Thursday, January 29, 2015

Happy 11th Vin-man!!

Today has been all about Vinny--because it's his birthday!!

The traditional belgium waffles and ice cream birthday boy breakfast!

What can I say about Vinny?  I think Zach summed it up best tonight at dinner when he said "Vinny brings energy to a room when he is in it".

Brothers and cousins sking ofr his autograph after his play
Whether it is his singing, acting, joke telling, or his silly sense of humor, things are always interesting and loads of fun when he is around.

Vinny in The Wiz
Scanning through pictures over the last year I was hard pressed to find one of Vinny smiling normal, or not laying the bunny ears on someone.

at a Giants game

Showing me the golden egg from the Easter egg hunt

Guess who won "Most Dramatic" at Drama camp?

Static cling in the trampoline!
Vinny, you make our life interesting and exciting!!  May your 11th year be your best one ever!!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Deer Valley 2014

While it feels like forever ago already, our yearly Deer Valley ski trip came to an end about a week ago-- the craziness of our daily life has a way of making that happen I suppose.

This year we went with my sister in law Lisa, and her family.  We stayed in a condo that was walking distance to the lifts on the top half of the mountain.  The place was great!

There was room to hang out in the family room in front of the fire...
...and a loft that most of the kids were able to sleep up in.

It snowed almost non stop for 2 straight days, making for awesome ski conditions!!

The kids (mostly Zach) put a lot of time into building a sled course.  It was pretty impressive!

 For the first day the kids all did a day of ski school.  The ski school at Deer Valley is fantastic, and the reason my kids are now officially all better skiers than I am.

The one and only picture of me on the slopes.
 Day 2 we all hit the slopes together, ready to ski as a family.  Nothing brrings me greater joy than to see what amazing skiers they have all turned into.  We always have a blast together, and Vinny and Christopher rarely even fight!
And then it happened--only 2 runs into our first day skiing as a family.  We were on a simple, relatively flat run through the trees.  The 4 boys were in front of me, and had just popped back out onto the groomed run.  Not sure what exactly happened--Pete thinks my ski hit a branch or root.  Suddenly I was going down, twisting on the way.  My right ski was stuck, not budging an inch.  I could feel my knee twisting and twisting, until my binding finally gave and my ski popped off.  I landed in a tree hole.  Pete also went down behind me.  I knew it was bad, my week likely over.  I got pulled out of the hole, and then accessed the damage.  It hurt, but I guess I was still in denial and didn't want to call the ski patrol.  My knee was clearly unstable when I stood up,  but I gritted my teeth against the pain, and (very slowly) skied to the bottom.  I was crying, knowing my week was done.  Joey was crying because he said it was his fault for choosing the run (of course I reassured him it was not).  Home I hobbled.

It was a bummer, but Pete and the boys had a blast hanging on the slopes the rest of the week.

 I had to laugh becasue he said that without me there, no one knew where to go or what lift to hit next.  I didn't realize how much I always took charge in that realm and dictated our days.  Itw as good for them though.

 They sent me fun and cool pictures, and because we were so close to the slopes, they came home every day for lunch.

It was cold, much colder than we were used to.  One day was so cold in the morning (-11!) that no one even left until after lunch.

I waffled from being grateful that I only had a knee injury and nothing something more serious, like a head or neck injury to having a pity party about the fact that I was injured on the couch and everyone else was outside having fun.  I then ended up sick with a fever--really??  Like a jacked knee wasn't enough?? The last day was absolutely gorgeous- clear as a bell and sunny.  My view from the couch was of the above runs.

Despite my bad luck, it was still a great family trip.  The kids had fun, and we had lots of time as a family to just be together.  And I really was and am grateful that I wasn't hurt more.

As for my knee, the final verdict came in on Friday with my MRI results-- an MCL that is partially torn off my tibia and a medial meniscus with tears in 2 places, partially extruding out of the joint.  The MCL will heal on it's own, the meniscus will not.  Looks like I will be spending our February break recovering from knee surgery.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A very merry Contini Christmas!!

Pete and I dressed up for a party at our Crossfit gym

 The Christmas Season just flew by!  Our October and November were completely crazy with work (our office implemented an electronic health record) and other things so I vowed to make things simple this year.  I felt like I did a pretty good job sticking with that, while at the same time still enjoying a lot of the traditions we have as a family.

 We got to watch Chris in his class Winter recital.

 I wasn't planning on the gingerbread house this year, figuring the kids were getting old and probably didn't want to anyway.  Much to my surprise they asked and all had a blast decorating it.

 Every year we hit the Fantasy of Lights in Vasona.  Took us forever to come up with a night when we all 6 of us were available.  We finally had a night, and were getting ready to go when Zach got a better offer--a movie with some friends.  I was bummed he wasn't with us, but also understand he would rather be with friends.

Because it was so close to Christmas, and a Saturday, we had to wait much longer than usual- 1 hr 10 minutes!!
It was fun and we were glad we stuck it out.

 This year we hosted the annual "Little Cousins" gift exchange (yes, there are so many cousins in Pete's family that we have to divide them up--Zach on up comprise the "older cousin" set).  We played the white elephant gift game, and everyone was pretty happy with their gifts.

 Christmas Eve we had a great dinner and evening at my sister in law's house (and I forgot my camera-Boo to that).
Christmas 2014

 Every year the kids get matching Xmas jammies (which I usually give to them on Thanksgiving), and I take a photo on the fireplace.  This year I sort of forgot about the pajamas until the last minute.  I ran to the mall on December 23rd to find some.  Nope.  No pajamas to be found--Old Navy did not have a single pair of men's or boy's pj's.

Christmas 2013
Luckily Contini boys don't grow very fast so they wore last years jammies!

 The tree on Christmas morning, waiting for the boys to wake up.

 Holding their gifts from Santa-- what could it be?

 Looks like Santa ran by the Apple store on the way to the Contini house!!

Our turn!

And the aftermath...

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday surrounded by family and friends!

And Zachary got his driver license today!  Way to go Zach!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Happy 16th Zach!!

 16 years ago today, the most amazing thing happened to us--Zachary was born and I became a mom!

Zach with his girlfriend Helya, at Homecoming

Today was all about Zachary--pancakes and bacon for breakfast and his favorite, home made mac and cheese for dinner.   Per family tradition, the discussion at the dinner table was all about Zach.  Chris said that Zach makes yummy food for him (he must mean Kraft mac n cheese which is what he usually makes them if he is baby sitting).  Vinny said that Zach was  nice and did things with him when he asked.

The cupcakes Helya made for him today

 Joey likes how Zach will lend him good books to read (currently Joey is reading Zach's Tesla book).  We talked about how as the oldest, Zach helps pave the way for his little brothers, and how special being the oldest is.
Zach and I had some great mother and son time last weekend at
the Dickens Fair in San Francisco- an enjoyable afternoon.

And we could not have asked for a better oldest son-Zach is responsible, loyal, honest, kind and has grown into a young man that I am proud to call son.

Welcome to 16 Zach!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Santa Picture, Contini style

My boys are now getting to the age where some of them no longer believe in Santa (Gasp!), which makes it difficult to get them on Santa's lap for a picture.  A couple of years I paid Zach to do it.  Last year I told them they could do what they wanted and they did this:

see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, think no evil

Once again this year they were told they could do what they wanted.  I admit Pete came up with this years idea:

Can you name each of the football players?  I was cracking up.  Santa has a sense of humor and got in on the action.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Way to go Joey!

Yesterday Joey was one of about 25 students at Bret Harte who was awarded the Caring Climate award for Respect.

There was a brief, but very nice ceremony where each kid went up and was read the quote from the teacher who nominated them for the award.  Mrs. Genise (PE teacher) wrote: "Joey is a very special student and person.  He comes to class always wearing a smile and ready to learn and help others improve their skills and knowledge.  I look forward to starting my day every day because I get to experience Joey's positive spirit, respectful attitude and sweet soul.  Joey is the type of student that makes teachers want to teach forever"

We are proud of you Joey!!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

North Face Endurance Half Marathon

Wow!  I have not blogged in a long time!  No way I can go back and catch up, so we are just going to start with today.

Pete and I did the North Face Endurance Race today, in the Marin Headlands.  It has been close to 2 years since I have run more than 10 miles.  I spent a good portion of the last 21 months battling one injury after another.  I have been in a pretty good place the last few months, but admittedly I have only been running twice a week, while doing Crossfit  4 days a week.  I knew this was a hilly race, so ran the IBM hill once a week (a 7 mile run for me) and a 10 mile run the other run day.  A few days before the race I looked up the elevation map and saw this:

Damn.  Hillier than I was expecting.  Nothing I could do about it that late.    This morning was a disaster.  Getting dressed and I could not find my flipbelt (which holds my phone, which I use for music, plus I wanted to take pictures.  4:30 this morning I was tearing the house apart.  No luck.  So I went to get my old arm band, but realized I had lent it to Joey to use.  I woke him up to find it (cruel, I know) but he could not.  Ugh!!  I could live without the music, but really wanted to be able to take pictures.  I decided I would just hold it in my hand.  I didn't want to carry two things so decided to skip the water bottle since there were 3 water stations on the route.

We made it on time and hung out before the race.

 It was foggy, which made it a bit warmer than usual.  Perfect running weather.

I went out at a nice reasonable pace.  People were passing me left and right, but I let them.  I had no trouble with the first enormous hill.  Never stopped and passed many people.  The down hill was a bit scary.  Thanks to near record rain fall in the last week the trails were wet, muddy, and down right trecherous.  People were flying by me.  I kept a decent pace though.

 Hill number 2 was the spirit breaker.  It kept going and going.  There were many turns, so I would think I was at the top, then I would turn a corner and see more.  Parts were so steep that almost everyone was walking, including me--my running pace wasn't any faster anyway!  A third of the way from the top I started with a horrendous side ache.  It hurt so bad I was envisioning my appendix exploding, and being stuck on this damn mountain without a way down.
 I breathed a sigh of relief when I reached the top, thinking going down would be easier.  Nope.  It was steep, and the pounding was excruciating.  I tried breathing, walking, everything.  At the bottom there was an aid station so I stopped and drank a couple of cups of water/electrolytes, afraid it would make it worse, but was so thirsty I couldn't help myself.  Thankfully the side ache finally subsided, because hill #3 and #4 were nightmarish enough on their own.  I finally reached the top of the final hill, with the final water stop.  I literally stopped for a few minutes because I was once again so thirsty I was delerious (note to self- water bottle takes priority over the phone from now on)
I hit the final descent (which was about mile 10.75) relieved and ready to be done.  The down hill ended and then it was sort of flat for a bit.  Then I turned the corner and saw the slightest hill right before the finish (do you see that very tiny bump in the elevation map? Because I didn't.  And by that point in the race it felt like a mountain).  More than anything I wanted to walk, but had done so much walking on the hills I just couldn't.  Besides, who walks that close to the end?  I shuffled across the finish line, where Pete was waiting.  He grabbed me and helped keep me up.  He leaned over and said "I felt as bad as you are feeling right now.  You can't sit down.  Keep moving."  Hearing him say that helped more than you can imagine.  My time was 2 hr 29 minute.  As a comparison my PR on a flattish half marathon is 1 hr 51 minutes.  Pete rocked it at 1 hr 55 min (his PR for a flat is about 1 hr 29 min)

The finish area was great.  Good snacks (Pete brought me a cup filled with potato chips and skittles.  Best post run snack ever!)  There was a beer garden with Sierra Nevada, one free for every runner.  I actually don't like beer so Pete was happy to drink mine.

By far the most difficult race I have done.  But I want to do it again.  The views were amazing.  The pictures above don't do it justice.  It was a very nice, well run race.  And I know I can do better.  Pete says no way will he do the half again.  I bet he will change his mind though.

Thanks North Face!