Tuesday, August 14, 2018

I Think the Universe is Trying to Send Me a Message

I have been on fire for a solid week now. I cleaned my house and I've kept it clean. I've been riding my Peloton bike. I started cleaning out and packing up my dad's things and I'm almost done. I've even cut my yard a couple of times, post injury.

I just cut my yard on Sunday night and last night I was finishing a piece when my daughter comes up to me with a sign that the City of Houston left in my yard. I don't mean one of those little yellow notes on my door. I'm talking about a big yellow legit sign with a wooden stake that they stuck in my front yard kind of sign. The kind that announces to the whole neighborhood and anybody driving by that you're a messy person, like they can't already see that for themselves.


My Half Cut Yard on Sunday Night

Apparently someone reported me because the weeds in the deep ditch that runs next to my house are too high. That same stupid ditch that I've told the City is too deep for me cut. It's a drainage ditch with a huge drain. They used to cut it and now they don't. There were some other things in my yard that I take full responsibility for, like a pile of branches. Those are me procrastinating and then cutting my ankle. I called the City of Houston today and discussed this all at length. The lady confirmed that a neighbor called it in.

My other theory is that the people who are always trying to buy my house think I'm poor and that they can bully me into selling by bogging me down with fees. I've heard that's a tactic. Or it could be the people trying to sell their house across the street. Whoever it was, the City is now involved and I guess I've been warned. I'm all out of time extensions in life to get this stuff done around my house.

As if all of that wasn't enough...when I went to help turn on the water for Miranda so she could take a shower (she had surgery on August 1 and she isn't at 100% yet) I found a mouse in the tub. Yes... a mouse.

Before you start totally judging me, since I just told you I got a City violation notice, and as if that isn't bad enough, I have an old house and it's Houston. My house was built in 1940 and it's on pier and beam. A mouse got in somehow and it found its way into my bath tub. Seth said the cats are just for show and I'm thinking of firing their asses. They did nothing when they saw the mouse and they ran out of the restroom.

It scurried around and around trying to get out to no avail. I freaked out and screamed. The kids came running with a bat and a golf club. We didn't want to bludgeon it or drown it, the only two possible options. We got the idea off the Internet to put glue across a cardboard. That didn't work. Finally I thought of emptying out my "Jar of Happiness" from 2017 and Miranda told me to put peanut butter in it.

It got so excited that it almost made the jump out of the tub and we didn't want it getting out and running around the house. Miranda thought of putting cooking oil around the inside of the tub. That way the mouse would slip when it tried running up the side again. That worked. We were at our wits end when the mouse finally got tired, or was trying to find a way to get away, and it ran into the jar. Miranda immediately covered the top with a piece of cardboard to keep it inside. She carried it outside and released it across the street.

The irony was not lost on me that we caught the mouse in the "Jar of Happiness." I thought about how we filled that jar in 2017, but once 2018 started off on the wrong foot I never started a new one. Maybe the Universe is sending me a message. Maybe that mouse was a sign and catching it in that specific jar was a sign that I need to start a new happiness jar to get on with this year.

I'm now halfway to 49, the last birthday in my 40s, and that in itself is significant. I need to stop keeping a list of all the bad things that have happened to me in 2018 and I need to keep a record of all the good things from now until my 49th birthday in February. I have literally been carrying a list around in my Franklin planner of all the bad things that have happened to me in the last 12 months. I pulled it out, ripped it up and threw it away today.  I need to hit the Reset button and put myself into a different mindset. Thank you City of Houston and mouse. Universe, I hear you loud and clear.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

It's Never Too Much or Too Long to Mourn

Is nearly six months too long to mourn? Different cultures have different traditions. Although there are the set days of mourning governed by society, be it 40 days or 3 years, your heart doesn't have a clock.

I was given three days of bereavement by my workplace and if I needed more I probably would have had to take vacation days. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated the time, but in the US we are expected to get over it and move on. I wish someone had told my heart and my mind that too. I've survived because I had to. I had to jump right back into work because I'd already been off for about a week, when my father was in the hospital.

I also had to keep going with the kids doing all those things I had to do with them and being a mom. This summer alone has been busy with summer programs, a short vacation to the Hill Country, visiting colleges, Driver's Ed, and now senior pictures before school starts in three weeks.

I wrote about that in May and how I felt paralyzed. Then I was trying to get back into the swing of things when I cut my ankle. I haven't run in months and I hadn't really really cleaned since before my dad died. Forget about packing up my dad's room... 

Then finally something happened this week. The catalyst was this damn bike. After being targeted with ads, from billboards, to direct mail, to digital ads, and commercials on my Hulu, I broke down and bought a Peloton.


I had been looking at the cost of gym memberships for the three of us and the cost was a bit much, unless I joined the local, one location, Y. I was on the fence about what to do when the Peloton ad on Hulu found me during a moment of weakness. They got me with their 0 down and 0% interest and I bought the bike.

Then the realization hit me that the bike was going to be delivered by human strangers who were going to have to enter my house and that I needed to clean. The living room had become a wasteland of junk and legos that had spilled out from their original corner. We had a lot of work on our hands, (seriously) but with the help of the kids I finally overcame my paralysis and I cleaned my kitchen, living room and dining room.

I feel so good now! It felt so good to come home today and to see clean rooms. It's like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and  I feel like I'm on a roll. My goal is to start packing up my dad's room this week. Once I can do that I can move on to each task on my list and the list is long! It will be nice to set up Seth's furniture in that bedroom and to help him decorate it. Cleaning these three main rooms really makes me feel like, what are two more rooms downstairs?

I won't even talk about the second floor yet but there's a goal for those two rooms too. Yes, I'm still sad and I know that packing my dad's things is going to be hard, but moving forward in my life is healing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Hill Country Vacation

We are home safe and sound but our vacation did not go exactly as planned on the third and fourth days. But that's the thing about vacations. Sometimes you have to be flexible for changes. It all started with my son having second thoughts about going to Jacob's Well. He pointed out that last time we were there the hole itself was really small and he didn't really see how we could swim around it. Then our host pointed out that the water levels were really low and he suggested that if the kids really wanted to swim that we should go to Cypress Creek instead. He recommended a wonderful restaurant called the Back Porch. As long as you order food you can get a table there, right next to the water. It's like the best kept secret and the food is awesome.


We had really nice hostess who seated us right next to the steps into the river. You have to purchase the beer or wine separately from the bar that's run by the Tavern. They only have cans because of the river and glass, understandable. This was a can of rose wine in a can that was pretty good. I loved that we got to eat right there and then took off our clothes, because we had our bathing suits on underneath, and we dipped in the river and floated around on our floats. Seth even jumped off that side of that cliff side across the way. This was by far my very favorite part of the whole trip. This restaurant really is a hidden gem because you have to drive through a neighborhood to get to it. I feel like mostly locals and people who know locals would know to go there. 

We drove to Johnson City on Sunday afternoon, after the Backyard and showers. It was a beautiful drive, like all the drives in the Hill Country. Miranda contemplated how we could own a ranch. How she could buy a ranch when she's older or how I could retire to the Hill Country and own a ranch.

Texas White House, on LBJ Ranch, outside of Johnson City

In Johnson City I had planned to go to the Pedernales Falls. Once again our host warned me that the water levels were low and that I should probably go to the Blanco State Park. But I already had a paid reservation at Pedernales and I wanted to check it out, even if we didn't go swimming.

This is what I have to say about Johnson City. It is such a charming town with so much to do! Like I would go back just to Johnson City for a weekend trip. What would I do if I go back? I would drive out to the Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch and I would stop at every building, the school house, the home where he was born, the cemetery, and I would tour the Texas White House. We would also make time to visit the living farm on the same state park. (By the way, it's both a state and a national park.) I would stop at wineries and distilleries on the road. I would drive back to Johnson City and I would shop the antique shops. On a second day I would go to the Science Mill and do other things around town. If the water levels were good I would go back to the Pedernales River and I would see the falls and swim in the river. Seriously, there is a lot to do in this one town! Blanco State Park is only nineteen miles away if you want to swim in that river.
Where the Falls should be

What we actually did. We woke up late for starters. We thought we had time to go to the LBJ Ranch but we found ourselves rushed and we didn't even have time for a tour of the Texas White House. We just saw the ranch, the buildings from the outside, the Airforce One Half, and the White House from the outside. We did learn a lot of interesting things. Like the fact that Johnson had Airforce One Half made especially for flying to the ranch. He would fly from DC to either San Antonio or Austin and then he would take the smaller plane or a helicopter to the ranch. He and Lady Bird are buried in the family cemetery there. He spent 25% of his presidency at he ranch and invited presidents and dignitaries there all the time. For example, he had a big Texas barbecue for all the ambassadors from Latin American countries right there.

We rushed on to Pedernales Falls State Park, only to find that the water wasn't flowing. There was a record breaking heat wave that weekend so it was super hot just to walk down to the look-out point to see this much. The hike back was up hill and even worse. But I survived! By the time we were finished looking at the missing falls I was so hot and disgusted I didn't even feel like driving down stream to see the river. The park ranger at the front office said the water was barely ankle or knee deep in some places and was still water. It didn't sound very appealing. So we just drove home from there and we didn't get home until 9:30 p.m. or so.

It was a great adventure all in all.  I learned lessons of what I would do differently next time. I definitely see a trip to Johnson City in the future and a slow visit through the LBJ Ranch. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Vacationing with the Kids Before They Become Adults

The kids and I decided to come back to Wimberley this summer like we told my best friend's parents we would when we were here over Spring Break. That time we visited Wimberley-Jacob's Well, Dripping Springs-Hamilton Pool, Fredericksburg-the Old Tunnel and the Boerne for the Cave without a Name. We took the scnenic drive home and passed through New Braunfels.


On that visit our host, my best friend's dad, Jaime Sr., said that we needed to come back when it was hot and go swimming in the Blue Hole so that's what we did yesterday. This is the blue hole, which looked a little green. It was nice, it was cold but my #1 recommendation if you go here is to take water socks! I don't know what I was thinking. I hadn't been in any natural water in this area in years and I forgot that water socks are essential. The shallow bottom of this swimming hole is super rocky. My second recommendation is to take a float or a tube and to go down to the end, past the two swings, to the 10 feet deep side, away from the crowd and the families with little kids. I wish I'd seen that side first and I would have gone there when I discovered the rocky bottom. My kids had no problem with the rocks and played on the shallow side the whole time.

One special treat while we were there was that I got to see a fellow blogger and Facebook friend who was there with her family too. It's so cool when I bump into online friends in real life!

Since our last visit the dad had some health issues so he's moved from the garage apartment into the big house, so the mom has been staying in the house looking after him. The house actually belongs to my friend Jaime and his retired parents have been living behind his house.

On this visit the mama, Judith, let us stay in her adorable attic apartment, which is as charming as it sounds. We had a place to come back to, shower and change, and then we went out to dinner in town at the Wimberley Cafe. We got frozen yogurt and walked around town looking in at the shops that were still open. We tried to stay out as late as we could because we knew that once we were at the ranch we couldn't go back. The drive from the main road to the ranch is narrow, winding, and could be dangerous if done in the dark because there are no street lights out here.

Once we were back at the apartment we had Miranda's first "behind the wheel" driving lesson. This is the ideal place for that since there is very little traffic and basically none on Jaime's street because he's in a cul de sac with a couple of other ranches. At night we could go out on the balcony deck of the apartment and we could see all the stars and planets. An amazing sight!

Today's adventure will be Jacob's Well. We have a reservation at noon so we are relaxing and enjoying the "attic" apartment one last time this morning before packing up to go on to our next destination. After Jacob's Well we are going to Johnson City to Pedernales State Park then home on Monday evening.

While on this vacation I'm thinking about how this is our last summer vacation with the kids both at home. After this Miranda is off to college and next year she'll be a college kid home for the summer. I want to make this last year count and I want to make every summer after this memorable because after that my kids are pretty much adults.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Running Post an Injury and My Constant Struggle with Weight

I ended my last post with a reference to #walkTOrun. It's my new hash tag for my latest effort to get back to running and exercise. I've started and re-started so many times it's not even funny. I can't even remember the first time I really started running, unless it was 10 years ago on a treadmill at the gym. That's when I got the lap band and lost the biggest amount of weight.

Biggest I've been, June 2006 - Smallest I've been post high school, January 2009

The smallest I've ever been is high school. Who wasn't? Once I started college it was a downhill battle with my weight with me reaching the biggest size you see in the left picture, after college, being married and having two kids. I would lose weight with each pregnancy and nursing, but the weight would come right back. In December of 2007 I got the lap band and the picture on the right was taken in January of 2009,

The last ten years have had their ups and downs weight wise but I have never gotten back to the biggest size I am on the left. Around a year and half ago I found a new lap band doctor after my old clinic closed. I was en route back to my lowest weight post lap-band when I started feeling a lot of restriction. I was about to go on vacation to Germany so my doctor took a good amount of fluid out. Since then I've had a fill but I haven't gotten back to the right spot and I've gained weight.

So here I am now. I'm 48, I cut my ankle pretty badly before summer even started, and I've gained fourteen pounds total since last year. I've struggled with my weight my whole life, but now I'm at the age where it's do or die. It's not about looks any more. It's about surviving and living longer than my mom did. I'd like to land somewhere between 69, the age my mom was when she died, and 94, the age my dad almost reached when he passed away last February. 

What's really frustrating is that two years ago, a whole year before that lap band complication, I had been really running for the first time in my life. By running I mean not on a treadmill, outside in the heat, on the streets, and I'd built up to a really good walk/run rhythm. I was running more that summer than even a year ago. I want to get back to that type of running. 

I know not everyone has a lap band to help them but at my age, and with the complications I've had lately with my foot, I think there are still a lot of people who can relate to my struggle. A lap band is not a magic bullet solution. It's a small helping hand but you can still eat around it and cheat the system. Believe me, I've learned how to do that in the past 11 years. I want to blog about running post an accident and injury and how to beat this monkey that's been on my back my whole life. 

Goal 2

                                                                   Biggest I've been, June 2006 - June 2017

My first goal is to start walking again so I can build up to my walk/run once my foot is better. My second goal is go get to where I was last year in the yellow dress above. If I can get to the yellow dress size then it's only 10 more pounds to get to the size I was in the gray dress in the top photo. After gray dress the final goal is to get down 10 more pounds than that. But baby steps.

Goal #1 starts tomorrow. Back to walking to build up to run and preparing my meals the night prior so I have time to exercise.