Sunday, June 26, 2011


A couple of weeks ago Toby and Summer had taken in a movie at the theatre so I decided to take the rare opportunity that I had to myself and scour the local Goodwill. I love Goodwill's and Thrift Stores. You never know what your going to find, but I get the most pleasure from scanning the book section.

Books are expensive retail but you can pick them up at the thrift store for little to nothing...and if you're like me, I have a wide reading variety so I'm not hard to please when it comes to reading material.

Anyway, I was looking through the cook book section and found this book called FIT FOR LIFE. I picked it up and flipped through it and found it initially interesting enough to purchase. I read the book and got a lot of useful information out of it and some of the raw food recipes even look very edible.

I'll have to admit I like to eat and have a hearty appetite for most any type of food. I guess I'm making up for spending most of my younger years being super thin (emaciated as my mother used to call me)and not having a healthy appetite.

Anyway, even though most of the recipes in the book looked good I realized that most of them had ingredients that would not be readily available in my local HEB or Walmart. I also decided that not everyone in my family would like the recipe.

I have a hard enough time trying to figure out a simple weekly menu much less one that requires me to exercise my brain or run from store to store.

So, I finally decided that I would just keep more veggies and fruits in the fridge and buy healthier brands of the foods that we eat frequently. For example, instead of buying the cheap white bread, I'll replace it with whole grain bread and eat more salads with our meals. Or buy real butter instead of spreadable margarine.

Per the advice from the FIT FOR LIFE book I started eating only fruits and veggies for breakfast. I can feel the difference. The book talked about how much energy your body takes to digest food and it's best to eat easily digestible foods up until noon so you won't have an energy crash before noon time. Plus, since I have been doing my morning running/walking routine I find that I don't want anything heavy on my stomach for a couple of hours after my run.

It all boils down to a couple of things. I love to eat and I don't want to deny myself the foods that I really love, BUT I can make a few changes that allow me to still eat the foods I love and remain healthy.

Every part of our lives are about balance.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mini Vacation to the Coast of Texas

I have noticed the older Summer gets, the less she remembers about living in Mobile. One thing she does seem to always have a clear memory on is the beach. Every summer since we have been living in Texas, she will ask to go to the beach.

As for me, I really don't miss humidity, sticky sand, limp hair, salt water, or the aroma of dead sea life. I do agree the ocean is beautiful and serene though, so we don't pass up a chance to go once or twice a year....for me, if for no other reason than to not forget my roots.

I have to say that I really enjoyed our 3 day getaway even if it did rain a whole day while we were there. I think we were all in need of a getaway. Nobody argued, nobody whined or bitched, and we all just enjoyed being together without any other obligations to get in the way.

The drive to Padre Island is an easy and painless 3 hour drive. Never any traffic issues..matter of fact, I just now realize how desolate that stretch from Luling to the coast is.

We decided to get to the beach via Port Aransus just because I like riding the ferry across the bay to the coastline.

After we checked into our hotel and got settled, we checked out Packery Channel Park

It had a nice bird viewing set up and it was on the bay, but other than that I didn't really see anything "parkish" about the place....

On the day it rained we took in a museum, The Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History.
I give this museum a big thumbs up. We were there a few hours and still didn't even finish seeing everything it had to offer. Stomachs were beginning to rumble though and I also was more than a bit nervous about our dog creature roaming uncaged in our $100 per night hotel room.

Instead of kenneling Bo, we opted to take him with us. I was more than a little worried about it for more reasons than one...the main one him chewing up the hotel room while we were out and about to the places we couldn't take him. Bo is used to being in his kennel when we are away so I wasn't sure how he may react being kennel free in a strange hotel room.

Lucky for him, he passed the test with flying colors. After 5 hours of being gone we walked in to find him nestled on top of one of the beds only to look up at us and yawn when we walked in. Nothing gnawed. No wet or soiled floors. I guess we have finally mostly established ourselves as the mom and pop alpha dog. Good Dog!!

Here are some highlights of our day at the museum...

Outside the museum there was a pretty cool "water garden"...

The weather finally cleared enough that we were able to spend our last day there on the beach..the whole reason for the drive. The water was clear of seaweed and there were some good waves to ride. Bo was hilarious with the waves. He figured out if he was going to escape the wrath of the waves engulfing him he would have to jump them as they came upon him. I was laughing so hard at him I didn't even think about videoing it...

In an effort to keep up my exercise routine I spent most of my time running/walking the mutt up and down the beach. What was suppose to be an enjoyable routine turned out to be mostly annoying. Bo spent most of his time jolting me up into the air in an effort to catch the seagulls soaring just slightly above our heads. Minus a few brownie points for Bo that particular day.

Here are some highlights of our day at the Bob Hall Pier....

As much as I enjoyed our 3 day getaway, it's always nice to see my sunny yellow welcoming home. :-)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Run For Your Life

Exercise has never been my thing but I'm far from being a lazy person. I have always had the desire to get moving but just never could find a form of exercise that satisfied my niche or that I felt comfortable doing. I bore easily so any sort of stationary exercise like yoga, weight lifting, or aerobics bores me to tears. I get no satisfaction out of exercise that seems to have no propulsion to it.

I did find that I have always enjoyed walking and hiking. Unfortunately at this time in my life I don't get to hike near as much as I would like, but I do look forward to one day having the pleasure to do it a bit more. Kids do grow up eventually...

Back in December of 2010 I took the Christmas money my dad always so generously sends me every year and went to Academy and bought me an ab board and comfy warm-up attire that would motivate me to get out and walk in the cold.

I was doing pretty good there for awhile. I was faithfully working on my ab board every day and had managed to work up to 60 sit-ups a day with ease. As for walking....well, somehow I just couldn't motivate myself to get out the door and walk against the cold wind chill temps most days. My walking was sporadic to say the least. I ended up spending most of my time on my bike so that I could make my regime in the cold quick and painless. I also found that I like riding a bike for pleasure more than I do for exercise.

That's when it hit me. I could run. I have a couple of friends that run and my brother who is a year younger than me even manages to work morning runs into his busy schedule. If they can do it surely I can too, I thought.

Before I could even implement my plan to start myself on a running training program my little Brandi died and I lost all motivation to move..period. I even quit doing my ab board which I had become pretty skilled at.

Here is the really cool part of this story....

When we first adopted our dog Bo in January 2011, the name he had been given by the shelter and on his paperwork was "Hanno". They told us we could name him whatever we wanted that since they didn't know his real name. One of the volunteers had temporarily named him Hanno.

A couple of months ago while browsing the web, I came upon this website that gave the meaning of different names. I thought about the name Bo had been given in the shelter...Hanno, and how odd of a name I thought it was so I searched it on the website.

I was a little taken aback to see that the name Hanno means "Gift from God". I mostly thought about all the times he had seemed to be a gift from Satan...

Then I realized how much a gift he has been for me. Because Bo is a high maintenance dog he needs a good bit of exercise. I am forced to get up and move whether I want to or not. He gets a mile and half morning walk and I usually walk him about a mile in the evening when Toby is at work.

A few weeks ago I thought about how all the dog walking was taking up some of my free time and if I could just move a little faster it would cut my time in half. I thought back to before Brandi died and how I had wanted to incorporate running into my life.

So with Bo on leash, I started to jog a little at first. Bo thought it was great. He didn't have to drag me along anymore. I won't lie, those first couple of weeks I was winded as hell and panting for my life after less than a block, but each day I pushed myself forward a little more staggering running and fast paced walking.

After a couple of weeks I found that I could run a little farther each time and with less gasping for air. I also found that I really enjoyed the running after the initial shock of first time runner trauma. My legs and calves stopped aching and they began to feel stronger.

So now my goal every day is to run a little farther each day. I find that I actually look forward to my run/walks now. This is the longest I have ever stayed with an exercise regime and I find that I am getting a little addicted to the way it makes me feel.

I feel different. I feel more confident and stronger. I won't go into to details, but my digestive system works better. I feel more in control of my life. I have something to work toward. I don't get as winded or tired as I did before. I have more energy and I don't feel like I have been ran over by a truck when I get up in the mornings.

If I feel this good after only a few weeks of training, I can only imagine how I will feel when I can run a mile non-stop...or two miles...or three, etc.

I have a goal. I want to be able to hike the hills, backpack and maybe even run a small marathon or two in the future. I'm almost 47 years old and I have no desire to be a geriatric. I don't want to be one of those older folks you see sitting around complaining about aches and pains or what medications they are on or when their next doctor appt. is. I want to be out there running and walking and seeing and enjoying my world with these years I have left for myself.

I can only thank the monster dog named "Hanno" for my motivation. He is the reason I get out that door everyday. He literally prods me with his paw to get up and out the door. If it weren't for him I'm very sure that Toby nor Summer would drag me up off the couch to take a run/walk.

Thank you Hanno!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

City Park

The drought has taken it's toll on most of the creeks and rivers so we have had to resort to the last to go, the lakes.

In a last hopeful effort to locate some swimming in one of our favorite creeks we first headed to Bull Creek. Although there were traces of water, there was certainly not enough to feel safe to swim in. After all, who likes to swim in stagnant water...except for maybe a dog.

We decided to head to Emma Long Metropolitan Park on Lake Austin just a few miles down the road. We hit the jackpot there.

The water was crispy cold. It felt like spring water it was so cold..which of course felt great on a triple digit temp day.

Here are some memories from our day...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Help! I'm drowning and I Can't Get Up

Even though I lived my whole life very close to water, I have never been totally comfortable in it. For me, water is scary. I can swim, but even so I feel very insecure in water with waves or water I can't touch the bottom.

The other day I came much too close to drowning.

Here is my story...

At the swimming hole me, Toby, Summer and Bo were all out on a rock that sat in the middle of the hole. To get to the rock you had to swim from the shore across a few yards of deep section.

After a while, I decided to take Bo back with me back to the shore so Toby and Summer could splash around without having to keep an eye on Bo.

I grabbed the rope we had tied to his collar to give him more distance to swim and took off to shore with him paddling beside me. For reasons I don't know, he decided that he would hitch a ride back to the shore on my back.

When he jumped on my back he immediately took me under. I wasn't expecting him to do that so it took me by surprise and I took in some water. He's 70lbs of muscle and I'm not really that big of a gal so he had me pretty far under while he clung to my back.

While still submerged with him on top of me I reached up and tried to push him off my back. Because I was deep I had nothing to firm my stand so I could push him off. Every time I tried to push him off a little he would immediately grab back onto my back. All the while, I am still submerged.

Not being a swimmer I was running quickly out of breath while I was being held under. I tried one more time to push him off of me and he immediately clung back on to my back.

It's at this point that the fear and panic ran through me. I couldn't get him off of me. This is also the point where I knew I couldn't hold my breath any longer. I started to intake water in my mouth as I opened to gasp for air.

My biggest thought was that Toby and Summer were playing and weren't realizing that I was drowning and there was no way for me to alert them. I was scared. I started to realize that this is how I was going to exit my existence here on this plane.

At the exact moment that I was about to relax and let it be (because I could no longer hold my breath) I felt the dog being pulled off of me. I immediately came to the surface coughing and crying in relief. I choked and sputtered and my chest was burning. I had never been so grateful to see Toby. He has always taken good care of me and that day was no different for him.

The next thing I saw was Summer standing only a few feet away laughing. She was oblivous to what was going on. She thought it was funny the dog was riding my back on the way to shore. In her child-like innocent mind she saw no danger. She saw the dog riding my back like she does in the pool.

Luckily, Toby was smart enough to figure out that I was not having fun and came to my rescue. It took him a few minutes to pull the dog off of me because he had to find a shallow enough place to get standing so he could pull him off of me with the rope on his collar.

I don't know how long this whole scenario was, but for me it felt like a very long time.

It got me to thinking about how easy and quick it is for someone to drown and nobody notice until it's too late.

How ironic that this article was sent in my e-mail the night of my experience. I think it important information that needs to be shared.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blue Hole

I have a swimming pool in my backyard that just turned a year old. So you ask; Why in the world would I be going to search out area swimming holes?? The answer to that question is that I still after almost 4 years of living in the Austin area have not grown bored of this place. There are waaaaaayyyyy too many interesting places left unexplored for me to be stuck home in the confines of my backyard on a free day. My backyard swimming pool is my "cooling station" for lazy weekend afternoons, after yard work, to entertain neighbors or company, or after hot afternoon dog walks.

We headed a little north of Austin to Georgetown to check out their pop up campers (remember, my latest obsession).

As we passed over the San Gabriel River, I was in awe to see the river was bone dry..another area river casualty of the drought.

We were in luck with the Blue Hole though. Although portions of it were dry there was still a section that had a desirable swimming area.

We had been to this hole a couple of years ago but for whatever reason I can't remember we didn't swim it.

Toby and Summer had a blast swimming and splashing around while I took a load of pics. After a while, I became bored with my camera and besides it looked like they were all having so much fun out there splashing around.

The water felt good in the 100 degree temps and we were all having a good time watching the teenagers jump off the cliff. Bo was also having a blast swimming around trying to catch the dragon flies skimming the top of the water.

We have learned that although Bo loves the water he has a habit of loosing track of his ability to stay afloat. He often uses us a perch to catch his breath when he gets tired of swimming.

Which brings me to my next sentence. I had a slight mishap when he decided to try to use me as a floatation device while I was attempting to lure him back to shore. In order not to busy this post with too much information I will post about the "mishap" in a separate post. I think it needs it's own attention for more reasons than one.

For now, here are some pics of our day at the Blue Hole...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

5 Mile Dam

This week was one of those weeks where the "have to's" took over. I almost ditched our weekly outdoor activity because there were so many other responsibilities that needed to be taken care of.

The more I thought about it the more I was determined not to let the "have to's" take over our weekend. I finagled a bit and integrated some fun into an errand day.

Toby had to make his monthly trip to the medical supply store and I wanted to check out some pop-up campers - my latest obsession - in nearby Buda, Texas. It was a toasty day so I decided that I would research swimming holes in the Buda area and we would take an afternoon dip after our have to's were done.

I don't know much about Buda other than we looked at a couple of houses there when we first moved to Austin. I totally relied on the Internet to offer me direction for a swimming hole in the slightly unfamiliar territory.

I found one near the r.v place called Five Mile Dam. It was a shot in the dark but I figured at best we could say we had been there done that.

True to form, when we drove up we got the old familiar river gone dry that is so common to this area. Luckily there was enough river left that the "kids" were able to splash around and cool off.

I could tell this is a place that's really nice when the river is up. I plan on going back one day to explore more of the area.

Here you can see how much of the river is dried up...

Bo loves to swim but he is so heavy that he loses strength after he's been paddling for a while. He will swim to the first person he gets to and use them as a perch until he rests a minute...

A farm on the way out of the park area. I love the way the cows and horses look when they are grazing out in the field....