Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Skydiving in Hawaii

I just found this photo and the corresponding video from last year in Oahu.

Definitely one of the best, and scariest, things I've ever done! But it was a bluebird day, and I distracted myself from thinking about my impending death, by looking out at luscious Kauai, the pristine beaches of North Shore and all of the LOST-esque scenery. Some of the LOST props were stored at my airfield where I jumped, which was a mega bonus to see.

I'm going to try to figure out how to post this video, so far, not so good. But I highly recommend skydiving to anyone who is thinking of it and is scared like I was! My instructor had jumped over 7000 times and his wife was in labor; he was planning to go to the hospital later that day with her, so I knew he wasn't afraid we'd die:)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

King Ranch bust

Yesterday morning we attempted to make my two year long dream come true- going to the King Ranch Cowboy Breakfast. Alas, I didn't know HOW MANY PEOPLE HAD THE SAME DREAM AS ME!!!! This remarkable ranch is the size of the STATE of Rhode Island, and is only 45 minutes away from our house. Knowing that soon we will live in as opposite a culture to Texas as possible, I love exposing Claire to Western or Southern things and places and food. So we put on our boots and headed on down...

We got there at 9:30 (it is a once a year event that runs from 7-11 and Claire has a long mid-day nap); I thought that would be perfect timing. Little did I know that the 4 mile driveway into the ranch would be bumper to bumper, even that late into the event, and in one HOUR in the car, we'd only moved about 1/2 way into the ranch. The natives were getting restless in our car, and knowing that most of the food/activities would be over by the time we parked, I tucked my tail between my legs and turned my cowgirl boots around. We headed for a popular local diner instead, where we choked down everything Bob and Jillian would frown upon. I can't believe we will leave TX without me experiencing this! A lesson in dying to my expectations.

We had a great rest of the day and headed out to a beautiful beach house that our friends are renting in Port Aransas (I love hearing ocean waves from the deck!) I guess we'll have to pay to take a tour of King Ranch and go to their amazing Saddle Shop some day soon, when the rest of Texas isn't trying to go there also! Yeehaw.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My daughter the model...

Claire does not really enjoy getting her photos taken and doesn't stay still for a second, but our talented friend Beth captured her well in San Antonio this weekend, for some 18 month photos. If you live in the San Antonio area, I HIGHLY commend her to you! Click HERE to see the preview. Claire was in love with Beth's first born, Carter, who was helping, by entertaining Claire. A perfect little photog assistant! Thank you Beth, Claire will model for you any time!!

San Antonio Rock and Roll weekend

We had a fantastic weekend up in San Antonio. Thank you to the Anderson's, who opened their relaxing home up to us. Claire couldn't get enough of their backyard and play room... It made me long for the time where we can plant roots and have something like that. Some day, kiddo, some day.

We tried a couple new great restaurants, both of which had live music! La Focaccia on Saturday night, for Los to carb up. The Italian food was delicious. And Sunday night we went to The Cove, which is my idea of perfection: organic, yummy food, outdoor seating, a great bar, music and a kids playground. Something for everyone! Thank you to the Marqueses and Saxtons for suggesting such awesome places!

Claire had a great time playing with Carter and being a model for her mommy.

And Los did really well in the San Antonio half marathon. He got a 1:40 time, which is a good, consistent pace he needs for his upcoming Houston Marathon. He is going to break 4:00 this time (4th time's the charm!) And Claire and I liked all the live music. She was dancing a lot, and I tried to capture it a bit on my phone. Here they are after Los finished his race.

I got to go to the best outlets in the country, the San Marcos outlets, during nap time too; so I was a happy camper. I love the Williams-Sonoma and Crate and Barrel stores. Trying to get everything we want to have for our house before we make our big move! I know it's dorky, but I will really miss those outlets when we move:)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Veteran's Day: Being a military wife

I didn't grow up knowing anything about the military. My mom is a pacifist and the military just seemed so far away and foreign. I remember being on a bus in 5th or 6th grade, after school, when I heard the announcement that the Gulf War had started. I think I felt scared at the time, but quickly resumed my daily norms and forgot all about it. On September 11, 2001 it hit a lot closer to home. Shortly thereafter, we were in NYC for the marathon and I remember the smell of death in the air, smoky and putrid. It made me want to vomit. Seeing the aftermath of violence on our turf brought me to attention quickly. As much as I want to live in my oblivious, comfortable world where "everything is great!" I now had seen first hand the global reality of discord and unrest.

A few months later I met a guy who captivated me. But he was joining the military. I don't "do" or "speak" military. I moved to CA and he moved to FL, as far away as we could be from one another in this country... Yet my heart couldn't shake him off, so on Veteran's Day weekend 2002, he flew to Oakland from Pensacola to come see me. And after that my staunch, stubborn heart was ruined for good- whether I liked it or not, I loved a man in the military.

Over 18 months we only saw each other 3 times. But letters and emails and phone calls flowed like wine, entwining our hearts together. On Christmas Eve 2003, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I cried. He lived in Corpus Christi, TX for flight school, I lived in WA, having started grad school. Nothing about our proximity to one another would have suggested our relationship would last- but God knit us together from afar. On New Years Eve 2004, he asked my parents for my hand in marriage. My step-mom said, "it's about time!"

So I took Matt Damon (aka Will Hunting's) advice, and packed up my stuff into my little Acura, moving 3,000+ miles across the country to "go see about a boy." I didn't know a soul in Jacksonville or the state of Florida, other than my boyfriend, but God provided me a wonderful job and community. And I learned, as it turns out, when you live in the same city, relationships are harder! The other person finds out you're not perfect and vice versa. I used to always straighten my hair at the salon the day I'd be seeing Los. He was dismayed to find out I have curly hair:) But God continued to grow us closer to one another, and one day, in the middle of a labyrinth in a gorgeous cathedral in France- for the first time, I heard Carlos say, "I love you." Which was immediately followed by, "will you marry me?" I sobbed. Amazed. Grateful. I forgot to say yes until he asked again.

So I married a military man. I had no idea what I was signing up for. I had no idea how many times I would fear for his safety and life, praying to God fervently. I had no idea 5 years ago how my heart would despair when he would leave me on deployments. We spent our first two Christmases and anniversaries apart. I wept like a baby when he left me and tried to bury myself in grad school books to ignore my broken heart. I lived for hearing his voice from Japan or the middle East, carrying my phone everywhere with me. One time I answered in the middle of a dental exam, shedding tears in the chair- that was awkward. Getting a dog was the best decision we made early on in our marriage. We call Burly the "glue that holds our marriage together." After finishing our 'sea' tour and starting our 'shore' tour, life changed once again. After having a rhythm of together-apart for 3 years of marriage, being together all the time was hugely unfamiliar. And not exactly graceful. But it has become so wonderful and now I can't imagine life apart. I have no idea how I will explain to our little girl next summer, in Japan, that we are not going to be seeing daddy for months at a time. Daddy loves us, but daddy is serving our country.

Being a military wife is hard, certainly not for the faint of heart. I am fiercely proud and completely in love with a man who has given his life to something bigger than himself and our immediate comfort. I am grateful that God is our rock and nothing, not life nor death, heights nor depths, can separate us from His love. He who knit us together watches between us when we are apart. I never imagined that this would be my life. I never imagined how proud I would be to call a military veteran my husband. I still largely see myself as a pacifist, and long for the day when war will cease. I don't know what will happen in the rest of my lifetime, but I am grateful to be married to a man of fortitude, strength of character, who serves us daily and serves our nation. I can not adequately or succinctly express my admiration for my Veteran on this day. Suffice to say, being in the military is hard and comes with great sacrifice. Your family, comfort, community, mental health and even life can be be taken. We live in a country full of luxuries and people (myself included) are spoiled and self-centered, forgetful of the fact that others are sacrificing on their behalf. So please thank a veteran for their selflessness today.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Happy Holidays! (a little early)

I know it's just the first half of November, but we used for our Christmas cards this year, and just got our proof in an email. I really liked Minted and am in love with this little girl on the photo... Being her mom is so much fun and our lives are full of blessings. I don't know why November is the only month of the year we focus on thanksgiving, but I am giving thanks for this sweet season of life. 17 months old today and Claire couldn't be more fun. What are you thankful for?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cooler weather= happier Casey

Life is getting really sweet here these days. Maybe it's Claire's age? Maybe it takes knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel? Knowing that our timeline in Texas is winding down makes me appreciate life here more. And who are we kidding, the weather is finally cooling down some (okay, so the forecast for Tuesday is back up to 90, but I'm going to concentrate on the fact that TODAY it only got up to 72!) Unfortunately my mood directly correlates with the weather- and we just came through a gross, long season of humidity and mosquitoes. Feeling captive in your own home is no bueno. BUT, hope is on the horizon, we actually got to wear hoodies just a bit today! I love Texas in the winter, it is super pleasant to be outside- and we are outside kind of people. We are starting to go to the beach a lot more (without sweating!) and Burly has so much more energy (amazing what being able to breathe does for the guy- the summer just zaps his energy). It is fun to see Burly and Claire playing so much together these days. She's even holding his leash on his morning walks now, so sweet.

For Halloween, she is a UW Husky Basketball player:) Los and I are going as Tami and Eric Taylor of Friday Night Lights, Los' fave show. Which gave me the excuse to finally buy a pair of cowgirl boots! We've lived in Tejas 2 years now, wish I would've done this way before now.

Knowing that next year we will transition from a 'shore' tour to a 'sea' tour, and Los will have to leave us for months, we are SAVORING all the nights and days he has at home right now. Lots of great meals and conversations and intentional time together. I love my little family of four. I know it will grow and change over the years, but the slow and rich pace of life in Texas is definitely something I appreciate and will miss!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lite Brite made me cry

Here is the video that Claire and I are currently watching a lot. We like it for different reasons:) DCB is amazing, check it out!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

the G Dub

This is where Los will be working in the Western Pacific:) One of the most dangerous work environments in the world... I like to say he'll be "flinging" the jets off of the runway. He is up for it though, excited actually. It was his number one job pick for our next tour.

Some of our best friends live in Japan, and we are stoked to explore Tokyo, the mountains (over 600 ski resorts= heaven to me!) and other parts of Asia and Oceania.

Clearly we'll miss the comforts and community we have in the US, but it feels like a once in a lifetime opportunity, so we are going for it!


So apparently I am the world's worst blogger. But for the few of you who still read this, if you don't know our crazy news: we are moving to Japan! Summer of 2011- we will go tell the Land of the Rising Sun about the glory of the risen Son! Wild.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Claire Evans World Tour #1- great success

I will post a link to our photo album as I finish it, but the month of travel is now over and we are grateful to be home. I've now been to 26 countries, currently beating my husband by one, but that shouldn't last long:) And Claire has 5 countries of passport stamps to her name. I could not wish for a better baby, she was a champ, confidently walking on cobblestone and not afraid of new places or things. And she slept in 17 different beds!! What an easygoing kid. I am blessed. I think I might try to write an article for a magazine on traveling with kids. We shall see.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

TOP 14 Things NOT to say to a military Spouse!!

This is a forward, but I have heard most of these:

1. "Aren't you afraid that he'll be killed?"
(This one ranks in at number one on the "duh" list. Of course we're afraid. We're terrified. The thought always lingers at the backs of our minds ---but thanks brilliant, you just brought it back to the front. Maybe next you can go ask someone with cancer if they're scared of dying.)

2. "I don't know how you manage. I don't think I could do it."
(This is intended to be a compliment. Though, its just a little annoying. Here's why: it's not like all of us military wives have been dreaming since childhood of the day we'd get to be anxious single moms who carry cell phones with us to the bathroom and in the shower. We're not made of some mysterious matter that makes us more capable, we just got asked to take on a challenging job. So we rose to the challenge and found the strength to make sacrifices.)

3. "At least he's not in Iraq."
(This is the number one most annoying comment for those whose husbands are in Afghanistan. What do they think is happening in Afghanistan? An international game of golf? Guys are fighting and dying over there.)

4. "Do you think he'll get to come home for Christmas/anniversary/birthday/birth of a child/wedding/family reunion, etc?"
(Don't you watch the news? No! They don't get to come home for any of these things. Please don't ask again.)

5. "What are you going to do to keep yourself busy while he's gone?"
(Short answer: Try to keep my sanity. Maybe there's a military wife out there who gets bored when her husband leaves, but I have yet to meet her. For the rest of us, those with and without children, we find ourselves having to be two people. That keeps us plenty busy. We do get lonely, but we don't get bored, and drinking massive amounts of wine always helps keep me busy.)

6. "How much longer does he have until he can get out?"
(This one is annoying to many of us whether our husbands are deployed or not. Many of our husbands aren't counting down the days until they "can" get out. Many of them keep signing back up again and again because they actually love what they do or they VOLUNTEER AGAIN and AGAIN to go back to Iraq b/c there is work that needs to be done.)

7. "This deployment shouldn't be so bad, now that you're used to it."
(Sure, we do learn coping skills and its true the more deployments you've gone through, the easier dealing with it becomes. And we figure out ways to make life go smoother while the guys are gone. But it never gets "easy" and the bullets and bombs don't skip over our guys just because they've been there before. The worry never goes away.)

8. "My husband had to go to Europe for business once for three weeks. I totally know what you're going through."
(This one is similar to number two. Do not equate your husband's three week trip to London/Omaha/Tokyo/etc. with a 12-15 month or more deployment to a war zone. Aside from the obvious time difference, nobody shot at your husband or tried to blow him up with an I.E.D., your husband could call home pretty much any time he wanted to, he flew comfortably on a commercial plane, slept between crisp white sheets and ate well, paying for everything with an expense account. There is no comparison. We do not feel bonded to you in the slightest because of this comment and, if anything, we probably resent you a bit for it. Comparing a 12 month combat deployment to a few weeks business trip is like comparing a shitty ford taurus with mercedes convertible.)

9. "Wow you must miss him?"
(This one also gets antoher big "duh". Of course we miss our men. There are some wives who do not and they're now divorced.)

10. "Where is he exactly? Where is that?"
(I don't expect non-military folks to be able to find Anbar Province on a map, but they should know by now that it's in Iraq. Likewise, know that Kabul and Kandahar are in Afghanistan. Know that Muqtada al Sadr is the insurgent leader of the Mahdi Army in Iraq and that Sadr City is his home area. Our country has been at war in Afghanistan for seven years and at war in Iraq for five years. These basic facts are not secrets, they're on the news every night and in the papers every day ---and on maps everywhere.)

11. "Well, he signed up for it, so it's his own fault whatever happens over there.
(Yes, ignorant, he did sign up. Each and every day he protects your right to make stupid comments like that. He didn't sign up and ask to be hit by anything, he signed up to protect his country. Oh, and by the way, he asked me to tell you that "You're welcome." He's still fighting for your freedom.)

12. "Don't you miss sex! I couldn't do it!"
(hmmm, no i don't miss sex. i'm a robot. seriously...military spouses learn quickly that our relationships must be founded on something greater than sex. We learn to appreciate the important things, like simply hearing their voices, seeing their faces, being able to have dinner together every night. And the hard truth is, most relationships probably couldn't withstand 12 months of sex deprivation.)

13. "Well in my opinion....."
(Stop right there. Yo, I didn't ask for you your personal political opinions. Hey, I love a heated political debate, but not in the grocery store, not in Jamba Juice, not at Nordstrom, not in a bar when I'm out with my girls trying to forget the war, and CERTAINLY NOT AT WORK. We tell co-workers about deployments so when we have to spend lunch hours running our asses off doing errands and taking care of the house, dog, and kids, they have an understanding. We do not tell co-workers and colleagues because we are giving an invitation to ramble about politics or because we so eagerly want to hear how much they hate the President, esp. while we're trying to heat up our lean cuisines in the crappy office microwaves.)

last but not least....

14. "OH, that's horrible...I'm so sorry!"
(He's doing his job and he's a badass. Don't be sorry. Be appreciative and please take a moment out of your comfortable American lives to realize that our soldiers fight the wars abroad so those wars stay abroad.)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Claire Evans World Tour: our one year old has traveled to 12 states, now she'll travel to 12 countries too. Woah.

Eastern Europe Trip Planning!!

Still trying to figure out how to have a perfect map with 'pins' online to show our itinerary... But as the trip nears (only 3 weeks away now) I am trying to book our last few places, to get a handle on this massive trip... I think our itinerary is as follows:

1. Munich, Germany- renting a car to put some serious mileage on it!
2. Innsbruck, Austria- one of my favorite places on earth, seeing my brother for 3 days!
3. Salzburg, Austria
4. Bled, Slovenia- looks so beautiful!
5. Ljubljana, Slovenia
6. Trieste, Italy (and Slovenian coast)
7. Rijeka, Croatia
8. Zagreb, Croatia
9. Heviz, Hungary (or somewhere on Lake Balaton!)
10. Budapest, Hungary then through Slovakia en route to
11. Krakow, Poland
12. Auschwitz, Poland
13. Brno, Czech Republic
14. Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
15. Schwaz, Austria- watching my brother play baseball again, then he can complete our figure 8 trip with us our last 5 days
16. Vaduz, Liechtenstein
17. NE Switzerland
18. Stuttgart, Germany
19. Frankfurt, Germany
20. A couple Reformation sites en route to
21. Berlin, Germany
22.lastly driving back down to Munich to fly back to San Francisco... via

Whew, I need a nap just thinking about this itinerary!!! But it is going to be a grand adventure. Three generations together and visiting my brother. Can't wait!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Claire's First Birthday

Our talented new friend Kara took photos of Claire's special day, from waking up, partying her heart out, to nap time. Enjoy them!

You can copy and paste this to see them:)
Or press HERE

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Happy First Birthday to our happy baby!

One year ago right now, I was getting a blessed epidural, after being in labor for 26 hours. I was so exhausted from writhing in pain all night, and I just wanted to rest and regain some strength. After the drugs set in, I could finally relax for a couple of hours, to the point of snoring (I never snore, well, maybe I should say RARELY). When it finally came time to push, Claire only made me wait 45 minutes to meet her. Thank God. 30 hours of labor is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. One year later, remembering that pain, I am reveling in the fact that last night I listened to jazz and read a philosophy book at a coffee shop, and this morning I cuddled with my dog in bed. WHAT A DIFFERENCE a year makes. It has been fun to reflect.

When I came home last night, Los had already put Claire to bed. Half an hour later, I snuck into her room to gaze at her, there is nothing so perfect in the world to me as a sweet sleeping baby. Her leg was propped up on her bumper and her thumb was in her mouth, so I got closer; but as my eyes adjusted to the dark, I realized her eyes were still open. As she focused on me, she quietly stood up in her crib and I scooped her into my arms for some cuddle time on the glider chair. So warm and soft in my arms, she snuggled in as I pet her golden curls and marveled at her. One year.

So much happened in one year. When I met her, I didn't have the immediate reaction of undying love and affection. I was so tired, I didn't even have energy to hold or nurse her. I had been put through so much pain, and I was unsure about her. I am not a 'baby' person, and I don't like the crying and fragility of newborns. I also felt more allegiance to my dog than to this new person who was so dependent on me. Was I an awful person? In those early weeks, the post-partum hormones majorly messed with my head, I was miserable and felt crazy.

But somehow, by the grace of God, we made it through that season. At 7 weeks, Claire started sleeping through the night, which made us all feel like new people. More than anything else, I am grateful that my baby learned to sleep 16 hours a day! Claire transformed (literally gaining a pound a week, she doubled her weight at 2 months and tripled it by 6 months- I was not prepared for that). And my heart transformed as a mom. I grew in compassion and softness toward her. I grew in wonder of her, this perfect little person. Watching her personality emerge and watching her strength and talents develop. At 3 months, when we started traveling with her, I felt like myself again; and that she was a welcome member of our family and home. I shared in celebrating her milestones as victories. I laughed as she learned to eat foods and experience the whole new world of taste. I smile watching her thumb through board books, babbling away as though she's reading them aloud. And when she began to walk at 9 months, I have never been more proud.

It has been one year, living with this little lady, and I look forward greatly to the next 17 until she leaves for college. She is kind and curious, she is independent and happy to play on her own. She brings joy to all who meet her, at the pool, grocery store or wherever. She loves to be outside, and will stay in the stroller happily for hours, to hear the birds and feel the wind on her face. She is strong, yet sensitive and gentle when around her doggy. She is a perfect mix between reserved and outgoing with others. I can't wait to watch her grow up and to celebrate more life with her. I love exposing her to new things and places, and watching the world through her eyes. I couldn't have imagined life getting better than it was before, being married to my best friend and owning the world's best dog. But it has. Claire has enhanced our lives and taught us so much. I feel lucky to be her mom and to know her. Life just gets better all the time. Grateful.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Texas State Aquarium

We had a lot of fun at the aquarium for the first time. We looked at alligators, birds, sea otters and many other animals. Claire tried to jump into the dolphin tank a time or two, but other than that she was safe. The fish and rescued sea turtles were a little more interesting to mommy though, baby was just as content to play with and eat mommy's flip flops. Maybe next time she'll be a little more into it. I think we'll buy a year pass, such a great deal!
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

On Becoming a Mom and Life BCE (Before Claire Evans)

In honor of my first Mother's Day, I am sitting down to make myself be reflective. I used to be very introspective before becoming a mom, but now my abilities have waned, my memory and attention span are embarrassingly small. Claire turns 11 months today and the time has flown by, so it’s a challenge to pause and consider what this day means.

I almost can’t remember life before she was here. I know it was wonderful and spontaneous and more clean… but I wouldn’t trade her for anything. Though the past 11 months have been exhausting at times, largely, they have been a dream. I feel so blessed that she is our kid. She is smart and confident and fun to be around. She sleeps a ton, eats everything we give her and has never been sick! She has completed 28 flights and has traveled with us to 5 time zones and 12 states. Crawling at 7 months and walking at 9 months. Good job, baby. Watching her try new things (swimming, pony rides, testing out her strength and voice, playing with toys and Burly and alongside other kids) has been such a joy. I love watching the world through her eyes, so much wonder and discovery. No wonder Jesus said we were to be childlike.

Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am to be her mom, I am in awe of her. And while I’m so proud of every new developmental milestone, a little piece of me is nostalgic. Everything is happening so fast. Only 7lbs, 5oz. and 20 inches at birth, she’s since been off the growth charts over 100% She’s been wearing 18 month clothes and some 2 year old clothes already. Where did my little baby go? And when she moved down the hall from us (at 10 weeks) I missed her. I felt like the next thing I know, we’ll be moving her into her sorority or dorm. Time is flying. So I am trying to soak it all in and be grateful.
Some days when we mess up nap time due to being out, or if we’re home all day long, I can get fatigued or go a little crazy, and wish for circumstances to be different. Some times I wish I was working at least part-time to exercise my gifts and talents more fully, and I feel sorry for myself that I’m staying at home. But truthfully, I know this season is short, and so sweet; and we’re blessed to be able to afford for me to stay home. So I don’t want to take it for granted.

Before I was a mom, I wasn’t a big fan of babies in general. I didn’t really ever wish to have one. I loved life just the way it was, and wanted to continue being selfish with my time. I thought a baby would just cramp my style. But now I can’t get enough of this curly blonde little lady who flashes her six-toothed smile at me all day long and melts my heart. I love who she is and I love who she has made me become, more graceful, more present, way less swayed by others’ opinions. Just as I watch sweet Claire learn and grow, I know I will continue to do the same throughout this journey we are on together. Grateful to be her mom this Mothers Day.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

First Pony Ride!

I realize I am months behind on actual stories about our lives... but when you have a 10 month old, some times a quick photo or video is the easiest way to put up a post! Claire has continued to grow leaps and bounds. She's been walking for a month and is doing it by herself without prompting, which is so cute/wobbly. She still has 6 teeth and is giving me more bruises these days from "love bites."
Her newest 'milestone' was her first pony ride. Our church had a Western Night (chili tasting, s'mores making, etc.) this Sunday. At first I just wanted to get a photo of her on the horse, since she has been around them (at my mom's old stables in NY) and been pulled by one (in MN). But she was petting it's mane and really happy, even started giggling; so we decided to let her go for her first ride. Growing up around horses myself, I couldn't have been more thrilled:) Enjoy!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pug Recycling for Earth Day

The greenest thing Burly does is eat Greenies... He could learn from this guy. So could we:)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Corpus Christi, TX- Fattest City In America

Corpus Christi, TX | | - Corpus Christi Fattest City In America
So sad but not surprised in the least to read this news... Having lived all around the country, I've never seen so many obese people, or so few people exercising outside. Last week, I went to Sam's Club (going there gives me the heeby jeebies, but they have some stuff we use), and it was alarming how many people were obese there. A conservative estimate would be 50% of the shoppers. I was reaching for the CrunchMaster Gluten Free crackers in an aisle, and a huge lady next to me was contemplating buying the Fruit Gushers (nasty candy) next to them. Her 3 huge children were begging her to do so. A quick peek at what was filling their cart and I had to bite my tongue from launching into a speech about how she is setting them up for failure. Why can't it be mandatory that all parents watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution?
If only Jamie Oliver could come here!

Friends joke about all gaining the "Texas 10" lbs upon moving here, but it's true. It's so hard to find good restaurants to eat at, or places to shop, and there are an abysmally small amount of places you can walk/exercise, yet a disproportionately huge amount of fast food restaurants... Do the math, and you end up hearing about the five year old boy, who died of a heart attack. A friend who works at the children's hospital here said that the amount of Diabetic patients here is so overwhelming, that pre-diabetic kids are sent away, for lack of staff. And she said that 1/30th of the kids she educates will actually make lifestyle changes. So sad. Another Dietician here I know was super excited because getting "Diabetes Educator" certified meant a lot more money, b/c there's such a demand here... The amount of poverty here is astounding, and due to lack of education/money, some moms resort to feeding their newborns soda in bottles. SODA! That breaks my heart, those babies stand no chance of normal insulin levels from the get go. Sigh. Knowing that we'll leave this environment is a consolation for us, but it makes me sad we can't do more to help change S. TX. Texans are very proud people, and love the saying that "everything's bigger in TX," but this is one area that no one can feel proud about.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm sorry I'm a Christian -by Chris Tse

To be warned, there's a couple F-bombs in this slam, but it also has some good challenges for today's church. I heart poetry slams.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mark Driscoll on Pastoring your Family

Here are some words he wrote a few years ago, some interesting ideas for Christian families.

Many people ask me, "What do 'family devotions' look like at your house?" or, "How do you pastor your family?" or even more simply, "Do you pray or read the Bible with your wife and children?" Here is one attempt to answer those questions.

1. Routine
Our family works best with a routine. My wife and I, and our children, have a reasonably regular weekly schedule. Our "family devotions" fit into the larger rhythm and routines of our household (e.g. dinner, bedtime, etc.). Additionally, it is important to note that there are explicit and implicit aspects to our daily spiritual devotion. The bulk of the explicit aspects happen at night between when I get home from work and when I go to bed.

2. Intentional Evenings
I get home from work between 5:30PM and 5:45PM each night. But I have to prepare myself before 5:30PM so that I can hit the ground running when I walk in the door. Though I am invariably tired from my day's work, I have to remind myself that the most important part of my vocation happens after 5:30PM, not before. I am tempted to mentally "clock out" on my drive home, which would be easy. Yet I have to consciously prepare myself to give more energy, more attention, and more dedicated focus as soon as I walk through the door and am greeted by my 5 year old son, 3 year old daughter, newborn son, and wife than I have all day. This takes prayer, practice, and intentionality. It's easy to fail.

Husbands/dads, don't clock-out on your way home; be ready to be present and engaged; don't let your kids or wife expect to hear your formulaic: "I'm tired;" turn your phone off (I recently read something like this: "If you touched your wife as much as you touch your iPhone your marriage would be in a much better spot."); cancel your cable TV; repent of your addiction to new projects, hobbies, and distractions.

Wives, be gracious; be forgiving; learn and grow with your husband; make your home inviting and pleasing; manage the stress level (for you and the kids) before dad gets home (i.e. don't let the water boil all day so that it's boiling over the top right when dad's car pulls up).

3. Time To Play
We eat dinner at 6:00PM. So I walk in the door and devote myself to the kids for 20-30 minutes. Rarely do I take 5 steps into the house before having a 5 year old around my left leg and a 3 year old around my right leg (and now, often, a baby in my arms). Dads, your kids are ready to see you. Ready to punch you. Ready to kiss you. Ready to play. Ready to build. Ready to read. And of course your wife needs this from you too if she's making dinner or just needing a break after her long day. Husbands, remind yourself daily that your wife is likely more exhausted than you are by 5:30PM. Serve her well. This is also a good time to teach the kids about setting the table, helping to pick up the living room, honoring mom, serving a younger sibling, etc. But mainly this is a good time to play.

4. Mealtime
We always eat dinner together around the dinner table. My wife is hospitable, creative, thoughtful, carefree, and eager to worship through a shared meal. Our table is often decorated with candles, and sometimes flowers. We drink wine. We celebrate. We laugh. We joke. We make silly faces. We eat great food. We often, almost without fail, enjoy a dessert. We hold hands to pray. We take our time. Our children are watching and learning and savoring all of this.

5. Cleanup
After dinner we usually clean up (sometimes we wait until the kids are asleep). The children help with dishes, help put things away, help clean up. It doesn't take long and the payoff in relaxation and focus is often worth the price of clearing the table and loading the dishwasher. Yet regardless of whether we clean up now or later, our attention is devoted to the children from 5:30PM to 7:30PM. After dinner, we play. We read. We build towers. We go on adventures. We explore. We tickle.

6. Bible Time
At 7:15PM we all start winding down and I tell the kids: "15 more minutes of ____, and then it's 7:30PM." My kids know exactly what I mean. At 7:30PM it's Bible time. We all gather in the living room (if we're not there already); we get the Bible; and the kids pile on my lap. For the longest time we read the ESV Illustrated Family Bible. This Bible uses the actual ESV text but the stories are selective and the images are great and colorful.

Recently, we began using The Early Readers Bible only because Jonas received it as a Christmas gift. This is a great Bible too, but it's not the actual ESV text, which I prefer. It's a Bible written for young readers. Our 5 year old can blast through this easily, and sometimes I'll let him read during our devotional time, though rarely. At this stage I think it's important for me to lead this time and shepherd them as I read aloud. The great thing about The Early Readers Bible is the questions after each section. Very helpful.

Dads, it's important for you to call the family together. Don't force mom to keep looking at her watch, to always be waiting for you, to nag you to get started. Call the family together. Get the Bible. Know where/what you're reading. Lead your family. Wives, this may be new or unfamiliar for many dads. Go easy on him. Encourage him. Honor his leadership. Don't undermine. Don't criticize. Model respect and love for your children to see. And remember, the kids are watching.

7. Questions & Answers
After we read a section of Scripture I ask questions. I ask questions about the story, about the characters, about the doctrines or themes within the story, about applying the text to the real life of 5- and 3-year-olds. In addition to asking questions about the text itself, our children also memorize the Small Children's Catechism by Chris Schlect. I cannot overstate the importance of catechism in the home. Someone has said, "Preaching without catechism is like building a house without pouring a foundation." So true. Other helpful resources are The Big Book of Questions and Answers (Sinclair Ferguson), My 1st Book of Questions and Answers (Carine Mackenzie), and Big Truths for Young Hearts (Bruce Ware).

8. Family Prayer
Then we all pray. We take prayer requests (this is important because the kids need to see dad asking mom how he can pray for her). And each of us pray. Sometimes I ask the kids to pray for certain things. Sometimes I ask the older to pray for the younger. Sometimes they want to say the Lord's Prayer (which means you need to help them memorize it when they're two or three). Sometime it's random.

Moms and dads, you need to guard this time so that the children don't grow to despise it. This needs to be an encouraging, graceful, loving, fun, sometimes silly, patient, and fruitful time. Be honest with one another. Teach your kids how to care, how to be sensitive to others' needs, how to articulate what they're feeling. Make disciples.

9. Bedtime
Now it's bedtime. Love those kids. Hug and kiss and tickle and snuggle like crazy.

10. Explicit vs. Implicit
Most of the above routine is explicit training and devotion. Yet each of those elements fit into the larger mosaic of what it means to be a part of our family. These explicit elements would only go so far (but not far enough) if not paired with the implicit aspects of the daily spiritual development that are more subtle and mundane.

The implicit aspects are the constant opportunities to listen to your kids, to talk to them, to tell them about Jesus, to tell them about something you read in Scripture, something you've wondered about God, to connect the dots between dinner and worship, to live a life of celebration and sacrifice.

The legitimacy of your "devotion time" is only as solid as the legitimacy of your devotional life. In other words, I reap the rich spiritual benefits at 7:30PM each night because I tilled the soil that morning, during the day, at dinner, and so on. Quality time doesn't replace quantity. In fact, you can only enjoy the quality because you've invested in the quantity. The implicit is the foundation that sustains the rest, only most people don't see the foundation so it's easy to ignore.

Please know, I fail often. I need much grace. God has given me a forgiving wife and patient kids. Husbands/dads, this is the most important work you'll ever do, and it will have more impact than anything you could imagine. Wives/moms, encourage your man to lead; create conditions in which he can succeed. Couples, be patient and forgiving. Don't be short-sighted. Love well. And savor your time together.

May God help us pastor our families well.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Two funniest complaint letters ever

Maybe I'm the last to read of these letters, but as a frequent traveler I thought this letter to Continental and letter to Richard Bransonof Virgin Air were hilarious.
Rob Bell read them in a recent sermon on Lamentations as modern-day laments. Oh man they make me laugh.

Friday, April 2, 2010

And just like that... we have a walker...

MN was a really special trip for many reasons. While there, Claire started standing alone, and I was going to put up a photo of that. But she beat me to the punch and started WALKING today. I was NOT prepared for this so early, but she started pulling up the day after learning to crawl at 7 months, so I knew her timeline was quite different than what I'd hoped it would be:) Here she is taking some of her first steps. She'd been wearing a dress that is a little too long, and kept tripping on it, we normally don't let our kid hang out nakey.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Miracle Baby

Miracle baby Addy, she is half the age of Claire, but about a quarter of the size.

My March For Babies page
In April, I am joining some friends for a March for Babies that fundraises for March of Dimes. I never knew what that organization did until our friends' baby came 15 weeks early. Baby Addy was born at only 13 ounces, and is truly a miracle. She is the smallest baby to ever be delivered and thrive at Bay Area Hospital, the same place Claire was born. She is remarkable. To hear her story, and if you'd like to donate to support care for babies born prematurely in the future, please visit my page.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Food, Inc., truly the omnivore's dilemma

Last night I had the crazy idea to watch Food, Inc. before going to bed. Disturbing movie. Yet important. And it left me convicted that as a Christian called to stewardship (of what we have, but also our choices to consume), we have a lot of room for improvement in the food arena. We are more disconnected with what we eat than I would like, so as a small step of change, I am looking into local sustainable farms from whom we can get meat and eggs. The movie was horrifying/repulsive, when showing what factory farms look like, and I don't want our money going toward the "cheapest deal" at that expense. I am as guilty as the next person of not buying the more ethical choice... So I've been doing some reading/calling today to see how we might change. I found this article on Eat If you don't have the stomach to watch animal cruelty (even though you're supporting it with your dollars), perhaps this article will be as convicting/inspiring for you as it was for me about the benefits of buying differently.

Grass-Fed Basics
by Jo Robinson

Back to Pasture. Since the late 1990s, a growing number of ranchers have stopped sending their
animals to the feedlots to be fattened on grain, soy and other supplements. Instead, they are
keeping their animals home on the range where they forage on pasture, their native diet. These
new-age ranchers do not treat their livestock with hormones or feed them growth-promoting
additives. As a result, the animals grow at a natural pace. For these reasons and more, grass-fed
animals live low-stress lives and are so healthy there is no reason to treat them with antibiotics or
other drugs.

More Nutritious. A major benefit of raising animals on pasture is that their products are healthier
for you. For example, compared with feedlot meat, meat from grass-fed beef, bison, lamb and
goats has less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. It also has more vitamin E, beta-
carotene, vitamin C, and a number of health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and
“conjugated linoleic acid,” or CLA.

The Art and Science of Grassfarming. Raising animals on pasture requires more knowledge and
skill than sending them to a feedlot. For example, in order for grass-fed beef to be succulent and
tender, the cattle need to forage on high-quality grasses and legumes, especially in the months
prior to slaughter. Providing this nutritious and natural diet requires healthy soil and careful pasture
management so that the plants are maintained at an optimal stage of growth. Because high-quality
pasture is the key to high-quality animal products, many pasture-based ranchers refer to
themselves as "grassfarmers" rather than “ranchers.” They raise great grass; the animals do all the

Factory Farming. Raising animals on pasture is dramatically different from the status quo.
Virtually all the meat, eggs, and dairy products that you find in the supermarket come from animals
raised in confinement in large facilities called CAFOs or “Confined Animal Feeding Operations.”
These highly mechanized operations provide a year-round supply of food at a reasonable price.
Although the food is cheap and convenient, there is growing recognition that factory farming
creates a host of problems, including:
• Animal stress and abuse
• Air, land, and water pollution
• The unnecessary use of hormones, antibiotics, and other drugs
• Low-paid, stressful farm work
• The loss of small family farms
• Food with less nutritional value.

Unnatural Diets. Animals raised in factory farms are given diets designed to boost their
productivity and lower costs. The main ingredients are genetically modified grain and soy that are
kept at artificially low prices by government subsidies. To further cut costs, the feed may also
contain “by-product feedstuff” such as municipal garbage, stale pastry, chicken feathers, and
candy. Until 1997, U.S. cattle were also being fed meat that had been trimmed from other cattle, in
effect turning herbivores into carnivores. This unnatural practice is believed to be the underlying
cause of BSE or “mad cow disease.”

Animal Stress. A high-grain diet can cause physical problems for ruminants—cud-chewing
animals such as cattle, dairy cows, goats, bison, and sheep. Ruminants are designed to eat fibrous
grasses, plants, and shrubs—not starchy, low-fiber grain. When they are switched from pasture to
grain, they can become afflicted with a number of disorders, including a common but painful
condition called “subacute acidosis.” Cattle with subacute acidosis kick at their bellies, go off their
feed, and eat dirt. To prevent more serious and sometimes fatal reactions, the animals are given
chemical additives along with a constant, low-level dose of antibiotics. Some of these antibiotics
are the same ones used in human medicine. When medications are overused in the feedlots,
bacteria become resistant to them. When people become infected with these new, disease-
resistant bacteria, there are fewer medications available to treat them.

Caged Pigs, Chickens, Ducks and Geese. Most of the nation’s chickens, turkeys, and pigs are
also being raised in confinement. Typically, they suffer an even worse fate than the grazing
animals. Tightly packed into cages, sheds, or pens, they cannot practice their normal behaviors,
such as rooting, grazing, and roosting. Laying hens are crowded into cages that are so small that
there is not enough room for all of the birds to sit down at one time. An added insult is that they
cannot escape the stench of their own manure. Meat and eggs from these animals are lower in a
number of key vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

Environmental Degradation. When animals are raised in feedlots or cages, they deposit large
amounts of manure in a small amount of space. The manure must be collected and transported
away from the area, an expensive proposition. To cut costs, it is dumped as close to the feedlot as
possible. As a result, the surrounding soil is overloaded with nutrients, which can cause ground
and water pollution. When animals are raised outdoors on pasture, their manure is spread over a
wide area of land, making it a welcome source of organic fertilizer, not a “waste management

The Healthiest Choice. When you choose to eat meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals
raised on pasture, you are improving the welfare of the animals, helping to put an end to
environmental degradation, helping small-scale ranchers and farmers make a living from the
land, helping to sustain rural communities, and giving your family the healthiest possible food. It’s a
win-win-win-win situation.
© 2007 by Jo Robinson

To learn more details about the benefits of choosing products from pastured animals, read Pasture
Perfect by Jo Robinson or explore her website,

Friday, March 5, 2010

My brother is so lucky!

Look where he gets to live, coach and play baseball this spring! Straight from scuba-diving and playing baseball in paradise, I mean Australia, to this scene out of my dreams.

A river, Austrian Alps and a quaint town besides... trying to scheme a way that we could go visit him, I love Austria. He is so lucky.

Thoughts on Being Clean

I thought this was a good one-
March 5, 2010
Isaiah 1:16-20

Our lives are bombarded with images and admonitions for cleanliness. Choose the laundry detergent that "gets the dirt out," use the new "scrubbing bubbles." Floor cleaners, air fresheners, hand sanitizers. But these pleas are not new. Remember, "clean your room," "wash your mouth out with soap, "you can be poor but you can be clean," "cleanliness is next to godliness." Some Christian religious traditions are replete with images of "washed in the blood," "cleansed from sin" We all know of the great flood, baptism. There are images of fire cleansing impurities, of water washing away evil. New beginnings. The mechanism may vary, but the image remains.

There is a danger in taking these sayings to mean we must cleanse ourselves, to become worthy. We believe that evil, injustice, bad thoughts, expressions, dirt, germs - all that might hurt us, can be removed with the "cleansing" agent of choice. Isaiah directs the people to cleanse themselves, remove evil, and become white as snow. Learn good, seek justice, correct oppression, defend orphans, and plead for those who have no one else. But we have already received the one great gift. So are our poor efforts at cleanliness necessary to ensure our acceptance by God, or are they gifted to us by grace through faith, to become instead a reflection of our faith? In truth, there is but one agent that can cleanse us adequately - His work has already been done. Our task is to accept with gratitude, to believe, and then to go forth rejoicing. In preparation for Easter, let us remember.

Baptized in water, sealed by the Spirit
Cleansed by the blood of Christ, our King
Heirs of salvation, trusting the promise,
Faithfully now God's praises we sing.

Roberta Dohse

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Not that my grades could've made it into Yale...

but this was hilarious, and so true of the friend I had there... Plus who doesn't love a 'lil High School Musical?? It's just for fun!

I think alums and others who were critical need to relax!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why I’m Giving Up Facebook For Lent,… (but not all the way)

Clearly, people can do whatever they want. By no means am I imposing MY conviction on anyone else. The heart of sacrificing something at Lent can be manifested in many different ways. It’s not a legalistic thing. But we all reach for things every day, and the idea is that by sacrificing one of those said things, we can recall Christ’s greater self-sacrifice on the cross. That's how it is with all fasting. You don't just fast from something to starve yourself, but fasting and feasting go together; you give something up so you can enjoy and dwell on something (someone) different.

And somehow, over the past few years, I have been reaching for Facebook with an ever-increasing frequency. Since it is on my iPhone, I look at it in bed even, right before sleep, and sometimes when I wake up. Over the years, I have even started thinking about my life in terms of status updates. Casey… “bought eggplant today, what do I do with it?” “hates the vampireous mosquitoes that are outside in February…” “looks forward to teething being over.” Over the top. No one needs to know or even cares about the minutia in my life. But updating statuses and checking others’ became a compulsive habit for me.

SO… when I saw that a handful of friends were giving up FB for Lent, I had a sneaking suspicion that maybe I should too. Facebook should be a tool for connecting with people, but it had become something that I probably spent an hour or more on a day (over way too many site visits). If I were to tell you what the priorities in my life were, you might believe me. But when we look at how a person spends their time, their priorities are telling. So this Lent, I am getting my priorities straight.

I decided not to give it up entirely, because that's another adventure in missing the point. I still want to be reachable, the site’s original intention. But I deleted it from my iPhone, which is how I usually looked at it. Who needs to be looking online at a traffic light, or at a friend’s house? That is how addicted I was, embarrassingly enough. I also decided not to go on it after 5 pm. I want to be more intentional with my husband, our baby and our friends, real, live people that life is lived alongside, rather than paying so much attention to a screen. I know that many people we love live far away, and that’s something that can’t be replaced; but sometimes I feel like I was spending more time with a screen than actual humans. So I need a change. Looking at a screen doesn’t fill loneliness or stimulate you in a healthy way. (I’ll try to avoid the rabbit hole of the porn industry here)

I’m not making rules about what this will look like for me, other than taking a Sabbath from it on Sundays. I just know that it needs to look different than it was. Maybe I will go on once a day, during a nap. I love seeing photos of friends’ kids, and don’t want to miss important things that are happening. But I won’t be checking and writing compulsively, like before. Maybe I’ll write a status update once a week, or maybe not until Easter. But I do know that instead of being on FB, I’ll be living life abundantly, instead of just trying to make it sound as though I am.


I am writing a couple of devotionals for our church this Lenten season, and I'll post them on here, enjoy.

Philippians 3:8,12 and 16 “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus… I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”

Lent begins today, Ash Wednesday. Because I didn’t grow up in any kind of religious environment, Lent meant nothing to me until college. And even then, at first it only meant “giving something I liked up.” Some sort of weird, temporary self-denial for 40 week days before Easter. But I’m a greedy American, so that was hard. I started out with easy things, stuff I wouldn’t REALLY miss. Sweets one year, soda or caffeine one year. Pizza one year. The next year was music in my car. I LOVE music. That was the year I learned about Lent.

I learned that it wasn’t about following rules for rules’ sake. I learned that I actually experienced more clarity, by taking away something and replacing that thing with sorting through the clutter in my mind, listening, praying and life-giving activity. I learned that in giving something up, what I received was much greater. I received freedom. God doesn’t want our sacrifices (read 1 Samuel 15), he wants our hearts, he wants our attention. It doesn’t matter what we do or don’t do, but God wants us to be free. Free from addiction, so we can be free for receiving His good gifts.

Jesus, may you mean more to us than anything else. Help us release our grip on whatever we are clinging to tightly. Let us live into the freedom you give us. Amen.

He wants our hearts, he misses us. May we experience God’s freedom and peace this Lenten season.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My First Half-Marathon: the Austin Marathon

-Lessons from Ground Zero to 13.1 in 8 months-

8 months ago, after giving birth, I could hardly walk to the end of our street. I never imagined I would be able to say the words, “I have finished a Half Marathon.” But Sunday, as of 10:30am, I can now say I am among a small, CRAZY percentage of humanity who has accomplished this goal (some of us slower than others.)
I am partially still in shock, partially so proud, and mostly just SORE and popping ibuprofen like it’s my job. For those of you who are wondering, here is how the race went for me:

My sleep the night before was scarce, and my thoughts were all over the place. I even remember thinking, “what if all my clothes disintegrate?” Can we say irrational? Woke up at 5:45, ate a bit, peed a TON, dressed and stretched. Lesson #1: dressing weather-appropriate is HUGE. #2: Proper hydration is a tricky balance; you don’t want to have to wait in a 50 person line for the port-o-potty at mile 4, like I saw people doing. And #3: WHY in the WORLD don’t I stretch more?! Stretching helps everything.

At 6:45 I went out into the chaos, of 14,000 runners/walkers, who were milling around, some of whom were quite entertaining and/or anxious. Marathons are a great place for people-watching. Lesson #4: picking a hotel close to the start is another huge deal. Parking should NOT be your main concern on the morn of your race. And #5: pick a race that has good weather. The cooler, the better for your body, as your internal temp and the outside temp will rise.

At 7:00 sharp, the crowd began moving. It took me 8 minutes to cross the start line, but I was soon rewarded with the gorgeous dawn view on the Congress St. bridge and the first of many live bands along the course. Lesson #6: choose a course that interests you, a beautiful place, entertainment, etc. This will help you get through the miles.

The first 5K was a steady uphill, that surprised me, since I always train on flat terrain. Lesson #7: don’t do what I did. The only good news about the uphill was that I could look behind me for miles and realize my fear of coming in dead last was unfounded. I was surprised how many people were behind me! We were the rewarded, with the second 5K being a long, gradual downhill. Things got better for me after that. In all the splits they gave me online, my place got better and better as the race went on. Lest I sound cocky, over seven THOUSAND people finished before me. But I feel proud that I gained on a couple hundred.

I took a GU at miles 4, 7 and 10; these were helpful. I mostly walked, but would jog or sprint a minute with Los just to change it up for our muscles here and there. All in all, I probably ran less than 1.5 miles, but it felt good to engage different muscles and get a change of pace. In my training, I didn’t really run at all, so I wanted to be conservative with running, so as not to overexert myself.

We had hills at miles 8, 10 and 12, the last of which sucked my will to live. Lesson #8: I have a lot to learn about using my arms to propel me. Once we crested the final hill, at mile 12.5, I got really emotional. It finally set in that a goal I’ve had in mind for 30 years, (which seemed about as attainable as me going to the moon) was going to come to fruition. I blinked back tears as I told myself I needed to conserve that energy for a little while longer.

We rounded the corner, on to the campus of the Texas State Capitol, a gorgeous, massive, red granite building. By then Los started crying too, out of pride for me. He split off (he did the race last minute as a bandit, to keep me company) and I ran the last bit through the chute to the sound of tons of applause. Since I didn’t have a watch, I was quite surprised to see that I had beat my estimated time by over 20 minutes!! I was elated. I still had tons of energy left in my tank, and didn’t feel too sore in any of my muscles. I was even able to run later, playing with Burly after the race.

I know that I have a LOT of room for improvement, and could probably shave more than an hour off my time if I ran more. But for never having done this distance before (except for hiking), and for walking the vast majority of it, a 3:27 was a fine time to start off with- a 15 minute pace. I just wanted to see that I could do it. And now I feel like I can do anything. Lesson #9: NEXT time I will stick to a training plan better. I did ZERO core work or cross-training, and I know both of those will help me be stronger and more fit. DO YOU HEAR THAT old man in the raggedy sweatshirt, jeans and fanny pack, who beat me?! I’m coming after you. I still may place in the 7000’s out of 9000. But I’m taking you down.

Monday, February 8, 2010

My Big Girl...

This week we'll find out how long and wide :) Claire is again at her 8 month appt (which is really just getting a shot, not the traditional 9 month well baby check up)... All I have to say is: her 12 month pants are now starting to look like capris... and one 12 month shirt didn't fit her in the arms... not to mention the many 12 month clothes that show off her "beer" belly. Oh man. So today I decided to try out a pair of Baby GAP 18 month pants. And let's just say... they were a little snug at the waist. Unbelievable. I was not prepared for her to be cruising as a 7 month old, or 22 lbs. before a year. This is one big, strong kid. Lord help me.

p.s. she got another darling swimsuit in the mail this weekend. It's a 2T. She won't be two until June 2011, but I'm pretty sure it will fit her this spring. She dominated her first swim lesson this weekend, we'll have to get some pics of that, she LOVES the water.


Just read this about my home city. Way to make a girl proud, Fresno...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Casey as a baby

My mom keeps sending me pics of me as a little person to compare to Claire. What do you think? Think she looks like me? I think she just looks like herself, but we're trying to figure out which parts she got of each of us...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Guilty as Charged

Chris Tomlin and Corpus Christi, never would have paired the two. But since our mayor did, I am convicted. I definitely complain about living here way more than I pray for this place. I know that if I switched the percentages of prayers and complaints, my heart would grow for this place. It is my 'desert,' a la the Israelites, not a place I would have chosen, nor will I stay... but I can meet God here as they did.

Marathons for the rest of us...

So I'm not a Kenyan. Nothing about my frame says 'distance runner' on it. But I have the unfortunate (or fortunate?) circumstance to be the daughter of a career marathoner and wife of a burgeoning distance runner. So not only did I grow up at marathons around the country, but now (incredulously) I am watching Los "just go out for a quick 15-miler." Amazing. When we lived in Jacksonville, FL, he went out just to see how long he could run (ironically, NEVER a question I have wondered about myself). He came back TWO HOURS LATER. I thought he was dead on the side of the road somewhere. Nope, he was just seeing what his body was made of. Yeah, two WEEKS later, he ran his first Half-Marathon. WITHOUT TRAINING. And he got something like a 1:37. Disgustingly good. He is the kind of guy that makes running look pretty.

I am not one of those people. Since I grew up at marathons, I could tell you all about what your stride is supposed to look like. I know who is running efficiently, and who is wasting time with their arms or head wagging around with too much lateral motion.

But I don't put it into practice. I can't run half a mile without panting:) I love to sprint, I was a soccer player after all, but running the same pace for minutes on end just doesn't do it for me. Without a ball in front of me to chase, block or pass, what is the point of running?

But here's my problem. Now that I'm a mom, I don't really want to take the time to go to the gym. Too much of a hassle, and there's not one that I'm in love with close by. Plus the gym day-care kind of creeps me out with germs. Getting out on the road with our BOB stroller and Burly seems a lot more time efficient. And let's be honest, that pregnancy weight-gain (and pre-pregnancy weight gain, who am I kidding?) is not going ANYWHERE by itself. So I have to do something...

So a couple of months ago, I was talking with my friend Kiesha, who has also done a lot of Half-Marathons. And for the first time it dawned on me that someone like me could complete one. Because she isn't one of those front of the pack finishers that I've always seen at races. She taught me that it doesn't matter what your time is, but the goal is to finish and feel proud of yourself. Maybe that seems very elementary, but it was revolutionary for me.

So in November, I printed out an Easy Half-Marathon Training Plan. I taped it up in our kitchen, so I would look at it (or have to try hard to ignore it) every day. I started out just walking/jogging 3 miles, 3 times a week. Gradually I increased the weekend walk by a mile a week. At Thanksgiving, I did my first 10K, which was something I never knew I'd do, but it was so fun. And this past weekend, I did my longest training day, which was a 12-miler. I was so proud (and stinky) afterwards, because I know that if I saw someone that looked like me, I would not guess they could do a Half-Marathon. But I did it! And it was mostly easy. So my big day is coming up in 2.5 weeks, the Austin Half-Marathon, on Valentine's Day. I can't wait. I think it will be so awesome to do something for myself like that. To celebrate health and go out and see what I can do. I won't finish first. In fact, my prayer is just that I don't finish last. But even if I do, it doesn't matter. I am doing it, and I am stoked.

Too many milestones...

We just started getting used to Claire crawling this past week. She's only 7 months old. So when I saw her pulling up and STANDING today, I about had a heart attack. Especially since her method of getting down is crashing head-first against the wooden crib and bursting into tears. No matter how many times I laid (i.e. body-slammed) her back down, she keeps getting back up on her feet. I am not prepared for this so soon, she just learned about getting on her knees a week ago. Why can't she develop more slowly? She's already over 21 lbs, the weight I thought she'd be at one year! My little baby has disappeared. I am equal parts sad/shocked/stressed/proud. I will try to embrace it, but holy cow, this happened way too fast for my taste.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Advice: Domestic and International Plane Travel with a Baby

This started out as an email to my dear friend in Malawi, Africa; but I thought I would post it here for anyone else who wants to read it. By no means is it finished, please add your 2 cents if you have more advice!

The best lesson I've learned in parenthood is to be easy-going about itineraries. It started in labor, and still proves true....

So how that translates to traveling with a baby: relax. Be confident. And KNOW that something won't always go 'ideally,' but that you'll make it. Some flights, the baby will be the perfect angel you know and love. Some flights, you may have the spawn of Satan:) Kidding, but you may have a crying baby, you may not. But the good news is: the plane will land. The trip will end. And likely you'll never see all those people again:)

My advice:
1) bring a new toy for him (something novel- a small, colorful rattle, or something) and something comforting (a familiar, small blanket)

2) Request the bulkhead, IF you are going to be in a 767 or 777, as they oftentimes have bassinets. This was a life-saver for us on the Hawaii-Texas flight. Even if he's "too long" according to their standards, request it anyway, if he's sleeping on his tummy/side or even back, his legs can bend at the knee, and it gives him his own space for a bit. Also, he can sit and play with a toy or book for a bit there.

3) EXPECT that naps will be shorter. Claire sleeps 2 hours frequently for naps, and takes 3 naps a day still at 7.5 months. (some babies are down to two by now, but this girl loves her some sleep!) In a car or plane, in a carseat or our arms, she only sleeps MAX 45 minutes, more likely 1/2 an hour. As someone who likes to sleep at least 16 hours a day normally. This used to stress me out. But it's okay. After the trip, he can recover and get back to his norm. It's all about reading their tired cues and comforting them when they exhibit them.

4) Jet lag. He may have it, he may not; babies can surprise you with how adaptable they are. Claire has been in 5 different time zones in the US and done fine in all of them. Give yourself and him grace.

5) Feeding: we make her own food at home, but it's much easier for plane flights to buy some pre-packaged (Gerber or whatever they sell in Africa) baby food. Pack extra, you never know what could go wrong.

6) Germs: Planes are FULL of them. Especially international flights where you get people from different parts of the world, and the air is recycled for hours. Try to be diligent with cleaning your hands/face and baby's hands and face. En route to Seattle, I had to change Claire on the FLOOR, right outside the bathroom, most disgusting place in the plane, but there was no alternative. You deal with it the best you can.

7) Drugs: There are different thoughts about "knocking the baby out" for the duration of flights. I've never done it, but to each their own, do what feels right to you.

8) Wine: however, we have bought the red wine on a flight (free little bottle in international flights) and rubbed our finger around Claire's gums with wine we put on our finger. It helped her relax.

9) Air pressure: Some babies react to it, some don't. If Easton takes a paci, give him one, or feed him a bottle or breast feed during take-off and final approach. Even if you give him a bottle of water, that is a good distraction and the sucking motion helps with their ears.

10) when traveling by yourself, ask for HELP! I flew to NYC by myself, with a baby, carseat, stroller, and carry on, and diaper bag. A lot to juggle. People are usually gracious with single parents, and will help you stow your carry on while you get the babe situated. And when you have to go to the bathroom, flight attendants can hold your babe. I don't know how you feel about passing your baby around to other passengers (especially in light of swine flu, etc.), but one time to Houston, I really needed a break, and a sweet Korean couple took Claire for 15 minutes. She ate it up, and it was a gift to me. Use your judgment.

11) Layovers: if you have a long one, try to find a quieter part of a terminal that you can stroll around in, to cut out stimulation and get Easton a nap. We walked over a mile in Denver, just circling the empty B terminal so Claire could sleep. Plus, walking is good for your legs too, to counterbalance all the sitting.

12) Miscellaneous:
*bring a plastic bag or two for wrapping up poopy dipes that you can't dispose of right away. Even if you normally do cloth diapers, when traveling, disposable is the way to go.
*Bring bottles for water, and have the attendants refill them with water as you use them.
*on almost every airline, the stroller, car seat and diaper bag don't count as luggage. Gate check them, and if there is an open seat in a row, maybe ask the attendants if you can carry your car seat on? We prefer not to, as Claire would rather sit, lay, or stand on the airplane seat, but when they're more mobile, it's nice to have a place to secure them.
*Bring your Ergo, or Baby Bjorn or whatever carrier you use on board- your arms will get tired from holding Easton and walking around:) Give them a break.

I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot, but lastly, travel as much as you can before you have to pay for them to travel with you, at 2 years old. Claire has been to 10 states so far, and will be at 13 by one year old. Never again will she travel so much, traveling with a baby is a dream, compared to a toddler, who wants to run everywhere and assert their own will. So go for it, have a positive attitude, and you guys can accomplish anything! Remember, no matter how hard it may be, the plane will land:)