated from high school, what would you tell yourself?

You aren’t even close to being grown up. Enjoy this summer, but it’s not the end of your youth.  Also, you won’t regret choosing to go to school in Madison. It turns out to be one of the best decisions you ever made.

Brazil and Argentina: The whole trip

I never thought this would be a travel blog, but then again I had no idea what I was doing when I started it. It was originally a running blog, but even I got bored by my own posts. I decided that blogging while on vacation was a good way for me to remember all of it as well as share about the trip. There were so many different parts and I don’t want to forget anything.

I’m not even sure where to start since I did blog while on the trip. We were gone a full three weeks, leaving on Wednesday February 6th and arriving back in the US on Wednesday February 26th. I have never taken that much time off and was a little concerned, but knew we needed that time to make the best of our itinerary. The only place I would have spent less time is Rio. We had crazy busy days and we had nice relaxing down days. I read 12 books on the trip.  I got to spend invaluable time with a friend I don’t get to see nearly enough.

Rio Posts

Ilha Grande and Iguassu

Iguazu and Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires and Mendoza

So this seems to be where I left off. We enjoyed Buenos Aires. The food and wine was delicious. It is a very interesting city in how much of it is designed after different European cities. After four days, endless walking, the city tour bus, and lots of food we packed up again and left for Mendoza.

Mendoza is another place I have wanted to visit for seven years. It is only a 7-8 hour bus ride from Santiago, but I never made the trip while studying in Santiago. All I really knew about Mendoza was that it was Argentina’s wine country. It is this beautiful city right along side the Andes. The city is located in a desert with massive canal systems to the city and the vineyards can exist. Everyone talks about the water, but it doesn’t actually seem to be a problem. The water comes from snow in the mountains and they do express concern for climate change.

We lucked out and ended up there during the Mega Dugustacion, meaning a giant wine tasting. They shut down a few blocks at the center of town and the local vineyards set up. We bough wine tickets and were able to each taste six wines.

We spent one day visiting vineyards, which was lots of fun. We spent another day exploring a beautiful park right outside downtown Mendoza. We spent out last day in Mendoza taking a tour up into the mountains. It was a long, but beautiful day. We drove all the way to the Chilean boarder.

We went back to Buenos Aires for our last day, which was kind of a day and a half since we didn’t fly out until late at night. We explored a few parts of the city we hadn’t visited yet. We spent most of the day walking around and enjoying our last day in summer weather. We decided to have out last meal at  a restaurant the week before. We definitely adopted the late large lunch culture.

No matter how many people ask me what my favorite part of the trip was I still can’t answer. I know how lucky I am that I got to take the trip and that I got to visit all of these places. It was a once in a lifetime trip and I loved it. I am happy to be home and sleeping in my own bed though.