Austin Road Trip

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We're headed down to Austin right now, but we had a bit of a later start than planned because I had some unexpected things come up at work. Traffic in Hillsboro was a nightmare for no particular reason at all.
This year I'm thankful for so very many things. My friends and family, of course, especially Mari-Jul. This past year with her has been amazing, so much that I can't describe it into words. I'm truly thankful for Mike Leach and my fellow Red Raiders even though we were slaughtered last weekend. They have made it such an exciting football season! I'm thankful for my job and the opportunities presented to me. I'm thankful for discovering Stephanie Meyer not because i'm THAT in love with her series, but rather her inspirational story. She gives me hope that someday i'll not only finish my book but get it published as well! There's more but I've run out of room on mobile blog.

My Top 5 Concerts

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In honor of the movie High Fidelity, I was thinking of my top 5 concerts of all time. This is very, very tough for me to answer simply because I'm a super fan of live music and I've been to more than 5 concerts. Now that I'm thinking about it, it would've been easier to list the 5 worst concerts. LOL Now I really want to go to a concert!

Without further adieu....

  1. Jack Johnson and Ben Harper - 2003 SDSU...It was a clear August night. We were sitting on a football field that was a natural amphitheater. I could smell the ocean in the air, but I had no idea how close we were. We became fast friends with everyone surrounding our little blanket. While this easily could've been one of my worst experiences (since I lost my friends for about 20 minutes when I went to the bathroom and I didn't remember the exact location of where we were sitting), I made the most of it by walking to the beer garden. I love my friends for this reason, because, like me, they enjoy their drinky-poos, and that's where I found them and they walked me back to our spot. The music was phenomenal and I seriously felt like I was in heaven.
  2. Dolly Parton - AAC...My father and I shared our love of Dolly Parton. The first time she came through Dallas, we wanted to go, but we didn't get tickets. The next time around, I was sure to get them and I loved it!!! My father and I had a wonderful date night. We had floor seats and we were just 15 rows back. It was such a fun and mellow concert, but I surprised myself with knowing almost every single song. Dolly is larger than life and it is my hope to be that vibrant when I'm her age.
  3. U2 - 2000 Reunion Arena...My first job after Tech was amazing. My cube was just outside of my manager's office. She was chatting it up with one of the other manager's who casually said, I have an extra ticket to the U2 concert tonight, do you know of anyone who would want to go? I about pee'd my pants right there and then. I jumped up and tried to maintain my composure as best as I could. I walked over to him and said, "I'd love to go!" He said, "Great, meet in the parking lot in about an hour?" I swiftly ran home, changed clothes, and headed out. Then, panic set in and I was like, OMG! I don't have any cash to pay for the ticket! I don't even know this man. My mind started racing and so I quickly called my sister to let her know I was going to the concert. At least if I didn't turn up later, someone would know I was missing. We met in the parking lot and he said he'd drive us. It felt like a date, which was more than awkward since he was a manager in the company and quite a bit older than I was. We sped down the highway in his silver 2-door Mercedes, and all worries and anxiety disappeared because I was going to FINALLY see U2!! We met up with some of his friends for dinner then went to the most amazing concert! I held up my cell phone when they played Beautiful Day, I called my sister, with tears streaming down my face. She was pregnant with her daughter at the time, and everytime this song played, Zeni would kick her belly. I believe this song was playing the first time she felt her kick. Anyway, the concert was over and when I asked him what I owed him, he said, "Nothing! The pleasure was all mine. My wife cancelled at the last minute and was held up at work. If you wouldn't've come, the ticket would have gone to waste." What luck! It was a fabulous night!
  4. Alicia Keys - 2008 Nokia Theater...This was mine and Don's first real date after Mari was born. At first, the sound was off and I was genuinely upset with it because I thought this was going to be an amazing concert. Well, the 3rd song into her set they fixed the glitch and holy cow! This woman is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! She sounded better live than she did in person and it's rare that you find that. We were two rows from the top, but it felt like we were in the front row. We also got to catch a couple of songs from Jordin Sparks set and she was such a cutie and had a great voice as well. The moments surrounding this event made it that much better. After the concert, we were caught in a monsoon. I was wearing my white linen suit, but it didn't matter how saturated I was. I was dancing in the rain with my husband and we were drunk from Alicia's voice. This was one of those moments that is forever etched into my memory: Seeing my husband's face behind the raindrop curtain, his arms wrapped around me as we're kissing under the street light, the water rising well past my black pumps, but it was warm enough out that it didn't matter. ahhh...
  5. Dave Matthews Band - 2001 Texas Stadium...My BFF already had plans to go to the concert with another friend. I desperately wanted to be there too, so I looked up some last minute tickets on ebay. I won them with the Buy It Now feature and had them overnighted to me. Another friend of mine and I went. We located our friends on the other side of the stadium and made plans to meet up with them eventually. I was scoping out the arena to see where we could find 4 seats so we could sit together. I found them. Immediately to the left of the stage, there was an ENTIRE section empty and it wasn't being guarded. So we raced to our friends, picked them up and convinced them to come with us. We hurried on over to the section and flew down to the 3rd row. We were about 15 feet from the stage. SCORE!! Better yet, we were seats away from G-Love and the Special Sauce. Apparently, we were sitting with the rest of the tour's entourage and it was a lovely time. Dave and his friends put on an incredible show and right there and then, I decided I would be going to more of his concerts because they were so laid back, it was like being at a giant party. Sure enough, a few years later, I went to another of his concert's with Brother, who is probably, hands down, the biggest Dave fan I know. Glad we were able to share that experience.

Honorable mentions:

  • Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, and Metallica @ Texas Stadium, 2003...the first concert Don and I went to and with VIP passes, which were all COMPED. Fabulous!
  • Fuel @ the Bronco Bowl, 2000 where I was in the moshpit. A concert so good that somone actually got sick. Unfortunately, my buddy Al and I were the victims of that disaster. Al, remember the shirts we made???
  • Linkin Park, Hed PE, and POD @ the Bronco Bowl, 2000...the first concert that I actually crowd surfed and special kudos because I met Chester and Mike afterwards. I became a loyal follower shortly thereafter.
  • Lenny Kravitz @ New Orleans Jazz Fest 2004...Lenny put on a fabulous set while we munched on beignets from Cafe du Monde. Mmmm...delish. That entire trip was so memorable, especially with all of our walking "4 blocks" LOL!!
  • John Mayer and Counting Crows @ 2002 Smirnoff...These two girls were screaming their heads off for Counting Crows, then up and left after the set. It was hilarious. JM put on a ridiculously awesome show, even though he said he was sick. Personally, I liked him at this concert more than when I saw him the next time around.
  • Mana @ AAC 2007...another free hookup! Woot. I have so many pay-it-forwards that I owe. LOL! I've been wanting to see these guys since 1996 and I finally had that opportunity. Mari-moo was in my belly and kicked like crazy when they played Bendita tu Luz. Gracias Danika!!
  • Muse @ Nokia 2007...we were supposed to have floor seats, but I couldn't fathom the thought of standing for an entire set while pregnant. We found these perfect seats that were just off the floor, but in the front row. We pretty much had the ENTIRE row to ourselves and wow is all I can say about Muse. If they come through again, I'm so there!
  • Deftones @ Texas Stadium 2006...I'd been wanting to go to a concert with my cousin Mikey-Mo forever. And we finally did it! It was a mini-concert, but I must say, it was fun, but not quite a true concert experience.

So what about you? What are some of your favorites and why?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Testing mobile blogging. This is only a test.

2008 Summary

Stolen from CK's blog. Fill 'er out if you're reading this. Requires some thought! Man, there were so many others that I thought after this, but these were the first that came to mind.

Great Finds 2008...
  1. - random music based on an artist or genre, it's goodstuff!
  2. Running...who knew I'd fall in love with it all over again?
  3. Chevy Equinox - I heart my Lucky! The road trips we've taken so far have been awesome!
  4. G Diapers - I love these things on Mari and she likes them too!
  5. XM Radio (and the Sirius merge, too) - We were on a road trip when the Veep debates were broadcast and I was so glad that we were subscribers. The same has happened on football Saturdays and Sundays and we haven't had to miss listening to the games. Plus, I've found amazing 90s music that I've totally forgotten about. (The Return to Innocence by Enigma...that's for you Gen!)
  6. Nail That Nut - What a hilarious phrase that was born out of miscommunication. LOL! I heart you, Will!
  7. Facebook - While I resisted for a long, long, long, while, I finally gave in and I love the reunion! It's great to see so many faces that I'd not thought about in well over a decade.
  8. Sigg Waterbottle - I bought mine at the Whole Foods in NY and it is so cute and fun! I like that it doesn't "sweat" and leave rings on the table. Plus, it fits perfectly in my cupholder, purse, and waterbottle holder on the bicycle.
Continued Love for....
  1. Indian Food - mmmm...yummy, who knew I'd have an addiction to this stuff? It just gives me the happy-happies
  2. Sprinkles cupcakes - red velvety bits of heaven
  3. Starbucks fun drinks - overpriced, yes, but something about 'em soothes me after a long, long day. Plus, I love the "talks" I've shared with friends/family when visiting a SBUX (yep, that's you Danika, Jeev, Camille, Mikey, Will)
  4. Blogger - yes, I love that I have this medium to write and write and write to my hearts content, even though 90.7% of it is crap. Thanks to you all who continue reading it.
  5. Pyrex - I love storing leftovers in them and how neatly they stack in the fridge. It makes me happy to see all of the smiling pyrex meals waiting to be explored. Best of all, I just peek through the side to see the contents, unlike old school Tupperware, where I had to open and guess and pray that the contents were spoiled and moldy...yuk!
  6. Family Table & Dining Room - I absolutely love our dining room and family table. We put it to good use and there are so many memories made in that room.
  7. Stampin' Up - Well, really, all things creative, but I do like the new stamps and making cards for birthdays and such.
  8. No TV Tuesdays - I thought this would be harder to do, but actually, I find myself looking forward to Tuesday nights to catch up and spend time with my family. I'm actually busiest on Tuesdays and it's fun!
Greater Appreciation for...
  1. My blender - Not only does it crush ice to make AMAZING margaritas, but it can puree food like no other to provide for wholesome meals for Mari.
  2. Don - My husband is Super Dad. No really...he gets even less sleep than I do, and still manages to wake up early to prep Mari for the day AND make it on time to school and prep for whatever he has to teach that day AND make me feel oh-so-special and beautiful!! Oh, and he's finding the time to train for a sprint triathalon, too!
  3. Texas Tech Football and Mike Leach - What an incredible season. We have the biggest game this Saturday and it's been an exciting ride so far. Love it!
  4. My tiny MuVo mp3 player - This little guy has been tossed around and traveled to many places with me and all it requires is a teeny tiny AAA battery to keep going. Best of all, it plays music, records voice memos (or Mari's laughter, which I adore!!), stores data, and broadcasts the radio. I've had other mp3 players and even an ipod, but I always find myself going back to this guy.
  5. Empty boxes - they keep Mari occupied for hours on end and it is just an empty box! I'm getting her several of these for Christmas.
  6. Nurses - If it wouldn't have been for awesome nurses, I doubt I could've had a natural childbirth without drugs. They are super patient, understanding, and empowering. Plus, they always do their very best to explain what is going on, even when doctors forget to tell you. If you know a nurse, thank them and give them hugs!
  7. - Well, any photo sharing site, but this because I've been using it since 2003. They continue trying to innovate and I do have love for Picasa, I like KodakGallery b/c it is familiar. Especially because I like it when my friends share their adventures on there and I can save them in one place. (Thanks Kelly, Matt, Lindsey, and Michael!)
  8. My Mom & Dad - They're just awesome. So is the rest of my family, but especially this year, I've leaned on my folks for support, especially with being a new parent myself.
Ready to part ways with...
  1. Dust - Seriously, I dust and dust and dust and it never fails that the next day there is more there. WTF?
  2. Huggies diapers - They triggered the absolute worst diaper rash on Mari and that's it. I'm done with them. They work well on other babies, but not on mine, so I bid them adieu.
  3. Green Mountain Energy - After the ridiculous bills we received this summer, I couldn't possibly understand why our rate was going up, up, up, and up!! Yikes! I like their idea, but the cost of Wind energy doesn't rise. We've not parted ways yet, but I'm actually entertaining the idea now.
  4. Negative Attitudes - Don't bring me down. Yes, you're allowed to be frustrated, mad, angry, upset, but not everyday for the rest of your life!!! Get over it and move on. Life's too short to not appreciate the positives.
  5. Cheap Baby Shoes - I like them and they can be cute, but they don't stay on Mari's feet. She manages to kick them off. One of the straps broke within the first 24 hours of having it as well. Bleh! Talk about wasted money!
  6. Leaves - I love our beautiful trees around our house, but man do I hate the leaves!!! They just pile on and on and on and next thing you know, it's time to rake again!
  7. Allergies - yeah, this will never go away. I know it. But that doesn't mean that I wouldn't like them to go away.
  8. Diaper Rash - Awful.

Clean and Shiny

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nothing like having a deadline to make you busy. I volunteered to host a Pampered Chef party on Thursday. I love hosting these types of things and it has been too long since I've entertained. Anyway, I'd been doing so much running that something had to be neglected. Unfortunately, that was cleaning. I feel like I've finally come out of a "training fog" and reality has set in.

This weekend was the time to do it. Don and I set out to do a massive cleaining and I'm really proud of what we accomplished. There's still plenty to go, but I'm very, very hopeful! We definitely got an early start on our annual donations. We donated 3 large bags of clothes and 2 smaller bags. They were compacted in too! Our closet was looking bare, but then Don found my winter box, which had been missing for an entire year!! There were my boots, skirts and sweaters. Hello friends!! I feel like I have a brand new wardrobe!! Speaking of clearing out closets...I also hit Mari's closet. I emptied out about half of it because she's just outgrown everything. I can't believe how fast they grow. I tucked everything away into a vaccuum bag (in the event we have another girl for the next go-'round) and was happy that she wore all but 1 outfit. Not too bad, I thought. With a half filled closet, I realized I needed to go shopping for her because she doesn't even have a coat! I hit up Kohls because they were having a monster sale (when are they NOT having a sale???). I picked up about 12 new outfits, a coat, and some jammies for her and all of that for less than $100, easily! I love it when everything is on sale and then you get more of a discount for shopping early and then an extra 15% for using your card. Brilliant!

All in all, it was a good and uneventful weekend. Oh, but we did get to hang out with some friends last night and I forgot how much we enjoyed being social. Ahhh...I hope we don't have that much time before I get together with all of them again. AND my sister and her kids came over this afternoon. We took a break from cleaning and we were able to eat lunch together. I also helped my nephew/Godson with one of his school projects. It was very creative and I was happy to help him out.

Have a great week! Next week is Thanksgiving! Woohoo!!

Bianca's NYC Marathon Experience Part 4

Friday, November 14, 2008

I know, I know, you've been patiently waiting for the rest. Here's some more...

Mile 13 was staring me in the face. Honestly, when I was at this point, I thought, Wow! I'm at the halfway point and I would've been finished by now. I'm gonna rock in the White Rock Half! High five to myself!

When I came upon the Pulaski Bridge , runners all around me were taking separate assessments. Some were struggling to walk, others were running their pace, and the rest of us were simply walking and taking the whole experience in. All of the bridges were really quiet. They didn't allow people to linger on the bridges to cheer on the entrants, so all you could hear was shuffling feel and the conversations from the runners.

I took this time to open my pack and pull out a few index cards. Immediately I recognized Lindsey's handwriting. She wrote two thoughtful notes and I remembered that just two evenings before, on Halloween, she and Hayden were hanging out in our living room. That moment seemed like an eternity ago! Next up, was Danika's note that Don had printed off. Oh no...not the waterworks just yet! I fought them back and read the notes from Don. He actually put together a couple by proxy from Carol and Will. My legs were impatiently wanting to run, but I told myself to hold off until the end of the bridge. I read his notes that he'd written on behalf of Guapo and Mari. Tears flooded my eyes and it became very difficult to breathe normally. My nose was running, so I carefully tucked the notes back in my pack and pulled out the next set from Julie. Julie, thank you so very much for your thoughtfulness. I was so very, very blessed to have read your words and the effort you took to put together that packet. Well, needless to say, I've dug out my hole punch to make a booklet of your notes and they are going in my marathon shadowbox! Each note was laminated with packing tape. She'd printed off pictures and mounted them on lavender paper. On the back in colored ink were quotes and verses. Each pictures was carefully selected with a specific purpose in mind. They were sweat proof, but more importantly tear proof! The tears were falling like fat rain drops from a cloud on a sunny day. That last picture of Don and I in shadow...well, you were right: Don was waiting for me and I had to get to it!

Two women stopped me to ask if I was ok. I smiled at them and just nodded my head while pointing at the letters. Simultaneously, they let out a huge, "Awwww....!!!" I tenderly held the notes to my heart and waved goodbye to the women. I tucked the letters back into my back and opted to save the rest for the next bridge. I noticed the photo of Margie that I wore in the Komen 5K a few weeks earlier. I said a prayer for her, and her strength flooded my entire being and in true Margie fashion, my body got going. She's not one to rest on her laurels to wait for something to happen. She makes things happen.

Mile 14 came along. Only 6 more miles until I see my family. I felt so alive and carefree. I had wings to fly and my legs felt so lightweight. Next thing I knew, my arms were outstretched like JET from the Mavs and I was fly-running just like when I was a kid, playing in Grandma's garden. Whoosh, whoosh were the sounds in my head as I glided side-to-side (where did all the people go?). This was just the stretch I needed! I saw a little abuelita and abuelito on some steps waving. I waved back and hoped that my greeting flew all the way to El Paso. I was in Queens, the 3rd burrough of 5.

Mile 15 was filled with lots of turns in an industrial area. This is Daddy's mile and I feel good. Run Bianca Run! I focused and it was during this mile that I saw a small gang of homeless people cheering from the sidelines. Even the homeless can make time to cheer! How awesome is that? There were more water stops that usual and I wasn't sure why, until...

The Queensboro Bridge, aka the 59th Street Bridge...mile 16. This bridge broke some people. Seriously, it was long and eerily quiet. Lots and lots of shuffling feet. I paused at the top of the bridge and snapped a photo.

See my shirt? I've managed to lose the "I" along the way. Oopsie! After this shot, I read more letters! I looked over the words I'd written down from Ashley. Earlier in the week, I had an IM conversation with Catherine M. and I'd written her words down on an index card. She gave me a really great quote that I had to have! I read all of Ada's notes on red construction paper. They made me cry and I didn't care. This was 100% raw emotion, this is what living is about. And my favorite: BIANCA FIGHT NEVER DIES! I didn't know it at the time, but that phrase became my mantra. I opened my sister's letter, but couldn't read it. I knew it'd break me down, heck, just looking at the pictures made me tear up (and makes me tear up as I think about it!), but just touching it, I knew I had her strength. I put them all back in my pack and I was upon the descent, so time to run some more! I saw a large pile of hay bales and wondered, man, I could be running so fast that on that turn, I'd NEED those hay bales. LOL! Not really, but I was traveling pretty fast. And then it happened. The quiet went to REALLY loud hoots and hollers! We were in the city! So very, very many people cheering and I thought of my friends. Cheers to all of you guys!

The bottom of the bridge was mile 17 and it flew by like a blur, much like the time that I spend with Jeev. You have such a great time with him that 3 hours passes like 5 minutes!

At mile 18, there was the First Avenue Baptist Church choir in dress robes singing a BEAUTIFUL gospel tune. My Lord Jesus filled my soul and I gave praises to HIM. I mean c'mon!! How often can someone say that they've been serenaded by a full choir while running in one of the greatest cities in the world. Talk about surreal!
At the end of Mile 19 was another bridge: Willis Avenue Bridge. This one was interesting because it was comprised of grate like materials and covering the grates was orange carpet. It was a strange feeling on my legs, but I didn't mind. I actually ran this bridge because it wasn't much longer that I'd see my Beloved and family. Fly feet fly!!

"Welcome to the Bronx, Bianca!!" Mile 20, where is Mari-moo? I saw the giant TV screen at the Robin Hood block party. Everyone was wearing bright green shirts and pounding their thunder sticks along to the beat as Eye of the Tiger blared in the background. Yes, yes, yes!! But where was my family??? I paused to whip out my cell phone and called Don. His familiar voice ignited my already palpitating heart. We're just around the corner, babe. Come find us. Sure enough, there they were. Don didn't see me, but I flew into his arms. Unaware of the tears streaming down my face!!! I love you, was all I could say when I gave him the hug. I swiftly kissed him and my baby.
I ran over to my mom gently perched in her wheelchair, rocking her white sunglasses! I hugged and had to go. I was a ball of tears and happiness. I waved goodbye, while the police officer in the following picture beamed at me. He hollered, GOOD LUCK BIANCA!! I glanced down at my watch. I was one minute off pace from coming it at under 5 hours. Holy cow! I think I can do it. I can make up 1 minute. ONLY 6 MILES TO GO!!!

Seeing my family ignited something inside of me, because I started to open it up. This is just like my early morning runs. I can to this. Time to run with my heart! I crossed the Madison Avenue Bridge into Harlem. Mile 21, I was in Harlem and let me tell you that the smell of BBQ coming from the white tent in the distance was HEAVENLY. I secretly wished that someone would hand me a chicken leg. ha ha! Harlem was my 2nd favorite place to run in!

Mile 22 was a long, wide, and beautiful downhill just upon Central Park. I felt the love from the city and I was on a HIGH. People all around me were starting to waver. I felt like I was in a good place and I knew I could meet my goal! Loudly, people were yelling, Go Bianca! You can do it, Bianca! Looking good, Bianca! I swear I heard Ada screaming from Dallas.
And then there was mile 23. I told myself, only 3 more miles to go, but everyone around me was falling, stumbling and fading. This woman next to me was hyperventilating and out of nowhere came someone who loved her. He struggled to carry all of the signs and cameras, but he ran next to this woman. He was lovingly yelling in her ear. "Don't you give up! Don't you give up! You only have 3 more miles. This hill is NOTHING! Only 3 more miles. Think about your kids. Think about how long you've been training. You can beat NY!" I needed to hear that. I was fighting that hill. And so I picked up my legs and mustered up the energy to yell outloud (because frankly I didn't care who was listening), BIANCA FIGHT NEVER DIES! I bared down and focused. This is the last 5K. After this, I will own the streets of NY. Bianca Fight Never Dies. Bianca Fight Never Dies. Bianca Fight Never Dies. Over and over I repeated it in my head.
All of mile 24, I said it over and over in my head. I prayed for strength. And then I saw the Texas flag, it reminded me Ashley. I threw up my guns up! And this woman called out to me. You're from Texas, right. I saw your Double T earlier. I reached up to touch that worn out piece of athletic tape that still dangled from the safety pin. She was from Lubbock, running in her 8th marathon, but her first NY. She told me that I looked good and was surprised to hear that this was my first marathon.
We hit the drink stop at Mile 25, but kept running. Together we chatted, when she told me: "Take off. If you can run, then run!" Finish. I glanced at my watch and I knew it would be close. I asked her if she minded and she said "No, go run your race!" It was a bit of a downhill and the fall foliage in Central Park was beautiful. The oranges, reds, and browns passed by in a blur. I waved bye and came upon these two friends.
One was struggling and the other was encouraging him. They were African American and looked like they were football players. I jokingly punched the one guy in the arm and told him, "Don't you give up on your friend! You get him going!" I glanced over my shoulder and stared at the one who was struggling. "C'mon! Don't you let me beat you! Don't you let me beat you!" He picked up the pace! And that's how it went for the last bit. Us leapfrogging.
400 yards to go! Bianca Fight Never Dies. My legs are screaming at me. I look at my watch and I can do it. I have 6 minutes before the 5 hour mark. Get it in gear, Bianca. Run Bianca Run. 300 yards to go. Bianca Fight Never Dies. Bianca Fight Never Dies. 200 yards to go...Bianca Fight Never Dies. I'm running against the clock. My buddies open her up and they sprint like gazelles. 100 yards to go. They throw up their Kappa sign to the cameras. Bianca Fight Never Dies! I throw up my guns! I cross that finish line and tears are streaming down my face! I did it. I did it!! I did it!!!!!!

4:58:37...officially. 1 minute and 23 seconds to spare.
Someone draped the medal over my neck and directed me over to the photo booth. I smiled, face puffy, and I felt this accomplished just 9 months before when I met my daughter for the first time.
Then, they draped the foil around my shoulders and I felt like royalty, no, like supermom and this was my magic cape. It truly was a magical experience, unlike anything I'd ever done in my entire life. I could write more, but this is where I'll finish the race portion. I heart NY and I love you all who supported me!
An epilogue to come...

Crazy 8s

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

8 TV Shows I Love to Watch:
  1. The Big Bang Theory
  2. How I Met Your Mother
  3. Dirty Sexy Money
  4. College Football - yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it isn't a TV show, but it is to me! And I watch it at least once a week for 3 - 4 hours at a time.
  5. Brothers & Sisters - but not really all the time
  6. Ugly Betty - I just found out that I can watch it on my On Demand station with FiOS
  7. Dexter - On DVD via Netflix
  8. ......nothing else

8 Favorite Restaraunts:
  1. Chettinaad Palace - love that Indian Food
  2. Mooyah - yeah, it has its very own post, that's how much I like it
  3. Simon's kitchen - so what if it isn't actually a restaurant, I get 5 star food at a reasonable price
  4. Paciugo - so what if it isn't a restaurant, I like the gelato. it's amazing!
  5. Chola - Don and I ate here on our date night in NY and the food was so good! I wanted to dive into my bowl of palak paneer and swim laps.
  6. Cheesecake Factory - Linda's Fudge Cake, 'nuff said
  7. Taco Diner - I bet they put crack in their tacos
  8. La Duni - Seriously, the reason this even made the list was because of their Lemon 43. Their food is far from what I crave, but I have dreams about this drink!

8 Things that Happened Today:
  1. Went to the bank.
  2. Ate some Paradise Bakery
  3. Enjoyed some strawberry filled organic mini wheat cereal
  4. Played with Mari moo before school
  5. Hugged my darling husband
  6. Petted Guaptastic
  7. Sat in traffic
  8. Planned some more Thanksgiving details

8 Things I Look Forward To:
  1. A clean house!
  2. My Pampered Chef party - wanna come? LMK, I'd love to have you over!
  3. White Rock Marathon on December 14 - I'm running the half and my sister is in the relay. CK is running the full and My Michael is on a relay team as well. It's gonna be fun!
  4. Tech/OU game - RAIDER....POWER....RAIDER....POWER!
  5. Thanksgiving with my familia
  6. Christmas with my other family
  7. Mari's First Birthday - February is RIGHT around the corner!! eeek!
  8. My photo shoot next weekend - man, seriously, I need to quit eating all of the junk food!

8 Things on My Wishlist:
  1. This Cashmere Sweater dress from Banana
  2. A maid for a month - who are we kidding, I'd get used to it and want them to linger for longer!
  3. A beach vacation or cruise
  4. A new TV, much like the one we used to take care of for Primo
  5. A fancy schmancy backyard, complete with fence
  6. A bigger closet
  7. For my mom to feel better
  8. To see my family that I haven't seen in a long time

Tag, you're it: Chae, Jenna, Shannon, Gen, and anyone else who needs a good time waster-er

first steps

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Last night was dark and stormy. It was the perfect night for some beef stew and I was so thankful that I had the foresight to shove all of the ingredients in the crockpot the night before.

Don and I piled in front of the television to watch our Monday night lineup. Mari immediately crawled over to us both, glaring at us both with expectant eyes. The stew was so tender and delicious, that we both gave her tiny spoonfuls of broth or carrot. She really enjoyed it. She easily maneuvered back and forth and while she's been doing quite a bit of cruising, on this particular evening, she was doing it with more ease and grace.

Well, Don had to go into the office to work on a test, so Mari and I played on the living room floor. We wrestled and laughed. I tend to laugh so hard with her that I start crying. Anyway, something inside told me that tonight was the night. She was barefoot in her black long sleeved onesie. I gently placed her about three feet away from me. She stood there, not wobbling at all, and I motioned for her to come to me. She smiled at me and proceeded to walk forward to me and into my arms. I hooted and hollered and was utterly amazed. I drowned her with kisses and hugs, and immediately burst into tears. November 10, 2008: MY BABY WALKED! She walked with purpose and authority and it was incredible! Don rushed into the room and I balanced her up again and he called out to her. This time she only took a couple of steps, but I could see her determination.

It's so cute, because she takes these Frankenstein-mixed-with-marching-band-member-like steps. I did my very best to grab video of it, but I was unsuccessful. I'll try again tonight. Oh, and she just celebrated her 9 month birthday last Friday. (another post i'm in the process of writing)

Anyway, hope you all have a fabulous Tuesday!

Hello lovely...

Monday, November 10, 2008

My super duper fantabulous husband gave me gifts galore for my running accomplishments. He was side-by-side with me all through my training being so very supportive AND takes great care of our lovely darling daughter, but he goes out and is just sweeter than sweet.

First off, two new handbags! One is a red leather business-like shoulder tote. The other is a sassier black leather shoulder bag with metallic detail. They're utterly delish!

Here's the red one:And then, he told me that he wanted to get me flowers when I finished, but the whole ending was kinda congested, and well, you'll read the story in one of the marathon installments. Anyway, he did get me one flower. Yet, it isn't a conventional flower. It is the new LG Lotus from Sprint! My poor phone was literally on its last legs when I returned from NY. It was randomly turning itself off and when I went to text, for whatever reason when I hit the number 5, it just powered off. Crazy!

So, I earned a fancy schmancy new telephone and I love it!!!

Christmas came just a litle bit early! Thanks babe! You're amazing!

So to say thanks for all of his support, I got him a little surprise. Don is all about biking and what not. I myself am not the biker, but I try. Anyway, before the race, I bought Mari a helmet, with the intention to buy a bike trailer for him. Some day, Don would like to compete in a triathalon and what better way to prepare than to take your daughter for a ride as extra resistance? Here she is in her helmet.

Turns out that the Richardson bike mart had the Trek Gobug trailers on sale, so upon our return, we headed on over there to check it out. He loved it and we bought it! That afternoon, we strapped in Mari with her new helmut and loaded Guapo in the back. As a family, we set off for the trails. We only rode for about 2 miles before I wimped out and had to go home. I don't do so well on a mountain bike and I'm insisting that I get a beach cruiser or some old school Huffy (do they still make those??) to ride. Anyway, Mari immediately passed out in the trailer, so that was a good sign. Even tiny Guapo who was cramped in the back, happily roamed from one side to the next, and even peeked his head to the front to see what was going on. Thumbs up from the family and that was our first official bike ride as a family. Some specs on the trailer: it seats two children and has a 5 point safety harness for each child. The seats are padded and it is very lightweight. We intend to buy the stroller conversion kit, so it will double as a double-jogging stroller. We currently have a single jogging stroller and someday we hope that Mari will have a sibling to love/torment while we are out exercising! :)

Bianca's NYC Marathon Experience Part 3

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Que Viva Mexico, Bianca!" someone shouted as they proudly waved the Mexican flag. I excitedly waved at them and snapped a shot. Mile 2. Man, I wish that Don could be here with me. I know he'd love to see all of this.

I was happy to get into the neighborhoods. I wasn't sure if I was thirsty yet, but I remember Chris, my yoga instructor, telling me that I needed to hydrate every 15 minutes. I'd made a mental note to drink at every mile stop and to try to eat along the way. There were so many happy faces, rooting you on.

Miles 3 - 5 went off like a blur. I just couldn't get over how beautiful Brooklyn was. I loved all of the houses and trees and oh, especially the people. I kept staring at the landscape, thinking about A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I'd never visited this area before and I must say that my imagination was accurate based on Betty Smiths' description. I stared through the crowds faces doing my very best to pick out my co-worker Gen's face out of the thousands upon thousands smiling back at me. By mile 6, I'd pretty much quit looking and started staring around at the masses.

At the 5K marker, there were more series of BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEPs, signaling our chips sending the notices out to the masses. I thought of my family that was tracking me and wondered what they were doing at that moment. I happily took my water and Gatorade Endurance. I toasted to Chae, since this is her mile.

At mile 4, I snapped a photo of White Castle. I chuckled thinking about the movie Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. LOL. Silly, I know. I also snapped a photo of a family cheering us on. I immediately thought of my family and my aunts and uncles and cousins. I could see their faces standing there and cheering me on. I got a little choked up thinking about them and remembering their struggles. I pressed on.

At mile 5, I saw a more eclectic group of people. I took an orange from a man who held out a plate of the juicy fruit. I happily took it and had sticky fingers later. I didn't care. I'm RUNNING THE NYC MARATHON!! Woot! Michael and Marco would be cheering me on!

Mile 6 and I'm passed by a man who shouts out, WOOHOO!! Only 20 more to go! His buddy nailed him on the arm and scolded him for saying such things. "Why say that?? You should say something like, 4 more miles until we get to 10 or something else. Not that!" He was so upset at him and I leaned over and gave the guy a high five. You have to keep it light hearted and fun. No sense in rushing through it. This mile is for Will, and so it was fitting that not only did I share a high five, but this was to another Asian man. I was really high fiving Will!

Mile 7, once again, I leapfrogged this lady and her friend. They seemed to sneak past me when I slowed at the water stops. I tried to make small talk with them, but they seemed more interested in keeping to themselves and so I didn't press any conversation. Brother was all around me. This was the first mile where I saw people lingering on porches, drinking the time away. I loved seeing them hanging out and I knew that if there was a marathon off of Brother's steps, he'd be up by that point (close to noonish), toasting the runners. I caught the eye of a particular group and they hollered, "You can do it, Bianca!!!" I yelled back, "Cheers to you!" and with that, they lifted their glass and took a chug.

Mile 8, I saw a sea of people and perched behind them were happy and cheerful firemen. They kept shouting things like, "Lookin' good, Bianca!" I couldn't help but blush a little bit and think, wow, Danika would enjoy their remarks too. I mean, after all, who doesn't love a fireman? It was at this mile that all 3 course colors joined together. It wasn't nearly as congested as I anticipated it would be. Can you imagine 3 major veins joining a main artery? But the transition was smooth. After the rest stops, however, my sneakers would go click, click, click on the pavement as a result of all of the sticky electrolytes in the Gatorade they handed out.

Miles 9 - 12 faded together quickly. There were more bands along the way, the people seemed more alert as I passed by. And I kept thinking about those that supported me. I even paused to take in a banana. I was careful to toss the peel to the side near some other trash, ensuring that no one would accidentally slip on it. I was grateful for all of the spectators and their many gifts they offered to us runners. I don't know if they knew how helpful they were to us. Oranges, bananas, leftover Halloween candy, and an infinite amount of high fives and well wishes.

I turned a corner and there it was: MILE 13. Not only the halfway point, but my favorite mile. What do you know, another bridge. I made it this far, so now it was time to enjoy the bridge and read some more inspirational notes.

Bianca's NYC Marathon Experience Part 2

Friday, November 7, 2008

I walked around the village for a while. I was ready to drop off my clear bag. I figured, why not go for a bit of exploration while I was at it. It was really cold, but I didn’t notice it when I started stretching my legs around. There were so many people, so many colors and languages being spoken. Young and old. Men and women. Most everyone was smiling and huddling together. I jumped in line to get my photo taken at one of the official booths and immediately before me was a group of 25 from Guatemala. They’d all traveled there together, smiling and wearing their matching outfits, with their names across their chests. I felt rather naked when I walked up to take my picture. I didn’t know anyone else, and so the photo would be just me. It was fine, though. There was a small man from China who watched over my sack and fleece overlay while they snapped my pic. He was missing a couple of teeth, but was friendly just the same. His face lit up when I thanked him by saying, “Xie Xie” and bowing my head. I slipped on my fleece and walked on over to the UPS trucks in the green section to drop off my bag. After that, I grabbed a cup of hot tea to warm my hands, then I headed back to the Robin Hood tent in the orange section. When I arrived there, I asked the race coordinator to point me in the direction of the other Maverick’s and she quickly introduced me to David and Ben. David was from San Fran and a veteran marathoner. Ben and I were making our inaugural run together. Ben sat there taping his feet and I asked him if he minded if I used some tape to write my name across my fleece top. He shared and I wrote my name followed by a double T. Strive for honor for sure!

It was time for us to start going to the corrals, so I set off to the green section, corral B. I heard a canon go off and some music in the distance. My heart was pounding, but I knew I had some time since that was the 2nd wave. I checked my phone right quick and saw that I’d received a few more texts and a voicemail. I called and it was my father, in a raspy, yet affirmative voice: "Run Bianca Run." I swelled up with pride. I GOT THIS! We were escorted through a small opening in the chain link fence that separated the corrals and immediately I had to make a break for the bathroom. Last pee stop before we get this thing going. Unfortunately, I picked a line that was moving REALLY slowly and I feared I wouldn't be finished before the start. Fortunately, in a pinch, I can go really fast, and that I did. It was definitely record pace for me! I filed out, situated myself, and the crowd started walking forward. In the background, they were playing "God Bless America." I couldn't contain my excitement any longer. I wanted to shout to the rooftops, while my heart wanted to leap from my chest like that alien creature from Alien. Then there it went again. BOOM! I could hear Ol' Blue Eyes singing "New York, New York" and the crowd started moving a whole lot faster. I quickly snapped the official start sign, while everyone one around me was smiling. Sweatshirts and garbage bags were flying every where. I guess they didn't want that extra layer, but I still wore my fleece and gloves. I was still quite a bit chilly. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP was all I could hear since the Champion Chip timers were singing as we crossed the pads.
There it sat, staring at me, beckoning me for a dance: The Verrazano Bridge. Mile 1. At first it didn't seem intimidating, but I knew that it could totally break me if I let it. I heard Ashley's voice, and Chae's voice, and Clyde's voice, and Frank's voice, and Danny's voice, all in unision, don't start off too fast. Resist the urge to take off. It took everything in me to walk that first bit. I ran the green route, so that meant I was on the 2nd level of the bridge, not the top. It was just as fine, because I wasn't quite ready for the sun to beat down. I clutched my disposable camera in my neon green gloves, walking to the edge of the bridge as hundreds of people zoomed past. My heart beating fast, my legs twitching, begging me to take off. I felt like a snow dog wanting to mush. And just when I didn't think I could take it any longer, a woman jogged past me who lost her glasses. I hopped into the crowd so that they wouldn't be crushed and I handed them back to her. She thanked me and I just smiled. I walked to the edge and snapped the first picture of many to come. I tuck my disposable camera in. I'm feeling warm enough, so I tore off my name from the outer fleece. I ripped off the Double T part and pinned it next to the bottom right safety pin holding my bib number in place. I scrunched up the rest of the athletic tape and pulled off my fleece completely. I said a quick prayer for whomever would receive my fleece. It kept me warm for a few short hours, I hoped it would continue to provide warmth for someone this winter who isn't able to afford such luxuries like a jacket. I tossed it to the side with a pile of other sweaters and off I went. I put on my music and listened to Dolly Parton's "Better Get to Livin'" as I hit the apex of the bridge. No more uphill. I smiled, and faced the city with high hopes. C'mon Bink. I looked over my shoulder as if I could see my sister and I threw a wink in her direction, thinking, "let's race!" and my legs happily bounded on the descent. I glanced at my watch and my pace was spot on from where I wanted to be. Not too fast, not too slowly.
At the bottom of the bridge, the sun replaced the whipping wind and I felt more awake. My hands were beginning to get wet and I hate that feeling, so I tore off my gloves, sent them flying with another similar prayer. They softly landed on a small pile of sweats and headbands. I pulled my headband off and tucked it into my pack. I'm so grateful for having my pack. I glanced up to the distance and already people were gathering on the overpasses ahead. They were shouting and waving signs.
"Welcome to Brooklyn, Bianca!"

Bianca's NYC Marathon Experience Part 1

To talk about the journey, one must begin at the beginning. You all know about the history of how this all came about, so now I’ll recount the day to you. Grab your cozy blanket, a bit of water, and settle in for my adventure.

How Bianca Spent November 2, 2008

I forced myself to go to sleep. Despite the time change, I knew I needed all the rest I could muster up. So with 4 minutes remaining in the Tech game against #1 ranked Texas, I forced myself to sleep, using the lulls from the game noises to calm my nerves. I inhaled a deep and soulful breath, envisioning myself walking up a bridge on a sunny day.

4:45AM – Good morning, Mrs. Sias. This is your morning wake-up call. My heart was beating rhythmically, slowly, calmly. I stretched like a cat. First the legs, snap crunch, then the back, snap, snap, then the arms, snap, pop, pop, finally the neck, pop, pop, pop. The room was dark and quiet. Everyone slumbering quietly. My mom was the only one who was remotely stirring. My sneakers staring at me, with the orange shoelaces smiling back. Yes, today’s the day!

The doorman proudly smiled at me, and said, “Good luck! I can’t even walk a mile. You can do it!” He hailed my cab and tucked me in, happily waving his well wishes as we pulled away. There was quite a bit of traffic, as the busses lined the streets. Everyone in their running gear, carrying their clear plastic official UPS marathon bag. He dropped me off 7 blocks from the actual meeting point. He said he thought the streets must be blocked off already. I reluctantly got out of the cab, but was a little relieved because I’d been tossed around like a rag doll with every turn.

I proceeded to walk up the street and I happen upon Times Square. I’m in the middle as all of the neon dances around me. I can’t believe I’m really here. I jump on the bus and I get the next to last seat on that first bus. Everyone is half asleep, quiet, getting mentally prepared for what is to come. We’re all running for Robin Hood, and there’s an immediate sense of comraderie. Most of them have filled their clear plastic bags with sweaters, food, sneakers, scarves, thermal packs, and so many other things. I was feeling silly having packed a pair of fit flops, an extra long sleeved shirt, and a glass of water. Hmmm…I guess I should’ve brought a book or even another sweat shirt. Oh well, I have my fanny pack filled with the most important things: cell phone, disposable camera, AMEX and ID, Clif Blocks, Chicken Poop, and the most important thing: my letters!! I had a brief moment of panic and decided to read two. I pulled out Gigi Skip’s and felt energized. Next, I read Michael’s and had tears in my eyes. TOO EARLY FOR THAT BIANCA! I tucked them back in my pack and immediately opened my phone to text Don. Before I could, I read though all of the celebratory texts from friends about the Tech/UT game. The guy seated behind me was quite chatty and I overheard him talking about how very little sleep he got b/c he was watching the game. I asked him about it and he was like, “OMG, that was the very best game I’ve ever seen in my entire life!!!” I told him that I’d fallen asleep. He, of course, shot an incredulous look, but began to recount the last 4 minutes of the game. Play-by-play, I was hyped up again!

The bus took off and we were headed towards Staten Island. I sat there texting Don along the way, him sending words of encouragement. I felt good. I felt awake. I felt alive. Bus after bus, after bus, was trying to crowd into a tiny bit of space. We were shuttled to the drop off area, and sure enough, we walked off and went into the village.

The wind was cold, it whipped against my face, taunting me, challenging me, almost teasing me. I followed the herd of humanity, observing the men falling out of line and heading to the side to pee. In front of the thousands upon thousands, there they were, huddled next to one another, relieving themselves in public like it was a normal occurrence. We were shuttled to the different areas and I just fell in line with everyone who was getting their bagel and water and fruit. I snagged a cardboard carton to flatten out to sit upon in the tent. I was lucky because we had a tent and our own private porta potties. We didn’t have a generator, but there were plenty of people huddled in there. I was quiet, sitting there alone observing everyone. I still had three hours to kill before it was time for me to line up.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Holy cow, it was amazing and emotional and so wonderful at the same time. I met my goal and did it in less than 5 hours (4:58 to be exact!). Slow and steady wins the race. I'm writing a complete race story recap, complete with pictures. I just wanted to post this right quick.

Thanks to:
  1. Sam for lovely words of inspiration. Loved that quote & scripture verse. Even though I didn't read it during the race, it inspired me enough to walk miles and miles to the hotel.
  2. Carol for your words too!
  3. Julie, what a wonderful little package. I read it at the halfway point and was consumed with such raw emotion, that a couple of the women next to me thought I needed medical assistance. LOL! But I tucked them away and kept on running! They were definitely sweat proof.
  4. Danika for your words too. Awesome!
  5. Ada because you are right, Bianca Fight Never Dies. :)
  6. Michael because I didn't break any world records, but I broke some of my own.
  7. Don for gathering all of the emails from everyone and for writing out words for Guapo and Mari.
  8. Mom for the scripture verse.
  9. Lindsey for your words too! Thanks Bish!
  10. Jenna for the Zicam. It knocked out that cold I had looming.
  11. Jeev, Brother, Will, Frank, Kelly, Camille...everyone else who sent me texts along the way. Awesome!

I saw everyone's faces as I ran through the streets of NY. INCREDIBLE. And thank you to Mike Leach and the Red Raider football team for inspiring me the night before. That was an amazing win!

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