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!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Sir Elton (and the concert we almost missed...)



My love affair with Elton John has been going on for almost as long as I can remember.  I was about 5 years old when Goodbye Yellow Brick Road came out, and my sister and I had the 8 track that we played relentlessly (does anyone else remember those?).  I cried when it broke.

Fast forward to several years ago, Elton was touring with Billy Joel, who I also really like.  I bought the tickets 6 months ahead of time, and anxiously awaited the show.  Unfortunately it was canceled because one of them was sick.  The show was rescheduled right smack in the middle of our ski vacation so we had to sell the tickets back- I was so bummed (I know, first world problems).  The last couple of times we have been to Vegas he has not been there. Would I ever get to see him before he retired??

Finally, this tour, the 40th anniversary tour for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was announced.  I joined his official fan club so that I could get tickets prior to the general public.  I sat with my finger above the keyboard on the day tickets were sold, ready to hit it at 10 am on the nose.  Because I purchased through his fan club I was told the tickets would be at will call the day of the show.  No problem.

I had a dream the night prior to the show where I forgot to pick up the tickets, then kept trying to get over to will call, but was running and running, never reaching it.  Very frustrating.

Concert night finally arrived.  Pete and I planned on parking early, then heading over to San Pedro Square for dinner.  Because I was so freaked out by my dream I insisted on picking up the tickets prior to dinner.  I grabbed them, then we headed over to dinner, yummy mexican food!

After dinner we walked back.  We were almost back to the SAP center when I suddenly paniced.  Did I still have the tickets?  I peeked in my purse and didn't see them.  I opened my wallet and still didn't see them.  Then I started to freak.  Pete and I frantically started tearing through my wallet and purse without any luck.  I started wailing,  "this is just like my dream, the tickets are gone!".  Pete was confused, asking me if I took them out at the restaurant.  I did.  I took them out to look at them (what an idiot).  I was intrigued with them, they were "real tickets" not the usual printed etickets.  I was sure I put them back though, although it was occurring to me I must not have.  I threw my purse at Pete and started running back to the restaurant (in flip flops).

I ran all the way back, against a crazy flow of people, all headed to the SAP center.  I ran into the restaurant, but of course the table had been cleared.  The waiter said he didn't see them.  I asked him to check the trash.  He came back- the trash had just been emptied out back.  I started screaming, let me back there, please let me go check!  A couple of bus boys went out back with me.  They handed me some gloves and we started digging.  Omg.  The trash was disgusting.  I kept pulling out what I thought was a white envelope, but it was tortillas.  We found a credit card.  We found some silver ware and remekins that had been thrown away. I was nearly hysterical.  "The tickets were almost $400!  My husband is going to kill me!"  One of the guys asked who was playing.  "Elton John," I replied.  "Oh, was he one of the Beatles?" he asked.  "NO! HE IS ELTON JOHN!"

Then I looked to the side, and there laying on the ground next to the trash, with food on it, was the envelope.  I grabbed it and squealed.  I looked inside, and there were the 2 tickets.  I thanked the guys and bolted (I really wish I had taken the time to get their names so I could send them a proper thank you).  I ran out the door, all the way back to the SAP Center.  I got to the spot where I had left Pete, but he wasn't there.  I looked around.  Maybe he went over to will call to see if they could be replaced?  I ran over there, but still no Pete.  Because I threw my purse at him when I ran off I did not have my phone with me (why did I do that??)  I looked around frantically.  Finally I saw a SAP employee so asked him if he had a cell phone I could use.  He asked why, so I blabbed out the entire story, ending with finding the tickets in the dumpster.  He gave me a crazy look and handed me his phone.  I called Pete.  He was sitting back at the restaurant, waiting for me.  He didn't see me run out, I didn't see him.  Ugh!!!

Back he came, and we finally got in, just as the opening act was finishing.  We had seats on the floor, row 19. Pete looked at me.  "You are almost forgiven" he said.
I totally smelled like mexican food all night

The view from our seats
Sir Elton was of course amazing.  He started right on time, with my favorite,  Funeral for a Friend/Love, Lies Bleeding.  I had chills listening to him. He played non stop for over 2 1/2 hours.  He was gracious and humble, a true gentleman.  He stated that he enjoyed his playing now more than ever, now that he was happy with his life and finally comfortable in his own skin.  He talked about his love for his husband and his children.  The show was worth every penny and then some.  Come hell or high water, I will get to Las Vegas and see him again before he is done.

As for Pete and I, I am not allowed to hold tickets ever again (obviously).  Pete also told me I wasn't allowed to gripe at him for not being able to find anything in the fridge.  "But I FOUND the tickets!" I said.

I still don't know how the tickets ended up where they did.  I am blaming the enormous margarita I had with dinner.

Thank you Sir Elton for an amazing show.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A waiver free birthday!

We have a new 8 year old in the house today!

 Today is Christopher's 8th birthday.  He started the day with a sprinkle belgium waffle with ice cream.  Yum!

This year we went with a simple, no waiver required birthday party.  His friends came over for swimming,


and trampolining!
 After swimming the kids ate some hot dogs, then it was time for cake.

 I made a quadruple layer chocolate and yellow soccer cake that I saw on pinterest.

 Make a wish!

The cake has a surprise!  When I cut into it, it was filled with chocolate soccer balls!

 We eneded the party with a silly string battle.  Pete put all the cans of silly string in a pile and then cut the kids loose.

 They bolted for the cans and went crazy!

A fun end to a fun party for a fantastic, silly 8 year old.  Happy birthday to my last little man Christopher.  Love you to the moon and back!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

School time! (Already??)

I swear summer just started a few days ago, but nope, it's back to school time around here.  Boo.


Zach is starting 10th grade.  He has a zero period class so he was out the door EARLY this morning at 6:45.  I said a quick good-bye to him before my run, and he was long gone when I got home.  He is home, and said he likes all his classes and teachers (although I don't think he has ever not liked a class or teacher).


Joey is rockin' 7th grade this year.  He was excited to see all his friends today.  He has a few of Zach's old teachers so got the low down.


Vinny is now big man on campus in 5th grade.  He has Mrs. Subrmaniam.  We have never had her, but I have heard she is very strict.  She will have her work cut out for her with the Vin Man!

Christopher is in 2nd grade.  He has Mrs. Huerta and Mrs. Schwender and is excited because he has lots of friends in his class.  Vinny had Huerta/Schwender when he was in 2nd grade-luckily for Chris Vinny set the bar very low behaviorially so he should be just fine.  Haha!

 The tradtional group shot, which had to wait until after school this year.


And their new shoes.  We are taking bets on who will rip through theirs first--anyone else want in?

Happy Back to School everyone!!