Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013 Christmas Letter

I've been putting off this "letter" for some time now as it hasn't felt like Santa Claus is coming to town next week.  With temps in the mid-60's and snowflakes few and far between, can you blame me?  Christmas music plays in my car all while the windows are rolled down and the sun beams in. This post has been sitting on my to-do list much too long so without further ado, here is a reflection of my life in 2013! 


Mel came to visit for two reasons: New Years Eve and to see if she could join me in saying bye-bye to her Minnesota address and hello to a Denver one.  A group of us got a hotel room downtown for NYE and had a, how do I put this, “eventful” time ringing in the new year.  Favorite thing from this month?  The burger and fries purchased January 1st.  You do the math…


My mom came to visit a couple days before my birthday and I was more than ready to have some mother-daughter time.  Unfortunately, a blizzard blew in and her trip was cut short.  We both were bummed but came to the realization that 24 hours together is better than 0!  We didn't get to do as many things as originally planned but a Target run was made, our nails were did, and a birthday dinner was enjoyed with my girlfriends! 



I went home for a long weekend to attend the Minnesota State High School boys state hockey tournament. While there, I was reminded of what I didn’t miss: snow, wind, ice.  Safe to say that Denver has made me a “softie” towards this trio.  It was a great trip back and was nice to be with family and also meet up with some of my friends that live in the cities. 


I ran the Platte River half marathon, making it my third 13.1-mile race.  The race started in Littleton and ended in downtown Denver.  It was my first running event since moving to Colorado and it was evident when the terrain was up and down, up and down, up and down.  A little different than running back in Minnesota which is flat and flat, flat and flat, flat and flat.  


I’ve always loved surprises but this one has to take the prize.  I flew home to not only make my mom scream and cry and yell in Tutti Frutti (after seeing me walk through the door) but also to throw her a birthday party without her knowing.  It was a busy weekend but one full of laughter, hugs, past memories being recalled and races being finished at the Fargo Marathon!  Soon after my return to Denver, I ran BolderBoulder, a 10k race in Boulder, Colorado.  Side comment: You know you're in Boulder when people are sitting on their front lawn peeling vegetables and puffing the magic dragon.


The whole Stav clan traveled to San Diego for our second family reunion.  Activities included SeaWorld, Legoland, SD Zoo, Sea Port Village, and my favorite, the Embassy Suites happy hour.  It was a trip where the hashtag #stavdiego was born, happy hour meant a blurry dinner (it was ONE time!), I introduced my nephew to Napoleon Dynamite, and our last dinner was at Kansas City Barbeque where a scene from Top Gun was filmed.  


My favorite month thanks to my favorite holiday – the fourth of July!  I spent the week back in Minnesota at our lake cabin with family and friends (Taylor came along, too!).  The weather was perfect and I enjoyed showing her that our state can be beautiful and warm and have color other than white.  I think I really sealed the deal with her after we finished off a plate of Macho Nachos from Zorbaz.  Zhe waz zold!  


After weeks of going back and forth on whether to choose money and job security over happiness, I took a leap of faith and put my two weeks in as Office Manager at Team Speed.  Soon after, I took a paraprofessional position in 4th and 5th grade at an elementary school only minutes from my house.  If being around kids all day wasn't enough, I began nannying a nine year old four days a week.  My days are long – alarm goes off at 5:30am and I don't get home till after 7pm – but I can confidently say that I love what I do and wouldn’t want to be employed by anyone else!  At the end of the month, I accepted a challenge and hiked the Manitou Springs Incline under 50 minutes! 


Another hashtag was born this month: #slotsandshots2013.  Eight girls, including myself, ventured to Vegas over the long holiday weekend.  We walked the strip, sipped overly priced fruity drinks by the pool, pigged out on Dominos at 3am, pulled all nighters, and got VIP service all three nights.  


Another month, another half marathon.  I always joke that people should be happy I’m addicted to running rather than that “certain plant” that is legal in this state.  Right?  I ran the Rock-n-Roll Denver half marathon and got a personal PR (personal record)!  What made this race so special was my friend Ali came to Denver solely to run this race – her first half marathon, too!  We were “long-distance” training partners as she lives in Omaha, so crossing that finish line meant that much more for the both of us.


I took two trips this month, the first being to Vancouver, WA to spend time with family, including my mom, brother Chris, and nephew Carter who flew in from Minnesota.  I ate too much of my grandmas coffee cake, laughed till I snorted with my aunt and mom after one or three cups of Fulton's Harvest Pumpkin Pie liquor, hiked Beacon Rock, and celebrated my cousins sons 1st birthday party!  Next up was a weekend in Winter Park with a group of girlfriends.  I felt like I was in a movie for 3 days -we stayed in a log cabin nestled in the mountains, drank in the hot tub while the snow fell, started each morning nestled under covers while sipping coffee, and a number of other things that make me want to hop in the car and travel west.  


For Koda’s Christmas present, I took her to the performance of The Nutcracker put on by Colorado Ballet.  It was a wonderful show but we both agreed that boys should not be able to wear tights!  She had a sparkle in her eye the entire time which made my grin an even bigger one!  This Friday I will be flying back home for two weeks and am beyond excited for no work and all play (and sleep!). 


Slowing down to reflect back on 2013 has reminded me that I am a lucky lady who is grateful for all I have experienced this year - the trips, the challenges, the friends I've crossed paths with, new job opportunities and the race medals that have been added to my collection.  

This holiday season, I dare you to stare and listen.  Gaze in amazement at the sights and sounds around you; the people, the food, the conversation that you find yourself wrapped up in.  The bells that ring outside store doors, the soft twinkle of lights, the music that you can't stop humming along to. 

I wish you all a bountiful amount of blessings this season!  Merry Christmas!  

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Best Hangover

I remember my first hangover.  My head felt like it was on a continuous turn-table, spinning round and round and the song never seemed to stop.  I had no appetite other than gallons of water and oddly enough...pineapple.

But today I woke up with a different and more pleasant one.  My head feels clear and my appetite is as usual.  It's a hangover from a day and night that was filled with friends who opened their home, conversations with strangers that left me comforted, and food that tested my portion control self-control.

I had been dreading Thanksgiving since the day I knew I wasn't going to be spending it with family, something I had done for twenty-three years.  So when the family I nanny for invited me to their dinner, I immediately accepted the invite and started searching for a side dish I could bring.

I took part in my own Turkey Trot soon after waking up.  The plus side of running by yourself?  Guaranteed first place.  Wait...or last place?  Either way, it was refreshing and exhilarating and exactly what I needed to start my day.

Next up: Operation Fruit Salad.

Beautiful looking and even better tasting.  Recipe soon to follow!  After a shower and a curling iron to the hair, it was time to head out for dinner.

I asked K if there was another Carrie coming since she put my last initial...

Frosting on our noses and smiles on our faces!  Love this little girl. 

I learned something new this Thanksgiving.  It's not about who you spend the day with, family or friends or strangers, it's that you spend it with someone.  It's gathering around a table not only sharing food but stories and laughs and love.  It's about accepting that you may not be where you ultimately want (for me...home) but being completely present in where you are.  

Wishing you all a hangover as good as mine!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lists Are The New Black

10 things to be thankful for according to a nine-year-old:
  1. That you are alive
  2. Your boyfriend or girlfriend
  3. The things you own
  4. Your home
  5. The people that take care of you
  6. Your job
  7. Candy
  8. That you can cry on someone's shoulder
  9. Family & friends
  10. Starbucks 
I think we can agree that she has a good head on her shoulders.  The fact that Starbucks made the list reassures me that I must be doing something right with this whole nanny gig.  And I don't mean to make assumptions but the barista did ask if we were sisters so that means I'm smart too, right? 

"The more you are thankful for, the more you attract things to be thankful for."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Carrie With a C

We sat at the dinner table long after dinner was served.  In between bites of coffee cake, my grandma and grandpa reminisced on years past.  When and where they met, their wedding day, all the cities they called home and how my grandpa had my grandma “all night long” after the first date.  Bless his heart as my grandma yelled out "BOB YOU DID NOT!" along with a sweet slug to the shoulder and a roll of the eyes.  I laughed uncontrollably and my mom buried her face in her hands, shaking it left to right.  I love it. 

They had $30 to their name when they were married and "date night" meant walking the streets of Minneapolis watching the TVs in store front windows.  No concerts or fancy dinners, just the two of them enjoying each other’s presence.  Because really, do we need anything else? 

I leaned back in my chair and soaked in what was happening around me.  The look in their eyes and the smile on their faces, the way my grandpa would rub my grandmas back and hold her hand.  Then it hit me, so hard in fact that I went to the bedroom and pulled a Target receipt from the bottom of my purse to scribble down the outline of this very post. 

If having a love like theirs means waiting, put me on the list.

If it means they will accept the fact that the temperature in my car  has to be an even number, perfect.  If they will support my habit of changing my fingernail color weekly, how I won’t watch hockey without a beer to compliment it, and how every Sunday morning should begin with church, then put my name on the waiting list.  Carrie...with a C. 

There are many things I rush but being with the person that will better me is not one of them.  I see too many relationships that are forced and unrealistic because they think there is an unspoken rule in society that you must be married by 23 and if not, you better get your profile on going or start your cat, over-sized knit sweater and porcelain doll collection.  To these people - I want to physically shake you.

If you are single, listen up.  I am a firm believer that you are ridin’ solo for a reason….or maybe three.  Take it as a hint and study your life.  Are you ready to love someone or are there things about you that you want to work on first?  Are you done doing whatever you want, when you want, with who you want?  

If living a life of true and authentic love like my grandparents means I will be on the waiting list for 6 months, a year, or even 5 years, then hand me the buzzer and let me do my single-girl thing.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Parkin' It

Pictures are great for capturing still moments in time but what they don't capture are those moments in between --- the laughs being shared amongst friends, the glasses being clinked at dinner to mark the beginning of "girls weekend", and the slow mornings spent cuddled under blankets as the snow falls outside.

 I don't know how many times we would look at the mountains and ask each other if this was real life....