Thursday, December 27, 2007

Random Act of Kindness

About a month ago a coworker of mine was explaining to me how he had to wait forever in line at Starbucks and was so annoyed until he went to pay for his coffee and was told that the lady who held up the line had paid for everyones order. I asked what he did in return and he said he threw the money he was going to spend on coffee in the tip jar.

I don't think he got it.

The girls got gift cards to Wal Mart from my dad for Christmas which they both wanted to spend them on video games so we headed to the store. Once they had selected their games, the Wal Mart employee instructed us to step up cutting in line in front of a man and his wife. The man mentioned we were taking cuts, in a joking manner and I apologized. While Shayna paid for her game, he commented on what they were buying noting that we had a fashion designer and a chef game. As Madison was getting ready to pay for her game, I was explaining to her that she would have to give the man cash also because her card was not enough to cover the game. It was then that the man behind us stepped forward and said he wanted to pay for the game for her. I asked him if he was sure, it was over $50.00 and he said yes, I want to buy the game for her. His wife then said that he thinks he is Santa Claus. As we were leaving he asked if I would promise to do the same to someone else some day, just a random act of kindness.

I am still kind of stunned and have mixed feelings about the whole thing. This man was a working-class guy, I could tell by his hands. Madison had the money to pay for the game. I felt uncomfortable accepting this gift from him but did not want to offend him either. I also can't stop thinking about how Madison is going to reciprocate his kindness.

I think the real gift is the opportunity to teach my daughter about kindness and charity.

I think she gets it.

Dogs Love Christmas

Santa went a bit overboard this year...

Wii Wish you a Merry Christmas

This Christmas Brent's mom planned way ahead and got all the kids a Wii! I am not so into video games myself but this one is pretty fun and physical. Once we got home from the festivities at mom's house Brent set up the system while I unloaded the car of loot.

The game came with the sports pack so we have been playing tennis, bowling, boxing, and baseball the most. So much that Madison actually strained her shoulder! She kept me up until 2 am playing on Christmas night. We also got a playground game that has dodgeball, tether ball, wall ball, etc.

Good times!

Monday Night Football - Christmas Eve Edition

We have a new movie theater in town (finally) and on Monday nights they show the game on the big screen in HD. Admission is free and they sell beer in the front row!

On Christmas eve my team (Chargers) were playing the Broncos so I really wanted to go to the game. Turns out, so did my dad, Brent, and our friend Kevin.

Madison was not so thrilled with the idea so we got her a ticket to see Alvin & the Chipmunks during the game so she only had to watch the 4th quarter. Kevin also got her popcorn, a slurpie, and M&M's so she was thrilled.

Before the game we had a feast of Mexican food and opened presents.

The game itself was kind of boring but we really enjoyed ourselves. There were raffles during the commercials, the bathrooms were right outside the door, everyone wins. They are going to do some play off games there and the Super Bowl so we are excited to go back.

I am all for traditions, but I am also all for finding new ones and I think we had a winner this year.

Pre-Christmas Winter Ride

This past Saturday Madison had her first party that was not a birthday party to attend. Her friend down the street had a holiday party and invited about 20 of the 5th grade girls. This presented Brent and I with the opportunity to ride the road bikes together. We bundled up and headed out.

This area is shaded by the mountains so it was colder than we anticipated. In fact, there was ice and snow on one of the roads which scared me even on the uphill. While we ride the MTB in several inches of snow and over ice, road bike tires are not quite geared toward that type of ride. We decided not to take that route home since we would be going downhill and unable to control our speed. Instead we opted for the freeway, not sure it was all that much safer but I stayed upright and that was the goal.

I would say it was easily in the low 30's for most of the ride and as we got closer to sunset the temperature began to drop considerably. I have great gear but still can not seem to find anything to keep my feet warm. It felt like my cleats were freezing and then sucking the warmth from my feet. It was miserable but still better than not riding at all.

The baby cows were out an near the fence so we stopped to check them out. Brent got the mama's all upset by mooing at them. We got this shot of one of the babies mooing at him too. When we got home I took a nice long hot shower to defrost. It was a crisp day but well worth the ride. The next day, it was in the 50's but we had to get ready for our Christmas eve festivities so no time for a ride.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holidays a Year in Review

We wanted to take some time to wish all of our friends and family a Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year and update everyone on what we have been doing in the past year. (Click on the underlined words to follow to link to the posts)

At the beginning of January after a long 6 weeks I finally got my cast off right ankle. It took some time to get back up to speed on the bike but all is well now.

In March, I introduced Madison to mountain biking. On her 2nd ride she was much braver and even tackled some of the scary downhill. We went on a couple of rides over the season but I hope to do more in the coming year. She is pretty brave but needs more practice to overcome her fears and really feel comfortable on the bike.

In April I got my first road bike. I had never ridden a road bike until mine showed up. I love mountain biking don't get me wrong, but my road bike fits like a glove which is amazing since I ordered it over the internet without trying it on. Brent and I logged lots of miles over the past year. Some of our favorite rides are right out our back door like the Diamond Valley Loop, and the Franktown Loop.

My Rheumatoid Arthritis is still there but all in all, it is ok. It is something I have learned to live with. Sometimes I feel so well that I get crazy ideas like to going off my meds if I really need them. Turns out, I do. I am lucky to have been diagnosed in these times with such good medications to control the disease. Although, I think the meds are only one piece of my treatment that keeps me on track. I believe my healthy diet and exercise are a piece of the big picture.

We had another exciting year of soccer with several tournaments, one was in Davis California over Memorial Day weekend. Davis is the most bike friendly town we have ever seen. Madison had another good season with her competitive team the Patriots and in the fall she made the AYSO all stars team and took first place in the tournament. Shayna played for the High School again and had a good season. She has had to make some tough choices this year between school, work, and soccer. Her coaches were less than supportive of her having a job during soccer season so she had to quit her job during that time. Luckily, her employer recognizes how lucky they are to have her and as soon as soccer season was over they welcomed her back with open arms. Brent and I tried our hands at soccer too once I recovered from my ankle injury I did a tournament with Shayna and Brent played with a men's masters team outdoor until he injured his knee.

One of our favorite things to do together is to ride our beach cruisers. In June, Madison attended her very first poker run Lake Tahoe. This lead to her wanting a new beach cruiser for her birthday.

In July we did our annual road trip to Huntington Beach for the 4th. As usual it was wonderful we love to see Aunt Sharon and Uncle Vic. You would never know our girls were both born and raised in the mountains hundreds of miles from the ocean.

One of the most exciting things this past year also happened in July, the Death Ride! Brent turned 40 last year so he was on a mission to prove something to himself. I did my own ride that day to meet him and then drive him home. It was a huge accomplishment for him and he can't wait to do it again. You can read his account of the experience here.

Madison attended triathlon training camp and competed in the kids triathlon again this past year.

In August we tried to be vegetarians (it lasted for 3 months) we are back on the meat again. The girls also went back to school Shayna is a sophomore and Madison is in her last year of elementary school as a 5th grader. Shayna's favorite class is digital video and Madison is excelling at reading she is already at a 7th grade level.

September is harvest season for the chiles which means it is also time for the annual Ruybalid Family Chile Roast. This year it was held in Sparks hosted by Brent's sister Tracy.

In November Shayna turned 16 years old. To celebrate we took her to her favorite place in the world, Disneyland . It was a fun trip and the weather was perfect.

It has been a wonderful year full of growth for us all. In the coming year we are looking forward to Shayna getting her drivers license, another Disney Cruise to Mexico, and Madison starting middle school (ok, I am really not looking forward to that). We are also hoping Brent can get a job in the bicycle industry as I go into my 7th year at Medicaid as a Business Analyst. Madison is most looking forward to the birth of her half-sibling as her step-mom and Rick's baby is due in April.

We love you all,

The Ruybalid's (and one Cressey)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

R.I.P Nemo the Betta Fish

You may remember from this post that I had bought my office mate Jared a Betta fish about a year ago. Well long story short (read the other post) he ended up at my house and was warmly welcomed by Madison. As soon as she got him she named him Nemo. About a week later she made me take her to the store to find a bigger habitat for him and even used her own money to pay for it.

Nemo lived his short life on our dining room table so that we could visit with him while dining. He would always get perky when we sat down and wait patiently for his food once we had eaten. This Thanksgiving we moved him from the table to the half bath. He was in front of a mirror and it was a bit cold in that room, both things I think contributed to his illness. We did try to intervene by warming his water, putting him in front of the fire (much to Chili-dog's disapproval). He lasted until this Friday morning. Madison found him after I had gone to work so she called me to tell me, she was very sad. She asked if she should dispose of him and I told her that daddy would take care of it.

Once she and Brent got home from school they did the duty. He offered to let her flush him but she just walked away. When he found her she was making the memorial in the picture above out of the rocks from his bowl. At Futsol yesterday she was telling her team mates that her fish died.

It is funny how attached one can get to a fish, I think it is sweet maybe there is an aquarium in her future. Click on the picture to enlarge to see what Madison wrote, it is quite hilarious.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Meat...It's What's for Dinner

On August 10, 2007 we decided to be vegetarians. We have always wanted to cut meat out of our diets primarily for health reasons, but also environmental and ethical reasons.

On the night we decided would be our last I had exactly 6 chicken tacos at the soccer field.

On October 10, 2007 I had my blood work done at the health fair. My total cholesterol now 288, triglycerides 150, HDL (good) 66, LDL (bad) 192. My ratio is 4.4 so that is not too bad. My uric acid levels were also low indicating low protien.

I have gained 6 pounds during the past 3 months.

Chilli's for dinner Friday night, had chicken crispers.

Mi Casa Too for dinner Saturday night, had carne asada taco.

Made salmon for the girls, and chicken sausage for us on Sunday night.

Made pork fried rice and chicken potstickers for dinner last night.

I think that covers all the meats in the food chain...

I do believe that you can be athletic and vegetarian if you have either a personal chef or do not have a job or children in sports. It was a good experiment and I don't regret having tried it - it is just not going to work for us at this phase in our life.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sick Air

Since we did not have any kids this past weekend we took a break in between soccer games to get a ride in. A friend of ours has been working on trails and doing an amazing job. We can get to a network of these trails right from home without driving our car in a matter of minutes.

This trail is in Ash Canyon and is named "The Creek Trail" or "Bear Creek" as it runs along a creek and there have been several bear sightings on it. In fact, the first time Brent rode this trail he had Chili Dog with him. They were minding their own business when he spotted a momma bear who ran up a tree and then her baby came right up to his wheel. He quickly back tracked and got the heck out of there and has not been back since until this day.

The trail starts from the bike path behind the community college and up a fire road. From there it is all down hill single track until you climb back out onto the fire road. From the fire road you climb back up a ways to the entrance of the trail called Deer Run, more down hill single track then to the Postal run (where I broke my ankle last year about this time) which has some off camber single track but is in much better shape this year. You end the ride with the Rabbit trail which is a very sandy twisty single track that ends with this sweet jump.

Brent and I did the jump over and over because it is that fun. Not to mention the weather has been just perfect for riding lately - we are very lucky.

AYSO All Stars Tournament

This past weekend Madison participated in the AYSO All Stars tournament. Her team was called the Shooting Stars.

This was her last experience with AYSO because her competitive team is going year-round competitive in the fall next year. They played 4 games over the weekend and took home the 1st place title. It was a great ending to her time with AYSO. This was the first tournament she has won and she was super excited. She even told me later that she thinks the Patriots (spring team) can win all the tournaments now.

That night we took Madison to pizza to celebrate and on the way out the door she was putting her medal on and showed it to Chili dog and said "see this Chili Dog, that is the smell of victory".

The Happiest Birthday on Earth

Shayna turns 16 today and what better place to celebrate than the happiest place on earth? Disneyland is her favorite place so over the long Nevada Day weekend we took her there.

We go to Disneyland about every other year so to make this trip unique we stayed at one of the Disney hotels adjacent to California Adventure called the Paradise Pier. To enter the park you just cross the street and go through another Disney hotel the Grand Californian. We originally booked a double bed room without a view of the park because that was all they had left. When we checked in they asked us if we were celebrating anything special so we said yes and they said they were going to see if they could make some magic happen. They ended up upgrading us to a family suite with a view of the park!

On our first night we hear a knock at the door and were greeted with this plate of treats.

The view from our suite was pretty amazing too especially at night. Having been born in California I am partial to the California Adventure park. It is much smaller than Disneyland and much less crowded. One morning when we woke up the fog rolled in and we could not even see the park. Madison walked up to the window, breathed on it and tried to clear it like it was a fogged up mirror it was pretty cute.

Since it was near Halloween they dress up the parks with a Halloween theme and call it "Halloweentime".

We have been to the parks at Halloween before and never seen so many decorations. The entrance to Disneyland just beyond the gates which normally has flowers was transformed with pumpkins. All of the orange in the Mikey were mini pumpkins.

Here are the girls on Main Street in Disneyland by the big Mikey-o-Lantern.

The Pirates of the Caribbean ride was updated since we were last there. They have added Capt. Jack Sparrow in the mix which is pretty cool. Here are the girls on the ride.

Here is the newly renovated submarine ride. They have transformed it into a Finding Nemo adventure. The line for this ride was well over an hour as with any new ride at Disney. Since we had one day with an early admission to the park we used it to get on this ride first thing in the morning. We still stood in line for an hour.

I don't know if you can tell how incredibly small this ride is on the inside from this picture but picture a floating coffin. Did I mention that I am very claustrophobic? Once you get in this tiny cabin you are sitting facing your own porthole. The porthole is maybe a foot in front of your face and on the other side of that is a concrete wall. Much like flying on a plane, you sit there for quite a bit of time before the ride starts to move. At least it felt like an eternity. Once the ride gets moving and you can see more than 12" beyond your face, it is not so bad. The ride has some pretty cool effects but I will never see them again, I was incredibly close to a full blown panic attack and had a stomach ache and was dizzy for quite some time after getting off the ride.

To help us celebrate Shayna's birthday Grandma Alice and Aunt Trace flew down and joined us on Friday afternoon. You can see her and Madison here on the coaster in Toontown they are right in front of the lady in the green sweatshirt. After this ride Grandma and Aunt Trace took Shayna to eat lunch at the restaurant inside the Pirates ride as a special treat for her birthday while Brent and I took Madison to New Orleans Square to have clam chowder and veggie gumbo in sourdough bread bowls.

Aunt Sharon and Uncle Vic live in Huntington Beach which is just a short drive to Anaheim. They came to our hotel and met us for dinner on Saturday night. The restaurant was a disappointment and the service was not up to the Disney standards. It was still a nice treat to see them and share a meal.

They did however make a special desert for Shayna for her birthday that was pretty cool. They also had some really nice napkins and chop stick holders which may or may not have made it into someone's purse and back to our hotel room.

We upgraded our room to the next level so that we had access to a special room that served a continental breakfast, snacks throughout the day, and an evening wine and cheese reception. I really enjoyed the wine and cheese demonstrated by this picture.

After our dinner with Aunt Sharon and Uncle Vic we headed back to the park for some more fun. Disney after dark is pretty cool and they have fireworks too.

Next to the Thunder mountain Railroad they had a little Day of the Dead area with free face painting and the skeleton mariachi band.

The trip was a huge success and the drive was smooth sailing. I think it will be a birthday Shayna will never forget.

The Giver

Madison is in the 5th grade but reading at a 7th grade level. She was recently assigned to read the book The Giver.

She said it was the most boring book she has ever fact, when I got home from work I found her on the couch like this.

She did end up liking the book in the end. When I looked it up on the internet I found that it was on some list of banned books because it is pretty controversial. The dilemma with a kid who is an advanced reader is that some of the material she is assigned to read may or may not be appropriate for her age emotionally. She seems no worse for wear but she was disturbed by some of the events in the book.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Poker Run in Sparks

Recently we did a poker run in Sparks organized by the Gonads & Strife bike club. All the proceeds went to the local Make-a-Wish Foundation. In all, it was easily over 10 miles of riding starting at
Great Basin Brewing Co. going downtown along the river and then back to GBBC. You can read all about the run here:

Cycling Carson City

Here are some of the pictures of us on the run:

Families who ride bikes together, stay together.

Vegetarian Tacos

2 cans organic garbanzo beans
1/4 Cup Taco Seasoning (Costco)
Corn tortillas
Shredded cabbage
Diced tomatoes
Diced red onion
Chopped radish
Chopped cilantro
Kraft 2% Mexican Blend grated cheese
Guacamole (Costco) or fresh avocado
Daisy Lite sour cream
Ruybalid fire roasted salsa
Lime wedges


Combine garbanzo beans with taco mix in a sauce pan. Use liquid from only one can, drain the other. Simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lightly mash the garbanzo beans with a potato masher. This keeps them from rolling out of your taco shells, and gives them a ground beef-like texture. Heat the tortillas on a dry cast iron skillet. Spread some of the bean mixture on the tortilla, then top with the other ingredients squeeze the lime on top or in your beer or both whatever you prefer.

Brent paired with Pacifico with a slice of lime.

Picture courtesy of Flickr, recipe adapted from

Soccer @ Squaw Valley

Madison's spring competitive soccer team occasionally scrimmages a soccer academy team in Squaw Valley California. The venue is amazing, there is one large artificial turf field tucked away in the pine trees. There was a squirrel taunting Chili Dog most of the day, there were lots of birds in the trees too.

Olympic (Squaw) Valley was the location of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games so at the turn to the park where the soccer field is located, the Olympic flame still burns.

Madison plays right defense and mid field. Here she is getting ready to take the ball from the other team.

Another of Madison's specialties is the throw in. If you look closely, you can see the ball here in the upper left hand corner of this pic.

After the game some of the parents met up at Starbucks in Truckee for coffee. It ends up being a pretty long day with the drive and the game.

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Slow Ride

This past weekend we closed out the holiday with a slow ride with the Moser's. We had such a busy weekend with the Chile roast that it was a nice change to just ride our bikes and spend some time with old and new friends.

We started by driving to the Moser's place in Gardnerville. From there, we rode about 3 or 4 miles to the Garcia's place near Douglas High School where we were treated to a bbq and refreshing beverages.

The kids played a game of tether ball in the back yard.

And caught a frog or two.

And played on the trampoline.

After dinner, we headed out for our night cruise. Most of the bikes had lights and the streets are safe, I don't think I even saw one car the entire ride.
Mike Garcia has a TON of cruisers in his garage so he loaned some to his friends that were there for dinner too. I think they are going to buy their own now.

At the park we ran into this wino, he was pretty friendly. We let the kids play at the playground until the lights (which are apparently on a timer) shut off and they came running to us. Funny how we could not get them to leave before that.

Since I did not want the wino to feel bad I decided to drink with him. Actually, that is our friend Jeff - and he really is not much of a wino he likes beer way more.

It was a beautiful night the food was fantastic as was the company. The Moser's did a night cruise almost every night the last month of summer. We are going to rig up all our cruisers with lights and do our own around our neighborhood. We could probably even sneak a few in this year before it gets too cold out.