Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

Alex and I were eating dinner on campus earlier this week--a place called the Spicy Pickle. It was your iconic college eatery--small, spare, a little dirty. As we ate, I looked at the other patrons, almost all college students, and thought about the differences between me and them. I was amazed to realize that I didn't envy them--not their freedom, not their lack of responsibility, not their ability to spend their entire lives in T-shirts and flip-flops. I realized that I wouldn't trade what I have now for the ability to go back to being a student.

It would be easy to focus on the difficulties and disappointments this year has brought with it, but it is easier still for me to put aside those thoughts and give thanks for all of the amazing opportunities and experiences it has brought as well: an amazing trip to Ireland; my first half-marathon and Olympic-distance triathlon and the beginning of a journey to my first half-ironman; my first races with my brother and my mom; a great trip out to visit my sister in her new home; our first house; furnishing our first house; a not-so-gentle reminder to take care of myself and be alert for signs of problems and proactive about getting potential problems taken care of; another year of health and silliness for my cats; family and friends who are constantly supportive; and the world's greatest husband, my best friend, who has laughed with me, cried with me, challenged me, supported me, and given me strength when I lacked it. I am so thankful for every part of my life this year.

So thankful, in fact, that I wouldn't trade it for what had previously been the best time of my life. That was pretty cool to realize.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


Monday, November 19, 2007


As the elected hostess for the next Nesties game night, I didn't expect to have #43 crossed off the list until next month, but after running into a colleague and her fiance at our grocery store last week, we made dinner plans with them that quickly evolved into including games as well. I invited another work friend and her husband at the last minute after finding out that her morning sickness had finally abated enough that she was eating normally again. And just like that, an intimate dinner party and game night!

Guests arrived around 7:30, and after a delicious meal of vegetarian lasagna, meat pizza, salad, and garlic bread, we broke out The Newlywed Game. And hilarity ensued.

The game is actually a pretty decent throwback to the gameshow of old, featuring host Bob Eubanks and three newlywed couples who had to correctly predict their spouse's answer to a series of questions mostly designed to get people in trouble. The game came complete with dry-erase boards and markers. We had an interesting mix playing--the engaged couple, the just-married couple (that was Alex and me), and the about-to-be-parents couple. It was fun to see not only how well we knew our partners, but also the things that we didn't know so well!

And what's not to love when someone reveals--much to our delight and his partner's dismay--that his partner once put makeup on him and made him wear her pantyhose?? HA!

Overall, I highly recommend The Newlywed Game if you're having a game night with other couples who have a great sense of humor and a thick skin!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Derm check-up: so far, so good!

I had my first post-operative dermatology check-up today, and I am SO relieved to say that for the first time in 3 months, everything looks great!

Here's how it's gone:
  • 1st visit: one mole removed = melanoma
  • 2nd visit: one mole removed = "abnormal"
  • 3rd visit: two moles removed = both normal
  • 4th visit: NO moles removed! yay!
When the doctor came in and asked how I've been doing, I started crying. Not a blubbering, ugly crying, but a I've-been-living-with-this-monkey- on-my-back-every-second-of-every-day-and-I'm-tired kind of crying--just a few tears that came to the eyes and a lump in the throat it was difficult to talk over. I didn't expect to have that kind of reaction, didn't expect how tense I've been about this. I guess that's because for a long time I didn't really have a good perspective on what happened to me. Half of me felt like it was a really big deal; the other half felt like I shouldn't be so dramatic about it--sure, it happened, move on. So while I was trying to talk myself over it, I guess I didn't notice it wasn't really working.

I was talking about this with a friend of mine at our TNT launch on Saturday (more on that to follow!!!). She's a social worker for an Austin oncology center. She said, "So, wow, you're a CANCER SURVIVOR!" That label makes me so uncomfortable--cancer survivors are heroes. They've battled and fought and suffered and kept their hope through brutal treatments and endless hours of waiting for news, good or bad. That's not me. I didn't do anything special. I got a spot checked out, got bad news, had it removed, and now it's done. When I told her this, she said, "Yeah, you didn't have to go through chemo or radiation or anything like that, but for the rest of your life you still have to live with and deal with the anxiety that it's going to come back."

That was a crystalizing moment for me--the two conflicting halves of my reaction to having melanoma fell into place. Sure, it wasn't a big deal in the "fighting for your life" sense of things, but not one minute has gone by since the nurse said I needed to "come in to discuss the results" that I haven't thought about it. My life totally changed. Every freckle on me now seems dangerous--and I have a lot of freckles! So I guess it's been a really big deal in that sense--the constant, lifelong anxiety-that-it's-going-to-come-back sense. And I guess that's understandable.

That anxiety was only fed because every time I went to the dermatologist's office, he took off more "suspicious spots." I was beginning to feel like a cancer-breeding machine!

Until now! He said that everything "looks great" and told me that I shouldn't be constantly worried or start hating the sun. Which is good, 'cause I don't like worrying, and I love the sun!

Leaving his office this morning, I felt like I could breathe easier. Literally. I felt like there was actual mental space cleared up for focusing on my job, for being more patient with my husband, for having the right attitude going into my next training/fundraising season. I felt more like my old self.

The monkey's not totally gone--I still have a used-car-sized hospital bill that I have to pay that is a constant reminder of what happened to me. And I still think about every single one of my poor, misshapen freckles being cancer in disguise. But the weight is 10% lighter--I finally had one appointment where everything looked great and no suspicious spots were removed. And that feels so good.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


It's hard to believe, but 4 months to the day from when we moved our first thing into the new house, we finished. The house is done! Our missing piece, a coffee table that took 10 weeks to arrive, came in on Friday. That's not to say that there's not more on our to-do list for the house; I've heard that list never goes away. We still want to upgrade our office bookshelves and get gutters and a water softener and something to hang our bikes on in the garage. But for practical, functioning, ok-having-people-over purposes, we're done!

We hope to have you all over as our guests soon and frequently. We love our house more than we thought possible, but we love it even more when it's filled with good friends and family and laughter.

Enjoy the pictures!

our front door with our cute little scarecrow man--I think I'm going to like this whole "decorating for the holidays" thing...

our office. Not the prettiest room in the place, but we love both having desks--we're at our computers a lot!

Our kitchen--I love how big it is! I've definitely become much more of a cook because of how much I enjoy being in this big, fancy kitchen! It's also great for parties.

kitchen table--54" x 54" that seats up to 8--and into the living room

the gorgeous paintings that Alex's dad did for us

the living room with the much-anticipated coffee table and the huge couch!

the guest room

the guest bathroom

in the guest bathroom--we made this ourselves using Microsoft Word!

master bedroom

our new bedroom furniture

around the tub in the master bath

at the other end of the tub--my baths are so relaxing!

Well, that's about all. There's another guest room that will eventually become a nursery, but all it has in it right now is a litter box and a total gym, so that's not really photo worthy. The backyard is what it is--nice and roomy and lots of grass. Hopefully we'll get some trees in it in the not-too-distant future, but right now we're just enjoying our new grill and having lots of room for horseshoes.

Consider yourselves all invited over. We hope to see you soon!


Friday, November 9, 2007

Becoming Martha Stewart

Right after we got married, I had my first Martha Stewart moment: I put a frame in the guest bathroom and would change the picture according to whatever guests we had staying with us at the time. My parents would get a picture from the wedding of me and them, or of our side of the family, Alex's parents would get a picture of them, etc.... Brilliant, right?

Then, when we moved into our new house, I had my second Martha moment: I decided on one color that I would incorporate all through the entire house! The throw pillows in the living room would match our bedspread, which would match a vase in the kitchen, etc.... I had never felt so coordinated before. It was like I was actually decorating with an end in mind! What a concept!

Well, I've officially had my third Martha moment: I made customizable cards to sell at a holiday fundraising arts and crafts fair. They were very easy and cheap to make, and the customizable part is I also got a set of alphabet stamps and a "Thank You" stamp so that people can make personalized stationary or Thank You cards. As a not-inherently-crafty person, I'm so proud of the way they turned out!

Family beware! This might be what the ladies get for Christmas this year!

Monday, November 5, 2007

not bad

While creating my 101 in 1001 list, I looked at a lot of other lists for inspiration and ideas. One of the things that was immediately apparent to me was that I had already done A LOT of the things that other people still wanted to do. This gave me the idea of making a list of all the neat things that I've done in my life so far. They could be silly things, like "ride a mechanical bull," romantic things, like "take a sunrise hot air balloon ride with someone you love," or amazing things, like "backpack across Europe" (all of which I've done). The thing they'd have in common is that they all might possibly have been on someone's list of goals, regardless of how big, small, silly, or important they might be.

I think that it's often way too easy to get hung up on the things that you haven't done or that you can't currently do--too easy to look at what others have and feel bad about your own life. But maybe by making a list of things that you do have and that you have accomplished, you can realize how great your own life really is. I haven't made my list yet, but I'm starting to mentally take note of the things that would be on it, like the above three examples.

Interestingly enough, this morning I came across this site. I've done 39 of the 100 things listed.

39 at 28 years old? Not bad.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Yesterday Alex and I both worked from home. We took an extended lunch and headed out to enjoy the gorgeous weather and explore the county park close to our new house.

I am so glad we checked it out! It is a truly massive park with tons of soccer and baseball fields, tennis courts, playscapes, pavillions, and a hike-and-bike trail through the woods.

When we moved to Pflugerville, two of the things that I knew we'd miss the most were our tennis courts at our apartment complex and the Veloway, a 5k trail open only to cyclists and roller bladers. We were so excited to find tennis courts and the hike and bike trail so close to our new home!! We explored the trail mostly--it was a lovely walk through the shade of the trees. Along the way we found a creek and a gorgeous shaded picnic area that was totally deserted!

the path--great for biking and running, but it didn't look so good for roller blading...

the creek--I think (hope!) that it will be much more lovely in the spring...

the picnic area--it's in the very back of the huge park, which is why I think nobody was there--maybe nobody realized it even existed! This will be a great place to come with parents and eventually kids to relax and grill.

The picnic area had a few obstacle-course type things scattered around...I was in flip flops, but Alex had fun trying them out.

I didn't think he was going to get so high!!

We had such a nice afternoon together--it really reminded me of the importance of slowing down every now and then and enjoying the sunshine in November, fresh air, and time together.