Wowsers…What a Month it Was!

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Hey guys and gals! As I’m sure many of you experienced, this month just flew by, and by flew by I mean, went by soooo fast I’m pretty sure I thought we still had two weeks left in the month last Saturday when I was checking the calendar. I mean seriously folks, I’m not really feeling this whole 28-day in a month thing, but I digress

Anyways, as always this month (as are many) was filled with some exciting things in the Vazquez household. Starting with a FABULOUS Super Bowl party attended by our family and friends! I made a football cake of course, which didn’t quite get baked all the way through but no one was complaining. Ha! We had two crock pots on full blast during the game, and plenty of spirits and treats to appease the crowd! Speaking of appeasing… I hope you all got to experience Beyonce at halftime! AHHHMAZING! She even blew a circuit (don’t let the Superdome tell you any differently). Too bad her show in Nashville sold out in less than 20 minutes. L

So the baking didn’t stop at the Super Bowl party! Nope, I also was given my great grandmother’s recipe of homemade Molasses cookies (thanks Grandmother Gill), and once Valentine’s Day rolled around, I made close to 4 dozen heart-shaped and XOXO-shaped cookies to pass out to all my favorite Valentine’s! So much fun and so yummy! I felt like a 10 year old getting ready for VDay at school. All I needed was a shoebox to decorate!

In between this I took a trip with the hubs and in-laws to one of my favorite “big cities”, Chicago. Such a fun place and so easy to get to and navigate around! And the food is so yummy! Did someone say deep dish? I did!

The next stop on my adventure was one of a more serious note, when I was the driver of a Imageone-car wreck. As you can see I did indeed flip the car, from what I was told, three times on a rural road in Williamson County. I was coming back from a 10 mile run in Murfreesboro with Angela and Meredith, and got distracted and lost control of the car. Needless to say I was shaken up, but walked away unharmed! Not a scratch or bruise on me, and no one else was involved, THANK GOD! I was definitely being watched and taken care of by the man upstairs, because things could have been a lot worse. Thank goodness for seatbelts and the safety ratings on Honda Accords. Luckily, my fantastic hubby started searching for a replacement car and we were able to buy another Accord, a year newer with less miles, and wheels (not hubcaps), along with some other feature upgrades. Again, I am incredibly grateful and feel very lucky to have not been hurt! (Pretty sure the bike rack on top of my car stopped the roof from caving in, so everyone go buy a bike rack-your welcome REI!)

So once this all went down obviously I was a little sore for a few days, but had the Disney Princess Half Marathon to run the following Sunday in Orlando! I was able to run and complete the race and had a BLAST with 26K runners (99% women) and their tu-tu’s and costumes. So much fun and if you are looking for a girls’ weekend and race combo, Disney puts on a heck of a show! (Celebrity sighting: Sean Aston from “Rudy” was running the race and in our corral…SO COOL! And yes we started chanting RUDY, RUDY, RUDY cause that’s what you do.)

So as you can see it’s been a pretty busy month week in and week out. I am grateful to be blessed to have not been hurt and to have an opportunity to go to so many fun places and experience so many great and new things! We also celebrated some birthdays with my mom and sister in-law this month, and missed Poppy on his birthday. One thing I will say is that when I think about how much I miss him and get teary-eyed about it, I also think about how lucky I was to have had him for 26 years, and that I know he watches over me. He was and is a great man, whom I hope to one day be like! (ok, I gotta quit writing or I’ll start crying…LOL)

Ta-Ta for now and XOXO!

Jenny

p.s. Adam has taken up woodworking, and has become quite the pro. I’ll be posting about that in the weeks to come. Gotta get more photos and let him finish his latest project! J

2012…Can I Get a Repeat?

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So I’ve been giving the year a lot of thought over the last week or so! Reflecting on all that has happened this year, and how much I feel like I have grown as a person physically, mentally and spiritually. It’s been an AMAZING year, filled with fun times, new goals, exciting accomplishments, and challenges that have made me more at peace with my life and the path that has been set before me! Which is why I don’t want it to end. Actually, can I get a repeat of 2012 for 2013 please, cause this girl had too great of a year to let it just ride off into the sunset! HA! Here is the year at a glance:

Trips:

Traveling has always been something the hubs and I enjoy, and hold pretty high in terms ofImage priorities. This year we ventured not once, but twice to Memphis, as well as our annual trip to Destin, FL, and even made it for a long weekend in Chattanooga. Our BIG trip this year was to the wonderful island of Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean, which was absolutely beautiful and incredibly relaxing. This was our second time to a Caribbean island, and if you have never been, you really should put it on your bucket list.

I was also excited to go visit my extended family in the mountains of PA and NY this summer, as well as take a fun girls-trip to Chicago. We shopped ‘til we dropped!

Run’s, Tri’s, Rides and Such!

I really pushed myself physically this year to try new things out of my comfort zone. One of which was to complete a sprint triathlon. My original goal was to just do one (Cedars), and then it became two (Chattanooga). Let’s just say the swim in Chattanooga really tested me, but I was so happy to have conquered the fear of open water swimming and I absolutely loved it! It was so fun, and so addictive!

I also spent some much needed time on my bike. Adam made a few adjustments for me during the Winter, and put on new components, and my best-friend Angela and I tackled a hilly 44-mile course in the Spring! Again, tons of fun!

And speaking of Angela, we also pushed ourselves to great lengths and long hours of running this fall to both complete our very first Full Marathon in Memphis on Dec 1st. We were each other’s cheerleader when Saturday mornings rolled around and when we were filled with aches and pains, and starvation. J I’m still on a high from that feeling of crossing the finish line (let’s just say I was an emotional mess). HA! Adam also proved to be the best husband ever and stayed with us the entire marathon, and Angela’s husband, Seth, took some great photos to capture the fun moments on the course.  It was an AWESOME experience and one in which I will never forget!

One of the great things about all these activities is that it has really given me time to reflect on what’s important in life, and not get hung up in the day-to-day things that may drag me down or put me in a blah-mood. It is a time to be thankful for what I have, and to get away from the chaos of things, even if it’s just during an hour run, or swimming in the pool. Again, it’s helped me grow not only physically, but spiritually as well!

Work Adjustments

Because I spend as many hours at the office as I do at home, I felt it only fitting to tell you about the professional changes that have taken place. After 6 years in the world of non-profit, 3 of which at the YMCA, I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue a different career path in the world of corporate healthcare. I am now at Healthways as an Event Manager, and can honestly say I have been challenged every day with new tasks and day-to-day operations that have kept me learning in an environment that encourages my professional development, and encourages a healthy way to work. I was sad to leave my friends at the Y, but luckily have been able to still stay connected, serving on the Board of the Franklin Family YMCA! It’s definitely been an adjustment, but one that I do not regret nor take for granted. J

Home

Adam and I are now in the 5th year of marriage and things are still fun and exciting like when we first met. We have two pups, Rocco and Riley, that bring us a lot of laughter, and feel very blessed to have our families very close to our home. Adam has finished all the major renovations in the townhouse, which were definitely not easy, but look INCREDIBLE! We are lucky to have such a beautiful place to live, in a great neighborhood, and the 2.5 mile commute to work isn’t half bad either! J

So friends, as you can see 2012 have been a GREAT year, and here is to 2013 being even better!  I hope you take some time to reflect on your year, whether it be good or bad, and put forth positive energy and thoughts for an AMAZING 2013!

 

p.s. Did I mention that my Vanderbilt Commodores won the SEC Championship in Men’s BBall, and are going to back to back bowl games in Football? Oh , and we beat UT at home! BOOM!

Cheers!

XOXO

JV

First time for everything!

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My last couple months have been filled with loads of fun and new beginnings, and I thought it best to take some time to share these with you!

In training for my FIRST full marathon, I’ve found myself experiencing a lot of new challenges, obstacles and opportunities. There was the FIRST time I ran over 13.1 miles, then the FIRST time to run 16 miles, then 18, then 20, then 22, etc. All while having my best friend, Angela, by my side every ImageSaturday morning. We’ve been able to solve the world’s problems (including our own) and pick each other up when we felt like we didn’t want to run anymore!

There were also firsts during the weekly runs, like the FIRST time to run 10 miles before work (who does that? HaHa). It was my FIRST time running with the stars, before the sun came out.  My FIRST time seeing animals that looked at me like I was crazy for being out that early! This training has challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and reach for a goal that seemed, not too long ago, to be unattainable…I guess there is a FIRST time for everything!

This has also been the FIRST time where I can relate to Adam what it means exactly to run a marathon. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been able to relate about running. But before when he would run 15 miles one weekend, I would run 8 and totally not be able to relate to the high mileage he would put in, or what exactly his body was enduring. I thought I knew what he was going through last Spring, but we have had the FIRST of many conversations about why this or that muscle hurts, and the importance of ice baths (also a FIRST) and chocolate milk, as well as what it means to be in active recovery mode.

And while taking on the marathon training endeavor, I also was offered a new job at a company outside of the non-profit world—also a FIRST! It’s my FIRST time to really learn a new skill-set that takes me outside of what I had grown so accustomed to in fundraising. It’s challenged me in ways I didn’t think were possible, and now makes me think proactively, rather than reactively-again a FIRST. It has shown me what it means to take the FIRST step to a new career path, and to trust your heart and your head, and know that you are doing is the right thing.

So this post isn’t exactly my way of telling you what has been happening in my life the last couple of months, but rather to challenge you to take a leap of faith and trust in yourself. TAKE THE FIRST STEP! One of my favorite quotes is ‘the first step is always the hardest, but it’s the only way to reach the second step’ (Susan Gale). It may not be the easiest or most attractive step, but it’ll be the most rewarding to a new world of FIRSTS!

Good luck friends!

XOXO

JV

Fall Football Pa-Looza

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Hey friends-

Though it may be a little toasty outside this late August evening, there is a buzz in the air for none other than you guessed it-COLLEGE FOOTBALL KICKOFF! That’s right peeps, it’s time to show your true colors, bring your pompoms, and get your stadium cake baked and iced (oh wait-that’s just me) and ready for what promises to be another great year of NCAA PigSkin Pandamonium!

Not only do I love Fall for the crisp, cool air that takes over Middle Tennessee, but it also means that Saturday’s are either spent on West End cheering on my team- the Vanderbilt Commodores (oh, and did I mention my birthday falls in October-just sayin’), or in front of the big screen yelling at the refs for a bad call!

I’m giddy with excitement for all the football I’m about to consume over the next few months! And this summer has pleasantly proven to be a little different than most. There is actually hype like I have never seen before surrounding the ‘Dores program. Hype on TV, hype on the radio, hype in the newspaper, shoot even on ESPN!

Albeit, we did make it to a bowl game last year, which was considered a large success considering Coach James Franklin was in year one at the helm, but this year seems a little different. Almost like the entire city of Nashville wants to see us do the unthinkable- have a WINNING season! Like they finally are ready to believe the hype!

Now before you giggle or gasp for air in shock, think about a time when the cards were stacked against you, and all you needed was a little pep in your step, and wag in your swag! You probably built up some courage, a little hope and boom, you overcame an obstacle!

This is what I truly believe could happen on the gridiron this year with Vandy! I could of course be wrong, and we could see the same ol’ Vandy lose the same ol’ games, but a girl and a city can have a little hope right. Besides, you know what they say?!?!

‘He who does not hope to win, has already lost’

See you at the game!

XOXO

JV

My Fo’ Real OIympic Moment

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Hey peeps- I don’t know about you, but when the Summer Olympics come rolling around every four years I jump for joy! I can remember it starting back with the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. I was awkward 13 year-old with nothing to do during the late summer months, and organized a backyard Olympic of sorts with all the neighborhood kids! We had a “official” professional walk down the street  to a clearing in the ‘hood, with signs and banners of our teams, and partipated in relay races, jumping bag competitions, a horseshoe toss, and other “highly” competitive events. and I don’t use the term competitive loosely! Imagine 15 kids between the ages of 10-13 vying for a shot at backyard Olympic gold?!?!? It got ugly at times!

Anyways, who knew then that 16 years later I would be competing against myself in a sprint triathlon onImage the banks of Lake Chickamauga in Chattanooga, TN. Why competing against yourself you may ask? Well I set a goal/New Years Resolution for 2012 to compete in my first sprint tri which I did in May (Cedars of Lebanon-great tri for beginners), and got the urge to do another one, hence the SportsBarn Chattanooga Sprint Tri this last weekend. SportsBarn however would deal me a different deck of cards in that it was double the distance to swim (which I am not very strong at), and low and behold it was in open water, not a pool (which is what I was use to training in). I figured given the extra swim distance and my fear of algae-filled water, I may get it done in 1 hour and 15 minutes. Well guess what? I found out this morning that I set my own personal record in 1 hour 2 minutes! Woo hoo!

Just call me Michelle Phelps…BOOM!

XOXO

JV

I want a trophy dammit!

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I just love getting a good deal! It’s great when you can ride the waves of Groupon, Half-Off Depot, and other bundled discount sites. Which is why I recently purchased a 30 day boot camp Groupon for 33% off the original cost at a high-end training facility about 5 minutes from my house. I needed to change up my workout routine a bit, and felt like this would help burn calories, build endurance, and get my butt into shape. My husband felt the same way, though I think he just wanted to make sure I didn’t fall out from exhaustion, so he bought one too. We committed to a date, and woke up bright and early before the sun came out to head to our butt-kickin’ 1st day of boot camp-palooza! Mind you at this point I thought given my prior workout and training levels, I could survive going every other day and be fine.

ImageI soon realized after the first class, that this was not the normal lunge, push-up, lap running boot camp I had experienced in the past. This was hard-nose, in your face, keep pushing, tire-flipping torture. Ok maybe it wasn’t torture, but I bet my muscles thought so. I have never sweat so much in my life, and that is factoring in half-marathon running and training! The boot camp coach comes from the world of no-nonsense! He didn’t smile or offer words of encouragement like “good job” or “hang in there”. Nope, he kept a straight face and made it obvious that complaning would only make things worse. As a matter of fact, after that first class he pretty much told us that we sucked and that he wasn’t sure what had happened the prior weekend, but that if this was what we brought to the table the rest of the week it would be a long one. Basically, he came from the belief that everyone doesn’t get a trophy just because they participate!

Needless to say, I was pissed! What do you mean we sucked? I thought I had done a fairly decent job considering this wasn’t my normal workout! Well instead of wallowing in my anger, I used it to fuel my fire and go back (albeit 4 days later due to excrutiating muscle pain which was evident when I was walking and wincing at the same time). By week three, I was going 3 days a week, and didn’t feel the sudden urge to throw up at the end of class, so there was improvement. And dammit I was adamant that I wanted a trophy!

XOXO

J

Unplugged!

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So what do you do when you have no electricity and you are out in the middle of nowhere-land? Panic? Nope! Scream at the top of your lungs for help in hopes that someone, or really anyone will hear? Nope! Actually it’s quite the contrary….You sit back, breathe and appreciate the peace and quiet! Not only that–you read a good book, catch up on your 500 piece puzzle skills, and get in touch with your new BFF-Mother Nature!

This is exactly what happened to me shortly after I arrived around 4pm Thursday afternoon at our family cottage known as the Grubbhole off Route 6 in the (very) rural mountains of Pennsylvania!  We were without power for a little over 48 hours, which means no running water, no air conditioning, no toilet flushing (unless you brought a bucket of water up from the creek), no showers, and no lights in the pitch black darkness of night. Some would refer to this as “roughin’ it’ but guess what? It really wasn’t that rough.

There was family to visit, cousins to see, and plenty of places to go! Luckily towards the latter end of hour 40, guys in hard hats with cherry pickers, live electric wire, transformers, and the power to “flip the switch” were spotted and nerves were calmed for the most part and then voila’- WE HAVE LIGHTS!

It’s amazing what you can adjust to when it comes down to rolling with the punches….You learn to live with it and relax! 5 day vacations only happen so often so you gotta sit back and enjoy it, and not let the small stuff bother you!

ImageWhen life hands you lemons, make lemonade (and if vodka is nearby, add that too)!

XOXO

J