Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Yesterday it was 20 degrees at my house when I woke up. My car's water temp didn't get off the peg it was running cooler than 140. Now I know some people from colder regions would say, "that's nothing!" And I know it is. When I was a kid in Amarillo single digits are not uncommon, along with wind and snow. I've seen negative Fahrenheit and snow dunes so high we had to turn back on our way to school because we couldn't see over the dune. I would temper their reaction to my complaints about 20 degrees with my difficulty in understanding how people die in those same colder regions from temperatures in the 90's to me that's a beautiful day!

Oh well. A few days ago while everyone was a buzz about the Lunar Eclipse falling on the Solstice nothing could distract or quell my excitment and now my almost daily thoughts of how we are marching toward hot summer days. The only unfortunate things that I can think of summer is the lack of rain. Since, we have recently expereinced a very severe drought and our fall was also very dry, I am hoping we start getting some good rain.

With the steady march toward summer accompanied by my thoughts of heat and sun, I also begin thinking toward gardening and lawn care. I am excited to start preparing for the start of gardening season which kicks off aweful early here in Central Texas. This year, I'll have my normal Roma and Sweet 100 Tomatoes, plus I'll have my asparagas, watermelon, cucumber, squash and Zucchini. This year I was hoping to do some corn since we don't have the squirrel problems we've had in the past. I'd also like to start some carrots, broccoli, lettuce and spinach but this would involve me building three more raised beds and I'm not sure if I'll have the money to buy all the materials including soil.

I love growing things and building things. I really want to try and use some rain water collection but being so frugal I can't justify the large expense for the materials versus the cost of the water I end up using. It would take almost 7 years to recoup the money not to mention any maintenance needed. If it is for simply being green that's one thing, the math doesn't work for a cost savings. I also suspect the cost is inflated because of the trend that exists here.

Besides gardening, I just enjoy being outside and feeling the sun on my skin. I have a Vitamin D addiction. Running and biking and swimming are my favorites. MGM already enjoys being outside emmensly. More so that I because she'll endure cold a lot longer than I am willing to endure, for the chance to be outside. It is one of her favorite words. I guess I need to stop gushing about summer, the sun and hot temps and get to work. I just can't stop day dreaming about the days getting longer, the nights getting warmer.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Project

Yesterday, my wife and I were interviewed by a local paper on debt free living. It was fun, we enjoyed it and hopefully it will allow someone to see that debt really has control of some part of your life whether you realize it or not.

The doom and gloom part of me is worried someone will interpret our debt free lifestyle as rich with lots of cool stuff and break into our house only to realize we don't actually have any cool stuff and then I'm stuck with replacing windows or doors. I'll have to blog about my frustrations of not spending a lot of money on cool stuff which we did tell the reporter it is not a glamorous lifestyle.

Anyway, on to topic. We are in the final days before Christmas. I normally am not in "oh my gosh" mode but this year I am behind on finishing MGM's Christmas present. We purchased a kitchen months ago off Craigslist. We stored it in our garage under a blanket. It was pink and yellow and my wife and I decided to repaint it. Now, I've had some car body experience and so I have developed a good knowledge of how to paint things (including plastic) without them chipping and running and the such. However, if you're gonna do a good job you have to take your time. Especially with paint. Allowing it to dry completely is very important. Other details like humidity and temperature really affect how paints dry and act when their being sprayed. Recently we've had some cold days, but of course the great thing about Texas is how it can start out a bad day and end up a gorgeous day. Like this past Saturday we woke up to a chilly 30 degrees (3 degrees colder than DC) and by 3pm it was 68 degrees. 20 degrees warmer than DC. The problem this creates involves me working during the best time to paint and that 68 degrees is actually really cold for paint so it dries slowly. SO I'm having to let the paint dry overnight which dramatically slows the process.

So the way I figure I have at least two days until this kitchen is ready to reassemble. Which means I'll be putting it together Christmas Eve. I don't mind though... this is a Christmas rite of passage as far as I'm concerned. I'm looking forward to it. My wife has been helping me sand and paint and I think she'll blog about the process although we might both do it. Anyway I've had fun and it has gone well. I think it will look great and even if it doesn't MGM will love the kitchen.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I learned more about blogging

So I learned that you can't use <> in the compose section of a blog. Apparently it translates that into HTML. Now, I acutally know HTML. I've been using it since the mid-90's. I am very familiar with that symbol use, BUT I incorrectly assumed that since I was not using the "EDIT HTML" function but the "COMPOSE" function that it would correctly interpret the symbol and add it accordingly to my post.

Oh well, in my last post I added a couple of little comments to help bring in the drama that my personality lends itself to when I'm telling a story.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My sweet darling child

About 5 months ago we had some friends, who had a 20 month old, over for dinner. We've always enjoyed their company and like meeting for dinner every once in a while. This particular day I was shocked at how their sweet darling child, a girl who was always an angel, had turned into this mean kid. I thought to myself, "Oh man am I glad our kid is not in day care!" She was defiant, she was selfish and she had a blatant disregard for my sweet darling child. Our kid does go to church 2-3 times per week so she does get interaction with other kids but it is church so obviously it is better than regular day care. (said sarcastically)

I should say that two or three weeks later we had brunch with this same family and their daughter started reading a book at the table. My sweet darling child saw this book and wanted a book of her own. We told her she couldn't have that book and we didn't have a book so she would just have to wait until this other girl was done. As she began to cry because she wanted a book our friends' little girl handed over her book it a great demonstration of empathy, and the crying stopped and my sweet darling child signed thank you. All the parents at the table were SOO proud.

Just to forewarn you, I am building up to my point by trying to make my child look better so when you read what my post is about you don't think she's a monster and that we are a artsy fartsy. You have read that I was a race car driver right?

MGM is really talking. She says 26 words that would be easily recognizable by strangers, plus a lot more that require mommy and daddy interpretation. She can count to 3, a trick we worked on for about 4 weeks after I saw my sisters two year old count. Who knows if she knows how to actually count but she counts objects to three. She loves to diaper, feed, bath and cradle her two baby dolls. Her favorite song is "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" which she will sing for you when she's not acting shy. So see she's smart and sweet, right? Oh, and we give her limits and do all the normal parent discipline things for a 17 month old that you would expect.

However, one of those 26 words that she says so well is, "NO!" I am sure you guessed it. As it turns out my sweet darling child is somewhat defiant. If she doesn't want to stop playing because it is time to eat she will say, "NO!" If she doesn't want you to kiss her or hug her she will say, "NO!" And sadly she'll push you or a person away as she's screaming NO! I am so glad that we had weeks upon weeks of her saying YES to everything because now it is all N-O, NO! And it is a very rude NO. It is the kind of embarrassing NO that when your parents hear it or GOD-FORBID receive it from my sweet darling child you cringe thinking in the back of your mind that they might think you don't discipline them correctly or you've spoiled them. Which causes another fear of mine to creep in, the dreaded grocery store fit. You know the one which involves a child flailing on the ground, kicking and screaming. Which almost happened but thankfully she hit her head on the floor and stopped. I'm praying against a case of the early terrible two's.

As a side note, it is very helpful that she can answer yes or no questions when she does.

So after much deliberating and talking and much praying my wife suggested something that sounded so ridiculous that I hoped it would not work because I honestly didn't want to do it. She learned it at a music class that MGM and my wife had attended earlier in November. It is artsy fartsy and seems like something you would do to Pavlov's dog, but it works SO well. It is actually bizarre how well it works, baffling really, but it works. All WE do is say in a chimey, singy, artsy fartsy voice, "Bum Bum." Said in a high note and then a low note. Bum Bum. It is like background noise, and she doesn't even know we're doing it but she stops whatever she's doing, without throwing a fit, without screaming NO, and just gets up and does whatever we're about to do. It is weird, but it works. Outside observers would think you're crazy, but it works! When you explain it to others they think you're no longer a cool race car driver mans man, but an artsy fartsy wanna be parent-child psychologist, BUT IT WORKS!!! And that's all I care about.

I'm sure it won't work forever, but having also been a high school teacher I wish I could have tried it on them because what if it does!?!?!

Friday, November 19, 2010

I understand my uncle better

I have an uncle who in high school could run a mile in the 4:40 range. Pretty fast for that time. He is now in a wheel chair, suffering the effects of diabetes. My uncle is Hispanic. Diabetes runs in my mother's side of the family. It has taken lives.

Having also been a runner in high school I often asked myself how other runners came to be in the state they were in. I didn't quite understand why. I also still have a hard time understanding why people insist that running a mile in 14minutes is actually running. But I'll give them the benefit of the doubt since at least they are moving.

Recently though, I understand my uncle better now or at least his situation better. A life of seemingly inconsequential decisions brought him to a place where huge hurdles stood in front of him and being healthy. A few months ago my wife and I pledged to eat cleaner more natural foods. We started buying more organic things, I started drinking more milk because I determined through mindful tracking that my diet was deficient in Calcium. This lead to a bowl of cereal before bed. We quit drinking soda all together except for 1 or 2 on the weekends, and almost everything we cooked was fresh.

It seemed like we were doing well, but I ate more. I must have been because I gained weight. Then work prevented me from always making my lunch workouts and since I had been working at night after the baby went to bed I didn't get up for any morning workouts either. Soon I didn't get up at all for morning workouts. I also do not trade time with the baby for a workout because I enjoy time with her more. All of this lead up to me gaining 8 lbs in the month of October(actually in about 6 weeks.) The sad thing is I didn't eat any more than 10 pieces of candy around Halloween either!

Now, I know from the past that my weight naturally hovers at 170-175. Having been at 150-155 and in the best shape of my life recently, I feel fat. I see that people who were once athletes and are now obese might have suffered the same fate. Life combined in small ways to sabotage their health.

The good thing is the last time I reached my stabilized weight range (170-175) I was running in the 8-9-10 minute mile range for a 5k. This time I can run in the 7's already. So as I make changes and become more disciplined at attending my workouts I can only get faster and slimmer. Hopefully soon I'll be back to the 18-19 minute 5k! For now I have to make small daily decisions to workout and eat less. This weekend I have the Warrior Dash and in 49 days( Jan 9th) the Bandera 50k.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Being a parent

The best time I've had being a parent happened this Saturday after a long day going here and there. I cleaned up brush and took it to the dump, we went and had family pictures and then drove out to the lake to spend time with the in-laws.

We had a great time as we always do and on the way home. I told the baby, "I love you" which she responded, "I love you." I quickly and playfully said, I love you! And this went on back and forth a few more times. It was great. I haven't stopped thinking about it.

Of all the frustrating things that are bound to happen as she gets older, this one will make up for a lot of them.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

500 days!

Today the baby will turn 500 days old!! It is amazing all the things a little baby can learn to do in 500 days. Amazing to think that 500 days ago I had no idea what being a dad was all about.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


There are lots of families where the wife/mother is the breadwinner of the family. Since I graduated from college it has not been that way in our house. However, there are days I wish it still were. It would justify me staying home with the baby and sending my wife to work everyday. I'm sure the arrangement would be to the detriment of the baby and her development but it does fuel some jealousy in me not because I don't really want to work, although maybe I am, but because I really like being Daddy and I feel like I'm pretty good at it.

I've learned to channel that into being a Daddy who works to make sure we are taken care of but if I had my wish I'd either be rich or my wife would make 150k a year, which is actually a lot of money too, and there would be no doubt that I should quit my job and stay home. Oh well! As it turns out, my wife is a great mom and a great woman. She's excelled at everything she's worked at. Teaching, running, and being Mommy!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Things Return To Normal

This weekend my wife and I and several of our friends ran the Chosen: Half-Marathon for Adoption. While it was neither of our best times we both had a great time, and felt good the entire race. I will definitely look this race up next year, because it was done very well for its inaugural race. The only improvement I recommended we better mile markers.

It was a good cap to a week and vacation that didn't go as I expected. First I must say, I was disappointed in the trip to DC because of DC. I think I must watch too much PBS for my own good. They do such a good job of creating feelings and an certain ambiance around the memorials and museums that when I finally saw them I was disappointed. I am not saying they were not neat or interesting or worth the trip and time but the experience is similar to going to see a movie that your friend raved about only to leave thinking it was alright. The movie did live up to the hype. Even the trees were not as great as I had been told to expect. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with our family. We had a great time and I will miss hearing our cousin's three year old call me "Cramen."

Mayzie did great on the plane ride up there. Although she did not watch or even act remotely interested in the DVD we brought for her to watch. Our desire to keep her from watching TV might have backfired and now she is complete disinterested in it, but why complain about that right? However, I learned than about 5 days away from her bed and her routine is about the length that is best for her at 15 moths. She woke up at night and since we were sleeping in the same room and she could see us she started calling for us. "Mama, Dada" she would say over and over. We had to move her downstairs to the living room for anyone to get some sleep after the 5th night. The lack of sleep created a moody baby. On the plane ride home we thought we would skip her nap and let her sleep on the plane, BUT Mayzie now uses the words down and walk so she just wanted down and wanted to walk on the plane. Since, she does not understand the concept of "we can't do that right now" she was frustrated. That coupled with the whole tired, because we made her skip her nap, thing created a horrific mess of crying and screaming until she fell asleep. Thankfully that nap lasted all the way until we were at the terminal.

Once we were home, everything instantly returned to normal. Mayzie sleeps her 11-12 hours takes her 1-2 hr nap and is happy and playful.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A time to CHANGE

We've been spending a very small amount on diapers. Much smaller than I had expected and budgeted. We have found great success in the Target brand diapers. They come in boxes of 144 for just under $20 and we've been using one box per month. $20 per month is much better than the horror stories of hundreds of dollars per month on diapers we heard from people.

BUT times are changing we are approaching the next size diaper and they are about 3 dollars more expensive for about 20 less diapers. This should equate to about $25 per month. Still not bad, or is it? My biggest concern is that, for the last two weeks, Mayzie has been announcing when she needs a diaper change. If she pees just the tiniest bit she'll start walking around saying diaper over and over until we change it. If she sees a toilet she wants to sit on it. It is helpful when she poops because we instantly know about it. However, we're using more diapers than we did before because before we didn't know she peed the tiniest bit here and there. The good thing is she has connected the going to the bathroom feeling and REALLY wants to use the potty. So maybe we'll be potty training sooner than later.

I can only hope. Although it will be sad if she potty trains before she has more than 4 teeth.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The baby said her first word at about 10 months old. Dog. The shortly followed by Dada she now says so many words I've lost count and when I do try and count I realize I don't remember to count all of them or I find myself guessing if I've already counted banana.

The words together with the number of signs she learned makes her really easy to understand. That of course is really only we understand because she still hasn't gotten her enunciation down well enough for non-kid people to interpret, and wow how quickly we went from no signs to lots of signs.

For a while now probably, 6-8 months, I feel like we've been at a place where we understand what she needs or wants and she knows what we want. It is a great place.

It has brought about things that I was hoping we weren't going to really have to do, but that surprisingly I'm happy to oblige. Like when she says Bus and then starts dancing. We know she wants us to sing the Wheel on the bus go round and round song. Unfortunately I'm starting to sound like a broken record and when I'm focusing really hard at work that song plays in my head.

Right now it is driving me crazy, but in a few hours when I'm at home, it will be my favorite song. Maybe my wife will consider my suggestion seriously when I say we should trade off who stays at home every two years.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Being the amateur meteorologist that I like to pretend I am. I have not slept well tonight. It is 2:15am and storms have been raining since about 9pm. I should say raging. They have been brought up from the Gulf of Mexico as Tropical Storm Hermine has drawn them as it makes its inland journey. There has been unbelievably hard rain. Most of downtown Austin has had 12inches of rain and slowing spots of 15inches or more are appearing. NOAA's radar gauge does not have a color for over 15inches of rain. Here at my house we've had at least 10inches of rain since yesterday and now my rain gauge is full. The first 5 inches were from Tropical Storm Hermine as it almost passed directly over Kyle, the last 5+ inches have just been from storms drawn up from the Gulf.

For reasons that are quite clear to me, I can't sleep during severe weather. I lived in the Texas Panhandle for 13 years as a kid. Amarillo is part of what is known as Tornado Alley. I remember fondly the terrifying rides my dad used to take us on while we "hunted" tornadoes. I remember the fire drills and tornado drills from elementary school. I remember and actually kind of miss the last Friday of every month test of the Tornado sirens in Amarillo at 9am. Here in Central Texas that tornado threat isn't as real as flash flooding.

Anyway, I got wrapped up in talking about the weather but really my post is about Joy. I enjoy making people smile. One of the reasons I married my wife is because she had a great smile. I love making our baby smile. She has a smile that can stop me and draw me into whatever she is doing. I love when they make me smile. The baby has made me smile several times this weekend. She has two little books that have babies doing various things. On one of the pages there is a baby sleeping. She will put her finger to her mouth and say, "shhh." It is so cute to me and I smile. I love watching her perform tasks and explore the world. When I see her with my wife, I can't imagine anything better in life than those two girls.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Since the baby was born I've struggled to find the time necessary to achieve my fitness goals. After getting off work and coming home, eating dinner, playing, bathing and putting the baby to bed I would find it would be 7:30 to 8pm every night. And now given that we live even farther from our gym the drive there and back would take an hour which means no matter if I left at 8pm I would be guaranteed to be home no earlier than 10pm.

Plus since the baby is sleeping, someone has to stay home which means the wife and I would have to take turns going to the gym. I decided that I wanted to do p90X because my wife and I could both do it together at night without leaving and still get a total body workout and to bed on time!! It required some equipment we already had like weights, and a heart rate monitor. It did require a pull-up bar or some exercise bands that could be attached to something (in our case a door.) I also liked that it had a nutritional guide to go with it because I get bored with the meals we make sometimes. We do not follow the nutritional guide because it dramatically changes the percentage of proteins and carbs and I would much rather eat balanced than some sort of diet skewed toward protein or carbs. I was willing to give up any gains I would have seen by drinking protein shakes. Since we've worked our way into eating clean and as much unprocessed food as possible, I figured we would be alright.

I have almost completed 4 weeks of p90X and I must say, I am surprised at how hard it can be. The mantra of p90X is "Bring it!" I can say I have brought it and wavered a few times but then because of the disappointment worked harder and every time I am really whipped. Usually the next day I am sore. Sometimes really sore. I have added weight and added reps and really feel a lot stronger. I haven't really noticed any real weight loss BUT through reading some other peoples comments on p90x they point to the last 60 to 30 days as being the real weight loss phases.

I am also currently training for a half-marathon in October. So far the two have not interfered with each other, although there have been times when I was very sore from p90x Legs and Back doing a tempo run or already had wobbly legs doing plyometrics x. So far I am very pleased with the progress I've seen and how I feel overall through workouts. P90x is built on the idea of "muscle confusion" and so I'm interested to see how the new workouts challenge me as I progress through the program.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Well here it is - THREE O

I'm 30... enough said.

Ok I couldn't resist leaving it at that. I got up, dressed in my best funeral clothes. I realized my back hurt, my knees hurt, I feel BUT luckily was able to get up. I forgot where I put my keys. But things are turning around. My dentist called and said my dentures were in and at my physical my doctor turned me on to metamucil!!! YUM!

OK just kidding, I'm having a great day!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Well this is it. Tomorrow I will be 30 years old. I purposely added the "years old" part because, to me, it makes it sound younger. If I say, "I'm 30" it sounds so OLD.

Let's face it 30 is not old, it is the beginning of the middle ground. You're not young but you're not old either. I hate it when I hear people give grace to the stupid behavior of college students because as they say, "they're just kids" or "they're young." The same grace is given to old people, "he's just a mean old man" or "that person is old and set in their ways." As if their age some how disqualifies them from being responsible or allows justification for their actions.

No one gives 30-40 year old any kind of pass because of their age. 30-40 is the perfect intersection of age and wisdom for many people, at least those who've taken care of themselves physically and mentally. BUT there is not any kind of grace based on age like the young and old get. Everyone expects them to make the right decisions. You should have known better!! You're not 20 anymore.

My wife and I should be completely debt free by the time I'm 40. We probably will have at least two kids, possibly more and I'm sure we'll have at least one dog. And, as much as I want to resist the idea of being 30, I look forward to what the next decade will bring, good or bad. Although, I do fully intend to buy and drink a bottle of champagne tomorrow.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Blogging & The Baby

I think this is going to be my last post. I start typing out blogs but as I proofread them I realize they are poorly written and sound like a continuous stream of rambling thoughts.

I start these posts but never finish them and find myself rewriting them to the point that they turn into something I would turn in as a paper for my English Composition classes in college. The times I do manage to get a post actually posted, I've forced myself to just click the publish button, because I'm painfully aware that my posts are so deep that they need to have perfect grammar or punctuation or even make sense. However, I do get a sense of accomplishment when I click the spellcheck button and it finds no errors!!

Now onto the real reason for the post. I have long prayed that my child would not have all the faults that I have. I realize she is not going to be perfect and really don't expect it from her, but I do want her to be patient and kind. I want her to be friendly and not afraid and have the ability to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. It makes me sad how people have seemingly lost the ability to empathize with other people. I fall into this trap too, but I'm shocked at how little empathy people sometimes have.

I could go on and on about all the things I hope she is, but one of the traits I never had considered is sense of humor. I guess I want her to be funny. I honestly had never thought about it until Tuesday. Tuesday I picked up my 13 month old from my wife and headed home. We were in some traffic but nothing serious when she started coughing/choking on some snack she had. I encouraged her to keep coughing but after about 10 seconds her head fell to the side and she was motionless. I started yelling her name and trying to change lanes to get to the shoulder. All the while my yelling turned into screaming as eternity ticked by like a kitchen clock whose battery needs replacing. The baby was motionless the entire time. No movement. Nothing. Not a toe wiggle, not a head bob or finger movement and since she faces the rear and those stupid car seats are made to provide head support like a race car seat does I couldn't see her face.

Just as I put the car in park on the side of the highway to jump into action, my child lifts her head and gives me one of the most angering smiles I've ever seen. At that moment so many thoughts hit me I was overwhelmed and almost speechless. You could see in her eyes the intent to play a joke on me. I was so happy she was alright after at least 10-15 seconds of scary thoughts rushing through my mind that I ignored the thoughts of strangling her for doing that to me. At the same time I was processing through the ideas that she was capable of pulling off a stunt like that. She was only 13months old!!! How, where did she come up with that plan, ploy or possibly better described as EVIL PLAN!!! The thoughts progressed further to wonder if she was capable of these things now, what more when she is is older?!

I thought and thought and realized we play a game where the baby rescues daddy as he lays on the floor motionless and the baby crawls over and rescues daddy. It occurred to me that she had learned to do that from ME!! "NO", I thought! She was doing exactly what I didn't want her to do, learn my bad habits.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


So far I've managed to stay away from sodas. It hasn't been that bad but I do go through cravings. We gave up sodas, I refer to them as cokes, for Lent this year and enjoyed the feeling so much that I thought I would finish the remainder of the year without them. I have read that when you are sleep deprived that your body craves carbohydrates and while it could very much be all in my head, I have noticed that when I'm sleepy or didn't get more than 6 hours of sleep the night(s) before I really NEED a coke. I also crave candy more than I usually do when I'm sleepy.

So far though this week, I've drank at least 16 ounces of milk at night which is big for me because I don't really like milk. I've also drank at least 80 ounces of water per day and sometimes more. The water part isn't actually new, I've been drinking at least 64 ounces for a while but what has changed is drinking water at night which just adds to my total. I've also managed to be very sparing when it comes to adding sugar or salt to what I'm eating or drinking. I make it as the recipe calls and that is it. Sometimes I leave it out entirely if it doesn't affect the taste.

One very large change has come with eating fruit throughout the day. I've managed to eat at least 1 banana and either a plum or apricot but usually it is two of each. This is a big change because I don't usually eat fruit throughout the day and I think it is the biggest reason for my curbed sweet tooth.

My wife as done well too, we both have been support each other through the process. I've felt much better and hopefully with the training for the half-marathon in October we'll see some differences in our overall health in the upcoming weeks.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Diet, exercise and racing

What people hear me say, "diet" they usually quip back with a, "you're too skinny for a diet" or something like, "because your SOO fat!" But I think of diet as something you're on all the time. You can have a bad diet or a good diet or a balanced diet, whatever kind of diet you want. No matter the name a diet is something you have all the time. Since the baby has come into our lives we've been eating a good or at least decent diet nothing just outright horrible, BUT we've dropped the exercising from our routine once we started getting ready to sell the house.

This week was 16 weeks until our next half-marathon. My wife and I would like to get back towards our PR times and for that I've decided to do some work on my diet. This week we also started our structured run training, so I decided to lay some ground rules somewhere to help keep me accountable for my actions.

1.) No drinks other than water or tea
2.) 1 hr of exercise per day (more on this in subsequent posts)
3.) Nothing with added sugar
4.) Nothing with added salt
5.) Vegetables or Fruits with every meal.

It is a simple straight forward diet that doesn't involve doing or eating crazy things. It is just back to basic good balanced dieting. Right now my daily caloric goal is 2200kcals. This is a fair amount of food for a person who is eating healthy. I'm looking forward to getting back into a routine that leads to a healthy lifestyle.


Of all the classes I took in college my education classes were the easiest and most enjoyable aside from the PE classes I took. I really enjoyed them and learned a tremendous amount about how to relate to people and ways people learn. One class I took was child development. It started from conception to adulthood. It was a neat class and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

While I was learning about babies I knew all about how quickly they learn and develop new skills. I took tests demonstrating my knowledge of the material. However, nothing could substitute the real thing. Over the past several months the baby has really been learning how to do things. She says Dog and Dada at will, in context and even those not around babies and unable to decipher their language can understand these two words. Unfortunately for mama she is inconsistent with the actual MAMA sounds but I think she says NANA to also refer to mommy. The things that blows my mind is that she understands words she can't say. She will sit down, stand up, give a hug, give a kiss and one or two other commands like clap or make the Indian sound with her hand and mouth.

She can point to your nose, eyes and tummy when asked, although she doesn't point to her eyes or nose if you hold your finger out she'll move her nose or eyes to touch your finger. She LOVES being asked where her tummy is, probably because she knows you'll tickle it once she points to hers.

She imitates a lot of things we do. If she sees you clapping she'll clap. If she sees you whistling she'll pucker her lips. If you point to an object she'll look and maybe say gibberish about it. She imitates words you are saying. This week I've noticed she gets close to saying what you're saying and sometimes nails it on the first try although she is just imitating and doesn't really LEARN a word it is neat to hear a baby repeat after you. I dropped something and said, "Oops!" and she said exactly, "Oops!" so clearly I thought it was my sister-in-law. Of course she never used the word again in our attempts to repeat the incident but it was just neat to hear it happen.

I know the process, I knew the process but now I'm living the process and it is amazing. Much better than any book or teacher could describe. Babies are amazing, I wish I was as versatile at learning as they are.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I'm lazy!

It has been quite a while since I've had any REAL training plan that I followed. I did a 10k this spring but I just went out there an winged it.

Even though I've been doing a lot of work around the house and haven't just totally turned into a vegetable. I think I've watched less than 10 hours of TV in the past 2 months.

We have been in our new house for just under a month and with all the crazy things going on we've managed to find a kind of groove to make things work. One thing I cannot seem to get a handle on is training for something. Every night I see my dog looking at me with anticipation about our run and I cringe because I don't want to run. Sometimes I force myself to go out there and just get it over with and always I feel great afterward and wish I hadn't waited until so late because I might run longer. I can't get up earlier than 5am and really struggle to get up before 6am. It could be because I'm going to bed sometimes after midnight working on things around the house. I don't want to repeat my last house, where I said one day we'll do ______ and then we did that one thing to prepare to move. I can't remember the last time I've swam and I am afraid my bike has rusted in place.

So blog, and the two people reading it, Monday, June 28th starts an exercise routine. I will start running, riding or swimming every night. At lunch, I will no longer waste my time walking around Home Depot, Lowes, HEB or Best Buy. Instead, I will go to the gym and lift weights or run or ride the stationary. At night, after all the needs to be done is done, I will go to bed before 10pm. This will allow me to get up early enough to go swim. And since I work best when I have a goal, Austin Triathlon you are on my calendar.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's been a while!

So many things have transpired since my last blog posting. Some I don't really want to talk about because they're still painful and I still have some work to do on those feelings.

One very big thing is that we've moved into our new house. We've been there almost one month now and I really like it. There are things I definitely miss about our old house but the new house is better for so many reasons that it is really hard to even try to compare them.

I've been working really hard to fix all the little things that houses need fixing. Patching singles the wind had lifted, chaulking joints, and holes on the side of the house. Fixing the garage door that made terrible screeching noises as it moved (amazing what some lubrication can fix.) I've built my raised bed garden and will be transplanting my plants in the next day or so. There are still several things that need to be done. One of the biggest is having a garage sale. We really need to get rid of some things. For now we've piled them in the garage but hopefully once my wife is done with a camp she runs we'll have a garage sale and give the rest to goodwill.

In a post to come I'll detail why a house is not a GOOD investment like everyone says, and it won't be just opinion it will be with math.

Lastly, I discovered something great that I think should revolutionize the way people do things. Yesterday on my way to work I realized my shirt was extremely wrinkled AND yesterday was my annual review!! So I stopped at HEB to see if they had something that could help and sure enough they had a Wrinkle Remover spray. Now the directions say to put the shirt on a hanger spray it and then smooth out the wrinkles with your hands. I sprayed it on me and smoothed out the wrinkles on my washboard abs and that did the trick!! All my wrinkles were gone, just like it had come out of the dryer. It was mind blowing!

I used to spend a lot of time ironing, my mother-in-law spends at least 10-15 minutes with the loudest steam iron I've ever heard ironing her close. This could save her SO much time. Unfortunately my mother-in-law would never dream of spraying something on her clothes, it's just not proper, but I'm hoping to save someone time by using this product. I ironed my clothes in the car in less than 1 minute. Amazing!!! Thanks Faultless® Wrinkle Remover!

Friday, May 14, 2010


Urban Dictionary defines badass like this:

The epitome of the American male. He radiates confidence in everything he does, whether it's ordering a drink, buying a set of wheels, or dealing with women. He's slow to anger, brutally efficient when fighting back.

The badass carves his own path. He wears, drives, drinks, watches, and listens to what he chooses, when he chooses, where he chooses, uninfluenced by fads or advertising campaigns. Badass style is understated but instantly recognizable. Like a chopped Harley or a good pair of sunglasses: simple, direct, and functional

Yesterday, I was helping my father-in-law build a platform to protect storage items from moisture on the ground. When you're working with your hands there is a chance despite the best efforts for injury to occur. It happens to everyone who does work with their hands. Even office staff get paper cuts. However, when you're building things using tools the injuries can get a little more serious that a paper cut. My father-in-law fell victim twice to injury yesterday.

Now, I've hit my thumb with a hammer and I've gotten splinters handling wood, I've stepped on a nail and it went right into my foot, by the way I didn't bleed, it hurt. I stopped what I was doing, cursed my kicked or thrown the hammer or board or whatever I was working on. I failed at the Badass definition because I was quick to anger. Yesterday I saw how a Badass would handle that same situation.

My father-in-law shot himself with the nail gun yesterday. YOU know a construction nail gun! Luckily it wasn't in a place that would be likely to kill him, although if I had a choice I could think of several places I'd rather take a nail than where he took it. The crazy thing is he just kind of said, "huh" to which I responded in shocked fashion, "ya ight man?!" Now any person would think or expect his response to be something about the pain, but he said, "Yeah the nail hit a knot in the wood and bent out, just don't tell Terry."

I was floored, he kept working, didn't cuss, didn't stop and his biggest concern was his wife getting on to him, which she would have. I could hardly do anything because I was stunned. I like to think of myself as a badass, but I know I'm just a wanna be. My father-in-law took a nail in the finger... right under the nail. You know it hurts just when you cut your nails too short and this man took a nail from a nail gun under the finger nail. (Too many nails in that sentence)

He later said, after I asked him again if he was ok, "My daddy said shake it off" and I realized I'm not around enough men. Real men. I'm around a bunch of guys who've been left to themselves and have gotten the idea their badasses when we're not.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Home Stretch

Well today looks like it might be the day, we make an offer on a house. We found two houses that pretty much have everything we like/want in a house.

Oddly enough they are just a few houses from each other and one is literally 3 houses away from parks, pools and an elementary school. One is a foreclosure that is in great condition as far as foreclosures go. The other is a nice house and would be move-in ready. It also is in more of a cul-de-sac type street with a large green area directly in front of the houses. It has a long driveway and a nice backyard. It also has a very nice front porch. Its only draw back is that it is more expensive than we were hoping, but we aren't sacrificing anything or taking any steps backward. It is a step or two forward.

All of this is going on while we are closely following the heart surgery for a little girl in our church. I don't know what God has in store for us, and I know that an expectation of a long life and good-health is only something that has been around for less than 100 years and mostly in developed countries, but I find myself praying or almost begging that my faith not be tested like theirs. I find myself praying or pretty much begging that my children are not the way people's faith is challenged or the reason they come to believe. It brings me to tears to acknowledge that my life, they're lives are not our own and I trust in the promise of eternity. No wonder this is non-sense to people who don't believe.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

KFC Double Down

I've been hearing a lot of negative press about the Double Down. You know the KFC sandwich were the bread is actually two pieces of fried chicken and between is two slices of bacon, and two slices of pepper jack cheese with some Colonel Sauce. Everyone has been pointing out how it is 540kcal and 32g of fat with 1380g of Sodium. The question always asked is why or who would ever eat one of these things!!

Before I had the kidney stone issue, I had rounded up a couple of co-workers to go try it with me. I ended up being the only one who tried it and my initial reaction was, "It isn't that bad!"

No it wasn't good, but really I was expecting it to taste disgusting, but I ate about 90% of it. Now I did feel disgustingly out of shape and fat after I ate it. In fact I had an overwhelming craving for water after eating this sandwich. I would never eat it again, especially at $4.99 for just the sandwich!! But I'm glad I tried it, and would say if you're interested you should too, it really doesn't taste that bad.

Kidney Stone

Well I have some good news! Right now, we are in the 2nd day of the option period in our contract. Contract on the HOUSE!! It was on the market exactly 1 week when we got the offer. We countered and they accepted our offer. It was a good offer and really the best case scenario for us in selling the house. The only real unexpected part was closing on May12th!! THAT IS REALLY SOON!! So we're in a hunt for a house or at least a place to live. I'm trying not to buy the egg crates before our chickens lay eggs (e.g. count your chickens before their hatched) because the inspection could always bring up something we weren't expecting, BUT we have fixed a lot of the things we knew about and we know about a few things so we're not expecting any surprises. We'll find out Saturday!!

The crazy part is we had already planned for my mom to come over and take care of the baby while we went to dinner. It happened to be good timing and we had something to celebrate. It probably would have been a great evening, except for I wasn't feeling well. I thought I might be experiencing a urinary tract infection, but as the pain grew exponentially worse the Doctor informed me it was probably a kidney stone.

I will spare you all the details, but you can ask me in person and I'll tell you but it was REALLY REALLY painful. It was one of those things that you don't understand unless you go through it, pray you don't.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Baby's Language

For a while now Mayzie has shown that she understands a few things. If you say, "Come Here" she will crawl over to you. She understands words like, clap, wave bye bye and her name.

The past few weeks she has consistently made sounds that sound similar to words and some that don't. She says, geesh (sounds like quiche with a G sound) and sometimes she points to something and says, "geesh." We have no idea what geesh is but she says it all the time. If I walk into a room and wave, she might wave and say something that sounds like, "Hi." I've been waving and saying hi to her for months now every time I see her whether I've been gone all day or a few minutes. She does this about 6-7 out of 10 times. The rest of the time she just smiles real big and starts crawling toward me.

BUT in the last week she's really been saying something consistently that could be her first word. I'm going to let her say it 2 or 3 more time before I'm ready to call it her first word. Because like the skeptical scientist I am, I don't take anyone's word for it and I don't want to assume only to find out later I'm wrong.

She's been saying, "dadada", "bababa", etc, etc for months. But over the past several days, when I would walk by or through a room she would smile and say, "dada." I didn't really put a lot of stock into until this weekend. Every time she would see me, she would say, "dada." Being the skeptical, but admittedly bias, person I would chalk it up to, the "oh that's cute" thought. I would respond and say, "yes this is daddy" and usually get down and kiss her or pick her up for a quick hug while I worked on the house. I figured it was just a fluke, but all day Saturday and Sunday she did it, and other people made notice that she did it. Then Monday came (I was home from work) and she would see me and say, "dada" not every time but frequent enough. Tuesday, I was again home and again she would say, "dada" not every time but most of the time.

THEN... Wednesday came. I was gone all day to work. I hadn't seen her since Tuesday night. Right as I arrived home we got into the car to go to eat and that's when she saw me and with a clear look me dead in the eyes (I don't think she ever blinks) look she said, "Dada" and smiled big. I was floored.

I really don't want to be one of those parents that, "oh look at what my kid is doing." Then everyone looks and it is a stretch of the imagination to see what the parent sees. After the past 4 days, capped with last night's incident I was 99% convinced she knew both how to say, "dada" and the context in which to say it. But I still am waiting for more independent verification from some of our friends to make it official.

Either way, I'm starting to think that Dada is going to be her first word.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


DISCLAIMER: Mostly when I say the words, I, ME, WE, OUR I am referring to myself and my wife. We have both been working hard on the house and sometimes it was difficult to see progress.

Every time I start a post I start it with, "Ok, so" then I have to go back and reword the sentence to make sure I don't always start my blog entries with, "Ok, so."

Anyway[see reworded :-)], so part of making 5k go along way to making a house nicer means you do most of the work and OMG!! I'm tired of "working" on this house. I'm delirious! I don't even know if I want to sell the house or burn it down.

BUT and I know I've said this before, we're getting close. The garage will be completely painted and trimmed and caulked by tonight's end. If there is any daylight left the front porch will also be painted and maybe I can start on touch-up painting in the house.

That will put an end to 3 of the last 12 items to do. I can't wait for that day, I haven't worked out in 2 1/2 weeks and I have a 10k (ugh) race in 3 weeks. Most people just say I have a 10k RUN or 10k but to me it is hard to separate the fact that I'm running, I like to win (although I rarely have a real chance) and there are other people (unsuspecting) running the race for me to beat. If I can't workout HOW am I going to beat them?!?

Anyway, we hope the house sells fast. 1 day, although the sales person in me knows that if it sells fast it was most likely under priced, at this point I don't care. IF it doesn't sell, it wouldn't be the end of the world. The house looks nicer, and it will be complete. NO LINGER projects!!

It has inspired me to create a new rule for myself. One that most people would probably thing should be an axiom for any project. TO FINISH IT!! I have a bit of a problem with that, I know, I don't hide it but things are looking nice and I like that feeling of completion.

Here's the list of things to be completed NOT including packing up & cleaning:
1.) Paint 3 interior doors
2.) Replace 1 side of door casing on 2 doors
3.) Touch-up/clean baseboards & door casings
4.) Touch-up paint kitchen cabinets
5.) Paint bathroom vanities
6.) Finish painting garage/side of the house/backdoor trim
7.) Touch-up living room ceiling
8.) Replace 4 air vents
9.) Purchase and Replace stove
10.) Repair fascia on porch
11.) Install over oven Microwave
12.) Lots of cleaning and Packing (Ok I included it just not in detail)

Completed items:
1.) Dry in garage
2.) Replace rotted siding on house and garage
3.) Replace rotted trim on garage
4.) Replace kitchen sink
5.) Replace kitchen faucet
6.) Replace dishwasher
7.) Purchase over oven Microwave
8.) LOTS of cleaning and packing (thanks to my wife)
9.) Replacing rotted railing on porch
10.) Rack leaves in front bed
11.) Mow & fertilize front yard
12.) Repair windows
13.) Paint living room ceiling
14.) Remove linoleum in guest bath
15.) Remove rotted vanity in guest bath
16.) Replace all ceiling fans
17.) Install recessed light in bathroom
18.) Install shelving in Laundry Room
19.) ??

I'm sure I'm leaving something out, but you get the gist, we've done a lot.

And here's a cute post about Mayzie and Her Best Friend

Friday, March 26, 2010

The house

The house has been taken up my time for the last two or three weeks. Every available moment has been spent thinking, working or cleaning the house. We have made some amazing strides but we still have some work to do.

I'm really liking the look of the house. It is coming together and I'm pretty optimistic about it selling and selling for what we want. I'm also pretty excited about some of the houses we've been seeing. There is a house (I'm sure it will sell before we could make an offer) but if we sold our house for what the Realtor is expecting then we could mortgage 75-85k. Some people have that much debt in just their cars!! AND the typical car loan pays in 60month or 5 years and we would be able to pay off that house in a little over 5 years. THAT IS EXCITING!

It actually makes me want to work harder to get it paid off faster. I can't imagine the feeling of knowing that you don't have a house payment. In fact the total amount of money we'd pay in interest in 5 years on that mortgage would be about the same as what we would pay in 1 1/2 years at our current house. This is exactly why we've chosen to sell.

I'm trying not to get ahead of myself, because I know things could change quickly and I am well aware of what the Bible has to say about a man's plan and the way he thinks is good. But I can imagine the opportunities that we could leverage for the kingdom being completely debt free.

Friday, March 19, 2010


We are called Wheelies from our director which I really hate, but she only e-mails us a few times so I don't have to hear or read it very often. I'm talking about Meals On Wheels!!

Most people don't know that I am a volunteer driver for the Meals On Wheels program. My route is in East Austin. I work the route with my best friend Mark. He is the co-pilot and I'm the driver and we get the food to the people quick!

I don't know how it is in other parts of Austin, but the route I drive is sometimes pretty "interesting." We have this guy on our route that could be a serial killer, or at least he has the Hollywood stereotypical look and he's kind of crazy to talk with. Usually he wants us to sit and talk a long time while he smokes multiple cigarettes, but thankfully we can't because we have food to deliver. Today we had obviously interrupted him with something because he took the food and said, "Bye!" real quick. We joked that he was trying to over up his latest murder victim.

There was another time when we delivered food to a different person who was smoking a cigarette and discarding the butts in a trash can. As if that wasn't dangerous enough there was an oxygen tank sitting right next to the trash can pumping oxygen into this guys nose. We usually leave ASAP so as not to get blown up from the exploding oxygen tank. It says very clearly in multiple places on the oxygen tank NOT to smoke around it or have a fire anywhere near the tank, because it will explode.

However strange and crazy some of the recipients of the MOW program are, they are made up for by the nice folks. There is a nice lady we drop food off too, who is genuinely grateful we stopped by and is always very nice and thanks us over and over. We chat about the weather a bit and maybe some household projects we are all doing and then we have to leave. Our next stop is another lady who is always smiling. She talks while she's smiling, she doesn't walk well but she projects her contentment with life with ease and makes you feel better when you walk away.

I really enjoy the MOW program and the opportunity it gives me to serve. It is sooooo easy to do I can't believe I've never done it before.

Lubbock to 100 days!

There are less than 100 days to my wave start of the Buffalo Springs 70.3! Oh I'm nervous just thinking about it!

Strangely, I think I am going to be well prepared for it. I still have a lot of work but a lot can be done in 14 weeks and I'm going to have some fun. It will be the day before the baby's 1 year birthday!!! This was the race I was supposed to do but had to fly home because the baby came. My flight left 20 minutes after the start of my wave.

The 100 day mark is really a reminder that every day I need to be monitoring my diet, making sure I push myself hard at every workout and get good sleep! I can't wait!!

IF anyone wants to do some riding, running or swimming let me know, I could always use a workout partner or heck just do it with me!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The House!

This weekend while the wife and the baby were out of town, I worked on getting the house ready to sale. Our stager made a list of things and I began working on them. I HAD A BLAST!!! I wish I could do that everyday only with the family there. I worked 22 1/2 hours on Saturday on the house and very close to the same on Sunday. I know, I was busy and sleepy. BUT I got a lot of things done and the house is coming together nicely.

Three things I noticed while I was working on the house. One is that 5k goes a lot further than you think when you're willing and able to do most of the grunt work. So far we've painted the ceiling in our living room, it makes a big difference in the light. We've replaced all the fans in our house, which made a HUGE difference in our bedroom, it might be too bright now. We've also installed new plugs and several new GFCI circuits because of code issues and to make them more uniformed. We are going to have several windows fixed that had problems and install recessed lights in the dinning room. The biggest change is our guest bathroom. We've completely removed the vanity, toilet and took up the linoleum floor that was in there. IT was a lot of hard work, but the floor is almost ready to be leveled and then.... TILE and probably a new vanity!!

I'm excited because it was long over due and it has been cheap enough to make me question why I hadn't done them already! Which leads me to the next thing I have thought, why do I feel guilty? All this work has actually made me feel guilty about doing this work just to get ready to leave. It is a strange feeling, I don't know who I'm even feeling guilty toward, myself, my wife, the house... who?

Which again brings me to the next thing I've learned... maybe I like this house now. The more I we keep doing to the house the things we've always wanted to do, but never done, the more I think... maybe we should stay. I really think it is the guilt talking but I'm liking the house now. I think I'll really like it with the tile but the thought of staying has crossed my mind a few times.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Selling the House

So the realtor we chose pays for a "stager" to come and make the house buyer ready or at least tell you the things that need to be done to make the house ready. She came today, and of course I was nervous, I really wanted the house to be in better shape than it was because your house is a reflection on yourself.

She really changed some things around and I must say, I would have never done that, but it does look better than it was. And she gave us good feedback on things to do and change that I feel will really make a difference in our house. I'm excited, before I was still kind of on the fence about selling but now I'm on board, I just need to break the news to our neighbors who will be very disappointed.

But here are some logical reasons why we should sell.

We owe $118k on our house, down from $162300 (yeah!) Our standard payment is $779/month but we pay extra ($905/month) It will take us 214 months to pay off this house at this rate. That's 17yrs and 10months for those math impaired.

Now if we buy a house in Plum Creek (besides that is a nicer neighborhood) for $140k then our standard payment on a 15yr note at 4.75% would be $778/month. However, we'll continue to pay $905/month. This means we'll have paid off that note in just over 12 years. Anyone can see the easy math that 17yrs and 10 months is longer than 12 years. But here is the crazy part.

IF we stay for 18 years and pay off our current house, we will have paid $357k for the house. If we buy a Plum Creek house for $140k and put all of our money to get the loan balance to $100k and we pay it off in 12 years, we would have only paid $152k for the house. Again it doesn't take a mathematician to see that $152k is a better deal than $357k.

Then there are the things that are harder to measure. For instance, our neighborhood doesn't have sidewalks, Plum Creek does. Our neighborhood doesn't have a pool, Plum Creek has two! Mayzie and D'Lane could walk to school when they wanted in Plum Creek, but she'd have to be driven in our current neighborhood. There are some draw backs, we won't have as much space for the dogs, there aren't huge trees that house hawks and owls. We'll have to abide by HOA rules and our house will be smaller. I'll have a further commute to work, but we'll be close to friends.

We're considering renting because it has a lot of advantages over owning a house but for right now we're focusing on selling ours. This seems pretty logical no matter which way you slice it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Selling the House

Yesterday we met a Realtor that came highly recommended from some friends of ours. He came over and gave us some tips on things to work on and fix and we're going to talk to a "stager" who will really tell us how to prepare the house to sell. He told us that our house would probably sell at 170k. Not bad I guess, I was hoping for a bit more but we'll make money so we can't complain.

The problem is what to do next. We are debt free besides the house and intend to stay that way. The wife and I both like the idea of reducing our house debt by purchasing a cheaper house. We also like the idea of getting in a master planned neighborhood, but I am struggling to figure out if that's what is the BEST thing to do. We hate debt, thanks to Dave Ramsey we have a completely different perspective on debt than we did just 5 years ago. A move to Plum Creek would likely result in us being able to pay off the house in 10years or less. That's great! I do not know many people in their 40's that own their house outright. Think about the things you can do if you don't have a mortgage payment! College tuition, no big deal, emergency fund, no big deal.

Most of the uncertainty about what to do next comes in the fact that I don't really like what I do. I'm inside all day, I don't really work with my hands and my work doesn't make a difference in people's lives. These are three things I've identified that I really want to do. I've just got to find a job that incorporates these things. Oh I forgot one... endless large amounts of money!! j/k

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Maybe I've gone overboard

So I really like getting a good deal. Some people are content with 10% off and consider that a "good deal." Other people clip coupons and buy things on sale and they get their "good deal."

Me, well, I don't buy big items UNLESS I get at least 10%. I don't wait for it to go on sale, I haggle OR I buy it used. Haggling has kind of a bad reputation because it has been abused, by car salesman i guess, but if you go to most other countries haggling is THE way of life. There are some countries that don't even have price tags in non-tourist areas. They haggle. I love that idea.

Most people when I tell them I do this and I tell them the deals I get, they have some excuse as to why haggling isn't a reliable way to purchase things. One of my favorite is the idea that you can't haggle at big box stores. This is not true! If I need something, I start at Best Buy. I've had more success at getting the priced reduced at Best Buy than any other place. I love Best Buy because of that. Also, despite what people think, car dealership, big box stores, or any good businesses don't sell things below cost. That only happens at garage and going out of business sales. They might sell it to you to break even but if they lose money on a deal they go out of business so they are making money or your helping them clear inventory (at cost) for new products so that they can make money.

In order to haggle you CAN'T be impatient. You must be able to walk away if you don't get your deal OR accept the deal they offer you. I purchased our computer for $450 which was regularly $599 (at Best Buy they kept offering $499) but it took several months. I purchased our LG Steam washer and dryer for 60% off but that took several years and I didn't get the color I really wanted.

As far as buying used, you're already getting a great deal because whoever bought the item took the depriciation hit. This is a huge money saving strategy, but don't buy junk. Cars and furniture are the best example of this, but it applies to almost every man-made item.

So you're probably wondering what inspired this blog post... I'm actually hoping my wife reads this before she gets back into town so I don't have to tell her personally what I've purchased but, I've purchased two things for Mayzie that she can't really use by herself. One a stuffed horse from H-E-B it was marked $20 but I got it for $10 because it has a small tear on a seam (that I knew my wife could fix.) The other a bicycle... that's right a bicycle. This time I got it used. It is reguarly $150, but I got it for $65. Mayzie is going to evenutally need a bike and this is a good bike for much cheaper than if I had to buy it new. BTW I've been looking for one like this one since July.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My co-worker

I have this co-worker who's house was damaged in the recent hailstorm. You know the one that happened a year ago. The one with the really big hail, the baseball size one. You probably don't remember it because it was a LONG time ago. He's just getting to the replacing the roof on his house. Insurance took care of that, and the reason he delayed it so long was because his brother-in-law (from Wisconsin) is a roofer and he was waiting for him to come down and do it for a MUCH cheaper price than if a local roofer did it. I give him some major Kudos for that money saving patience.

Since I love learning new valuable skills and have done a bit of amateur roofing myself, I stopped by his house yesterday to ask some questions about things that confused me when I did it after reading a book on how to roof. Turns out the only thing the brother-in-law would have done different than myself is putting he uses staples for the felt paper without the little tin disks. So I guess reading a book about roofing prepared me well.

However, while I was standing on the roof in the lower 40's without a jacket I turned to my co-worker and said, "Sometimes I wonder how bad it really can be working outside all the time." I remember my dad's endless complaints in the summer about the heat and the winter about the cold. My co-worker acknowledged he thought the same but said something that resonates(I hate using this word) in me.

"Sometimes I leave work on Friday and think, 'What did I really accomplish this week?'"

I was struck. I have these same thoughts, only I word them a little different but they have the same meaning. I like to do things with my hands, I love being outside especially when it is hot although not really when it is cold. I can't tell what I'm being held back by, lots of things whirl through my head, that make me feel superficial, but really none of them are worth it more than, being with my family.

That's what I want the most of, time with them. The second thing I want the most of is to make a difference in people's lives. The comes the nice house, neighborhood, private school and other things of little importance. I just don't know how to get there.

PS Sorry about all the run-on sentences and poor grammar or any confusing sections. I don't proof-read the "things on my mind" category.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Eating Right

I have been reading and hearing more and more about "clean" eating. Maybe it has been around for a while or maybe it is some new movement brought about by the rise of organic food.

I agree with most of all the ideas of clean eating and organic food only diets. In fact, I even tried growing all our vegetables (totally organic of course) for a month one summer which unfortunately coincided with a 25 month long drought in Central Texas. It was a miserable failure except for cucumbers which were a hit even among the squirrels. However, I do wonder how much of it is based on irrational fears and how much of it is really based on truth. I'm ok if the idea was born out of a simple existence or drive to return to a simpler life or how things were "meant to be." Some say that means how nature intended it, which I would re-word how God designed creation be function. If there is no real good reason to eat organic other than that mindset, then I'm ok with it and I agree with it.

Here's the main problem: I love processed foods!

I loved Mrs Baird's Fried Cherry pies. OMG!! I love them!! I like coke I really like RC Cole. The way the fizz (acid) eats at the top of my tongue feels great! I love spaghetti O's probably more than is healthy for a grown person. Really anything that is high in refined sugars and fat (animal or vegetable) is great to my pallet. Most people savor things they think taste good... not me, I eat them gorge style. Because why savor one when you can eat 10 and have the same taste the whole time?

Here's the other problem: Organic is expensive!!

Grass fed beef and really wild Salmon cost almost twice the hormone fed stuff. Part of me really wonders if soy fed farm raised Salmon is really all the different from whatever real wild Salmon eat. I know it is, but is it bad for me or just bad for the fish? Same with the beef. Does plain ole' grass just mean my cows don't get to enjoy the more fattening (probably better tasting see point 1) cow feed? Is it just bad for the cows or me? Sure you can search the Internet and find articles about how this is all better for me to eat organic but they seem more based on fear than facts. Or at least small lab rat type results that are extrapolated to apply to humans. Again I'm fine with just believing it is better because that's how God intended cows to grow but at twice the price I'm tempted to say, "oh well."

I would use the excuse moderation to say well I'll eat some organic and some not, but I can't. Really, I can't. Put me around something that tastes good and I'm like a crack addict who just left rehab and found some crack on the ground. It is just not something I can do. As soon as I taste the crack I go buy more and more until I find something else that tastes good. Right now, I'm in the rehab, trying to get myself off the cokes and processed Spaghetti O's partly because I'm getting ready for my 70.3 but also because I just want to live in a sustainable healthy life style, and with us down to one income I am trying to save as much money every where so we can continue our to meet financial goals. I've been doing a lot of cooking and making my own meals to help cut out all the "bad stuff" but I secretly long for Mrs Baird's chocolate covered mini-donuts or some Oreo cookies in milk... as you can see I've got a long way to go.

Monday, February 15, 2010


So this weekend was the start of the NASCAR racing season. And as usual I'm playing my fantasy racing. It turned out very well and I'm in a good position for the start of the year.

It also happened to be the weekend I was supposed to sell my race truck but the guy had some trailer problems and couldn't make it. So I spent the day remembering the 3 full years of racing and then 1 year racing part-time that I got to experience. I really enjoyed racing. There is no feeling like there is racing. I have never been skydiving but I'm sure the same principles apply when talking about skydiving. There is just no way to simulate the feelings of a race and there is just no way to describe it without at some point telling the person you just have to try it to understand.

As a regular driver, I feel like it has given me an awareness that I never had before. I have this "sixth sense" about what other drivers on the road are about to do. It also has taken away my security in my car. I am always looking for an "out" (the place I'm going when everyone starts wrecking) when I'm driving. The funny thing is people view "racing" as a very dangerous activity my life insurance costs doubled. BUT once you've raced and you've wrecked in a race car you realize how much more dangerous driving your car around town is. People just don't realize how quickly wrecks unfold and how little time and control they will have in the situation. It is actually a learned skill and I wish everyone had to race one season before getting a license. I'm convinced it would slow everyone down.

I don't speed! Especially in neighborhoods, again because you don't realize how quickly things can unfold in front of your car and how likely it is that you'll be unable to do anything or in most cases you don't know what your natural reaction will be. MOST people's natural reaction is to avoid by swerving. THIS IS DANGEROUS!! You never know what you'll swerve into and it is usually worse than if you didn't swerve. It is usually better to square up, slow down and hit whatever you're about to hit (unless it is a kid.) but the goal is to be able to make a good decision on the appropriate action. It takes practice (which is why I think everyone should race) to reprogram your natural tendency to swerve. Plus it take practice for everything to slow down enough to where you can make a decision and react appropriately. The first time someone threw a baseball at you, you probably missed it and even if you got lucky and caught it they were also throwing the ball slowly. Precisely how to teach and condition people and yourself how to catch objects. As you get better you can catch things moving faster. The same applies to driving.

This guy is coming on Tuesday to buy my race truck, I'll be sad to sell it. I know it is the right decision, lots of people are not in the position we are in and this will strengthen it. It will prepare us to make and execute GOOD financial decisions. I am thankful for the way it brought my family together but it is going to be tough to quell the desire to turn a car at 95mph left, a foot behind a guy and a foot in front of a guy all doing the same thing. The feeling of braking as your turning and having to "feel" the chassis to see if it wants to start to spin, then getting hard into the gas and feeling the g-forces push you into your seat all the while having to perfectly maintain pace or risk being passed. There is no feeling like being under the lights, feeling the power and competing against others for the same prize... as plastic trophy. It is really something special and much harder than is possible to imagine.
PS. If this doesn't make any sense or flow well it is because I typed it out as a stream of thought.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

1 mile

This morning, I finally swam 1 mile, since getting back into the training swing of things. I had been working my way up since I had really lost a lot in the swimming department. I can tell my form is pretty bad and my core is pretty weak. It is amazing how quickly you can go from being a good swimmer to just being able to swim. It wasn't my fastest mile ever, but you know I'm building up my base. My training officially starts a week from next Monday (Feb 22nd.) So I'm pushing myself and getting ready to really endure some torture.

I am registered for the Buffalo Springs 70.3 in Lubbock on June 27th. That is one day before the baby's 1st birthday. I'm so glad the BST organizers held my registration from last year. They didn't have to, but they were kind enough to do that so I didn't have to pay the $250 entry fee. Whew! The race if you are unfamiliar it a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run (half-marathon.)

Since writing down my goals is something I have been trying to do with anything I start, here are my goals for this race.

Swim portion: 30 minutes for 1.2miles
T1 : 7 mins
Bike portion: 2hr 40mins
T2 : 7 mins
Run portion: 1hr 35mins

Total Time: 5hrs

Now 5 hrs is a very very hard goal to make. It is like the 3 hour marathon. You have to really have your stuff together to finish at or below 3 hours in the marathon. And when you tell other marathoners you're a 3 hour marathoner they know that's hard to accomplish. A 5hr HIM is the same way, you really have to train hard and be ready on race day.

I'm looking forward to really starting to train hard and pushing myself to the sometimes painful extreme. Hopefully since the baby is getting older, she and the wife can come along some of those times.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The house

You know, your house seems fine to you when you're not thinking of selling it. Yeah, there are things you know need attention, things that need to be fixed, and of course the dreams you have if you had endless amounts of money to remodel the place, but when you're thinking about selling it... all of sudden everything is wrong with the house. You can spend endless hours thinking of all the things that need to get done to get it ready!

I am in that spot... all I think about is all the little things and all the big things. The thoughts of, "Oh some potential buyers would turn their nose at cream colored walls or red kitchen cabinet doors and ugly counter tops. It doesn't cost much to replace the doors and counter tops we should do replace them." I'm getting ready to sell something big which will give us several thousand dollars to use to prepare the house. I'm really ready to use that money... my wife... well she wants to meet the realtor first. Probably a good idea.

Another strange thing is the guilt I feel for leaving my neighbors. I have GREAT neighbors on either side of us. The people are across the street are the only exception, but nothings perfect right? My neighbors have put up with things I've put off and now I'm really working hard just to sell it. In the grand scheme of things I know this is the right decision for us, whether or not the mini-golf idea works out or we just end up buying a cheaper house, I just can't help but feel like I'm abandoning my neighbors who like us and want us to stay.

Oh well I guess we'll see what happens!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Commuter Cyclists

Ok now I used to hate cyclists. I couldn't understand why they were allowed on the road. It was dangerous for them, a nuisance for me and why would anyone want to ride their bike that far anyway? I hated that I had to drive 15-20 miles an hour because some morons thought pedaling through the hill country would be enjoyable.

Fast forward 10 years and while watching a rerun of the Ironman World Championships, I decided that and Ironman was something I wanted to do. And, if you didn't know it, the Ironman bike portion is 114miles. On a bike, on the road, for 5-6 hours. So I got a bike, and quickly discovered that riding a stationary bike is kind of boring and it is really really enjoyable to be on a bike in the middle of the country with nothing but some water, a few snacks, and hopefully a riding partner.

Since starting, I have put thousands, no really thousands, of miles on my bike and while I've had a few close calls from drivers not paying attention and close calls while building my riding skills, I haven't been seriously injured. Yet people think I'm crazy for riding my bike or commuting to Austin. Mostly, I think because they, like I used to, hate cyclists. Plus I feel safer in downtown where people are accustom to driving around cyclists than outside the city where people drive too fast and don't usually encounter cyclists. The commuting by bike thing; is great, even if it takes twice as long there is no A/C and no radio, it is really great. AND if you look at the statistics you're much more likely to die in a car crash than as a cyclists.

If you want to commute by bike, here are a few tips from me.
  1. Have a backup plan. You might be really tired when you get where you are going or the weather could unexpectedly change and then you might be stranded.
  2. Consider your smell. If you are going to work, do you have access to a shower? If not bring some wet wipes or get good at wiping yourself down in the bathroom. You kind of feel like a bum when your co-workers come in but it is worse to be the person in the meeting who's smellin' up the place.
  3. Don't try it two days in a row. You're gonna be tired from the first day and unless your commute is less than 10 miles one way you should probably start out with 1 or 2 days a week, with a day of rest in between.
  4. Wear your helmet. You'll figure out pretty quick that people in cars, treat you like a car. Which means if you've ever been tailgated, cut-off or almost hit by someone not paying attention, then it will happen to you on a bike. BTW if you are driving don't tailgate a cyclist, they can't go any faster and it takes all of 5 seconds to pass them, just go around!! You're not going to "teach them," by tailgating or driving close, they just think you're uneducated and probably a jerk.
  5. Pay Attention! They treat you like a car, but if they hit you, everyone finds out that you're not built like a car.
  6. Plan your route!! Try and stick to less traveled roads or road with bike lanes on your first attempt. Don't just jump into heavy traffic on your first adventure, you'll get frustrated and so will the other drivers.
  7. Practice Handling Skills. Just like when in a car, sometimes things happen. Objects in the road, someone, including pedestrians, might pull out in front of you. You might have to brake hard, etc, etc. DO NOT commute the first time back on a bike in 10 years. Practice and hone your handling skills, because you WILL need them. It is really embarrassing and painful to crash in front of lots of people.
  8. Be Predictable and Steady, Not Twitchy. Again cars, are expecting you to behave like a car. So don't make sudden movements in traffic. Ride in a straight line and signal if you need to change lanes. Drivers don't like cars that whip in and out of traffic, and it is difficult to drive around a twitchy cyclist.
  9. SIGNAL!! See number 8. It is frustrating when you don't know what another driver is about to do and the same goes for cyclists. If you signal it helps drivers know they can pass you or they need to wait.
  10. Have fun! Unless you're in a hurry enjoy the fact that you are not trapped in the car. Or if you're a Greenie, that you've just reduced your carbon footprint and probably your waistline.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I love competition!! I can't wait to get into a triathlon, that moment as they count down to the start and the thrashing water that insues. I love at a running race where you try and figure out who is REALLY going to set the pace and not just going out there to blow up half-way into the run.

However, I'm feeling really outta shape right now. Except today! This morning I managed to dig myself out of bed at 4:30 and was in the water by 5:20 for a pretty vigorious swim workout. The thing is, I felt great! Finished strong and felt like I could do more!

Then at lunch, I made myself go to the gym even though I wanted to go bike drooling. On my plate was just a 5k run. I've been struggling to leave the 8min pace, which is pretty slow for someone who wants to run up front. Today I ran in the 7's and the last 600m at a flat 6min/mi pace. I felt great!

SOO maybe I just have been letting my body convince me I'm outta shape when really I just needed to push a bit harder. I can't wait for the season to start!!!
"The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else." -Oswald Chambers

When the baby was born, I had those thoughts of "is she breathing?" I can rationally prevent myself from sneaking into her bedroom to feel if she's breathing. But I do think about bad things that could happen to her as she grows up. In that way I'm connected to my co-worker who had a baby at the same time. I can relate to their worry about their little baby, because I worry about mine too. But they do worry more, a lot more, and it is apparent when you talk to them. I am certain this is because we fear God, and they do not. We trust in the Lord for our baby and they do not trust in the Lord for even themselves. Disclaimer: I do have to be reminded to trust from time to time.

I can tell you, I do not want our GREAT baby to die or suffer, while I am alive. I pray that is not in His plan. I don't want to live that day and I don't want to see that day for anyone.

I can connect with a lot of people. I start conversations with complete strangers in crowded places. But I carry the gospel, I know its weight, I understand its gravity and I know it has power. Unlike the strangers I talk with or the encounters I have with people in my life, I have built a relationship with my co-worker that can hold and support the weight of the gospel. So why haven't I told him about my faith? Maybe it is fear...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

212 days old!!

The baby is 212 days old today!!

Crazy to think that I started counting down to her birth at 210 days and over 400 days later she's moving and playing on her own.

I think of all the things I want to do for her as far as places to take her, experiences, school, college and it makes me think I need a better job and that I have a lot of exciting things to look forward to.

Right now I am really excited because she's getting bigger and her head is getting close to the 18.5" diameter mark. Once she's there I can buy her a bike helmet and we can start riding the bikes as a family again. The wife and I used to ride to Sonic during happy hour and get drinks and soon we can start doing that again.

I am already looking forward to Christmas because the baby will be about the age to get her first bike. It will be a run-bike so she can practice the control without also having to learn to pedal at the same time and hopefully skip the whole training wheel thing. I am SOOO excited about both of those events. A couple of hundred more days to go!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Power of the Holy Spirit

I started blogging about starting my training for the Buffalo Springs Half-Ironman today, and how proud of my wife I am for how serious she's taken to her training for the Austin Zooma half-marathon; however, I saw a quote today that really hit me hard. Someone on a blog about Haiti posted a comment in a response to a comment about Pat Robertson's view of why an earthquake hit Haiti. It simply said, "I would take Haiti's Voodoo over America's Christianity any day."

Whether good or evil, people easily recognize things that are supernatural. Unfortunately, in America, Christians live so passively that people mostly see the evil around us. Rarely, do they see the power of Christ majesty. I think it helps people to become cynical of "organized religion." They then, lump Christians together with all other powerless religions because we don't live our lives with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today I am going to start praying, for life changing power from the Holy Spirit to be evident. Change in my life and change in the lives of people around me. I want to be apart of lives being changed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

BANDERA 50k: It wasn't as hard as I thought!


Ok so if you go all the way back to the beginning of this blog, it started out as a training log to complement my cousin's training blog. We were comparing styles of training against each other to see how they might prepare us for a 100k race.

Well after an injury and much protesting by myself we decided, and thankfully so, to do the 50k instead of the 100k and here is a report from Saturday's Bandera 50k.

First we woke up at 4:30am to eat, get dressed and drive to the race location. 4:30am is an hour that most people never see unless they can't sleep or have a sick kid. The temperature outside was around 10 degrees according weather records for the area. 10 degrees!!! The really crazy thing is I looked it up AND some people in shorts!!

So we start the race at 7:30 a few minutes after the dawn and it gets light really fast but since we're in the valley there is no warmth from the sun. It is cold but my beard is holding steady and my warm clothes were perfect. The thing that made the real difference were the toe warmers. it is no fun to run with cold toes and the toe warmers were absolutely perfect.

Everything was great until about mile 10, supposedly the first 10 were the hardest, however since I was wiped out and hadn't trained consistently for this race the next 20 miles were the hardest for me. People hear that you're running 31 miles and they think the mileage made this race hard. The truth is, if you were to put all the hills back to back and the race was only 5 miles, then it would have been just about as difficult.

At the 12 mile mark I finally convinced my cousin to leave me behind and salvage whatever time she could. She managed to finish in 7:17. I walked/limped and almost crawled to the 15.5mi aid station. There I promptly announced, "I'm done!" continued to a chair and sat down. The volunteers graciously told me to just sit there and think about it. I announced several times I was done. They convinced me to eat a grilled cheese sandwich and I drank two glasses of coke. As I was sitting there thinking, it occurred to me that one day I might have to tell my daughter that she couldn't just quit something because it was hard. And if I wanted to teach her that lesson, I'd have to make sure I believed in what I was saying and had lived it myself. I had also been reading about the power of the Holy Spirit and how has American Christians we don't place a lot of value or believe there is a lot of power in the Holy Spirit. So I prayed, that I would have the strength and ability to finish this race and that I knew it was impossible for me to finish the exact same distance I had just finished by myself. I ran the next 11 miles.

It was nothing short of a miracle in my book, it really completely changed how I felt about marathons and the half-ironman races. I was really surprised because I had tried electrolytes, I had eaten carbs and I had taken water. I had tried to keep my physical needs met and so when I couldn't go further I just figured it was my lack of training or actually just my lack of just plain exercising. 15 1/2 miles was the best I could do. I had only put in about 30 miles of training so it makes perfect sense that I couldn't do this. So that's why, as goofy as it sounds, I really thought it was the Holy Spirit trying to show me that there is power, beyond what I'm capable of. I'm sure scientists and myself could rationalize it away, as electrolyte imbalance or calorie deficiency. But I had taken some of that in and it was more than just "getting my second wind." I did something I was sure I couldn't do. Something I would have bet money on that I couldn't finish.

I think I will always cherish this race because I found my breaking point before half of the race was over and had to rely on my belief that through the Holy Spirit it could be finished.