Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Camping, Turkey Day and Zombies

What a great week that was! It sure went by fast but it always does when you're having fun.

Let's see....the Saturday before Thanksgiving we went to Beaumont and I got to hang out with my bff from high school Wendy and her hubby. Lots of fun. Why do I always forget to take pictures?!

The next morning Chuck had a shooting match in Beaumont and came in second. Congrats.

Came home that day and passed out. The next day (Sunday) I made my lists, ran errands and packed for a 4 day camping trip to Stephen F. Austin State Park. Our truck is having transmission issues so we couldn't bring the travel trailer. Sadness. So we stayed in a screened shelter with concrete floors.
 We packed everything in my Ford Flex! It was like a Tetris game. Chuck did a great job packing it all in. We even brought our mini fridge. Easier to just keep things cold in it instead of bringing a cooler and constantly changing the ice.

There was nature watching at the Brazos River.
 There were woolly bear caterpillars!
 There was daily bike riding on trails until our rears were sore.
 Cluck Gable's reaction to the bike ride.
 During the day there was football and lacrosse games; at night there was laughter and campfires.
 It got pretty cold in the evenings. Somewhere in the low 40s. But we were all snuggled down under blankets on the floor. Concrete is the hardest mattress EVER.

At night the owl would hoot and you could hear raccoons and other critters outside. It was really nice. But as soon as the sun came up the birds would wake you up. The early sunrise and sunset changed up our sleeping patterns during that week. We were in bed by 9 and up by 7.

It was a much needed camping trip and I don't think anyone was quite ready to leave.

We got home Wednesday and the very next day we drove to my mom and dad's place. There was a 150 car pile up (or something around that number....never got an exact count) so we had to take a longer alternate route to get there.

I made my sweet potato casserole and bbq green beans. Oh dear, it's just sinfully good!

Mom always makes way too much food. This is just some of it. There are 2 hams, 2 turkeys, gumbo, smoked brisket, dressing, deviled eggs, enchiladas....just a ton of food. This isn't even all of it! My mom, dad, my family, Rachel's boyfriend, and my brother, his wife and his two kids were there.
 After we ate until we hated ourselves, we rolled into bed.

Friday I got up and played with the chickens.....
 ....then off for some geocaching and hiking. We stopped at Village Creek State Park which is around the block from where I grew up. Then we headed to the coast for Sea Rim State Park and walked the boardwalk where we saw lots of blue crab. Suddenly I had a craving for stuffed crab.
 Drove home Friday and passed out again. Lots of travelling.

Saturday morning was pretty chilly and breezy but Chuck has a zombie shooting match.
 The range was pretty packed. Here are a few of the cars. My Dash is parked beside the red truck. :)
 Chuck was the safety officer for his squad. He tells them how to shoot each of the 8 stages and watches for any safety or rule violations. Plus, as an SO, he gets to shoot for free.
We were at the range for 7 hours. Yeah. But in the end Chuck won the entire match. Congratulations.

Sunday we didn't do much. Visited Chuck's parents. We needed that day to relax and catch up.

Now that all of that is over, it's time to get myself back on low carb/paleo. Chuck has actually been asking me to cook low carb because he feels so much better.

My jeans are a bit tighter from all of the fun. Time to get serious!

Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Butterflies, Dinosaurs and Gyros

Last weekend I had a friend from high school come visit with her family. I haven't seen her in years! We reconnected through Facebook and she made the trip from Louisiana to Houston for a visit.

What a fun and busy weekend it turned out to be!

Rachel baked a cake for her since the previous weekend was her birthday. So Friday night we all went out for dinner, came back to the house where the kids played video games, and celebrated her birthday with cake.
Saturday we had a full day planned. We couldn't even do half of all I had planned!
We headed out to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. I brought along my chicken which I have named **Cluck Gable. He needs to get out too. He was astonished most of the time.

Lunch time. There's a McDonald's at the museum so we grabbed our lunches and headed outside. Cluck Gable was very upset about the choices.
Then it was time to head to the butterfly center. The kids rode a Texas sized caterpillar. Cluck was scared to death.

Everybody played a game style bug quiz. Not sure who won.
That's Chuck, Charlie, and our friends.
In the butterfly center, there are several types of butterflies flying around everywhere. It's a surreal experience and absolutely beautiful! This butterfly followed our friend Randall everywhere. It would stay on his arm. Very cool. I think this was called a rice paper butterfly.
 Rachel with another butterfly. They weren't afraid of people and would just sit there for you to look at them.
 And if you were lucky, they would land on you for a while.
 Chuck befriended this big butterfly that stayed on his back the entire time we were in the center. We finally had to remove it before we walked out.
 The center is beautiful and weddings are even held here. I can see why. A nice place to sit and relax when it's not crowded.
 Charlie and McKenzie waited and waited for a butterfly to land on them.
Then it was time to head to the new paleontology hall. I LOVE this place. Cluck Gable found it....astonishing.

 Sooooo many fossils.
 This female still had babies inside of her. One in her birth canal. Poor mama.
 A little pterosaur with large teeth. Since they are pointed forward, it is believed this guy would dive into the water to spear its dinner.
 The big guys always draw the kids. Love their little arms. One hypothesis is that they used their arms for "tickling" in courtship. There is also evidence that some had feathers. As a matter of fact, today's chickens are related to T. Rex. Chickens even have the genes to make teeth but they just aren't activated today.
 The crown jewel of the paleontology hall is this near complete skeleton of a triceratops. Not only was this skeleton found but also mummified (not merely an imprint) skin of this dinosaur. The skin showed evidence of quills! I spoke with a museum employee and she showed me the places where the quills came out of the skin. Was truly amazing.
 Then there were the mammalian fossils. This one reminded us of a dog dragging its rear across a floor. LOL Yes, we're juvenile sometimes.
 A shark's mouth so large that it could swallow entire mastodons. It's hard to see the scale of it. Watch out, Charlie!
Before we knew it, it was almost closing time for the museum! Time went by way too fast. We scrapped our other plans and grabbed some food then went home.  While the kids played video games, we sat outside and enjoyed a cool breeze, a cold beer, and good conversation until midnight.

Sunday our friends headed home. We had a great time and can't wait to do it again.

That evening Chuck and I made some paleo/low carb friendly gyros wrapped in lettuce leave. Yum!!!! The tzaziki was so good we were using it as a dip.
Tomorrow we head out to visit my parents and my friend Wendy. Also get to see my brother's new house! And Chuck will be shooting a match in Beaumont. The day after we get home we're going camping for 4 days and will come back home the day before Thanksgiving. So, as you can see, it's going to be a busy time for this Happy Texan.

If I don't get to talk to you before then, I'd like to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

**Please refrain from mentioning Cluck Gable's feather loss. He suffers from male chicken pattern baldness and is sensitive about it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Support: Where to Get It

"You can do it!!"
"I believe in you."
"Cheering for you!!"
"Go! Go! Go!"
"You got this!"
"You can do anything if you want it bad enough."

support: v. 1. to bear the weight o, especially from below
2. to hold in position so as to keep from falling, sinking, or slipping
n. 1. one that supports  2. the act of supporting

We could all use a little support from time to time. Whether you're just starting new eating habits (aka diet), or taking on a new exercise (zumba, weights, running), or setting a scary goal (running a 5k or half marathon, starting a business, etc). People are social creatures who like to feel connected with other people and have their "stamp of approval."

Negativity is rampant. It's easy to find someone who will criticize your efforts. You know whatI mean because we've  all encountered the person who tells you that there's no way you'll succeed or that everything you do is wrong or that you will fail. There are others who are so apathetic that they couldn't care less what you do one way or another!

Life is short, my friend. I don't know about you but I don't have time for those people in my life. There's a negative person around every corner who will doubt you. I choose to stay away from those sorts. I pity them somewhat because only a person who is very unhappy with his/her own life could be filled with such negativity. Those aren't the people we are discussing today. We want the positive folks!

I'm always looking to do new things, experience new things, learn new things, and set new goals. That could mean one month I'm obsessed with paddling and the next month all I can think about is learning a foreign language. I'll set a goal to run a 5k then immediately search for something new to achieve.

It's been that way as I've learned more and more about eating properly too. There's been an evolution of eating habits and I become obsessed with each new one and experiment to find what works best for me and my family and what is sustainable.

Fortunately for me, I've had incredible support from my husband Chuck. He goes along with everything, encourages me, never tells me I won't succeed, and is there to help me get back on my feet when I do fall. Always positive and very protective of me against those who would be negative towards me. I am constantly amazed at the spouses out there who are not supportive. 

But the good news is that no matter who you are or what you want to accomplish (assuming it's nothing sinister like world dominance) you can find support and encouragement. I'll share a few of my favorite places and others that I have heard work well for other people.

Spouse/significant other: Only you know if your partner is going to be supportive. Express your needs and let him/her know that you really want to succeed and need support and positive encouragement.

Blog: Start a blog. There are blogs about just about anything you can imagine: getting out of debt, training to run marathons, losing weight, saving money on groceries, etc. People who are struggling with the same thing will visit your blog and encourage you. It's a great support. I've met some good friends through this blog right here.

Facebook: There are friends and groups who will cheer for you. Make your goals public so others can cheer for you at every milestone.

Forums: There are so many web sites for whatever your interest may be. I have had support from running forums, low carb forums, Whole30 forum, strength training forums, car repair forums (yes, I just said that), paddling forums, camping forums. People, for the most part, are very helpful and you may even find a buddy to help keep you accountable.

Work: Often times there are people at work who will encourage you. My brother got in on a bet at work as to who would lose the most weight. He won! There are little groups of people who will go walking at lunch to get exercise, start a potluck day for a particular way of eating, or even train for events together.

Friends: This is a great one! I've met some very encouraging friends through this blog. There are also friends outside of blogging that are very encouraging. Make your goals known. Making it public helps keep you accountable too. I've enjoyed the support from my friends and enjoyed giving support as well.
Web sites: There are several web sites that offer a sense of community. For those who are trying to get healthier there are web sites like Spark people.

Yourself: YOU can be your greatest support. Speak kind words to yourself. Yes, I know that sounds a little hokey but do it. Don't be so hard on yourself. When you look in the mirror don't notice all the faults. Stop the negativity. Keep a journal of your progress and make a positive note each day.

People who do not accept failure as an option succeed far more than those who doubt themselves. It's a fact. So be positive. Seek support. No matter who you are or what your goal, encouragement is available to everyone.

So where do you go for support?
Me? Spouse, friends and my blog. And I want to thank all who have given me support here through the years.

Happy Monday and positive thoughts.

Monday, November 5, 2012

We're Gritty Goddesses

How's everyone in Bloggerville? It's been crazy busy around here yet I never seem to really get anything done.

I missed telling you about Halloween (spoiler alert: kids went trick or treating while Chuck and I sat in chairs outside and handed out candy while playing Halloween music) and all of the other crazy things that happen during the week. But I must tell you about a highlight of my weekend.

Saturday Rachel and I did an obstacle course race called Gritty Goddess together in Galveston. I'm so glad I have a teen who doesn't mind doing things with her tragically unhip mom.

We left the house at 7:30am, which is sleeping late for a race, because we were signed up for the 9:30 wave. Each wave is named after a goddess. I chose the Atalanta wave: goddess of adventure. That seems about right for us. According to wikipedia, Atalanta was "a strong yet feminine woman who faced obstacles and backlash for refusing to follow gender norms." Again, sounds like I picked the right wave.

We got our very nice goodie bag, pinned on our bibs which had our names printed on them (VERY cool), and I put on my temporary tattoo. We were ready to go.  The weather was warm and there was a little breeze blowing. Perfect for an obstacle course!
 It's time to line up. They have us dancing and yelling down the countdown and getting us pumped up before we start. He did a great job.
 We're jogging with the group and come around a corner and there is a hill with ropes to climb. Oh, and there's someone shooting foam on it to make it slick. No problem. We're adventure goddesses!

The very next obstacle is going downhill on a giant slip and slide. You've never heard so many grown women squealing and laughing all the way down! It was hilarious. And there's no stopping yourself. You just crash in to people at the bottom. One lady took me out as I was trying to stand up and we laughed and laughed.
 Definitely a giggle worthy obstacle.
 Chuck, bless his heart, followed us throughout the entire race to take pictures. We wouldn't even see him most the times but he was there getting candid shots. Some of the women thought he was a photographer and would run up to him and pose.

We had ropes to maneuver where Rachel tried to be fancy and run over them and suffered a good bruise aka ego deflater.

We're following the arrows on the ground and come to a lazy river pool. Fun!!!! Again, grown women start acting like little kids. It was so fun. There were rubber sharks floating in the pool which Rachel and I played with along the way.
 At first the water felt freezing cold but then we adjusted and went for a little swim. Love this shot! Rachel is splashing but it looks like water is coming out of her nose.

Every woman, regardless of age, became a kid out there. Including yours truly. But it doesn't take much, does it?
 We wondered around jogging and talking and enjoying the views. Walking. Going under and over a few obstacles. Each one was well thought out and had a theme. Then we came to this. We were told the bars and wires would shock us if we touched them! Keep those butts down ladies.
 Checking my rear to make sure I cleared those wires before standing up. My sadistic hubby was hoping one of us would get a little jolt. Sick, I tell you.
 We come to our first water station called Temptation Island. They hand out water, popsicles and cookies!! The sweet gentleman told me there were snacks at the table. I swear to you it sounded like he said sex. I asked him twice. "Beg your pardon?" "Excuse me?" Hahaha! Rachel said it sounded like that to her as well. After we left I said, "Ohhhhh. Snacks!"

Party Rock Anthem started to play (they had speakers throughout the course to keep us pumped up) and Rachel stopped to do the dance. So funny.

Then we came to a very difficult obstacle for someone with no balance.
 I was doing just fine then lost my balance. Then my knees started shaking. A crowd was watching. I almost fell in and would regain my balance. I could hear the people go "ahhhh" as I'd almost fall in several times. I couldn't move! I just got to the middle and stood there shaking. I watched as a crab scurried by under me. This was real marsh water. Finally the lady behind me grabbed my hand and it was just the comfort I needed to make it across. My legs were still shaking when I got to solid ground. I did get a nice little cheer for making it though. I wonder how many girls fell in.

We make our way through some more obstacles and come to a HUGE hill of mulch to climb. Fun, fun, fun. Coming down was a bit of a trick as the mulch slips and slides under your feet.
 After falling down sliding down the hill, we grab a piece of wood and carry it for a while. Because we're tough like that.
 Finally the part I've been dreading. The tall cargo net. I'm afraid of heights. Along the way Chuck kept saying over and over, "You can skip it. It's ok."  Especially after the confidence shaker of the balance beam I just had.

I walk up to the cargo net and Chuck says, "Kelly, don't do it." Which means to me, "I bet you can't do it." Challenge accepted! The faces on the ladies in this picture show the range of emotions as we approach this wall of shifting net.
 Rachel gets to the top and climbs back down. Because before you can crawl back down, you have to crawl across the netting. It just hangs there above the ground. High above the ground. And it shifts. And your butt fall through the holes. And your feet and legs fall through the holes. And it will shift suddenly and feels like you're going to fall down. My face tells the story:
 Fear and determination were in an epic struggle up there. Determination won and I made it over that net. My knees were knocking when I got back on the ground but I love that feeling of accomplishment. I overcame some major fear up there.

Oh, and right under the obstacle is another obstacle. So all of these people are crawling over a cargo net while others are doing this below:

Then it was time to crawl through the same type of black tubes but when you exit you fall into a mud pit. Lots of squealing women again. We crawled for a while through this very dark mud. Occasionally a rock would find your knee. Ouch!!
 When you're this muddy, it doesn't matter any more. Just have fun with it.

 Almost done! We had a wall to climb (not easy!) and then we were shot with colors from water guns. Then it was time for the wall of foam! And yet another place that women acted like kids throwing foam and laughing and having a great time.
 We did it!! Finish line next!!! Woohoo! So much fun.
 We are true Gritty Goddesses. We each got a little dog tag keepsake and a ton of memories. This was one of the best obstacle runs I've ever done. I really wish they had one that everyone could do because I know Chuck and Charlie would love this.
 Afterwards we were given Blue Bell ice cream sundaes. Yum! And there were wine samples at a booth. Wine and ice cream. Can't get much better than this.
GREAT race. I highly recommend it. Rachel was asking if they do this race every year because she's ready to do it again. We weren't timed or anything like that. This is for fun. A nice 5K obstacle course.

We even have our team name picked out for next year: The Mud-staches.  Shirts and costumes are being designed now.

It was a perfect day making memories with my not-so-little girl. We bathed as soon as we got home (poor shower drain) and washed our clothes twice. Then it was time to relax for the rest of the day and go through pictures and laugh all over again.

**PS: A great big thanks to Chuck for following us around everywhere, carrying our bags, helping me apply my temporary tattoo (don't ask how we did that without water), and helping out with every single little detail. I owe you.