Family Thanksgiving

Twenty-seven years ago this month, my parents made a courageous decision and uprooted our family to move across the country- from Minneapolis, MN to Phoenix, AZ. At this time, my parents had my sister, who was approx. 2 years old, and myself, a mere 6 months old and I know this decision couldn’t have been easy (though, my mom would say otherwise as it was 70+ degrees in AZ and -0 in MN). They moved away from their support system and from the only location they’ve ever known- the Midwest- into the unknown for a new job opportunity. It diffidently takes bravery to do what they did.

While we grew up without our extended family close by, my parents never let us forget the importance of family and we never really felt the distance apart. I think part of my decision to move away from my family stemmed from the fact that my parents did the same thing and were still close to their families. Distance doesn’t remove the love and support, it just requires a little more effort, which is easy when your family members are your best friends.

Last holiday season, I was unable to make it home and spent the holidays with friends but without my family. It was harder on me than I thought it would be. I knew moving away from them meant I might miss out on holidays, birthdays, etc. but it still didn’t make it any easier. This thanksgiving was different. I was able to fly home to Arizona, along with my sister and two nephews, to spend four days in the sunshine. I was beyond excited for this trip because it would be the first time that my dad, my brother and I would meet our newest family member, my nephew Gavin and it was love at first sight.

Waking up at 7:30AM after landing at 1 AM on Thanksgiving Day, to my 3-year old nephew telling me “sun’s up, Cole up”. It’s hard to argue with that statement let alone his cute face. (This would be my morning wake up call for the next 4 days and I loved it every morning.) This Thanksgiving would be our first Thanksgiving together after both my sister and I flew the nest and moved to different states and while it didn’t include the typical Lan-Zen Thanksgiving celebration, it was still one of my favorites. We spend the day in workout/exercise clothing lounging around the house, cooking lunch/dinner and went on walks along Tempe Town Lake, where my nephew had a blast throwing rocks into the water. The mind of a three-year old never seize to amaze me. He would get so excited when he would find a “big rock” just to throw it into the water.

Over the course of the next four days, I spent time holding and loving on baby Gavin, enjoyed a nighttime light parade with Jacob, spent some brother/sisters time closing down the bars in Tempe- something my sister hasn’t done in years (we didn’t drink much, we mostly just chatted), laughed as my father embraced black Friday because he gave Jacob the Toys-R-Us ad the night before (lessoned learned), watched as baby Gavin met Santa for the first time and as Jacob walked as far away from him as possible, tailgated at the ASU/UA game before enjoying dinner with my sister’s friends, giving Jacob a gift and playing it with him (he is beginning to understand “present”), and I even found time to hang out with one of my best friends and her husband.

This trip home reminded me how lucky I am to have the family that I have and it was really hard to board the plane back to Washington. I knew it would only be a few months until I got to see them again (Dallas-Feburary) but it still doesn’t make flying away any easier. I couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing, family-filled, long overdue weekend but I can say that I am more thankful and grateful than ever that I was able to head home for Thanksgiving.

Family- Together Forever

I haven’t “really” be home for almost a year since I moved to Washington. I did go home in November, but really 51 hours doesn’t count. This time was going to be different. A whole 6 days with not just my mom, dad and brother, who are the only ones left in Phoenix, but practically my entire extended family on my mother side. My grandfather, both aunts, all 3 of my girl cousins, and one of my uncles all together for a weekend get-a-way in the sunshine! Oh and I forgot the best part- my sister and NEPHEW both came to join in the fun. Shopping or relaxing in the sunshine  and nights together laughing, eating, catching up, and a 5K run is nothing short of spectacular. One of the best moments of the weekend was when my sister announced her and my brother-in-law were expecting another munchkin this September! I knew about for a few weeks but it was finally out in the open now and we could celebrate together as a family. Another shining moments was when my mom and her 2 sisters gave each of us girls a charm representing my grandmother, who passed away close to 4 years ago from cancer. It was one of those weekends I use to take for granted. Once my aunt and uncle bought a second home in AZ, we were getting together every couple of weeks for dinner and it was just something we did. No second thoughts.  It was the refresher I needed after being away for so long.

It wasn’t “all” family however. Being away from home also means being away from my friends and to be honest, trying to be a good friend via facebook, text messages, and phone calls is very difficult. I decided that I would fly in a few day early to see my friends before the chaos of family began. Well as everyone knows life doesn’t alway turn out the way you planned. It was hard to plan meet ups during the weekdays when everyone was working. A little side not I forgot about; just because I’m on vacation doesn’t mean everyone else is on vacation. Luckily, I kept myself busy those couple of days before the crazy madness began; like running 4 miles with my mom, dad and brother for this Adventure Run collecting raffle tickets at various locations around Tempe. Before my trip ended, I was able to meet up with a couple of good friends, one of which joined in on the 5K Torchlight run my family did together! All in all, you can say that getting a week vacation and spending it with family was nothing less than perfection!

Ironman Arizona 2012

It’s been 8 months since I was in Arizona last, and this past weekend I was able to join my family (sister, brother-in-law and nephew flew in from Dallas, brother lives in AZ) in cheering on my 54 year-old father as he competed in one of the world’s toughest competition, the Ironman. The Ironman is a triathlon that consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, ending with a marathon 26.2 miles run, raced in that order without breaks. That’s a total of 140.6 miles completed between the hours of 7am (start) and midnight (end). Click here for more regarding the history of the Ironman Triathlon.

One year ago, my dad made the courageous decision to register for the 2012 Ironman and began training for IMAZ in March.  My father, who is an accountant, loves numbers and is a true gadget guy, which explains why for Christmas 2011 my siblings and I got him the Garmin Forerunner 310XT- his training best friend. Here are his statistics of his training regime:

Running: 88 activities, 410 miles

Cycling: 114 activities, 2706 miles

Indoor cycling (Spin): 32 activities, 34 hours

OWS (Open Water Swimming): 13 activities, 21 miles

Add to this, four Olympic distance triathlons and one 1/2 Ironman distance triathlon, countless hours of workouts, yoga classes, track workouts (and bleachers), stretching, whirlpools, saunas, chiropractic treatments and massages.  Talk about passion, focus and determination.

November 18, 2012 was a day my family and dad will never forget. It all began at 6:45 am in the morning in Tempe Town Lake for the float-start swim, pros @ 6:45am Age-groupers (my dad) @ 7am. My dad completed the swimming leg in 1 hr 20 minutes 20 seconds (2:04/100M), ranking him at 98th for his age group and 1140th overall (2900 athletes total). Transitioning to the bike was up next. For us, the bike portion was a little more entertaining since the course passes by our condo 4 times before the Bike-Run transition, meaning every 2-hrs, my dad got that extra burst of energy as we stood there cheering him on…GO GRAND-DUDE GO!!! His bike statistics for the total 112 miles ended in 6:35:59 in 138th rank in his age group and 1625th overall. Next, up the marathon. As with the bike, the run course passed the condo a total of 6 times giving my dad extra support every hour to 1.5 hours until the finish line. His run statistics: 6:11:43, 146th rank in age-group, 1827th rank overall. My dad became an Ironman at 9:31 PM with a time of 14 hours 31 minutes and 4 seconds.

Watching my dad cross the finish line ,as the guy announcing my dad as an Ironman was one of the proudest moments of my life. Click here for all the pictures taken during the day.

The Ironman was not the *only* reason I headed home. My not-so-little nephew was turning 2 just a few days after the Ironman and my family was able to spend his birthday party together with friends. Best part, I didn’t tell my sister I changed my flight to make it to his party and I surprised her! It was my first time ever surprising someone and I’m glad it was her! Click for Pictures.

Overall, you could say that my first trip home was a success and I am eagerly awaiting my next trip home.