Tag Archives: holidays

Things I’ve been doing other than blogging

  1. Traveling for fun. We took our family trip to Germany and Belgium back in October (over 2 months ago – how crazy is that!) and I promise I will get around to blogging about that soon. Traveling with my parents was different, in a good way, as our budget was rather higher than what Adam and I usually have when we travel on our own. I discovered that Germany wasn’t my favorite country, and that I never care to go back to Brussels. But Bruges – that my friends is a magical city. I’m already planning our next trip; I’m thinking either Spain/Portugal or back to Italy (the country of my soul).

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    In summary, we did a lot of this.

  2. Traveling for work. In addition to my normal trips to DC, my company picked up a new client in Las Vegas, and I was there for two weeks – which, as you can imagine, is a looooong time to spend in Vegas. It’s hard for me to complain though, as the flight to Vegas is less than half of my flight time to DC, and Las Vegas restaurants are exponentially more enjoyable when someone else is picking up the tab. While we didn’t eat on the Strip every night, we did get to try several highly rated restaurants in different casinos, which is an experience in and of itself. One night my boss came to town and took us to Emeril’s Delmonico restaurant which was over-the-top delicious (with a price tag to match – not something I could ever afford on my own dime!) and served me the absolute best ahi tuna I have ever had in my entire life. I’m still dreaming about that meal.

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    I also got to drunkenly spend time with this stud, who is an exact replica of the original David, even down to the marble used. #onlyinvegas

  3. Hiked my first (and possibly last) 14’er. In Colorado, hiking a 14’er is a rite of passage. These routes are so named because they climb to an elevation of at least 14,000 feet. The “easy” 14’ers take about 5 hours round trip and are only 5 miles in distance. They go up in difficulty from there, with some covering 10 miles and requiring an 8+ hour time commitment. Because, in the words of my husband, “hiking is just walking, but for longer” (wrong – nothing is ever “just” at 14,000 feet altitude), we were over-ambitious and chose Mt. Bierstadt as our first mountain (ranked 38 out of 53 in terms of difficulty), rather than the much friendlier Torrey’s Peak (ranked only 9 out of 53). As we quickly learned, a 6-mile, 2,000 ft. elevation gain is nothing to laugh at, and 1/2 way into the ascent, neither of us were remotely pleased with life. But we stuck it out, were rewarded with Clif bars, buffalo jerky, and excellent views at the top, and I can cross it off my bucket list.

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    Reached the top! Finally smiling.

  4. Hosted my first Thanksgiving. Although I’ve done Thanksgiving cooking for Adam and I for the past 4 years, it’s always been only the two of us, so the quantity of food isn’t that different and the pressure was never very high. Usually, we just grill Cornish game hens rather than doing a full turkey. This year, though, my parents came up from Florida, and even though they have to love me no matter what, the stakes were raised a bit. Fortunately, the turkey turned out wonderfully – even I thought so, and I’m not a turkey fan. I dry-brined and spatchcocked it for more even cooking. Served along with traditional Thanksgiving sides, it was a wonderful meal, and of course it meant so much that my parents made the journey out. My mom spent most of her time cleaning, reorganizing, and helping me complete house projects I’d been meaning to get around to, but we also took some time to play in the snow, grab Starbucks peppermint mochas, shop, and pick out a Christmas tree. It was a pretty perfect week of vacation.

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    My mom is loving this. My dad is wearing long underwear, two sweaters, a scarf, a hat, gloves (with hand-warmers), extra-thick socks, and is tolerating this.

  5. Waking up earlier to enjoy morning coffee and sunrises in a quiet house. I used to be a huge morning person – even in college I was up before the sun (and everyone else) 98% of the time. I was that weirdo who purposely scheduled 8AM classes – and liked it. But since I started working from home, I slipped into a bad habit of sleeping until my husband’s alarm clock went off at 7:15. I make him breakfast every morning, and he needs to be out of the house by 7:45 to make his daily 8AM meeting. Waking up that late kept stressing me out, and even though getting out of a warm bed while it’s still cold and dark isn’t easy, I’m so much happier overall. My alarm goes off at 5:45AM and I have time to make coffee, do some dishes, catch up on emails, and watch the sun rise. It’s the perfect routine for me and I’m glad to have rediscovered my inner morning person!

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    Trees on fire

  6. Trying to compose a Christmas list like a gosh-darn adult. Here’s what I should be putting on my Christmas wish list: a new faucet for the kitchen, snow tires (as we just got another foot of snow here in Denver and we’re on track to have one of the snowiest winters in recent memory), furniture (right now our TV is propped up on a chair from the kitchen table and we have a spare mattress doing stand-in duty as a couch in the basement), Home Depot gift cards, money to pay someone to put insulation in our 50+ year-old home (see the part about the snow), a snowblower, and so so many other things we need for our first home. What I want to put on my Christmas wish list is a little different: a jewelry subscription from Erin McDermott (you know, because I toooootally get dressed and wear jewelry when I work from home #not), overpriced gym clothes (but they’re SO CUTE – send help), money to put towards our next Europe trip, cozy sweaters, and a gift card to our favorite pizzeria in Denver, plus a bajillion other superficial things that I just don’t need, dammit. Adulting is overrated.
  7. Ordered new blinds. The front of our house has two large sets of windows – my husband pulled one set of blinds down within 2 weeks of us moving into the house, and a foster dog shredded the other set when we left her alone in the house for too long and she escaped from her crate. They were the cheap, plastic variety, so I don’t mind replacing them, but talk about the least fun thing to spend money on in the history of ever. I suppose it’s a small price to pay to spare our 80-year-old neighbors the shock of seeing us walk around less than fully clothed.h5qsgltx6rzmzr9y8xvrwc1dcuspc2itfdldryckbpaizqd4mvgbj-dvjwqhs3gtwbaaemf1bi-q_5-2po_td3zdfnch_6sxda68ttvhzh-tc_gy5x49c3rrva1

And that’s about it! I was trying to get to 10, but I simply haven’t done enough fun/cool/blog-worthy things. We leave for Florida next week to spend Christmas with my family, which will be a weather change from this snowy tundra, to say the least. Denver is predicted to have a white Christmas while Florida is….predicted to be 85 and sunny. I never thought in a million years that I’d be saying this, but after spending the past week bundled up like an eskimo and shoveling snow from our driveway, sidewalk, and walkway, I might not might a bit of warm weather.

Memorial Day Murph

One mile run

100 pull-ups

200 push-ups

300 squats

One mile run

Complete while wearing a 20-pound weight vest, in as little time as possible

We’re now just one day away from one of my favorite holidays of the year. While most people associate Memorial Day with cook-outs, pool parties, and beach days, the thing I look forward to most is the workout above, named “Murph” in honor of U.S. Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. “Murph” Murphy.

If you’ve seen the movie Lone Survivor or read the book by the same name (I haven’t), you’re already familiar with Lt. Murphy and his story of heroics. Or maybe you remember hearing his name in the news back in 2005 when he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Or maybe you’re like me, a year ago – completely new to this workout and this man’s story.

His acts of courage and valor are well documented on the internet, so I don’t feel the need to recount them here. I doubt I could do his story justice. Suffice it to say that the man gave it all for his country, and died in order to save his team.

When you read the workout, you might be like me and think – hm, that doesn’t sound so bad. Then, Memorial Day arrives and you start the workout. At the 15 minute mark you’re only 1/10th of the way through the rounds of pull-ups, push-ups, and squats, and you think – wow, I’m never going to finish. At the 30 minute mark, you can start to see the finish line, but your legs are burning, your shoulders are like jello. Eventually, eventually, slower than you even thought possible, you finish the 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 squats. The last push-up took all of your strength. But now. Now you run another mile. You’re not even sure you can walk any more, but you head to the door and on to the sidewalk. You take a right, following the designated 1-mile course, and start to jog, slowly, painfully, legs moving awkwardly because your body has no idea why it still has to be moving, after all those squats.

And somewhere along the way, during the 1+ hour workout, after your 50th pull-up, or your 227th squat, or maybe after the first 1/2 mile of the first run, you realize – this man, Lt. Murphy, did this workout. All the time. In a 20-pound weight vest. In the dessert. And that wasn’t even his biggest accomplishment.

He didn’t do this workout to look better in a bikini. He didn’t do this workout because a bunch of his friends were doing it, and there was a cook-out after it. He didn’t do it on his day off and then limp home to recover poolside with a few cocktails. He did this workout to survive.

And there are thousands of men and women, all over the world, away from home, away from family, away from almost anything familiar, doing similar workouts, in similarly horrible conditions, so they can survive the demands of combat. To protect this country. To protect me. And if you’re anything like me, and a good workout gets you a little emotional, you have tears streaming down your face as you finish that last mile. Tears of pride, tears of gratitude, tears of sadness, for all the Murphs who have dedicated their lives to protecting our freedom.

Tomorrow, all over the country, gyms, Crossfit “boxes” (a weird Crossfit term for gym), and community centers will host the Memorial Day Murph challenge. Thousands of people will participate, and (hopefully) thousands of dollars will be raised for scholarship funds, PTSD research, and other veteran’s programs.

“Murph” is a long, grueling, painful workout, but it is do-able and infinitely scalable (I do ring rows rather than pull-ups and use a box for push-ups). Most people forgo the 20-pound weight vest, myself included. Other scaling options include half-Murph, and no-run-Murph. It’s not about doing the workout as written, it’s about gaining perspective and completing the workout, in any form, with a grateful heart.

You certainly don’t have to do this workout, or any workout, in order to properly observe the holiday. But all too often, we, myself included, seem to treat Memorial Day as a holiday dedicated to shopping and grilling, without giving pause. Tomorrow, let’s all take a moment to remember, to reflect, and to be grateful. If you can, please consider donating to the Veteran’s charity of your choice (the Wounded Warrior Project is ours).

And then go out and enjoy that pool party 😉

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