Monday, September 30, 2013

Love Makes A Family


What does that word mean to you?  It means the world to me.

To be honest, I'm not sure where I would be without mine.  My parents have been wonderful examples of success, love, and fun for me over the years.  My brothers are two of my very best friends even if they've both done their share of driving me crazy.

But today, I want to tell you about another family.  This family has been a part of my "extended" family for as long as I remember.  Christella and I practically grew up together.  Her mom babysat Jordan and I back in the days before McKinley arrived on the scene.  Christella and I played dolls when we were younger, celebrated Christmas' with game nights when we were a little older, and I served as a bridesmaid for her when she married the love of her life, Jon.

Today, as you can see, Christella and Jon have three children.  And they are in the process of expanding their family through a special needs adoption.  Currently, they have a fundraiser going on that I would ask you to prayerfully consider.  It is super simple AND you could possibly win some prizes, too!  It's a win for everyone!!

They have numbered envelopes from 1 to 150.  All you have to do is request an envelope that matches the amount of money you would like to donate.  It's that simple!  Let's say you want to donate $37, then chose envelope #37 and you're on the way to making an AMAZING difference in the process of helping them bring home their child.

Now, about those prizes! Just for taking part in the fundraiser, you will recieve one entry into a drawing for either $300 or an iPad mini*.  WOW!!  For every $20 you donate, you will recieve an additional entry. And if you share about the fundraiser via a post from their facebook page (check it out HERE), you will recieve an additional entry. So for that $37 donation, you could recieve a total of three entries into the drawing!

I hope that each of you will really consider helping this wonderful couple through their process of adoption. They are truly amazing people that are working to make a difference for children that currently don't have the same sense of family that I grew up knowing. They started their adoption process needing to save and raise $28,600 of the over $41,000 in expenses. They have already raised over $10,000 by the provision of God, and if all 150 envelopes are claimed, they will have collected nearly the balance of what is needed at this time. This family is a true inspiration. Please check out their blog - Love Makes A Family - or contact me directly if you are interested in donating to this great cause!

Andrea :)

*At least 100 envelopes must be claimed in order for drawing to occur. Envelopes can be claimed until December 20, 2013. Additional prizes (gift cards, t-shirts, autographed items) will serve as secondary prizes for the drawing.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wedding Fun + One Windy Run

Like many weekends over the past three years, I made my way to Albany via Greyhound last Friday evening.  Chris met me at the bus station and we decided to grab dinner at Red Lobster since I had a gift card that we've been meaning to use for ages now.  Dinner was good, but didn't even come close to comparing to the yummy cheddar biscuits or the pineapple upside down cake I had for dessert!  SOOO good!

On Saturday, we were up early to run some errands before we headed to Oswego for Shannon and Mark's wedding.  We arrived just in time to change and catch the shuttle over to the venue. 

Shannon looked fabulous in her dress, and both Mark and Shannon were SO happy.  It was a lot of fun to be there for the big day!  Chris and I had a great time dancing at the reception, too!


Chris and I have attended numerous wedding over the past 3+ years, but none have been quite like this one. This is the first wedding we have attended where we were both friends with the bride and groom.  It made the wedding THAT much more fun!  Mark and Chris worked together for a number of years along with the other two fellas in the photo below.  They also watch a LOT of soccer together.  As a result, over the past couple of years, Shannon and I have become friends.  One of our favorite things to do together is find ways to occupy ourselves while the guys watch soccer!  We've gotten pedicures, shopped at Target, and most recently even went looking at engagement rings for me!  We always have a fun time together!

All the fabulous ladies from Shannon's bachelorette party at the wedding!

The next morning, Chris dropped me off at the park to run a few miles.  I anticipated running 10 miles, but as soon as I stepped out of the car I wasn't so sure I'd get that far.  The wind was unbelieveable especially right on the water.  The first couple of miles were almost unbearable.  I thought about just calling Chris to come get me then, but I toughed it out.  I started to warm up a little bit after the next couple miles and managed to churn out seven before it was time to head back to the hotel so we could make our way down to Albany.

On the way back to Albany, we listened to the Bengals game which was equal parts fun and annoying depending on the quarter.  Luckily, I fell asleep for most of the second and third quarters when they were playing so terribly.  We made it back to Albany just in time for me to see the last few minutes of their awesome win!  Then we watched the very poorly played Jets-Bills game before I boarded the bus for New York City.  What a weekend!!

Andrea :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Finger Lakes Fun

When Shannon first mentioned she wanted to have her bachelorette party at the Finger Lakes, I knew it would be a blast!  I'd never been to a bachelorette party before, but I was excited from the start.  It definitely did not disappoint.

The bachelorette party weekend kicked off just a couple of days after we returned from our European adventure - recaps coming soon...I promise.  A group of us were planning to meet up at Shannon's apartment around noon to begin the roughly three hour journey to our fun little house on the lake for the weekend.  We managed to somehow fit everything for four girls into the trunk and were on our way.  A couple of pit stops later, we arrived at our destination.

That Friday night, we all got settled into our rooms and then headed out to The Crow's Nest for dinner.  What a great little spot.  Perfect for a low key night!  Throughout dinner, we all got to know one another a little better and had a lot of laughs.  Plus the fried pickles were DELICIOUS! 

We spent a few hours back at the house just chatting and watching tv before we all turned in for the night.  We had a fun day of wine tasting ahead of us!

The next day, we headed out to some wineries on Cayuga Lake.  Our first stop was Swedish Hill.  We loved this place!  They gave us a tour of the winery before we did the tasting.  They weren't in production since it was the weekend, but we were able to see all of the equipment and learn lots about the process.

Then it was time to taste the finished product!  Yum!!  I think we all found something we liked at this spot.  I really liked the Svenska Blush - so tasty!

We were ready for lunch next so we headed down to Knapp Winery and Vineyard Restaurant. 

Lunch was delicious, but we weren't as impressed with the wines at this spot.  The decor and atmosphere was much better though.  The ice wine at Knapp was fantastic!  Definitely my favorite!

We stopped in a couple of other wineries on the way back to our house, but I didn't try any of the wines there.  One that we stopped at had a phenomenal view on the back porch.  We definitely took lots of pictures there!

The rest of the afternoon everyone just relaxed and rested.  I managed to get in my five mile run.  It was actually pretty nice.  I was literally surrounded by nature.  So much so that two deer ran right out in front of me on the trail at one point.  Kinda scary, but thankfully it was toward the end of the run and I made it back safely.

That night we capped off the weekend with an awesome dinner at a CASTLE!!  So fun!!  We had a great night talking and eating delicious food.  Our only regret is that it was too dark outside by the time we arrived for us to get a good view of the exterior of the castle.  Maybe next time!

Overall, my first bachelorette party was a wonderful experience!  It was relaxing and fun.  Exactly what the bride had in mind!  I'm off to Oswego with Chris this weekend to celebrate the nuptials of the happy couple!  It is sure to be a great time!  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Andrea :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

16 Miles + The Butler

This weekend, I got back on track with my marathon training schedule and relaxed with Christopher.

On Friday, I just relaxed. It was much needed after all of my recent traveling.

On Saturday, I set out to run 16 miles as a part of my training for the fast approaching NYC Marathon. I started out by heading to Central Park and running the big loop there. Next, I headed over to the east side and ran the Queensboro Bridge. This bridge will pop up at mile 17 during the actual marathon so it was nice to get some practice running it. It's a beast though! I finished up the 16 miles by heading back over to the West side with a small detour in the park along the way.

After the run, I headed over to the grocery to stock up on food since I had pretty much depleted my fridge before all my recent travels. By the time I got back to my apartment, I was exhausted. I showered and rested for a couple hours before Chris arrived. We had a calm and low key night with homemade dinner and Netflix watching!

On Sunday, I was up early to complete my short run before we headed to church. After church, we had a Groupon date! We headed down to the East Village to S'Mac - YUM!!

It was delicious! I had the All-American which was a perfect blend of American and Cheddar cheeses! Totally hit the carb-loading spot :) Chris had the Napoletana - like pizza with Mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, and fresh basil.

After lunch, we ran a few quick errands and then headed over to see The Butler in Union Square. It was a very good movie. Definitely some tough parts to watch, but well made and had just the right amount of humor throughout.

The only bummer was that after we got home and googled the film, we learned that it was only loosely based on the actual story. Many of the more touching and moving aspects of the film weren't a part of the actual butler's real life. That was pretty disappointing, but I understand why the filmmaker was interested in presenting the story in the manner it was shown. I would definitely recommend watching it!

I capped off the weekend by heading into work to monitor the Sunday night game. As my luck would have it there was an hour rain delay just before the second quarter began. Ugh! Definitely made for a long game.

Can't believe it's already Monday! How was your weekend?

Andrea :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Marathon Training - Halfway Done!

I'm back from vacation! I'll be sure to share all of the excitement with you as soon as I organize all my pictures! But for now, I'm fully emersed in my marathon training...and I'm halfway done! It's hard to believe that it is getting so close, but with each week I am feeling more and more prepared to conquer the beast that is the NYC Marathon! As a result of my busy travel schedule, I've been doing training runs all over the country world :) Here are some pictures from the first half of my training runs...

The very first run of my training happened to be when I was in Kentucky to meet my new nephew, Landon. It was fun to have some company on this short three mile run. Especially such cute company! I love my little niece, Brinley!

I managed another short training run in the heat of an NYC day. Not just any day 30th birthday!

In early August, we traveled to Pittsburgh to visit friends. I was scheduled to run 10 miles, but timing allowed for a great eight miles around a beautiful lake at North Park instead.

I've completed several runs in Albany over the course of training, but this particular day I had the company of a couple of friends for 10 long miles at the Corning Perserve. It might have been 9.5, but we started a little late and it was getting really warm. It felt pretty good though. We kept a steady pace the whole time.

As our trip to Europe approached, I became a little concerned about how I'd fit all the runs in while we were gone. Fortunately, I had been able to stick pretty strickly to the schedule up until we left so I didn't want to get too far away from it, but I also didn't want to stress out about getting every run in while we were away. Enter the park at Burton on Trent literally three minutes from Chris' cousin's house.

I did several runs at this park. It was essentially a roughly one mile loop around the lake so it got a little mundane, but it worked! Prior to the trip, my longest training run had been 12 miles. During the course of the trip, I was scheduled for a 14 mile run which I ended up having to cut in half, but I did make all of the other scheduled runs that first week. The second week was a little different as we were traveling more, but we did a few walking tours and my first run after returning to the States felt good so I'm guessing I didn't get myself too off track while I was away!

The weekend after we returned from our trip, I headed off to a bachlorette party at the finger lakes. (I'll be recapping that fun soon as well!) I was able to sneak in a short run there. Just moments after I took this picture two deer ran right in front of me on the path. Scared me to death!

The next day, I was scheduled for 16 miles, but since I wanted to watch at least some of the Bengals game (so disappointing) AND didn't want to miss my train back to the city I was only able to manage a 10 miler in Albany. It was good to ease my way back into the higher mileage though.

Overall, I think the first half of the training has gone well especially considering a fourth of it was spent in Europe! I'm going to attempt the 16 miler this weekend to get me back on track...and I feel pretty positive about it. One change I am making to the second half of the training is adding in a boot camp class one day a week. My work is offering them for free on Mondays for the next month so I gave it a shot and my Tuesday run seemed fine afterward. I mean, I was am still a little sore, but I think the extra strength building exercises are helpful. Now, if I can only make it through the second half of the training I'll be in business!!

Andrea :)