Happier

I’m a firm believer that being happy is a choice. Is it easy? Of course not. But happy things don’t just plop in your lap. You have to find the happy things. You have to work toward being happy. You have to choose happiness whenever you can. I wrote a little something about choosing happy on Happier. I’m pretty excited about it.

Part of my happiness is to be surrounded by people who make me happy. Or go to places that make me happy. And because it was fun, I scrolled through my phone picking pictures of some of my favorite happy things and people. And places. It’s amazing how happy that made ME.

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Puffy Hearts and Damn Funny Stories

Most people expected flowers, chocolate or a fancy dinner on Valentine’s Day. I was expecting my entire family over to have tacos for dinner.

As one does.

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Pictures or it never happened. Even if the pictures are blurry.

 

With the five of us kids, our spouses, nine grandchildren, my parents and (often) my grandmother, a typical family dinner looks like we’re having a frat party with kids and no beer. It is wall to wall chaos in the best possible of ways. We are loud and obnoxious so that we’re heard over the steady noise of laughing and kids playing. More often than not, we speak in movie quotes so it can often be difficult to follow one of our conversations if you’re not well-versed in a Goonies, Princess Bride, Anchorman, Drop Dead Fred and most Disney movies that have ever been created kind of language. It’s like we created our own version of pig-Latin. With A LOT more sarcasm and obscure So I Married an Axe Murderer references.

Unfortunately, due to a virus that knocked them down, my parents weren’t able to be at our house on Saturday night. We missed them dearly and promised that we wouldn’t have any fun or belly-laughs without them. We’re terrible liars and they saw through the bullshit, but at least we made an attempt. We tried to be as boring and unfunny as possible. But we just so happen to be REALLY bad at boring and unfunny when we’re all together. I mean, according to our own selves.

As it usually happens, we got to the point where we can’t breathe due to the laughing as we end up telling stories about when we were kids and incredibly dumb. Since there’s a bit of an age gap between my sisters and I and our younger brothers, we inevitably tell a story that they’ve never hear or don’t know very much about. And, of course, at some point, there is a story told that I have no recollection of because I can’t seem to fit ALL the memories in my head. (Even if the story involves me saving my sister’s life. Nothing. NO memory of such things.) The broken handlebar/bike crashing/friend riding over my sister story was, hands down (bike down?) the favorite of the night.

That doesn’t sound funny at all when I write it that way. Just trust me. It is.

At some point in the night, a discussion came up about swearing in front of your children. I have a black belt in swearing in front of my children, but I do try not to swear in front of my nieces and nephews. SOMETIMES. But since we were talking about swearing in front of our OWN kids, my daughter, of course, says something about how I used to be better about it.

I said, “Yeah. Apparently I used to care a lot more. NOW? F*ck it.

What are, WORDS THAT I’VE NEVER SAID IN FRONT OF MY GRANDMOTHER, ALEX.

In fact, it’s not a word I (generally) use in front of my family. No really, I’m being honest. And while I was peripherally aware that my grandmother was right there, I don’t think all of my brain had really thought that sentence through.

My husband swears he’s never seen my grandma laugh so hard.

But this might be the last time we’re all allowed to gather without parental supervision. Some of us can’t be trusted.

 

not exactly how I planned it…

So, the our anniversary weekend didn’t go as planned. My in-laws were going to take the girls Saturday night but ended coming down with a bug. They still were expecting and willing to take the girls, but we just felt bad. Hopefully we can arrange a do-over! But since I was looking forward to having a nice “staycation” with my husband, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. But you know what? It was still a really great couple of days.

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Even though we had staycation plans, we knew that our early Saturday would be busy. Beezus had a big softball practice for the team’s upcoming tournament, so The Dude headed that way with her. Ramona and I headed out to join our family tradition of Pomegranate Weekend.

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The main point of this family tradition is to seed/press the pomegranates for the juice. That juice, in turn, is used to make some pretty fantastic things. Mainly the (somewhat famous, maybe kinda) pomegranate jelly. We also have an amazing tradition of pomegranate punch. But there’s also been pomegranate ice cream and wine made from the fruits of the family labor.

This was the 42nd weekend that our family has gotten together to do this. The process has changed over the years, but it’s still a big deal to all of us. And obviously, this has been a part of my history for more than all of my life. Sometimes sporting events get in the way, but I loved that I could be there for so much this year. And, believe it or not, this was the first year that I took part in every step of jelly making. I think I’m usually outside and not much more than a helper when it came to getting the jelly happening. But this year? Thanks to my aunt and my gram, and (bless you) my cousin, I actually made jelly.

This is probably more shocking to me than most. But still.

I. Made. Jelly.

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Hopefully it’s just as delicious as it should be! But if it’s not, well…it’s really no wonder. I probably shouldn’t have been trusted with all that sugar and juice and such.

* * *

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If you follow Life of Jill on Facebook, you may have seen a few things mentioned about Operation Eleanor. Today is November 4th and NOT TO LATE to join us as we choose to do one thing each day that scares us. And it’s amazing what can happen when you have fear but you do it anyway. Getting out of your own way is job one. Or at least it was for me. Once I got out of my own way, I started seeing a lot clearer…and making some kickass to do lists and some pretty rad plans.

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I hope you’ll join in. It’s amazing…it’s hard…and it’s so very worthwhile.

* * *

I forgot to show you some cute kids on Halloween:

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Or some BABIES that were married 16 years ago that just so happened to be featured on Fancy Pants Weddings.

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Yeah. I don’t have any words either. Except BABIES WE WERE BABIES OMG.

* * *

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This has nothing to do with anything, but this my breakfast yesterday. Actually, Eggs Benedict has everything to do with EVERYTHING so really it’s important that I’ve documented it here.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a lovely weekend…it’s about to be a REALLY busy week for our family over here. So I’m glad that I could look back on a great weekend, even if it REALLY didn’t go as planned.

I’m still holding out for that DO-OVER.

take me out at the ballgame

I knew going into this weekend that I would probably make an ass of myself somehow. Just getting through a normal day without inflicting harm upon myself is a huge accomplishment. Signing on to play a charity softball game? Well, that’s just asking for trouble.

AND YET.

Yesterday, my daughter’s competitive softball team participated in a Play for Pink charity softball tournament that benefited a local chapter of breast cancer awareness and research. However, instead of the girls playing, it was the parents. And the girls were our coaches. It was a wonderful idea! Clever and fun!

I was just as surprised as anyone when I agreed to this. My lack of athletic ability isn’t what any of us would call a secret. It’s amazing that I’ve made it through training and participating for several running events without falling or breaking anything. ::knocks on wood:: But I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t terrified of getting injured. In fact, in the days leading up to the tournament, I had pretty well freaked myself out about the possibility of getting pegged in the head with a softball. No helmets + amateur, out of shape parents = ME GETTING PEGGED IN THE HEAD WITH A SOFTBALL.

I mean…it’s basic math. Right there.

Despite all the warning signs and math problems, we packed the ice chest and BBQ, laced up our tennies and headed out to the softball field yesterday morning. We played catch, warming up…for whatever it was worth. Yes, it’s good to warm up those muscles…and yes, it helped to get us going and moving and out there. But yeah…I wasn’t sure how much it would actually help me play an actual game of softball.

Which brings me to my second fear: STRIKING OUT.

I was somewhat expecting to strike out whenever I was up to bat. I can hit the ball ok during family softball practices…but I was pretty worried about softball stage fright when it came time for me to be up to bat in an actual game with people who don’t love me like my family does. I guess I just didn’t want to embarrass my kid. Or…myself.

*womp* *womp*

I switched off playing outfield in the first game. (Yes, the first game. Because I soon learned that there would be THREE.) And a little ways through the game, it was my turn to be up at bat.

Now what I’m going to tell you, is that I’m a very impatient batter. I just want to GET IT DONE. So I swung at the first pitch like I had been doing this all my life. And, not only did I make contact, but I hit it somewhere near the shortstop. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THAT…because I was RUNNIN. And I made it to first. Not only had I actually hit the ball, but I was safe! And yes! It probably had everything to do with an error in fielding, but shut up. I made it to first…and dammit let me celebrate because all my excitement is about to come crashing down.

Literally.

I can’t even tell you who was up to bat after me, but they hit the ball right near the second baseman. Force and all that, I was out. But I didn’t even have time to be bummed, because that sonofabitch playing second was trying for a double-play at first base. And HOLY SHIT I WAS IN HIS WAY OMG MY WORST FEAR IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN I’M ABOUT TO GET BEANED IN THE HEAD.

So I ducked.

And then I ate dirt.

Because Momentum, being the bitch that she is, well…she took me right down to the ground. Ducking so that I wouldn’t get hit in the head meant I would hit dirt. Knees scraped, hands raw…sunglasses down HITTING DIRT. For a split second, I do believe I contemplated staying there. BECAUSE WHY NOT.

But I didn’t.

I had some dusting off to do, and some filthy sunglasses to retrieve, as I made the walk of shame from between first and second bases to our dugout. Small blessings as they are, I was the third out, so many of our parents were headed out to take the field. I had a minute to pretend that I wasn’t embarrassed as that transition created a distraction for all of us. I searched for my mitt so that I could head to the outfield.

Except for that’s not what happened. Because I got benched by my own kid.

Being one of the captains of her team, Beezus helped lead the team that called the shots of batting lineups and positions played. And apparently my epic display of athleticism wowed her to the point of benching me.

Insult? Yeah, let’s add you to my injury.

But hey, since I’ve got all this free time on the bench, I might as well laugh with one of the other moms and then Instagram a picture of my battle wound. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOUR FIRST RULE OF THE DAY TO NOT GET HURT GOES RIGHT OUT THE WINDOW AND YOUR KID TOTALLY BENCHES YOU BECAUSE YOU’RE A KLUTZ.

 

Let's Instagram that shit.
Let’s Instagram that shit.

Laughing about it all the way home, as The Dude and I also lamented at how sore we both are, I stop and read the comments on a picture I posted on Facebook.

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I tear up as my aunt tells me how special it is that she’s one of the people we played for. And I’m reminded why I wanted to play in the first place. Because if these amazing women in my life (and people all over the world) can fight to kick cancer’s ass, I can totally make an ASS of myself out on a softball field for them…and for a really wonderful cause.

Do I hurt like hell today? Yes. All the things hurt, especially my knee.

But a great day, with great and wonderful people for an amazing cause makes it all worth it.

Although, amazing people and excellent cause aside for a minute, I have to tell you…I didn’t strike out. Not even once. Like, hit that ball better than I ever thought I would. Even impressed my family!

Yeah, sure…I also embarrassed them with my graceful face-plant in the dirt. But let’s let me have my moment.

However brief it may be.

 

remember that time we laughed so hard during wedding pictures?

Nothing snaps you back to reality after a fun wedding weekend filled with family like a puking kid early (EARLY) Monday morning. We’ll all just sit here and be incredibly relieved that Pukeapalloosa 2013 didn’t ruin any wedding festivities. I mean, what else CAN you do?

(Nothing. You can do nothing about pukes.)

But you know what will make you feel better? Wedding dancing!

 

 

I loved having my family in town. Like, super loved it. Especially having all of my siblings together.

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It’s not that I forget how much fun we have when we’re all together; I guess I just don’t really think about it when we can’t be in the same location. And then when we spent so much time together for the past week? Going back to normal life is a little bit of a bummer. Adding a sick kid on top of that is just adding insult to injury. (Although, look how cute they all are?)

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But you know what? I love that we have so much fun together. I love that we added one more to our family. I love these people so much. I just do.

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And I’m pretty excited to add another wonderful sister in-law that puts up with our really, really crazy family.

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So yeah…I’m coming down off my family high. And I’m missing everyone already.

It’s just…well, it would be A LOT more fun cleaning and doing laundry (even yucky laundry) if they were here too.

Love you guys.

Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togever today.

Last night, as a last hurrah before my youngest brother gets married, the five of us siblings went out to dinner. Or dessert. It was late in the evening. Both were acceptable.

I’m sure we are completely annoying to everyone around us, but we think we’re hilarious. Side aches and tears streaming down our face from the laughing. Terrible jokes, FRIENDS references…lines from movies. Insults laced with sarcasm that are only funny, somehow.

I don’t think we talked about anything serious the entire night.

My brother told me that he farted just before our waiter took this picture. Because we’re 12, apparently.

 

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It’s blurry and a little grainy, but this is one of my favorite pictures ever.

I know my parents didn’t have an easy time raising five kids. Ginormous pain in the ass children that we are.

But holy crap, they did a great job.

And damn, are we funny.

mornings with mike…the flat stanley of instagram

I’m not even sure I could explain it. Even if I wanted to.

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Mike…poolside

I mean…it’s a coffee mug.

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the mike of the party

It started off as something fun to post on Instagram.

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Mike and the teenager

And then turned into an reoccurring theme. Like Flat Stanley who takes trips all of the world? Mike stays home, but…he’s just around, you know?

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Mike…poolside. Again.

I’m too old to be amused by this. And yet…it’s become something that makes me laugh. Makes other people laugh. It’s become a thing, dammit.

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Pretty sure I have a problem.

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Pretty sure I probably don’t care.

I think.

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finding our laughing place

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Not that you had any doubt, but we obviously had a great trip. Disneyland never fails to make me wish lived there. I do know how ridiculous that sounds by the way. It’s just…well, we just have so much fun when we are there. We all act like kids. And while I do realize that two of us still ARE kids, well…the four of us acting like big kids is so much fun.

I mean…YMCA on Splash Mountain? But of course:

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I have several things that I want to share with you. Like how much fun we had on the Halloween Haunts Tour. (And spent some time with other awesome bloggers along the way.)

 

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These are some pretty rad people

Or the new light up Mickey Ears that are programed to change and light up with the fireworks and shows. They even turn OFF during specific events. It’s like technology and magic had a baby and that baby is light up Mickey Ears. THEY ARE COOL.

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This is my kid and her ears watching the AWESOME fireworks

The Halloween decorations? AWESOME. AMAZING. SUPER RAD. I may or may not want to decorate every inch of my house for Halloween now. (My husband thanks you, Disneyland.) I also didn’t expect to love Halloween at Disneyland as much as I love Christmas at Disneyland. (Foolish girl that I am.) Spoiler Alert: OMG I LOVE HALLOWEEN AT DISNEYLAND.

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I want one outside my house now

But one of my favorite things was watching my kids. Ramona is my little dare-devil all of a sudden. She now rides all the rides. And somehow it was up to me to ride Tower of Terror over and over with her. Turns out it DOES get easier and I don’t need quite as much recover time after the falling is all over after the 5th time on it. (She also shares my love for California Screamin. So there’s THAT.)

Tower of Terror. Again. (See? I look less frightened.)
Tower of Terror. Again. (See? I look less frightened.)

Even Beezus, who will NEVER ride Tower of Terror…and still has nightmares about the time I kinda forced her onto CA Screamin’ had an absolute blast. She loves the other roller coasters that DON’T go upside down or start like you’re being shot out of a cannon. (My favorite part.) None of that really matters, though, as I see this JOY on her face. This sixteen year old, junior in high school who is GIDDY about Cars Land and finally getting to ride Radiator Springs Racers. (We weren’t able to ride it the last time we were there.) I was expecting to cross off one thing off the College Bucket List after this weekend, but ended up crossing off TWO. And maybe it sounds weird to be so excited about this, but my kid let loose and danced her way down Route 66 this weekend. MULTIPLE TIMES. After trying for years to get her to let go and just dance, all we needed was some oldies music, some rad fluorescent lightening and a little Disneyland magic. (Yeah…I said magic. Again.)

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I giggled and laughed and let-loose right along with her. We all did.

So yeah…so much more Disneyland updates coming your way. But first? First I’m going to be excited about crossing two things off our College Bucket List.

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And thanking Disneyland for making it all happen.

 

 

 

My family and I were given tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party and Disney park. All opinions are my own.

 

a delicious night with Tillamook

You know what? I get it. Talking about cheese and yogurt and ice cream is, well…I guess it could be kinda odd. Except when it’s not. Like when you sit down with other area bloggers and talk cheese with some of the coolest people in the business. I’m sorry, but that’s when talking about cheese is super, super cool. (Actually, there was very little cheese discussion. It was mostly ice cream talk. Let’s be honest.)

tillamook sign

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining other Sac Bloggers for a Tillamook Ice Cream Social Event. And nothing says “ice cream social” like putting a social media spin on the evening. Or maybe I just find it awesome that Tillamook put a social media spin on an ice cream social. Either way, social media is so much more delicious when there is an ice cream social involved. Especially if the ice cream is Tillamook.

I think. I’m not even sure what I just said.

The lovely and talented Gillian gave us a brilliant overview on how to make social media work for us. Our “Visual Voice” in the internet and social media world and how we can use that to develop our brand and our stories and our visual presence on line. Did I mention she was brilliant?

Stephanie and I may have wanted to take the baby bus for a joyride.
Stephanie and I may have wanted to take the baby bus for a joyride.

I’ve made no secret about the fact that I love Tillamook. My family is maybe even more obsessed than I am. (Okay, there’s no maybe…they really are obsessed. And maybe threatened my life if I didn’t bring home yogurt from the event.) But one of the things I love most about Tillamook is the relationship they build with their consumers. I mean, c’mon…they know they they’re a company that makes and sells cheese. (Delicious cheese, of course.) But more than just cheese is the history of dairy farmers and creameries and the commitment to quality they made over 100 years ago. They have always been owned and operated by those that “work the soil” and “milk the cows” and who know the business best. But the community that they have built and nurtured is pretty fantastic. Tillamook doesn’t just care about selling you cheese, they love to be a part of that experience. And, yeah…I keep joking about cheese. But obviously cheese is just the jumping off point.

Because have I mentioned ice cream?

YUM. Also, YUM. (My favorite.)
YUM. Also, YUM. (My favorite.)

At the end of the evening, we all had a chance to make an amazing ice cream sandwiches out of the delicious Tillamook ice cream. The best “stylized” and best Instagramed picture of the ice cream sandwiches would be chosen. I was a little concerned about my sandwich melting. I took a picture, sure…but found it much more important to eat the darn thing. (I didn’t win. Clearly.) (I didn’t care. Clearly.)

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I obviously had a wonderful evening. I got to hang out with some of my favorite people…I learned a lot…I ate way too much ice cream. My kids were so jealous that I got to hang out with Gillian and Katie from Tillamook that I kinda felt bad that I didn’t arrange for my own private ice cream social. Not that my family deserves their own event, but…when your 16 year old kid is so disappointed that she didn’t get to see them she started stalking following them on Instagram in a totally non-scary way? Well, I guess that means you need to admit that your yogurt addiction is worse than you thought.

 

 

A huge thank you to Tillamook, SodaPop PR and Sacramento Bloggers!

all it takes is faith and trust…oh, and something I forgot: dust

I haven’t been running much lately. Or at all, really. But it makes me feel better if I can say it the other way. I mean, I do realize life has been insane. We’re always on the go. I don’t even get enough sleep usually. So finding time to run hasn’t made the agenda for a while.

We don’t need to talk about how my waistline notices the lack of running. No need to state the obvious! But it’s the mental and, dare I say, spiritual side of running that I miss most of all.

Also: Races.

I miss the races.

I’ve seen several people talking about this past weekend’s Disneyland Half Marathon. And I’m surprised by how much it made me wish I was, well…regularly running, but also that I was running through Disneyland like so many people I know. You guys…it really is so much fun. Like, more fun than I ever expected.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved all things Disney. I just never though that Disney races would be so rad.

When Sarah asked told me that I would be running the Tinkerbell Half with her for her first half marathon, I was excited. (She feels bad because she didn’t give me much choice. I said: BRING IT.)

FOR THE RECORD: While I had been thinking of chopping off all of my hair for several months, I may or may not have taken the plunge just before our trip because DUH. Pixie haircut for the Tinkerbell Half.

 

see? adorable
see? adorable

Adorable.

Disney races start early. Don’t let anyone tell you different, because they’re lying. They gotta get all those runners through the park and still be able to open on time. But the best part of starting a race so early, in January, in Socal and at Disneyland?

FIREWORKS AT THE STARTING LINE.

Because of course.

Also, SoCal January is different than most other places in January, so the weather is nice. A little chilly at 4-something in the morning, but not bad at all.

tink (peter n wendy)

The beginning of the half marathon is through Downtown Disney and you make your way back to run through California Adventure and Disneyland. There are photo ops with several Disney characters all along the route while inside the park. Some stops had hefty lines, so you have to care more about getting the picture with than about how long it will take you to finish the race. Since this race is all about Tink, we wanted to stop to take pictures with Wendy & Peter and then again with the Lost Boys. Obviously. We decided against stopping for pictures with the princesses and other awesome characters because WOW the lines. The longest line we saw? Pictures with Storm Troopers. Plastic soldier men are the BUSINESS. Apparently.

the lost boys? HILARIOUS.
the lost boys? HILARIOUS.

Running through the park is a blast, though. Everything is lit up and just as awesome as you might think. And, because it’s Disneyland, there are people everywhere to help. Like, point you to the nearest bathroom. Or show your where the nearest garbage can is for your empty GU pouches…or they might throw it away for you. (That maybe happened.) (Disney isn’t ridiculously clean by accident.) You also run through some of the “back lots” where you see where they keep the floats and the stables where they keep the horses. It’s no Main Street “magic” but it is really interesting. Now, yes…running around Anaheim is a tiny bit boring, but many races have spots like that. The start and finish lines really make up for it.

I’ll be honest, I was a little lost in my excitement for Sarah at the end of her first half, so I feel like I missed some of what the Finish line had to offer. I still remember my first half and how I felt at the end of it. And I think I got lost in all that. But who doesn’t love an awesome Tinkerbell finishers medal? And a goody bag filled with post-race snacks? But mostly, who doesn’t love that end-of-race glow? (Just kidding, it’s all sweat and grossness. I’m not one of those people who finish a race looking all fresh and looking great. Nope. Although, this is the ONE race that I put on some serious make-up for.)

FINISHED!
FINISHED!

Here’s the thing…I just saw that next year’s Tinkerbell Half is about 85% full and it’s REALLY hard to not to sign us up again. It’s one of those things that is ON MY LIST to do with my girls before a certain one of them leaves for college. (Hysterical weeping.) And there are many of us have talked about doing this, too. So this is what I’m thinking: Tinkerbell Half Marathon 2015. Registration will open NEXT summer (July, I believe) and I think we should all do it. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

Put it on your calendars.

You don’t even have to start training for it until the end of next year.

Best. Idea. Ever.

Happening.

 

 

(Um…thank you for the pictures, Sarah!)