Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas 2014 Recap

It was a perfect Christmas in everyway, spent with friends and family. 

Frosty welcomed us to our annual Swedish feast at my sister-in-law's house on Christmas Eve. 

What you can't see are cords that secure Frosty to the lawn.
Yeah, I didn't see them either. #clotheslined

My handsome son and his intriguing mask from Grandpa

Christmas kittens, Butterscotch and Cookie...!

The only thing better than Christmas is...kittens! These aren't ours -- I know two cats that wouldn't appreciate them, as adorable as they are -- but they were fun to play with. 

There are no words for all this awesomeness...

My adorable nephew is so shy...not! His fancy outfit fashioned from wrapping tissue morphed a half-dozen times throughout the evening - to the hilarity of everyone watching. 

Friends and family. My home is blessed!

I'm horribly sentimental this time of year. Above all, I am grateful for my family and our friendships. 

There are few things prettier to me than lights on a Christmas tree.

Our beautiful tree: I'm sure I say this every year, but this was the prettiest and most fragrant tree we've ever had. 

I wanted one thing this year -- a book -- for Christmas. I came across a book of costumes used in the Star Wars movies at Costco. Being the trilogy nerd that I am, I freaked out and sent off a text to my daughter, asking for the book for Christmas. Naturally, I bought one for my bestie - because the awesomeness of this book for a fan is unparalleled. 

Princess Leia is badass.

started to obsess about whether or not I should have just gone and bought a second book for myself. There were about a dozen books total...but if your Costco is anything like my Costco, finding an item after it is out of stock is an act of futility. 

The hijinx and hilarity that ensued as a result of this message is too good not to share:

This is where it gets awesome; Girldoll thought the photo I sent was for a costume...not a book. Since he was operating from second-hand information, my husband was drinking the Kool-Aid, too. He didn't even question my logic; they both figured I wanted the costume to dress up for a race. 

Mr. Doll was met with a blank stare when he asked an employee where he could find their Princess Leia costumes. He was batting zero and finally went back to the source, asking my daughter specifically where it was that I had seen the costume. 

This is when Girldoll forwarded him the photo I had sent - and he figured out that what I wanted was a book about Star Wars costumes, not an actual costume. 
I was in fits listening to Mr. Doll recount the story on Christmas morning. 

I think everyone involved breathed a sigh of relief that I didn't intend to run a half marathon wearing a tiny metal bikini. Or worse yet...wear it around casually for cosplay:

Star Wars trivia: the little creature to Leia's left is Salacious B. Crumb.
Jabba's court jester is a monkey-lizard...with the best laugh ever.

I think we can all agree that I'm way past my slave girl days. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Signature Dish

 When I was engaged to be married, my mother- and sister-in-laws to-be threw me a beautiful wedding shower. My sister-in-law had just gone to Sweden a few months before as an exchange student, and brought home a recipe for a cream fruit pie with an almond meal crust. She made the recipe for the wedding shower, and everyone raved about it; it was delicious as well as beautiful to look at. 

I begin making that recipe for special occasions after my wedding. About 15 years ago, I ran across some small pastry cups imported from Europe. The pie crust was labor intensive...and everyone likes bite sized treats, so I adapted the recipe to make miniature desserts. It was such a hit that I have never made the dessert as a regular pie since. 

Since they are cream-filled, it's not a dessert that you can bite into; you have to commit to eating it in one go. 

Why, yes...my nail color does coordinate perfectly with those berries. Thank you for noticing!

I have made this dessert dozens of times over. If I bring my dessert to a party, then you know it's for someone I really like. Years ago, my mom gave my signature dessert a nickname, for obvious reasons, that has stuck ever since. I give you...Swedish Nipples:

Do you have a special dessert or meal you're famous for? I'd love to hear about it! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

5lbs Of Sugar In A 1lb Sack

If you have a generous bust like me, then you know my beef with sports bras in general. The best ones cost a fortune...but regardless of the cost, I always somehow feel like I'm wearing a bullet-proof vest. In desperate times, I have on more than one occasion worn two sports bras. I refer to this as 'double bagging'. I don't recommend it just for the chafe factor alone. 

It's inevitable; it's time to do laundry and I'm down to my last clean sports bra. It's the one that every time I wear it, I swear to myself, "Never again! I am NEVER wearing this again."

But then I get desperate, and I think that this time it will be different. See, the bra goes on fine...but taking off the sports bra? That does not. The last time I wore it, I got stuck trying to get it off. I nearly had to cut the damn thing off my body. 

my two queens
You literally have no idea. Or maybe you do.
Jah feel? If you don't, you can just play along and pretend you do. #thestruggleisreal

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I got my first care package of goodies to review as an ambassador for Ramblen. Ramblen is special because they're the first organization that asked me to represent them as an ambassador. Plus, I have a raging girl-crush on Danielle, who is one of Ramblen's founders and the writer for one of my favorite blogs, The T-Rex RunnerYeah, Danielle is THAT awesome.

Anyway. I got a box of organic personal care items from Acure: dry shampoo, lip balm, body wash, leave-in conditioner, skin toner, face and body wipes, and argan oil. 

Acure is not messing around. This is a
box of serious skin and hair care booty.

Due to time constraints and the sheer volume of awesomeness contained in this box, I am going to do a two-part review. Today, I'll be reviewing Acure's toner, lip balm, body wash and dry shampoo. 

Rose and Red Tea Facial Toner:

I love this product. It's smells wonderful and has a light astringent quality to it without stinging. The product is sprayed directly on the face, so it has a nice cooling effect on the skin.

All their products are certified USDA organic, which I love.
Plus, I'm all about pretty packaging. 
Pretty pretty! This bottle has fine-mist
pump that feels refreshing on the skin.
Dry Shampoo:

I don't have any experience with powder dry shampoo - and I had the tell-tale powder marks left over in my hair to prove it. Maybe there is such a thing as hair that is too dirty (I take my 'product testing' seriously, apparently) since I applied it after a sweaty spin class session. Out of the whole loot, this is what I was most excited about but ended up being the most disappointed with. It's difficult to apply and use -- I kept trying to 'pump' it into my hair -- but again, I'm sure there is a learning curve with a powder dry shampoo versus a spray. Plus, anything without aerosol is a win for the environment.   

Dry Shampoo - a runner's best friend!

Argan Oil Lip Balm:

I don't use lip balms frequently - or much make-up at all, really, but I loved this. I was pleasantly surprised with Acure's take on the typical waxy Chapstick-style lip balm. I applied it with a little too much pressure expecting a hard wax, but the argan oil made the lip balm much softer than I anticipated. It has a minty tingle and a yummy chocolate smell. The only thing that would make this product better would be to add SPF for UV protection...but maybe that messes with the whole 'natural' wah of their skin care line? *shrugs*  

Tropical Citrus Argan Oil Castile Soap   

A+ for eye appeal!
Babydoll loves a good aesthetic.
Castile is a more natural take on ordinary soaps or shower gels, so if you are looking for a luxurious Mr. Bubble-type experience, which I prefer...because I operate from the Bubbles = Clean school of thought, then this might not be your favorite body wash. It has a pleasant citrus smell without any lingering perfumes. It's a product similar to Dr. Bronner's Castile Liquid Soap, except with the added benefit of argan oil. I probably won't replace this product when I'm done, but my skin definitely felt softer after using it.

I received free product in exchange for writing this post. All opinions are my own.

Monday, November 10, 2014

6 Signs That I've Fallen Off The 'Clean-Eating' Wagon

For some, this may be more than you ever want to know about my poor eating habits...but if you relate, then we can commiserate together. Here are my top six 'fell off the healthy eating' wagon issues:

1. Watching TV, playing on my phone, or working at the computer while eating. Do other people do this? The reason it's an issue is because while I'm happily playing Hay Day or checking my email, I am missing the 'full' cue from my body. I am much more likely to absentmindedly consume extra food that I wasn't actually hungry for. Since I'm distracted, there is a disconnect between what I'm eating and if I've had enough. 

2. Eating ice cream. I'm sure that sounds nuts, but it's the truth. My teeth have a high sensitivity to hot and, particularly, cold foods or beverages. If I'm eating ice cream, then it's a sure sign that things are out of control with my sugar consumption. 

3. Drinking soda. When I was growing up, my mom seldom bought soda at the store. If she did buy any, the only kind she would get was caffeine-free Diet Coke. Ugh. I mean, why bother? It's never been a habit of mine...until recently. I'm especially fond of all those delicious, delicious chemicals in Diet Dr. Pepper. 

The problem is that sodas and coffee are diuretics. If I had to create a sub-category, it would be 3a. Not drinking enough water because I'm am frequently dehydrated more often than not. Reaching for a soda that makes me even more dehydrated is not helping things along. I recently read a comment someone made that 'soda will be the cigarettes of the next generation.' And they're right: there is nothing beneficial in soda. My trainer's compromise: I can have a soda, just make sure I've consumed my minimum water requirements for the day first.  

4. Eating processed foods. I generally avoid fast food restaurants and hand-to-my heart, my son has never been to a McDonalds...but that doesn't mean we eat clean; white flour and sugars are a part of our daily diet. When I lost almost 25lbs a year ago, it had less to do with exercise and everything to do with what I was eating. 

I recently complained to my trainer about the weight that I've gained back. Her reply was a tough one to read: the reason I can't lose weight is because I continue to bring tempting foods into the house -- that I can't resist -- for my kids and my husband. She said that until I realize that it's no better for my family than it is me and we make a lifestyle change, I won't be successful at keeping the weight off. 


She's right, but man, did it ever piss me off to read that. 

5. Not eating enough freggies (fruits + vegetables = freggies). The name of the healthy lifestyle game is fiber. The harder my body has to work to extract nutrients from fiber-dense foods, the better it is at stoking my metabolic furnace. Unfortunately, my freggie intake drops as soon as I fall back into the bad habits above. 

The things that work for me are keeping accountable with a food journal, drinking lots (and lots) of water, and incorporating fruits and vegetables into every meal I consume. The less sugar I eat, the less sugar I crave.

What kinds of things make you successful in eating healthfully?

Monday, November 3, 2014

All Hallow's Eve

Our house is about 5 blocks above what I consider the Halloween epicenter in our town, and it's wildly popular with families and teenagers. The streets funnel into a circular drive where the most elaborate yards are found. One house was showing Monsters Vs Aliens in their yard on a giant movie screen. 

In past years, we have typically trick or treated along our street and the block above us, but this was the first year that I ventured down into the madness. I was loosely supervising a group of teenage boys while taking in the impressive Halloween decorations. 

Shortly before we headed home, I went into the neighborhood haunted house, 'Safe Haven'. I don't like to be frightened, and I certainly don't like people jumping out at me. I decided to go in for a host of stupid reasons, but primarily because I was dared by another parent. What can you do? ::shrug::

It was impressive, to say the least. They rented temporary construction-style fencing for their property, and each person was ushered into the entrance by a several shouting adults who offered a 'safe haven' from the zombie apocalypse. There were about 20 actors total that were either a) prisoners/zombie bait who were begging to be released b) military personnel or c) zombies. It was terrifying and enormously good fun. As we left the safe haven compound, there was a 'decontamination' area where we were blasted with air to rid any possible zombie exposure...only to be sneezed on as we crossed the threshold back into society. I'm not sure that's how becoming a zombie works, but whatever. Maybe it was a play on the Ebola scare? 

As soon as I stepped out onto the street, it started to rain. Things started to clear out pretty fast, but I was stoked to see some precipitation in our dry town. I hope you all had a great Halloween! Leave a comment and tell me your favorite costume that you saw this year. 

Dr. Lucy

Dead Fred's Disco

I was taking photos when I realized the hooded Jawas in the
foreground were actually children standing very still.
Yeah. I freaked.

H _ N G M _ N

This was the house showing a movie in their front yard.
Did I tell you this area was popular for teens or what??

My newest decoration: light up pumpkin Yoda

This was one of dozens of terrifying, live actors.
The zombie bride eating a human leg. Aiieeeeee!

Terrifying dummy inside Safe Haven haunted house.

My favorite decoration: misting pumpkin

My frightfully awesome porch

Hello Pumpkin
Hello Zombie

I was Luke Skywalker for Halloween. Of course,
I brought a little Halloween to spin class last Thursday.

Monday, October 20, 2014


I recently had a conversation with my daughter about fitness, and she used an expression that I have never heard of before: skinnyfat. She explained that someone can be slender, but not be fit or have muscle.

I used to be skinnyfat. I was rail thin and enormously self-conscious about my weight. Despite being slender, I wasn't fit at all. You know how people talk about having a fast metabolism and can eat anything they want? Well, that was me into my late twenties. That's hardly the case anymore; I am fairly certain I am starting menopause, but that's a sad post all it's own for another day.

Right now, I'm the heaviest that I have ever weighed. While I'm certainly not happy about it, I know what I need to do to lose weight. I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't been willing to make those changes, until I stepped on the scale this morning. 

refrigerator animated GIF
I feel like my life revolves around the fridge anymore.

I broke down and sent a text to the trainer I hired, who helped me lose over 20lbs a year and a half ago, and she and I will begin working together to help get my eating back on track.

The point I want to make is that when I was skinny, it didn't make me any happier or make life my any easier. What I really want is to feel healthy and have more energy. What I also know is that this is an inside job; I'm the one who is in charge of what goes in my mouth.  

Friday, October 3, 2014


One of the perks of being an ambassador for Girls Gone Sporty is that I get to review products...and if those products involve snacks? Bonus for Babydoll, amirite? 

My very first official product review is for Kooee! all-natural beef jerky. Kooee is an Australian call made outdoors, expressing 'the freedom and exhilaration that nature brings.' Their jerky is from 100% grass-fed beef, sustainably raised without added hormones or antibiotics on pastures in Tasmania, Australia. What makes their product unique is that each package can be traced back to the farm where it was raised.  

I love snacks, but getting snacks via mail
is supreme. Internet, I have arrived.

Gluten-free and Paleo-friendly.
Their super snack is one part beef jerky, and one part trail mix. The packaging keeps the two separate until the product is ready to be eaten. I was given two packages each of two flavors to try: Lime Pepper with Mango and Smoked Chipotle with Apple. 

I'll be honest: it's the tastiest jerky I've ever had. I have never been a fan of Slim Jim 'sticks' or huge chunks of tough jerky. Kooee! is flavorful, tender and thinly sliced. Boydoll wasn't crazy about the addition of dried fruit and nuts to the beef, "Don't fruit the meat!"  However, I noticed that one (of only four precious packages) went missing right before baseball practice. 

I have a more adventuresome palate, and I really liked the combination of sweet and savory. The addition of cocao nibs to the Smoked Chipotle with Apple was pure genius. 

This post is sponsored by Kooee!. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

#sweatpinkautumn challenge

I recently participated in a challenge on Instagram from Fit Approach, one of the fitness organizations that I am an ambassador for. It was a five day challenge that included a different fall-favorite theme for each day: pumpkin recipe, exercise, accessory, scenery, and activity.

Here is a photo recap:

Favorite pumpkin recipe: Pumpkin Breadless Pudding
I promised a bunch of internet strangers that I would include a recipe for the Pumpkin Breadless Pudding. It's actually an adaptation of my favorite three-ingredient Cowgirl pancakes...except pumpkin made the batter too wet, and the pancakes never set. I ended up scraping them out of the pan and put each 'pancake' into a ramekin. I topped them with whip cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

1 egg
1 banana
1 T smooth peanut butter 
1 cup pumpkin 
1/2 t cinnamon
1/8 nutmeg
2 T dark chocolate chips

Turn batter out into pan as if making medium-sized pancakes. I used coconut oil to keep batter from sticking to pan. Cook over medium heat, turning after 3-5 minutes. Note: This is where things get interesting since the batter doesn't set firmly enough to turn pancake neatly. It's going to be messy, but the end goal is to make sure the egg is completely cooked; it's all fun and games until someone gets Salmonella.  

Transfer each 'pancake' to a ramekin and top with cream. Yields 3 ramekins of gluten-free pumpkin pudding.

Favorite fall accessory: vests
I used to think vests were stupid. It never made sense to me to wear a jacket with no sleeves. However, I have changed my thinking. They keep my core nice and cosy, and I can add layers for extra warmth. In Southern California, it's pretty much all you need. 

Favorite way to #sweatpink: spin class
This deserves a blog post all it's own. Spin class is pretty much my favorite exercise, period. It's such an efficient workout, and the low-impact nature makes it a great workout for anyone with the ability to pedal a bike. Since the fall months are what I consider our 'second summer', working out indoors is sometimes a better alternative. 

Favorite fall scenery: our mission
This view never gets old.
I don't have much knowledge about mission history in general, but I'm a sucker for beautiful architecture. I have a 4-mile loop from our house, and the mission is my halfway point. This stunning view is postcard-worthy, and my caption says it all: it never gets old.    

Favorite fall activity: decorating for Halloween
The next best thing to fall decor is when world's
collide. Let's start calling Halloween 'HalloWars'
or 'Starween' going forward, shall we?  
Halloween is probably my favorite holiday. This probably deserves it's own blog post, too. I'm CRAZY for Star Wars. Jack-o-Yoda? Yes, please and thank you!

What is your favorite thing about fall?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

My Silpada Designs giveaway closed on Friday, Sept 19. It's time to announce the winner!!

And the beautiful rugged pearls bracelet goes to...


...Rebecca P. of Washington, DC. 

Congratulations, Rebecca!! ::applause::

I wanted to thank everyone who entered my giveaway. For my first go at a raffle, I think it went swimmingly. I am working hard at gaining more followers on my social media sites and, obviously, more traffic to my blog. What I didn't anticipate was that it would work both ways: I discovered some amazing blogs and Instagram accounts. Two of my new favorite blogs are MarathonHarry (a lovely young marathoner living in the UK) and From Ice Cream to Marathon (hosted by an gracious woman named Katie, who hails from Kentucky and was super nice when I asked her about her gorgeously formatted header. That sounds like it's code for something suggestive, but I promise it's not). 

I also discovered that I'm not very good at promoting myself. There is definitely an etiquette to social media, but I am convinced that most people have a greater understanding of different platforms while I'm bumbling along, offending people as I go. For example, I didn't want to post too many pictures to promote my giveaway on Instagram. My own son 'unfollowed' me for posting more than one photo in a day. I suppose the rules for adults and teenagers are somewhat different, though. There are many accounts that I follow that post more than once a day. Unless it's incredibly excessive or one of those fake accounts that is a front for those wretched body wraps, I am happy to see their photos. Thankfully, my son followed me back.

I want to give a special shout-out to Kelly at Silpada Designs. She was really excited when I approached her about donating a piece of jewelry for my raffle, and was such a pleasure to work with. Kelly was very encouraging and super fun to chat with while we worked out the details of the giveaway. Success!

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Last March, I wrote a post about my daughter's best friend, Sam. That post generated more traffic than anything I've written since I started my blog in 2009.

Originally hospitalized for pneumonia, the doctors discovered that Sam had a virus in his heart. He was immediately sent to UCLA for a battery of tests. The community rallied around Sam, and a benefit concert was organized last April to help cover the cost of a heart transplant. Jeff Bridges and The Abiders (yes, that Jeff Bridges) performed along with Dishwalla to a sold out crowd at the beautiful Lobero Theater. 

During the last four months, Sam endured severe diet and water restrictions. His heart's inefficiency to circulate blood properly combined with a myriad of drugs, creating a fluctuations of up to 15 lbs. of water weight...in a single day. After having a stroke last March, Sam never fully regained sight in his left eye. 

A week and a half ago, Sam received a partial mechanical heart with the end goal of receiving an heart transplant in three months. His mom Judy noticed almost immediately that his feet were warmer and his color had improved. Although Sam was no longer sedated, the medicine remained in his body due to his poor circulation and liver function, and he continued to be delusional. The nursing staff asked Judy who 'Girldoll' was, and they told her that he had been saying her name. We were invited to see Sam last Sunday, in the hope that it would reset his memory and help him transition out of his dream state.

The morning we were supposed to drive to Los Angeles, I received a text from his dad that Sam had scheduled a gall bladder surgery that day. About 20 minute later, a second text came in saying that Sam's surgery was rescheduled for the following day. Were we able to come after all? 

We were on the road within 45 minutes of receiving his text. 

I was warned that Sam was still pretty loopy, so I prepared Girldoll that he might not make sense. I assured her that he would recognize us. Sure enough, Sam's eyes lit up when we came into his hospital room, and he was thrilled to see Girldoll. 

True to form, Sam was hilarious; he joked about the small size of the hospital bed, while his feet dangled off the end. When Girldoll asked how many fingers she was holding up, Sam held up his middle finger and replied, "Oh, I don't know...one?" He moved in and out of lucidity; one moment Sam was present, and the next he was asking if we went to his 'Halloween garbage birthday party'. The room couldn't contain his dry sense of humor. We stayed for almost two hours, and I was surprised at how quickly the time passed. 

On Wednesday, just three days after our visit, Sam's body crashed. His team performed CPR and re-opened his chest to massage his heart - right on his hospital bed, in the same room we had been standing in only three days earlier. They took him to surgery to repair some internal bleeding, and ended up operating on Sam for 9 hours. He never regained consciousness. 

Thursday morning, I was devastated to see that I had missed a call from Judy. Sam had lost brain function, and they were taking him off life support. It is apparent where Sam got his extraordinary compassion from; even through her grief, Judy reached out to our family so my daughter didn't have to read on Facebook that her best friend had died. 

The last three days have been very difficult for Girldoll. My daughter gave the gift of friendship - only to be repaid tenfold. All I can think about is seeing Girldoll and Sam holding hands, their faces close together. It is not lost on us how blessed we were to see Sam in the hospital, one last time.  

The whole community is in shock. We attended an informal memorial last Friday night at the beach. A hundred people released flowers into the ocean, and later in the evening several kids began playing guitar and singing Samo's favorite songs:  

I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift
Yourself up off by the floor

I dare you to move
I dare you to move
Like today never happened
Today never happened

Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go? Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here

Dare You To Move by Switchfoot

Sam 'Samo' Osterhage
Oct. 29, 1996 - September 19, 2014
Always in our hearts.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Big News

I am excited to announce my very first give-away on my blog! 

Like most good ideas, it came to me during a run. A friend of mine recently became a representative for Silpada Designs, and she has been posting some gorgeous jewelry on her Instagram account. I worked up the nerve to approach Kelly and ask if she'd be willing to donate a piece to raffle off on my blog...and she said yes!

This may or may not have been my response after I got her message. (Okay, it wasn't really - even though I do a mean 'vogue'.) Suffice it to say I was STOKED. Kelly generously gave me three items to choose from, and I settled on this beauty:

Rugged Pearls Bracelet
Kelly models the bracelet.
The bracelet stacks beautifully with other pieces.
Since this is my first go at anything like this, it's also my first time using Rafflecopter. I figure if it's good enough for my girl Danielle at the T-Rex Runner, then it's good enough for me:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please enter to win! Each follow on our social media sites increases your chances of winning, and you can also tweet about the contest daily for additional entries to the raffle. On September 20, I will announce the winner of this gorgeous bracelet. 

If you are interested in seeing Kelly's whole Silpada line, feel free to check out her site. 

Happy raffling!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Disney Half Marathon

I ran the Disney half marathon over Labor Day weekend with Girldoll and her friend, Kaycie. Kaycie and I also ran the Tinker Bell half marathon together in January 2013. 

The training started really well - that is, until late July when Girldoll had her wisdom teeth removed. Neither one of us anticipated the nightmare of having four teeth removed would be for her. Girldoll ended up developing dry socket. If you don't know what that is, I assure you that it's as horrible as it sounds: the blood clot that forms as a barrier between the bone and nerves becomes dislodged, leaving exposed nerves and creating excruciating pain. To make matters worse, she was misdiagnosed as having a reaction to the pain medication - so the doctor told me to have her stop taking it. My daughter was in excruciating pain...with no pain control. I was beside myself with worry and frustration.

futurama gif
As a matter of fact, this is exactly what I look like when
I am beside myself with worry and frustration. Why do you ask?
Despite missing over two weeks of critical mileage due to Girldoll's wisdom teeth, we were able to get one more long run in before beginning to taper before the race. It was the first time Kaycie joined us during our training, and the farthest my daughter has ever run. 

Girldoll and Kaycie after finishing our long run. So fierce!
Oddly enough, the race was the 'easy' part. We ended up being plagued by several setbacks shortly before and during the race, which had the potential for disaster. 

Right off the bat, Girldoll discovered her phone was missing before we went into the corral. She originally thought that she had left her phone in the car. After mentally retracing her steps, she remembered where she set her phone down: in the port-a-potty. Yeah, I know. #allthegerms

We went back to look for her phone, but it was already gone. Even though it was very early, a woman told us that she'd seen a custodial crew cleaning the potties. It almost spoiled the event for Girldoll because she was worried about having to replace a stolen phone. I told her that there was nothing we could do but wait until after the race, and hope whoever found her phone had turned it in to a volunteer.

Since this was Girldoll's first race, we decided to play it safe and start in the last corral. At 5:30am, the emcees began announcing the release of the runners. For every corral that was released, the Frozen theme song was played. This was kind of novel the first two or three times...but after listening to 'Let it go! Let it go!' eight times in a row, we were over it. Oddly enough, it was a fitting mantra after the cell phone drama:

Enough already.
You can't contain this much cute! 
Babydoll, Girldoll and Kaycie - ready to roll!
This is probably TMI -- honestly, when has that ever stopped me? -- but, due to the early hour, I didn't get to take my pre-race poop (PRP). Ordinarily, that isn't a concern of mine: I have a gut like a billy goat. When the PRP didn't occur, I just shrugged it off. That is, until we hit mile 7. Things were starting to...shift  and I was beginning to struggle. I kept trying to put it out of my mind, but after another half mile with no port-a-potty in sight, I was starting to panic. I desperately looked for a store that would be open, despite the fact that it was 7:30am on a Sunday morning. Thankfully, we spotted two potties set off the course in a parking lot. 

Kaycie said that she would keep going, but she would walk slowly until we caught up to her. I should have known better and told her to wait; Kaycie and I got separated during a potty break during the Tinker Bell race, and we never found each other until after the race was over. 

I'm not sure why I expected a different outcome, other than the fact that it's the hallmark of alcoholic thinking: doing the same thing, but expecting a different result each time. To think that that we could easily find Kaycie among 16,000 runners was ridiculous. Except this time, we had no way of reaching each other. Since I anticipated both girls would have their phones, I left my phone (and room key) with Kaycie's mom - who also happened to be our ride. When we still hadn't found Kaycie by mile 12, I was starting to worry. It occurred to me that we had no way of contacting them, no way of getting back to our hotel, and no room key. Even if I borrowed someone's phone to text or call them, we didn't know their phone numbers without looking at the address book on our own phones. 

It was a good lesson in staying in the moment and focusing on the task at hand. I decided to put it out of my mind, and concentrate on running the race. After running through California Adventure and Disneyland, there was a tough point where we were just slogging it out on the freeway and through residential neighborhoods. There was little to see and it made the miles feel longer for both of us. 

Around mile 9, there was a huge vintage car show parked along both sides of the course: Model T's, muscle cars, vintage Mustangs, vans from the 70s, and movie themed cars. My favorite was the hearse that was decorated like the Nightmare Before Christmas movie. We moved off the street and ran along a dry aqueduct that had a long, sketchy drop down before reaching Angel's Stadium. I was completely unprepared for the thousands of spectators in the stands. It was a highlight of the race...aside from running through the castle, of course:

I still can't get over the fact that we ran
through Tinker Bell's castle!

Kaycie (and photo bomber) at the castle.
Babydoll, Army Man, Girldoll and Kaycie
The last mile felt more like tacking on another 5k to the race. As we reached the finish line, Girldoll surprised me by reaching for my hand as we crossed the finish line together. 

Out of all the races I've run, training with my daughter and running the half marathon together was sweeter than any PR or race that I've done alone. Like all good fairy tales, everything had a happy ending: someone had turned my daughter's phone in to the information table, and we ended up finding our friends. Hooray! 

And they all lived happily ever after...