Tuesday, December 20, 2011

...and now to MAINTAIN!

Yes!  I made it to my weight-loss goal!  10% of my body weight gone in 10 weeks.  Whew!  Now I just need to try to maintain this weight loss for another month and a half.  I'm hoping by that point, I will be used to knowing what to eat and what not to eat to be able to maintain.  That's the idea, anyway.

The one problem with this plan is that I have to move offices, once again.  And this time, the new office building doesn't have a workout facility at all!  I'm really perplexed about what I'm going to do to continue exercising once I move.  It works best for me to work out at lunchtime these days.  Before work is no good because I'm just not a morning person in the slightest.  After work is no good because I have to cook, clean up, and do laundry.  And after that is no good because, seriously, who has the energy to do anything after that?!

I suppose I could break down and actually pay for a gym membership so that I could go to a gym and work out at lunchtime, but I don't really want to do that.  So, this is going to require some serious brainstorming on my part.  I'll let you know what I come up with.

In the meantime, though, I'm trying to enjoy being sort of skinny again.  I went out with some friends on Friday afternoon and bought myself some new pants and I've worn a new pair to work for the last two days.  Merry Christmas to me!  :)

I'm going to have to really watch myself, though.  Last night, to celebrate, we went to Chuy's and I had a margarita and about two basket-fulls of chips.  And tonight is "date night" with the husband, so I'm sure there will be wine-drinking involved.  And THEN the Christmas holidays will be upon us and much eating and drinking will be included in those activities!  Weigh-ins start again on January 9th and if anyone gains back more than 1%, they're out of the contest.  Sounds like it's going to be a week of gluttony followed by a week of starvation for me!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ups and Downs and Changes

This past week and a half has been a crazy week of ups and downs and changes.

It all started with my drive to work on Wednesday of last week when I realized that I hate my project so much that I was seriously considering changing companies to get off the project.  I took that as a bad sign and decided to go talk to my department head about the possibility of changing projects or even departments!

He quickly said, "Let's get you off that project tomorrow!"  Well, it didn't (and couldn't) happen that quickly, but I WILL be starting on a new project on Monday of next week and I'm extremely happy about that.  I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders and I'm ready for the challenge of the new work.

I've also had some ups and downs in the weight-loss contest, though, too.  This past Monday when I weighed in, I had gained almost two pounds instead of losing two pounds like I needed to.  That meant I was going to have to lose 5 pounds in the coming week before our final weigh-in on December 19!  I was a little worried.

But, it turns out that most of it was water-weight.  The husband's Christmas party was this past weekend and that involved drinking wine with dinner, plus a friend had a Christmas party over the weekend that involved eating and drinking and I swear whenever I drink alcohol, I retain water for a couple of days afterwards. (plus, it was a bad time of the month...)

This morning when I stepped on the scale, I found that I only have to lose 0.6 pounds to get to my 10% weight loss goal.  I'm so excited, I'm running around telling everyone who will listen.

Tomorrow, I'm supposed to go out shopping with some friends and I'm finally going to be able to buy some new pants for myself.  With the job change and the weight change, I feel like a whole new person.  I really have given myself a Christmas present this year.  Yay, me!  :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Cone of Shame

An integral part of the movie, UP, is a pack of talking dogs.  They're able to talk because their master (who is "a good and smart master") made them special collars that interpret their thoughts and turn them into words.

Anyway, one of the funny parts of the movie includes one of those plastic cone things that they put around a dog's neck to prevent the dog from licking or chewing at a sore or surgery site or whatever.  The dogs refer to this plastic cone as the "Cone of Shame".

Well, Spot got spayed last week and when I picked her up on Friday morning, she was sporting her own feline version of the "Cone of Shame".

I do not like the cone of shame.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Back on Track!

Ok, I weighed myself this morning for our weekly weigh-in and I'm back on track!  I'm down 7.3% from my original weight and I "only" have to lose 2 pounds per week the next couple of weeks in order to get down to 10% on the 10th week.  I think I can, I think I can...

I am NOT on track with Christmas presents this year.  I feel very un-motivated to get them ordered/bought this year.  Last year by this point, I was on fire - I think I'd ordered everything and was almost done with my shopping!

I can't figure out what is not motivating me this year.  It could be my project at work.  I hate coming to work every day because our client can't figure out what they want to do and it's just dragging on and on and on.

Or, it could be that they've blocked "shopping" sites from our computers here at work and therefore, I can't spend my whole day perusing the internet and getting good ideas for presents.

I suppose it could be that I've been eating so much less for the past several weeks that I just don't have the energy to get into the spirit.

Maybe it's the fact that it's still been hot and humid here and I just can't bear to think about Christmas when it's very much not Christmas-like outside.  (Although a cold front came through last night and dropped the temperature by about 30*, so maybe there's some hope for me?)

Whatever it is, I need a kick in the pants.  Send me some fairy dust, hook me up to an electrical shock device, put me in a room with only Christmas songs playing - I'll take anything to get me into the spirit!  Got any ideas?...

Sunday, December 04, 2011

RIP Midas, April, 1993 - Nov. 30, 2011

We had to say goodbye to our long-time friend this past Wednesday. Midas found his special place in our family after the kids came along - he was extremely tolerant of kids as they learned to use their 'gentle hands'. We'll all miss him.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sometimes it's not good to be right

Well, as it turns out, I was right to be worried about weight gain during Thanksgiving.  In fact, I feel pretty stupid for even thinking that I might be able to NOT gain weight over the Thanksgiving holidays in NEW ORLEANS, of all places!

Turns out that I gained more than a pound over Thanksgiving, which means that in order to get to my 10% weight loss goal (which would pretty much put me at my "ideal" weight), I would have to lose nearly 8 pounds (!) in 3 weeks.  That doesn't sound like a good idea, does it?

Actually, though, I weighed myself this morning and my weight is now slightly lower than my weigh-in the Monday before Thanksgiving, so I really only have around 6 pounds to lose in the next 2.6 weeks.  To me, that sounds more do-able.

People around my office have been commenting that they can tell that I've lost weight - I have lost almost 10 pounds - so that makes me feel good and gives me some more motivation.  And if nothing else, I've still achieved my goal of giving myself a good Christmas present this year: the right to go buy some new pants.  :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Studious

Fellan got his new glasses on Tuesday afternoon and he absolutely loves them.  Weird kid.  ;)

But I'm loving them, too, because I think they actually are making a difference for him!  I've tried looking through them and they really don't make anything look different.  They're not corrective, but they seem to sort of "move" everything up from where they should be.  Hard to explain.

Anyway, we drove over to New Orleans for Thanksgiving and Fellan read out loud for about an hour an a half while we were driving.  I haven't heard him read out loud very much lately, but it seemed like he was much more fluent in his reading than he was before.  He finished a whole Jack and Annie book during the drive over and read two more while we were there!

Today is his first day at school with his glasses.  We told his teacher about them and she said she'll try to make sure he wears them when he's reading and writing, like he's supposed to.  I can't wait to ask him about his day tonight!

Here he is, looking studious.  (...and annoyed because I bothered him while he was reading!)

Mah...ahm, I'm trying to read here!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sore and Worried...

We're spending the bulk of today in the car, which means it's a day off from exercise. That also means it's good news for my knees who have not appreciated all the running I've done over the last three days.

We ran at Audubon Park in New Orleans while we were there. One lap around the park is about 1.7 miles and on Thursday and Friday I only did one lap, but since I was feeling guilty about eating so much, I did two laps yesterday morning.

Surprisingly, I started feeling 'ok' about halfway through the 2nd lap yesterday. And by 'ok', I mean that I wasn't in horrible pain!

I really dislike running. I don't think I'm a natural runner. I was a sprinter in high school and I only started running longer distances in the last 10 years or so, but I wouldn't say that I've enjoyed it. It's just a faster way to get a workout sometimes.

Anyway, today, my knees are just sore. My dad had to have knee replacement surgery several years ago, so I like to use that as an excuse not to run, too. I can come up with all kinds of excuses not to run.  :)

I am worried, though, about weighing-in tomorrow morning, so I'm sort of kicking myself for not running two laps each day. Oh well, c'est la vie and we shall see...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm trying out the mobil-blogging function of Blogger. Let's see if this actually works!

This past Monday was the 6th week in my 10-week Weight Loss Challenge. And as of Monday, I was finally on track to lose 10% in 10 weeks - I was down by 6% this past Monday!

My goal for this week was to just not gain weight and I've been making a valiant effort. We got up early yesterday morning to go running and we also went running this morning. I discovered last week that Fellan makes a good running partner for me, so he's also been joining the family for these morning runs. It's turned out to be a nice way to start the day before all the eating begins.

And speaking of eating, we've been doing a lot of that, too. The problem with the family recipes that we all love is that everything is covered in cheese. Everything is delicious, but it basically means that I should probably give up hope for my goal of no weight gain...

Well, I guess I'd better get back to the family room to continue watching football. Nebraska won their game today and LSU pulled ahead just before halftime. And then after this game is over, it sounds like it'll be time for the next round of food!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cross your fingers

On Friday afternoon, I picked up Fellan from school and took him to an eye doctor appointment.  He has always tested fine for vision using those highly non-scientific eye charts, but his occupational therapist thought we should really get his eyes tested by a pediatric developmental optometrist because she thought "there was something going on with his eyes".

It was a really interesting appointment.  She first tested his eyes with the regular eye doctor contraption of a million lenses and determined that he has 20/20 vision.  But then she had him sit at a desk and handed him a piece of paper with several different pictures on it.  She asked him to draw a copy of the pictures below each one.  He did Ok, but his handwriting is pretty bad, so they weren't exact duplicates.

But, one of the pictures was three ovals that overlapped each other in the middle.  Sort of like that atomic energy symbol.  When he got to that one, I expected him to just draw three ovals that intersected at the middle - I mean, that's exactly how I saw the picture.  But instead, he drew the middle part of the symbol, trying to get all the angles just right and then he drew the rest of each of the ovals as if they were petals on a flower.

I think it was immediately after he drew that picture that the optometrist asked me when Fellan started walking.  When I said he started walking at 8 months, she suddenly seemed to have all the answers she needed.  She said, "Oh, he was an early walker? And he didn't spend much time crawling, then, did he?"

"Nope," I answered, "and he didn't just start walking, he started running!"

Apparently, it turns out that crawling is an important milestone in the development of the connections in your brain.  It's the time when you learn depth perception and if you bypass the crawling stage, there are some that believe it can affect the way your brain interprets things and can cause problems with the way your eyes work together.

She said something about limited visual perception (or something like that) and then took us to another room where she put some goggles on him and had him read a paragraph from a book.  The goggles had special sensors in them that tracked the movement of his eyes while he read the story.

Reading goggles in action
I got to look at the chart after he finished and it showed that at the beginning of the passage, his eyes tracked pretty well together, but as he kept reading, his eyes began to just do their own thing, until at the end of the paragraph, he was basically reading cross-eyed!  She found it amazing that he could actually understand what he was reading at that point.

She told me this means that basically, Fellan's brain thinks that his school papers and his books are closer than they actually are and we need to re-train his brain to get it back on track.  And the way to do this is to get him some prism glasses.  They're effectively the opposite of reading glasses.  Instead of magnifying things, they make things seem farther away.  She put some on him and had him read another paragraph. The chart was much better than the first.

Fellan couldn't contain his excitement at the prospect of getting glasses.  I think one of his friends at school has glasses, so he thinks it's cool or something.  But he should only have to wear them for 6 months to a year and only for reading and writing.  Hopefully after that point, the novelty will have worn off and he won't be upset to have to give them up.  Also, hopefully, this will actually do something to help his handwriting, as well - she said it should definitely help it some.  It probably won't fix it, but it could help.  So, cross your fingers... and not your eyes.  ;)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bad Kitty!

We haven't had a kitten in the house for 18 years and it's been a rude awakening. She is into everything, but surprisingly, has only broken one thing so far. (knock on wood...)

We're beginning to understand her preferences, though. The other day, the husband sent me this picture.

After drinking it, she refilled it with water - like we weren't going to notice!...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rules to live by

As I eluded to in my last post, we have been going to the Unitarian Universalist Church off and on for a few years now.  We like the messages that they have during the sermons and the kids really love the Religious Education program they go to while we're in the service.

The UU church has 7 principles they teach and one of the songs the kids sing (to the tune of Do-Re-Mi) goes like this:
  1. Each person is important
  2. Be kind in all you do
  3. We're free to learn together
  4. And search for what is true
  5. All people need a vote
  6. Build a fair and peaceful world
  7. We care for earth and sky
Don't get me started about how this doesn't rhyme - it really bugs me! - but every once in awhile I hear the kids singing it, so it must somehow get through to them and they seem to be able to remember the principles pretty well.

The kids have also been taking Tae Kwon Do now for a couple of years and every practice starts with the following pledge:

     I, as a Universal member pledge:
     To be loyal to my nation, my parents, and my family.
     To respect my seniors and be courteous to my juniors.
     To be righteous and show good conduct.
     To develop leadership with the tenets of Tae Kwon Do.

AND since Fellan has been going to Cub Scouts for the past couple of months, he now has the Boy Scout Oath to remember:

     On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God
     and my country, and to obey the Scout Law; to
     help other people at all times; to keep myself
     physically strong; mentally awake; and morally straight.

So, during the Boy Scout event last Saturday, one of the stations he visited was about "Manners".  They apparently asked the boys to write down five examples of good manners.  The husband took a picture of Fellan's paper and sent it to me.


It says:
  1. Say please and thank you
  2. Say excuse me
  3. Listen to your scout master
  4. Respect earth and sky
  5. Respect your elders and be courteous to your juniors
I asked the husband if Fellan had received any prompting to come up with this list and he said Fellan came up with them all on his own.  I love the mix of scouting, Tae Kwon Do, and UU principles.  And the husband said that they used his as an example for the other kids.  Score!  This is one of those rare instances when it almost makes me feel like we've done something right.  ;)

P.S.  Fellan's handwriting is a really good example of what Dysgraphia looks like...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Super-full Weekend

This past weekend was not only full, it was super-full of activities!

We started the activities on Friday night with a rock-climbing outing with Marxo's Girl Scout Daisy troop.  Marxo and another little girl were the only ones who really seemed to love it.  The event was planned to last from 7pm to 9pm, and by the time all the adults were "belay certified" it was almost 8pm.  The girls spent their time "bouldering" until the adults were done but then I noticed that at around 8:30pm everyone else was getting ready to head home.

Not Marxo!  She LOVES climbing.  She and I stayed until 9:15pm when I had to put my foot down and tell her it was past bedtime and we really needed to leave.  She fell asleep in the car.

"Take the picture fast! I can't hold on much longer!"
I was able to get a good picture of her bouldering before we left, though. I was really impressed with her determination to make it up this over-hang thing.  Since she's pretty skinny, she's got a really good strength to weight ratio.

The next morning, there was a Boy Scout event that Fellan and the husband attended.  Fellan got to do all kinds of activities at this thing.  They had stations set up for geology, manners, soccer, water rockets, BB Guns (!), and flag football.  The boys apparently spent time at each station and I think they get badges or something like that for each one.  Anyway, Fellan had a great time.  He has been asking us for the past couple of years if he could join Cub Scouts, but we didn't want to make the time-commitment.  This year, we finally relented and he is 100% embracing everything about it.  It's fun to see him so excited.

Saturday afternoon, we had a wedding to attend and then Saturday night, there was a big birthday party celebration for a friend's daughter.  We excused ourselves early from that celebration at around 9:30pm!

On Sunday morning, we had to be to church early because we were asked to ring the Zen Bell and to be the "Chalice Lighters" at the church.  Each week, a different family gets to do this for the service and the kids were very excited to have such a big responsibility.

After church, we were looking forward to being able to relax a little before our dance class, but forgot that we had planned with a friend to go see the last Rice University home volleyball game at 2pm.  So, we ran off to the game and then went straight from there to dance classes.

You would think that after such an event-filled weekend, we wouldn't subject ourselves to anything else for Sunday night, but you would be wrong.  The world premiere of Art Car: The Movie was being held at Hermann Park at the Miller Outdoor Theater and we just couldn't pass that up.  The kids love going to the Art Car Parade each year and they really wanted to see the movie.  Unfortunately, even though the tickets said that it would start at 7:00pm, they had a band set up for pre-movie entertainment, so the movie didn't start until almost 7:45pm.  Which meant that the movie didn't finish until almost 9:45pm!

Marxo, once again, fell asleep in the car on the way home.  We're all looking forward to going to bed early tonight!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Halloween 2011

Well, I figure that since I was so late with my post about Labor Day this past year, this post about Halloween is actually early!  ...or something like that.

Some friends of ours usually have us over to their house for a pre-Trick-or-Treating party which generally involves eating, drinking, and the kids running and playing in the yard before we all head out on the quest for sugar.

This year, however, the usual hostess wasn't sure she'd be able to have the kids to her house, and in a moment of weakness, we decided to host the party ourselves, instead.  We don't have a yard for kids to run and play in, so this usually means that we try to avoid having large groups of children at our house.  However, since we had been inundated with mosquitoes a week before Halloween, we thought it might be good to have the pre-party inside anyway.

To prepare for the party, we figured we'd better decorate the house. (Marxo had been begging to decorate the house for a couple of weeks, but there had been too many mosquitoes to do anything outside until about 2 days before Halloween!)

Anyway, we finally dug out the decorations and Halloween-ified our front "yard":

Marxo helped with the decorations

And then worked on her acting
 
The final product
 We also carved a pumpkin just before everyone arrived.  I suggested that we use Marxo's mouth as a template, but she didn't think that was so funny.  ;)  Instead, she came up with this design:

She added the eyebrows at the last minute to make it "angry"!
Unfortunately, we didn't get any good pictures of the kids in their costumes.  Fellan wanted to be Indiana Jones (mostly, just so he could have a whip!) and for some reason, Marxo decided to be a butterfly.

Dude, check out my whip...
The party itself seemed to be a big success.  At least, the husband and I and the adults had a good time while the kids all watched "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown".  And everyone seemed to get a good haul of candy by the end of the night, so everyone was happy!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Dancing and more...

I have several things to talk about that don't go together, but I'm putting them all in one post anyway!

The first is about our dance class.  We've been taking dancing lessons for the past couple of months.  It's a "Round Dance" class - read the part about "cued round dances" in the link.  That's what we're doing.  The session we're taking right now is Waltz.

Mostly, we've just been interested in learning to dance (because we think it's a lost art in the United States!), we heard about this class, it's really inexpensive ($10/adult per session), and we can take the kids to it, too!  The husband and I took Swing Dance classes many, many years ago, but haven't tried anything like this since.  It's turning out to be pretty fun.

The classes are for an hour and 20 minutes every Sunday afternoon and the kids are learning right along with us.  We tried to have them learn together, but Fellan has a hard time paying attention and keeping up with the cues for the whole time.  Some of the other adults ("angels" who know all the dance steps already) at the classes paired up with them for a couple of the classes.  But for the last two classes the husband and I have been dancing with them for the first hour of the class and then they go sit out for the rest of the time.  That's actually been working out really well - they just don't have the attention span to put up with the entire class.

I was really impressed with Fellan for the first part of class yesterday - he knew all the steps, kept up with the cues, and did really well.  (And he was very proud of himself.)  It quickly devolved into him rolling around on the floor, but at least it was good for a little while!  :)

Next on the list of topics is the weight loss contest - we're at the end of the 3rd week today and I'm down 2.7% so far.  Almost on track to get to 10% in 10 weeks.  Tonight is going to kill my progress temporarily since it's Halloween, though.  We invited all our neighborhood friends to come over for pizza and drinks before trick-or-treating.  I'm going to have to work out extra hard for the rest of the week.

And my last random topic for today is cat fights.  Specifically, our cats!  The new cat, Spot, continues to terrorize our old cat, Midas.  Midas is 18.5 years old and has a hard time getting around anymore.  He spends 99% of his time in our bedroom and only goes to the laundry room in the hallway outside our bedroom to eat (occasionally) and use the litter box.

However, Midas has increasingly been enticed out of the bedroom over the last few weeks.  Spot will come upstairs, stalk down the hallway, come into our bedroom, and then growl and hiss at Midas until Midas decides he's had enough and chases Spot down the hallway and part-way down the stairs.  We haven't seen Midas move that quickly in about 8 years!

It sounds horrible, too.  Spot makes the absolute worst screaming noises.  Every time I hear them, I'm convinced Midas must have her in a choke-hold out in the hallway.  I'll run out there, bracing for a horrifying scene, and there's... nothing.  Midas is usually laying in the hallway (completely worn out from the effort) and Spot is sitting at the top of the stairs looking at me like, "What?"  I've only seen them trade punches once and neither seemed to interested in doing much damage to the other.

It's getting rather old, though.  If Spot would just be nice to Midas, there wouldn't be any trouble at all.  Midas would love a warm little body to cuddle up with now that the weather is finally getting cold.  But at this point in time, I don't see that happening very soon.  Too bad.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mosquitoes!

I grew up in Nebraska, so coming to Houston after college was a big culture and climate shock!  It bothered me a lot the first few years that there were no seasons here.  I would joke with people that it was like living in a sensory deprivation chamber and that there were only two seasons: Daylight Savings Time and Not.

It was especially strange to me to see all the plants and trees be green year-round.  Flowers in January?  Really?...

But for the past year, Houston has been in a drought.  It's the first time I've ever seen Houston turn brown.  People's yards are dead and driving around, you can see that about half the trees along the highways are brown.  Pretty sad.

One thing I didn't notice until recently was that along with the rain, the mosquitoes had kind of gone away.  That is, until this past week.  It finally rained for almost a full day about 3 weeks ago.  And that was the trigger for the mosquitoes to come out of hiding.

We walked the kids to school on Friday morning last week and got swarmed by mosquitoes the entire way there.  They were biting us through our clothes and a couple of times, I had to start running to get away from them for a few seconds of peace.

It's crazy around here lately!  The mosquitoes are EVERYWHERE.  I kill at least two per night in our house and just in the last couple of days here at work, I've killed 4!  (and my office is on the 7th floor of an office building - they seem to be hitching a ride up the elevators and then coming through the security doors on our floor.)

The guy who sits next to me likes to tell everyone that there are two kinds of mosquitoes in Texas: the small ones that can get through the screen door and the big ones that can open the screen door.  Hardy, har, har...

(But I'm almost beginning to believe him.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Toothless

Yesterday, Marxo had to get some teeth pulled.  She is the product of two people who have/had crooked teeth and is therefore pretty much doomed to a childhood full of orthodonture.

Fellan already started the process last fall with a palate expander and then this past May, he got brackets put on his two front teeth to pull them together. (Can't believe I forgot to include this tidbit on my blog!)

Brace Face!
Even though it seemed that Fellan's teeth were going to be really bad considering the way they first started coming in, I'm afraid that Marxo's little mouth is going to doom her to even worse things than Fellan.  Her first two permanent teeth (bottom front) came in over the last few months and one of them is almost completely sideways.

The last time we were at the orthodontist's office with Fellan, we asked him to take a look at her teeth and I think it took him about 2 seconds to look in her mouth and immediately start filling out "extraction orders" to our pediatric dentist.

Yesterday was the dreaded day.  She had already lived through getting a pedunculated pyogenic granuloma removed about a year an a half ago (which involved a trip to the oral surgeon and IV sedation, and which, once again, I can't believe I didn't document on here!), so she expected the worst. We kept on telling her she would have an oral sedative and that they didn't have to stick anything in her arm, but it really didn't make a difference to her.  She would cry about it every time we mentioned her impending "doom".


Amazingly, she didn't freak out too badly when we got to the dentist's office.  There was a little crying, but she pulled herself together and bravely went back and drank the oral sedative.  Then we had to wait for 45 minutes for it to kick-in.  I was expecting her to become loopy and act drunk, but that didn't happen at all.  She did seem to calm down a little, but she continued to work on her word-search puzzles while we waited.

When it was time to go back for the procedure, she calmly walked back and apparently had no trouble at all with it.  They said she was just fine during the whole thing.  And this morning she told me, "Next time I have to get any teeth pulled, I'm not going to be afraid at all." Poor thing.  Unfortunately, there probably will be a few more "next times".

Here she is showing off her toothless grin!  She lost her top tooth this past weekend while we were out of town in NYC.  Luckily, the tooth fairy found her at Grammy's.  And we found out this morning that the tooth fairy pays double for extracted teeth! :)

Toothless

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

NYC, Take 2

We're becoming quite the jet-setters here lately.  This past weekend we went to New York City again!

This time, it was for a friend's 40th birthday.  She and her husband had planned a trip to NYC to celebrate her birthday and he decided it would be fun to invite some of her friends and surprise her by all showing up there.

It worked.  We all met at a restaurant on Friday evening.  We were a little late, so our friend was already there and when we walked up, she asked us, with a bewildered expression, "Why are you here?!" To which I responded, "Because it's your birthday!!!"  She was really surprised.

First, though, the trip up there...  We flew into Newark, but there was bad weather in Newark on Friday morning, so our flight was delayed by about an hour and a half.  We finally made it to our hotel and got checked in at 4pm, but we still hadn't eaten lunch!  No worries, though, when we checked in, they told us that there would be free wine and cheese in their lounge from 5pm to 8pm that night.  It sounded like a good idea at the time.

We got to the wine and cheese room a little before 6pm, loaded up our plate with cheese and crackers, and accepted a couple of over-full glasses of red wine from the server.  After finding a table to sit down at, we overheard part of the conversation from the tables next to us.  The people were from Canada, in the mining industry, and talking about the Oil Sands.  This was right up our alley!

So, we struck up a conversation with them.  Eventually, a Swiss couple came into the room and sat down with us and then a British man came over to introduce himself.  With this mini-United Nations, we attempted to solve all the world's problems.  And after three more glasses of wine, we were certain we'd gotten everything back on track.

But it was time for us to head off to the surprise dinner by that point.  We were supposed to be meeting at 9pm at an Italian restaurant in the middle of Chinatown.  A likely location. (?)  The food was really good, but the husband and I kept waiting for them to bring out the main course.  They brought out several small plates of food and nobody else seemed to be eating.  Since we didn't want to seem gluttonous, we nibbled along with the rest of the group, and when midnight rolled around and the food was all taken away, we finally figured out these were tapas plates and there wasn't going to be a main course.  Oops.

Everyone chatted for a little while longer and at about 1:30am, the husband and I made our way out of the restaurant and to the subway station.  The others apparently went in search of pizza! (that would have been a good thought)  But after not sleeping much on Thursday night, I was really ready to head back to the hotel.  We got on the subway and I promptly fell asleep on the woman sitting next to me.  I woke up when my head apparently started drooping over onto her shoulder and she sort of pulled quickly away from me.  "You haven't really lived until you've fallen asleep on someone in the subway in New York City," I always say!  ;)

Saturday morning came early and we kinda missed it.  We grabbed some croissants and cantaloupe (the "gourmet" free breakfast at the hotel), showered, and met the group for lunch at Stage Deli, where we opted to split a rather benign grilled cheese and tomato sandwich.  After not eating most of the previous day and replacing that with drinking instead, neither the husband nor I could stomach much more.

Most of the rest of that group had gone for a run in Central Park that morning and needed to go shower before doing much else.  We decided to meet for drinks mid-afternoon before the husband and I needed to head off to meet my pen-pal for dinner between shows.

While they were getting cleaned up, we thought it would be fun to go down to Greenwich Village and wander around for a little while.  And it turned out to be a good decision because we got to see some of the protestors marching around.  I took pictures.  :)

Look! Real live protestors!
Such anger and violence! (not really)
It was sort of hard to figure out what they were protesting.
After our dose of anti-capitalism culture, we headed back uptown to get a dose of theater culture!  First, we stopped in to say good-bye to our newly 40-year-old friend and then we went to meet my pen-pal friend.  When we came over Labor Day Weekend, the two cast members who played the managers in the Phantom of the Opera were being replaced with new blood, so there's now a new picture of Carlotta out front.  Sorry for the glare, but I kind of liked the way her face ended up framed by it.

Carlotta with new managers
We thought it would be fun to see the performance again while we were there so we could catch more of the details of the show.  It didn't disappoint.  It's amazing that they put on this show day after day after day, but the performances continue to be so good every time.  My pen-pal said she learned a lot from working with George Lee Andrews about how to bring his best to every single performance during his 23 years there.

Each Saturday night after the show, one of the dressing rooms becomes an impromptu bar and the cast has a drink or two together since Sundays are their days off.  So, after having a few drinks with the cast (sounds so "fabulous", huh?! [it was pretty cool!!!]), we walked out of the theater only to find that there were still people hanging out waiting for autographs.  We quietly stood out of the way while Carlotta, Monsieur AndrĂ©, and Monsieur Firmin signed playbills for their adoring fans.  Afterwards, we whisked Carlotta away to find a quiet place to hang out and while walking down the street, we happened to see John Larroquette getting into his limousine.  (I heart New York!)

Our flight left early the next morning, but that didn't stop us from staying out late once again.  So, after 3 hours of sleep, we somehow managed to get up and out of the hotel the next morning, and made our way back to the heat of Houston.  The kids seemed to survive the weekend with Grammy and PaPa and I was asleep on the couch at 8pm that night.  Whew.  I'm getting too old for this.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Doing it again...

Well, I'm doing it again.  I've gotten sick of looking at the flab in the mirror and instead of waiting for another contest to come to me (because it seems I'm only motivated by competition!), I've started my own contest here at work.  And I've got 26 other people signed up so far!!!

The contest works like this:
  • Pay $20 to enter the contest
  • Weigh-in every Monday (starting this past Monday)
  • Lose 10% of your body weight by Dec. 19 and win 1/3 of the pot (divided equally between winners)
  • Maintain the weight loss until Jan. 30 and win the remaining 2/3 of the pot (again divided equally)
10% is a pretty aggressive goal, but one that I'm hoping to be able to make in the 10 weeks I have until Dec. 19th.  I did a pretty good job of "bulking up" over the weekend, too, so without trying too hard this week, I've lost about 3 pounds.  :)

Anyway, I'm hoping this will, once again, get me healthy and back to regular exercise.  One thing's for sure - it's forcing me to really keep track of everything that I'm eating.  And I think that's a good thing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Marxo is 7 today!

Well, my baby girl turned seven today!  Hard to believe.  Today is also picture day at school, so she got to wear one of her new birthday outfits - she looked very stylish.  :)

We had just about everyone in town this weekend for the birthday festivities.  My parents came down, the husband's folks were here, the husband's brother, sister-in-law and kids came to town and we all celebrated in style.  My brother wasn't able to make it down this trip, but he'll be here at Christmas, and that's not too far away.

We had Marxo's party at a place called Mad Science.  There were lots of kids that ended up coming, so I was stressed out during the whole party, trying to count the number of kids that came, figuring out how many were in the same household, and then trying to decide which kids weren't going to get party bags since they were the siblings of kids that were invited.  I always have so many leftover party bags, I tried to only buy what was necessary, but this time, that kinda bit me in the butt!

Anyway, the kids all still had fun and Marxo appreciated everyone coming.  I only got a couple of pictures with my phone, though, so I'm going to have to get everyone else to send me theirs!  Here's the birthday girl getting ready to blow out the candles...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Her Person

Marxo can't keep her hands off our new little kitty.  She is so happy to have a living thing to "mother"!  As soon as she comes home from school, she's looking for Spot.  She picks her up and cradles her and carries her around and generally smothers her with affection.

And apparently, Spot is perfectly fine with it!  I was worried that she would become resentful of this person who just won't leave her alone, but it's exactly the opposite.  Spot has determined that Marxo is her person.  She follows Marxo around and wants to sleep with her every night.  Marxo doesn't like that, though, because Spot keeps her awake by trying to play with her feet under the covers!  So cute.  :)

Marxo ended up being sick off and on over the last few weeks - she had a fever that kept coming and going.  After going to the doctor a couple of different times, he finally figured out she had a urinary tract infection!  Something so simple and easy to treat and it kept her out of school for 8 of the first 23 days of school.  Ugh!

Anyway, while Marxo was at home being sick, she had some very good company.

Loyal Kitty

Monday, September 26, 2011

Labor Day 2011

Yep, I'm a little late with this post, but if I don't do it now, I'll never get around to it.

We spent Labor Day weekend in New York City this year!  My pen-pal from third grade (with whom I've kept in touch all these years) is playing one of the lead roles in the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway right now and we just HAD to go see her. (and I got a text from her the other day saying she's just been offered a 6-month extension!  I'm so proud of her!!!)  Labor Day seemed to be the perfect time to go see her and get to spend time with her.  So, we sucked it up, bought 4 plane tickets, and vowed to have an excellent time.

And we did!  We arrived on Friday evening and had tickets to see the matinee on Saturday afternoon.  We traveled into the city (we were staying at my pen-pal and her husband's house in Newark), walked around a bit, left my pen-pal at the theater to get ready for the show, grabbed some lunch, and then went to the show.

I had never seen the Phantom of the Opera until that day and it was such a great experience.  I feel so lucky to have gotten to see it for the first time when one of my dear friends was playing one of the lead roles!  She was afraid that the kids were going to be freaked out by the Phantom's make-up during the show, so she talked to Hugh Panaro and he agreed to let us watch him put on his make-up.  That was cool!  (And, for the record, Hugh Panaro is a really, really nice guy.)  The kids thought it was neat to see him put on his make-up, but they especially liked meeting his dog, Soot (whose name is also on the dressing room door). :)

Before the show

After the show - on stage with the chandelier
This is one of her dresses - some of her dresses weigh up to 50 pounds!

After the show, my pen-pal gave us a back-stage tour and we all grabbed a bite to eat. She needed to get back to the theater for the evening show, so we headed off on our own to go to the top of the Empire State Building.

There were some guys outside the building telling us it was a 2.5 hour wait and that we could pay them for the "Express Tour".  We figured that was a scam, but it turned out to be pretty accurate!  It was around 10pm by the time we made it up to the observation deck!  :o

On Sunday, we all walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.  My husband and I had to read the book, The Great Bridge, in college so it was particularly interesting to us because we learned a lot about the building of the bridge.  It's amazing that this bridge is almost 130 years old!


The Great Bridge
It had gotten to be late in the day by the time we made it across the bridge, so we found a restaurant in Brooklyn to get some dinner.  Marxo was ready for a rest.


And after dinner, we took the ferry across the river to the Financial District, where we were able to get a shot of the new World Trade Center building.


Our flight didn't leave until late Monday afternoon, so we decided to make the most of it and head to Central Park for a carousel ride!

Hard to take a picture of a moving horse while also sitting on a moving horse...

Fellan is the King of Central Park!
And, on the way to the subway/train/plane that afternoon, my pen-pal informed us that you can't go past the pig in front of Rudy's without giving it a high-five!  :)



Friday, September 02, 2011

Interpretation

The other day, Fellan and I were headed to our Fantasy Football Draft.  Marxo was sick and the husband had to get some work done, so it was up to me to draft our team.  (neither the husband nor I know anything about football, but we like to keep a team each year, otherwise we'd never see our friends!)

Anyway, it was Saturday morning and "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me" was on the radio while we were driving.  Fellan is really good at listening to stories on the radio and remembering all kinds of facts about what their talking about, so he was enjoying the show.

After we'd been driving for about 15 minutes, the next show came on the radio.  It was "This American Life." This past Saturday, the show was about gossiping and how it's different in different cultures.  They didn't get too far into the show before they gave the warning: "This program contains descriptions of sex and birth control."

Upon hearing that, I looked in the rear view mirror to see if Fellan was paying attention.  He had a HUGE grin on his face.  So I asked him what he was laughing about.

F: "They're going to talk about sex and birth control!"
Me: "What does that mean? 'Sex and birth control'?"
F: "It means they're going to talk about sexy women and how they control their children!"

I didn't correct him.  :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Much news...

Well, we did make it back from our trip to Colorado, the school year has already started, and we finally got the results of Fellan's Dysgraphia testing back last week (surprise - he's got it!)...

Anyway, we had a great trip to Colorado.  I just wish it would have coincided with the Tour of Colorado "US Pro Cycling Challenge" which just finished up yesterday.  But it could not be helped - we had to get back for school to start last week.

While we were in Colorado, though, we made the best of it.  It never got above 75 deg F the whole time we were there.  Quite the contrast to the 113 deg F temperatures we drove through in northwest Texas on the way up.  The car actually had trouble starting a couple of times in that hot weather, so at potty-breaks, we started to take turns, leaving the car running the whole time in order to avoid getting stuck somewhere!

We started off the vacation with a visit to the family down in Denver.  My parents and brother came out and stayed with my aunt and cousin and we celebrated my dad's 70th birthday and my aunt's 60th birthday.  Boy, my dad is getting old!  :)

Then during the rest of the week, we hiked a couple of days and rode bikes the other three days before we had to head back to the Houston heat.  I was impressed with the kids and their riding while we were there.  We rode to Copper Mountain one day and Fellan rode there on his own bike.  We had Marxo ride the trailer bike with Daddy that day.  But for the other two days of riding, both kids were on their own bikes.  And one day, we ended up riding a total of 27 miles!  They did a great job.

Top of Copper Mountain - good thing these rocks get completely covered during ski season!


Waterfalls at McCullough Gulch

Lunch at the McCullough Gulch waterfalls
The day before we left, we hiked to the McCullough Gulch waterfalls.  We had never done that before, but we'll definitely include that every year from now on.  It was really worth the climb - very beautiful!

Alas, it was time to head back to the heat and get ready for school to start.  We had a week between vacation and the start of school to get re-acclimated to the heat.  It didn't really work, but we did get ready for school.


First Day of 3rd and 1st grade!
Someday, I'm hoping they're going to out-grow their need to "pose-smile" for pictures...

Anyway.  The kids seem to be really enjoying school this year.  Fellan is even pro-actively sitting down and doing homework every evening after school.  When he came home from school the first day and started doing homework, I commented to the husband that the hypnotist they hired for the first day of school must have REALLY been good.  ;)

The fact that Fellan has been doing his homework with little to no prompting is especially amazing given the fact that we finally did get the results of his testing and he's now officially been diagnosed with Dysgraphia, which literally means "difficulty writing".  This website talking about handwriting solutions gives a really good description of Fellan's problems. I still find myself wondering if this is a real disorder, or if he just has poor fine motor skills and that he could get better if we just made him practice writing more, but since practicing hasn't helped thus far, I'm more inclined to believe this paragraph from the handwriting solutions website:
It is often thought that continued handwriting practice will improve a Dysgraphic student’s ability to use paper and pencil alone as a useful tool to complete all their written schoolwork. This is rarely the case. While Occupational Therapy can sometimes help to improve a Dysgraphic student’s letter and number formation in isolation and/or in short writing samples, this improvement is, 99.9% of the time, not able to be sustained when kids are actually using their handwriting to complete their written schoolwork. The same thing is true of making kids re-do written assignments to make them more legible. In cases of Dysgraphia, “practice does not make perfect.”
The woman who did the testing gave us a lot of helpful ideas and recommended an occupational therapist who specializes in writing problems like Dysgraphia.  We're going to see how that goes, but we're also going to check into keyboarding options for Fellan to use in the classroom and we're scheduled to meet with his teacher tomorrow to talk about the recommendations from the testing lady.  One of the recommendations is actually, "Do not count spelling mistakes against his grade." *gasp*  The horror! This is going kill me - I can't stand misspellings!

The good thing about the type of Dysgraphia that he has is that it's mostly motor and spatial problems and it's not related to grammar or speech.  Thank goodness for that - my reinforcement of proper use of adverbs must have helped him throughout the years.  :)

And I think that catches everyone up!  Later gator...

Monday, August 01, 2011

It's a...

GIRL!!!  As of yesterday, we have a new member in our family:


We were definitely not thinking about adding a kitten to our house, but she needed a home and we decided to go ahead and take her.

She came from the girl the I used to tutor when she was in high school.  She's now 25 with two kids of her own!  Anyway, her girls convinced their daddy that they really, really needed this kitten.  So he bought it for them.  But then they decided that they didn't really want it (and the little one decided to see what would happen if she scratched the kitten's eye with her own claw) and they wanted to know if we would take it.

Like I said, I weren't intending to get another kitten for quite some time.  We currently have an 18 1/2 year old cat named Midas who has kidney disease and requires sub-cutaneous fluids every other day or so.  We figured that we would let him live out his sunset years in quiet peacefulness without the stress of adding any kittens to his life.

But I guess that plan is pretty much wrecked!

I think it will be OK, though.  This little kitten is so friendly and sweet - I figure Midas will eventually get used to her.  If she ever gets over her fear of him, that is...

Midas basically lives on the 3rd floor of our house - where the bedrooms are.  He rarely makes it down the stairs anymore and so we set the new kitten up with a litter box, food, and water on our second floor - where our living room, dining room, and kitchen are.  She hasn't ventured up the stairs on her own yet.  After a tentative meeting yesterday morning when she first arrived and Midas yelled (he doesn't meow anymore!) and hissed at her, she doesn't seem to be in a hurry.

Since the new kitten hadn't been to a veterinarian before, and she had one scratched, squinty, goopy eye, I made an appointment for her today.  The scratched eye should be fine with a little ointment and she's now gotten her first round of shots.

Such a sweet little thing!




Oh, and her name?  Spot.  In honor of Data's cat on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Since she's a calico (and therefore somewhat spotted), we thought it was especially fitting.  :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Training

So, Thursday evening's ride was more fun for Marxo than Sunday's super-hot ride was, but we did it to her again on Saturday morning - we made her ride through her whining, pain, and suffering.  I still say it's character building, though!  ;)

She really had done a great job on Thursday evening's ride.  She was powering up hills that I thought she would stop and walk up and she was generally in a good mood.  But Saturday was different.  We (once again) didn't leave from the house early enough and we were riding in nearly the peak heat of the day (11:30am-1:30pm).  AND, we decided to go to Double Lake Recreation Area (which the kids had voted for the previous night) and it's quite a bit more challenging than the trails at Stephen F. Austin State Park.  But, we figured that we really need to get in some training for both us and the kids before heading to Colorado in only a couple of weeks.

The trail we ride is about 9 miles of total length, but it usually takes us around 3 hours to ride the whole thing.  It's rather technical for a 6-year-old little girl with spindly little bird-legs, so we only average maybe 4 to 5 miles per hour and we stop fairly frequently.  In order to keep the kids happy, we usually stop for a short snack-break at about 2.5 miles and then again for a longer snack break at around the 6-mile mark.  On Saturday, we didn't stop for any snack breaks, so we finished a little faster - in a little over 2 hours -  but it was still unbearably hot.

And to make matters even worse, Marxo fell - right into a bush - and scraped up her arm.  We keep telling her it makes her look like a tough biker-chick, but she doesn't seem to buy it.  ;)

Tonight we're going to go riding up along the bayou again at Buffalo Bayou Park.  It's another two-a-day day for me.  I need about 100 more of these to get in shape before our Colorado trip, but I have less than two weeks to fit that in.  I may have to adjust my goals for this upcoming vacation...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Two-a-days

When I was in high school, volleyball season started a couple of weeks before school started.  I remember the years when the gym floor was refinished during the summer - the finish wasn't nicely worn and dusty and when we would dive for balls, our knee pads would stick to the floor instead of sliding on the floor and we would all end up with knee pad burn on our knees from the insides of our knee pads!

The other thing I remember about that time was that we would have two-a-day practices in the un-airconditioned gym.  I would be so tired at the end of the day from working out and sweating.  And I still remember the taste of the watered-down Gatorade that my mom used to send with me.  I don't think they make that flavor anymore, but I don't remember the name...

But, anyway, the reason I'm traveling down memory-lane here is because I think today is going to turn out to be a two-a-day workout for me.  Which is good, I could definitely use it!  I worked out at lunchtime today and tonight we're planning to load up the bikes and take the kids riding at the Buffalo Bayou Park again.  Gotta get some more miles in all our legs!

And Fellan finished with the dysgraphia testing yesterday, but it will be 3 weeks until we hear back from the woman with the test results.  Wow.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Getting fat

So, I seem to have lost all motivation for continuing to exercise.  What a difference it makes when you lose your favorite lunchtime exercise bicycle!  My project moved to the office closest to my house back in April - which is good, but the exercise facility isn't really as nice.  I didn't think it would be so bad, but after taking a look at my flabby middle, I have to admit that something must be done.  I just don't know how to find the motivation again.  I feel like I've lost a close friend...

But, our yearly summer bicycling vacation in Colorado is quickly approaching and I need to drop some weight to get to my climbing weight for the mountains!  I've sort of been in the Jan Ullrich training mode for the last few weeks.  We even had Bratwurst for lunch on Saturday.  :o  (Ullrich used to take all kinds of flack when he was racing because he would put on weight during the winters and he then had to lose it all before racing season each year.  Ahhh, I miss Ullrich!)

Anyway, the kids also need to get used to doing some trail riding, so on Sunday, we rode up to the Buffalo Bayou Park and rode around the park.  It's a great trail for Fellan.  Marxo's little chicken-legs have a hard time with the climbs, but we're hoping with a few more trips down there in the coming weeks, she'll build up a little strength.

I felt bad for Marxo afterwards on Sunday afternoon, though.  She had told me before the ride that she wanted to take the trailer bike because she was really tired.  I figured she was just being whiney, so I told her that daddy already got her bike and my bike ready and if we were to take the trailer bike, he would have to get two MORE bikes ready, so she should just ride her own bike.

Well, when we got home after stopping along the way for lunch, she laid down on the floor and went to sleep.  She had soldiered through the HOT ride (with only minimal crying!) and made it home and then just cratered.  Poor baby.  But it builds character, right?!  Why, I remember my parents forcing me to do things I didn't want to do all the time when I was growing up and I turned out just fine!  Umm... actually no, I don't think they did.  But that's the story I'll be telling the kids and I'm sticking to it!  :)

In other news, Fellan is doing his dysgraphia testing today.  I'm wondering how it's going...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's summer! Crap, summer is almost half-way done...

Yikes.  This happened last summer, too.  Summer is almost half-way done and all our plans to develop our childen's minds have most definitely NOT come to fruition.  Luckily, I wasn't planning too much development this year, since we failed so miserably last year.  But still...

We got pretty busy towards the end of the school year because Fellan's teacher suddenly decided to tell us that "public school is not the place for him."

Now, on the one hand, I'm pretty sure she could get fired for telling us that, but on the other hand, why did she wait until the end of the school year when there was NO WAY we would be able to find a different school for him?

Anyway, after checking out alternative schools and having all kinds of testing done, we've come to the conclusion that... well, we've just been blessed with a unique individual.  Which we already knew.  ;)

My mood over this keeps going up and down, but overall I'm having a hard time staying super-worried about it.  Fellan does have trouble staying focused in class and I'm sure he's a pain to his teachers.  However, we're not willing to drug him into a stupor (which one doctor was ready and willing to give us a prescription for!) and I just think there's something wrong with a school system that wants kids to be like that.

We did find one school that is awesome and we think it's really the way all schools should be run.  They spend a lot of time "figuring out" each child - finding their strengths, finding their weaknesses, and then helping the kids to become their own advocate in his/her education.  However, since we were late in the application process, we didn't make the cut this year.  I can't say that I'm too upset about that either, though.  The cost of the school would have just about put us in the poor house!

We're having some additional testing done this summer and we're thinking about trying out some neurofeedback to see if that will help his concentration skills for the upcoming year.  The other thing that has become apparent is that he does have some processing speed and fine motor problems and the additional testing we're having done next week is for dysgraphia - It took him 3 hours to copy two pages-worth of LARGE text for his last assignment of the school year.  Talk about torture!  Poor kid.  Writing papers and journals for every class was definitely not something that was required of me when I was in 2nd grade.

Which brings up the main reason I have a hard time getting super-worked up about this.  Yes, I do want to make sure that there's nothing seriously wrong with him, but if we find out he's just immature and has slow processing speed, so what?  He's still very intelligent.  He remembers everything he's ever heard.  He does fine on his tests and from a macro-perspective, he makes huge progress from year to year.  He loves school and loves learning.  And most of all, he's a healthy, kind, boisterous, sensitive, happy little boy.  Why mess with a good thing?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Race Report: 100MON Houston Picnic Loop Edition

Yes, we did, indeed, survive the 100 Miles of Nowhere ride last Friday!  Although the "official" day of the ride was Saturday, June 4, we did ours on Friday because the Memorial Park Picnic Loop is mostly closed to car traffic that day.  (When I originally talked people into doing it that day, I thought it was closed for the entire morning and afternoon, but it was actually open from 11am to 3pm.  However, it was such an extremely hot day that it turned out not to matter so much.  There weren't many people - or animals for that matter - out in the heat of the day like us...)

Anyway.

The day started off late because HISD decided at the last minute to tack on another day to the school year so what would have been the first day of summer vacation for our kids turned out to be the last day of school and we had to take them to school that day before we could start riding.  (But I'm not bitter about that.)

We gathered in the parking lot, trying to ignore our impending doom.

Everyone looks so happy!
There were nine people who showed up to do the ride with us, including a father-son duo whom you can make out on the tandem bike there to the left of the picture.  (I could add a comment here about the fact that they live out in Katy and the Katy ISD system didn't make the stupid decision to extend the school year by one day, but would that make me sound bitter again?)

After unloading and setting up the food, water, and cold, wet towels (learned that one from my husband who grew up here in this heat!), we rolled out at about 8:40am.

We chose to do the ride at the Memorial Park Picnic Loop because it's a small loop that is twisty enough to not be boring, but still conforms to the rule of " riding an infuriatingly small course for 100 miles".  The course:

Memorial Park Picnic Loop (1.18 mi)

At a lap-length of 1.18 miles, we would have to go around the loop 85 times to get to 100 miles.  The course looks deceptively easy - it's nearly pancake flat - but there's one section of the loop that we lovingly referred to as "The Wall".  It's a slight incline, just enough that you can notice it in your legs, but nearly impossible to capture in a picture.  Luckily, thanks to Fatty's guest post a couple of weeks ago, I was able to take a representative photo of it!

I captured the incline like a true professional
The first 10 miles were a breeze.  We all chatted and loosened up and then the one guy in the group who still avidly rides many times per week sort of took off (I'm pretty sure he gave us "The Look", too), not to be seen again until around the 40-mile mark when he had put an extra 12 miles on us.  The rest of us were content to line up and work together a bit, still not pushing too hard and still being able to light-heartedly joke with each other and pretend to be like that talking dog from the movie "Up" and say "SQUIRREL!" to each other every time we saw and almost ran over a squirrel.

At around mile 40, we broke into the doping products:

Preemptive Ibuprofen - a necessity once you hit 40 years old.
We managed to make it another 20 miles before stopping for lunch.  By this point, though, the people who were only going to do 50 miles were beginning to finish, so I had to start giving out awards.

Winners of the Simultaneous Relay Division (they each rode 50 miles)
Winners of the Father/Son tandem-then-switching-to-individual-bikes Division
The son in this father/son duo really, really wanted to ride 50 miles.  They started off on their tandem and rode about 15 miles and then switched to individual bikes.  I think in the end, they were a couple of miles short of the 35-mile mark on their individual bikes, but we're assuming that there must have been a couple of extra miles on the tandem that they missed in their counting.  Way to go to this awesome 8-year-old!!!

After lunch, I really started feeling it.  When it was 1:30 and the sun was directly overhead - providing only minimal shade to the route - and we had only gone about 65 miles, I was seriously doubting the intelligence of choosing to do this ride.  I actually started getting chills, which I couldn't decide were a result of dehydration or the pain that was shooting from my feet up into my legs.  I ended up assuming that it was dehydration and tried to force even more water into my already-water-logged stomach.  After soldiering through that trough, we managed to make it to 75 miles and another awards ceremony.

Winner of the Spontaneous 100K Division (a co-worker of mine who just decided to show up and ride!)
By this point, it was hot.  So, so hot!

The heat.




My God, the heat!

But, ignoring all remnants of sense we may have had left, we got back on our bikes and started turning the pedals once again.  We told ourselves that we would stop at 88 miles (when the avid-cyclist would be done, since he had 12 extra miles on us) and if we needed to, we could finish the rest of the 12 miles the next morning... in the relative cool of the day!

My Facebook updates throughout the day tell the story succinctly:

  • Almost to 40 miles.  Starting to really feel it!  Got all day to finish, though.  We'll make it.  :)
  • Up to 60 miles now! Lunchtime.
  • 75 miles.  The heat, my God, the heat!  Gonna try to do a little more, but may have to finish this tomorrow in the interest of not passing out...
  • 88 miles.  Past the trough.  I think I can, I think I can.
  • Finally!  100.31 miles of nowhere!
100.31 Miles of Nowhere!
 When we made it to the 88-mile point and stopped to let Mr. Avid take his leave of us, he decided he just couldn't leave us to wallow in misery without him for the last 12 miles and he ended up riding them with us.  So!  The winner of the 112 Miles of Nowhere Division:

Oops.  Either I forgot to take the picture, or it didn't actually take, so this will just have to do.  Not quite quads the size of Fatty's, but still...
And the rest of us...
Winner of the 100 Miles having "flatted" twice during the ride (he missed a couple of laps, but we treated it like a Crit and didn't make him ride those last two)
Winner of the Most-billable 100 Miles (my husband is a drilling engineer and had to work during every break)
Winner of the Women's-age-40-who-talked-all-her-friends-into-doing-this-with-her Division (Me) (Also? Nice hair!)
We finished at 4:44pm and sat around, recovering while watching people as they showed up after work to put in their workout for the evening.  As we were sitting there, we started noticing that the squirrels had come out from hiding in their cool nests and were running around again.  Until that point, though, we hadn't noticed they were missing!  So, on that realization, we packed up and went home.  We decided that next year, we'll do it in April, instead.