Do you know the way to San Jose?

I felt compelled to continue the music theme since we did fly to San Jose early this morning and spent the day there. I'm embarrassed to say we lived in San Francisco for 6 months and I did not visit San Jose once. Sorry San Jose. It's nothing personal. Hopefully today will make up for it a little. We arrived and had our rental car by 10 am so we headed to what sounded like a really cool museum with Egyptian artifacts. Once we got there it wasn't as cool as it sounded and we decided it was not going to be worth the price of admission. We did get some nice pictures of the grounds, but since I am tired and lazy, I won't be posting them quite yet. Maybe tomorrow.

After that we headed to the Winchester Mystery House. Now that is a lesson on what excess time, money, and a good dose of the Crazy will get you. It was interesting and enjoyable for the most part, but what I think I will most remember is the tour guide. I could close my eyes and pretend I was listening to Glinda the Good Witch of the North tell me why the stairs only rise up one inch at a time, or why there is a cupboard door that opens to a wall, or how the most expensive window in the house (a gorgeous stained glass bauble designed to dazzle a room with dozens of rainbows) is covered by a room and never receives direct sunlight. You might not think this is so terrible. I mean, Glinda was a GOOD witch, after all, right? And I did always want to be glamorous, glittery Glinda, not mousy little Dorothy. But let me say that to be on a 65 minute tour in a 24,000 sq ft house it becomes less than pleasant. In fact, it becomes downright grating. Her sing-song voice is still reverberating in my head and I'm afraid it will haunt me always and forever. It was a cool place to see though, so if you're ever in SJ, do go see it. Just don't go with Glinda.


Leaving on a Jet Plane

Seems like I'm on song theme kick lately. Very unlike me, since I am musically, lyrically, and harmonically challenged. Tone deaf doesn't even come close and I can't remember a lyric to save myself. I love John Denver, but I have to say I really like this version of this song, too. Not the Ben Affleck rendition, or all the Armageddon references (sorry...didn't care for that movie), but just her interpretation.

After a day of spinning, vietnamese food (spring rolls good, chicken salad, not so much), cleaning and packing, we leave out for San Francisco tomorrow. I'm really excited about this little trip. Last year we did the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Scottsdale to visit family, Carlsbad Caverns and DROVE all the way. I don't remember the exact mileage count, but it was mucho time in the car. With 2 kids. In the heat. Nowhere to stop for hundreds of miles. So, we're flying to California, spending 9 days in the Bay area (haven't been there in 7 years, since we moved away after our brief stint living there back in our wilder, crazier days) then heading to Yosemite for 5 days. We've never been there and I'm really excited to check it out.

Plus, the prospect of getting out of all this rain, heat and humidity is very enticing. I swear there was a mosquito on my leg today that could've been mistaken for a hummingbird. I hope the house is still above water when we get back. Stay tuned here for Bay Area Trip Journal 2007.


You Spin Me Right Round, Baby

CCC and I took our first spin class this morning and this song has been stuck in my head ever since. So I had to look it up and just couldn't believe my eyes watching this video. 'Wow' is what came to mind many times while watching. This is classic 80s pop music and so influenced my compulsion to wear shoulder pads in everything. I remember buying those big blazers or sweaters with velcro in them so I could interchange various sizes of shoulder pads. If I could've gotten away with shoulder pads in my swimsuit, I would have. Those and twisty beads AND lace gloves with the fingers cut off. OH, and penny loafers and peg legged jeans. But my favorite shoes were some white pointy-toed boots (ankle high, of course) that had little triangles cut out of the leather all around the sides of the boot. I would pair these with brightly colored / patterned socks for a stark contrast. Sometimes I would tuck my pegged jeans into the brightly colored, scrunchy socks. And of course, the look wouldn't be complete without the permed, big bangs hair (not too different from Pete Burns' in that video...just more symmetrical). Aqua Net and I were close friends.

Anyway, back to spinning. That was one tough hour! It was way more fun than just sitting on the exercise bike watching the morning shows though. I don't think I've sweat so much as to leave drops on the floor in a VERY long time. Good times....Really.


as·sault [uh-sawlt]

1 a
: a violent physical or verbal attack b : a military attack usually involving direct combat with enemy forces c : a concerted effort (as to reach a goal or defeat an adversary).
....of the Urban Kind.

What a day! About 25 miles of city streets (a first for Scaredy Cat Me) including Airport Blvd, Barton Springs Rd and crossing Lamar (My only thoughts here were PEDAL! PEDAL! PEDAL!). The obstacles were just hard enough to still be a little challenging without getting too frustrated and sucking all the fun out. I thought I would NEVER be able to walk the 20 feet on the stilts, but amazingly, after falling twice right off the bat, I made it all the way across. There were dozens of customers at Jo's Coffee enjoying the spectacle that was all the exhausted racers trying to do this. The Big Wheels were so much fun...I did a 360 on my first turn (or at least a 180) and wish I could've gone around the course again. There were many awkward moments, like diving and climbing through an inflatable obstacle course and plunging our arms into the ICY water of Town Lake to hand paddle our inflatable raft around a buoy and back. I'm not sure I felt so much like a kid again during some of those obstacles as much as just a big doofus. But it was LOTS of fun.Here are CCC and JC with me bringing up the rear as was my position for the entire day. CC put a nice spin on it and called me The Anchor, but really, I'm just slow. I blame the bike. Doesn't it look too small? JC and I were Team 11, reflecting our stunning quiz score. Josh publicly acknowledged today that some of his questions might have been ambiguous, so I felt slightly redeemed. Thank you, Josh. I'd like to add here that the #1 team was the Fat Tire Girls (New Belgium / Fat Tire being a major sponsor of the race. Hmmmm, I'm not usually that cynical, but one could use their imagination here....).
These beauties are what we were after at each checkpoint. Upon successful completion of our tasks we were awarded a bead. These were more precious than pearls and to be guarded with our lives.

CC and TM (aka Team Nuisance) did a little back tracking but must've been cruising 'cause they still beat us. There are more pics on Yonster's Flickr page.
Big E and Little A got a little antsy , grouchy and bored while they waited at our last checkpoint. They perked up once they got some free keychains, lip balm, and sunscreen. Bubble Boy was our official photographer and Go-To-Guy clue checker/finder. He drank my share of the Fat Tire.
After we all made it back we collected all our freebies, including yummy tacos, New Belgium beer and lots of SmartWater. What a fun day! My legs are going to hurt tomorrow, but it was worth it.


3-2-1, Go!

Remember how I cursed that #@$! Urban Assault quiz? Did my frustration bleed through? Well, with the combined efforts of half a dozen people, countless hours spent carrying my laptop around the house googling combinations I never thought I would google (Google! What did I do before you came into my life?), like "peanut butter" and "Leonardo da Vinci", pretending to be interested in buying a Subaru Tribeca B9 so I could get close enough to count the cupholders (there are 10, which necessarily means there are also 8, and no Subarus are sold with cigarette lighters, JOSH!, not that I'm bitter, but I digress...), and watching Hands on a Hardbody to figure out one word of a one line quote, we rocked the quiz and are in the first wave to start the race. All this (how many hours??) earned us a 5 minute head start and Yes, it WAS WORTH IT! (I'm talking to YOU, you know who you are) So, tomorrow morning we launch our attack on Austin. Watch out.


Someone tell me...

...why am I still up searching for answers for this &#@! Urban Assault race? WHY? Do I not have a boatload of things to do tomorrow? Will my children not be up in 6 hours ready to start another activity-filled, screaming-and-clawing-at-each-other day? Is there not piles of laundry waiting for attention, a lawn begging to be mowed, a dismantled bedroom waiting to be put back together? And yet, here I sit, obsessed with finding a logo of a supposed "legendary" punk bank of the 80s...not knowing which band, my only clue a logo that looks "similar" to it. How many LEGENDARY punk bands of the 80s could there be? Darn you, Innernet...you with your tubes and magic servers living in unicorn and fairy land...always there to tell me who was in that movie I just watched, tell me how to make a Cosmopolitan when I need one, bring me the short films of people doing absurd or clever things...Where are you when I need you? Why have you forsaken me?
I think I'm starting to feel a little punchy. Will try to sleep...


Eat, Read, Watch

A few months ago, my book club (meaning CCC and myself, and YES, two people CAN constitute a club) read The Other Boleyn Girl. It was pretty good (not fabulous...notice it's not on the list at the right), but still we're greatly looking forward to the release of the movie starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johannsen, and Eric Bana this December. The Children of Men followed (again, pretty good, not great) and continuing that Book-to-Movie theme, we recently joined friends in reading The Painted Veil, by W. Somerset Maugham and followed that reading with a themed dinner, book discussion and movie screening. My take:

The Book: is beautifully written. It's not a long book, but the writing was lovely and very concise; a fine point put on setting and the main characters fully-developed and dimensional. I won't get into the plot but it is a wonderful book about a selfish, shallow, early 20th century British woman and the beginning of her spiritual journey. I thoroughly enjoyed every page and hope to read more of his novels.

The Food: P.F. Chang's lettuce wraps. A bit heavy on the water chestnuts, but overall, a success.

The Movie: One of the few examples of enjoying a movie despite having read the book first. Generally, I hate a movie if I've read the book. Earth-shattering in it's cliché-ishness, I know. The screenwriter / director / producer...whoever, changed enough details (and the right ones) to make this a good movie regardless of whether you've read the book or not. Edward Norton and Naomi Watts were great and the cinematography was lovely. It wasn't FABULOUS, but it was a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

Hotel Camping

We joined the camping group we've recently latched ourselves onto for a weekend of Hotel Camping in Glen Rose, TX. It's too darn hot to camp in Texas in June, so a stay at the Dinosaur Valley Inn seemed in order. Mosquitoes, chiggers, sun/rain, heat, humidity, snakes, etc...just couldn't hold a candle to the free popcorn, nacho bar, arcade, and most wonderful hotel gift shop the kids had ever encountered. Our weather problems were not so much the heat and sun as they were the rain and rain and yet more rain. Considering the amount of precipitation that fell on that region this weekend it is a miracle we were able to get a full day of activities yesterday. Dinosaur Valley State Park is a lovely park and we rode our bikes around checking out the various dinosaur tracks that we could find. The first set on the route could only be reached by climbing down a rocky bank to the river which completely covered said tracks. The knowledge that our lives were solidly protected from the rapidly flowing Paluxy River by the plethora of life-saving equipment near at hand was very comforting. Really, everyone should have Life-Jugs. Forget life jackets and how kids so annoyingly keep outgrowing them. All you need is some duct tape, bungee cords and milk and/or bleach jugs and VOILÅ! a life-saving device.
Not seeing any verifiable dinosaur tracks we rode on to Stop #2. Here we hit the Mother Lode. Fording the river, we were able to see numerous tracks presumably belonging to some Acrocanthosaurus who were hanging out millions of years ago. Note to self: Ford is to cross a river a shallow point. Fjord is a deep inlet of sea between high cliffs.
More riding, more tracks we couldn't really see, but we were all content with the lovely tracks seen at Stop #2. After hitting the gift shop (the highlight of any nature-loving, state park trip, isn't it??) we were able to head back to town for swimming and dinner at Chachi's. Sorry to say I can't give Chachi's a big thumb's up, but the reviews were mixed. Breakfast at the Big Cup this morning was really, really good. It's not often I can remark on how yummy scrambled eggs were...I mean, it's a scrambled egg. How can it be much different than any other scrambled egg? But it was indeed worth remarking.

We had to drive through a MONSOON to get home. I seriously thought we were going to hydroplane off the road many, many times. This was my Father's Day gift to BB...I drove there and back. How lame is that? He's a great dad and he deserves better, but I feel like I've barely been holding it all together the last couple of weeks, so 6 hours of me driving was the best I could do. I promise to do better.

OH, I forgot to mention the Creation Evidence Museum just down the road from Dinosaur Valley. Established to provide a "fair and balanced" look at creation and evolution the Creation Evidence Museum researches and displays scientific evidence for creation. They apparently have solid evidence that men and dinosaurs roamed the earth simultaneously. Personally, I think they found Marshall, Will, Holly and their sidekick, Cha-ka. There was probably a big showdown between them and the Sleestaks and they came across the battlefield fossils.

Fun weekend and another week of summer vacation under our belts.



Not the "Champagne Supernova", British pop band of the 90s, Oasis, but a Texas Oasis away from the sun and oppressive heat. Last week we went with friends to Krause Springs and felt like we'd left Tx and entered a lush, green, wet, ferny, semi-tropical wonderland. These are adjectives that are rarely, if ever, used to describe central Texas. The water was just cold enough to make it a little tough to get in at first, but refreshing and lovely once you got your breath back. Big E and the older girls loved the rope swing and Little A loved jumping in and almost drowning (I mean, "swimming") over and over again. I'm not sure how he does it, but somehow he manges to get where he's going with his little face barely breaking the surface of the water. He looks on the verge of catastrophe at all times.

We had a lovely dinner at Angel's on the way home where I saw deep-fried macaroni and cheese for the first time. You really can fry anything.



800m, 12 mi, 3.1 mi. 4:00 am, wave 13, race number 1431. These numbers meant very little to me 3 months ago. 12 miles was a distance heretofore considered a distance only to be covered by motorized vehicle. 3.1 miles meant basically the same, for that matter! I had never heard of or considered Transition times but quickly learned about these vital periods, centered around a towel with strategically placed helmet, power gels, lucky socks (thank you, KT!), water and shoes, in which I was to prepare to go from one sport to the next as quickly as possible.

So today is the day that the fear of which has motivated me to learn to swim, bike and run. Danskin. I've got Awesome Friends and Family who kept me going when I really wanted to say "Maybe we should shoot for next year", kept me calm these last few days (relatively calm, anyway), and cheered me on.

I woke at 4 am with a horrible cramp I've had for days in one calf that no amount of massage or Advil would fix. Packed up my stuff, so carefully laid out and packed the night before and headed out in the dead of night with the certain knowledge that I had forgotten something critical, like water, my bike helmet, or lip balm. Turned out Forgotten Item was Advil and I knew my leg would be screaming if I didn't get an ibuprofen fix, and fast. I was luckily able to score some and managed to make it through.

The swim went better than I expected, although my time was slower than I wanted, I was happy that I didn't panic when multiple people thought it would be easier for them to swim over me rather than go around and was able to actually swim freestyle the entire way...no sidestroke this time. I got WAAAAYY off course toward the end and I'm sure spectators must've been looking at me with either pity or humor at how far off I had gotten. Poor sucker in the green cap swimming to nowhere. That was me.

The bike part was fine although there were what I would consider largish hills. East Austin is supposed to be FLAT! I never had to get off and walk my bike like many people did but did manage to let my mind wander enough to come up with a few very colorful names for a couple of the hills. And how is it that there are more uphills than downhills? It seems mathematically impossible, but I SWEAR that was the case.

The run hurt. It took me a good mile and a half to get any kind of running rhythm going, and since I'm always honest here, I needed a potty break. The bushes were looking very inviting, but I plodded on.

I was happy to see friends and family cheering me on at every transition and waiting at the finish although it made me nervous, for some reason. Lots of love in this triathlon business. Lots of "You go, girl!", "Go biker!", "Go runner!", "You're almost there!", "Attack this hill!", "You look awesome!", "Stay Strong!", etc....I have to applaud anyone who had the energy to be that full of encouragement for others, but I definitely had to save that applause for AFTER the event. So double applause for them. Applause for SJ (middle chica in the photo below) for getting us all started on this and convincing us We Could Do It back when the race was still a distant spot on the horizon and for cheering for me during the run when I was sure I must be dragging small trolls tied to my feet.

The Best Quote of the Day goes to CCC (blue shirt below) when on the loooong walk back to the Expo center in the heat, with the kids, walking our bikes, she says "This is like delivering the placenta". So true.

I've got to admit we look pretty strong in this post-race pic. So, now I think I'll do another one. Gotta improve those numbers.


Training with Izze

Less than a week to go before the Danskin Triathlon I've been training for since March 1. Since then I've learned to cycle, run and swim. I really couldn't do any of those things prior to then. My first attempt at running resulted in about a 90/10 walk/run ratio. I thought my first swim was going to end with the gym dragging the pool for my limp, water-logged body. The first time I took my new bike out I crashed less than a mile from the house. SO, it's been a good learning experience for me. I know several people who have done this before and I've pestered them for all kinds of details and information. This week being the final week, it's what the training schedule refers to as a "Taper Week", so my co-trainees and I have been taking it relatively easy. Today we rode our bikes to the Veloway and on the way home I was brave enough to make a left turn in traffic to go to Starbucks for an Izze soda.

THAT'S the way to train! What a refreshing and relaxing way to end the ride. From there it was all downhill coasting.


1 down, 12 to go

Our first complete week of Summer Vacation is over and I can honestly say I've fallen into bed each night and been asleep within 30 seconds. You know you're squeezing every last drop of fun you can physically handle out of each day when you can say that. Big E is having a blast doing swim team for the first time, Little A has picked up the backstroke through some sort of osmosis, and they both look like Coppertone Kids (remember that white booty?) despite going through almost an entire tube of sunscreen in one week. Yesterday we were at the pool by 7:30 for swim team and then at one pool or another until 8 pm, save for an hour or so for a Costco run to replenish inventory (see below). It was one of those long, but VERY fun days. We even topped the night off with awesome pulled pork tacos that I didn't have to cook. Thanks, Mr. C!

Big E has also launched her first retail endeavor with the M.E.E. store. Noticing a scarcity of available pool snacks, she and two friends have decided to fill the void and set up shop. Loading her friends' wagon and cooler with junk food and soda they're not allowed to eat or drink, they set up their table and started peddling MSG, artificial colors and high fructose corn syrup. I do feel a bit guilty and hypocritical about this and we've received some Comments of Concern from friends, so fellow mom & I think we'll encourage them to try some healthier items once they deplete their current inventory a bit and see how organic fruit strips or healthier Whole Foods soda will sell. It's exciting to see them be so enthusiastic about it and now they're even talking about opening branches at local parks or busy foot-traffic intersections. Stay tuned here to be the first to know about any potential franchise opportunities.

Today started with a brief LOST! experience at Searight park. Mrs. C and I thought we could get in a run while the kids rode their bikes around a trail, thinking the big kids would ride ahead while the little ones stayed back with us at a running pace. It didn't quite work out that way and we got a little turned around. Normally it wouldn't make much difference (and it was really not THAT long) but it was starting to feel a bit warmish (90+), the sun was beating down, and we had given all our water to the big kids who rode on indifferent to the fact that we didn't know how to get out of this infinite loop. The little ones melted down at various intervals but somehow I left feeling it was all good and never felt the kind of panic I think I would have felt in years past. Maybe I'm becoming more adaptable? I'm sure BB would be glad to hear that. After that we were able to cool off at an ice skating birthday party. I felt like laying down on the ice and letting all the coolness seep into my bones but I refrained, knowing it would probably embarrass Big E.

I'm glad it's Sunday night and Week One is under our belts and we're off to a great start for Summer '07.


Too quiet?

My little sister, worn down from chasing a one and two year old around, decided to leave today. BB and I waited 4 years before we mustered the courage to bring another child into the world who could potentially be as high maintenance as Big E. That girl has been a Drama Queen since a week before she was born. I used to say that Big E left me mentally drained and Little A left me physically drained, which left me....you got it....totally empty. Things have improved though and, for the most part, it's all pretty good most of the time. SO, I'd forgotten what it's like to have real toddlers in the house. Easy enough to pick up the breakables (like I've got many breakables left!), and to barricade the stairs, but I can't move the kitchen island or do away with the kitchen table or pad all the tile in the house; all of which proved to be a bit harder than a 15 month old's head.

But now they're gone and the house is strangely quiet. I say strangely because it's not actually quiet...Big E has been talking almost non-stop since we got home, Little A squeezes in what he can in between and they've been running around like their typical selves. Tree monkeys on meth are what come to mind. But, it's still missing that sound that only little ones can bring to a house. No baby-lust here, so don't jump to any conclusions. Just the appreciation of the sounds of Toddlerhood and the relative peace my sister can look forward to in about 4 years. I'm sure it won't come a day too soon for her.

Before they left we were able to make it to Wild Connections Butterfly farm. I had been a couple of months ago with Little A's preschool class but I have to say the private tour is the way to go. We kicked off our shoes and scampered about in the beautifully clear, cold creek that ran through and saw lots of butterflies and other living things including the tiniest baby toad I'd ever seen. About half the size of my pinky fingernail and cute! We got up close and personal with a couple of turtles and there was also a dead snake on the trail and I actually felt sorry for it.