Rocking in the big 4-4

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I must confess, I’m not typically a big birthday person. After some truly horrible birthdays, I distanced myself from the idea of your birthday being this big magical day. But for some reason, I decided that this year I would do something different and plan something special. My actual birthday was on a Thursday, so it was a pretty quiet day, except that some very nice boxes arrived in the mail. My brother and Nerissa continued their epic gift-giving streak.

First there was this hilarious gift bag, courtesy of a Tokyo 7-11:

BdayBag(Since Austin is pretty much the poster child for dramatic dog abandonment hijinks, we’ll be quoting this bag forever… ) It was filled with all sorts of awesomeness:

44giftmontageThe fish-waffle iron thing lets us make filled sandwiches, similar to the now defunct No Fish Go Fish in Portland, so I’m pretty excited about playing with it. The creepy Japanese action figures and gift bag will soon be adorning my cubicle (sorry co-workers!)

The next day was the big event: we rented a private karaoke room at Rock Box. It is truly a testament to what excellent friends I have that they showed up. (I’m quite certain that I was the only person looking forward to our big evening.)

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But there were cocktails:

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And some mad jams:

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And a wide variety of amusing things on the screen:

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T learned that all of his favorite songs are very hard to sing:

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But I think everyone was pleasantly surprised by how much fun we had:

KaraokeMJMany drinks were consumed. Many songs sung. (Highlights include Jenn & Bryan’s rendition of “Ice, Ice, Baby.”)

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After Rock Box, a smaller group of us headed to Sun Liquor where I received the nicest birthday present of all, the bouncer carded me. ūüėČ It’s the latest we’ve been out for quite some time and I was very grateful that we’d taken Uber. But it was such a fun night and I’m sincerely grateful to my friends for coming out to celebrate with me. Maybe there’s something to this whole “celebrating your birthday” thing after all!

 

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Memorial Day weekend

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First off, some exciting news in the DragonFire household, we have a new (to us) car:

ElementI have wanted an Element for quite some time, but given that they don’t make them any more and people seem to be pricing the used ones like they are collector’s items, I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to make it happen.

Susan came up for the holiday weekend, which means lots and lots of dog antics:

AustinBlue DogBonding AustinBluePlayingAnd all of that makes for a very tired Austin:

TuckeredOutWe also had people adventures. We stuffed all of our bikes in the back of the Element and went out for a nice bike ride:

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Susan even took a nap so that we could go out for a fancy dinner to celebrate my birthday. (Not having to eat at 5:00 was birthday present enough… )

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Susan and I ran a little errand in Ballard that involved a hipster store. Apparently, the kids are into weird taxidermy now:

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After her exposure to the young people, we taught Susan how to take a selfie:

SusanSelfieWe had the Grumpersons over for dinner on Sunday night. M and Rowan wore an excellent duo of t-shirts:

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We had such a fun evening.

DinnerFun SusanBlue

I think Blue and Rowan are besties now:

RowanBlue RowanBlue2As always, despite having an extra day, the weekend still flew by. But it was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend.

 

 

 

Sunflower Marathon weekend

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Back in the dreary days of winter, our friends Jenn & Bryan asked us to do a trail marathon relay with them out in the Methow Valley. Basically, the race breaks up a trail marathon into six segments that you can either do as a single person or a team. Last year, they did it as a team of two and with a last-minute 98-degree heat wave, had quite the time. This year, they decided to bring in reinforcements.

Our team name was “Things That Seemed Like A Good Idea When We Were Drinking” and boy, did my training for the race live up to that name! My running this year has been lackluster at best. With the boy’s extensive travel schedule and random knee pain, he was in the same boat. But we knew that no matter what, we’d have a nice weekend of friends, wine, dogs and beautiful scenery and we were not disappointed.

Thankfully, I’d rented a car out of paranoia at the Camry’s weird engine behavior and we headed out on a rainy Thursday afternoon. Austin had never been to the cabin before, but he caught on pretty quickly by running huge frantic circles around it upon being released from the car. Wally made himself right at home, per usual:

CouchSnugglesThe next day, we took the boys out for a nice morning hike:

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Austin was determined to woo the pointer sisters. He was smart enough to¬†be nice to Greta and he was absolutely¬†in love with Tyr. She didn’t seem to return his affections:

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And then later we headed over to see Jenn & Bryan’s new piece of property. On the way there, we were treated to this spectacle of country life. (Sorry for the blurry photo!)

ShareTheRoadTheir land was beautiful and large enough that we could let the boys off-leash for a little bit. Naturally, they found every bit of water to splash around in and got soaking wet. One of the trails that would be used on the race course runs through their property and contains this cool suspension bridge:

CoolBridgeIt really is a shame that it’s so ugly here:

MethowSceneryThe boys were thoroughly tired out from their adventures:

CabinWally TiredPupThe next morning, we got up early and T and I headed out to the race start while Jenn & Bryan handled dog watching. T was running the first and second legs (about 7 miles in all). The vibe of this race was decidedly more relaxed than the races I usually do. I took some silly pre-race pictures of the boy:

PreraceTThen I went and found a place to photograph the start:

RunnersStart SunflowerCollage TSunflowerStart

I had time to get some coffee and leisurely head over to where my leg would start. Relays are pretty odd in that you don’t quite know when you’re going to start. As I stood in the porta-potty line, racers were running by and my fellow line-people were all nervous that they’d miss their hand-off. But thankfully, I’d timed it well and had no problem seeing¬†T.

I set off and almost immediately felt winded and out of breath. (The altitude up here always surprises me.) Plus, we turned off onto some pretty uneven ground which was killing me. It quickly became apparent just how out of shape I was for this trail running thing. People were passing me left and right and I was feeling pretty discouraged.

But it was hard to feel too down while looking around at this level of gorgeousness:

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I kept on chugging along, running when I could and walking when I needed to. And the most curious thing happened, I realized that I had this big goofy smile on my face because I was having the BEST TIME. There was a section of single track that felt like a roller coaster, except it was through this beautiful forest and it was so much fun. I decided right then and there that I was going to have to do more of this trail running stuff.

My leg ended with a few serious hills and then emptied out on to a gorgeous downhill dirt road. It was perfect amount of slope to just let the legs relax and let gravity do the work. (This was the only part of the course where I passed anyone.) I felt amazing ‚Äď so happy and awesome. Before I knew it, the hand-off was ahead of me and I could see Jenn smiling at me. We high-fived and she headed out for her leg. A race photographer posted this picture of her. How badass is she?

BadassJennI headed back to the cabin to get cleaned up and rest for a bit. Bryan went out to do the last trade-off with Jenn. She rocked her leg and actually had to wait for him. (He brought a chair, which we teased him about.) Then, freshly showered, all of us headed down to the finish line to wait for Bryan (and get into the lengthy post-race burrito line.)

Before we knew it, Bryan was cooking down the finishing chute and bringing it home strong. Naturally, we were still in the burrito line, but T had procured refreshments from the beer tent, so we were feeling good. Everyone had a great day and the post-race food had that magical phenomenon that all food after a race has: so delicious!

When we got back to the cabin, we saw that T was now a social media star. This picture was posted on the race organizer’s Facebook page:

BadassT

( I will absolutely have to purchase a print of this, it’s such a great photo.)

Then there was some post-race relaxing. (There may have been some napping as well… )

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And, of course, extensive amounts of dog patrol. They are always alert for the dangerous squirrel and chipmunk population. And don’t get them started on those hazardous deer!

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Later, we went out for post-race margaritas. The service and food weren’t the best, but the margaritas were fantastic. Bryan wasn’t messing around:

GiantMargaritaIt was such a great weekend. The perfect combo of activity and relaxation. And after last week, exactly what I needed.

What a week…

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In an effort to shake things up, I decided¬†to try some new stuff last week. T is still doing a lot of travel for work, so I particularly wanted some activities on the calendar so I didn’t just hibernate in the house and get weird.

On Tuesday, I went to a meet-up book group called “Reading Between the Wines” that my friend Jenn had found. It’s never easy to go meet a group of strangers, but I really want to expand my social circle here. Plus, I’ve been wanting to join a book group for the longest time but had no idea on how to find one. (Kudos to Jenn for looking on¬†meet-up.)

The group was great and I had so much fun. One of the women lived in Seattle at the same time I did in the nineties and even worked at the same theatre company as me. (The one that I moved to Seattle to work at and where I met T.) Crazy small world. I’m definitely looking forward to future meetings and getting to know everyone better.

My other big leap forward was finally going to a Husky Masters swim workout. I’ve been talking about going for the better part of a year, but just couldn’t seem to work up the nerve. But when I told Jenn about it, she agreed to go and thus I had an accountability partner. Then I roped T in and the three of us went to the Sunday workout.

It was scary and intimidating, but I just did¬†the best I could. Luckily, it wasn’t super crowded, so even though I was probably in a faster lane than I should have been, it worked out. I swam further and for a longer time than I’ve done in a pool, probably ever. And¬†it went by so quickly, I couldn’t believe it. I’m definitely going to make myself keep going. It will be tough, but my swimming will definitely improve.

Unfortunately, the rest of Sunday took a nose-dive as I was driving home from the grocery store and the Camry completely crapped out. It had been doing this weird gearing thing, but it had suddenly gotten worse and we were planning to take it to the mechanic on Monday. But one day earlier, it just wouldn’t go forward anymore ‚Äď 3/4 of a mile from home on a rainy afternoon with a car full of groceries.

Thankfully, I could call T to come help me push the car out of the driveway it was blocking and wait with the car for AAA, while I walked the groceries home. When I got home, I discovered that young Austin decided to make my day even better by chewing up my favorite sandals:

BadDogHe was not my favorite dog. (T was also in trouble for not checking the living room for shoes, since this is a known target of young Austin… )

The next day, I was expecting the worst on the Camry, so I was very surprised to get a text from T that they thought it was only going to be a couple hundred bucks to fix it. Score! But then a little while later, he called back with “Oops, the¬†transmission is shot, that will be thousands of dollars… ” So, for all intents and purposes, the Camry was dead. Luckily, our fabulous mechanic had a soft spot for Camrys and he offered us $500 bucks for it. Plus,¬†it sounds like he’s actually going to fix it/drive it, which makes me happy for no good reason.

Good-bye, little Camry. You were very good to us!

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So now, we¬†face the dizzying prospect of buying a new (to us) car and all of the idle thoughts of what kind of car we might want are suddenly all urgent and feel kind of overwhelming. Plus, T is traveling again this week and we’re going up to Jenn & Bryan’s cabin next weekend when he gets back, so there isn’t a lot of action I can take. Honestly, there’s not a lot of action that I need to take. I already take the bus to work and have easy bus or walking access to most stuff that I need. I think it’s more of an emotional panic since I haven’t not had a car in 22 years and it just feels weird and wrong.

But the upside is, I should have get an amusing blog post out of the car-buying process! Stay tuned…