Tuesday, June 30, 2009

6 Miles for Gen


Have you ever had a hectic day? Are there just some days where you are at your wits end and you pray hard, asking for strength, perseverance, and patience? Then moments later, you are calmed with an immense clarity, full of energy, ready to take on the world.


The past couple of weeks, I've had a couple of moments like that. Then, I later learned that someone had been praying for me and clearly it was their positivity that energized me. At the end of my yoga classes, our instructor always asks us to dedicate the fruits of our efforts to something outside of myself. I thought, why limit this to just yoga? Why not dedicate my other physical efforts to friends and family? Not just any ol' activity, but those hard-must-press-on-and-push-through physical activities that require extra effort. I want to project that wonderful energy to whomever pops into my mind. It just so happened that the other morning, my wonderful friend and fellow Gemini popped into my head after my run.

This was the first 6-miler I'd done in a long while. I struggled so much that halfway through, I practically tossed the jogger into Don's hands, pleading with my eyes as I trotted to keep up. Pushing those extra 20+ pounds was really taxing on my already sore body. The mini hills drained every bit of my extra reserves, but somehow, deep-deep down, I found the strength to not only finish, but sprint the last 200 meters of the run.

Next time you're doing something positive, put that energy out there to someone who needs it. I'm sure they'll appreciate it all the more. Gotta love the simple happies life has to offer. :D

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lonely Little Petunia

Many of you who know me or who have been reading this for a while know that I when Mari-Jul was in utero, I referred to her as "Petunia." Few people know why I called her that, though. So, here, for the first time, I'm putting it out there. I had a bit of a tough time conceiving. For any of you who have had trouble making a baby, you understand. For someone who strives to be an over achiever, well, let me just tell you that I felt like a failure because it is the most primitive of things that I felt like I should do. Well, how happy was I the first time I got that positive test! It was one of those early tests and I was about a week late. I was on cloud 9 for about 2 days, but for some reason I didn't "feel" it. I was paranoid and opted to take that 2nd test that came in the twin pack. It was negative. I never made that phone call for the first appointment. I went into a mini depression filled with an immense intake of empty calories, cases of vino, and outrageous hyperbole. One of those expressions uttered amidst a broken bawling fit, complete with copious amounts of tears and mucus was...I'll never be able to make a baby. My womb is only for brambles and onions, but not babies!!

Then two very short months later, when I made peace with it all, after wandering around Denver, after swimming my troubles away in the Pacific ocean, after talking with Mickey & Minnie, and celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary, we were blessed! This time I "felt" it. I knew. At that moment, I heard Imogen Heap singing "Lonely Little Petunia". And yes, I had my very own little Petunia in an onion patch. I remember Flower singing it in Bambi. And I was happy. Utterly and completely happy. Every. Single. Day. Happy.

Here's my little petunia preparing to water a garden.
Sometimes she waters things with her left hand and other times with her right. Most of the times she likes to water herself.
Thank you, Jesus, for my lonely little petunia born from my onion patch.

I don't always understand God's plan, but I do know that my faith in God and my faith in love will never falter, sometimes we just need a little patience. :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Glory Days

Once upon a time there was a girl who could run for hours, climb trees with ease, jump rope for days, and hang upside down on her swing set until the sun went down...all while wearing a skirt, no less.

That girl grew up to do more running on tracks and in gyms. Whistles shrill-tweeting to stop-go-stop-go-drop-jump-go-stop...faster, faster, faster, push harder, just a little more, keep going, find the strength, MTXE (mental toughness extra effort), push, push, push...Yes, pushing that hard in 100 degree heat just over 10 years ago had me drop 20 lbs in less than 2 weeks time. Unhealthy, um....yes. But it proved to me that I could push my body to extremes and survive.

Back then, I didn't appreciate the beauty of youth. If I mis-stepped and popped/rolled an ankle, I sprung back up because my ligaments were used to it. I might've been tight for a couple of days, but nothing that had me limping for a week. Standing flat footed, I could coil down and jump straight up in the air and touch the middle of a basketball net. Give me a step, then jump and I could graze the rim. I could whip out a mile in no time at all, all this after a volleyball tournament because I was invariably in trouble and had to make up my punishment runs. Trouble not because I sassed back or voiced an opinion, but trouble because I wasn't perfect. Each serve, every pass, and most importantly, ever set had to be P-E-R-F-E-C-T. Yes, an unhealthy complex developed and I eventually walked away from something I held very near to me because I'd made a promise that once it was a job and no longer fun, I'd part ways. That whole life lesson proved to be invaluable, even to this day. Sometimes it really, really hurts to walk away, but that's what you have to do.

Fast forward to yesterday and I willingly signed up to visit a personal trainer who would yell at me and push me to extremes that were extremely reminiscent of times past. It is a small training group, 3 of us to be exact. I'm the only female. I told the guy that I'd rather be the worst in the small group, instead of the best. Sure, I had a lot of anxiety, but I knew it would be worth it. There were no whistles, but there were lots of words of encouragement and high fives. He pushed me hard. I pushed myself, all the while thinking, "I must be out of my damn mind!" It took me back to those glory days, days that I hated, but looking back is now bittersweet. I've made my peace with all of that, and so I hit the track and the gym hard, nostalgic for those tweet, tweet, tweets echoing off the gym walls. When I walked into the small gym, the familiar dirty sweat smell enveloped my senses and to me, that's the smell of work! I'm sore, but excited. I told myself I would commit to a month and we'll see what happens. Financially, I'm not sure if I can make it work out, but I'm going to do my darnest to keep up with it. Because quite frankly, I like how positive I feel. I like that energized feeling and I LOVE working out again. It makes me feel great!

So great in fact, that the next night, tonight, we had Sias Track Night (immediately after yoga). Here I am getting a warm-up lap in. Yep, I'm pushing that jogging stroller.

Mari was ready to run. She does this thing where she lays down to prepare for her lap around the track. (Yes, that's 400M) On your mark...
Get set....
Go!!! This is the end of the lap. See how her arms are out and she's slightly leaning forward for the finish?? That's my girl!
I'm so proud of her and I hope she enjoys physical fitness as much as Don and I.
Whew, all that running calls for a water break!
Here's my nice dirty-sweaty family. Cheers to health!
And cheers to a better quality of life. See my gut in the above picture, that's all that's leftover from Mari. I've lost all of the "weight" but now that flab needs to firm up. I'll be about 2% sad to see it go since it did provide help in making my baby, but I want to be a good example of health for her. I don't want to take it for granted.

I'm extremely appreciative of having that foundation set for me early on by my own parents. While my mom may be in a wheelchair, boy you should see her fly in it! On days where she's feeling up for it, she'll zoom past you in her walker! And daddy too, he's a walking machine, especially around the expansive Tech campus. :) Well, and sister too! She has RA and is doing triathlons and half marathons. She says the movement helps to keep the RA at bay.

Now go on out there and get some fresh air and take advantage of your health! (and have a shot of tequila, as my grandfather would say...a tequila a day keeps the heart strong...ha ha! I think he just celebrated his 82nd birthday, so he knows a thing or two about longevity.).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!

Today was a lazy day. Mari was kind enough to let us sleep in until 9:30!!! Yes, she'd gotten up early for a bottle, but passed right out immediately afterwards. We went over to Whole Foods to pick up some steaks to grill. Primo, Prima, Jorge, & Hayley came over to enjoy the cookout. (sorry, I didn't get pics of the food!) We had dry aged ribeyes, fideo with green chile, homemade Mexican corn (yes, Danika, it was AMAZING!!), grilled squash, zucchini, onions, & tomatoes, fresh banana bread, and homemade cherry pie from scratch with fresh cherries. OMG...delicious!!!!

While Don & Primo were grilling it up, I took out Mari's flower sprinkler for her to play with. We hadn't used it yet, so I figured, 'eh why not. It would've been a good idea to change her into a swim diaper and maybe her swim suit too, but I was in the moment! Here is her initial reaction to the water.
But, she built up some courage to try for some more. Then, her moods went from really happy to really sour.
It was such a warm day that I'm sure the water felt really good, but the occasional breeze made her cold.
After the play, we wrapped her in our blanket-towel and headed inside.
Sometimes, parenthood can be wrapped up in randomness. For example, I can't seem to keep track of her pajama tops and bottoms. Tonight, she wore her skull and crossbone top with her pink watermelon slices bottoms, and you know what, they kinda went together!

For Father's Day, we surprised Don with a Emotibommb (shower bomb): Walk in the Woods. It was something simple, but hopefully, will remind him of the woods. We haven't gone camping in a long while and I know he's a huge fan of it. This year, he was supposed to go up to Canada for an extended primitive camping, hiking, fishing, canoeing trip. Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to lack of interest. I was sincerely sorry that he was unable to make it, so while this is a poor substitute, my intentions are good.

How did you spend your Father's Day?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Girls

Don left for Detroit the day after my birthday. My folks came to town to help me with Mari. It was a whirlwind few days and it just kinda passed in a blur, let me tell you. I probably had about 12 hours of sleep for the three nights, but I didn't mind. I spent one late night chatting it up with my aunt, reminiscing about the NYC marathon, my wedding, and just life in general. I love talking with her! Another night, I was up late writing out letters to a very dear friend of mine. Her birthday request was not gifts, but our words. She was going to open our letters throughout the year. We could write our favorite memories, words of advice, or just whatever was on our minds. We had brunch together as a group. I hate being late, but Mari had a Sing, Say, & Play class that we couldn't miss. In my rush, I didn't notice when Mari tossed her frog wubbanub and I was really sad about that. I was a little flustered and was doing my best to project my attention on the birthday girl and the other girls around me. Mari was hungry, I was thirsty, and after we were taken care of and things were settled, all was better. (Although, I'm still going to have to buy another paci, even though we'll be weaning her from it in a couple of months.)

Here we are singing to the birthday girl. Sorry for the poor quality, Kona Grill is VERY dark.Afterwards, I spent a long time in search of her rana (frog in Spanish) and as a result, I had some retail therapy. I splurged on a couple of new tops, a pair of jeans (on sale, woohoo!!), and a couple of pairs of shoes for Mari. We also picked up some happies from Lush. Ada then told me that she was going to the Roughriders game (minor league baseball in Frisco) and would we want to go. SUUUUURE! I'm never one to pass up baseball!

She warned me that they wouldn't be there at the beginning of the game. I desperately needed a nap, so that was fine by me. We met up and it was perfect. While it was still warm out, it wasn't unbearable. Here she is with more of my favorite girls! Aren't they gorgeous?
Since I hadn't washed Mari's baseball shirt, she wore her Wonder Woman shirt with a cute jean skirt and her green Crocs. Cutie-pie! Of course, you can't go to a ballgame and not wear your ballcap, right?
We were in the grass seats and she loved being right up against the fence. She even hollered out to the guys in the centerfield! She clapped along to the music and freely explored the grass area.
I was glad to have Don back from his trip and I'm totally grateful for my girlfriends! Make sure to take some time out for your girls this week! Having that girl time is very important. They help keep you grounded and centered, too!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rangers 5, Astros 4

Are you ready for some baseball?? For my birthday, I asked my Dad to go to the ballgame. I figured we could celebrate my birthday and Father's day. Not so long ago when they started the Lone Star Series (Texas Rangers v. Houston Astros), we'd gone every year. Once, we even made a day trip to Houston for it! Initially, the intention was a 4 ticket small party. Well, it blossomed into 18 family members, plus a couple of friends of the family. Let me tell you, not only did the nostalgia from games past set in, but this was one of my very best memories at a ballgame. The only thing that would've made it more perfect is if they would've had a full blown fireworks show. Lucky for me, we witnessed two bombs to centerfield and the explosions afterwards sufficed (for those of you who don't know, they fire off fireworks after a homerun by our Rangers).

Here's the view from our seats. Not only did we get a fabulous reusable Texas Rangers bag, but it was dollar hot dog night! Woohoo!!
It was HOT that day, but our seats were in the shade. Here's Brother, Daddy, and Mari.
She was sitting in my favorite seat (#13) cheering on the boys. She's wearing a Hamilton shirt, but I think he's on the DL right now. BTW, Mari tore up her hot dog. Actually, the ate the equivalent of 1.5 hot dogs.
And as a surprise, Daddy sprung for the birthday package. I'd always wanted to officially celebrate my special day at the ballpark. Here's my name in LED lights. Sister's birthday is 2 weeks after mine, so her name was up there too! We also got a nifty swag bag filled with all sorts of Rangers goodies, which included an awesome statue of Nolan Ryan!
And here I am wearing Mari at the Ballpark from the view where the rest of our family sat. Again, thank you Deidre for the tickets. It truly was special to me to have my family there! As I type this, I'm getting tears in my eyes thinking about it. Family is the most important thing, very precious that too often we take for granted. For my mom to have two of her siblings there with us, and my cousins too...well, let's just say it was really, really awesome!
To top of it off, the Rangers pulled it out in the 10th inning and won!

And for you football fans (or those of you just curious to see the new Cowboys stadium), here is Jerry's World:
Pretty freakin' amazing!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Wow, my birthday was just as amazing as I wanted it to be.

I went to work that morning in a happy mood. I'd done my hair and it was going to be a fabulous day! Don, Mari, Sister & her kids, Primo, and Prima came over for lunch and ate with me. Instead of cake, I requested cantaloupe with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. They brought me LITE since it is weigh in week. Man, it was YUMMY!!

That evening, my friends came over and we had a BYOB party: bring your own burrito! Earlier in the afternoon, we took Mari to get caught up on her vaccines. Since we recently switched doctors, we had a bit of catching up to do according to the records. Instead of filling her little body with all of the shots, the doc recommended we just do one at a time for the next few months until we're where we need to be. She was feeling a little off, so we opted to skip her swim lessons. As it was, I was worn out! I'd only gotten about 4 hours of sleep from being so anxious about my official day. (My folks called at 6:18AM to sing to me happy birthday at my birth time.) Anyway, I yanked my hair back and put on some comfy clothes. When I got home, I cranked out another couple of hours of work before heading on over to Chipotle for dinner.

By the time we were home, several people had already gathered. Brother'd come up from Austin and had swung by my sister's place to get her kiddos. She skipped her swim class to be there for my birthday and I felt so loved that not only was I surrounded by friends, but my siblings were there too!

Like I said, this week is weigh in week at work and I was going to completely skip out on dessert. Jenna had given me a red velvet cupcake from Sprinkles, which I was determined to freeze until Friday night. We happily munched our Chipotle & Jason's Deli while watching Sweet Home Alabama. Primo brought over a DELICIOUS wine...Paul Hobbs Cab. MMMMmmm...it was incredible!!

Mari decided to drape a festive lei in honor of my birthday. I'd put on her new Superman t-shirt since it is super, super soft and she was a SUPER baby to power through her shot!
Here is everyone singing to me. I was grinning from ear to ear. At this point, I still didn't have a cupcake in front of me. They just sang to me before I opened gifts.

I was given a lot of fabulous loot! Here I am with my baby girl again.
After everyone had gone home, I took a tequila shot and decided that it was my birthday and it would be a crying shame if I didn't eat cake on my special day. Who was I kidding, right? There are people who don't even get cake and here I was willingly turning it away. The tequila reasoning took over and they sang to me again. Plus, I HAD to get my birthday wish, right? Here is Guapo singing to me too!
Mmm...tequila and Sprinkles. Happy birthday to me! It'd been a long day, but well worth it! Cheers!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ft. Worth Zoo

Mari had such a wonderful time at the zoo! Yes, it was hot and we were tired after a really long weekend, but nothing like strolling through the park with those that you love. Plus, the occasional breeze was nice too!

We lifted Mari to see the elephants and she yelled out "Ba-Po!" Then she pointed at the elephant. While they are both animals, the elephants are not Guapo. They are actually quite a bit larger than he is, ha ha! But that reminded me of when I was a wee one and I called all animals cows, until one day, my dad pointed to a horse saying, "cow" when I shook my head and bluntly replied, "No, Daddy, that's a horse!" Right, right. Soon enough, she'll know to say elephant and not Ba-po. Ahh...she was mesmerized by the penguins and fish, too!

It was so warm, I had a scoop of Blue Bell homemade vanilla with peaches. I shared with Mari and her initial reaction was hilarious, but she came around and really enjoyed it! Oh, and speaking of food, I have to give kudos to the gal who made our supreme nachos. They were delicious and plentiful: enough to fill 3 adults and a baby! Delish! If you go to the zoo, pack a picnic. We did, but we wanted something with a little more crunch. Oh, and take plenty of water if you go in the summer!

Enjoy the pics below:




June 14:
Indulgence - Ice cream, nachos, and a yummy Tex Mex dinner
Philanthropy - happies for the nephews
Health - Walking around the zoo for 3+ hours in the Texas heat, whew!

Ft. Worth Zoo Preview

We went to the Ft. Worth zoo. I have so much to write, but this photo sums up our day. I snapped this with my camera phone on the way home. She was worn out from the long day.

Friday, June 12, 2009

6 Flags & 183

Our family from Tennessee came to town for a visit for the weekend. On their agenda was 6 Flags and the Ft. Worth zoo. I took a half day at work and we met up with them at 6 Flags. Over the years, 6 Flags has changed ever so slightly, and every time I return, it loses a little bit more of that luster I remember it having 20 years ago (wow, 20 years...really?). From when I was 11 until 14 I had a season pass to fun in the sun for all summer long. My mom would drop off Anita and I at the park, where we would roam around for hours and hours. Through the years, we'd spend more time getting ready to go to the park and less time actually riding the rides. This was before cellphones, so we were fearful of separating from the day because they didn't have a central paging area. Always, though, we'd plan to meet at the carousel 10 minutes before our parents said they would pick us up, in the event we would get lost.

Friday, there were 9 of us, including Mari. It wasn't tough to meet up with the family, we just had to make a quick phone call. It was hot. No, really, it was scorching!! It was at 100 degrees and there wasn't nearly enough shade or misters to make you comfortable. Don and I both swore we each guzzled down more than a gallon of water. Little Mari drank plenty as well! Because she's too little to go on any water slides, I was grateful to see they had a little water park by Mr. Freeze and Batman. She had a ball there. I was mad at myself for not checking to see if my little red camera was charged. I did have my cell phone, so I grabbed the two shots you see in this post. First off, Mari in the Texas chair. I have a similar picture when I visited Universal Studios. I need to find that photo and scan it in. A little before I took this, I rode the stomping boots with Mari. This was her first ride that probably should go for kids who are at least 3. She was fine with it. Not scared at all, more frustrated when the ride was over. I was concerned that the seat was too hot (since there wasn't enough shade to cover the plastic seats), so I sat her on one of her diapers. I prayed that the bumpiness of the ride wouldn't jostle it loose. Luckily, she was sweating so much, the diaper pretty much stuck to her skin, so there was no way it was going to be loose.
Afterwards, Don and I had a ball riding the old rides. First up for us was Titan. As the roller coaster click-click-clicked higher up in the air, Don and I looked at each other very anxiously. This was the first coaster we'd ridden since becoming parents and all of a sudden we had a new fear: orphaning our child due to stupidity. My heart pounded louder and louder. Each beat booming as the coaster waned at the top. Pause, pause, then roaring hammer of propulsion downward!!! There's that feeling I wanted and I was reminded why we decided to throw caution to the wind and ride the ride. What a ride it was! I wanted more.

We shot over to Superman (which I yelled and hollered and loved feeling of release from all of my frustration!) and flew. Don easing me into the ride, reminding me that it is just like how Neo does his jump/flying in The Matrix (which I dream of doing often, random, huh?). I'm such a weenie on the ride, hollering and such, but I'm equally addicted to the rides. I am a verifiable thrill seeker and I'm unabashedly unafraid of yelling out blood curdling screams, which are actually sparks of delight. Seriously, try it!

Then, we saved the best for last: Mr. Freeze. I remembered we were there in 1998 when it made its debut. We stood in line for over an hour to experience the awesomeness that is Mr. Freeze (this time we walked right up, waited 1 interval and were to the front). I was a bit melancholy walking up to it. This ride was special. It was the epitome of coasters for me because it went super fast, twisted and turned, went really high up in the air, falling and giving that stomach-is-going-to-jump-out-of-my-mouth feeling, and then it does it all over again, but in reverse! I started riding roller coasters when I was 7. Judge Roy Scream was my first. When I turned 9, I rode the Shockwave (which is now the Rattler, I think) with the double loop. That same year, I braved The Texas Cliffhanger (first ever freefall ride, but was removed in 2007) and took everything in me to not wet myself. I was so scared at that time, that I didn't even scream. Anyway, when Mr. Freeze first opened, I rode it with Daddy, like I did most of the other coasters. (I rode the spinning rides with Mom and those scared me even worse, giving me a headache, and there was Mom, always hugging me and singing to me until the ride came to an end.) Anyway, Dad would raise his hands and all of that. I would be shaking in my seat, anxiety-ridden. He was well prepared to be deaf after the ride, from all of my screaming. But it was always a good time.

This time, though, I had my beloved near me. It was quite different to get reassurance instead of teasing and taunting. It was that egging on that would push me over the edge, building up the anticipation of the ride even more. After the ride, we'd give a play-by-play recap of who was the biggest fraidy cat and all of us finally agreeing that this drop was better than that turn and so on. I was with my in-law boys and when I went to comment about the ride and give a recap, they were already focused on the next thing. I missed my father. The ride was that much better because of him. I'll have to make it point to go on a roller coaster with Daddy again and soon!

Wouldn't you know it, with modern technology and all of the advancements we've made, you can still lose a person (or group of people) when you separate if you don't remember to have a cellphone! For 45 minutes we waited and waited at the point where we thought we were going to meet up. Don and I eventually gave in and called the other half of the group who'd broken out in search of them. We had to get home. Mari was fussing and needed sleep as much as I needed it.

Long after we'd polished off our pink thing (and after I snapped this killer photo of Mari with superheroes!), which by the way I discovered was made by Blue Bell, we headed home.
I was on auto-pilot when we walked to the car. I was passed out before we even pulled out of the parking lot. Half an hour later, I was horrified to discover we were mostly still in Arlington. All of 183 had been completely shut down. I don't know why, but we were totally stopped. When I awoke, Mari awoke, and so commenced the half hour of horrifying toddler screaming. I couldn't blame her, but being the end of the day, we were all hot, sweaty, hungry, and tired, we were all feeling the same, just not expressing our frustration quite like her. After a few slick moves, we were able to maneuver off the highway and discover some side streets to get to our destination. We actually drove over the highway and noticed the highway had been shut. Not sure what happened, but there were about 4 or 5 firetrucks and around a dozen police cars. C-R-A-Z-Y!

June 12:
Indulgence - Pink Thing & Paneer Tikka Masala
Philanthropy - Giving my nephew the money I found
Health - Running 4.5 miles in the early morning and walking around all day at 6 Flags

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Our Art Project

Pajama Mama has some really exciting summer art projects. We were very eager to do one, so here is our version of the bird art. We enjoyed making our very own art. While Mari can't really do much painting without any help, it was fun putting this together.

We don't have her art table prepared, but I made do with what we had. First, I used an old paper bag from Whole Foods. I covered her in one of my old button down shirts (worn backwards, of course!) and handed her the brushes.

After I let it dry, I put it in this nifty frame that already had a matte built in. Here's the finished product. I will have to let you know what it looks like when I hang it in her nursery. Which by the way, we're re-doing and I'm SOOOOOO excited to show it to you all!
Happy Day to you!

Quick Don, Come Here & Look!

"It's bending! OMG!! Do something!!"

Yes, that's what I seriously yelled when I saw this tree split. Last night, we took Mari Jul to swim lessons. I think we were all pretty exhausted, but we all loaded up anyway and headed out to the aquatic center. Mari stared hesitantly at the water and went from calm, melancholy baby to pissed-off-why-on-Earth-are-you-torturing-me-like-this-Mommy baby. *sigh* Yeah, the water was cooler than I would've liked, so I know she really hated it. I couldn't warm her fast enough. I'm certain Mari knows how to pray, because no sooner were we in the water than we heard the loud sirens.

We filed out of the pool and sought shelter by the showers, which were totally enclosed in thick cinder blocks. It was quiet and became even more eerie when all of the kids started singing to calm their fears. We had no cell phone to call our friends and family to let them know we were ok. Less than 10 minutes later they called us out and cancelled class. They assured us that we had 20 minutes before the storm would hit. All of the parents filed out towards their mini vans, SUVs, and compact cars. We headed home while the dark gray clouds crept towards us, taunting us with a violent dance.

Before we got home, I told Don that I needed to run over to Michaels to get something right quick. He shot me an are you kidding me look and firmly said, "No." Now Don is never one to forbid me from doing anything. He's usually laid back about my crazy ideas, but when he does voice an opinion, I tend to listen to it, even if I don't agree. I shrugged it off, muttering something to myself when he pointed to the sky. There were 20 shades of gray staring right at me and all of a sudden I thought the world was going to be swallowed by a sea of black and white with all sorts of shades of gray. Our freshly mowed lawn POPPED cheery green and our trees in the front yard defiantly stood firm, aware of the battle to come. I hurried inside, grabbed some water to put in our safe room aka hall bathroom. I started lighting candles and grabbed my phone. I had missed calls and texts from San Diego, California to Rochester, NY and every place in between. (Thanks friends & family for being concerned, because clearly I was unaware!)

My MIL had the news on and I saw that giant splotch of red moving across the screen. WOWZERS! Meanwhile, Don and MIL were pulling things in from the outside and working away. I stood there, mouth agape, dialing my sister. She was out of power. I told her to keep me posted. Called up Primo. They were without power too. And then I heard it. The faint whhhiiiirrrrrrrrrr. I threw a look to my MIL and asked, was that the siren? No, I don't think so. So I ran to our dining room to look out of the window. (Yes, in hindsight, it probably wasn't the smartest idea I've had.) I saw a tiny gaggle of teenage boys wearing oversized jerseys doing their very best to stay upright and jog away. Leaves blew by, then tiny branches, I seriously expected to see a llama from the nearby farm to fly by, then I heard the loud WHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRRR and I looked up at our trees. Stay put guys, c'mon, you can do it! And did they. They just kept pushing back, almost like they were having fun dancing with the 70+ mph winds. Across the street, though, was a different story. My neighbors tree was flapping back and forth. Both of them, actually. That's when I yelled, "Don! Quick, come here and look. The tree (pointing), the tree, it's bending! OMG...Do Something!" *Like really?? I'm a rational person, but clearly I wasn't thinking straight.* Don is quite amazing at many things. Fixing things and preventing things from breaking are among his strengths. Speaking of strength, he's pretty strong too. BUT he is not capable of stopping a tree from toppling over or splitting in half. At that very moment, though, I believed he could. I shot him a look of desperation and dialed the neighbor. No answer. I called the house line and they answered. I told them of the tree and she told me they were in their safe place. The concern in her voice wondered why I was in the window watching, when a loud CRACK thwacked above us and I saw two neon dazzling arcs electrically painting the street. The energy zapped and all was dark except the incandescent glow from the living area. Mari screamed because her three adults were irresponsibly staring through the windows like we were watching a full feature film. Our baby, alone in the room, scared. I hollered at her to reassure her. Don reached her first and she reached out for me. I enveloped her in my arms and buried the rest of her in kisses. It's ok, everything is ok.

I asked Don to pour me a glass of wine because that was certainly enough excitement for the evening. We had reports from our other neighbors and friends in the area of their trees that split, trees falling on their houses, trees falling on cars, fences blowing down, and all sorts of random debris strewn across the lawn. Broken skylights causing flooding houses, roofs destroyed, shingles all about, and some of the cars suffering damages from the wind and flying tree bits. Everyone was ok. No one was injured and that's what mattered most.

whoa...


Instead of being glued to the weather, we opted to watch Gran Torino with a couple of glasses of vino in hand.

MOVIE REVIEW: Gran Torino
Wow! No really, wow. Clint Eastwood is a badass. Always has been and that's just the way it is. But this movie even further cemented his acting chops. Some of the other secondary characters, not so much. But him, he was fabulous. Yes, at times the movie was a bit slow. But I really enjoyed it. I'd never heard of the Hmong community (shows how sheltered I am). It was a great tale, very well written, and even better executed. There were amazing dialog points, the cinematography was wonderful and I swear I could smell that food they were eating and was hungry for it! It was definitely worth the rental. And when it goes on sale at Blockbuster, I'm definitely buying it on their 3-fer deal.

That's all. I hope you all are safe and have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

whew!

So we had a whirlwind of fun, right? The birthday month continues and I haven't been listing all of the fun goodies I've been experiencing/doing. I try to remember everything

June 3:
Indulgence - Starbucks Caramel Macchiato Nonfat Iced
Philanthropy - I tried to buy my friend's drink for them, instead, I gave the money to the SBUX baristas.
Health - I did a one hour personal training session with fit214.com. I wish I could find the time to do this 3X a week and make an extra couple of hundred a month to pay for it.

June 4:
Indulgence - Chik-fil-A Diet Lemonade (yum!)
Philanthropy - I didn't give anything today, instead, I was very complimentary of the guy who helped me out at the Sprint store.
Health - Packing while carrying a 20lb baby, then later loading up the car. Ok, not really exercise, but I was sweating!

June 5:
Indulgence - Woohoo! Nearly 5lbs lost, so I ate a taco salad WITH guac.
Philanthropy - I refrained from massive road rage instigated by this woman who cut me off, then followed up with a lovely middle finger gesture.
Health - A couple of miles walking around Austin

June 6:
Indulgence - Thai Food
Philanthropy - Brought food and drinks to share with friends and new friends we met
Health - 2.5 mile jog and a couple of miles swimming and tugging a group of 30 (with coolers) in the river

June 7:
Indulgence - Taco Cabana and a Boston Creme Cake & The Hangover Movie
Philanthropy - Photo session for friends and a surprise cheesecake for a special guy
Health - Playing in the fountains and running through them, loading and unloading our car from the weekend

June 8:
Indulgence - Yummy True North Nut mix
Philanthropy - nothing, I was still licking my wounds from the hotel experience...I need to work on that
Health - Swimming with Mari followed by a 2 mile run

June 9:
Indulgence - Texas Toothpick (vodka & iced tea)
Philanthropy - Talked extensively with a friend in need
Health - 2.5 mile interval running training

June 10:
Indulgence - Dinner & a movie (Gran Torino)
Philanthropy - Setting up a couple of site visits for a charity that I'm involved with
Health - strength training & swimming with Mari

*BTW, my MIL made that dress for Mari. I know it'll still fit her for football season. I'm so excited. I hope we can find some K-State fabric too!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Complaint Letter

Details from this past weekend to follow shortly. I will try my best to not mention the hotel experience, instead focusing solely on the fun highlights.

I've sent a complaint letter to corporate headquarters at Marriott because of the experience. If you would like a copy of the letter, feel free to drop me a note and I will happily forward it on. I just don't want to hash it all out here.

Needless to say, the Residence Inn in Downtown Austin sucks! Run fast away from that property. If you're gonna spend that money, spend it elsewhere. I promise you'll find what you're looking for just as close in the nearby Radisson, Hilton, or even Embassy.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

the weekend

Here's a little background information:

I thought long and hard about how I wanted to spend my 32nd birthday. With the way the calendar sits this year, it would be tough to coordinate everyone's schedule near the actual day. Lucky for me, I celebrate the entire month, so the first weekend would be a sufficient way to get the party started. Plans were to go to Austin, float the river, hang around on 6th street, and come back.

I must also say how SURPRISED and grateful I was to see so many, many people come out to celebrate. New friends, old friends, and family...well, we are all family in the end, but wow, it was a wonderful time.

Ok, so the weekend begins on Thursday night. Don and I had to run by the Sprint store so they could take a look at the camera on my phone. It was in a constant loop, but they fixed it. YAAAY! On our way home, we stopped my one of my besties' new home. They'd just closed on it a couple of days before and we were honored to be there to share in their joy. We sipped on champagne while our two little ones ran all around the house exploring to and fro. It was good stuff.

By the time we made it home, Don and I went into SUPER packing mode! Throwing (and fitting) all of our clothes in one suitcase (including Mari's)! We took out the ice chest and all other sorts of sundries that we'd need for the trip. We cleaned out Lucky and loaded up everything but the valuable items. We went to bed a bit after midnight and had to get up early since I was taking the train in to work. It didn't make sense for me to drive in, when Don could swing by on his way out to get me.

We got up and made it to the train station on time. I rode in and was absurdly tired. I downed two cups of highly caffeinated green tea and before I knew it, I was on fire! Don was supposed to pick me up at noon, but things were such that we didn't get on the road until 2. Mari had a smooth trip down there and I was pleasantly surprised by the traffic, thinking it would be significantly worse! Austin proudly welcomed us with warm (no it was hot outside!) arms. The sun kissed us and the city let us know that it missed us. I missed it too.

***HORRIBLE HOTEL EXPERIENCE OMITTED HERE**

We walked to the Capitol to show MIL the sights. I was surprised that Don hadn't ever visited the inside. I got some lovely shots that I'll add later. I even showed them the not-so-secret secret spot in the middle under the dome. To stand on the star, look up, and whisper anything. It's an acoustic treat! Mari was extra curious, running all around the steps, the insides, and even the bird baths on the lawn. It was a wonderful start to the weekend.

Walking back, we passed Little City where My Michael and I celebrated one of his birthdays. Good times. I quickly remembered how fondly I thought of Austin and how many wonderful, wonderful memories I'd had there. Yes, there's lots of times where it was a little too much fun, but I'm glad that this relaxing tarriance exists a short drive from home. Every street downtown is familiar and even feels a little like home. We headed back to the room since everyone was meeting up again.

***HORRIBLE HOTEL EXPERIENCE OMITTED HERE**

Then, after a bit, we went to HEB to pick up some last minute essentials for our stay. This HEB was very disorganized and in such a horrible disarray, it took longer than expected to get everything we needed. Needless to say, I was pretty exhausted at the end of it, but our night wasn't over. After we dropped off the supplies, Don and I headed South to meet up with my cousin so my Mom could stay with us. We sipped on our Mexican Cokes and laughed off any irritability that we'd had steaming. How blessed were we that we had so very many people insisting on sharing this weekend? *bliss*

We met up with Mom who'd brought us some delicious pan dulce from Mi Tierra restaurant in San Antonio. YUMMY! This was the perfect complement to our Mexican Cokes. We pulled into the hotel at 1:30AM and there were all sorts of shenanigans running amok, but it's downtown Austin, so it should be expected. Plus, I didn't see any hotel staff doing or saying anything about it.

Mari awoke at her typical 6:30AM time, insisting on guzzling a full bottle. Afterwards, she immediately passed right out and we were able to sleep another hour before getting up to go for a 2 mile run. Me, Don, Mikey, and my sister ran alongside the Colorado river near downtown
(I think it is formally known as Lady Bird Lake). Nothing like an early morning run to start the day and wake the body. Despite the lack of sleep, I was ready for the long haul! The fact that I had both Sister and Brother with me and Mom too...well, it was unbelievable! Everyone was ready when we returned and we started to prep for our trip.

***HORRIBLE HOTEL EXPERIENCE OMITTED HERE**

We arrived to River Sports Tubes in what seemed like no time at all. We checked in and let me tell you...those guys are SUPER friendly and accommodating. We had a party of 30 and got us in and on the river in no time. We were all grouped together and the Guadalupe's cool water felt refreshing on my hot body. They predicted 100 degree weather and I'm certain it threatened to break that, actually. Anyway, the river was awesome! Yes, we had a beer shortage, several of us were pretty scraped up from the rapids, but all in all it was good. Our only casualties included: a pair of shorts, about 25 jello shots, and 1 busted tube. Not too bad. Those sorts of things are to be expected, and we're glad it wasn't worse. Brother originally thought he lost his camera, but he discovered it. Ada also thought she lost her shorts, but Bedore was able to recover them. I was able to save about 12 of the shots while I chased them down the river, fishing them out quickly like I was involved in a mobile egg hunt. The river was low, but not so low that we had to pull ourselves along. If we wanted the trip to last 6 hours, we could've glided along down, but some of us got out and would tow the group. Jason happily provided us with plenty of singing. There was even a Metallica rendition while we floated down. Hilarious! Oh, and then everyone busted out the Happy Birthday song for me and I felt the love. It was a very, very, very good day!

The Jello shots were first rate. We even traded a few for a couple of beers since we'd totally forgotten 2-24 packs at the hotel! The cherry bombs sufficed (a bottle of drained maraschino cherries, saturated in a coconut rum bath all night to infuse the rum into the sweet goodness of the cherries!) as well as our trashcan punch. Which, by the way Don, way to go! It was like having a fruity cocktail in Mexico! We nibbled on sandwiches, celery & carrot sticks, chips, jerky, and apples. And we easily went through nearly two cases of water, too. I can't wait to see the pics.

At the end, we headed back to the hotel to rest up for the evening. We didn't do much resting and after we were cleaned up, went to eat at Thai Palace in downtown, which made a mean Tom Kha Gai soup. Deliciousness!

***HORRIBLE HOTEL EXPERIENCE OMITTED HERE**
***HORRIBLE HOTEL EXPERIENCE OMITTED HERE**
***HORRIBLE HOTEL EXPERIENCE OMITTED HERE**
***HORRIBLE HOTEL EXPERIENCE OMITTED HERE**

And then we were on 6th Street. Walking up and down, when we went up to Maggie Mays. We were there two years ago on the roof and I figured, this would be a great place to relax. The live music was good and then I discovered the little air conditioned room tucked to the side. There was a DJ spinning beats, plenty of space, lots of air conditioning, and a large television screen showing baseball! This is where I parked myself for the next few hours. Dancing, drinking, dancing, dancing, dancing, and laughing, enjoying the night like I hadn't in quite some time. It was like a wonderful technicolor dream with plenty of feel-goods similar to how I feel after eating a red lolli! Everyone who floated the river was out, plus some of my other friends that live there joined in too. CK showed up too, making the trip to just come out for the party!

We went in search of the legendary tacos off of 6th. We made our way to where it was normally located, but it was a different stand. The tacos were ok, but not like they've been before. Regardless, we happily chowed down when the liquid hit me and I realized that I probably wouldn't make it back to my hotel room. Danika and I wandered the streets in search of a bathroom, and all of the places turned us away. This one shady bar back told us he knew of a place, but we had to keep quiet. He was leading us to a rather dark and undesirable place. Danika and I immediately turned and I told her that I was certain I was going to wet my pants, but I didn't care because I was NOT going down that dark staircase. Lucky for us, we ran into another small group of three people who had the same issue. They constructed a makeshift private space for us to relieve the discomfort. I happily thanked them, wishing I could extend some sort of kindness for sharing the spot and keeping watch. We all exchanged high fives and sang an impromptu song together about the experience. Funny.

We made our way back to the hotel. Right when I was going to sleep, I glanced over my shoulder and it said 3:03AM. YIKES! I was dangerously close to being awake for nearly 24 hours. A couple of hours later, Mari was up wanting a bottle. Don gave it to her and after eating, she passed out again, in my arms. At 8:30, I rolled over and got up. The sunburn on my upper thigh and shoulders was starting to sting a bit making sleeping a little uncomfortable. It was at this time, that I got dressed, got Mari prepped, and we all headed downstairs for breakfast.

We spent the morning talking about every event, including the horrible hotel experience. That's the best part of going out like that...rehashing the events and laughing hysterically about it! We loaded up and drove on out to Waco to stop for a bite to eat. We all chowed down at Taco Cabana, sipping on our Sonic drinks. We then hit the asphalt for the rest of the trip home.

When we made it home, we unloaded everything and sat for just a little bit. Don and I ran out to get some cakes: a cheesecake for Steve-o and a cherry Boston Creme for me! We sang happy birthday, blew out candles, ate some cake, then headed on over to the fountains near the Eisemann Center in Richardson. We had some water fun, before returning home in time to go see The Hangover.

MOVIE REVIEW - THE HANGOVER
OMG...this movie was hysterical. No really, I nearly choked several times, I was bent over gasping for air I was laughing so hard. I cried and cried from laughing. My abs were sore the next day from laughing. I think I pulled a muscle near my neck from all of the strain of laughing. I loved it!

That movie was the cherry on top to a wonderful weekend! Then, when we returned home, everyone stayed up to play flip cup, while I crawled into bed, completely BEAT from the entire weekend. But I slept so soundly and so happily. Getting up on Monday was a struggle, but nothing that a little artificial go-juice couldn't cure.

Thanks everyone who came out to celebrate!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

God's Grace

This past weekend, I was starting to feel a little pity party because my actual birthday celebration would be without a few key players. Namely 2 of my best friends and some family. But wait, I must say that I'm very eager by my friends who are making the sacrifices to be there and have a good time, but it just didn't seem like it would be the same, you know.

I threw myself into supreme planning mode refusing to think about what would be missing, focusing solely on what was going to be there and how to make the biggest rockin' time of it! I'm armed with 2 handles of rum: dark and coconut. That should make enough jello shots to last most of the river. I started a list of items to buy. Then, finalized the plans for the trip. Needless to say, I was excited.

And then I got a phone call from my Mom. I talked it over a bit with my father and what do you know, prayers are answered. Mom will be joining me this weekend! Even though Daddy and my sister aren't going to be there, it'll feel good knowing she and Brother will be. Plus my godmother/cousin will be there too, along with her son, priMO! And I can't forget about sweet, sweet darling Danika who is flying in from California to celebrate with us. I felt the love indeed.

I said a prayer to God, giving thanks for his gifts, but asking for one other request that my whole family get together. That night, I spoke with Brother and he let me know he had a meeting in Irving on the 18th and would be coming down on the 17th and could he hang. BUTOFCOURSESILLY! I told him we were going to the ballgame and that I'd buy a ticket for him b/c my friend was already giving me 4 that were accounted for, but I didn't mind getting one for him to be there with us. I happily grinned at the thought. Then today, I talked with my friend letting her know about Brother and she offered me not just one other ticket, but enough for my uncle to bring his son who shares a birthday with me. I must pause here to get a little choked up. (many, many thanks Deidre!)

But you have to understand, summers were spent at ball fields. Some families took vacations to the beach or went camping. We would make our summer sojourn to baseball games. Many birthdays when I was growing up were spent at ballparks with my family in tow. This included this very uncle I speak of and his sons. I don't remember the last time we all went to a game together, but this...well, this is definitely a birthday wish come true! I'll have (almost) all of my family together. [before I knew that I wanted any of this and before we made the original plans to go to the ballgame, I bought a ticket to send Don off on a boys weekend to Detroit to visit our buddy Will] Regardless, this is turning out to be a most amazing birthday month!

Cheers to surprises and God's grace!

June 2:
Indulgence - Homemade Peach Cobbler
Philanthropy - A special happy on its way to my NYC gals
Health - Yoga, 15 minute bike ride, 12 minute run, and lifting

Monday, June 1, 2009

Birthday Month Goodies

This year I wanted to track all of the happies from my birthday month. This year feels different, fo' sho, but in addition to happies, I'm going to be spreading the love, as well as indulging. And I'm going to challenge myself to do some type of physical activity for at least half an hour every day. Here we go:

June 1 - Nighttiming by Coconut Records (this CD is about as random as I am and I love it. It pretty much satisfies my every mood.) I ♥ Jason Schwartzman! Congrats to he and his new fiance.
To give back, I filled a large shopping bag (one of those BIG Kohl's sized bags) full of gently used clothes to donate. I also volunteered at the Cystic Fibrosis Charity Golf Tournament today. As if cleaning for over an hour and wandering around a golf course for 5 hours wasn't enough exercise, I also ran 2 miles. Whew! Busy day.

The weekend

This past weekend was not unlike the normal. We spent a bit if time scurrying here and there, trying to pack in 30 hours into a 24 hour day. It passed so quickly that much of Saturday was a blur. I remember we went to some stores and went to a party and I had a cancelled photo session, but that was the extent of it...oh, save that quick trip to Home Depot to pick up 2 gallons of Raffia Cream Behr paint.

Sunday morning rolled around and Mari gleefully awoke us with her screams. I told myself to get up, go run those two miles and shower for church. I remember getting up, holding onto my child only to awake nearly 2 hours later, panic-laden because I'd missed church. I breathed a heavy sigh, called out to Don and he reminded me that I NEEDED the rest. I called our neighbor boy over to help us with the backyard patio facelift (he had some volunteer hours he had to get in for his NJHS). By 10 AM, we were prepping to paint, when my inquisitive brain hijacked my mouth, where I casually asked, "Why not replace that siding/facade/whatever that stuff is there?" And my arm raised, my finger pointed towards the wall, which promptly had Don take out his measuring tape and start measuring the wall. Within half an hour, we had a naked wall, exposing pink insulation. (and I must add that both Don and I nearly danced a jig when we learned that we didn't have a termite infestation like we'd speculated earlier!)

We headed to Home Depot yet again and $120 later, we had the supplies. At 2PM, we took a 1 hour lunch break. (yum, Mr. Jims!) Mari was up and at 'em at this point, and I started to do work on the inside, until she burst into so many tears that she could not longer contain herself within the confines of our home. I opened the door and she was immediately placated. Her only desire was the paint and to paint herself. (she was a good helper while resting in the mei tai as I painted the details on the wall) I took her inside, gave her a bath, and put her down for a nap. I had a couple of errands, so Don and MIL continued.

I returned and helped to finish up the other wall and add a second coat to the wall that needed it. I went back inside when Don had to make another trip to Home Depot for some more caulk. I helped tidy up our patio during that time. Upon his return, I headed inside to finish what I'd started earlier. Cleaned the kitchen, prepped the laundry, and ....Oh that's right, on Saturday, I hit up the Indian Market and made an Indian food feast: Lamb Biryani, Bianca Paneer, Samosas, Naan, and Coriander Chutney...Don had planned to eat leftovers. Everyone was relaxing after washing up when once again, my brain hijacked my mouth and voice making another request, "Let's go watch Up!" We caught the 10:05 show and it was beautiful. Visually, appealing, a great story, and overall enjoyable. Despite the fact that both Don and I had to wrestle a hyper-active toddler that would burst with anger because she was so tired (waaaay past her bedtime), we enjoyed it and Mari did too. Even the 20 minutes where she ran up and down the ramp...it was perfect because the musical score was so great, it was right in line with the "flying" we were doing!

When we left the theater, I smiled, squeezed my beloved's hand and he quickly started to sing Happy Birthmonth to You!

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