Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Goodbye, Old Friend

Today I say goodbye to an old friend. A friend who served me well and got me through good times and bad. She saw so many chapters of my life and helped shape who I am today. Since I was 17, she has given me an invaluable gift: Freedom.

Who is this friend, you may ask? A 2000 Toyota 4Runner SR5 in Stellar Blue Pearl with a gold package, which I lovingly refer to as The Runner. 

Here are a few photos of The Runner over the years....

Oklahoma snow during my Freshman year of College

Hanging out with my cousins, Donovan and Drew, Summer 2002

I did it! I graduated! Now to add an OU Alumni tag holder to The Runner!
The Runner has done a LOT of traveling. She's seen the Las Vegas Strip, the Colorado Rockies, Bourbon Street in New Orleans and everywhere in between. I sometimes wonder if she couldn't navigate I-35 on her own and I could just take a nap in the backseat....
One of many road trips. This pic was taken in Austin after driving down from Norman.

Winter weather: not The Runner's favorite, but she' performs well in it.

My inability to sit upright in my wedding dress meant I got the backseat to myself!
There's been some impostors over the years...

A purple "Surf" in Japan

Spotted in Baton Rouge before an LSU game. A very appropriate vehicle for an LSU fan.
(You know it's not mine because it doesn't have the silver tire flares!)

It's transported us to countless races. This is Sarah, Ellie and I before the Mission 10K, April 2011.

The Runner was broken into back in May of 2011. They stole my GPS and all my CDs. The joke was on them as half the CDs were one's I'd burned (no value) and the other half were from 2003 or earlier. 

In 2012 she sported an OU Texas plate! Oh, the irony!
So today, after over 12 years and 162,000 miles together, she'll be traded in for a new vehicle (more to come on that!). Who knows what will come of her. I do hope that she winds up with another adventurous girl so that The Runner can give her the same gift she gave me.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Color Me Rad 5K

I'm going to go ahead and say we've established a new tradition. I believe the perfect end to any challenging triathlon and marathon season is some sort of unique 5K. Last year it was the Warrior Dash where we hopped over obstacles like beat up cars and 20-foot walls and crawled through mudpools. It was a blast, but not really for which you train (at least we don't).

This years fun 5K presented itself in the form of the latest 5K fad: a color run. The Color Me Bad 5K was held this past Sunday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. In a color run, participants run a normal 5K, but at different points along the route there are teams of people with colored corn starch or sprayers filled with colored liquid and their sole purpose is to make you as colorful as they can!

We started out so clean and fresh:
The benefitting charity was the Ronald McDonald House, so we took our pic with Ronald!
The sunglasses were part of the swag we got with race registration. Although it wasn't sunny that morning, it would soon become clear why they were necessary...

After the race, we met up with Justin and Clarissa at Taco Garage for a post-race lunch. We made sure there was room on the patio since we didn't clean up first!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Giving Thanks 2012

This Thanksgiving, Mike and I decided that it would be best if we stayed in San Antonio. We let our parents know they were invited to join us for the holiday, but that we were unable to travel this year. Mike's mom and my mom RSVP'd for our celebration and we had a wonderful time!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Light the Way 2012

Man! I can't believe Valentine's Day is just around the corner!!

Wait, what's that?

It's not even Thanksgiving?

But just this past weekend I celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas and the 4th of July!

My friend Kristin graciously planned out a wonderful evening for us at the University of Incarnate Word's Light the Way ceremony. Each year around the holidays they decorate their campus with about a billion colored, twinkling holiday lights and it's become customary for us (as I'm sure it is for others) to drive through at least once each holiday season. The Light the Way ceremony includes musical performances from groups around town before they turn on the lights. The ceremony was held this past Saturday and a group of us grabbed some hot chocolate at Starbucks and made our way to UIW. We were relieved that it was actually somewhat "cold" for the festivities. (Walking through Christmas lights in shorts and a t-shirt just isn't the same)

We didn't grab seats on the bleachers, instead we just stood by the fence and socialized while sort of paying attention to the show.
Kristin, Rhonda, Ellie, Veronica and Clarissa (AKA "The Ladies")
Eric, Chris, Mike, Justin and Geoff (AKA "The Dudes")

The ceremony ended with what I thought would be a few fireworks, but really this display rivaled many 4th of July ceremonies (and we were super close to it)!

And of course, since it's San Antonio, a Mariachi Band led the crowd through the lights!

After walking through campus a bit, we headed to a wine bar for more laughs as well as some good wine and good food! What an excellent way to kick off the Holiday Season! :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Medal Magnets!

After finishing the San Antonio Rock n Roll half marathon and other races, many times I receive a finisher's medal. They're often very attractive and heavy! For a long time, I didn't know what to do with them, so I stuffed them in a drawer with the intent of displaying them eventually. (You know, when we have that 5-bedroom apartment in a high-rise in the city and we dedicate one room to nothing but race numbers and medals?)

Then, back in May of this year, Ellie and I were sitting on the lawn of the JW Marriott after a triathlon and admiring our cute hibiscus-shaped medals when Ellie mentioned she'd like to put a magnet on the back of her medal so she could display it on the refrigerator. I looked at her with wide eyes and exclaimed, "THAT'S A GREAT IDEA!! CAN I DO IT, TOO!?" Now, Ellie is not one to withhold the rights to particular craft ideas, so she laughed and said "of course!" For the next few weeks that's all I could think about. I already had the supplies since at one point I had wanted to make these marble magnets for my bridesmaids. (Sorry that didn't work out, ladies.)

One day, I found some time and laid out some newspaper and heated up the ol' hot glue gun. I carefully removed each of the ribbons from the medals and laid out each medal face-down. I then applied a dot of hot glue to a small magnet and placed it on the back of the medal. Like I said, these things are HEAVY, so on many I put two or three magnets. Well, I soon found out hot glue does not work. Luckily I had some super glue and that worked really well.

If you'd like to display your medals as magnets, you'll need:
1) Super Glue
2) Small Magnets
3) Medals with ribbons detached (or leave them on if you want!)

These items can be found at any craft or office supply store

To assemble:
  1. Place medals face down on newspaper or scratch paper to prevent mess.
  2. Dab a small amount of super glue on magnet
  3. Place magnet glue-side-down on the back of the medal
  4. Add two or three magnets depending on weight of medal
    Larger races tend to have larger medals! This one is from the Cowtown half marathon in Ft. Worth, TX
  5. Let set for several hours or overnight (check glue package)
  6. Once glue is dry, try sticking your new medal magnet on the fridge or other metal surface. If it won't stick or slides down, try adding another magnet or two.
  7. Admire your accomplishments! (Crafty and athletic alike!)
I just so happen to have a big medal board from IKEA on the wall in my office so my medals can watch me work!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

San Antonio Rock n Roll Half Marathon

We did it!! You've all heard about me raising money for Spina Bifida while training for the San Antonio Rock n Roll half marathon. Well, this past Sunday we finished the race! I personally raised $650 dollars and the team as a whole raised 


Mike and I rode our bikes to the convention center downtown to pick up our packets. There's a bike ride associated with the race, so a local bike store had a "bike valet" when we got there! So cool to just hand over your bike and get a ticket! Packet pickup went smoothly and we filled up on free samples at the expo.

It was warm that morning, which led to a warm day for a half marathon, but that didn't dampen our spirits. Mike's co-worker, Will, Mike, Ellie and I rode the shuttle from the AT&T center to the starting line. It was Will's 2nd half marathon and Ellie's first! (I believe this was my 4th.) 
Will, Mike, me and Ellie. We're ready to Rock n Roll!!
 The race went well and it was extra motivating to hear cool bands as we were running. It was a very crowded race - I heard there were 25,000 runners!! For me, the crowd never really thinned out. I finished in a respectable 2 hours and 16 minutes. That's actually my slowest half marathon, but I think given the heat and all the travel I had leading up to the race, that's not half bad!
Lookin' good for completing a half marathon that morning!
We were very grateful to have our own tent with chairs and cold water. It was great to socialize with the team and a few supporters who came out to cheer us on. 
The Spina Bifida Texas team!
Professional photos can be viewed here. (In case anyone wants an 8x10 glossy of me checking my watch...)

Thank you to everyone who contributed to my fundraiser! I'm extremely grateful and I'm excited to see what Spina Bifida Texas can do with these funds!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

October Foodie Pen Pal!

Last month I signed up for a cool new program: Foodie Pen Pal!! Here's how it works: You sign up before the 5th of the month, then you are assigned a recipient and a sender. You pack a box of $15 worth of "foodie" things (can be homemade or local flavors or whatever) and send it to your recipient (you connect with them to find out their preferences and/or dietary restrictions). The sender does the same thing for you!

I sent my recipient some Julio's seasoned corn chips, Native Texan salsa, Taste of Austin coffee, San Antonio Fiesta blend chili powder and habenero pralines!! She lives in Florida and she said that she shared many of the items with her family and they enjoyed all the Tex Mex flavors. She even ordered some of the pralines online!

The box I received was from a woman who blogs at Bake No Prisoners. It was delivered on my birthday, which made it that much more exciting! She did a great job decorating the box for Halloween.

Inside were lots of Halloween- and Fall-themed treats, some homemade, others store-bought.

The box included pumpkin granola bars, pumpkin seeds, Yogi tea (!), Halloween bark, and some cookies (along with the cookie recipe). Everything was awesome (especially the Halloween bark!) and I even used the pumpkin seeds in my homemade bread. The recipe says they're optional and I never had them before so I always left them out, but I was excited that I could include them this time!

I've signed up for November and already sent my match a box of South Texas favorites (very similar to the one I sent my October match). I'll be receiving a box from a fellow Texan from Houston this time! Can't wait to see what's in store!

Friday, November 9, 2012

The 2012 Military Spouse Career Summit

The day after the Texas Conference for Women, I hopped on a plane bound for Washington, DC. I was headed to the National Military Spouse Network's Military Spouse Career Summit. I was very excited to meet with other military spouses who were interested in staying in the workforce despite PCSes and deployments. I was eager to here what the speakers had to share with us. Big thanks to Alaina Fitzner at Dwelling Moments Photography for sharing her beautiful professional photos with the attendees!

Shortly after I got in to DC, I attended the networking event that kicked off the Summit. I met some other military spouses and it was great to hear what others were doing. There was also a panel of spouses who shared their stories, which was very inspiring.
A Social Media Manager, Attorney, and retired Colonel.

The keynote speaker was Craig Newmark of Craigslist. It was interesting to hear how Craigslist got started. He basically started out emailing his friends a list of events around the San Francisco area. As it turns out, Craig does a lot of philanthropy work and there's a special place in his heart for military families. We were grateful for his support and making himself available to us.

Craig Newmark tells us what he's doing for military families and asks for our help.

After Craig's talk, we split up to go to our chosen breakout sessions. I attended "Goal Setting with the Military Spouse Coach" which was led by Krista Wells, the Military Spouse Coach. She gave some great goal-setting tips. My favorite was "write down your goal every day." Writing down the same goal each day keeps it at the front of your mind, helping you make decisions and take actions to help you reach your goal!

Krista Wells, the Military Spouse Coach, gives tips on goal setting.
Our lunch keynote speaker was Dr. Janet Breslin-Smith. She talked about how she was a professor at the National War College when she met her husband and how they dealt with PCSes throughout their marriage. One message that resonated with me is that we, as humans, have longer lives and we have more time to do what we want. Also, we don't have to do it all perfectly all the time. :)

Dr. Breslin-Smith talks about her experience as a college professor and a military spouse.
The Summit was very tech-friendly and I took lots of pictures and tweeted a lot throughout the day.

Alaina caught me snapping a pic!
It was a really great group and I made some awesome contacts while I was there. I can't wait to get more involved with this group of spouses and attend future conferences!
Attendees and speakers of the 2012 Military Spouse Career Summit.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

3 Things I Learned at the 2012 Texas Conference for Women

In October, I attended the 2012 Texas Conference for Women  in Austin. It was a HUGE conference with over 5,000 attendees (everything's bigger in Texas...). There were many "celebrities" there (in my book, at least) like Gretchen Rubin, Danielle LaPorte and Cathie Black. I was also introduced to some new rockstars like Brene Brown and Lauren Berger.
That's a lot of seating!

The conference consisted of a morning keynote address, two breakout sessions (each with about 10 options), a lunch keynote and then many different activities in the afternoon. There was also a Health and Wellness Expo with the conference. It was overwhelming to say the least. I got to Austin at about 7am, grabbed my complimentary French Toast Sticks and coffee from the Peached Tortilla food truck, whipped out my conference program and started to map out my day.
French Toast Sticks and Sbux!

I really think I optimized my experience. I won't give you a blow-by-blow, but here are my top three takeaways:

1) Vulnerability = Strength

I think many people hear "vulnerability" and think "weakness." Brene Brown suggests that is actually shows strength. She currently has the 2nd most watched TED talk ever about The Power of Vulnerability. In her book, Daring Greatly, she talks about how vulnerability (at the right time and place, of course) can really help us move forward in relationships and other undertakings. She talked about how giving good feedback puts us in a place of vulnerability, but often is much more effective and productive. Good communication also requires some vulnerability. One thing that really resonated with me was when she said when you do something brave, your are almost always being vulnerable. Think of a time when you were brave. Were you also at a place of vulnerability?

2) Be Clear on How You Want To Feel

The second breakout session I went to covered defining success in your own terms and included a panel of four women: Alyce Alston, CEO of CultureMap Austin; Laren Berger, the Intern Queen; Danielle LaPorte, author of The Fire Starter Sessions; and Wilka Toppins, attorney and founder of The Corporate Latina. Here are the highlights:
  • "If you feel like you're faking it more than not, you're in the wrong place. Don't fake enthusiasm." - Danielle LaPorte
  • Alyce talked about she made the move from a really swanky job to a position at Reader's Digest. Some of her friends and family questioned the move, but in the end the position at Reader's Digest  better used her strengths and she enjoyed her work more. Lauren added that she worked for a talent agency in LA which represented many high-profile celebrities. Her friends all envied her job, but all she talked about was how she wanted to be the Intern Queen. Sometimes society's image of success doesn't align with what makes us feel successful.
  • Wilka talked about how sometimes we make decisions that lead to imbalance in our lives. We need to forgive ourselves for these decisions, learn from them and then do what needs to be done to regain balance. 

3) Outer Order Creates Inner Calm

I've been a firm believer in this for several years now. Having a neat and orderly home really does put your mind in a better place. Gretchin Rubin addressed this in her keynote speech at the beginning of the conference and talks about it more in her books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. She suggests making your bed and purging your possessions since the project our identity into our environment. When purging, it's good to ask yourself "Do I use it? Do I need it? Do I love it?" If you don't answer "yes" to one or more of those, ditch it!

Gretchin talks about Happiness at Home
Of course I learned a lot of other great things throughout the day and I took several pages of notes! It was a great experience and I'm so excited to attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women next year!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Boomer Sooner Homecoming!

Way back in the spring, it was looking like we weren't going to be in Texas past Summer of 2013. Not knowing where we might land, I figured 2012 was really my last chance to go to an OU football game from within driving distance. (Turns out I was right!) So I told Mike I would be planning an OU football weekend. If he wanted to plan a trip to see the LSU Tigers play, I'd be on board completely, but I wanted to see the Sooners play on Owen Field this year!

Shortly after making this declaration, a friend mentioned on Facebook that he was selling two tickets to EVERY HOME GAME this season. I was ecstatic. I went to the OU Football schedule and strategically chose the OU/KU game on October 20th. It was Homecoming, 3 days after my birthday and since I'm from Kansas I have a special place in my heart for KU (even when OU is crushing them!). It was the obvious choice. So I mailed a check and a few days later, these bad boys were in our mailbox!
Hello, Beautiful!
We got in on the Friday night before the game on Saturday. Mike and I love a little pasta shop on Campus Corner called Victoria's. They have homemade pasta and their food is amazing. It's exactly what you'd expect from a small pasta shop in a college town: limited seating on a Friday night, grungy hipster servers, and amazing food!

We sat above the kitchen so we could watch them prepare our meals!
I decided there should be a birthday celebration at The Mont, a local establishment specializing in Swirls (frozen mix of margarita and sangria) and awarding drunk co-eds with t-shirts on their birthday! My t-shirts were a little worse for the wear (one survived the Warrior Dash and the other had holes in it) so I figured it was time for a new one. I was so happy to see so many friends including folks from my sorority, my meteorology class and work!
This year's shirts were kind of cute!
On Saturday, Mike and I got up and did a circuit workout at the hotel. We stayed at the National Center for Employee Development (NCED) where they train postal workers. It's really nice and has a lot of amenities since federal employees go there for weeks at a time for training. Mike and I also took in some ping pong and a game of horse in the gym!

LSU was playing Texas A&M that day so Mike and I caught the last part of the game at Louie's. It was an exciting game that ended up in a creative last effort by the Aggies, but the Tigers won in the end so Mike was happy.
Mike was really into the game!
Just as we were leaving Louie's to meet up with a friend for some tailgating, we came across the homecoming parade! We got to see the Sooner Schooner, the cheerleaders and the Pride of Oklahoma!

From there we met up with my friend, Chris, with whom I used to work at Weathernews. He and his friends shared with us some of their fajitas, beer and cookies! We were very grateful! We even met a nice couple from Kansas. He was a grad student at OU so he wore an OU shirt. She wore a KU shirt! Soon, it was time to go to our seats and get ready for the pre-game entertainment!
Chris and I
Our seats were in the south end zone. It was a gorgeous day for football in Oklahoma!!

What a good LSU guy to wear an OU shirt for his wifey!
During halftime, I was able to meet up with my college roommate and her husband. They just had twins this year, so it was great to catch up and see what's going on in their lives. They live in Tulsa and we hadn't seen them since our wedding! Unfortunately I didn't get a picture. :(

The game was a bit of a blowout, as expected. The final score was 52-7, OU, but Mike and I left at the beginning of the 4th quarter to walk back to the car.

On our way back to Texas on Sunday, we made arrangements to meet Mike's Aunt Marcia, Uncle Earl and grandmother in Gainesville, TX for lunch. We had a great time catching up with them and were very glad we could stop and see them. Even though we live in the same state, we're still almost 6 hours away!

We had such a great weekend! Mike even asked if we could go to all the games! Ha! 15 hours of driving round trip probably isn't something either of us is up to, but I'd like to make this an annual thing for sure, perhaps switching between LSU and OU games so the Tigers get some Holtz Love, too!