Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2010

At this point, all I can say is that 2010 cannot get her soon enough.  It has been an emotional roller coaster that I want off of! 

Let's see - you go out with a guy and then he tells you he is going to the coast for New Year and then to China a month for work.  WTF?  What was the point of going out if you were going to be AWOL for another month and a half?

The I got a call from the doctor's office today.  I had my well woman last month.  Apparently they had an abnormal pap, a very slight abnormality and I shouldn't worry but they want to repeat it in 3 months.  WTF?  Seriously don't worry?  Do you not read charts before you call people?  I mean 10 years ago I went through this for over two years.  Paps every 3 months, biospy's, per cervical cancer changes, cryotherapy, more biospy's and now you are tell me NOT to worry? 

Hopefully 2010 will be the year I actually catch a break on something!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Survey

TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF - The Survey


Name: Jennifer Kay Schmidt

Birthday: February 19, 1974

Birthplace: Columbus, NE

Current Location: Pflugerville, TX

Eye Color: Blue

Hair Color: Dirty Blonde

Height: 5' 4 1/2"

Right Handed or Left Handed: Right

Your Heritage: Mostly German with a touch of Swiss

The Shoes You Wore Today: Slipper with a brief moment in tennis shoes

Your Weakness: chocolate
Your Fears: Missing out on a family

Your Perfect Pizza: Pepperoni and Mushroom

Goal You Would Like To Achieve This Year: Pay off debt.

Your Most Overused Phrase On an instant messenger: LOL

Thoughts First Waking Up: What day of the week is it?

Your Best Physical Feature: Butt

Your Bedtime: 11 pm

Your Most Missed Memory: spending time at my grandma & grandpa's farm

Pepsi or Coke: Diet Coke

McDonalds or Burger King: I suppose McD's only cause BK sucks here

Single or Group Dates: Either

Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea: Don't drink tea

Chocolate or Vanilla: Chocolate

Cappuccino or Coffee: I prefer Diet Coke for my caffeine!

Do you Smoke: If I do, I am really, really, REALLY drunk and it isn't a good thing.

Do you Swear: That would be like saying I am never a smartass either!

Do you Sing: I prefer the term Joyful noise

Do you Shower Daily: yes

Have you Been in Love: Yes

Do you want to go to College: I did

Do you want to get Married: Absolutely

Do you belive in yourself: Sometimes you need that friend to remind you how good you are!

Do you get Motion Sickness: Only on really bad seas

Do you think you are Attractive: Yeppers

Are you a Health Freak: I like my exercise, I like my meat & potatoes!

Do you get along with your Parents: Yeppers, my mom is my BFF

Do you like Thunderstorms: Only if it means I can be in bed longer!

Do you play an Instrument: I think I last a month with the flute

In the past month...

Have you Drank Alcohol: Yep

Have you Smoked: Nope.

Have you been on Drugs: Nope

Have you gone on a Date: Yep
Have you gone to a Mall: No - scary - I know.

Have you eaten a box of Oreos: Nope.

Have you eaten Sushi: Never

Have you been on Stage: Nope.

Have you been Dumped: Nope.

Have you gone Skinny Dipping: Nope - it is winter!.

Have you Stolen Anything: Nope.

Ever been Drunk: Yeppers

Ever been called a Tease: Flirt yes.

Ever been Beaten up: Never.

How do you want to Die: Peaceful after living a full life with family & friends!

What do you want to be when you Grow Up: A mom.

What country would you most like to Visit: Someplace with a beautiful beach!

In a Boy/Girl..

Favorite Eye Color: Any - but a sucker for beautiful eyes!

Favorite Hair Color: None

Short or Long Hair: short.

Height: Always been into taller guys

Weight: Slim-Average

Best Clothing Style: WTF?

Number of Drugs I have taken: Again, I repeat, WTF?

Number of CDs I own: Does it matter?

Number of Piercings: Not a big fan of guys with piercings

Number of Tattoos: Seriously?

Number of things in my Past I Regret: As long as they are in your past and you can move foward from them.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

In the Game

Well after months of taking a break from dating and the drama it had created in my life, I am officially back in the game!  No offense to the Chef or Copier Man, it just didn't work and to some degree just brought stress to my life.  I just went through a stage of just not wanting to date and want to focus on me.

Then, on Tuesday this week, I hit the low point. The Just a lot of Blah post.  I had a friend email and really life wasn't THAT bad.  It was a feeling at that point on that day that it was THAT bad.  But, everyone has those days.  This blog is my personal journal.  It is my thoughts, it is my feelings, it is just me.  Blah days and all.

So, it just happens that on that blah day, I got an email from a guy that I will name IT guy for now from a dating website .  Even though I wasn't in the best spirits, I emailed him back.  I figured, why not.  We spent the evening emailing back and forth and just seem to be a common connection on different levels.  Wednesday brought more of the same.  I had to leave early because of The Mash test so I gave him my phone number so we could chat about the possibility of meeting up on Thursday.  Well he called Wednesday night and the rest is history, or at least to the point of being back in the world of dating.

He is a really super guy.  We have a lot of similar interests but at the same time we come from different worlds.  I am hopeful that there will be a date two...but only one person knows the answer to that.  Time will tell.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Mash

Okay - I probably should but the disclaimer in that if you are a guy...this just might be TMI.

So - today was the day.  I was warned of it last year at my last doctor's visit.  I was turning 35 and with it, it was time for the Mash test - you know, the Mammogram.  I pretty much avoided it and thought that maybe they would forget about it when I went in for that annual check up on Monday.  Nope, no such luck.  It needed to be done and today was my lucky day.

First off, my mom kept telling me that it isn't that bad.  It just pinched.  But, no offense to my mama, but my Boys are good size.  There is a lot to mash.  I still was worried.

So - I get there on time and fill out the trusty paper work.  I get escorted back to the changing area which feels more like a dressing room.  There was three "areas" in which you could change into one of the lovely gowns.  It was like cattle stalls, usher you in, usher you out.

I change and go back into the room with the tech.  It was such a cold room.  It was the mash machine and then the techs computer behind some glass.  She tries to sugar coat the experience but really, who are we kidding.  You are going to take that thing, make it like a vice clamp around my boob and call it good.  You ain't gonna be able to sugar coat that.

So, Right boob up first.  Now why can't they make this machine like an x-ray machine and lower it.  I mean, I felt like I was standing on my toes.  I should of wore heels.  (Note to self: wear heels next time). It is weird, she just grabbed my boob and threw it up there like it was nice steak.  And then she again tried to make humor about how I need to strike this particular pose so she could get my boob in this particular position so should could get a good picture.  And then the clamp came down.  It wasn't bad, but the fact that it pinches and you are trying to hold still while it takes a picture while you are in an awkward position, yeah not fun.

So the good news is that after she repeats the shot on the left boob, she tells me she didn't get a clear shot. Apparently spillage happened with the boys.  I mean, I can't help they are big.  I can't help that they won't stay in place.  Can't we just call it good?  Nope, moving on.  I think at the end she took 6 or 7 pictures, which meant 6 times in the vice clamp machine.

I really don't know what has gone wrong but my right boob feels like someone took a meat tenderizer mallet thing too it.  Poor thing.

The good news is that she kindly told me NOT to be alarmed when they call me back.  They almost ALWAYS call the first-timers back.  They like to be overly cautious with the newbies since they don't have anything to go off of!  Lucky me.  Lucky for the boys. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Irony

So - today we received the following email card from the president of our company....



So, I am going to assume by this email that by Happy, she means that it will be better times in 2009.  By Healthy, since our health benefits are increasing by 174.47%, I will need to be health just to afford them.  By Prosperous - I should expect at minimum a 2.82% increase in my salary just so I can make the same I did back in 2007 when I started here.

Season Greetings to you too lady!

Just a lot of blah

Yes, it is true. I have been in some sort of funk for at least the month of December if not longer. No idea what it is from, what triggers it but it is there. I wouldn't say that it is obviously noticeable but the ones that are around me all the time have noticed, always asking if I am okay. But, those that aren't, probably don't even have a clue unless I said something. I am sure it is a combination of things and really who knows. I just know that even typing this blog, I feel the urge to cry. Why? I really don't know.

I went home over Thanksgiving and spent the holiday with family. Maybe that triggered it, maybe it just made it worse. I am sure some are thinking - how can a Holiday with family make you blah? Or some are going to say - move home. But really it is a combination of things from home that are contributing to it.

One - I am 35, absolutely zero prospects in the dating arena and feel like I get closer and closer to the prospect of never being a parent. The dreaded biological clock factor. Now I know that weighs on me but to contribute to it, I go home to my parents house full of babies and soon to be babies. Both my younger brothers are parents (or by Feb) and here I am alone and going to be known as the Favorite Aunt. Don't get me wrong, happy for them, really sucks for me.

Two - While it is "home" it no longer is home. To some degree, I don't feel as if I belong. Most friends are too busy and involved in their own lives that I don't see them when I am on short trips back. Sometimes when I do get to see them, it almost feels like it is a formal meeting and I really don't know them anymore. For others, the only way they can see me is if I fit myself into their activities, so is that really a friend? Parties at my parent’s house I feel like the flower on the wall watching everyone else interact because they are around each other more. I normally get the hi, give me a rundown of your life in 5 minutes or less attitude. Really I feel as if I left, no one would notice one way or another.

So - whether the trip home created the snowball or just helped it gain momentum...it is rolling full steam ahead. I had zero ambition to put up Holiday decorations because to me it meant finding time to put them up only to find time to take them down again. Well, Mama would have no such thoughts and so it is all up. Although, I still haven't made the effort to find the extension cord to plug the tree in. I had to put the tree on the landing going upstairs so I could use the baby gate to keep Finn away from it. To him, it represents a new chew toy.

Life here for the most part is good. I just have that blah mood and choose to isolate myself than be around others. The thought of going out for drinks after a Lowe's night is not something I want to do just because it ends up being a complaining fest about Lowe's for the group and really, it is a part time job to me. If I am that miserable and need to waste a good drink just to complain about it, I need something new - so I opt to go home.

My weight is really bothering me too. I am stuck in this yoyo between 188 and 186...yep officially obese according to the BMI. It doesn't matter what I eat, how much I exercise, it just bobs back and forth. But, if it kills me - it is coming off before the cruise in March.

This year will also mark my first Christmas on my own. No family is visiting and I will not be heading to Houston to spend it with the Curtis' clan. Really it is just a personal choice not to go. I am pretty sure I will be at work until 3 on Christmas Eve. Then because of my set schedule at Lowe's, I open the day after Christmas. I didn't attempt to ask it off since I was the only one to get the weekend after Thanksgiving off from the store. So, spending 6 hours in the car for less than a 24 hour visit, well, just doesn't seem worth it.

The other factor that is there and shouldn't be is the EX. He violated probation once again and is looking at going to jail for up to a year. I know he has made his own choices and it is not my fault, but at some level, I feel accountable. I know I couldn't have done anything different, he had the problem but well it is just there.

So that is the blahness in my life right now. Probably as depressing as it gets but yep that is my pathetic life at this moment. I know, if I told Mama, she would tell me to call Hypno lady so she can cast me into a happy trance again. Really, I just feel like I have been in a PMS mood for a month now. Really sucks and really I should call Hypno lady. Maybe I should just go and make that my Christmas present to myself and to the people stuck around me on a daily basis!

So, if you don't get a Christmas Card this year, do not be alarmed, do not be offended. I have no urge to write a Christmas card letter and make my life seem so great because right now I don't feel that way. Plus, again, the urge or writing out Christmas cards does not strike a chord either. I want to be true to me and doing any sort of letter/card would be fake because no one wants a bah humbug letter!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Go BIG red!!!


Life on this end is good! I am loving my new set schedule at Lowe's. It gives me days off and still allows me the freedom to do other things. This past weekend, I dragged Runner along with me to Waco, really Beverly Hills, to go to the Nebraska vs Baylor game. We met up with Hamersky and clan for a brewhaha before the game. I miss Hamersky but not the stress that came with the job we had!

Okay - all I can say is the weekend was a number of firsts. I have never been to a stadium where there was no one there for the Home team. My dad & brother thought we were crazy because we didn't go over to the other side and sit in the front row. It was a first that we part less than a block away from the stadium within two hours of kick off. That there was crazy. It was also my first sober football game...still not sure if that was good or bad.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day! Probably too sunny because my darn head was burned. But one should never complain of a nice tan the first of November! The Huskers played a little better than the Iowa State game, at least won! But I think one fellow Husker summed it up best when we recovered a fumble close to the end zone...kick the field goal....we are guaranteed points. Of course - the offensive went out and threw an interception.

We made it back to town in time for trick or treaters and Finn was sad to see the door close every time the kids left. To him they were there to play.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Challenge's

This has always been one of my favorite quotes from Ralph Marston. I just to have it posted on my cube wall and it is so true for all of us. We all need that reminder now and then!


Rise to the challenges
You can rise to the challenges or you can let them push you down. You can make the best of them, or you can let them get the best of you. It all depends on how you respond. It all depends on how you see yourself.
If you see yourself as a victim, you will be. Life's difficulties will quickly overpower you if you let them. When you see yourself as a participant in life, as an effective and positively focused force, not only will the challenges yield to your involvement, they will serve to make you stronger.

Look at each challenge as an opportunity. What can you learn from it? What can you do with it? How can you bring about something positive because of it?

When faced with a challenge, ask yourself this question. How can I respond to this challenge so that a year from now, looking back at the experience, I'll be overwhelmingly thankful that it came along?

The challenges are there and they will keep on coming. Rise to the challenges. It's a great way to powerfully lift yourself up.

-- Ralph Marston

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Direct Tv

"Agggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh" to quote Charlie Brown.

I work in tech support, I know how the system works. But why, why must they make my life hell. I don't ask for much. I just want to record my shows, come home, sit on the couch and relax on my off nights watching those previously recorded. Unfortunately, Direct TV doesn't see it my way and last night took the cake.

For the past six weeks, my DVR and I have not been getting along. Either the receiver says searching for service or it is like watching a show with 400 hiccups in it. Of course, at first they tried to say it was the connection. No, it is not the connection, live TV is fine, and the box hasn't moved locations since it was installed and no one can get back behind with the cords (well except the fur balls). They have tried resetting, they have tried doing updates, blah, blah. In the end, it "fixes" the problem for a few days and then we are back to square one.

So, last night was the the breaking point for me. The past three days of work have just been hell and all I looked forward to was a good run and watching the Biggest Loser from the night before. Well, before I got that far, I tried to watch Y&R (my guilty pleasure). Last time I checked if you are watching a DVR'd show, an hour show should take you less than an hour to watch, not an hour and 45 minutes to get through it. So, I just couldn't take it and called the customer support and my saga crumbles.

The first lady I received was very nice but she kept telling me that my only option was to format the hard drive. Of course I will lose everything from there. The pay-per-views not fully watched nor my shows. I didn't want to spend another hour on the phone going through this and just was done with it all - send me a new DVR. Sorry mama, we can't do that. Fine, let me talk to your supervisor. My thought was that the supervisor would be more willing to work with me.

Big, big, HUGE mistake in thought. This lady redefined the word attitude. In no shape or form will I be compensated for anything and until I reformat my hard drive - I can't do anything else. Since I am just beyond frustration and at a boiling point, fine, do what you have to do. Well, I follow her instructions and why the system is formatting the hard drive, she asks me to confirm my address and reads it to me. I say yes. She was like Mame - I need you to confirm your address - so I yell yes thinking she can't hear me on speaker phone. No Mame, I need you to repeat your address to me. WTF - you just read it to me and now you want me to tell you what you said. So I give her my street address...hot under the collar by now. Not good enough - so I give her my city, state and zip - spelling it all out so she doesn't get confused. I know I am yelling by now but it is just because of the pure frustration and rudeness with this lady. She then tells me that she is going to have to terminate the call, tells me to have a nice day and hangs up.

So, I call back. They ask how they can help. I give my best polite effort when mad and say I was on the phone with a supervisor. Well, she puts me through to a supervisor and happens to be the same one. Seriously - is this a cruel, cruel joke? Well, she is resident evil by this point. I didn't realize right away it was her and explain how I was hung up on, she then goes into you know why I hung up, don't you. Uhhh, I just tell her I am not calling to rehash this, I want it solved. She has complete attitude and really is making no effort. She even then starts bitching about how she works three jobs. Seriously, do you think I care. At no point in my career have I EVER considered telling someone I was on a support call with how many jobs I work, let alone a VERY frustrated & angry customer. Are you kidding me.

Well, some how - even though she wasn't on the phone while it did the reformat, she determined that I need a new DVR. Then proceeds to tell me that it is going to cost me $19.95 to send it out. Ah no, I am not paying for that. She was like "Are you telling me that or asking that". At that point I had enough of the attitude and said I would call back and deal with someone else. Please forget about it and I will deal with it tomorrow.

So, while I am typing up my letter to the Better Business Bureau, I receive an email informing me that my DVR has been shipped and they are billing me for it. I am so ready to hit the roof on this, it isn't funny. I tried to call on my way into work but apparently they don't support people until 8 am. So, guess it is going to be a drive home call.

Again, to quote Charlie Brown "Agggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Go Time

Well, it is official, surgery has been set. Friday, November 13th is the day. Yes - Friday the 13th. But, see I think that since I have 13 permanently inked on my skin that it is a lucky number and not unlucky. Hopefully this holds true for the surgery.

It seems easy to schedule it but has been a lot of work to find the right date. Being single, I have just me to count on to get me to and from places. So, this means that I have to find someone that can take me home from surgery. Now, most in my situation call upon mom & dad to help out. Well, given that there is 807 miles between my front door and their front door, it doesn't make that as a real option. Although, there was some initial thought about doing it the Friday before Thanksgiving, my mom could fly in and then just drive with me back to NE for the holiday. Well, grand in theory but I will have to have the splints removed from my nose 7 days after the surgery, so that means I need to be in Texas to have that done.

So, plan B is in place. My aunt that lives in Houston has agreed to be a stand in mom for me. Her and my uncle will be on vacation the end of October and given that I have tickets to the Baylor/NU game - I had to coordinate around that as well. So - November 13th was the first Friday that would work for all of us and the doctor agreed that date would work to.

I am nervous but at the same time optimistic of what the surgery can do for me. I hope that the days of sinus infections will be few and far between! I look forward to being able to breathe out of my nose and not feeling so tired all the time! I'll keep you updated as things proceed. There will be more tests done between now and then as this is going to be an image guided procedure.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Big Decision

It actually feels like a mountain weighing on me and I really don't know what I should do. Really I know what I should do but it scares me to do it.

For whatever reason, after college, my allergies were taken to a whole new level. Basically I can hug a tree without worrying and that is about it, the rest I am allergic to. That includes cats, most dogs, dust, mold, grass and a slew of other random stuff. For the most part life was some what in control with allergy injections in each arm, each week. On top of that I had the allergy meds and nasal spray to help with what the shots didn't.

Well, when I moved to Austin, I had to go off the shots for one year. They wanted to "acclimate" me to Texas and make sure I didn't have anything new. The good news is that I don't suffer from "Cedar Fever" that they have here, but the rest didn't go away. I am back to getting two shots to help get over the allergies. Now, they are trying to fast forward me through this, so I have been going at least once a week but there have been a few weeks that I have been in 3 times to get my two shots. Plus the oral & nasal meds. :)

Last winter I blogged about the sinus infection that wouldn't go away. After CT scans galore, they determined that I had an infection that was full blown, won't go away. I had a deviated septum, a sinus cavity developed incorrectly and something else was wrong. Long story short, two different doctors, same recommendation...SURGERY.

Well, they said I could put it off because I was training for the triathlon and that would of prevented me from training and doing the race. Well, all summer I was blessed with no sinus infections and the saline rinses seemed to be helping. Unfortunately that came to an end last Saturday, the sinus infection is back.

I am lucky in that I don't get the blinding headaches but I do live with the feeling that my ears are floating in water. The over counter meds are helping somewhat but not making it go away. So, yesterday and today I have been talking about the surgery with the ENT doctor to see what all is involved.

Lovely insurance means that minimum it will cost is $500, plus 90% of doctors, hospital and anesthesiologist. Of course, no one can tell me what my total out of pocket would be because they all bill separately. Thanks for nothing.

I think the biggest fear is not knowing. Is this going to solve my problems or most of them? Will I sleep better at night? Will I not be constantly tired anymore? Ma says she would not do it again if she had to but that was 20 years ago - things have had to change, right? Then there is my struggles with surgery and anesthesia. Out of my six surgeries in which I was put out, half have turned from an outpatient surgery to 3 day hospital stay. This is suppose to be a relatively short surgery, so since I did okay on the other short ones, I should be fine on this one - right? UGH! Can I be a kid again and have my mom and dad make the decision for me?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Career Change

Yep, that is what I am considering right now. I know - I hit 35 and suddenly decide I don't know what I want in life.

As we know, I was the coach in Nebraska. I loved it. Okay, maybe not the success I didn't have at the last high school but did love the coaching and the kids. I use to think that if I would go back to school, I would be a teacher once I am married so I could stay home with the kids in the summer and still be allowed to do the coaching thing.

Well, fast forward to my conversation I had on Friday night. One of the gals I work part time with at Lowe's also is a teacher. Yes, she works two jobs but it is because she is trying to put three boys through college without her Ex's help. We know how that goes! Anywho, she was giving me the run down on all of it. Basically, I would start out at less than $100 a month than I make now. However, they cover the insurance (savings of $62/month) and also contribute to a retirement plan - which I currently don't have through work. Never mind that I get summers off, Christmas, two week breaks. Or on top of that I will get 10 sick days and 10 personal days to use each school year that roll over. Am I crazy? Isn't this a no-brainer? In addition, I would get a raise every school year which is more than I can say for where I am at now, I have had a 2% raise in my 26 months of employment. Pathetic & sad.

So, that is what is on the mind today. I am suppose to be getting some information on what additional classes I would need to take to become teacher certified. The positive is that I still have a job and can get myself up & running on this in my free time!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

To date or not date....

that is the question.

In high school, I had a boyfriend. But then in college I dated my fair share of guys, but nothing serious. Then a tragic event happened my junior year of college and caused me to be pretty jaded towards guys and really never dated much after that. When I turned 30, things changed and I met the EX. Things seemed good at first but obviously again, judgement was clouded and not a grand choice in men.

So, fast forward to the fall of 2008. I met the Chef and things seem to go well. We are just so opposite and I have blogged about that before. Plus, there just doesn't seem to be a lot of effort on either part to see each other. Then there was NY Man. We click on a lot of levels and have a lot in common. BUT, he has his things that he needs to work out first and really the only way he and I could date is if he takes his time and works through those things.

So, fast forward to last night. I have known Pimp for over a year now. There is the attraction factor and he is a super nice guy. A few of us typically go out for drinks on Friday night after we close Lowe's. There has been an occasion or to where it just ends up being the girls and Pimp. Hence we changed the song My Girl to "My Pimp" one night while drinking because he is always there with the girls and it has always stuck since then. Well, last night, TMK, Pimp and I went out for one or two drinks. TMK bowed out because she had to be back at 10 am. Pimp and I ended up playing pool and closing down the bar. For the record, I still SUCK at pool. We got the closing call at 2 and closed out our tab and headed out.

Pimp and I headed out and were chatting. At some point chatting became a make out session in the parking lot. Yes - a teenager all over again. But level heads won out and I resisted the offer and headed to home to my own bed by myself. Pimp is an excellent kisser, I will give him that. :) He almost was very persuasive getting me to come over too. I just said I didn't want a drunk thing and he told me he would call tonight after he gets off from work so we could watch a movie...we'll see.

So, what is the problem one asks? Oh, about 10 years of age difference. He is much more mature than his age but freely admits he isn't ready for a serious relationship. I on the other hand feel like my biological clock is tickin. So, do you date him knowing it isn't serious until someone else comes along? Or do you pass just because the age difference? Or just date and see if it evolves into something but does that make me a cougar?

I know you silent lurkers are out there and never post, but I am expecting people to weigh in on this one. We know that I have had a terrible track record of picking guys so really not sure what to do on this one.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Being Frugal

That is my new motto anyway. As some of you may or may not know, my entire goal is to be debt free by the time I am 40. That leaves me with 4 years, 4 months and 28 days to knock it out. It all is a culmination of bad choices, bad choices with the Ex, more bad choices of my own, a few healthy choices, a bad economy, etc. In other words a lot of excuses that I am tired of.

So, with the start of Second Chances last week, I am getting serious about my Second Chances Financially. It probably is unrealistic to expect to have my house paid off in under 10 years - but it is worth a try, right?

So, my challenge to myself this week is to live out of my pantry. I always buy stuff I don't need or buy more than I need and never use it. I think we all have been there. So, with that in mind, I just got the staples at the grocery store last night. Okay - staples and a treat. :) I walked away with Grapes, banana's, apples, carrots, and a pint of ice cream. That there was the $9.65 grocery bill for the week. Whoohooo - I think that is a pretty grand start if you ask me. I had enough for sandwiches & chips for lunch or leftovers for lunch and sandwiches on Lowe's days. I had a great dinner last night, which translated into a tasty lunch today!

On my other up news of the week, apparently I have had a review I didn't know about at Lowe's and received a $0.40 raise. That is the second raise I have had since I started there. Now, in one year's time I have received an 8% raise in my pay. In my full time "real" job, I have received a 2% raise in 26 months. Hmmmm, wonder if something is wrong with this picture? Maybe I need to start looking for a different "real" job.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2nd Chances

Well, yesterday marked the beginning of the Biggest Loser's Season 8, one in which the theme is Second Chances. Dc and I did some quick thinking and discussion and decided that this was the time for our second chance and time to get rid of the weight once and for all. Tuesday marked the beginning of a new session of WW for her, the first night of BL - so why not start on Tuesday.

We decided to recruit some people with us on our journey, so DC's sister is joining the fun as well as C. Whoohooo. DC and I are in the process of updating our old journey website so you can head on over there and watch our journey!!!

http://txmdchallenge.spaces.live.com/


I got on the scale and had an ugly number stare back at me....187.8. So close to 200 lbs, it is sad. I would never imagine in my life that I would be this big and not having a pregnancy to blame it on. But, I don't have any excuses outside of not working out and not caring what I put in my mouth.

The sad reality is that I am so big that I can't fit into 90% of my closet, a closet that is packed with clothes. I think I might wear the same outfits to work every week because that is what fits. It is hard to believe that a little over a year ago, I was in great shape and down to a size 10. Ugh! But, it is what it is and I am ready to make the changes necessary. I will reclaim my closet one article of clothing at a time!!!!

Family!!!

Yes, my last post ended with the ring of the door bell. Who would be on the other side...yes, my first family visitors outside of my parents since I moved to Texas over two years ago. Bout Time!

The original intent of the trip was that D & I were going to do the Austin Triathlon together. Well, insane work schedules and the weather being hotter than HELL, I quit training so it was D flying solo.

So, the Sisters & D arrived on Friday afternoon, sans kids since they were in school. First order of business...the outlet mall and the Salt Lick. Yummy for my tummy. Day 2...well it involved a lot of booze and water. Yep that would be the Guadalupe River. It was overcast and the River was low but I believe a good time was had by all. I won't go into how DirecTv wouldn't let us order the Nebraska game at half time. If we want to pay full price who cares when we order it?

Day 3...we had to check in D for the race and drop his bike off. Ultimately it ended up being a low key day doing things around Austin. I ended up sick for the afternoon & evening. But we still made it to the pool and The Oasis for supper. Unfortunately we were slow going so we missed sunset there. :(

Day 4...race day. We were up at the butt ass crack of dawn...4:30 to be exact. D was a trooper dealing with 3 cranky ladies that early and kicked @ss in the tri! Without the heat to train in all summer, he did fab and placed in the top 500, with over 1,000 people in the race. Once he was done, it was nap time for all.

At the end of Day 4, we had to celebrate a great trip. We headed to Joe's Crab Shack for some yummy seafood on Lady Bird Lake. C came out of her shell and even tried some seafood! I can't blame her - I didn't eat it until I moved here. Then since it was still early, we headed to Congress Bridge to see the bats take flight for the night. There is 1.5 million bats that live under this bridge and take flight every night. I think that C was not impressed. Then, we headed to Coyote Ugly. I believe enough can be said knowing that A was on the bar dancing & loving it.

All in all, I believe we all had a great time. I believe A said next time, we need to go downtown earlier in the trip and not the night before they drive back!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Forever and a day

I can't believe a month has passed without nothing inspiring from me. Holy Cow! Well things have been busy in the past month. After a weekend of camping with New York Man, things fizzled and I saw his true colors. Fortunately not a lot of time was invested.

Of course, ironically Chef man re-entered the picture. Not that he ever left the picture, we still talked every day if not every other day, just not had a chance to hang out. I love chillin with him, it is relaxing, drama free time. If we could just have more things in common!! But he did cook a fabulous dinner and we can now check off crab cakes, rice and Bison Filet as foods I have officially eaten!

Mid August saw the arrival of Skipper and her family. I call her the Skipper because I only tried to skip school once, all day, with her and things did not go as planned. Ahhh, memories. Now since they had a we-one, all of 6, we did all the fun things that kids love. Thursday we did Schlitterbaughn. Who can't love that place? Of course, towards the end of the day, the rude people & kids were getting on my nerves! But, I survived. Friday, I had to work since my copart already requested the day off. Skipper & family used it as a down day. I met them in San Marcos Outlet Mall and I don't think Skipper's family had as much fun there as we could of. :) We called it a night after a great dinner at the Salt Lick. Saturday, Sea World here we come. It was a 10 hour day there and we STILL didn't see it all. I'll get some pictures up soon!

Now, I am just patiently waiting for my cousins to arrive from Nebraska. JAS hubby is doing the triathlon on Monday. I was suppose to but after a streak of 136 hours of work in 15 days, I decided I needed a break from training. Plus all the 100 degree days was not helping the cause! There is the door bell.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Nothin

Yes, that is right, I have a whole lot of nothin to share and so that is why I have been AWOL.

I just finished a killer week working both jobs. No idea why it works that way, but some weeks all my hours at Lowe's come during the week and then the next week, most come during the weekend. What does that translate to - a LONG ass week. By the time 9:15 came last night and I logged out at Lowe's, I had logged 66 hours for the week.

Now for most people - that would be plenty to add to the plate. But - not me, the glass was only half full with work stuff. So, for good measure, I did all my training for the Austin Tri. Now - if adding an hour of workouts wasn't good enough, I also started putting together the upstairs now that the carpet is in. I promise, promise to get pics up as soon as the last box is unpacked!

As for the copier man, well recession hit his employer and his job, so he has been working for his brother which has translated into a lot of hours outside in the 100+ heat. Needless to say he is wiped at night and then my not so friendly work schedule has limited any time to hang out.

That is all folks.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The River

So, anyone that has paid attention to the weather knows that southern Texas is baking. I have given up watering my yard because when you can only water twice a week - you would have to be home all day, every day to give it enough water to survive. I have been watering my plants outside daily and if I would go two days without water - they would be dead guaranteed.

On an odd factor, I had a Saturday off from Lowe's. Yes, no Saturday night closing shift. The beauty is that it happened without me even asking for it off. So, since Copier man and I are dating, I suggested that we tube the Guadalupe River on Saturday. Well, he went a step further and said, let's go camping and tubing. Ok kids, who seriously considers camping when your day time highs are over 100? Reality check please. Never mind camping with someone you are still getting to know. But - I figured what the heck - what a better way to get to know someone.

So, I was able to find someone to cover my Friday night shift at Lowe's and someone to take care of the dogs for the weekend. The only glitch was that I had to be back at Lowe's at 3 on Sunday. Not a big deal.

Of course - our departure was not as smoothed as planned. Copier man got stuck in traffic so he was late getting to my house. He was frustrated because his brother took a bunch of his camping stuff out of his storage unit. But - it was all manageable. We stopped at Cabala's and I picked up an air mattress since I figured when company comes next month - I will need that extra bed and he got a grate for the grill. Onward we went.

We got to the campsite, Rockin R, checked in and found our site. Note - make sure to pack a hammer/mallet. Between the ground being so dry and rocks - Copier man didn't have much luck getting the stakes in the ground. We got things set up and then made a quick run to Walmart so we could have some lightning since it was a no electricity, no running water camp ground with the exception of the main bathroom/shower area.

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend despite the weather. We didn't kill each other and had a fabulous time tubing on Saturday and just hanging by the river. We played Domino's and did a lot of talking. The overnight tempatures weren't too bad but Saturday night was probably the worst because it was so humid. We did learn one of the ladies in the campground can party until 5 am Saturday morning but is pretty quiet the next night. We also witnessed the episode of "It wasn't me" in the river with the other girl. Looking forward to doing it again soon! We did have a picture taken on the river so if I get a copy I'll be back to post it.

Couple's Triathlon

I am just going to give this a brief bleep on the radar because that is how much I am trying to forgot this day. Runner has been my faithful training partner on the bike when I was preparing for the Cap Tex Tri. So, when she asked me to do the Couple's Triathlon with her because her husband wouldn't, I just had to. If I only knew then what I knew now. At the time of the yes, I didn't know that my dad would be in Austin for a week. Or that I couldn't get back on the fitness wagon after he left or that I would start dating Copier man.

Yes, the night before the race, I took out my bike for a spin around the block. The first time that I had been on it in over two weeks. UGH! I knew it was going to be miserable and it didn't disappoint.

By the time I crossed the finish line, it had to be close to 100. It was humid and miserable! The swim went okay. It was the longest swim I had done - 800 meters - to date and really didn't finish off my normal pace and didn't have any mishaps with being kicked, etc. Well the transition from the swim to the transition area was LONG and uphill. The bike - well so how I was confused on my time and overall - it sucked. I won't get into how they called this course "rolling hills". I would hate to see a course called "hills". I mean, who survives going down hill, taking a hard right because the road dead ends and then get around the corner to face a HUGE hill. There were many of crashes there and people walking bikes up the hill because they couldn't downshift fast enough. Then the run - well we will just say it was a walk for me. By that point I was so dehydrated to go with the out of shape that I had the chills.

And the crappy results are.......

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Papa Smurf

Well, it is official....my house is FINALLY painted. Okay - so I still need to do the trim work in a couple rooms, but everything else is done. No more waves in the spare bathroom!!! Whooo hoooo. The best part - it was all finished in a week. Yes - 6 days of hard work.

Okay - I was NOT the rock star on this. As some of you know, Papa Smurf has been layed off from Goodyear for a few months now. Now my mom knows that with me working two jobs and doing these triathlons, there hasn't been a lot of time for much of anything else. She mentioned it to my dad that he should come down and paint and he was all in. So, with less than a weeks warning, I was picking my dad up on a Tuesday noon at the Austin airport.

I have a pretty awesome dad! He jumped into projects right away. Since I have moved in, the garbage disposal has never worked. So, with a little work, he and I were able to retrieve 14 nails out of the disposal. There is a 15 that is going to be permanently there but the blades still turn, so it will do. I have become more handy around the house but still don't know what I am doing most of the time. I did manage to put new locks on the house but they needed Dad's touch so the door would seal tight. He also fixed the dishwasher since the water wasn't draining out correctly. That there was all done on day one!!!!

Tuesday afternoon we headed to Lowe's to pick up all the supplies he needed that I didn't have. On Wednesday, I was off to work and he got to work right away. I still had to work both jobs on Wednesday, so it was a pretty lonely day for him. But he got a LOT accomplished. Heck mom even asked me what I was doing to him because he was too busy to talk.

By the end of the trip, he painted the bedroom/office, the second bathroom, the family room, the hallway, the 1/2 bath and the laundry room. A few of those rooms needed some patching and also some primer! He was awesome. He hung blinds in two of the rooms, curtain rods, and new bathroom fixtures!

He did have a little down time too and was able to visit his cousin that lives in Cedar Park. But, most of his trip was hard work and he never complained about it once. On his last night here, I treated him to Pappadeaux's. If you EVER have a chance, I so recommend this Seafood place. It comes with a price but is soooo worth it.

I was so grateful for Papa Smurf's time here and all of his hard work! Once the carpet is in, this house can be called a home! I can't wait to have him here for another visit where he can relax and enjoy himself!

Louella Rose Schmidt 1911 - 2009

Well, it is long over do but I promised to write about Grandma Schmidt.

Grandma Schmidt. Pillar of strength is what comes to mind when I think of her. She was the glue of the family. The family center where everyone went.

She raised seven children and I assure you those five boys were FAR from sainthood. My dad was the baby of the bunch and the only one that was born in a hospital. She helped run the farm with Grandpa. She buried her husband in 1984. She lost a son in 1994 and buried a Great Grandson. You never saw her shed a tear during those times. She lived in the house they bought in Platte Center before Grandpa passed away until she was 96 - on her OWN!

She had a unbelievable faith. You could always call her for a prayer request. I don't ever remember going to her house and not seeing a candle lit but my mom tells me it wasn't always lit. She helped out at the church, whether it was tending to the flowers outside or helping on the inside. Father was always invited to our family functions. I assure you us kids received plenty of lectures from her from what we were watching to what our church habits were.

I wasn't terribly close to Grandma Schmidt - I was Grandma Meedel's favorite. I do feel there was a lot of resentment for many years towards my family because we were the only one of her seven kids that moved away. She softened in the years about it but there are still days that they pick on our family because we are "City Kids". No matter how things were early in my childhood, she did soften through the years and Grandma always had radishes for me for those radish sandwiches when I visited! She taught me not only how to be strong in Faith but how to be a strong Woman.

As Grandma always said at the end of a visit, don't say goodbye....Until I see you again....
This is a picture of bro & Grandma at Christmas 2007.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Seasons...

You know I always get those emails that talk about friends come and go in seasons. I never thought much of it because my friends have always been there if I have needed them and we have always done the best to stay in touch and be there for each other.

However, I finally learned that there is probably some truth to it. I am hurt, frustrated and don't get it but at the end of the day, it is what it is, and it just isn't a call I will make the next trip home.

See, BALLER and I have been friends since I got out of college. We lived together for a few years, played ball together, etc. She moved a lot for her job and I was always the friend that went on road trips to see her, to IL, to TX, I even took off work and helped her move to IL when her family didn't.

But, as the seasons go, the friendship changed and really don't know if I can say she is a friend anymore. I invited her to my mom's party, I called her on my way back to town and what did I get from it - NOTHING. God forbid if BALLER would miss a weekly event to see a friend in town. God forbid if BALLER couldn't come and see me after her softball game instead of inviting everyone over to her house after the ball game.

I just think of all the efforts I have made over the past to keep the friendship there, the family functions I went to, how I cleared things so I could see her when she was back and town and basically, she couldn't fit me into HER schedule when I was back. It hurts, it sucks, and the best is she put it on me, that I didn't call, that I was busy with family, blah blah blah. Of course, it also makes sense why she has never come to see me in TX either.

There are seasons for friends.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Surprise Party, an Aunt, and a Funeral

Wow what a journey, a road trip that the planning started last year in August. Mom was turning 55. A surprise party it was. She didn't know I was coming back to Nebraska, she didn't know her sister and brother in law were coming back to Nebraska, and she didn't know we had a GIANT surprise party planned for her. The invitations were sent with strict orders....it was a surprise. Dad intercepted the mail with ease and she didn't realize that cards might be coming in the mail for her.

With the plan laid out, I began my journey back to Nebraska via car on Wednesday evening. The plan was to make it to OKC and stay the night there. Well, crinkle number one in the plan was that there is not any hotels on the north side of OKC. Once I did find one and went in, I was told my dogs were too big, pound sand. So, FINALLY around midnight, I found a place to lodge with the two pups. Since it was late and I had already talked to my brother & dad earlier in the night, I shut the ringer off and attempted to get some shut eye.

Well, I had to get up with the beasts at 5 because they need some bathroom time. I finally got up before 9 and already had a message from dad...but something in his voice was VERY different than the night before. It wasn't my imagination. They say God works in mysterious ways or maybe it was Grandma just waiting for all her Grand kids to be home, but God made the call and Grandma Schmidt went to join Grandpa, Roy and Brennan in Heaven.

After discussions with the family, it was decided that the surprise party would go on. DC was helpful in giving me airfare prices since my mom was demanding that we start looking at flights. I had to hurry to my parents house and check the mail since my dad was in Columbus helping with the funeral plans. I wish I would of video taped my mom walking in the door. The dogs greeted her and she kept saying "What are you two doing here" and the look on her face was priceless. The tears came with the "Happy Birthday."

Fast forward to later in the night when her sister and brother in law came around the back of the house and said Happy Birthday. It was the best birthday ever for her. I was able to cover Friday morning saying I was going to see friends and lunch with old co-workers so Trav & I could shop for food and prepare everything. We managed to get her out of the house and back for the Surprise without her every knowing.

The party didn't go as late as it probably would of since most of the family headed home early to prepare for Grandma's funeral. By the time dishes were done, it seemed like almost all were gone. But, my nephew was still there. Yep - I'm an aunt and can officially say it. Shane is a dad, a little boy, Gage Francis born on April 17th. He is a doll and I continue my speciality of putting the babies to sleep.

My trip was extended a day so I could make Grandma Schmidt's funeral. However, I think Grandma deserves her own post and I'll have to do that tomorrow. In the meantime, I need to get some zzzzzz's like the pups did all day!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Journey


It has been a journey like no other. It is a journey that three years ago I never thought I would of gone through and could of never imagined getting to...but I did and I can officially say, I did it!

The journey began 2 years, 1 month, and 22 days ago. At that point I would never tell you I would be where I am today. I packed up all I had and moved to this state with the love of my life, the EX. In a short period of time, it started to go terribly wrong, his alcohol addiction one out and I saw life flash before me. No matter how hard a person tries, there are some addictions you can win and other's you can't. Accepting that you can't change someone, letting go of them and freeing yourself from the abuse is harder than I hope you ever have to know, especially in a state where your support group is limited. But, I did. That was 1 year, 2 months and 13 days that I faced the last fist.

Yesterday I celebrated a new me and the person I really am. I finished my first Triathlon in 2 hours and 17 minutes. I did it despite a chronic sinus infection since December and two doctor's recommending surgery. I did it despite working two jobs to help dig out of what was left behind by the EX. I did it because I wanted it!

It has been a journey. Some days were good, some days were bad and some days were unthinkable but I am exactly where I want to be in life. I know that I have some things left on my to do list, marriage, kids, and a few smaller ones. But, those will come when they are right. I won this victory because I believed in myself and the other's will come when the time is right. But for now - I relish in the victory!

Of course, now it is on to losing that weight I gained in the last 1 year, 2 months, and 13 days....DAMN comfort food. But - I will and I will do it as I train for my next Triathlon - going to give the Austin Triathlon a whirl as a slimmer me. Look out world - here I come!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

T Minus 1

Gosh...I can't believe RACE day is here already. Tomorrow at this time, I will be celebrating the fact that I finished. It is weird because I have never done anything like this before. In softball, you practice, you play games, you practice, you play some more. Here, it is ALL practice until RACE day. You have no way to gage if you are ready, you just have to go out there and do it. I think that is what scares me the most, AM I READY?

DC arrived on Friday afternoon and has been soaking up the city. I took her out to The Oasis Friday night. Nothing like a margarita, a beautiful sunset and good food to relax a person! Yesterday was a rest day for me so the plan was to head to SA (San Antonio) for the day. But first, I opted to head back to the fat people's club first, more on that in a later post.

DC is a history buff, so definitely seeing the Alamo was on the to do list. Of course, it WAS suppose to be a warm day and sunshine with a 20% chance of rain. But weather forcasting is the only job you can be wrong. So, with our luck, the sky's opened and it start pouring rain. Needless to say - we did what tourists do, they buy the $1.95 rain poncho from the Alamo gift shop and keep on moving. We walked the river walk, toured the tourist shops, had embarrassing moments buying shirts for my brother and did all that we could do. We opted for an appetizer and margaritas along the river walk. (I know - great race day preparation!!)

About 7, we decided we had enough and headed to the Salt Lick for dinner. I really wish I could hear the stories DC tells people of this place. Let's just say, it is Texas in it's finest. For non-locals, you have off duty, plain clothes officers directing the parking flow with their pistols. Once we park and head to the front, I point out to DC we are not having the complete experience. See, no liquor license at the restaurant means you bring your own! So - she saw all the coolers, those on wheels, those still in the case, you have everything. Then there was the menu, you have your choice of BBQ meat, meat or meat. No choice on sides. But it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good. Like I said, I think she liked the food, just wish I could hear the stories she tells about the visit.

Well, I better go. Time to head downtown to pick up my race day packet and check in my bike....more later.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

GEORGE

I probably should put in a disclaimer her that if you are a guy - you might skip this one.

I hate him. I really, really hate him some days. He is like a cruel joke that god plays on women. Some people refer to him as TOM - Time of Month. I don't know why I started calling him George. He always comes every month and some month he drops way too much luggage.

Now I am getting ready to do a triathlon in 6 days. I am not ready. I do not feel like I am in shape to be ready. I am already psycholigically psyching myself out of this race. I do not need George to visit NOW. Why can't he wait? Why can't this be a month where I skip it? Why NOW? Yes - he is starting to rear his ugly head. I am TIRED. I am cranky. I have cramps. I don't wannnna deal with it.

Bastard.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Until there are NONE, Let's all Rescue One.


As you might know, my dogs are my addiction. They are so full of personality and amaze me each day how intelligent of an animal they are. I don't even say I need to go to work anymore, Guinness knows that the water bottle being filled and a lunch packed is a sign mom needs to go. She goes and sits in her crate waiting for a treat.

Because of my Guinness and my Finnegan, I found the S'Wheaten Rescues which rescues Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, based in Kansas City, MO. I have been blessed with so much knowledge from this group and really at the end of the day could of saved a lot of money on medical expenses because of the knowledge they share. With a core foundation, volunteers across the United States not only help foster dogs that have been turned in for one reason or another, they help rescue Wheaten's being abandoned in kill shelters or are released from breeders/hoarders because they are done with them, and also work on cross country transports to take a Wheaten to its forever home. I have not had a chance to participate in a transport but from what I hear, it is an amazing experience, I hope I get the chance one day.

A little over a month ago, four dogs, two males and two females were picked up from a hoarder. They were so matted they could hardly walk. Once they were cleaned up, it was determined one female was actually a Male and the other was pregnant. Shortly thereafter, the pups were here. A camera was set up and on a daily basis, we have watched them grow and mourned the loss of them. See the puppies here. Because Kate (the momma) never received proper care, she had worms and unknowingly, we all watched her transfer them to her pups while they nursed. It was heartbreaking to know the ones we loved to watch were gone, I can only imagine what Wendy (the fearless leader) went through caring for them and hearing their cries. Today there are only two left and still entertain us on the web.

Next time you see that puppy in the window at the Petstore, please keep walking. Buying from the petstore continues to justify the need for the breeders and inhumane conditions these dogs are forced to live in. Be sure to take a look at the dogs that are available for adoption and you can see the shape the puppymill survivors came into the rescue in. Also read the post below to hear Lola's sad tell, another puppymill dog released.

If adoption isn't an option, consider donating today!

LOLA


L- Lovely
O- Our Friend
L- Loving
A- Amazing


I am sorry to tell everyone that Lola has had to be put to sleep today. While doing research and calling numerous vets in the area for opinions, second opinions etc, this morning, Things were not looking good. I took her back to the Vet that she saw last week, for him to reexamine her and either confirm or deny the prognosis. Things were not good for Lola. The tumor that had presented itself to us on Saturday, was not only large, but was blocking or contained her opening to the ureter. (This was why she was not having any urination since Saturday.) The vet offered to try and cut open the tumor and try to see if he could remove most of it and find the ureter opening, but there were no guarantees. The removal may not work. She could have very hard issues using the bathroom. The tumor could regrow. She may have more inside of her... Which is common with this type of tumor. At best she would need to see a specialist and undergo extensive surgery and prolonged Chemotherapy. While all this would carry no guarantee of "fixing" the problem. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make, but while talking with Wendy and Topaz about all the information given, I knew in my heart that Lola would be in the least amount of pain and suffering if i just let her go now. She was a blessing, a wonderfully sweet dog, That while we didn't have her long we loved her. She had the best four weeks of her life here with our family. She had run of a house, kids to pet her and cater to every whim, she had a "brother" Hurley to look up to. She made great strides in trusting us and I am so grateful to Lola for loving me. My only wish is that everyone who reads Lola's story know that her life in the Mill Caused all of this! EVERY TIME SOMEONE BUYS A DOG FROM A PET STORE.... YOU DO THIS TO ANOTHER LOLA. A wonderful mother that was bred and bred... caused to have extreme health issues that would cause her to lose her life. I wish all of you could have the chance to love a Lola, and experience the unconditional love that she gave to us as a family, even though her abusers for her entire life were humans. I was there when i picked her up and carried her to freedom, i was there every minute for the four weeks we had to love her, and I was there when i carried her away from the suffering of disease. I loved her with all my heart and in her last moments promised that wonderful little soul that I would do something in her honor. So with that I ask for your help. Just like we did with all the puppies.. We need to spread the word about what Puppy mills are doing to poor dogs like Lola. Do not let her die in vain. Join peaceful protests against the mills, tell your friends and neighbors about Lola's story, and most of all continue to support our rescue by giving funds, so that we may go and get more Lola's that are in need of our help. It is very costly to save a Mill dog. And we can only do this with wonderful people like you on our side.

I will close by saying this. I would do it all again in a heart beat. Not one second of our families time or efforts were wasted, We loved Lola and will greatly miss her, but know that she is in a better place. Join us by doing all that we can to prevent this from happening to another dog....

Thank you all so much for all that you do

Stacy, Chad, Tyler, Brendon, Blake and Hurley Jackson

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thought for the Day

DC sent me this over the weekend from an email she had. I thought it was pretty fitting and would share.

TODAY

Look in the mirror
and notice
that the person
who greets you
is beautiful,
inside and out.

TODAY

Say to yourself that
you know nothing is
impossible.
Remind yourself that
every one of your dreams
is within reach.

TODAY

Think about all of
the people who love you,
who see the beauty in you,
and begin to look at yourself
in the same way.

Lise Schlosser

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Rookie

So - I gave you the official information but what fun would it be without my take of it all.

The alarm went of at 3:45 am. Guinness & Finnegan must of thought it to be a joke. I made it out the door at 4:15 am and met the carpool group at 4:45. Brian (my We made it there a little before the gates opened so we got great parking! Why is that important? Ultimately you could end up lugging your things over a 1/2 a mile just to get to where you need to be!

Step one was to go to the transition area. To get in, you first had to be body marked. In other words, they took permanent marker and put your race number on both arms and both thighs. In addition, they put your age as of 12/31/09 on the back of your calf. Still not sure what that one was about. From there, you enter and the bikes and your gear are staged according to your age group. Once you were "set up" you needed to get your chip - since it was a timed event. After that, it was just milling around and hydrating.

At 7:30, the transition area closed and the race activities began. There was about 1000 people registered for the race and around 750 actually competed. I have also learned that you need to be comfortable in your own skin. There was so definite "PRO's" there and then there were the not so in shape people. I have yet to ever meet a person that looks sexy in a swim cap - Lycra to your head. Hats off to the women races that did the whole race in their swim suit. I had a tri shirt & shorts which the shorts have a little padding in them for the bike portion of the race and both are to dry quickly.

The first wave of races started at 8 am. The did the Open division first and then went through the men's divisions before my turn was up. I started precisely at 8:24 am with the 35-39 Group. I was starting with what I envisioned my hardiest piece - the swimming. Basically we were making a giant horseshoe, out & back. Of course, it was no shock that the wave behind me, which started 3 minutes later, caught up to me. But, the positive was I wasn't the last one out.

Now it was off to the transition. I thought I would run there but couldn't find my legs once I got out of the water. I really appreciated the people on land telling me I had mud on my face. Hmmm - thanks, appreciate it. The transition went smoothly - which really consisted of me taking off the swim cap & goggles and then getting my bike helmet, glasses, gloves, socks & shoes on. I managed it all in under 3 minutes and was out the gate on the bike.

It was in that first two minutes of the bike that I really questioned what the F*#k I was doing trying to do a first Triathlon at 35 - I must have lost my mind. Now, my legs were tired, however, what made things worse is that they gave us a hill from hell right away. At that point, I can only assume that it is the first of more to come. It was tough, I quit and got off the bike and ran the bike up the hill. I can't tell you how many thoughts of this is going to suck, I should quit and turn back, what was I thinking, etc went through my head.

But - I pressed on and really the first hill was the only really BAD hill, the rest were more of a rolling hill. However, I must say that I have come to despise the ages on your calf. Especially when the fit, queen tri lady of 65 went flying past me on the bike. It appears my 6 minute head start from her was not enough! About mile mark 8, tragedy struck and the darn chain fell off. It had been grinding when I changed the upper gears so it was a shock that it fell off. Fortunately, in a matter of minutes, it was back on and I was off.

I finished the 11 mile ride and actually it was quite peaceful. The first part was pretty shaded with all the trees. It reminded me a lot of home and being back in the country. Of course, I did follow coaches advise and it was my "rolling buffet". I took in my gel packs and liquids to give me the fuel needed for the run.

I made it back to the tranistion area and outside of ditching the helmet and gloves, it was a quick transition. By next race I should be using my bike shoes & clips, so it will take a minute or two longer for the switch. Off on the run it was. Well, was suppose to be?

About 30 seconds into the run, my right calf cramped. It is the first time in my life that I can ever remember having a cramp like that in the middle of the event. Usually it is a charlie horse in the middle of the night. So no running, but I kept moving foward. I did a wog - walk jog for the 2 miles and towards the end - just decided to go for it and run. Of course, it helped that it was downhill to the finish line.

Until you experience it, there is no bigger rush that hearing people cheering you on and having the cow bells ringing as you race towards that finish line. My TNT folks were there on the side cheering on those of us that were still coming in. Maybe it would be cool to be on the sidelines cheering, but at the end - they cheered for me crossing the finish line. I wasn't the last one to cross and didn't promptly collapse either. I was promptly greeted with an ice towell and cold water. LOVED it and I DID it!

Tri Hard, Live Easy

That was what I saw Sunday on the back of one of the team shirts and thought it was fitting for the title today!

It is official, I completed my first triathlon. Now it wasn't a speed breaking race but I finished it! I didn't finish first, but I didn't finish last and I wasn't the last in my age group either. I finished the race in 1:39.17.25. The official break down of that is 300 m swim - 12:27.70, transition 2:48.10, 11 mile bike ride 55:45.20, transition 1:15.80, 2 mile run 27:00.45. It amazes me how they track all that.

Overall, I am okay with that finish considering I am no where in the shape I need to be and have struggled with the training due to the constant sinus infections since December.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hangover

but not the hangover you are thinking. It is called the dehydration, lack of fuel, hangover.

So, after accomplishing the beautiful swim on Friday night, I headed out with part of the group to NXNW. Now for non-locals, a brewery. We had a couple of drinks and then I ordered a salad for super. However, I just wasn't feeling that hungry and only finished about half of it. Of course, I managed to forget the water.

Now, fast forward to Saturday morning. Again, no water, no breakfast. I headed over to Runner's house for my training. Being the trooper that she is, she was heading out with me on a 45 minute bike ride and a 15 minute jog. The humidity was HORRIBLE! It was in the upper 70's with an 85% humidity - LOVE IT! NOT! So - again not in my favor. (Just maybe, I can get Runner convinced she can do the swimming part and do a Tri with me!)

Well not even 20 minutes in, I feel sick to my stomach. Never mind I didn't realize how exhausted my legs were from the swimming the night before. It sucked. I even felt a little dizzy at a point. Not a good thing. I took in what water & Gatorade I had - but obviously not enough. Needless to say - the run didn't pan out. It was more like a wog - mostly walk with a hint of run every 4 minutes. LOL

Of course, I spent the rest of the day trying to rehydrate, refuel and get rid of the pounding headache and crappy feeling I had.

Hmmm - is it wrong to feel bad that I might of enjoyed an alcohol hangover more? I would of at least had a little fun the night before? :) Oh well - lesson learned. Drink your water boys & girls and don't forget to eat breakfast before a workout

I DID it!!!

Yep, I have officially swam the official distance that I will need to swim on race day! 750 meters (aka 1/2 mile) in open water. Now by open water, I mean at no point could I touch the bottom, let alone see the bottom. Thankfully for me, I didn't see the turtle pop it's head out of the water until after I was done with the swim and out of the water.

Now for some this might not seem exciting or news worthy - I mean I have to do it for the race - why celebrate? Well, part of my challenge with training for this race has been the constant sinus infection since December, the periods of blah, and trying to push surgery off until after the race. Now, if it has been forever since you talked to me, well, I sound like I am constantly stuffed up and congested. Seriously - it was a joke every time I coughed because of the congestion - "Swine Flu". So, given that it is hard to breathe OUT of water, swimming has been my biggest fear of being able to accomplish it!

Was it easy? Not in the beginning. First off, the water was a cool 76 degrees. Of course, lucky for me, my wet suit didn't fit in the chest (Shocking I know) and so I was left to go with just the swim suit. Now, once I got past the cold part, there was the factor of not being able to see anything under water. I don't want to say I panicked - but for some reason not being able to see anything resulted in me forgetting how to breathe under water. No idea. But, about half way through, I settled in and was able to find a rhythm.

Sinus infection or not, if I have to finish it doing the back stroke or the doggy paddle - I will finish it!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Blogging or Not

So - I got a lashing so to speak. I roped Runner into another bike workout. Of course, doing so, got in trouble so to speak. See, Runner is one of the faithful, maybe only, person that faithfully reads these blogs. Seems she has noticed a lack, okay absence, of my training blogs. Needless to say - she told me to kick it in gear - I needed to blog.

So - after today - you'll see me blogging about who knows what - training - nothing - life - anything. All for the sake of Runner - my personal kick in the pants who I can drag along on training days!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Vacation & Rain!!!!

Wow - it has been forever since I have blogged. Work has been crazy, my evenings crazier and it seems like there was no time for anything but work, work and training. The training is going well. I have had some serious problems with my sinus and after a number of tests, the doctors were recommending surgery. However, because of the race they are going to let me hold off and re-evaluate everything after the race. It will be less than a month before I have my first mini-triathlon on Mother's Day. Because of the sinus issues, almost everyone in my group is doing the full Olympic version but they are going to let me be a wuss and do the sprint version. (Wuss in that it is 1/2 mile swim, 6 mile run and 12.5 mile bike ride.)

This past week was a "vacation" of sorts for me - especially from training. My mom and aunt arrived at my house on Good Friday. My mom flew into Houston, and my aunt and her headed over to Austin. Since they didn't get in until later in the afternoon - we didn't really do too much. My mom got the grand tour of what is completed and what is in works and got to meet her new God Dog - Finnegan. We had a great meal at Joe's Crab Shack and picked up some supplies for Easter dinner.

Saturday we took the much needed run to the outlet malls in San Marcos. Not sure what happened, but we weren't feelin it and needless to say, walked out of a LOT of stores empty handed! On our way back, we pit stopped at the Barton Creek Mall to pick up a few more things and then to Maudie's Milagro. I swear, it was an ACCIDENT that I got drunk. I mean can I help that I requested a smaller second drink and they brought a pure tequila margarita?!?! I swear it wasn't my fault and drunk or not - I was able to direct my mom & aunt safely back home.

Easter Sunday was spent as many do. I took them to my favorite Catholic Church in Round Rock - if you ever visit - I can take you - it is BEAUTIFUL. Look at the positive, you won't have to sit through two hours of Beauty like my mom & aunt! After a great Easter dinner of ham & potatoes, we headed to Hamilton Pool. Absolutely gorgeous! I promise to post pics soon!

On Monday & Tuesday, after dropping the two pups were dropped off at the vets (aka spoiled city) we headed for Hill Country, shopping, antiqueing and all the fun stuff in between! It is a very good thing we had my Aunt's big diesel truck - we needed it for all those goodies. Even those pots that some how I am suppose to lug back to Nebraska for my mom! We had a great time, they have my kitchen fully stocked with 'country' oldies and I have had a dose of antiquing to last another year!

Wednesday & Thursday were back to the grindstone for me while the other two had two relaxing days at the cabin fishing. Friday, I battled a monsoon to drive to Houston with the two dogs and spent the weekend visiting my family and mom. And so you understand monsoon in Texas terms - that was 4 1/2 inches one day and over 3 inches the next day at my Aunt & Uncle's House! That also translated into two VERY stir crazy dogs.

It was a great reminder on why I am working two jobs and why I need to focus so it can come to an end soon! Sadly, with tears I said goodbye to my mom at the airport. My Aunt assures me it only took 30 years for her & grandma to stop crying at the end of trip...hmmm I'll be pretty OLD by then!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Flyover in Missing Man Formation

I wanted to share with you part of the email we received from Brian today. Each of us deals with death in different ways and it amazes me how strong Brian and his family are in the face of this tragedy. It makes me even more motivated to go out and do my run tomorrow, too bad today is a rest day!


Dear Team-
I am just getting to e-mails and saw this. Thank you, Colleen, for forwarding the "bio" at this time to further honor my Pap. Such a good man. Strong, courageous, and positive up until the very end. He recently told me a story of his fastest run ever. He did a 5 mile race at a 7:20 pace when he was in his late 30's. You can be sure that David and I both will be trying to meet that high bar he set. About 2 hours before he died we went out and ran 5 miles in his honor. I joked that this was our own version of a "flyover in missing man formation."

If you read the end of my bio, then let me add a final note here:

Yes, his passing has made me sad. I am happy to confirm that in the end I have no regrets. Nothing remained unspoken. We were blessed with so many months to prepare for his death. Now I will begin moving forward and race in his memory. He committed to be with me on my races. We spoke Thursday about me doing an Ironman and he once again assured me he would come with me on the race and cross the finish line with me. I have a long way to go between here and there, but I look forward to every painful swim stroke, pedal stroke, and foot strike. May the suffering we endure as a team and as athletes inspire others to challenge themselves in new ways, support worthy causes like TNT, and to live each day of their lives fully.

In lieu of flowers we have asked that donations be made in dad's memory. We recommend supporting your favorite Team in Training athlete. ;)

Love you guys-
Brian and Dave, Jr.

Update on THAT Guy

In my previous blog of "THAT Guy" I told you the story of my encounter with JACKASS who in my mind intentionally got into a wreck trying to get money out of the insurance company.

Well, there are a number of things that JACKASS didn't count on or plan for. First and foremost is that we both have the same insurance company. Which means that they have all the information on his background. Secondly, they will do everything in their power to minimize damage to all parties involved.

So - after some debate, pictures taken, etc, I was found at fault of the accident since there were no witnesses that would testify to his reckless driving. Since we are talking about a loose bulb cover as the extent of his damage - I am not going to get too excited about it.

Now - for this "back" injury of JACKASS'. In his statement to the claim adjuster - he indicated that after a couple of hours his back started bothering him. Hmmm, funny cause it was an hour after the accident you filed a claim with a back injury. He apparently went to the hospital that afternoon to have it checked out but they are still waiting to receive that information and verify what he said to the doctors.

I have also learned that in May of 2008, he had a significant back injury as a result of another accident he was involved in. Interesting, don't you think?

At the end of the day, the insurance companies settlement offer to him is to pay for his ER visit the day of the accident. He is pissed because this was not part of his game plan. The adjuster told him given his previous accident & injury - he should consider himself lucky that he is even getting that!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Why we all choose to do this.

Today we received an email from our coordinator at TNT that two of our team members lost their Pap to the battle yesterday. Brian is my mentor for this year and is constantly giving me the weekly calls, how's training going, how is the fundraising going, etc all while he is trying to train, work and spend time with his family.



Brian is directly behind me in the picture and his brother Dave is to my right. To completely understand it all - I wanted to share with you Brian's bio and why he does it all. If you have 10 minutes - go watch the video - you will NOT have a dry eye by the time you are done.

I am involved in TNT because of my dad. I call him “Pap.” He was first diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma 13 years ago. After a year of chemo he was told he was in remission and we all celebrated and went on with life. About 3 years ago, his cancer returned. My dad had been receiving chemo for about a year when I decided I wanted to do a triathlon and dedicate it to him. Mind you at the time I weighed over 225 pounds and hadn’t done anything physical in my life ever. I found a 5 month training plan and signed up for the Burnet Tri-Hard. My first workout was April 24th 2007 and my race was September 16th. The week of the race, my dad called to tell me that he was in the hospital for a blood clot in his leg. We were both upset. We had talked almost daily about my training and his treatments and we were experiencing the suffering together. He was looking forward to being there at the race to witness firsthand and receive the gift of “my best.” Well, a friend of mine showed up race morning with a video camera and documented the whole thing. (A friend turned it into a video and it is posted on You Tube. Click Here to view it.) My brother was also there and at the end of the race handed me his cell phone with my dad on the phone from his hospital bed. On the phone he joined me for the last few hundred yards of the run and we crossed the finish line together. I couldn’t believe it. It was such an awesome experience. I had actually completed a triathlon. The next month I gave my dad the video my friend made as his birthday gift.

Around that time, I began making plans for my next race. I had picked a race in Galveston to do in the Spring of 2008. While on the website for the race I saw a link to TNT. I read the info about them that said they train people to do endurance events in the name of an honored hero and fundraise. I thought, “I am already doing all of that except for the fundraising.” I went to an info session with my brother and knew right away I was in. I was 100% ALL IN from that moment. I couldn’t wait for Kick-off and to start training with the team and fundraising. About this time (Jan 2007) we found out my dad’s Lymphoma was back in a hard-earned remission. My fundraising last year for Cap Tex went great. I did a mail and e-mail campaign to friends, family, clients, and business associates. I was blown away by the response. So many people are touched by this disease and they really appreciated the opportunity to give and to be a part of the cause. My brother trained for the Sprint at Cap Tex on his own (not too sure about that whole fundraising thing-look at him now). I had an awesome experience with the Team, coaches, my mentor, and just the whole experience. I was so amped up for this race. I was so emotionally committed to it. I had committed to give my dad my best and knew that I would hold nothing back. I had a great swim and a great bike, and a not-so-great run experience. I completely bonked, dehydrated, etc. About a half mile from the finish line, I heard my brother’s voice behind me. Mind you, I was doing the Olympic and he was doing the Sprint, and here we were together. You couldn’t have scripted it any better. We plodded along together until the final few hundred yards which we sprinted in. Pap was at this race and had been cheering us on the run and got to see us as we finished. That was really special. We have a great picture of us side-by-side crossing the finish line. Once across the line, I decided I would stop by the medical tent to “get some ice for my knees.” Well, they took one look at me and threw me on a gourney. Unbeknownst to me I was not in very good shape. My heart rate was too high, body temp was too high, and I wasn’t making much sense when I talked (which I did WAY too much of). The best part was I got to see my team mate Tom in there! Hey Tom! After an IV (which I have since learned is the ultimate trick to a speedy recovery) I felt just fine.

I took a few weeks off after Cap Tex and was searching for “what’s next.” I had been on the fence about taking this sport all the way to an Ironman in honor of my dad. My ultimate goal would be to deliver an Ironman to him while he is living. I decided I would go ahead and train for a Half-Ironman, the Longhorn in October in Austin in pursuit of this goal. I had intended not to fundraise so signed on with a local training group, T3. This is a great group, but the experience completely lacks “heart and passion” when compared to what I experienced with TNT. Around 8 weeks before the race, a good friend told me her mother’s cancer had progressed to the point where she had no more treatment options. She was on her final medication and it appeared to no longer be working. They didn’t expect her to live past Thanksgiving. I decided in that instant that I would dedicate my Half-Ironman to her and my Pap. I would do it for them both. And, I would fundraise after all. Our former TNT coordinator was now with the LiveStong Foundation so I asked her to set me up a website to use. I went back to my donors (fully expecting a slow response given this was the second time in six months to hit them up) and would you believe they stepped up again? Some new people, some of the same people. But in the end, they again raised close to $4,000 to help me honor these two very special people. Pap and Charleen both were at my race. The run course was a double loop so I ran past them 4 times during the run. The whole day was a truly magical experience. It was a borderline Spiritual experience for me. Everytime I passed them and my family I was just lifted up. The whole run I felt good. Never did I feel completely exhausted or wiped out. Sure it was tough, sure I was tired. But I truly felt lifted up the whole time. After I crossed the finish line I went over to join them. There were lots of hugs, and tears, and thankfully pictures too. Sadly, 30 days after my race, I was at Charleen’s funeral. She was such a wonderful woman. Always so positive and full of hope. She sets a high bar for the rest of us to strive for.

Two days after my race my dad went to MD Anderson for a follow up visit and learned his Lymphoma was back. This time, it seems back with a vengeance. His kidneys have now failed due to all the chemo and he receives dialysis 3 days a week. Due to the kidney complications, they can hardly give him any chemo. So, the Lymphoma progresses, and Pap fights back as best he can. Dave and I train hard, giving our best, honoring our dad. I don’t know that my dad will be around to receive the gift of an Ironman while he is living. I was visiting him a couple weeks back and we had some time together sitting on the porch watching the sun rise. I brought up the Ironman and the possibility that I might have to do it in his memory. We shared some tears over this possibility, and then I asked him for a promise. I asked him to promise me that if I do the Ironman after he is already gone that he will promise to be there with me that day and stay with me throughout the race. He assured me he would.

Though losing my dad makes me sad, and Lymphoma is a horrible killer. I am thankful for each day we have together. I am grateful that we have the gift of knowing my dad is passing so we can have those talks on the porch together and we can work towards closure together. I have told my dad many times, in the end, I just want to have no regrets. So far, I can honestly say, I have no regrets. I train hard, I race hard, I live, love, and laugh hard. And I do it all in my Pap’s honor, and someday will do it in his memory.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

An Armadillo, a deer, two dirty diapers,

wind and a ride that kicked my ASS!

First off - I had to work my first Sunday in a very long time at Lowe's. I blame more that the kids had requested off for Spring Break - lucky dogs!!! But it meant that I had to work a 7 1/2 hour shift. At least the good news is that I got to be in lawn and garden which was really busy and made time fly and I got some sun rays while I was at it.

I got off a little after 4 and ran home to change and check on the two dogs since I left them outside while I was at work. Wish I would of took a picture as they were all stretched out on the patio just enjoying the breeze and the shade. Once I got them situated inside and changed - I was out the door and off to Runner's house!

Yes, Runner has been a trooper allowing me to drag her along on these training days. If you read her blog - she says I motivate her. I say she is there to kick my @ss and gives me a reason why not to excuse out of doing it. It was an ALMOST perfect day. It was 85 and sunny. I must enforce ALMOST!!!! It was windy. Like a 15 MPH wind with gusts up to 30 MPH. A Wind Advisory windy day. I would of excused myself out of it had the runner not committed to doing it too!

Well, off we headed. The wind didn't appear too bad. Probably because A) I didn't know any of the above (outside of windy enough to question doing it) and B) when we headed out we had the wind at our backs. The first 10 miles were tough but nothing prepared for the last 10 miles. As soon as we turned around - it was like hitting a brick wall. Never mind the minor rolling hills that we had to conquer too. God so many times I wanted to stop - doing Spicewood Springs one day and 20 miles the next might not of been the best idea I have had recently. I mean, Runner did have her phone and we could just call Trainer to come get us! But, I didn't even ask. Heck - I asked for one stop break that lasted maybe a minute. Other than that - it was just the occassional stop light.

In the end I did it!!! Of course, riding on the shoulder of the road - you have the privledge of seeing all those things on the side of the road - the dead armadillo, the deer ready to blow and two dirty diapers, hence the title. Even better is that Runner has a special gadget on her bike to ensure that I did my hour and half ride my training schedule said I needed. Even better is that this gadget will stop when we stop. Got to love it (insert Jenn's sarcaism here)!!!! In any event, I logged my 20 miles and finished it in 1 hour and 45 minutes. My ASS hurts like no other and my thighs kill like no other - but it is done. Now off to bed.

Sinus Infection and Spicewood Springs

Since before Christmas, I have been battling a sinus infection. That never ending sinus infection that will not go away. The good news is that it doesn't leave me with a terrible sinus headache that normally comes with it. Instead I have a feeling of an ear infection or at least that my ear is floating in fluid. Then there is the sore throat that comes with it draining down my throat. The doctor would put me on antibiotics and it would go away while I was on them and a week or two after but always comes back, usually worse. I just got done with a 21 day round of stuff that was suppose to even help people exposed to anthrax. Plus steroids. Well once I was done, they repeated the x-ray to find that the infection is still there. At this point they are recommending surgery. I go meet with an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist on Monday to determine what the next steps are. :(

But the upside is that hell or high water I will do this triathlon - I have worked too hard to NOT do it. So - they doctor's can wait. Hopefully they come around to my way of thinking. Now - in the mean time - I am going to do everything I can to keep training. So - if that means going for allergy shots every other day - then I go. I even have resorted to mowing the lawn with a mask so the grass pollen doesn't trigger anything. I am sure it is a sight to see!

So on to Spicewood Springs. Saturday was a group ride where we met at the Marriott before we headed out on a planned route by our coach. Now if you are not familiar with Austin, this is the part of town where the hills start. I cannot describe the hills - but definite a mix of "rollings hills" and hills that kill. I knew I was in trouble as soon as I saw the planned route and it included Spicewood Springs Road. This road is a fun road to ride in a car - a bike not so much. I'll just put it this way - one of the hills is at LEAST a 10% grade. Sucked like no other. Plus my allergies/sinus' were bothering me which resulted in the asthma to kick in. I hadn't had to worry about that piece in so long that I wasn't prepared and didn't have my inhaler along. Not a good thing. It wasn't bad - just a wake up call that resulted in a momentary panic attack. I felt like the fool that had the slow poke pace car behind her to make sure that no one was left behind. One of the mentors had to stay behind with the last one - that was ME. Hated every moment of it but at the end of the day - I finished the loop in an hour!