Nothing But Jacob

Every year I get to spend the holidays with my relatives in Vancouver (WA, not BC), my home away from, away from home. And with every holiday season comes 2 Christmas traditions: 1. The Christmas Eve Ping Pong Tournament 2. Breakfast at IHOP

Big Rich's Christmas Invitational We're a pretty competitive bunch which makes the Christmas Eve Ping Pong Tournament very entertaining. I'm not a big ping pong person, but we don't have a choice about participating -- we have to. This year, Uncle Rich took it upon himself to officially name it "Big Rich's Christmas Invitational" and even ordered a trophy for the winner.

(We weren't allowed to touch it without wearing gloves.)

For the past four years the finishers have been:

1st: Rich 2nd: Aunty Delta 3rd Riley

The rest of us all know that we have zero chances of winning against these 3...we're just there for the fun.

Well the trophy raised the stakes - Aunty Delta and Riley were determined to dethrone Big Rich.

The brackets were randomly determined, with this year being a double-elimination game. In dramatic fashion, Riley dethroned his Dad, sending Rich to the losers bracket.

But Big Rich survived the losers bracket and made it to the finals to face Aunty Delta for the fourth consecutive year. The crowd was clearly on her side:

She lost the first game (controversially), forcing a final match. Here's the final point (or what we call "Aloha Ball"):

Sadly, Big Rich had to present his prized trophy to his wife, who was all too happy to accept him.

Our second tradition on Christmas Day is to head out to IHOP at the crack of dawn for a Christmas morning breakfast. We pile into a couple of cars and take up a big table at IHOP. After breakfast, its a race to see which car can make it home first. Over the years, many shortcuts have been taken, and its always a toss-up as to who wins. As Riley said this morning, "One year, this whole thing is just gonna go bad."

I can happily report that this morning, I was in the winning car! We even took a photo of us with the car keys:

See how competitive my family is? :)

The big gift year was Rock Band. We played it for HOURS today, naming our band "Nothing But Jacob" -- homage to THEIR Twilight obsession, not mine. I must admit, I think I missed my life calling of being the lead singer for a rock band. I scored 100% singing Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger."

With all the fun we've been having I have found time to squeeze some workouts in. There's a fantastic community center here called "Firstenburg." I love this place! Its cheap - only $5.75/day for a drop-in rate (24-hr Fitness wanted $20/day) and the facility and equipment is pretty new. I put in a solid hour of cardio on Wednesday night then hit the pool on Thursday.

I had the best workout in their pool. First of all, its WARM. You know when you first walk into a pool how its cold and you have to slowly ease yourself into it? Not like that at Firstenburg. Its so warm, there's no cold-water shock. Secondly, its huge, with sections for classes, swim lanes, kids and resistance pool.

I started off swimming laps for 30-minutes. I still consider myself very much of a beginner, so when this old man told me he used to be a swim coach and said I had very good form, I was so happy! Talk about a great motivator!

After swimming laps I waded over to the resistance pool and aqua-jogged for another 30-minutes. I haven't run at all since the Vegas RnR Half-Marathon so aqua-jogging is a great way to ease myself back into running. Based upon how sore my calves have been today, I can tell you that it was a great workout!

I ended the workout with an Aqua Yoga class...me and 7 seniors. And you know what? It was awesome! I loved it! It was hard to keep balance, but that's a good thing - worked the core more. It was also interesting to see how the poses were modified for water. When the instructor said to do a downward dog, I had to pause to see exactly how I was supposed to execute (we used the wall as the "floor").

Since I'm here for another week, I'm going to take full advantage of the chance I have to swim warmly indoors; it'll be me and the seniors again next week :)

But back to my family...they're pretty awesome and I'm so thankful we get to spend the holidays together.

Tomorrow we're going to the Oregon coast and then hitting the casinos; can you imagine how much fun we'll have there?! :) Stay tuned....