Joy Y’all

The first week of winter break has come to an end. The last day of school was less than idea. Gabby had planned an outdoor Winter Wonderland Festival. We’re not used to this much rain in California. This was the outdoor scene. Our building wasn’t in much better shape. Two of our seven classrooms were leaking from the ceiling. IMG_5974.JPGOne of our scholars also had a particularly rough day. I’ll leave it vague and say he was being very unsafe and required my 100% attention all day so I wasn’t able to help with the rain plan. It was chaotic with parents, kids, behavior, rain. Cecilia managed to keep the joy alive at dismissal. Gotta love a snowman with a walkie.  img_5981.jpgAfter a long, easy meditative run I put on a pretty dress and threw on some jewelry and had dinner with Brent, Cecilia, and Oscar at n/naka. It was 13 courses of Japanese perfection. We got a photo with Niki Nakayama (Chef’s Table star) after the meal. It was 12:30 AM, way past my usual bedtime. IMG_6075.JPGSaturday afternoon Ellen and I hit up the Staples Center for some ice-skating.

Staples Center.jpg

And Sunday afternoon when our flight was cancelled and we had no food left in the house, we HAD to go to The Tripel for lunch. That’s the Bad Santa Ale with some blue cheese, marinated shrimp, and gigante beans.

IMG_6023.JPG
This week I split my time between Oklahoma and Texas to see Brent’s family. The week consisted of gift giving, looking at old photos, croissant making, drivers ranging, and a little bit of running. Speaking of old photos, Brent obviously gets his goofiness from his dad. See collage below ๐Ÿ™‚ img_6051.jpgAnd Cary bought be the best Christmas gift, a mega speaker. It’ll definitely be used during arrival and lunch line up. Oh and OK Runner, Brent was in need of new running shoes so we stopped by there. Wow they were friendly. I’ve got a free entry to the Oklahoma Memorial Marathon if I want it. Too bad it’s two weeks after Boston ๐Ÿ˜ฆ It’s definitely on the list.
IMG_6074.JPG

I hope my kids are this cute! Baby Brentford ๐Ÿ™‚ img_6052-1.jpg

On vacation it can be tough to fit running into the schedule. My best run of the week was on the hotel treadmill in Oklahoma on Wednesday afternoon before dinner at Mahogany Steakhouse. I had planned on running progression six miles starting at a 7:30 pace, but after six miles knew I had more in me. The run turned into eight miles with each mile 15 seconds faster than the previous. 7:30-7:15-7:00-6:45-6:30-6:15-6:00-5:45. I love progression runs on a treadmill. They help teach you a pace, and make it a bit more interesting.

And I’ll leave you with this photo Peter has from Long Beach. He purchased all his race pics with one of those Black Friday marathon foto dealios, and here we are when the half marathon met up with the full marathon in the final mile of the race. Can you tell who is on mile 12 and who is on mile 25?LongBeachMarathon.jpg

Happy Holidays!

Scenes from Paris

Travel changes you. Even if you’re going back to a country you previously lived in or spending time in a city you’ve been to more than a dozen times, you always end up coming home with a new perspective. Maybe it’s having the time to stop and smell the roses, or maybe that’s just what happens when you’re thrown into a different culture. Our time in Paris made me think about the importance of simplicity, quality, and slowing down.

Yes, Paris is one of the biggest cities in the world and isn’t exactly slow paced. Parisians do, however, take the time to sit and enjoy their meals and they walk much more than us Angelinos. Our time in Paris consisted of lots of eating and even more walking. When we ate our servers didn’t hurry us. We weren’t pressured to leave a 20% tip. We were encouraged to take our time, to talk, to people watch, and to savor the food. It was a nice change from the to-go culture we too often experience in the US. I was on a quest to find the best croissant in Paris. I’m going to need more time to finish my research, but Pain Pain is currently in first place ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh, and Pierre Herme, you’ve got to try it, but I’m definitely more of a fan of french breads.img_4653

The highlight of our time in Paris was the Culinary Tour of Paris we took with John Paul. My brother-in-law worked with John Paul as a tour guide while he lived in Paris, and John Paul has since built his own business. My parents and my sister have both gone on his tour and raved. We met John Paul at the Metro Abbesses. As as a group of five we toured Montmarte, visited Picasso and Von Gogh’s homes, sampled baguettes from the award winning neighborhood boulangeries, ate cheeses, charcuterie, drank French wines, and ate the highest rated crepes in Paris.

img_4652-1You hear so much about the culinary world of Paris and wonder if it will live up to the hype. It really does! What stood out was an intense focus on quality and simplicity. Parisians aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel. They’re not overly complicating their food. Rather they work collaboratively with other chefs and are intensely focused on perfecting their craft. In a restaurant you’re not going to see 100 items on the menu. Coffee shop will have three options. There’s no sugar free, lactose-free, non-fat, half-caf in Paris. I was inspired by their commitment to excellence.

Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe 

Growing up in Europe I often tried to cover up my American accent. I tried to blend in as much as possible, didn’t want to visit overly touristy spots, and wasn’t shy about advertising the fact that I was an expat who also spoke Spanish at home. I’d cringe when I heard loud Americans and didn’t want to be associated with them. On this trip I decided to have no shame. No, I wasn’t running around being loud and obnoxious, but I’m not embarrassed to be American and I didn’t want hide my identity. Brent and I tried our best with French and always asked if someone spoke English rather than making the assumption they did. We embraced that we were tourists and weren’t afraid to snap photos all over the city.

Montmarte: Sacre Coeur, view from our airbnb, and Moulin Rouge

We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, walked the Champs Elysees, took a ferris wheel ride, and shopped the Galleries Lafayette. We also visited the WWI and WWII exhibit at Hotel des Invalides, and had to see Napoleon’s massive tomb. We walked the Seine, visited Notre Dame, and ate at Deux Trois Magots (visited by Hemingway, Picasso, and many other artists). I splurged on the champagne here. Not cheap, but well worth it.

Hotel des Invalides, Napoleon’s Tomb, Seine, and more lattes ๐Ÿ™‚

Brent and I celebrated Bastille Day by watching the fireworks up by the Sacre Coure. It was so crowded we could barely get a view of the fireworks by the Eiffel Tower. Everyone was in good spirits and the energy was positive. We walked home and turned on the news to discover what had happened in Nice. France is such a beautiful country, and it was so upsetting to hear of more terror. The drop in tourism has hurt many in Paris who rely on visitors for their business, and we knew this would impact them even more.

At the end of a trip I’m usually ready to go home, but this was one of the first times in forever that I didn’t want to go home. Brent and I loved Paris. It was so nice to spend so much time together, to sample the food, and to see the beautiful sights. On my way to the airport I tried to count how many times I’d been to Paris. A handful of times for cross-country and tennis trips, several New Years trips, and all those weekend getaways when we lived in Germany and England. I’ve been there at least 20 times, and I don’t think I’d mind 20 more.

Admirals Club ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Yoga at Charle de Gaulle!

And I guess I should have something running related on here. I’ll leave you with these blast from the past photos from ISST Cross Country Championships in 8th Grade and 12th Grade. Both times our team won gold. The first one is me hugging Celia after we learned we won Gold our senior year. The one in the middle is my final sprint to the finish line for my final ISSTs, my final race, my senior year. And the last one is small Junior Varsity winning team. Yup, that’s Jackie in the middle!  ๐Ÿ™‚

Euro Trip + Breaking 40

Brent and I arrived in Paris last night after spending a few days in England. I lived in England for 8 years, all of middle and high school, it’s also where Brent proposed to me. Trafalgar Square to be exact. Here I am with the lions.ย 

And here we are at together at the scene of the crime. We look so much older now!My favorite thing to do in London is wander. Trafalgar Square, Green Park, Buckingham Palace, Knightsbridge, Fortnum+Mason. I love it all!A trip to England wouldn’t be complete without spending time in Surrey. Just a 20 minute train ride into central London but it looks like this…Here is Brent and Baby Zach on a little country walk. It was so nice to spend the weekend with Jackie and Alex at their home in Guildford and to see them as parents.My childhood home in Woking, Surrey.Guildford High Street and Castle.

And what running looks like in Surrey. Always wet.ย British food has a bad reputation?A few more of my favorites…dough balls from Pizza Express, prawn cocktail crisps, and the Cornish Pasty.

Before leaving for England and Paris I ran the Laguna Niguel 4th of July 10K and finished under 40 minutes. Was so annoyed with my previous 40:00 finish that I had to try again.
It was one of the most best 10Ks I’ve run. Great festive environment and I felt smooth and controlled. I paced myself perfectly for a sub-40 run, and of course am now excited to chip away at the time.When you run a 10K 5K combo race and you all start and finish at the same time ๐Ÿ™‚ ย Buggies and kiddos making their way to the finish too.And I’ll leave you with possibly the best photo from the trip. Discovered while watching the Euro Cup finals on Sunday night. Last year we went on a Southeast Road Trip ย with Jackie and Alex. While we were in Pensacola Alex saw the bing maps vehicle drive by and managed to pull off this beauty. Nicely done sir.

Blogging on an iPhone is no fun. I’ll be back with updates from Paris!