Friday, November 29, 2013


How bizarre is it that the boy was more comfortable holding his new cousin than I was? 

Woefully out of practice with this whole baby thing. 

The Cervantes boys. Grandma Connie would have loved this. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

First this happened... 

Then this happened... 

About mile 9, this HAD to happen... 

And then, hey, lookie there! 

Yeah. I kinda had an awesome day. Huge congrats to my sweet baboo on his first half-marathon. He fought a tight hamstring from mile 4 through the finish but still finished strong & smiling. I've helped several folks prepare for running their first half-marathon, but this one means the most.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Traditions Tuesday: Thanksgiving Edition

Once upon a time, when I was still in high school, I spent Thanksgiving at DKR Stadium on the campus of The University of Texas, as a guest of my brother's for the Longhorn-tamu game. All throughout college and graduate school, I spent Thanksgiving either in my hometown with my family, or in Austin, depending on where the parentals and my siblings decided to gather and whether the football team was any good that year. 

After we got married, we spent most Thanksgivings with my husband's family. The Valley, where my parents were, was just too far away to drive for a 4-day turnaround, especially once the boys arrived. We hosted everyone at our house the first year we moved into it (after a frenzied last-minute painting party that ended about the same time we put the turkey into the oven) but usually my mother-in-law handled the Thanksgiving Day duties. She loved to cook, and to pull out the fancy china and set up the big dining room for her family and anyone else who might need a spot at the table. For her, the meal was an all-important highlight of the day in which we gave thanks for the ability to be together as a family. 

For the longest time, she would refuse to let anyone help - the woman did not believe in pot-luck. After a few years, I was allowed to bring a dessert or two, and ultimately, my skillz earned me the permanent role of Thanksgiving baker. When she passed away, my sister-in-law and I decided to alternate hosting, although my hosting style is much more carefree and spontaneous.  I do drag out the good plates (UT Longhorn china, natch!) and we put on a big spread, but I willingly accept any and all offers of help in the kitchen! 

When I started running, my role in the Thanksgiving festivities was actually perfect, because I could always bake ahead of time and still make it to the Turkey Trot races.  If I ran fast and didn't linger afterward (easier to do when I didn't know so many Frunners), I could even see some of the Macy's Day Parade before getting dressed and heading over to the in-laws.  The FW YMCA Trot became very much a part of the tradition for us, and a couple of years in there, I even got the boys to either run with me or at least come out to cheer. I missed the Turkey Trot in 2010 because I had my silly gallbladder removed that week and the doctor didn't think a 10k was a good idea. pffft. In 2011, I ditched the FW Trot that I had run for so many years and stayed closer to home with the Arlington Trot at the Ballpark. 

Last year, my sister-I-choose and I hit up the new Cox Running Club 5k on the Trinity Trail and came away with a giant medal. This year, she's not able to run with me, but I found myself someone else to share pre-turkey race day with - my husband!  He had been slowly adding on miles to his treadmill workouts, to the point that he was running 10 miles at a time just for kicks. I told him if you are training for something, it makes sense to run 10 miles at a time, but if you don't have a race on the schedule, you're just crazy.  And he listened! So on Thursday morning, he and I will leave our house, with the boys still snoozing, I'm sure, at some crazy hour so we can be on the start line for his first half-marathon. I can't wait. 

Afterward, we'll pile into the Jeep and head north to my brother-in-law's house.  My sister-in-law and fresh little nephew should be released from the hospital by tomorrow, if all goes well.  We've ordered a ready-made turkey that can just be popped in the oven to warm so we can eat and be ready for Cowboys' kick-off at 3 and the Longhorn game afterward. I will be baking a couple of desserts tomorrow night, per the request of the returning freshman.  And while we will definitely have a low-key dinner, probably on paper plates to eliminate the need for too much clean-up, the focus of the day isn't so much on the food as on the people with whom we share the day, and the traditions that tie us together year after year. 

What do you and your family do to celebrate Thanksgiving?? 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Birthday!

My nephew was born today. Kinda cool, as one of my friends put it, to think that until a few hours ago, he was living and breathing inside another person. And now he's out, in the world, living and breathing as his own person. 

Science, y'all. With a little bit of magic, fairy dust & some kind of divine intervention thrown in. 

Pics later, once mom & dad have a chance to post their own. For now, welcome to the world, Ethan! 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

What doesn't kill you

Makes you STRONGAH. 

And then sometimes you get to see stuff like this along the way. 

ORN: 12.4 miles. Slow as Christmas & not particularly fun heading into the wind.  Had to wear one more layer than really necessary because I (correctly) anticipated lots of walk breaks when the HR monitor squawked at me. But, as we runners like to say, hay is in the barn for this week's half. More on that come Thursday. 

Shoutout to my girls Marci & MK for their usual pick-me-up during & post-run. Couldn't keep the faith without them. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Never put off til tomorrow

What should be done today. 

Even if you really, really, really don't want to... 

6 miles done, treadmill style. BLEARGH. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Did ya ever

do something just to prove it could be done? To yourself? 

Me neither. 

6.5 miles, 34 degrees, drizzle, 15 mph winds. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday 13: The Books Edition

Once upon a time, I was a reader.  I used to escape the intolerable heat of south Texas summers when I was growing up by riding my brother's old bicycle to the library in the middle of town and parking myself under the scary taxidermied polar bear in the entry and work my way through the shelves. I read every volume in the Encyclopedia Brown, Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew mystery, Beverly Cleary, & Little House on the Prairie series, plus every other book I could get my hands on. I remember the young adult biography series the most, and I worked through all the presidents, scientists, inventors, writers, soaking up all the details and thinking about what it would have been like to grow up in those times.

As I grew up, reading became something I had to do for school, and my pleasure reading was limited to the latest Stephen King book or maybe all the Kurt Vonnegut I could find in my high school library (not much). In college and grad school, the reading continued to be academic, with a few fun things slipped in when I could manage it. After the boys arrived, my reading time switched to the kids' books, and our bookshelves were filled with Dr Seuss, Where the Wild Things Are, Lily the mouse (and her friends Chester and Wilson) and all manner of other great things. As the boys got older, we switched to Magic Tree House, Redwall, and some of the same books that I loved at their age like Ramona the Pest and Ribsy. Eventually, I read all the Harry Potter books with each of them, page by page, chapter by chapter, volume by volume, snuggled with them in their beds until one of us fell asleep; I'm not gonna lie - sometimes during my peak marathon training days it was me that didn't make it to the end of the chapter.

When I started traveling for work, I suddenly found myself with a lot of free time during my twice-weekly plane trips, and I was able to start reading again. It was glorious. But what to read first?  I ended up going through about four different versions of "books you should read before you graduate college" or "books everyone should have read" or "Top 100 American novels" lists and compiling them into one master list.  And then I just started working my way through them. When I ended a book on the road, I checked the list while I was at the airport and picked the next one. About once a month I'd hit Half-Price books and stock up on the classics on the list and throw a couple of them in my suitcase so I'd never be without a book. It was great, and now that I'm not on a plane for several hours a week, I'm finding it hard to get back into the swing of dedicating time for reading. But, I still have the list to reference when I am ready for a new-to-me book.

So, that leads me to tonight's blog entry, in no particular order, my 13 favorite (non-kids') books of all time (tucks away kids' books for future list):

  1. Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger - definitely one of my all-time favorites from my teenage years. I still have the tattered soft-cover version from when I first read it at 13. 
  2. Galapagos, Kurt Vonnegut - I carried a copy of this around for most of my senior year in high school. 
  3. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving - I picked it up at the airport because it was the only one on the list. I fell in love with it instantly, mostly because of the way the author describes Owen as pretty much screaming everything he says. So sweet and endearing. 
  4. Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck - Just hands down the best-written book I've ever read.  
  5. A Separate Peace, John Knowles - another favorite from high school. I fell in love with the idea of a boy like Finny, and the turn in the book absolutely shattered me. 
  6. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway - Mrs. Melke in 11th grade English had us read this. I remember the line "and the earth moved" and wondering what in good heavens that could possibly mean. I found out later.  
  7. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck - another Steinbeck classic, the story of George and Lennie's enduring friendship.  
  8. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey - I saw the movie first and loved the story. And then I read the book and loved it even more. 
  9. It, Stephen King - I have an entire bookshelf of nothing but Stephen King books, most first-edition. And this is hands down my favorite one. King's mastery in describing how we all fear something different, something deep, still sends chills down my spine. 
  10. Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut - I was really into Vonnegut in high school, y'all. And as much as I hate any TV shows or movies with time-line shifts, this still remains a favorite. 
  11. In Cold Blood, Truman Capote - engaging, horrifying and true. 
  12. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer - another non-fiction favorite.  
  13. The Road, Cormac McCarthy - dark, violent and suspenseful. This was another airport pick-up, and I read it straight through cover-to-cover on a flight from LaGuardia to DFW.  

What is YOUR favorite book?  What do you recommend I add to my list? 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Kins

NOTE:  I had another post drafted and ready for today.  Then I heard the news. Damn.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What's on the Tube Tuesday

Since we are in the doldrums of the baseball off-season, I'm finding myself with all kinds of free time these days. I've been able to run in the evenings, which is good, since I've got a few races on my schedule. I could spend time doing useful things like cleaning out my closet, or organizing my Christmas card list, or learning to knit... But instead, I've been catching up on my DVR, and adding a few things here and there to fill out my couch time.

Following are the latest things we've been watching this off-season:

The Walking Dead - because Daryl Dixon, y'all.

Sleepy Hollow - Revolutionary history, plus supernatural, plus this guy? I'm SO in.

Hello, scruffy 18th century guy with an accent! How YOU doin'?
Comic Book Men - a bunch of nerds sitting around talking about comics, superheroes and other random geeky stuff. My people.

Castle - Still have a few Season 5 episodes to watch, but how can I pass up Captain Tightpants when he's so "ruggedly handsome"?  And the best bromance on TV in Espo & Ryan?  I can't, that's how.

Parenthood - simultaneously the most uplifting and yet depressing family show on TV. I think it's impossible for all the Bravermans to be happy at the same time, and yet hope springs eternal.

Almost Human - we got inundated with the promos while we were binge-watching Sleepy Hollow, so we had to watch the premiere.  Only two episodes so far, but looks promising. Plus, HELLO, Karl Urban!

Top Chef - yummy!  and with it being set in New Orleans this season, it gives us a chance to relive our summer vacation every week.

American Horror Story - we missed last season, but this is another series that is set in New Orleans, so we had to get drawn in.  I've missed a couple of episodes, so I'm behind, and it is a bit gory, over-the-top and, well, weird, so it may drop off soon, but it's a juicy guilty pleasure so far.

We never have gotten into a couple of other shows that are regarded as "must-sees" like Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men, or the Good Wife. But, there are a lot of empty nights to be filled before Opening Day, so what's on your DVR that you think is must-watch TV? Any other shows we should catch on Netflix/Hulu?  Help a bored baseball fan out!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Man Crush Monday: My One & Only

Okay, we all know I loves me all most some baseball boys (mostly catchers, yes, I'm looking at YOU, Kelly Shoppach!), and Russell Crowe makes my heart go pitter-patter, and OMG, I absolutely am in love with both Kevin Costner and mostly Robert the Bruce from Braveheart... BUT...  

In the real world. at the start of each day, and at the end of all my days, the one & only love of my life for the last 26 years has been this guy. He's seen me at my worst, he makes me want to be my best, he's a great dad and an awesome husband. I can't imagine going through my life without him at my side. He makes me laugh, out loud, several times a day. He tolerates my shenanigans and my moods, and I hope he's helped me teach our boys what true love looks like. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Five: Hey, Diamond Dawls!

So, I spent a lot of time at the Ballpark this summer. No, really. A LOT of time. More than 20 games, the most since we gave up our season tickets in 1996 after having the boy. And most days, I had great company, usually one of the Diamond Dawls, or the Baseball Savant, and almost always our personal photographer, Mr Dewberry. There was one amazing day that I went on my own, and had an absolute blast. I caught some minor league games, too, in Austin, Fort Worth, and even all the way over in Vermont (we won't talk about them being part of the Stoopid A's organization).

We almost always took group pics when we were at the game, and usually included a silly group selfie. This week's Friday Five showcases my favorite of these photographs.  Looking through my photos from this summer remind me how much I love this game, and how much fun I have with my friends at the ballpark.

Exhibition game vs. Mexico, the day we finished shooting The Commercial. 

Opening Weekend.  Rangers lost, but Ham struck out. 

Sporting the powder blues with #twitterlessIrene

Boston series. My sweet baboo was in town, and I was there to cheer him on. 

Girls' Night Out vs. Twins. We missed Joe Mauer but still had a great time! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Throwback Thursday

I believe the occasion was my confirmation at the University Catholic Center, circa 1992. I'm not sure what part of this photo I love the most! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wellness Wednesday: Nature Walk

Take a peaceful 45-minute walk, with friends and / or family members, in a park, hiking trail, botanical garden, green belt, etc. Record and describe in your journal the feelings that this action evoked in you.

Well, we intended to take a nice leisurely walk around the Fort Worth Nature Center last weekend, but the early sunset and park hours foiled our plans. We did get to hike a tiny bit, enough to get a feel for the place and decide that we want to go back and explore more and spend the day there. 

I love hiking in the woods, and while I don't think I will ever run a trail race again, I definitely plan on spending as much time as I can on the trails. I love the smell of leaves on the ground, the feel of a dirt path under my feet, the sounds of animals rustling in the brush and birds chirping in the trees. I didn't  even mind the croaking frogs at the water's edge, even though we couldn't ever find the little guy and that normally creeps me out. 

Best of all, I was lucky to experience the trail with my husband and two of our really great friends, who are always up for an adventure and fun, and are willing to let us tag along. It's always a good time when you're with people who make it a fun time, even when plans don't pan out. Plus we now have something to look forward to next time! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sense & Sensibilty

I had miles to run tonight. It is without a doubt the coldest night of the year so far. I didn't go as soon as I got home from work, choosing instead to have yummy turkey meatloaf & risotto, then snuggle with my sweet baboo for just a bit before we retrieved the Nerdlet from theatre class. By the time i got back from that, I was out of excuses. I had to do this. I grumbled & whined. But I went. 

And it was glorious. 

I saw: clear black skies, with a fat waxing moon and pinpoint stars up high. 
I heard: the sounds of my breathing, and my footfalls on fallen leaves, interrupted only by the beeps of my HR monitor keeping me to my prescribed pace. 
I smelled: crisp woody smoke as my fellow suburbanites fired up their fireplaces throughout the neighborhood. 
I tasted: the sweet hot chocolate waiting for me when I got back home. 
I felt: alive. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Man Crush Monday

Act surprised. 

Edited to add: 
Please come back to Texas. 

Edited again: 
Because I need this in my life again. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Beautiful day

I used to get all wound up in pace, distance, miles per week, stats, numbers, objective measures of my performance as a runner. I spent so many months, years even, chasing goals - a sub-27 5k, 10k under an hour, my elusive 4:XX marathon. I used numbers to measure my worth as a runner, and for too many months, my worth as a person. 

Problem is, as far as runners go, I'm not very good at being one. I'm slow - middle-to-back-of-the-pack slow. And more than once I've ended up at the bottom of the race results. And that's okay. I know I'm not fast. I know I'm not going to win. That's not why I'm out there. If it was, I would be sorely disappointed more often than not. I'm out there because I love to run. Period. The end. 

And when I've not been able to run, or when I've taken a break from running for whatever reasons, I find myself missing it. Over the past 10-12 years, it has become part of who I am. It does not, however, define me as a person. And I think that separation in how I see myself is what allows me to run at whatever pace, whatever distance, whatever the objective measure ends up being, and still find joy and release and peace with my running. 

I ran today. There was a lot of walking because of my heart rate and the base training I'm building. But there was also a lot of laughing and joking and happiness in my run that was shared by my running partner. And it was a beautiful day despite a chill in the air and some high humidity. 

Or maybe it was a beautiful day because I got to run. 

Friday, November 08, 2013

Friday Five: 2013 Player Pics

It's no secret I love baseball. And I'm known to take a photograph (or 200) on occasion. When I get the opportunity to mix these two passions of mine, I get really carried away. I'm far from anything but an enthusiast with a Nikon, but even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and again. 

When it comes to capturing my baseball boys, I've determined that a major factor in getting good results, as with real estate, is location, location, location. Luckily, I often attend games with #twitterlessIrene, who we've nicknamed "The Seat Whisperer." Most of my best shots have been taken with her at my side. 

Today's Friday Five features the player portraits that I am most proud of this season. These are the shots I took that I feel really represent them and their personalities. I have tons more from the more than 20 games I attended this summer, and I have some other ideas how to highlight them later on. For now, enjoy! 

Stand up & Shout!! This guy always gave us a little too much excitement but usually pulled through in the end. Going to miss him if he's gone for good. If he doesn't come back, my lasting memory of him will be of Game 162, in the pouring rain, shaking off water to shut down the hated LAA Halos, giving us all a last glimmer of hope. I was there and it was incredible.

Mmmmm. Hello, Neal. Besides his hypnotically beautiful eyes, Neal got the job done on the mound, proving to be a valuable fixture in the bullpen. Good pitching is baseball sexy. Great pitching is just plain Hotts, y'all. 

Oh, Kins. Killing us. We want to love him unconditionally but his uneven performance at the plate and a few more errors than we wanted to see were frustrating on & off through the season. But the faces & the playfulness with his shortstop made it hard to resist. Plus, the boy isn't afraid to get dirty! 

Favorite & Future. That's what these two represent to me. Seeing Leonys' Cuban Missile arm gun down someone silly enough to risk it never got old. Plus his engaging smile &  "I'm just happy to be here" attitude were contagious. 

I'm a little concerned about whether JP fits in the organization long-term, whether we split up Kindrus to make room for him or if he gets traded to fill an immediate need. I'd love to see him mature as a Ranger but I'm glad we got to see a glimpse this season. 

Sigh. My sweet baboo. They visited us only once, for three days in May, and the beard was thick but hadn't quite taken on its own persona yet. Yet, the fire and grit and determination, along with the unbuttoned jersey, was there, like it was when he was a Ranger. 

He finally got his ring, two years after he poured his heart, soul & body into earning it with us. I'm still holding on to a sliver of hope he will come back. But even if he doesn't, I'm always and forever a #NapFanForLife. 

Are you a baseball fan? Who is your favorite player?