Thursday, December 30, 2010

Who Knew?

So evidently I'm not the first "wogger." 

Julie and I met this morning for a workout date and breakfast.  I'm borrowing her book, No Need For Speed by John "The Penguin" Bingham, a writer for Running Magazine.  As I was reading, I discovered that he writes about "wogging."  Dang it.  Not as an original thinker as I thought. 

He's a very inspirational guy, and he really makes one feel better about being a "wogger."  He combines waddling and jogging to get wogging, in fact. 

He started running several years ago after deciding that he could no longer live a life of inactivity.  He began slowly and advocates that slow is perfectly fine...as long as you are moving.  This has been my philosophy from Day 1.  I believe The Penguin and I would get along swimmingly. 

He's helped me think through some things today as I read.  I've felt a bit discouraged lately.  Running just isn't happening for me.  I can walk like the wind, baby.  But running just does me in if I try to go for more than a minute or so at a time.  It worries me a little bit. 

My workouts are still very satisfying.  My pace is still pretty quick, and I know that my workouts are doing me good.  But I still would really like to run more. 

So as I read, I found new inspiration.  A new plan.  I really do like the activity part.  And that in itself is a little miracle, honestly.  I've never been what you would call a fan of exercise of any kind.  But I actually miss it when I don't get to do a workout.  Now, the feeling is still pretty fleeting, but--it's there.  That's BIG, y'all. 

Tomorrow begins the new plan.  I may be even slower than before for a little while.  But I'm going to get there.  I'm not sure why I'm so slow.  But what I do know is that for the first time I have found an athletic endeavor that I don't want to quit...even when it's really hard. 

I like the way it feels when I get in the groove...even though it's only a really fast walk right now. I  like the way it feels when I finish....especially on the days when I didn't really want to get out there at first.  I like the way I feel for hours afterward...all bright eyed and bushy-tailed, full of energy. 

It would be easy to quit.  It's not going the way I want it to and/or the way I thought it would by now. I'm not doing as well as my friends are.  Everything in my history points to me quitting and acting like it was running's fault that this relationship didn't work out...not mine.  But I'm staying put and working it out. 

Huh.  Who knew? 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

To Protect and Serve...and Endure


Dear Jillian,

Thank you for your life and service to the people of your community.  It was much too brief.  From what we can gather from the news, you are the hero you dreamed of being. 

But I want you to know that you were a hero the moment you put on your uniform. I believe you knew that.  That's why you were answering the call last night.  Domestic disturbance.  Sounds so innocuous, doesn't it?  What you and all other officers know is that it is potentially the most dangerous situation you will ever walk in to.  But you didn't let that deter you.  You had a job to do.  Probably just a report to take, right?  It's rarely "just" anything, is it? 

Jillian, I am perhaps more in awe of your choice in careers than many other high achieving young people.  But let me explain.  You are a beautiful, intelligent, exuberant spirit.  You could do whatever you like, and you chose law enforcement in your own community.  What a tribute to those around you.  From what I see on the news, you knew from the time you were in middle school you wanted to be a police officer and you achieved your goal.  Thank you for choosing such a challenging profession.  It required more of a commitment than I know you hoped that you would have to give, but as an officer you knew it might come this. All officers do. 

I know that I could not do your job. I considered it.  I decided instead that my commitment to the community is to support an officer like you.  It's been almost 14 years now.  Some things are easy.  I finally don't mind moving his gun if it's in my way.  For years, I wouldn't touch the thing!  If he's going to be late because a bad guy has just been arrested and has to be questioned, then dinner will be a little late, or I will be dining alone.  Every year Brian makes his pilgrimage to Washington in May for Police Week.  (This May it will be in part in tribute to you, Jillian.)

Some things I never get used to.  How vilified the police still can be for what seem like the smallest things.  How painful it is when an officer dies, no matter where they are in the country.  How senseless and cyclical the crimes are that you all deal with.  Praying I never get "the call" again. 

Brian was in an accident several years ago on his way home from his shift.  His partner called me...it was 3 am.  We weren't married yet, but I was the only family Brian even had in town.  Problem was--I wasn't in town. I was 5 hours away in Lubbock.  I stayed as calm as I could, but I can't imagine the panic and pain of your family; Brian was "only" hit by a drunk driver who neglected to see the big police cruiser he was driving.  He was home from the hospital the next day and so was I from my trip. 

Of course I got a whole other kind of call with Brian's cancer.  But I guess he has an angel like you will get to be now looking after him.  He wasn't seriously hurt in the car accident and looks like he's beat the cancer as well. 

Jillian, I know that if every time a bell rings an angel gets her wings, you probably already have yours.  I can't think of anyone who would object. 

So, Jillian, I know that whoever they give you to look after up there is in good hands.  You will be missed terribly down here, but you do good work.  It's proven.  You will continue to protect and serve.  Peace be with you, Officer.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

All Right, All Right, I'm Going, I'm Going

I had planned on doing some kind of exercise today.  I really did.  As I picked up the house last night, I even picked out clothes and put them aside on the top of the dresser so they would be there as a little reminder. 

But when the alarm went off for Brian to get up this morning, my head was hurting again and the migraine that I recovered from yesterday was epic.  I had no big plans to bring it back today.  And my shin splints were acting up a little.  I figured maybe instead of wogging, I could do some pilates or (gulp) Jillian or even find some yoga to try on the FIT channel later on today. 

But Grandpa is in the hospital so I might have to go to Bridgeport and there is a lot to be done in the garage.  And I do have a few errands to run. 

Get the picture?  Excuse City today.  And I had a nice wog yesterday (except for the fact that dang Silent Nigel didn't record and I had to guess about how far I went.  Annoyed!). 

But as I sat here this morning about 7:45 with my coffee and fired up the computer, my dog Bear, who I occasionally take wogging with me and did the Jingle Bell Run with me, sat at my feet.  He kept looking at me as if to say, "Aren't you forgetting something?  Shouldn't you be getting dressed, Mom?"

I sighed heavily.  "Yes, Bear.  Too right."  I dragged myself off the couch and put on the clothes I set aside last night for the workout I promised I would do.  I bumped into Brian who was getting ready for work.  He grinned at me.  "Going for your wog after all?" he asked.  "Yes," I sighed.  "Bear guilted me into it."  "Good dog!"  Brian praised him and off I went.

It's a gray day out there today, but immediately I got a grin.  My neighbor, Christina's dog, Bullet snuck out as she was trying to leave for work and decided he would like to come with me instead.  I practically had to walk him to his front door to get him to stay with she and her dad before I could wog on.  Ha.  :)

As it was a little later in the morning than I am usually out there, the neighborhood was awake.  It's garbage day, so one by one, the neighbors come to the curb to deposit their bags.  The charm of this neighborhood for me isn't so much the homes (though they are beautiful) but the friendliness of the people.  I have no doubt that had I met more of the people in my old neighborhood they would have been delightful, but I like having the contrast since I didn't. 

Brian just called and told me that I have to go wait on the plumber at the little house tomorrow to fix the leaky toilet, so I guess unless I wog much later in the morning, it's not going to happen.  It's a good thing I listened to my Bear dog today. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Man, I Hope It's Just PMS

This Christmas has been difficult. Despite the miracle of Brian being finished with his treatments and our beautiful new house, I've had a hard time not crying most of the time. 

I was up at 3 am on Christmas Eve...unable to sleep again.  I don't know what it is about holidays this year.  I did the same thing on Thanksgiving. 

I waited as long as I could and I started baking.  I didn't want to wake Brian up with the smells of what was cooking.  And then most of it wasn't great.  Still figuring out my oven.

Christmas always seems to slip away from me.  I never find time to get out and look at lights on houses.  I don't have friends over for eggnog--or other drinks.  I don't find the time to bake cookies.  I barely found the time this year to watch some of the holiday movies.  I didn't get down to look at the Christmas tree downtown where Brian proposed three years ago now.  I got my tree up as soon as I could and have been listening to Christmas music for as long as I can.  That's about as far as I got this year.  Or as far as I have I gotten in the last several years. 

I love this time of year; it's the prettiest...all the sparkling lights and beautiful music.  I love finally getting to see the whole family.  Usually it's been awhile since I've seen them.  This year it had been almost 7 months since I had seen everyone together.  Brian had been diagnosed and had all his treatments in between the time we had seen everyone. 

I just can't shake this sadness that occasionally descends.  I guess I shouldn't really be surprised by it.  It's been an emotional year.  I just wish I felt like I did Christmas "better."

I don't know exactly what I even mean by that.  Maybe begin some traditions for Brian and me. Like the breakfast casserole I made for Christmas Eve morning.  I'd like to figure out my oven so I could bake some goodies for the neighbors rather than doing fruit baskets...though I know it's the thought that counts. 

I am looking forward to starting at our new church we've picked out. It didn't work out for us to go during Christmas. I know that will help me feel like I am "doing Christmas better."

I hate being all emotional...whatever the reason is.  I've had more headaches lately, too.  I hope it's pms.  But I guess I can understand why with the crazy year, good and bad, we've had why I might be a little off the deep end. 

The Great Escape...and Recapture

Today I got to spend some quality time with my sweet next door neighbors.  They have two beagles, both eight years old.  One is blind, poor dear.  She has a genetic condition.  Her name is Bridget.  She gets around extremely well and her companion, Bonnie, takes good care of her. 

Our boys, Bear and Badger, haven't been as nice as I would like--especially to Bridget and Bonnie's mom and dad, Janet and John.  (Don't you love all the alliteration?)  Badger just has a thing about fences. 

So today after dropping off a holiday basket of fruit to the neighbors and visiting awhile, we thought how nice it would be for Janet and John to meet the boys face to face.

As I returned to the house, I met not only the boys, but the cat looking for me in the front yard. 

SNICKERDOODLES!

I hadn't locked the front door.  I did have my keys, just in case, but as I was just walking back and forth between next door, I wasn't worried about locking the door. 

So, I don't know if I didn't shut the door well enough or if Badger has finally learned to open round doorknobs.  You see, he's a pro with handles. 

What I do know is, all three of my little dears met me in the front yard.  Fortunately I was able to corral everyone again without incident.  They just wanted to see what Mom was up to.  Bear and Badger were very helpful in herding Azalea--what good brothers they are! 

We talked to the neighbors through the fence too so hopefully next time the boys see Bonnie and Bridget and Janet and John they will be sweet. 

I have to say I prefer they speak to the neighbors from the fence than unattended in the front yard.  It's a little more organized.  And little Miss Azalea, she can wait until the neighbors come to her house. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We Made It

Dear Brian,

Tomorrow is the day.  You are finished with your chemo!  I can't imagine the relief you must feel.  You can move on; we can move on. 

Your hair can really start to come back in.  The peach fuzz you have now is cute.  You've been so patient with the side effects you have encountered.  I know how much you want that port out.  Hopefully it won't be long now. 

You've been so brave, making it look so easy when it couldn't have been.  You refused to slow down when you had every right to.  You had the support and the time, but it's just not your style.  Working and being as normal as possible was the best was to survive.

And survive you have.  Survive we have.  Seems a strange way to be closer to you than ever, but I think you would agree that we are. 

I hope I've been help enough. I worry about that.  I've written about it before but we've never really discussed it before.  I've worried that just fetching your lunch on chemo days doesn't feel like much.  I know that isn't really ALL I do for you and have done for you through this, but I just want you to feel like you have all the love and support you could possibly need.

Without feeling smothered of course.  No charity cases here.  But the dinners from our friends at school were pretty nice, weren't they?  I know that they always seemed to be on the perfect nights; I was just too tired to even think about what I might fix and a sandwich or cereal would be fine.  But you needed to eat better than that, and the angels made sure we did.

I can't wait to get on with our lives now.  This house is pretty big.  Let's see about adding a little Horned Frog or two.  We aren't spring chickens, either one of us. 

I know it's odd, but I can't help but wonder if I would be as involved in the running at Luke's and trying new things if this had not happened to us.  I'm grateful for the opportunity though if I had to do it all over again....well, you know...

So much mortality this year.  Nonnie going to heaven.  You getting sick.  It's so raw and painful and yet, we get a happy ending. 

A beautiful new house, jobs we love, our health back. 

Just promise me that when you don't feel well or notice a lump, no matter how small next time you will have it checked out right away. 

I have to admit, I kind of like that each Christmas will be your cancer free anniversaries.  Like an extra gift that you don't think you need to ask for each year but it seems like such a given but isn't a guarantee--life. 

I love you. 

Go Ahead, Badger...Take It...She'll Never Know...


DammitBadger


Azalea













So, I solved the Christmas Tree Mystery awhile back.  It seems that my friend Cyndi was correct. Or at least partly.  Azalea must not loathe Badger as much as it seems.  Or she loathes him so much it gives her the most pleasure to see him get into trouble so she just helps him as often as possible. 

The feathered ornaments have stayed on the tree because I have finally moved them up high enough, away from everyone's reach, no matter which theory you subscribe to. 

One day I walked into the living room because I heard strange chomping noises.  Sweet Bear, the smart one, was with me.  I knew he was innocent.  There was Badger in the middle of the floor in front of my beautifully illuminated Christmas tree eating one of my plastic apples.  Azalea was sitting calmly under the tree on the tree skirt, practically grinning like the Chesire cat. 

We've been without incident for a week or so.  They have played together pretty peacefully.  No more ornaments have disappeared from the tree. 

Last night after I went to bed, I was reading my book and Bear was sleeping beside the bed.  Brian was at the other end of the house in the den watching tv.  I heard a strange sound...crunching again sort of.  It could have been Brian, but I know that in this big ol' house, I can't hear him when he's in the den. 

So, I finally got up to take a look.  I found the cat sitting calmly watching from the side of the room as Badger ate my sunglasses.  Now, my sunglasses were on the table in the living room.  So he had to have taken them from the table.  He did not find them on the floor and think, "These would be a tasty treat!"

The cat must be pulling the strings.  She is enjoying watching him get in trouble just like human siblings.  I imagine the conversation went something like this...

Azalea:  Hey Frisbee Breath.
Badger:  Huh?  Who me?  Huh?  What?  Who me?  Huh?  What?
Azalea:  Focus, Bone Breath.  I know where you can get something good to chew on.  Interested?
Badger:  Serious?  Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah
Azalea:  Shhhhhh....Gah--you have to be quiet.  It's a secret.  You don't want Mom to hear you, do you? 
Badger:  I don't know, Cat.  You got me in trouble last time...
Azalea:  I'm trying to make up for it.  You don't want to let me make up for it?  It's a really good chew toy.  Nice and crunchy.
Badger: Well, ok.  Where is it? 
Azalea:  Over here. On the table.  See right there by Mom's purse.
Badger:  Oh, yeah!  That looks nice!  Very crunchy looking.  Thanks, Azalea. 
Azalea:  Don't mention it.  No.  Really.  Don't mention it. 

It's difficult to stay mad at DammitBadger.  He's so cute and he's always so sorry at the time.  Plus I have complete faith that Azalea will be waiting patiently, plotting her next evil scheme...just like a good little sister does. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Merry Christmas, Nonnie

I don't know if I can write this one, but I'm going to try. 

Merry Christmas, Nonnie.

Today was so much fun, wasn't it?  It was so great to see everyone finally! I don't think everyone had been in the same room together since this summer at the family reunion.  Before we all knew Kelli was pregnant with Casen.  Before we knew Brian was sick. 

Now Brian has his last treatment next week and Casen will be here in March. 

Claire turned 20 today.  Can you believe it?  She used to be the baby.  Now it's Colt until Casen gets here.  Seems so strange.   We decided this year that we would only bring gifts for the little kids.  Things have changed so much and yet they have come full circle.  Now we are all adults and we are watching their children exchange and open gifts.  I only feel a little left out because we don't have kids of our own yet. 

Nonnie, you were there.  In every smile.  In every laugh.  The football game was on and the boys were glued to it.  We made the turkey, potatoes, and stuffing...just like always.  The cranberry salad didn't set up very well in my pewter bowl, but it tasted good.  And you were there.  The tree was decorated with the ornaments that I made for you and Grandpa. 

Grandpa looks good, huh?  A little tired, I think, but I'm really proud of the way he's hanging in there.  He misses you so much.  Today was challenging for him.  He loved having everyone over I know, but it meant you were only there in spirit....and most of the time, that's just not good enough, you know? 

The kids were all very well behaved and looked so cute.  I know you were proud of them.  Jace was so sweet sitting at his place at the table for all that time, waiting patiently for his lunch. 

Thank you so much for the shadow boxes and the jewelry.  I know that Aunt Susie and Mom put them together and it was so special.  But if you hadn't kept it all, we wouldn't have it to remember you. 

I have your ring that you wore every day after you gave your big diamond to Mom.  I didn't know it was expandable.  :)  Good buy! 

We all enjoyed the chance to choose some things that belonged to you to take with us.  You are with us all the time. 

Christmas will always bring you back to me and make the ache a little deeper at the same time, but I wouldn't trade a single moment of the big family Christmases you gave us. 

My absolute favorites are the ones when I was a little girl and you lived out on the creek.  I've spent my whole life trying to recapture the magic you created at Christmas in that house.  The best answer I have is all the time you had for us.  The movies we watched, the fires in the fireplace, hot chocolate.  And each cousin felt like we were your favorite child and the only kid in the world.

How did you do that? 

Merry Christmas, Nonnie.  Love you.

This Thing Inhales Profusely!

One of our housewarming gifts was a super duper vacuum cleaner from my in laws.  My sweet little house had hardwood floors, and we didn't really need a vacuum.  Although I have to say that with the dust/dirt battle we constantly fought in that house, perhaps a steroid-inhanced sucker like the one we just we received might have just done the trick.

Our new house is 80 percent carpet, so a vacuum was a must.  I bought a basic one at Target, but had yet to get it out of the box.  I keep the house tidy, but aside from the leaves the dogs keep bringing in, we just needed a little sweeping on the kitchen tile and in the bathrooms.  Then my in-laws brought in the big guns, and I really didn't need the little one I bought.

I'm hoping that Target will take mine back with no receipt.  Store credit is cool with me.  I practically live there. 

Tonight I decided the floors could wait no longer, so I asked Brian to assemble the Assault Weapon for Carpets.  Dutifully, he got to work and before long I had a super duper sucker ready to work on my carpets.  He gave me a 10 second tour (because that's all I would listen to) and away I went.

Chores are definitely not my favorite, but floors are a total drag.  Never liked sweeping.  Not crazy about vacuuming, but of course tonight it's new and fun again. 

For one, the vacuum, though it's surprisingly quiet for being so large and effective at it's job, scares the snot out of DammitBadger.  Mwahahahahahaha. 

Bear's not crazy about it, but he takes a more practical approach.  He knows if he stays well behind me, there's no way the scary monster machine can get him.  Then eventually he gets bored and goes to another room.  Badger is too busy scaring himself to think clearly.  So he runs around barking at the scary monster machine and when he gets to close to it, jumps back about four feet like he's been electrocuted.  The cat's not a big fan either, but it's not as funny to me because it's really kind of expected, isn't it?  She runs like a thief in the night from hiding place to hiding place when you get too close. 

It's been so long since I've owned a vacuum (oh, wait...I've never actually owned a vacuum) that this is the first one I've had with no bag!  When it was time to empty the chamber the first time, I successfully removed it from the machine and I brought it to the kitchen toward the garbage can.  As I asked Brian if he knew how to open it, I pushed the red button.  Whoops.  Yeah, THAT red button.  I didn't dump it all, and at least I was standing over the tile when I did it.  I'm more of a learn by doing kind of girl.  Brian patiently went and retrieved the broom and dust pan, shaking his head and I replaced the chamber on the vacuum and prepared to attack the next room.

I made it to our bedroom where I discovered that this is such a powerful vacuum, it sucks up tube socks! Whoopsie!  Fortunately I was able to get them back and the vacuum was completely unharmed. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my cleaning experience and in a few days I'll get out our awesome new vacuum and fluff up the carpets again, leaving nice tracks as evidence of its skills.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Run for the Roses

Well, I did it.  I Ran for the Roses, baby.  My brother, David and my sweet Kim were there with me.  Of course, my very fit brother left me in the dust, but that's ok.  As Kim says, "No matter how slow I am, I'm faster than my couch."  That's the sign she and her husband hold up for her daughter at her triathalons.  And if that's not a tee shirt, it ought to be.

I didn't dread going to this one like I did the Jingle Bell Run, so I must actually be sucked in to this whole thing for real.  The Jingle Bell made me so nervous because as a perfectionist, I want to do beautifully and it's taken me awhile to understand that getting off the couch and on the road is the biggest part.  The rest is really just gravy.

I wasn't nervous this time and I had a goal--My wish on my shooting star a few days ago. 

And it came true.  I can share it with you now.  I wanted to do better than the Jingle Bell time of 50 minutes.  Today was really hard.  It was so cold and I was sure there was no way that I could make it come true. I hadn't taken the time to eat anything this morning, so I had no energy, but I also had nothing to regurgitate if it came to that.  I did better with my stretching but I did it a little early.  I'm learning.  I'm learning. 

As bad I felt, Kim was keeping time on her watch and we had 15 minute miles for the first two. I couldn't believe it.  But in the last two tenths or so I just wanted to sit down and cry I hurt so bad.  But ever persistent, even as gentle as she is, Kim insisted that we were going to run across the finish line. 

Her husband finished quite a bit ahead of us (of course) and was there taking pictures of us.  He went with us down to the finish as an extra cheerleader. 

I was disappointed that it seemed my time wouldn't improve, but I would finish another race.  I didn't spend my first Saturday of Christmas vacation on the couch.

Kim picked up our pace and we started to run to the finish.  "You see that clock?"  "No," I whined.  "Well, I do!"  Kim sang out.  I looked closer at the finish line.  It said 46 minutes and something.  I blinked my eyes.  Couldn't be.  I looked again.  It changed to 47 minutes.  Holy snickerdoodles!  I was going to make it!!  And I was going to be running when I did it!!

When I hit the finish line, the clock was just over 48 minutes.  That means the chip on my shoe should show 47 something since I was about 20 seconds or so behind the starters of the race. 

I did it.  My shooting star gave me my wish.  I gave me my wish.  My next race is in a few weeks.  It's the Jiggle Butt on January 7.  It's for girls only and Julie and I are pretty excited about it. 

When I got home, Brian took my number and put it on the refrigerator next to my Jingle Bell number.  I didn't think of myself as a runner until today.  A runner--just a slow one. Well, maybe still a wogger.  But that's ok by me.  I'm still faster than my couch.

I'm looking forward to the next 9 to 5 at Luke's in January.  I'll actually miss the first meeting because of the Jiggle Butt Run.  I don't know where this wogging adventure will take me next , but so far I like where I've been.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hello Neighbor...

It's a crazy time of year.  I don't think anyone can deny this.  As serene as I want to feel, that's probably as crazy as I actually I am.  Between trying to get school finished for the holidays and not having even started my Christmas shopping and our big family Christmas party being this Sunday, I'm a little frazzled. 

Brian and I were warned that he might experience what they call chemo brain about now...where he gets a bit forgetful.  He's honestly done very well, just as he has with all his other symptoms until today.  He forgot he had a function to attend after work and we made plans with friends.  Fortunately they were very understanding about it; the previous engagement was important for Brian.

I went to Target right after work to get the last gift for my Secret Santa and pick up one or two other little things (found an adorable sweater and a new bottle of wine to try). 

When I got home, I let the dogs out as I usually do and took my packages into the kitchen.  I went back to the front door to plug in the Christmas lights; we have them plugged in right outside the door for easy access.  But the door shut behind me when I leaned out to plug in.  Can't let the cat out, you know. 

So I turned to go back in after plugging in my purple and white homage to the Horned Frogs (yes, my Christmas lights are purple and white), but I had a problem.  The door was locked.  SNICKERDOODLES! 

Ok, you have two very expensive degrees.  Think Blondie.  How are you going to get back into your house. Your phone is on the kitchen counter and every window and door is locked. 

I went around to the backyard where the dogs are still waiting for someone to come and play with them.  "MOMMY!" You can almost hear them yelling as they pick up their frisbees.  No, not right now, fellas.  We have a problem.  I don't suppose either of you grabbed a key on your way out?  No?  Ok.....think...think....

I tried the windows, both doors in the back.  Nothing.  Though I am pleased to tell you that the back of my house is locked up just as tight as the front of my house.  I even tried taking off a screen of a window and getting in.  Nope. 

Well, the next door neighbor is home.  We haven't actually met, but there's no time like the present. 

I went next door and rang the door bell.  My beautiful neighbor, Christina, answered the door. 

"Hi, I'm Heather. I live next door."  "Hi!" she says.  "Um, I have a bit of a problem. I hope you can help me..." 

She let me borrow her phone to call Brian so that he could run home before his meeting and let me in. 

"Brian?"   "Yeah?"  "Um, I locked myself out of the house."  "Well, how did you do that?"  "Honey, how do you think I did that?"  He laughed and laughed.  "I'm on my way." 

Christina and I had a very nice visit while we waited.  We have quite a bit in common, including having moved from the same general neighborhood and tiny house into beautiful big homes on this quiet street.  She was very understanding about locking myself out; she said she and her husband did that too not long after they moved in to their house, too. 

Brian did eventually get home to let me in and then he was on his way to his meeting.  And I have a new friend.  Christina may even get up and go running with me. 

Man, I love it here.  Good thing I have a sense of humor about myself. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Stars At Night

I tried to wog yesterday morning--truly I did.

I have a 5k this weekend and I need all the practice I can get.  But it's difficult to arise bright eyed and bushy tailed at the right time when you "accidentally" set the alarm for 5 PM instead of AM.  Whoopsie.

So, instead I woke up in a panic at 5:45 AM and had to prepare for my school day, sans wogging.  And it was a special day, too.  I had to fulfull my obligation to the library with my book fair dare.  The kids bought $2000 worth of books, so I dressed up as Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.  Possibly just as well I didn't have time to wog.

So, last night I made sure the alarm was correct and just as planned, I was off into the darkness minutes after the alarm went off at 5 AM...just had to brush my fangs first and dress for the cold weather.  Morning breath and huffing and puffing do NOT go together...just sayin'.

Anyway, I was actually able to run quite a bit.  I was pretty proud.  I was doing pretty well with my breathing.  I was pretending my Kimi was right there with me..."Ok, ready to run to the light post?"  Yep, let's go.  I got to my light post and turned to go back the other direction and do the rest of my route.

The cold was slapping me in the face and making my eyes water pretty badly.  And sometimes I still cry a little. I'm not sure why.  I guess it's all the stress leaking out.  I've just become accustomed to it.  Anyway, I was headed to the big loop I do, looking up at all the stars in the cold, clear sky when I saw a shooting star!
In the city!  At 5:20 in the morning! 

Y'all, I just about lost it!  I kept running and talking to the sky.  Saying thank you to whoever sent me that star.  My Nonnie maybe?  I don't know.  I should probably also tell you that the star is my favorite shape.  Now I know that those stars are not actually star-shaped, but it didn't really matter to me.  It just seemed like the simplest but most wonderful little miracle just for me.

And my wish?  Well, I know I can't really tell you, but I did keep it wogging-related.  I don't need much these days.  Pretty blessed, you know. 

When I got home, Brian stirred and asked how I did.  I was still glowing and told him about what I had seen.  "Oh yeah, there was a big meteor shower last night."  My face fell a bit.  Oh, maybe I didn't get a sign after all.  Just a meteor shower.  And then I decided that no, it was special if I wanted it to be.  And Brian agreeed when I thanked him for being a 5 am buzz kill.  "Oh no!" he said.  "It should be over by now."  Yeah, try and back track, buddy.  So, that's my little miracle for today.

So if I get two wishes on that star today, let me wish for a similar, simple miracle for you, too.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oh Mother

I have mothers on my mind today.  Specifically mine.

As Sunday and our big family Christmas draws ever nearer, I know that she has her Mama on her mind.  I have mentioned that this is our first year without my Nonnie.  So far my mother has been the picture of Southern grace and strength, just as she was raised to be and has raised me to be.  I can't help but wonder what she's like on the inside.

Let me tell you what she's like on the outside. 

I have never wanted for anything in my entire life.  I have always been made to feel beautiful, intelligent, and even when I didn't want to be, she made be strong.  I can think of countless examples of when she made me feel like the most special person alive, but a random memory popped into my head today on the way home from school today as I listened to Christmas music.

How many times was the woman "volunteered" for jobs when she wasn't even there to speak up for herself?  Not that she would dream of refusing, another inherited trait from her own gracious mother.  When I was in 2nd grade, I wanted a good role in the Christmas program.  And I was smart enough to know how to get one.  So, when the teacher wanted girl volunteers who already had white leotards at home who could be divinity candy in the program, I fibbed and said I did.  My mommy would get me a leotard.  I knew she would.  And guess who was divinity candy in the Christmas program that year?  Yours truly.  A divinity candy with a slightly guilty conscience, I'll admit, but a better role than just the chorus!

She was room mother, Choir Mother extraordinaire, chaperone--you name it, she did it with a smile.  I hope she loved it as much as I loved having her there for every moment.  I still get to see her every day as I work with her.  Awesome enough but even better when a girl needs lunch money!

I hope that I am half the mom someday that my mother has been to me.  And as we work to get through this next milestone, I know that not only will Nonnie be there with us, she is even more of proud of the family she made.  And I can't think of one reason she shouldn't be. 

Thanks Mom.  For all of it. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Making a Difference

If someone asked him, Brian would probably say that the best part about his job is making sure bad people can't hurt good people anymore.

Yesterday when he came home from work, he found out that a very bad guy that he and the rest of his unit had robbery cases on will probably not see the light of day for at least three decades. 

The last four months have been nothing like we could have ever imagined.  And one thing that people are always surprised about is that Brian has continued to fight crime and protect the innocent throughout his illness.  We are fortunate in that he does the Superman thing from behind a desk these days instead of from behind his Kevlar vest every day.  His desk job does make the treatments a little easier on him.  But he takes his turn at being on call at night and on the weekends, just like the rest of the guys.  Sometimes on those nights, the phone rings constantly and he must go in more than once in a night to interview suspects.  No rest for superheroes. 

Brian was born to do his job.  It is as much a part of him as his arm or his leg.  To see him making a difference and the happiness it gives him as he begins to move past this terrible period in our life means so much to me. 

He's very excited about the future as well.  He cannot wait for the Superbowl though I think he could care less who comes to play.  As the AFC team will be hosted in Ft. Worth and ESPN will be setting up shop in downtown, there will be lots of buzz and excitement in our fair city soon.  Brian's friend has set him up with a plum overtime spot working with a fire marshal. They will be responsible for anything from fake merchandise to overcrowding in bars.  Brian will have to file the cases on the offenders. 

His birthday is this Saturday.  We'll celebrate by going to the Pat Green concert at Billy Bob's with friends.  Reliving a little of our youth.  LOL.  We've gone to Pat's concerts for a lot of years now in a lot of different places.  A lot of great memories.

Brian's been able to stay busy throughout his illness, that's certain.  He's making a difference in the world, solving crime for robbery victims, keeping the city safe from invading Superbowl fans, and inspiring me to continue to make a difference wherever I can. 

Back At It

5:00 am.  I opened one eye and sighed.  I'd been awake off and on for about half an hour.  Do I really feel like wogging?  Is it worth it? 

Get out of bed, lazy bones!  One foot on the floor...might as well go all the way now.

It's my first wog in the new neighborhood. 

My old neighborhood was filled with sweet, tiny little houses packed together lovingly on gently winding streets.  I wogged up and down, up and down, admiring these tiny abodes built in the early 1950s. 

The new neighborhood is quite a bit different.  The lots are large as are the homes.  They are newer.  There are lovely, mature trees gracing the lawns.  As you turn into the subdivision, you feel as though you have entered a secret place.  That spell becomes even more powerful on foot. 

Granted, in the dark at 5:15 am, it's difficult to fully appreciate the true beauty of the area, but it's still magicial somehow...and bittersweet.  I started this wogging journey in such a different place.

I do love this new neighborhood; I just wish we had sidewalks.  At least I had the choice in the old neighborhood.  It's a little nerve-wracking, even so early in the morning that I have to be even more vigilant to be sure that I don't get squished by someone half-asleep on their way to work.

I even used Nigel this morning to try to map out some kind of a route.  I only managed a little less than a mile this morning, but now that I know where I want to go, tomorrow I can increase how many times I do the route.  This morning, I'm sorry to tell you that I only worked off two peaches.  Sigh. 

So, when I got home tonight, I got the whole family out for another short walk.  I don't know how long we actually walked, but the boys had fun and I got a little more exercise. 

I signed up for a 5k next weekend benefiting the BISD Rose Parade Bands.  I'm once again not sure how to feel about it, but I'd like to see if I can do any better without Bear.  Even if I walk most of it, I'm giving money to a great cause and it's one more 5k that I hadn't done before. 

Some day I will be more of a runner than a walker.  I keep reminding myself of how much better I feel when I do this and let that help me out of bed when I'd rather curl back up and try to sleep for 5 more minutes. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Christmas Tree Mystery

I dearly love to put up our Christmas tree.  I look forward to it all autumn. This year to go along with the new house, we bought a new tree.  I'd had the previous tree for quite a few years and it was going to look a little puny in the big ol' living room. 

I went with a pre-lit 7 footer.  Pre-lit!!  Whoo hoo!  Picked it up for $99 at Garden Ridge at 6 am on Black Friday.  Totally worth it. 

As beautiful as the tree is, as it larger than the last one that means we need more decorations.  I picked up a few new ones at Pier One...some feather angel wings and some feathery owls. 

And even as I bought them, something told me that perhaps these were not the best choices for our household. 

I have told you before that in addition to our two darling dogs, we have a princess cat.  She has always had an affinity for our Christmas tree as well.  When she was tiny, she climbed it.  When she was a little older, she took her cat naps among the packages on the tree skirt.  The kitty loves her tree.  She has been known to bat a low dangling ornament  off the tree and on to the floor.  Sometimes when I'm cleaning I will find a stray bauble in February that has been chased way under a piece of furniture.

This year hasn't been much different than any other.  Azalea makes her nap bed under the tree on the skirt. 
The living room is the playground of the two dogs and the cat (when she isn't napping.)

And now to the mystery...

The feathery ornaments keep finding their way off the tree and onto the carpet in different places.  I purposefully placed the ornaments a little higher on the tree with the cat in mind.  I thought I had them high enough on the tree so that none of the pets could get them.  And yet I have found them on the floor three times now. 

The suspects? 

Azalea, the princess cat who believes the tree and everything on it belongs to her.  Feathers drive her bonkers.  Boas, my slippers with feathers, my Mardi Gras masks--anything with feathers drive her crazy. 

DamnitBadger, the crazy dog who believes that everything and everyone is a toy.  The cat is one of his favorite toys.  He's never really bothered the tree before, but there's always a first time.

I hesitate to even include him, but Bear, the perfect dog is also a member of our family.  He hasn't wanted anything to do with our Christmas tree since he was a puppy.  And last night he was way too tired after our Jingle Bell Run to take an ornament from the Christmas tree. 

I couldn't tell you which little sweetie I think is taking the ornaments.  I think it may be a team effort...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jingle All the Way

Well, I did it.  Took me 50 minutes.  But I wogged my way through the Jingle Bell Run tonight.  My coach, Tracy and Bear did it with me.  My friend, Julie, is getting so good at the running that she was 15 minutes ahead of us.  (Show off.)  (Just kidding, Julie!  So proud of you!) 

I was pretty cranky at first.  I won't lie.  I didn't know how to feel about any of it.  I hadn't exercised since Thanksgiving morning.  I know some people give me credit in the exercise department for moving, but I don't, really.  I knew that running would not really be an option because I was so out of practice.  I did try.  I just didn't get much running done.  Sigh.  Well, I suppose the important thing is that I got out there in the first place and I finished it.  I'll try not to be so hard on myself since I've had so much going on. 

Bear would have loved to have run more.  I guess he can go out with me here in the new neighborhood when I start on Monday.  He had a fantastic time.  I was a little worried about him; the other dogs worried me.  Some dogs are just not friendly!  That's not cool because my sweet dog loves everyone! 

Bear did find himself a girlfriend.   A pretty little King Charles Cavalier Spaniel.  She was a beauty; I'll give Bear credit--he knows quality when he sees it. 

Ultimately, I had a really good time and I feel like I did well.  I don't know if I'll take Bear again; I was stressed out with watching out for him around all the other dogs...especially that mean Doberman girl.  Grrr.

I'm proud that I followed through with this even if I didn't run it.  It was important.  Part of my fight...against my stress, against all of it.  And hey, I got to walk right past the stretcher and defibrilator at the finish line...didn't even need it. 

I'm looking forward to the Jiggle Butt in January...and I'm considering doing the Run for the Roses later this month.  I don't know if I'll make 5ks a habit, but I do intend to get back into the habit of wogging.  I have missed it.  And the competitive side of me won't accept 50 minutes as my "best" time. 

So, look out world.  Here I come.  Jingling all the way.

Progress

Brian's 5th treatment was this week.  5th of six. 

I didn't take the day off this time to sit with him, but I had to be there when Dr. Redrow told Brian about his pet scan. 

His weight is good; fortunately his appetite has stayed normal despite losing taste buds.  His initial weight loss was one of the things that scared me the most. 

His blood pressure was up a little, but I expected that; he was nervous about what we would hear about the scan.  What would our future hold? 

Dr. Redrow came in, his usual, unflappable self and declared that the scan looked good.  After these next two treatments, Brian would be finished.  A death sentence commuted.  A sigh of relief that comes from the toes. 

It was wonderful to see Brian look so happy.  No matter how supportive I try to be, as I have said many times, ultimately, this is his fight.  And it looks like he has won. 

His last treatment will be on Dec. 22.  What a Christmas gift that will be. 

The 5th treatment was very long; his port was clogged and so he had to be "unplugged" with some liquid draino type stuff before the sweet nurse could get him started. 

The guys in the office took care of his lunch for him this time and he took his nap.  A nice long one.  The sleep of a man who knows he will live to fight another day.

I won't have school on his last treatment and though it's clear he can handle going on his own, I want to be there for his last one.  We've been such a team through this, I don't want to miss the last one.  I think I'll bring a champagne bottle to pop in the parking lot when we finish. 

It's not a persistent, pervasive thought, but I do sometimes think about relapses.  It scares me more than I can tell you.  I know I wouldn't be human if I didn't think about it. I know for now I just need to be thankful that we've got Brian healthy so we can start focusing on other, fun things. Like our house and starting our family...I just don't like stuff sneaking up on me. 

Happy Valley

Missed me?  I've been consumed with the process of moving into our beautiful new house. 

It's been quite an undertaking.  It's all coming together though.  Poor Brian is very tired from the physical part of the move.  Me too, come to think of it.  Good thing we bought that new bed...what sleep we get is most restful. 

Our families helped us get into the house; a holiday weekend isn't the best time to put the touch on your friends.  It's kind of hard for your family to refuse you...even if it is deer season.  We didn't have electricity or water until the Monday after the holiday, so that presented a bit of a challenge, but we worked around it.

Our first night in the house was Monday, but it seems a year ago already.  We had a little trouble getting the satellite service installed; that will be remedied tomorrow, fortunately.  It is a hard thing to come between a man and his remote.  Brian has been patient, however. 

The phone service is still on the fritz, but I still haven't had time to get to the bottom of it.  The phone company recommends that you "troubleshoot" yourself before they send a technician out.  Sigh.  I don't wan thte extra expense, so I'm fine with it, but just finding the time to "troubleshoot" almost makes it worth it...whatever it costs.

We have a wasp problem.  As we sit watching our basic dish service in the den, one wasp will fly around the room.  I am the resident wasp ninja.  I stealthily sneak up on it as it buzzes Brian's head and I swat it out of mid-air with my fly swatter and I get it on the floor and give it another couple of good whacks to make sure it's good and dead.  My dog, Bear, is rather sensitive and is worried that the swatter might be turned on him, so he hides and waits for it to be over.  (P.S. there is no way that swatter would EVER be used on that dog, no matter what he did.)

We can't figure out where the wasps are coming from.  Today I killed about 10 of them.  They seem to originate from around the fireplace, but from there we are at a loss.  I am looking forward to the wasp barbeque we are going to have one evening soon as it will be quite cold in the next few days if that is really where they are camping out.  I'm just hoping that they don't come swarming out into the den all at once when we light the fire. Can you say nightmare?  Even the wasp ninja can't handle more than one or two at a time. 

We met our neighbors last night.  Oh my goodness.  I can't imagine nicer people if we had hand picked them.  We got a welcome basket from one neighbor!  I can't wait to bake goodies for them for Christmas.  I have always wanted to do that for my neighbors and just never have bothered because I never bothered to know my neighbors.  Now here in Happy Valley, I can't help but know and like them. 

So, that's what we've been up to the last 10 days or so.  Hope things are good in your world!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankfuls

I've noticed many of my Facebook friends have posted each day for what they are thankful.  Though I have been rather preoccupied lately, I have at least been thinking each day as I see these posts what I would write.  And now, I think it's time I did. 

1.  I'd like to start with my family.  I have a large extended family that I have the advantage of seeing often.  We always have a great time together--cooking, laughing, playing...there are lots of great memories to relive and infinite new memories being made.  The fam is so big now we usually only see the whole group at the big holidays, but it's treasured time.  This Thanksgiving and Christmas will be a little surreal because my grandmother will not be with us.  She passed away in May.  To her husband, her four children and eight grandchildren, she was the heart of the family.  I know we are all a bit worried about how it will feel to be without her.  But I know that she will be there.

2.  My husband, of course, is a GINORMOUS reason to be thankful.  He's doing so well.  I can't wait for his PET Scan to bear that out.  We only have two more treatments now.  It doesn't even seem possible now.  August seems so far away.  But he's going to be just fine.

3.  Our new house is a pretty big reason to be happy.  Those two bathrooms, you know.  I know that it's also scary because we still don't have anyone to take the little house, but I have faith that it will all work out. 

4.  Brian and I both have great jobs that are pretty secure...I suppose one even more than the other. We both love what we do and come home tired every day, but it's because we have worked hard to make the world a better place.

5.  We have some pretty awesome friends who have been there for us--whenever, whatever.  Especially mine.  Thank you for letting me whine.  Much love.

6.  Our two dogs and cat are pretty cool.  We actually really lucked out in the pet selection department.  I know I complain about DamnitBadger, but he keeps life interesting!  Bear and Azalea just rock the house.

7.  Our in-laws.  I think we both lucked out in that area.  One or both of us could have had a crazy family to contribute to this union. 

8.  TCU football.  I am a rather proud alumnus as most people can attest.  What a great show they have put on the last few years!

9.  My new car, Pearl.  I love my new Xterra.  We bought her in August.  She is beautiful. 

10.  The travel that I have experienced.  Brian has taken me to many wonderful places that I might not otherwise have seen.  He took me camping for the first time. 

11.  This blog.  It's been an emotional few months and having the ability to express myself here is a big reason to be thankful.

12.  My wogs.  When I get out there and do them, my wogs really make me feel good and I can't wait for life to settle down just wee bit so I can get back in the habit.  Especially since my first 5k is Dec. 4th.

13.  My running coaches from Luke's.  Tracey, Janet and especially Kim.  They have helped me so much in my quest to be more fit.  I hope I don't disappoint.

14.  My education.  I have always loved school and I went for awhile.  TCU took good care of me as did HSU.  I am most proud of the masters degree though.  That sucker was hard! 

15.  TX Country music.  I love that we have our own brand of music around here.  Some of my best memories with my friends are these concerts all over the state. 

16.  My brother.  We've been through so much together and I count him as one of my best friends.

17.  Christmas.  I love everything about it...especially the music.  Including that people start decorating before Thanksgiving...though right after Halloween is a little early even for me.

18.  The food I'll be eating with my family on Turkey Day.  I'm sure lots of families put on a good spread, but my family knows how to cook, y'all!  I dream about it for months!  And we love it so much, we usually do a repeat performance for Christmas a few weeks later!  The turkey, the stuffing, the potatoes, the pies!  And me?  I rock the family's special cranberry salad recipe.  Except for this year since my kitchen is still packed up.  I'm kind of bummed about that.  I'll get to do it at Christmas though.

19.  My smart phone.  LOL. I love technology.  It has a Kindle on it!  I think that is so awesome! On vacation this year at Tahoe, I read 4 books on my phone! 

20.  Facebook.  Speaking of technology...I love being able to stay in touch with so many friends--old and new. 

21.  Learning new things.  I realized today as I was picking out wine for Thanksgiving that through my friends and experiences with them that I have learned a lot over the last 2 years just about wine.  I know what a Mal-Bec is and what points mean.  That might not seem like much to some people, but when you used to feel ignorant about such matters and now you don't so much, that's pretty cool.

22.  My Leave It To Beaver childhood.  My parents are pretty amazing people and they gave my brother and me a great life.  We never wanted for anything.  We still don't .  I am so grateful for them.

23.  My new furniture.  Seems silly maybe, but before I got the new sofa, chair and tables this year I had never had new furniture of my own. 

24.  The doctors treating Brian.  Can't believe I got this far without remembering to mention the 3 reasons my gorgeous husband is thriving today.  Dr. Arnouville, Dr. Collins, and Dr. Redrow.  Dr. Arnouville--thank you for taking that little mass so seriously.  Dr. Collins--thank you for the no B.S. approach and for getting the biopsy done so quickly.  Dr. Redrow...well, I don't know if I have the words.  You are a man of few words and that makes Brian respect you all the more.  You tell him what he needs to know and therefore what he needs to hear. 

25. The freedom to list all of these things I'm thankful for in the first place.  Thank you to all of those who have given me the luxury. 

And thank you to all of you read my ramblings.  I appreciate it more than you know.

This Time of Year

Many of my Facebook friends have posted their thankfuls daily this month.  While there are countless things for which I am thankful, my family always tops the list.  We have a large, fun-loving extended family that makes a point of getting together for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Anything else we can manage with about 40 total of us is bonus. 

This is my mother's family.  My grandparents were married for about 60 years.  Nonnie and Grandpa (also known as Groucho to the rest of the family and most of Bridgeport) were the Leave it to Beaver kind of parents and grandparents.  I knew a TV Land sort of childhood.

And so it seemed my grandparents must be immortal.  Until late April of this year.  Nonnie's health had been gradually declining, though I think if you had asked any of the 8 grandchildren we would have been in pretty big denial.  I am the oldest grandchild and I am 35 years old.  Surely we would always have our grandparents.  God had been so good for so long. 

Nonnie went in to the hospital for what we were assured would be a procedure that would actually make her condition better.  Her balance wasn't very good, things like that.  This was supposed to help.  Only it didn't.  On my mother's birthday, her mother went into a coma from which she would not return. 

We are a close family.  We are.  But there are many things that we don't hash out.  This has been one.  Still too painful.  I have had many friends and acquaintances lose a grandparent.  I have always had the deepest sympathy for them, but I have had no clue about the enormous, raw, gaping hole it leaves in your life.  Even 6 months later.  

Our family reunion this summer with my grandmother's side of the family was great fun as it always is, but a huge part was missing.  It was so surreal.  Grandpa was there, so you just kept looking for her.  And you almost saw her.  Her mark on the family is that strong.

I see pictures of her all over our house and my parents' house from past family celebrations--Christmases, weddings, anniversaries.  I still cry nearly every time.  I thank God every day she was at our wedding, and I'm so sad that she won't actually hold our babies with me instead of holding them in heaven before I do.  

So this time of year, I am up before 5 am on Thanksgiving because while I can't wait to see the family at lunch, I am heartbroken that Nonnie won't actually be there.  I know she will be there because she created this family with my sweet Grandpa (who will be there, thank goodness), but forgive me if "in spirit" just isn't the same.  I'd rather be able to hug her neck the way I used to.  I don't mean to be selfish. 

I just wish that this time of year that I could turn back the clock. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Accentuate the Positive

Well, I'd really like to make this a gritch session.  I REALLY would.  But you know something?  It wouldn't help anything.  It wouldn't help us close on the house one second faster.  It wouldn't help me get well one minute faster. 

So, I'm giving as much of this frustration as I can to the universe.  I pushed myself so hard that I made myself sick.  Got me two extra days of "vacation."  Whoo hoo.  I've been so bored, I can hardly stand it.  Though I must say that I really do finally feel rested.  Can't remember the last time I exercised, but I am actually rested.  Ah, the miracle of antibiotics. 

My 5k is Dec. 4th.  I'm not sure how I will handle it.  I need to wog so much and yet the thought of it makes me tired.  I got an email from my coach, Kim asking me to meet with her this weekend to run for just a little while.  I think I will...though heaven help me. 

The now delayed closing of the house should be giving me a migraine, and while I am pretty upset about it, thankfully I've been able to keep three things in mind.  1.  Our financial guy, Phil, a high school friend of Brian's and Brooke, the best realtor ever, have done everything possible to make this happen smoothly 2.  the people who control the closing on this house now are faceless and nameless (to us) and therefore kind of hard to stay upset with and 3. we will eventually get into the house--it just may not be when we want.

Plus, we have some other things to focus on.  Brian's PET Scan is today!  Today we get to see how well his chemo has been working all these months.  Now, we won't know the results of the scan until next week, but I just know it will be great.  Pretty exciting stuff! 

And Thanksgiving is this week.  We have 26 coming to my parents' house.  Good thing I have plans to work out with Kim this weekend.  The eating is always good at our house.  It will be really good to see everyone.  Some of the fam I haven't seen all summer.  How time flies. 

So you see, I could gritch, but we have too many things to be positive about even in the midst of all the chaos.  I love the power of positive thinking...and the gift of amazing people in our lives. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Derailed

I feel like I'm off the tracks....I've missed 3 potential workouts...including an official run practice on Saturday.  And I'm at the point where I could just stop because it's easier.  I could tell myself, "It's ok if you don't wog this week.  You're moving this weekend, and you can catch up next week at the new house." 

But what if I don't start at the new house because I'm already out of those good habits?  It doesn't take me long to convince myself that at 5 am my bed is a much nicer placer to be.  Now, once I kick myself out of bed and get moving I can get it done...it's just the initial motivation needed. 

I hurt all over from packing.  I would probably feel better if I would get out and move those muscles and clear my mind.  I really do enjoy that time out there all to myself.  But I have to get tough with myself.  Even if it seems like I deserve a little slack, I can't give myself an inch...I will take miles and miles.  I love laziness. 

Not only do I have to get back on the tracks, I have to try to start running.  My coach, Kim, will be back next week at Luke's, and even if we are moving this weekend, I have to take that hour and go run with her.  That hour means a lot to me. 

As Scarlett O'Hara, one of my favorite characters from literature (a heroine and villainess at the same time) famously declared, "....tomorrow is another day."  I will be out there in the morning, wogging away, so help me.  I cannot be derailed. 

It's as if the wogging takes a detour, then one by one all the dominoes will fall.  I'm juggling so much at the moment.  I have to keep it all in the air.  If working out at 5 am every day is the lynch pin, you know where you can find me tomorrow and every day after. 

Plus, you should see what it's doing for my legs. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Love is All Around

Sounds so cliche, doesn't it?  Love is all around. 

But I've been thinking a lot about it today.  I got a giant hug from my four year old nephew at 7 am this morning.  His innocence and joy was a privilege to experience--even at that hour.  We drove down a big hill this morning and he exclaimed, "Wheeeeeee!" all the way down.  At the bottom he giggled and said, "That was fun."  I've got to get one of those for myself.  Can't wait for Brian to be well.  (insert grin)

My border collie, Bear, has been my faithful companion for eight years.  He has a capacity for love and understanding that doesn't seem possible at times.  He loves Brian almost as much as he does me, and he worries over him now, constantly checking on him.  Bear goes a little overboard sometimes.  We can only guess that's what he's doing; all his needs seem to have been met and he doesn't treat me the same way.  It's Brian he pesters.  We can't really recall, but we don't think he was so attentive to Brian before he got sick.  Now he's constantly under Brian's arm.  Of course, Bear's also trying to work in an extra game of Frisbee whenever he can and he knows Brian is more likely to play a second game than I am...

Brian and I dated for a very long time before we married.  A little over twelve years actually.  And while that may seem excessive and sometimes seemed ridiculous, as I received the sad news today that another good friend's marriage did not survive, I have to wonder if it actually wasn't pretty smart on Brian's part.  We certainly know each other well.  I know that there are some situations that not even 12 years can prepare a relationship to survive, but I hope that time gives us an education and a motivation to work through difficult patches. 

We are certainly experiencing a difficult patch at the moment, but in this case we are only closer as a couple.  I'm so grateful. 

Love is all around.  I am fortunate enough to be completely wrapped up in it....my husband, my dog, my nephew, my friends, the rest of my amazing family....if that's not God, I don't know what is.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Waka Waka Wogging

This week has been hard so far, y'all.  I've been up, I've tried to be at 'em, but even my shins hurt pretty badly and I never do as well on my own.  I really hate Mondays because I take Sundays off, and it's hard to get back into the rhythm even after missing a day.  I push myself pretty hard on Saturdays--especially this past Saturday...Mondays are not my idea of fun.

But, I wog on.  It's important.  Overall, physically I feel better.  Certain female aspects of my life have changed dramatically as a result of the exercise and after the struggles I have had with that monthly, uh, let's say experience, that's reason enough to keep on keepin' on. 

I did add my music back in Monday.  I had been wogging without it because as a normally cautious person AND a cop's wife, I am hypervigilant.  Being distracted by music opens you up for a possible attack from behind or the side--even at 5 am in a familiar area.  That's part of the reason why I like the cardio program on my phone even though it seems a little less than accurate at times (though with me it seems generous...with Julie, Silent Nigel seems stingy with his mile and calorie count...go figure.) 

And the music is my inspiration for writing today.  I have carefully chosen music on my little mp3 player.  It's all motivating..it's supposed to get me moving and keep me moving.  One more reason to wog early in the morning...if I sing a little, no one will look at me strangely.  And it would be strange.  Michael Jackson's "PYT" isn't so pretty as I'm huffing and puffing along, but it's fun for me.

There is a decent hill that I wog up now three times as I have lengthened my workout this week.  It's tough, y'all...not all that steep, I suppose, but the incline is a steady rise.  Not fun.  I would love to be able to run all the way up the hill before we leave the neighborhood, but I'm not sure it's a realistic goal.  The hill goes the length of the block.  It makes my calves and the backs of my thighs burn, but I finally found what moves me on up that hill each time. 

On my mp3 I have the World Cup song from this year by Shakira; it's called "Waka Waka."  Now I have no idea what that means.  I don't really care.  It makes me giggle a little because it makes me think of Fozzie Bear from the Muppets.  What I know for sure is that booty shakin' South American gets me to shake my own booty up that infernal hill every time.  Even when I think my calves and thighs are going to explode. 

Plus, the lyrics as odd as it sounds are rather inspirational...look 'em up.  She sings about picking yourself up when you fall down and how it's your day if you are willing to believe it.  The lyrics go on to talk about how it's Africa's time.  It gets me to thinking about how there are people who couldn't get out and wog even if they wanted to.  Cheez-o-rama?  Perhaps.  But at 5:15 am who doesn't need a little cheezy inspiration? 

Hey, I'm a middle school English teacher.  Whaddya want?  I look for beauty where I can find it. And y'all, on Monday morning, I found it in a Shakira song from the World Cup.  Waka Waka Wog on, Baby.

Dear Amy

Dear Amy,

Today is Brian's fourth chemo treatment.  He's sleeping beside me in his chair as the medicine slowly drips in.  That medicine that is making him so tired and yet so much better at the same time.  I'm so glad he's relaxing today and taking the time to sleep.  It's uncharacteristic of Mr. Vigilance so I know how tired he really is.

So far this has been all you promised me it would be.  Each treatment makes him more weary though he tries so hard not to let it show and he continues to work just as hard as ever.  Just like you.  He does admit at least that he's worn out, but he really doesn't like it trying to keep him down.

Some of the side effects have been a whole new world of discomfort that through trial and error we have learned to lessen.  You made so many aspects of this so familiar from the beginning.  It was still scary as hell, but we never felt like we couldn't make it through.  Thanks mostly to you. 

He gets to have his Pet Scan in two weeks to see the progress he's made in the past few months since this wild ride began.  His signs of fighting back are subtle.  He's worn the cancer bracelet I bought every day.  He rarely wears a hat on his now bald head.  Badges of honor in an odd way. 

Our partnership is titanium strong and it's been almost unspoken.  He rarely wore his wedding ring before for professional reasons (no reason the bad guys needed to know he has a family) and now he never takes it off. No one can know what that really means to me.  If the man never says "I love you" again but wears that ring every day, it will be heard loud and clear. 

We still have two treatments to go after the Pet Scan.  We still have to get moved next weekend.  We have so many new adventures still to experience just in the next few weeks.  Brian has a birthday on the 11th.  My 5K (the Jingle Bell Run) is on the 4th. 

I just wanted to take a minute and tell you my friend that I think about you often and how much you helped me to not be afraid even when I didn't know what else to be.  Thank you for giving us your wisdom and me the courage infusion I needed. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Extreme Wogging

It's Saturday morning once again.  Time to go meet up with my 5k friends and see how my week went.  I only missed Wednesday this week...it was raining and cold.  Urgh.  I was glad I stayed in bed that morning.  And I had every intention of hitting the treadmill that afternoon...but, the faculty meeting ran pretty long and then I found myself locked out of the workout room.  I could have hit the track, but by then I had convinced myself that it had been a really long day and I deserved one day off this week.  So, I went home and collapsed in a heap in the chair instead.  Didn't feel particularly good about it, but I was back at it on Thursday morning.

I never get as far on my own as I do with my coaches on Saturday.  I am up by 5:15 am and out in the neighborhood, but I still like to be at school early.  So I will stay out just as long as I can to make it feel like I have accomplished something (usually a little over a mile and a half) but not so long that I can't still get to school by 6:45.  I know I need to let that go.  There is no need to be at school that early.  My new goal is to  really work on staying out longer on the wog and stay longer in the afternoon at school if necessary.
Because...

today the goal was to RUN for 12 minutes total.  Not all at one time, but total.  I made it FOURTEEN minutes!!  How bout them apples?  I thought at times my lungs would explode or my legs would fall off, and I nearly cried a couple of times, but I made it.  Julie called today extreme wogging.  She was right!  Kim is such a patient and wonderful coach.  And it's a pleasure to have her in my head on my daily wogs.

"Keep those arms up!"  "We're going to run for two minutes beginning in 10 seconds....ready?"  She's always there, even when she isn't there. 

It was very cold this morning.  As I am still struggling to get my endurance, it was not welcome.  But, I suppose it could be summer and I could be suffering in the heat.  I'll take the cold, thank you! 

I'm pretty tired now, but once again would not trade getting up before the sun on this Saturday morning for anything (even though it did cross my mind briefly at 6 am to stay under the warm covers). 

It's hard to explain, but every time I find the energy and courage to get out there and wog, I feel like I am fighting my own fight.  And I feel like I am winning.  I would not trade that feeling for any extra moments under the warm covers, to be honest.  This is has been an interesting part of the journey that I didn't expect, but it's some of the best scenery so far.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Being There Is Not Enough

Last night it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Just sitting beside Brian holding his hand really isn't enough anymore.  Especially right now.

You see, we found out last night that the new house appraised for the value we needed, so we really will be moving in just a few short weeks.  He's scared to death because we are keeping the little house we live in now and will be leasing it.  Owning one house is mind-numbing enough.  Owning two is positively petrifying. 

My knight in shining armor is a worrier by nature anyway...well, except when it comes to lumps he ought to have checked out around his collarbone, but I digress...(just kidding, sweetie!!) He worries about money and the people he loves.  He doesn't so much worry about himself.  He is selfless.  And that is the truth. 

So, when it comes to spending large sums of money at once, he is rather reluctant and apprehensive...who wouldn't be?  Especially when there isn't a bunch more money lying around to make up for it.

I would say buying this house has been along the lines of double root canals for Brian with odd moments of euphoria thrown in.  He can see the fun in it; he's just able to put all the practical stuff first.  Me, I put all the fun first and the practical stuff in when I have to.

Last night when Brooke called to tell us about the appraisal and I could tell he still wasn't as happy as I was, I told him how proud I am of him and how glad I am we are together.  He looked surprised by that and I hated that.  I do not want him surprised by those statements!  But I realized that I must not be saying them enough. 

I am so grateful for that man.  Every hour. Every day.  I have been since the day I met him.  And dumb ol' cancer hasn't changed that a bit.  I am so proud of him--the work he does, the love he gives me, the fight he puts up against cancer, the logical arguments he provides...he is the best gift I have ever received. 

When Brian was diagnosed, I went right out and bought a bunch of Hallmark cards that I planned to leave around for him occasionally when I thought he might need a smile.  I haven't pulled them out as often as I planned (obviously).  I was shopping that day next to a lady buying a bunch of cards for her nephew, newly shipped out to Afghanistan.  Neither of us really knew what to say to each other except that we would both be praying for each man's safety. 

Just being there isn't enough.  But I hope that Brian knows that I get up and wog because of him every morning, fighting my own kind of fight.  I smile every day because I get to be his wife, not some other schmoe's.  I am an awfully lucky woman...and I gotta go now before I get too emotional all over the keyboard...holy snickerdoodles.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Is It Time Yet?

In the darkness, I opened one eye and looked at the clock. 

4:20 am.  Nope. Not time yet.  I snuggled back under the covers and fought for space for my feet from Damnit Badger, the dog.

A little while later, I opened my eyes again and snuck a peek at the clock.  Nope.  Not time yet.  5:30 am.  Sigh.  I rolled over into my furry cat who was keeping my husband, Brian's bald head warm.  Is it crowded in this double bed or is it just me?

Finally I checked one more time.  5:55 am.  Close enough.  The alarm was going to go off at 6 am, I might as well get up now.  I slipped out of bed, careful not to disturb the sleeping cat, dog or husband and prepared to leave.

It's Saturday, you see.  I've been working all week toward this day.  Time to go see if I have improved even the tiniest bit in my quest to survive a 5k.  I find myself unable to sleep and looking foward to it.  Who is this woman and what have you done with the couch potato I was satisfied with being? 

Just yesterday not only did I run like a superhero through the halls to catch two students who are chronic horseplay offenders during their passing periods (I was like a flipping gazelle!), I signed up with my running buddy Julie for not ONE but TWO 5ks!  We will be running (I hope running) the Jingle Bell Run and the...wait for it...wait for it....the Jiggle Butt Run in January. 

How did it go, you ask?  Well, I can't complain.  I still don't know if I understand the runner's euphoria that my brother describes.  The best I can tell you is that I was excited to go this morning and see my new friends and see how I would do. 

I could look at the cemetery and not see it as my personal place of permanent rest any time soon.  I did run for 10 minutes....not for 10 minutes at one time...but collectively.  I made it to the water stop.  That made me tear up a little (in a good way).  Never made it that far before.  Julie ran off with people at the pace she needed to be at and I didn't think twice about it this time.  The coaches at Luke's are fantastic.  Motivational and always looking for ways to help you on to the next step, even if it's just running from one telephone pole to the next one. 

I feel comfortable now with what I can do.  I gave myself that gift by getting out and "wogging" on my own in the neighborhood in the mornings before school.  A workout buddy is awesome and Julie gave me a priceless gift by bringing me along on this ride in the first place.  But making myself accountable has had some interesting effects on me that I did not expect. 

So now I find myself asking about my next workout, is it time yet? 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

World Seriously

The Rangers are in the World Series at last. 

While a baseball fan, I have not been a Ranger fan since I was a little girl.  To be fair to these boys who have worked so hard, I decided to stay true to my Red Sox (NOT in the play offs, by the way) and not be a bandwaggoner.  The claw and antlers has mystified me slightly, but like the Red Sox team that finally won the World Series this Rangers team is full of the joie de vive one hopes with which men would play this game.

My daddy took me to Ranger games when I was little.  I saw Nolan Ryan pitch though I must admit most of the wonder of those moments was lost on me.  I remember leaving a little early to avoid the traffic and listening to the last inning on AM radio. 

When it became official that the Rangers would be the American League representative in the Series, I asked Brian if he would like to go to a game when they return to Texas.  I could tell he really wanted to go, but the expense was a concern. 

Well, while we will hope the playoffs will be a tradition in years to come, can we guarantee it?  He shrugged and smiled, and I started looking online for tickets.  And since I have not been the Rangers fan, I would like to send my daddy instead of going with him.  His 60th birthday was Tuesday. 

The two men who sacrifice the most in the world to make sure I am happy and want for nothing deserve to see some history being made.  Whatever we paid for these tickets seems like nothing compared to the joy it has already brought both of them. 

Daddy was so surprised when we told him that he had a little trouble processing it at first.  Brian was so excited when we picked up the tickets at FedEx last night that he didn't even make it out of the building before he had the envelope open and was holding the tickets with the biggest grin. 

So, on Halloween, Mom and I will hand out candy to trick or treaters and Daddy and Brian will head to the ballpark.  I hope that the Rangers wake from the coma they seem to be in currently or there won't be much to see.  Looks like they are going to lose Game 2 as well.  Who lets a guy named Buster beat them?  Come on, now! 

Wogging

So, I'm pretty excited.  I've been up faithfully every morning since Sunday to walk/jog before going to work.

In fact, my body is so easy to train, I've been up before my alarm...at or before 5 am each day.  Wide awake.  Lucky, lucky me.   I am a morning person, but this is ridiculous.  My plan had been to be at work a little later in the mornings because I would work out early, but I have been there by 6:30 every day this week, I think.

I have decided that what I do is wogging--a lot of walking and a little jogging.  I am trying to increase my jogging; I start running and pick a point to which I have to jog.  "Come on Sissybritches.  You can make it that car up there...Ok.  You made it to the minivan...now, jog to the Ford Focus....ok, now you can walk for a minute." And so it goes.  I get in a little over a mile wogging.

The cardio program I downloaded on my cellphone tracks my progress...my route, pace, calories burned, etc.  When I finish, it tells me not only how many calories I burned but what food that equates to.  For example, today I burned off a plum.  Excuse me?  Now, I appreciate the thought that I am going to reward myself for working out with a plum...but I live on Planet Reality.  I plan to have a donut...or better yet a Starbucks vanilla latte and orange cranberry scone as a reward for my efforts.  So a plum doesn't really do it for me.  A plum is what I am going force myself to eat for dessert at lunch so I can have the latte and scone for breakfast.  Hello! 

Still really digging the neighborhood.  It's so interesting the things that you notice when you are out all by yourself with the stars in the early morning.  Wednesday is one of our neighborhood garbage days, so some of the bins were already at the curb.  I noticed as I walked past one house with garbage at its curb that there was a single rose still wrapped in its plastic from the store, as though it had been rejected in its offering. I wondered about its story as I wogged along.  I know there must be a great story there.  I'll write it one day.

The spooky, ooky house motivates me to wog a little faster; I promise you--one day I will be passing by that house and some Boo Radley type will step from the shadows and raspily demand, "What are you doing?" I will have a heart attack and fall down dead right there.  So, I move rather quickly past that one, careful not to crunch down on any skittering leaves if  I can help it.  That way all this effort to be in shape isn't completely wasted.

I also noticed this morning on one of the other streets I travel in the early, early morning that one of the parked trucks had something very interesting tied to its roof.  A large deep freeze.  It was balanced mostly on the roof and tied with a rope.  Uh huh.  Well, it's that time of year for odd, scary things to occur, I suppose. 

On the homestretch there is a sweet white dog with a "Notice Me!" bark behind a big fence.  But at the end of the fence, at the back of his yard, it's chainlink, so I can reach over and scratch his nose.  I think he looks forward to that.  I kind of do, too. 

I'm taking Bear with me again tomorrow for my wog.  Who knows what we will see tomorrow in the predawn darkness.  It's supposed to be chilly.  Must dig out the long sleeves.  Stay tuned! 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Damn it, Badger!

I have mentioned him before a few times.  I should tell you more about him. 

DamnitBadger. 

Brian had a dog named Max for many years.  Max was one of the good guys; the kind of dog who always knew what you were thinking and never judged.  He only asked for a walk each day and a big bowl of food to eat.  His pleasures were simple.  He was a big, fluffy, beautiful, lion-hearted dog.  But, as we always must, the time came to say goodbye to Max.

And a few months later, Brian was ready for a new sidekick.  He was interested in Australian shepards.  I had one as a child, and had loved him very much.  I currently have a loving, intelligent border collie, Bear, who generally doesn't have a thought that he doesn't ask me for first, and Brian craved a similar relationship.  For example, Bear requires no leash when I take him out.  For all of Max's excellent qualities, blind faithfulness of that kind was not among them. 

So, we took a Sunday drive out to Lipan (almost two hours) to an elaborate horse ranch to meet two Aussie pups for sale I found in the paper.  One red merle male and one red and white female.  They were both beautiful animals, clearly well taken care of, though they had spent all of their eight weeks on earth in the barn. 

Brian chose the flashy, red merle male and away we went.  On the way home we talked about names.  I thought Vegas would be a great name.  He was born on 7/7/07.  Brian wanted to name him Badger.  Brian's dog, Brian's choice of name. 

As Badger settled in to his new surroundings, it was clear that he was full of personality.  He loved to play, even when no one else wanted to.  Bear, five years Badger's senior, tolerated him well, but could only take so much.  My cat, Azalea, made no pretense.  She loves Bear and loathes Badger with her mind, body and soul.  Bear does his best to keep the peace, putting himself between the two of them when Azalea starts fussing.  In Badger's defense, he just wants to play with her, but he's too rough and doesn't understand.  The cat is just a grouch and enjoys it.

Damnitbadger!

Badger will do whatever it takes to get noticed and get play time...thus his nickname.  He steals a shoe from the closet and brings it to the pet bed in the living room and looks up at us, so proud of himself.  He steals the shoe right out of your hand that you are attempting to put on your foot.  He steals other things too to gnaw on while forming his next plan.

Damnitbadger!

He isn't the most graceful of creatures.  As he bounds through our tiny house, he is likely to knock into coffee tables, chairs, etc. on his way to wherever he's going next. 

Damnitbadger!

He has a very grown up bark for a 40 pound dog and he loves to use it, even when there appears to be nothing in the yard at which to bark. 

Badger!

If you sneeze, it's quite likely that seconds later that 40 pound dog will be in your lap.  The only explanation we have for that is that the early days in the horse barn were a little intimidating with horses sneezing.  While sweet in intention, it's uncomfortable in actuality.

Badger!!

He's a relentless barker in the backyard if a neighbor dares to spend time in their own backyard, especially children.  And the mailman?  Forget it.  He sounds as though he wants to eat the poor man.  If he ever actually met any of these people, he would probably just lick them to death, but no one would want to meet him because he sounds so unfriendly.

Badger!

Taken all together, he's really a great dog.  He did graduate from obedience school, and he will sit for his cookie.  His daddy loves him and I do, too....some days are just a little harder than others...like when I am fighting for my part of the double bed we currently sleep in.  The dog thinks it's much more comfortable to sleep with Daddy than it is on the floor, the couch or the pet beds, so one of my constant battles is trying to get him off the bed. Sigh.

Damn it, Badger!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Greener Pastures

I didn't make it to my training yesterday. 

All this excitement the last week or so was too much for my little brain and I had a migraine brewing in my brain like the storm outside.  That's what I pictured when I closed my eyes...a lightning storm in my brain.  My meds I take every day to keep them away couldn't do anymore.  So, rather than make myself sicker since I had not been able to work out at all during the week, I stayed in bed. 

But because I missed Saturday's workout, I decided to get up this morning and have walk/jog around my neighborhood.  Bear, my faithful border collie, and I hit the pavement this morning at 7:20 to a sleepy little street.  It was cool and damp, and Bear was very excited to be out with Mama without Damn It Badger. 

I did manage to run a little bit, which made me proud, since as I said, I didn't do anything even remotely related to exercise last week.  But as we progressed down the quiet street, I slowed down to look. 

The houses are tiny, just like ours, in this part of town.  Nothing bigger than 3 bedrooms.  I can almost guarantee they have only one bathroom, too.  The yards are all neat and tidy.  A little paint might be peeling here and there, but it's a working class neighborhood, and parents around here are more likely to spend the money on kids' sports' uniforms first than worry about a little peeling paint around the back of the house. 

Each house I passed had its own unique personality.  Many of them are decorated for Halloween.  Such sweet little homes, just like mine. 

It makes me a little sad that I have been in such a hurry to get the heck out of this area.  I have to remember as I walk along that my desire to move along has only to do with having more space for Brian and me.  To find "our" house.  It has nothing to do with the zip code.  And I get the nicest reminder of that as I walk along enjoying the view. 

In the five years I have lived here, I have done myself a terrible disservice by not getting out and walking about the neighborhood regularly.  I always had other things to do, better things to do.  I never took the time to enjoy what a lovely little pocket of the world I have lived in. 

In  a few short weeks I will live in another lovely little pocket of the world.  I want to begin that new chapter by enjoying the entire neighborhood from the start, not just the little lot I live on.