Category Archives: feelings

20 Fun Facts About Me

We loved collecting S&H Green Stamps.

We loved collecting S&H Green Stamps.

Here’s a list of some things that you may not know about me (which you’re just dying to know, right?):

1) I learned to play the piano when I was seven or eight years old (my oldest sister and I took lessons). I taught myself to play guitar (my first one was “bought” with S&H Green Stamps; anyone remember those?) when I was about 12 or 13 years old. As an adult, I learned to play the banjo and the flute (because they seemed cool). Now I’m learning to play the ukulele.

2) My favorite day is every other Friday, the day after our cleaning crew comes.

3) My second-favorite day is the other Friday.

4) I’m obsessed with the Appalachian Trail. I’ve read numerous books about it. One day I’d like to see a part of it, but that’s all. Too much nature scares me.

5) I had LASIK in 1996. Before that I had worn glasses and/or contacts since the third grade. Now I wear (separate) ones for reading and night driving.

6) I love to chew bubble gum when I’m at my iMac . . . but never in public (I’m way too loud). My goal for 2014 was to quit chewing gum. That lasted, oh, about two days.

7) I still consider myself a midwesterner, even after 30 years of living in Texas. But I do love my adopted state.

8) I still love Barney, Thomas, the Power Rangers, Pokémon, and Yugioh. And I always will! I proudly sleep on a Power Rangers pillowcase and with a Pokémon blanket.

9) I don’t smoke, drink, or take illegal drugs. Those are definitely not my style.

Love you, yeah, yeah, yeah!

Love you, yeah, yeah, yeah!

10) My favorite musical group of all time is the Beatles. “Eight Days of Week” is my all-time favorite song of theirs.

11) I hate tea, both hot and iced. Yuck! I tried coffee once when I was 10 years old. I didn’t like it and have never had it again. I prefer cold water and an occasional Diet Coke (caffeine-free is best).

12) If I had been younger when I got married (I was 36), I would’ve liked to have had one or two more boys.

13) Yep, I’m definitely a boy mom. And I was meant to be a mom. Nothing I’ve done in life has made me happier or more fulfilled.

14) My favorite songs to sing to my boys when they were young were “I Will” and “Over the Rainbow.”

15) I can’t work (Photoshop, write, surf the net) while listening to music. Like most women, I can multitask well, though. Just not at the iMac.

16) I’m directionally challenged. Seven out of 10 times I’ll turn the wrong way. I would always just do the opposite except for those pesky three times.

I designed the logo.

I designed the logo, cover, and entire magazine.

17) I’ve been running since 1978, always slowly (I’m an eternal back-of-the-packer). I’ve completed about 400 races, most of them while I was publishing a monthly running magazine called “Human-Powered Sports” for four or five years. I did everything on it from writing to editing to photography to desktop publishing. What separated it from its competition were race reviews, which sometimes didn’t sit well with potential advertisers and race directors. Talk about biting the hand that feeds! It was, though, a great use of my University of Illinois journalism degree.

18) I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was about 16 years old. I have books filled with poems and short stories from my high school days. My biggest work back then? A parody of “The Canterbury Tales” featuring other classmates. Weird? Yep! And, yes, I still have it in my personal archives.

19) I actually was paid to write about beanie babies during the height of the craze. It helped pay for the ones we collected (that was so much fun!).

20) The reason I got interested in photography is because it was my dad’s hobby, and I wanted to be just like him. I usually think about him every time I pick up one of my Nikon dSLRs (he loved Nikons, too). Miss you, Dad!

Saying Yes

The Mister and I ran the 1990 Jingle Bell 5-Miler together.

The Mister and I ran the 1990 Jingle Bell 5-Miler together.

When I said “yes” 25 years ago, I had no idea that would result in:

A supportive partner to run (although it’s been years since we’ve done that together) and have fun with.

A best friend and confidant who always would be by my side.

My guys in 1995 (C.J.’s prayer came true!)

My guys in 1995 (C.J.’s prayer came true!)

And, most importantly, someone who would give me two wonderful sons we both would love and cherish as we parented together.

Jake at two months

Jake at two months

Thanks for this little guy who is about to graduate from college.

C.J. at age six and a half (yes, I do have a cast on my hand)

C.J. at age six and a half (yes, I do have a cast on my hand)

And this small fry who is now taller than all of us and is in his second college semester.

I’m blessed to have you and our sweet sons in my life, and I wouldn’t change a thing (well, maybe a few pounds). Happy Valentine’s Day to the Mister, Jake, and C.J.! Love you guys forever and a day!!

Birthday Weekend Starts

Embarrassed!

Embarrassed!

Jake turns 22 on Monday! He started his big birthday festivities by driving home from UTSA yesterday (he’s off on Fridays). Little brother will be here from SHSU later today (he does have a couple classes) to gather with Jake’s besties Chase (our “third son”), Josh, and Tanner for a fun weekend.

Last night we ate dinner at Willie’s, which is one of his favorite restaurants (plus we had a coupon for a free entrée for the birthday boy). It’s possible that someone let it slip whose birthday it was . . . and that meant that the wait staff sang and gave him ice cream. And it’s very likely that someone was not pleased at all of the attention.

There definitely was a balding third person who was glad he wasn’t to blame!

A Love Letter to My Sons

And so it starts . . . after 13 minutes of waiting.

The 2014 Chevron Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon start is just ahead . . . after 13 minutes of waiting in the C corral.

Dear Jake and C.J.:

During your entire lives, you’ve had one constant: Your mom usually sets a running goal during the summer and tries to achieve it on a day in January. When you were younger, it was the Houston Marathon. I doubt that you remember me passing by as you watched with your dad, but I always drew strength from it.

In 2003 when the half marathon was added, I gave in to the responsibilities of parenting and being available for your activities and concentrated on that event. It was so much easier to train for 13.1 miles, plus it didn’t take as long to recover from. It was the perfect long distance.

Sunbeams light the way, as the marathon and half marathon split at mile eight.

Sunbeams light the way, as the marathon and half marathon split at mile eight.

During the ensuing 12 years, you saw me finish one or two times, which was very special to me. But you don’t have to be on the course, because you’re always with me in my heart no matter what.

Runners are a selfish lot. We pound the pavement for our own goals and satisfaction. It’s just the nature of the beast . . . even when we raise money for charity. Crossing the finish line is a great feeling, but it’s just for us. The medal is put around our neck. We wear the finisher’s shirt. It’s really our own accomplishment.

It’s finally the end!

It’s finally the end!

Yet I do share these triumphs with you, my precious sons. I want you to understand that if you set a goal and work hard to achieve it that you can make it happen! No matter what your age is.

While both of you were sleeping in your respective college towns yesterday, your mom was finishing her ninth Aramco Houston Marathon, her fifth straight (13th overall half marathon). The weather was perfect (48-55 degrees), and the new course was amazing, with great volunteers and spectator support (my favorite sign was “Run Like It’s the Start of the Hunger Games!”).

Despite turning 60 last August, I ran my fastest time ever for the event by a couple minutes, 2:40:03 (for 13.2 miles on my Garmin watch). Having long runs of 9-12 miles in my legs (perfect preparation) and a solid plan to run four minutes/walk one minute made the race almost fun. Almost!

I thought about the two of you during the final very loooooong mile in downtown Houston. I’m so proud of what both of you have achieved so far, and I look forward to your future accomplishments. I hope that both of you have taken away positive lessons from my running. You know that even though I’m slow, I tend to finish what I set out to do.

More bling for my office doorknob

More bling for my office doorknob

And I hope you’re proud of Mom, too! Love you forever, like you for always!!

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Dream . . . or nightmare?

Dream . . . or nightmare?

The self-doubting, as usual, started a couple days ago. The self-loathing will wait until, oh, maybe mile six.

Yes, friends, it’s time for my annual loooooong morning of self-induced torture, also known as the Aramco Houston Half Marathon.

“Race” day (in quotes because I wobble more than run) is Sunday morning, starting and ending at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Today I travel there with my friend Janet B. to pick up my packet at the marathon expo. I’ve attended almost every expo since 1986 (after moving to Houston), and it’s fun to be in such an energetic atmosphere. Plus it’s nice to share my nervousness with others who speak my language.

Thanks to a great half-marathon sponsor (they missed out on the first couple years).

Thanks to a great half-marathon sponsor (they missed out on the first couple years).

I’ll be trying for my ninth Houston half-marathon finish, which also will be my fifth straight. You would think that running this event would be old hat by now, but it’s not. Every year presents some new wrinkle (and not just on my face).

This time it’s a biggie!

New and improved?

New and improved?

For the first time since the half marathon debuted in 2003, the course has radically changed. The city told the marathon committee not to count on having the evil, devil-designed Elysian Viaduct available (it’s scheduled to be demolished, thank goodness), so the race has to start in another direction. The end result? The first nine miles are different and, thankfully, flatter.

It’ll be nice having a change of pace (which might cause me to have a faster pace), not that I really remember the course from year to year, because I so often have my head down as I try to avoid the potholes. I do have a plan to try to help me deal mentally with the unrelenting concrete:

The first six miles are for me. Just as I finish beating myself up for having too many pounds and not enough miles in my legs, I’ll turn my thoughts to my friend Janet Ely, who recently passed away after an amazing, long-term battle with breast cancer. I’ll count on her help from mile seven through eight.

After that, I’ll be thinking about my buddy Steve Terese, who unexpectedly died last fall from cancer. Steve was a Houston Marathon veteran and triathlete, a wonderful runner and a caring friend. I’m hoping he’ll carry me through miles 9 and 10.

Before I take back the mental reins for the final 1.1 miles, which I always dedicate to my beloved father, who passed away from leukemia in 1991, I’ll be reflecting on a similar battle that my former brother-in-law, Howie, has just begun. He’s been diagnosed with a different form of leukemia and will start chemo soon. I pray that his outcome will be different and that he’ll live to watch his grandchildren grow up.

A Chamber of Commerce day

A Chamber of Commerce day

Here’s hoping that Janet, Steve, and Howie can help get me to the finish line. The weather has decided to cooperate (Mother Nature owed us big after last year’s miserable conditions), thankfully. Now it’s up to me to do the rest.

Good luck to all the marathoners and half marathoners on Sunday!

Bye for Now

The Mister and our younger son

The Mister and our younger son stand side by side, as always.

Hear that sound? Neither do I!

Both my sons returned to their respective college campuses yesterday in anticipation of the start of the spring semester. Which, if you’ve been paying attention, is the final one for my older son, Jake.

First, C.J. packed up his Ford Fusion and left with his roommate, RJ, at 9:30 a.m. for the 90-minute trek to Huntsville. Why so early? They needed to check in at their dorm and then watch the NFL playoff games (one of which was sad for my younger son, who picked San Francisco to lose in his suicide pool; that knocked him out).

The sun bothers our older son’s eyes and my D700 light meter.

The sun bothers our older son’s eyes and my Nikon D700’s light meter.

Two hours later it was time for Jake to start the three-hour drive back to San Antonio. In this senior year of “lasts,” we checked off “last winter break.” I’m sure he’ll miss the four weeks of lazy days gaming with friends when he’s a working man.

I must admit that after three and a half years, I’m used to Jake coming and going during the school year. But my baby boy, the college freshman? Not so much. And I’m not so sure that I want to have it feel familiar. Before I know it, both boys probably will be out of the house, and I’ll always experience what greeted me this morning once the Mister left for work.

Quiet.

Good luck with your spring semesters, my sweet sons!

One-Word Wednesday

It’s been fun watching Jake and Chase grow up together since kindergarten.

It’s been fun watching Jake and Chase grow up together since kindergarten.

BFFs!

I snapped away while they worked on a song they had written in GarageBand.

I snapped away while they worked on a song they had written in GarageBand.

 

Maybe one of these days they’ll have a company together!

Maybe one of these days they’ll have a company together!

Gratitude

Hands in pockets: Ricky, Jared, RJ, and the kid

Hands in pockets: Ricky, Jared, RJ, and the kid

I’m grateful that my sons have such great friends to pal around with. This week two of the Core 4 who room together at Sam Houston State (e.g., my younger son and RJ) were reunited with the other dynamic duo, Ricky (University of North Texas) and Jared (Blinn Junior College) for the first time since they left for college.

Although it was a short videogame-playing session, I could tell that they had a lot of fun, judging from all the laughter coming from our game room. Here’s hoping this is an unbreakable bond for these Fantastic Four friends!

A Somber Remembrance

The 35th president

The 35th president

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. One way to tell how old someone is: Ask where they were when they heard the tragic news that the handsome, young leader of our country had been shot and killed.

Of course, I remember it clearly. I was 10 years old and in the fifth grade at Gale School in Chicago. An announcement came over the PA system that the president had died. We all stood for a moment of silence. I recall that one girl was giggling from the awkwardness. I felt sorry for JFK’s widow, Jackie, and their young children . . . as well as for our country.

The next few days my family was glued to our TV watching the grim footage of Kennedy lying in state and then the funeral procession. I still remember seeing the horse-drawn caisson carrying his coffin. It was a quiet, reflective time for my parents, three siblings, and me.

A lot has happened politically in our country, both positive and negative, since that day. I often wonder what the U.S. would be like if JFK had lived and was able to finish out his term(s). How different would our lives be?

Of course, that’s pure conjecture. The best we can do is to remember some of JFK’s words as we navigate an always uncertain future:

• Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

• Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.

And, of course:

• My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

These words are a priceless legacy.

Feathers A-Flying

The brothers (ages 4 and a half and almost 8)

The brothers (ages 4 and a half and almost 8)

Throwback Thursday has me thinking about life as an empty nester. It’s been almost 12 weeks since both of our sons flew the coop, the older one to finish his senior year at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the younger one to start his college journey at Sam Houston State.

So how has it been for dear, old mom, who is home alone during the day for the first time in almost 22 years? Lonely, my friends. Maytag man lonely. Oh, how I miss my sons!

The boys on their play cottage in 1999 with their  Pokémon collection

The boys on their backyard play cottage in 1999 with part of their Pokémon collection

What’s been hardest for me is that my younger son usually ignores me unless he needs homework help or someone to talk to while he drives through McDonald’s at night. Yes, my little sweetie who I’ve always been so close to! Before he left for SHSU, he told me straight out that he would not be like his older brother, who at least texts me good morning and good night every day (and usually quite a bit more).

I understand that he wants to assert his independence and become his own man, but, as I’ve told him many times this fall, caring is not a crime. There’s no off switch to your emotions when you’re a parent.

I hate the news blackout after 18 years of being in the loop. It stinks, and it hurts my heart.

Older brother helps his younger sibling with his homework 10 years ago.

Older brother helps his younger sibling with his homework 10 years ago.

My strategy has been to be patient and relish the communication opportunities that I do get. The kid does call and Skype more often than his older brother. Plus I listen intently while he and his father chat (he talks to him more), while throwing helpful suggestions for questions to ask (which the Mister usually fails to use . . . frustrating! Guys!!).

Fortunately for me, we’ve gotten to see our sons this semester, our younger son more often because he’s closer. My older son hasn’t returned home since he left in late August. That’s about to change, though, because he’s driving in from San Antonio tonight (he has no classes tomorrow)! When little bro heard about it, he also decided to come visit the old folks at home.

I’ll try not to make the grill too hot for him!