Friday, January 31, 2014

5 things Friday

1. I did get signed up for the Lowcountry Splash 5 mile open water swim! Price increase day is tomorrow. We're going to Charleston to stay with my brother Michael for a great 3 day weekend visit, and I can't wait. They have a 2.4 mile option, and it's with the outgoing tide pushing us along. Come swim with me! It's going to be a blast.

2 Bigun got Spike caught up in her hair the other day. Hilarity ensued.

3. Thanks to all of the snow I've been working from home since Monday. Going back into the office today isn't going to be easy. I forgot how nice it was to work from home all the time.  But what happens when this hits:

In the office the other day

4. Evil Genius lost her first tooth last night! The bottom teeth have been coming in behind her existing teeth so the first one fell out while she was asleep. I haven't even gotten a picture yet, but she doesn't really look all that snaggletoothed.


ok EG cleaned off my car and that's about the only one I have pulled off of the camera.
ok this one too. EG making snowballs in the front yard

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Through the winter I've been glad to get back onto the yoga mat regularly. 6 days a week of practice at home seems like a lot to most people, but for an Ashtanga practice it's pretty normal. You go through the same sequence of poses through three different sequences with the same warmup and cooldown poses. On The Mat has the best explanation of the sequences.  They say it takes about 5 years to master each series and I'm 3 years into the Primary Series now. But through Ironman training last year I had really stalled out, not having the time to learn the next poses in the sequence.

It takes time to really master the poses and stretch yourself out to get that foot behind your head or ease your way into a handstand. Over the last month plus I have actually been able to make some progress! Not foot-behind-the-head progress. But I have added the next 18 poses in Primary Series with some regularity. But the coolest thing is actually from the Standing Poses.

Photo Credit So I'm not exactly head-on-the-floor there yet. But I have been able to deepen this pose considerably. And having my hips opened up by this sequence is really going to help my swimming over the summer.  Getting about 6" lower is serious progress. I'm also working on the movements to "jump through" and "jump back", which takes a crap-ton of core strength, a small belly, and serious flexibility.  Progress is a really cool thing.

Plus the daily practice keeps me grounded, sane, and de-stressed. Ashtanga is designed to keep the core strong and flexible. That's going to pay dividends in triathlon season.  Seriously, if I didn't have an upcoming triathlon season, I could totally see myself embracing the whole yogi thing.

Triathlon season is right around the corner. I am so ready for it. The hard workouts, 2 a days, bring it on. I'm ready to start shaving my legs again. Officially Ironman training starts in early April, I got my spreadsheet loaded up with the plan I want to use, more on that later. Actually I haven't made the final decision to do an Ironman this year yet. My weight is right on target, let the triathlon season begin! All of this great core work is setting me up for success.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Bigun and I before church on Sunday

The happy urban farmer
Today's "How Does Your Garden Grow" segment is brought to you by bib overalls. In the winter, garden tasks include pruning, bed prep, and soil prep. We finished assembling the second raised bed on Sunday and I got the soil turned over once. Up next, we'll add some manure and compost, turn it over a few more times, and let the rotten stuff rot more. In about 6 more weeks the beds will be primed for planting, even if it won't be quite warm enough yet.

The first picture, I thought Bigun and I both looked pretty spiffy before church on Sunday so I snagged a quick pic.

Raleigh got about 3" of snow overnight, so schools are closed for the second day and I'm working from home again. Gratuitous snow pics to come soon!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Coffee Time

Interwebs, we need to get together soon. Find a coffee shop, get a warm mug of happiness, find a comfy chair and settle in for a while.  If we were getting together for coffee today, here's what we would talk about.

Raleigh is balls cold. One the one hand, this is supposed to be a temperate climate, normal highs are in the 50's this time of year. And it's supposed to start snowing Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday mid-day and dump 3-7" of the white stuff on us. I'm down with this, just wish that our house had insulation in the exterior walls so we wouldn't be so frozen inside.

People say this winter is proof that global warming was a hoax, but this is really how every winter was before 2000. So I'd say that environmental conservation efforts have actually worked and we're back to where we should be. No doubt that would start some debate.

This was a good movie weekend. Saturday morning Bigun had a birthday party to go to. So I grabbed the Evil Genius and we hit the $2 theater near the house for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and a giant bucket of popcorn. She did actually show some good behavior, which is a rare treat indeed! Then I came home, ran 12 miles to get my long run done. Kelley's dad wanted to play with the kids for a bit, so as I was pulling into the driveway after my run, Kelley pulled in at the same time from dropping them off. We then went back to the $2 theater to see 2 Guns and have another giant bucket of recovery popcorn.  Needless to say, my sodium intake was through the roof this weekend. 2 Guns was much better than I expected, Marky Mark and Denzel in a great shoot-em-up thriller. Then we grabbed dinner a local japanese place and picked up the kids. They were pretty worn out by then, so after they went to bed we watched Mud, a pretty bad Matthew McConaughey flick that we had in on Netflix. It was a little dissapointing. There wasn't enough shirtless McConaughey for Kelley, and not enough plot twisting for me.

Sunday we went to church, and the kids almost behaved well. We had to baptize 18 people! Each one had to read a witness testimony. And it was mosaic Sunday, so the Chinese Church Praise Team had to sing a song (and they baptized 9 of the 18 people), and the Farsi Fellowship had to sing a praise song. It took an hour and 45 minutes. Normally the service is right around an hour, so I expected the kids to get more restless the longer it got. They kept asking why people were getting dunked in the water.

In the afternoon the kids and I got some time in the garden. Got the second raised bed finished off and turned the soil in there one time. The girls only fought twice while we were out there, so I'll consider that a win. After dinner and showers, they went to bed while Kelley and I watched Elysium, also in from Netflix. It was pretty bad. Matt Damon action flicks are usually better than that. They took the 1% vs 99% concept of wealth division that most of the USA is protesting about right now and stretched it out to unreasonable levels where only the rich get to use the cure for cancer, and OSHA suddenly doesn't exist anymore. The 1% only want money, they don't want the rest of us to die. horrible execution on the plot.

Bigun's spring outing date is changed! The plan was to have Morgan's wedding, then EG's spring outing, then Bigun's spring outing on consecutive weekends. But too many of the other dads in Bigun's tribe had date conflicts, so we got it changed to the only other available weekend, which happens to be the same date as Morgan's wedding. So we end up being the only pair that got screwed.

To make it up to Bigun, we're going to take the same weekend for an overnight trip just me and her. I have no idea where we want to go or what we want to do, and if we were having coffee today we'd certainly have to brainstorm on that one. She's big enough now to go on some epic adventures and do some non-child-like stuff now! I'm not suggesting a weekend in Vegas or anything. If you were a 9 year old girl, what would you want to do with your dad for an overnight trip? She loves biking and paddlesports, anything outside really. We could go camping, or whitewater rafting, or go hiking in the mountains. Maybe kayaking down a gentle river or mountain biking somewhere. We could go to the beach or do some standup paddleboarding, or maybe to an amusement park. If I wanted to move it up a few weekends, I could take her skiing in the NC mountains, she's love the snow. HELP! I need ideas here people.

Cedar Point might actually happen. The only two triathlons I have on the race schedule this year are the new Lake Logan 70.3 (I love the oly's that I've done there in the past) and Rev3 Cedar Point 140.6. While I shouldn't throw in too many sprints, it feels odd to only do 2 triathlons this year. Haven't done that few since 2008 when I only did my first one. But it looks like I've got the cash together for the entry fee for both of those ($425 for CP and $125 for LL in case you think triathlon is a cheap sport), and that was the biggest question mark on those two races. Now it's just a matter of getting the guts to pull the trigger! March 2nd is the price increase for both races, so I want to beat that. Should I wait until after the marathon to see how my body is feeling? I know it's a commitment to that much training, and Ironman training will have to start immediately after I finish these spring marathons. Should I sign up now or wait until after Myrtle Beach?

Might have found a 5k open water swim for this year! The Lowcountry Splash is a 5 mile OWS race in Charleston, where you start in Patriot's Point, swim under the Cooper River Bridge, then finish at the USS Yorktown. Swimmers go with the tide the entire way so there's plenty of current assistance. Yea, it's 5 miles instead of 5k. But get this: my two Ironman swim times (2.4 miles) are 1:14 and 1:05. In 2013, the finish times for this 5 mile swim ranged from 1:18 to 2 hours, they only had one person that took longer than 2 hours. My typical pool mile is 25 to 30 minutes, so I would expect that to take me about 2.5 hours, and I'm a really strong swimmer. So that must be one helluva current assistance. Do you think the field is only really strong swimmers, or is the current that strong? I wanted the 5k swim to be a real challenge, do you think that's challenging enough? It's on Memorial Day weekend and we can stay with my brother Michael, so that would be a great time to take the entire family down to visit him. I can't decide if that's the right race or if I should keep looking.

See what I mean? Coffee. We needs it. Help!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Couple of updates for now:

Check out that garden! Week 2 is coming together. The muscadine vines are all pruned back there, ready for another great season of growth. This will be year 4 for the vines, so they should all produce a good solid crop. The first raised bed closest to the vines the kids and I put together on Sunday. We pulled the 2x8 frame from the bed in front of the front door and cut it up to make the far side of the new frames. Then we added some new 2x6 lumber to finish the rest of the raised part. Since the yard slopes away from the house I wanted the taller boards at the far side of the bed to try and level it out, and that's exactly what we were able to do for the first one. I even got to turn the soil over once, so that was really cool. Digging in the dirt in January, it's a good thing. Next weekend we'll get the second bed finished and maybe start adding some compost to the beds.

This time of year there are some good tasks to do in the garden. Soil prep tops the list in my book. If you can give the garden anywhere from 6 weeks to 4 months for the soil supplements to get worked and settled into the soil then it will be ready to start growing plants come planting time. Planting time for us in NC is around April 20 this year. Adding compost and manure now will reap the rewards then. Same thing goes with lime over the grass in your yard. It takes about 6 weeks for lime to affect the soil PH. Lime the yard now means it will be ready for overseeding in late March.

I don't like to throw the term big-ass salad around lightly. But there's a pint glass in there for reference. That thing was huge! Mash up a whole avocado with some lemon juice and soy sauce, and we used that as a salad dressing (Kelley's salad was just as big as mine). There's spinach and romaine in there, and plenty of toppings. It's totally Paradigm and vegan, no cheese or anything unhealthy. It was huge and I ate it all and felt amazing afterwards. This was lunch on Monday.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday's Dumps

Brain dump, that is. Here's how last week went down: busy. it was jam packed. The workouts were regular and steady, the nutrition was constant and mostly vegan, and I had no time to blog. I actually did have some good content to write about, but then promptly forgot it all so you get this instead.

Horse derp selfie - not as easy as it looks

Evil Genius trying on the unicorn mask for the first time
At the hockey game last week!

Only my kids would rake a zen garden pathway into the leaves when we're supposed to be raking them up

Bigun says we carved a 70 into the yard trying to outline the beds
Those pics were supposed to be a 5 things Friday post.

That's week 1 of the garden. We're adding a second raised bed this year which I am incredibly excited about. I got a seed order placed from High Mowing Seed Company, they sponsor the NorthWest Edible Life blog, I read her, and I like to support companies that like to support bloggers. Hopefully we'll have a good time gardening this year! The kids sure are looking forward to it.

Workouts were really good too, all week long. Tuesday I had a good swim with the RAM team. Ran 38 miles on the week. 7 monday, 5 wednesday, 6 thursday and 20 on Saturday. Did yoga 6 days, and hit the strength training 3 days. Solid week all around. This 20 miler kicked off the cycle. 20, then a recovery week. Another 20, then a taper week. Then Myrtle Beach Marathon, then taper week, then Umstead Trail marathon. Game on people! Here we go!

My weight is spot on right now too. We're still doing mostly paradigm meals, and it still rocks. I started the week at 178 and got down to 175 pretty quick. That's racing weight, so it's where I want to be. Everything feels good and looks pretty good too. Now if I could just get these dang kids to clean up their room every now and then.....

Have a great MLK day!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Into The

Blues. I haven't posted for a couple of weeks, I know. Immediately the reason for this was that I was a bit blue, not really depressed, just not in the mood to write a great "happy to be training hard and chasing those goals" post.  Training was a bit sporadic, vacation was over, and I was back in the office for the first time in a few weeks. Everything was irritating me a bit faster than it was before the vacation and I had to get settled back into a routine and prepare myself mentally for the challenges that I wanted to undertake.

I still haven't really found the routine that I want to use yet to rise up to these challenges (hint: that's part of the challenge), but the last 7 days have been so incredible it just had to lift me out of the blues.

1/6: Monday's suck, but we had a tribe meeting with Evil Genius's Indian Princess group. The house we met at was practically across the street from our house so we weren't late! And there has yet to exist a time were we all met up and I didn't have a smile on my face from beginning to end. This is such a fun group of kids and dads. It's hard to remain blue when you smile that much.
1/7: Tristan's first basketball game. EG's bff is playing in a 1st grade city league this year and had his first game. My friend Shawn is coaching the team, we totally surprised him when I showed up with Bigun and EG. I'm glad I got to hang out with Kayte some. Again, starting to feel better.

1/8: Had the first wednesday night choir practice at church for 2014. Again I smile from the moment I walk in the church door until the moment I get back in the car. Since I lost my voice for about 2 weeks over the Christmas break, this was the first time I got to sing since the Cantata. It felt wonderful to worship and sing again.

1/9: Thursday night I got to take the kids to a Carolina Hurricanes hockey game. One of the other dad's in EG's tribe works for the YMCA, and got us some free tickets, so I actually got to take both kids. The kids had a blast, the dads all had fun, and the Canes destroyed the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1. Good times all around.

1/10: Can you really be sad on a friday? I was in Hero mode at work finding and fixing problems with lightning efficiency. I had to drop off the kids at school that day, Kelley had to meet with a teacher, then EG won an award for Kindness, then she had a field trip that Kelley go to chaperone. So she was at the school all day, everyone had fun.

1/11: Saturday started with my return to swimming in 2014. The practice was really crowded, with 6 people in my lane. I was in the slowest lane and still swam at the back. The main set was all kick (fins) and pull (paddles), and since I'm more of a naturalist than that I got passed a lot. Lots of time waiting on the lane rope for a break in the action where I can jump back in for a slow kick. I still ended up with 3500 m in the 90 minute practice. Mentally it was kind of tough to get passed that much, it makes you feel insufficient. But I am still a strong swimmer, and that's the bottom line. Felt good to swim. I had planned on a bike ride that didn't happen. The rest of the day was playoff football, pruning the muscadine vines, and playing with the kids. Saturday night the kids ended up staying over with Kelley's dad, so we all went to Golden Corral for a too-huge dinner then a night of peace where we watched Identity Thief. Good movie!

While I was pruning, it would spurt up with a short bit of rain, then go away 10 minutes later. Just long enough to chase me inside. But this one time was different. All of a sudden the sky got as dark as night, then small raindrops started falling. Then the sky opened up and huge drops came down and I had to scoot inside fast. Turns out, this storm was moving through at 65 mph, producing wind gusts up to 85 mph recorded at the airport. There was a tornado that touched down on Tryon Rd in Cary, about 10 miles from our house. in. sane.

1/12: Sunday started by sleeping in late (9:30) and then singing in church. The service was incredible, the preacher actually made me cry from the choir loft. The kids were still out when I got home, so Kelley and I hit up an Indian Buffet then went to pick them up. After the huge mega-storm Saturday, sunday was 65* and perfectly sunny the entire day! The ground was soft, so me and the kids got out to plan this year's garden. They raked the leaves into a zen-garden path, then we started laying out the raised beds while Kelley and I started designing the landscape around the beds. I've got some great ideas for this year's garden, so it should be a ton of fun! After a few hours of working outside, naturally I was ready to go run. This weekend's long run got cut to only 8 miles, but it's a recovery week so that's ok. We ended up watching some new HBO stuff and relaxing sunday night. It was a perfect end to an amazing week.

I'm so happy and blessed to be surrounded by such a supportive family and friends. Yes I did still get plenty of mid-week workouts done too, biking, running, yoga, strength training. I got a lot done, got lots of fun times in with the kids, and had a pretty incredible week all the way around. And yes now I'm feeling much better, thanks.

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 Goals

I love setting annual goals. Specifically I prefer to set both short term and long term goals for the upcoming year, and a mantra to keep me motivated.

2013 Goals 11 hour ironman, Cast Iron Club
2012 Goals 5k speed and 300 days of yoga
2011 Goals Turn Iron and single digit body fat
2010 Goals Ironman prep year, my first iron week
2009 Goals First half iron, first marathon, first oly triathlon

Wow, I've been blogging a long time. Some years I really miss my targets, and sometimes I really nail it down.  Even if I completely blow a short term goal (sub 20 minute 5k anyone?) I can still nail the long term goal, like 300 days of yoga. Man that was a fun challenge.

Mantra: Long and Lean in 2014
Keep the bodyfat low and don't waste effort on too many short course races. Sure, a 5k or two won't hurt anything, but marathons and Ironman is the real focus.

Short Term Goals:
  • 4 hour revenge: Last time I did Myrtle Beach Marathon in 4:08, this year I want to break 4 hours. If not MB, then some other marathon.
  • 11 hour finish at Rev3 Cedar Point. Finish Rev3 Cedar Point full iron distance.
  • Finish another Marathon Maniac streak. We're already signed up for 2 marathons only 14 days apart for another 1 star streak, but I'd like to get more than 1 star.
  • Pick an "alternative" race. Mud run, warrior dash, offroad triathlon, do something besides just all road racing.
  • a single 5k swim (race or in the pool)
  • a single 50 mile run week

Long Term Goals:
Financial: Pay off the rest of our debts and sell this last rental property. The profit from the house sale should be enough to pay off the last credit card and fluff the kids college savings funds a bit. Everything else is already done. And being able to afford things like another destination Ironman or triathlon bike kind of hinges on this last house selling and the debt going away.

Travel: I have two old friends in Ohio that I want to visit if we make the trip for Cedar Point. They are both in Columbus. Since I didn't get my Atlanta trip in 2013 make a social trip to the dirrrty too.

  • 1200 miles on the year is 100 miles per month. My highest year ever is 1100 in 2011 thanks to a run-heavy IMFL training plan. But going Long and Lean in 2014 should make 1200 possible. 
  • 4 marathons on the year. 6 would be better, and it would be best to knock at least 2 more states off of my marathon list. I'm seriously considering making a go at the "full marathon in all 50 states" thing. I've already got 5 states done, and Ironman marathons count in that list too.
  • Volunteer at more races. Already I've got IM Raleigh, Umstead 100 and a race with Bigun's IP tribe on that list. Really want to volunteer at IM Chattanooga and Rev3SC as well, and there's a 100 mile ultramarathon in Spartanburg SC that would be a good one to volunteer at.
One idea to throw out there. Brad Tripp is a local guy in my tri scene. Brother is seriously fast, usually top 3 overall in my races, and he swims on my RAM team. He's also meticulous about keeping his training logs. So maybe in 2014 I'll be able to match his volume from 2013:

Swim 200 miles (110 RAM practices)
Bike 5000 miles (10 hours a week for 30 weeks)
Run 1600 miles (133 miles per month average)

Let's put those in the 'maybe' pile.

Other things I'm looking forward to in 2014
May 3 is my brother Morgan's wedding. I love Martha to death and couldn't ask for a better sister-in-law. To say I'm looking forward to their wedding is an understatement. Make it official! Morgan passed the CPA exam in 2013 and got engaged. Finally seeing my baby brother hold a position as an established, stable, professional, adult and family man is really cool.

The next two weekends after Morgan's wedding I'm taking the kids for each of their spring outings. Usually it takes me about a month to recover from one spring outing. But having both of them in the program this school year is incredibly "rewarding", and getting both spring outings on back to back weekends is going to be really challenging. Taking off three Friday's in a row from work, all in May, is going to be extra special. 

Rev3 Cedar Point is September 7th. In a perfect world we'd be able to drive up to Ohio, do the race, and spend a few more days at the amusement park and visiting friends. The very next weekend is IM Chattanooga, and more than a few friends are going up there - both local and internet-only peeps. These types of events are legendary for meetups, and getting to spend time face to face with people that I've only been able to facebook or tweet to before. So if I can work it all out, an epic Ironman family vacation will include me running an Ironman one weekend, then hanging with my friends and volunteering at another Ironman the next weekend. Then I can sign up with the volunteer preferences for IMNooga 2015. That would be epic.

So from the Myrtle Beach Marathon on February 16 until IM Nooga September 16 is going to be a giant blur, if all goes right. That still leaves the fall for more marathons, and I'd really like to run the City of Oaks marathon here in Raleigh this year. Every year it seems to fall into a bad date, or be too close to another major race. I would really love to knock this one out next year. Ohio will be a new state for the 50 state list, and I'd also love to get a fall marathon in Virginia or Maryland knocked out as well.

So it's going to be a wonderful year. I'm starting 2014 with an optimistic viewpoint, hoping for the best. Hoping that I can set goals that I can achieve, and achieve the goals that I set. Come race with me!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Year in Review

In January of 2013 I laid out some goals for the year, let's see how close I came to hitting them and how the year went overall.

The motto was Lean and Clean in 2013, and I stuck to that pretty well. I really was able to refine my diet and find patterns that I was comfortable with after some experimentation. Gluten Free, vegan, vegetarian, plant based, I finally found a comfort zone and my body responded.  The best response I got was to the Paradigm Challenge, a 2 week vegan program I did. The meals were tasty, I slimmed down nicely, and felt great the whole time. There will be a LOT more Paradigm days in 2014.

Short term goals:
5k under a 7 minute pace: Fail. I did set a 5k PR, but it was still at a 7:03 pace (21:56). I needed to hit 21:50. Missed it by 6 seconds, no shame in that.
See how close I can get to 11 hours at Beach 2 Battleship: Fail. I finished in 13:12, which isn't even a PR for my Iron distance, much less an 11:xx. I'm done with coastal area bike races, the wind slows me down considerably more than the hills do. I'm choosing hills now.

Long Term Goals:
Cast Iron Club: Success! The goal was to hit 30 Iron distances in each sport covering training and racing miles in 2013. In total, I finished with 54.35 Iron Swims, 34.65 Iron Bikes, and 32.37 Iron Runs. That is a solid year by any standards. This is the goal I wanted more than anything else this year, and I'm so glad I did it.

December 2013

Swim: 6050 m, 2 swims
Bike: 15 miles, 1 ride
Run: 72.1 miles, 11 runs
Strength: 9 workouts
Yoga: 10 times

December was a good offseason month. Marathon training is kicking up pretty strong and feels good, but I did get a nasty blister this past sunday that's going to come back to haunt me.  Got on the bike again, and hit the pool a couple of times.

2013 Totals

Swim: 210,220 meters, 119.44 miles
Bike: 3,869.25 miles
Run: 847.8 miles
Strength: 81 times
Yoga: 90 times
Average weight: 178.56 lbs
Average bodyfat %: 20.7%

This was an amazing year. My second Ironman finish didn't come without it's own set of challenges on the day, but anytime you finish an Ironman it's a blessing. I had my highest bike mileage year ever, and maybe my highest swim totals ever. I did have to deal with a tendon injury in my right foot that sidelined me for a couple of weeks in the summer, and the tendon kind of bothered me through November.

On the personal front, this was a banner year as well. The kids got old enough to be easier to handle, their school schedules sync'd up and the routine became established. They aren't toddlers anymore. Kelley and I grew closer than we've ever been and I love her more every day. We got our family finances pulled together, and got on a plan to get our monthly expenses under control and soon we'll have all of our debts paid off. Once this last rental property sells, we'll only have the mortgage on our primary residence as the only debt with a nice savings plan underway.

8 - 10 years from now, the kids will start to need cars, insurance, SAT prep stuff and college applications. In 2013 we really started the earnest preparations for that time. I feel really good about this year, it saw forward progress for us as a family for the first time in a long time. We've been in a debt-controlled negative position for about the last 5 years, and I'm really glad that we started the turnaround. There's still about another 2 years to go before we finish the turnaround. I know where I want our family to be when I turn 40 in 2015, and I finally feel like we can get there. That's a feeling I didn't have before 2013.

Here's to moving onwards and upwards in 2014! Happy new year!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Four Christmases: NC Edition

Monday we made it back to Raleigh in time to meet up with our friends Jenny and Gary, and another couple for some Cards Against Humanity and cold beers. Turned out to be a pretty amazing night! That is a fun game - if you haven't played it, leave your dignity at the door pour a cold one and hang on for dear sanity.

Tuesday was Christmas Eve, so Kelley's dad took the kids down to his hometown of Biscoe NC before the big Christmas Family celebration there. Kelley and I got some last minute stuff done before we headed down to Cousin Diane's house to meetup with everybody else.

Kelley's dad and sister, Meri

Me and my darling Christmas Eve
We didn't get too many pictures from Biscoe this year, but it sure was a good time. We got there early and got to greet everyone else. The kids in the family are now college graduates, and there's plenty of other babies running around. There was an especially large crowd this year which was wonderful.

Around 11 pm we made it back home and the kids didn't fall asleep until about 1 am. That was totally insane. But it did make that next morning's 7:45 wake up call "extra special".

Everybody got new PJ's, mine looks like a santa suit

Somebody saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus

The Haul that Santa left for the kids this year
Every Christmas Eve we all open one present early, a new pair of pajamas. This year everyone wanted pj's with the feet built in, and Kelley surprised me by finding a Daddy sized pair that looks like a Santa suit! Too funny. We had a good time with that.  Then bright and early (ok, waaaaay too early) the kids were up and going nuts when they saw what Santa had left for them.

They were both a little overwhelmed, which is kind of the point

Bigun loved this archery set, she's having fun with it so far

Evil Genius now sleeps with the Sprout Star stuffie every night, and carries it around everywhere.

The thing they both asked for was a zoomer, so they have to share one
The Horse Masks
I have to make special mention of these masks that they got, one is a horse and the other is a unicorn.  I can't explain why, but these things absolutely crack me up! So. Freaking. Funny!!! We have had a blast with these masks. I'll wear one while riding around town, or just playing games around the house. It's always funny. EG really wanted one, then was scared to put it on. but eventually she got over that, now it's adorable.

Santa with a unicorn head is terrifying

Even Kelley showed her goofy side a little bit

Mickey had no idea I was about to scare the shit out of him

until he turned around. Then after the heart attack stopped he got a good laugh

Kelley's mom got in on the action

Niece Kaileigh was ready for anything

I don't know why the horse head makes the fists funnier

Bigun was up for an epic battle! (this may be my favorite pic of the entire holiday)

I got a few good licks in

She fought back valiantly

Ultimately she took me down

I tried to resist

But her victory was not to be denied!!
All the Family came here
Mickey and Eleanor came over for breakfast, then came back later once Meri and Kaileigh got here. Neena and Gene came up Christmas Eve so they could be here for the big day. This was the first time we've been up on Christmas Day without having to run back to SC for something. We did all of the SC stuff earlier in the week, and everyone else came to Raleigh this time. It was pretty epic.

Neena and Eleanor overseeing EG

Mickey got laptops for both of the kids - amazing!

A clean picture of Eleanor

Mickey opening a laptop

Eleanor is silly and happy, so's Mickey

We got Mickey a Buddha Board, you draw on it with water and when it evaporates, the picture is gone. Very zen, he loves it.

So many people, so many presents, so many blessings!

Even Numma and Blankie got presents
EG loves Sonic the Hedgehog, she got a Wii game and mask

Bigun got a copy of Mario Kart, and has not stopped playing it

My mini-me. Recliner, laptop, canoli, she really is exactly like me in every way. it's natural, but freaky.
The rest of the vacation
After Christmas Day, everything calmed down. I still had another entire week of vacation. Everyone else went home, we spent plenty of time together as a family settling into the new toys and games, and just hanging out having fun. 

I finally got my Ironman tattoo updated with Beach 2 Battleship stuff, we got to see some friends including one who was in town from Dallas. I got in a 17 mile long run in some new running shoes and wore an incredible blister on my foot. We ate out every night, drank lots of beer (well, I did), and just had a good ole' time. Today is all football, and tomorrow I go back into the office broke, fat, and hungover, so you know I did vacation right.  Happy new year's!

Starting the outline

The bloody finished product - added the swim bike run icons and the battleship logo

Hanging with Andrea, with Kayte and her family as well

Giant heart shaped blister, like the new shoes show love through pain.