Friday, November 30, 2012

Tonight's the Night!

Many months ago, for my birthday, hubby gave me (us) tickets to the Andrea Bocelli concert in Dallas tonight.  We are preceding the concert with dinner at my favorite restaurant, which is less than a block from our house. 

I think we're both getting very dressed up.  If they still fit, I am probably going to wear one of two strapless navy blue knee-length dresses that I bought last summer to be a bridesmaid in each of two of my brothers' weddings.  Not sure which of the two I'll choose (again, assuming both fit, which is not certain).

Kind of fun, for those fellow lovers of Italy, today is the feast day for Sant'Andrea.  Which means it is the onomastico or name day for all guys named Andrea.

And for me that means a double celebration tonight -- with my husband Andrea, and with the more famous Andrea Bocelli! 

Hubby and I both sent out special wishes to our best friends in Italy, as they named their youngest son after Sant'Andrea as well (though we all knew it was really after my sweet guy!). 

Working from home today, so if I can quickly wrap up work and do some gift-wrapping for Xmas and/or some cards, I should be able to take my time getting ready tonight, which will be fun.  Maybe even trying to do real grown-up looking make-up and/or hair, as opposed to my usual 45 second make-up routine and 10 minute hair routine. 

Just quite excited for tonight! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shopping Status

Mostly for my own sanity, partly because I need a mental break from work, I figured I'd work on a status list of my Christmas shopping.

I have a big family and we exchange gifts with almost all my brothers still and gift cards aren't generally done in my family, so holiday shopping is a big task.  But I have to say, I'm not complaining.  I love exchanging gifts with my family.  I love getting them something and hoping they'll like it (or if they made a list, hoping no one else got it too).  I love thinking that they'll use/wear/whatever and think of me/us.  It was funny that when one of my older brothers got married at the beginning of November, my husband and I happened to both wear sweaters to the rehearsal dinner -- sweaters that we both got last Christmas from my baby brother and his wife!  His wife noticed mine, my baby brother noticed hubby's -- so I'm guessing she shopped for me, and he shopped for my husband.  But it was so cool to be wearing them (that really was by chance) and to have them know that we loved what they'd gotten us, that they're actually being worn. 

I feel like a lot of what I own -- clothes, jewelry, kitchen stuff, things around the house (but not furniture) -- has been given to me by family or friends.  And I love that.  And even the furniture and some of the bigger accessories, either I bought while travelling (most expensive is a beautiful, huge silk rug I bought in Thailand about 10 years ago), or that my mom helped me choose.  I like it that way -- many things hold a lot of sentimental value for me.

Anyway, because there's a lot of shopping to do, I may as well share my list here! 

My mom:  have bought her a set of intricate bird sculpture napkin rings, a pair of pants, and a pair of earrings from China, still need to get the rest of her gift, probably some tea or socks.

My dad:  have bought him a total of 2 traditional books and 2 non-traditional books (one is about paper airplanes and includes paper, one is about the Terra Cotta Army in China, and includes a model), still need to get the rest of his gift, probably clothing.

My step-dad:  done!  A cookbook, a fun book, a dress shirt, a baseball cap, and a little fishing sculpture from China.

My step-mom:  done!  Charms for her bracelet, plus a magnet and a bowl from China.

All of my older brothers:  done!  they're easy, we just do small things and/or cards.

My next youngest brother:  have gotten a little book, still need to get the rest and he is so hard to shop for and never makes a list of ideas.  Ugh.  It's a shame I'm morally opposed to buying meat, otherwise I'd get him a box of good salame or a delivery of steaks or something like that.  But no go...

His wife:  still have to do it all.  She made a list, but it was mostly gift cards, which I just don't like doing (actually, they're just not usually done in our family, though they are definitely awesome to receive).  I guess I'll get her the two CDs on her list and then some clothes, maybe from the places she picked so she can return, or whatever.  She tends to not like most of what anyone gives her...

Their son (just turned 7):  done!  A book, 5 sets of flash cards, a harmonica and instructions with a CD, and a soccer ball.

Their oldest daughter (will be 6 in Jan):  have bought a puzzle geography book, still need to get the rest -- probably a hat, some body wash, and some clothes.

Their youngest daughter (turned 3 over the summer):  got her a cell phone toy, still need to figure out the rest -- I know they'd like a set of sheets for her, and some washable markers.

My middle-little brother:  done!  he's getting a total of 3 books (two funny, one a San Fran cookbook), a running shirt, a shoe pod to carry a key while he runs, an astonomy chart, and a bow tie.

His wife:  have gotten her two running shirts, a running water bottle belt, running gloves, earrings form China and a set of 12 chopsticks from China, but still need to get something else, but she hasn't sent a list yet...

My baby brother:  done!  a dress shirt and a humidor.

His wife:  done!  got her a set of candles, earrings from China, a fancy set of 5 sets of chopsticks from China, and a sweater.

My grandpa:  done!  A book and a National Geographic subscription.

So that's it for my family (except of course my husband, who technically could read this blog so I don't want to list it -- but he's done except for a few little things for his stocking. 

As for friends, I usually exchange gifts with 5 girlfriends.  Four of them are done (lots of books this year!), one is only partially done.  And then there's my godson (turned 4 while we were in China), so far I've gotten him one set of matchbox cars, need to get the rest of his gift (maybe walkie talkies?).  I have to also do something small for his older sister, so she's not left out.

Yikes!  That's a lot more shopping than I realized remained.  I was feeling pretty good about having several people done, but in reality, there's a lot left. 

Can you tell from the list that my new office is right by a bookstore?  Lots of people are getting books...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Running Commute Update

Okay, I've now done my commute to work on foot three times -- and I've driven 3 times, and been picked up by hubby once (and I'm driving home tonight). 

Thus far, it's good. 

3.75 miles. 

Uphill almost all the way to work.

Downhill almost all the way home.

I haven't synched my garmin lately, so I don't have exact elevations, but it was noticeable last night running home (I was flying!) and then this morning (dragging!).

But these are Dallas hills.  It's not really much of a hill either way.  Maybe 150 feet of elevation change total?  If I had to guess...

So far, the only issue has been my dress watch -- if I drive home from work on Monday night wearing it, then when I run to work on Tuesday morning, it's not there, so I need to tweek that plan.

All I am carrying with me is my phone, a credit card, my house key, and my work building access card. 

I need to get some reflective things to wear and/or a light.  I don't know what I did with the stuff I took to run Hood to Coast. 

When I run home from work, I need to make a major effort to leave earlier. 

Work is so busy, I usually work frantically until the moment hubby calls and says he's given up and he is going to eat without me.  I tell myself that I'm leaving when he calls to say he's leaving work, when he calls when he's driving past my office, when he calls to say he's home, and when he calls to say he's hungry.  It's just the "I'm eating" call that actually gets me to shut-down.

Well, last night, that's what I did.  I failed to realize that it was going to take 30 minutes to get home when he called to say that.  He was already upstairs, getting ready for bed, and it was after 8:00 when I got home. 

It's very dark to be running alone at 8:00 at night.

Don't get me wrong, I'll do it.  I feel like I have a very good handle on risk and crime -- I know the chances of something like kidnap or rape or murder are negligible.  The more real risks are being hit by a car (still unlikely) or falling and getting hurt (more likely) or getting so worn out and tired that I need to walk (most likely).

I'm running in the city (not downtown, just residential, university, and running trail), through fairly nice parts actually.  In terms of running commutes, I can't imagine something much safer! 

From the office, I run through a strip mall parking lot.

Then about 1.75 miles south on a residential street.  I cross one intersection with a light.  I have a bunch of stop signs, but rarely any cross traffic at any of those.  Last night, I'd say about 10 cars passed me (going south or north) on that street, so really very little traffic.

After that residential street, I'm in the university area.  Lots of construction.  Some parts closed to vehicles.  A fair number of other pedestrians, sometimes even other runners.  This part only takes a few minutes.  I run past the outdoor track and next to the indoor aquatic center.

Then I have another traffic light. 

Then I'm running for a couple minutes on another residential street, then I turn to the running path.

In some ways, particularly at night, this is the "scariest" part of my run.  The southern 80% of the running trail has lots of foot traffic from about 5 a.m. until about 10 p.m.  The northern 20% has significantly less, and that's the part I'm running on my commute.  And a runner claimed she was "attacked" there within the last month.  The only time something like that has happened there in many years.  So I'm sure as time passes, this won't freak me out at all.  It's a trail I run all the time, sometimes alone. 

Anyway, after the trail, I get onto my street for about .75 miles.  In the morning, I run with traffic, which is illegal and unsafe, but not so bad since it's not a busy street and it's light out.  At night, I'm running into traffic, and it feels much better. 

Then one more traffic light and I'm home. 

Not a bad way to commute.  Kills two birds with one stone. 

Since I basically haven't been running much since we went to China for vacation (I'm just trying to forget about running the San Antonio marathon!), I decided I should be careful about building up my mileage. 

Since I love the idea of commuting on foot, I have decided that I will not run with my friends on Tues or Thurs mornings until January probably. 

Right now, the plan is Monday boot camp.  Tuesday sleep in and run to and from work (7.5 miles total).  Wedneday boot camp and run to and from work.  Thursday sleep in but maybe run the long way to work and then get a ride home.  Friday boot camp and then work from home. 

Eventually I'll add in my regular Tuesday and Thursday miles.  But my current schedule gives me about 20 miles of commuting runs, and that's a lot to just tack on to a regular workout schedule.  Don't want to get hurt, especially since 2013 is going to be my year of running. 

In December I'll work on gradually making the Thursday run to work longer, and then in January I'll add Tuesday/Thursday runs with friends and go back to the shortest running commute possible (3.75 one way). 

That's my plan.

Now that it's in writing and published, I'm declaring it official.

Monday, November 26, 2012

FMM: Dear Santa

It's a hectic Monday -- I tried to my cybershopping before I got to work, but I have a feeling I may make this a quick post and for my mental mid-day break go do a little more cyber shopping.

Actually, since my office moved a week or so ago, we are right across the street from my favorite mall in Dallas, and right in a strip center with a couple stores I really like (Barnes & Noble and the Container Store).  I'm trying to ignore that we're also right by a Blue Mesa Grill and a Cheesecake Factory...

So for lunch today, I set off to B&N in search of a new French technique cookbook not by Julia Child, which was on a family member's wishlist.  I took photos of a few I'm considering, but I also bought 15 books and a puzzle that WEREN'T what I went shopping for!  Haha, but I'm done with a few more people now, which is nice. 

So here's my short post for the day, friend making Monday! 

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM:  Dear Santa

Dear Santa: List at least ten things that you may or may not need that you’d love to find under your tree this year!

Hmm, I saw that Kenlie did this post with photos, but I'm in too much of a hurry. 

1.  What I want first and foremost is silver.  Specifically, Reed & Barton, wheat pattern.  I inherited my grandmother's silver.  Service for 6.  Book club contains 12 people.  My grand plan is to build the set to service for 12, piece by piece, probably starting with forks and knives, then filling out to soup spoons, tea spoons, salad forks, shrimp forks, serving pieces, etc. 

2.  A bike.  I plan to keep up the whole "run to work and run home" thing for about a year (until after the Berlin Marathon).  But after that, it would be nice to bike to work.  I bet it would take less than 15 minutes.  And that would be a good start if I ever want to be an Ironman. 

3.  A new Christmas tree.  8.5 or 9 feet tall, pre-lit, with multi-colored lights, and with a service warranty -- where I can just take the tree if the lights aren't working and they fix it for me.  Apparently this doesn't exist in Dallas!  Our tree has several sections of lights not working, the warranty on the lights has expired, and it seems most trees I've seen online require that you pay to ship it back.  Up in Wisconsin, there is an awesome business outside Milwaukee that lets you drop off and pick up.  My folks test their tree in early Nov. to make sure it's set for the season.  I'm jealous.

4.  Work-from-home stuff.  I'd love a wireless keyboard and a mouse.

5.  New floormats for my car.  I wear heels too much and mine have kind of torn apart over the years.

6.  Running stuff.  I'd love more long-sleeved running shirts (most of mine got shredded last year under the arms from when I ran wearing the weight vest), the 610 Garmin, new shoes, and/or a metronome (my running plan for 2013 is to get my cadence where it needs to be (180/minute!)). 

7.  Travel stuff.  Plane tickets to Germany and out of Italy for our trip in 2013, hotels for the trip, guidebooks about Berlin and Munich, German phrasebook, German language CD, new TSA compliant combination luggage locks, a weekend-style Vera Bradley bag.

8.  Safety stuff.  I'd like to get a deadbolt to install in the bottom of our front door and a 3-story fire escape ladder for our bedroom.  And maybe another carbon monoxide detector. 

9.  Kitchen stuff.  I want an electric can opener way more than I should considering how cheap it is to buy one.  I also want wooden salad tongs to match our bowl, pie weights, a Brita or something similar, a small crockpot, a non-stick pastry mat, mini loaf pans, a griddle, a wall-mount spice rack to match our other one, a set of round cookie cutters (different sizes), and kitchen shears. 

10.  Christmas CDs by James Taylor and/or NKOTB.

11.  A winter dress coat -- wait, we were supposed to stop at 10.  What can I say, I'm good at making a list and I'm easy to shop for. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Uneventful Holiday

Thanksgiving was quite nice but unremarkable this year. 

We started off the morning with the annual 8 mile Turkey Trot.  For the first time in several years, I did not get a PR.  Probably close to one minute per mile too slow, but it didn't matter too much.  I ran with a couple friends through mile 3, then one peeled off for a restroom, and I stayed with my boot camp buddy until the rest stop friend had caught back up to us, and then around mile 6, I told them to go on without me.  I just wasn't feeling it. 

I need to get my butt in gear. 

Not sure if I mentioned it or not (probably not, since this was the source of much internal turmoil for me), but I finally got into the Berlin Marathon for next year.  Long story I will have to share later, but let's just say registration happened while we were in China and my registration plan fell through.  But it's all good now, and I have lofty goals for that race, so I need to get into PR shape in general now if I want to have the lifetime PR there that I dream of. 

I suppose it shall start this week.  Maybe on Tuesday I'll start trying to push harder on my run to work.  Adding in some more speed. 

But this is a tough time of year to work on cleaning up my diet, so that may largely wait until New Year's.  But at least I finished off the last of the Thanksgiving dessert today for breakfast.  Ugh!  But it was soooo good. 

The rest of Thanksgiving was nice but not terribly exciting.

After the race, we hung out with friends for a while.  Hubby drank mimosas and we cheered for friends running in. 

Then we went home, had a leisurely breakfast, and then got to work on cooking.  I made a butternut squash cheddar bread pudding (recipe from my mom from Bon Appetit), a cheese-onion-mushroom tart (can't remember where, but from a magazine I think), and the pumpkin crisp (from hubby's friend's Ukrainian wife, but not a Ukrainian recipe, something she got from people at church). 

Then we cleaned up and headed north for the big meal.  The traffic actually wasn't bad.  Hubby's best friend lives in a suburb called McKinney that is practically in Oklahoma.  Man, I hate the suburbs.  Their city completely typifies what I don't like -- chain stores and restaurants everywhere, everyone in cars driving two miles, cookie-cutter houses that are McMansion style. 

There were a total of 8 adults at dinner and about 6 kids?  Us, hubby's best friend and wife (both Italian-Canadian) and their two kids, another couple (wife was Italian) and their kid, and another couple and their three kids.  The kids seemed pretty out of control.  Lots of running, shouting, arguing, crying, etc.  Birth control! 

But the meal was wonderful when we finally all sat down.  I was starving.  I'd eaten a big bowl of Greek yogurt with fruit after the turkey trot, but since we were going to eat around 4, that was all I ate.  Instead, we ate closer to 6.  Hubby's best friend's wife in the past had forgotten or ignored that I didn't eat meat, but she went to great lengths to accommodate me and one person there who couldn't eat dairy (but she ate meat).  There were two kinds of stuffing, one vegetarian and nut-free, a broccoli-cheese casserole, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, green beans, cranberry sauce, rolls, turkey, and the two dishes I brought.  Then for dessert there were a lot of store-bought pies (pumpkin, fruit, and some kind of chocolate cake) and then my pumpkin crisp with ice cream.  And lots of wine, then scotch and limoncello.

I felt like I ate too much of course.  I ended up going for a little walk alone just to get out of the house.  The weather was awesome and mild.  After the walk, my food felt a bit more settled and I felt more awake, so we all sat around talking (and others drinking) for hours. 

A very fun night and a wonderful day of thinking about all the wonderful things in my life, much for which to be grateful. 

Friday was spent being very lazy.  We got the tree up, and we cleared a few things off the DVR, but not much else.  We didn't get the tree decorated or anything, which would have been nice.  I guess that's going to have to be a weeknight project, which isn't as much fun since we never seem to have much time at night, and now that I have to run home from work, will probably have even less...

Today I need to get motivated to put up non-tree decorations, get started on cars, get some laundry and house-cleaning done, and then make something special for dinner as we're having friends over tonight.  But thus far I'm just clicking around on Amazon and getting sucked into Law & Order!  Not bad, since there's always tomorrow! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Routines

Today was day one of my "running commute."  My watch showed my route at exactly 3.75 miles.  Not bad.  I think I went the absolute most direct way possible.  Even more direct than how I drive!  But since I drive on the highway and this way had a total of 3 traffic lights, it will not be my new driving commute.  But there wasn't too much traffic.  I ran from my house to the running trail, up the trail to the top, on a residential street to the university (SMU), through SMU's campus, then over to another residential street, then I took that all the way up to the parking lot for my office complex (office was at the far end, so I had to run past a grocery store, a book store, and a couple restaurants to get to the office).  It was really nice.  Relatively flat.  Most of the stop signs are 4-way, and most people here yield to pedestrians, so the only places I actually have to stop will likely be the 3 traffic lights, and I caught one of them green this morning, one is frequently fairly deserted, so that meant today only 1 real stop. 

The plan is that I will drive to work on Mondays, bring all my lunches and clothes for the week, and then drive home Monday nights.  Tuesdays I will run to work and then run home.  Wednesdays I will run to work and then either run to the social run (kind of on my way home) (and then run some more with friends at the social run, then go to the bar and then hitch a ride home with a friend) or run home.  I'm sure it will take me some time to build up to being able to do the social run on Wed nights.  Anyway, Thursdays I will run to work and then hubby will pick me up when I'm done (so I can bring my laptop and all my week's worth of laundry).  And then Fridays I'll work at home as usual.

This week is a little different with Thanksgiving, so I'm actually going to work at home on Wednesday, which meant that I could run to work today, but I need a ride home tonight, but fortunately my office is on hubby's way home, so he can pick me up.  I'll just have to be ready by about 6:15 instead of my usual 7:30ish. 

I'm so excited about this new plan.  The gym at work is awesome.  I actually did about 8 minutes of arm weights after my run today.  If I could routinely do that, I'm sure it would help.  I only used 3 machines, a total of 4 exercises, but every little bit helps I think.  Then I used the locker room to shower.  Need to bring shower shoes!  But they have soap, shampoo and conditioner, which is nice -- I'd brought my own just in case.  The shampoo smelled really good.  And they have a hair dryer and hair spray. 

I was able to leave my house at about 7:50 and be sitting at my desk at the same time as usual today.  Not bad!  I tend to get ready much faster when I don't have to make any decisions about clothing, shoes or jewelry, and when there's no tv, food, or household chores there to distract me. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

FMM: Thanksgiving Edition

Today is moving day -- new office space.  My commute is now a mile shorter (I think it's just under 4 miles each way), but I think it takes about as long as it did before, maybe even a little longer because there is a big parking garage.  And because I'm still doing the stairs, and now we're on the NINTH floor.  Yikes!!!  That alone seems to take about 15 minutes, haha!  But tomorrow will be my first day running to work, which will be very exciting.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Thanksgiving Edition

1. Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions? If so, please share them.  The big tradition for us is the local 8 mile turkey trot in the morning.  My husband missed it one year because he was on call for work and someone was dying (sigh, I guess that's a valid excuse...).  Beyond that, no real traditions.  We've always stayed in Dallas since we've been living together, so that means no family except one year one of my cousins was in town (his wife had a baby here in Dallas because it needed surgery right after birth).  So we either have people over to our house for a big meal, or we go to friends' houses for a big meal.  Eating and running in town are the core of our tradition. 

2. List at least three dishes that are on your family’s table every year.  We generally rotate most dishes when we host the meal, but I suppose there are a few constants.  When hubby and I cook for ourselves or for friends, there are always mashed potatoes, acorn squash filled with peas, and rolls.  This year, hubby's best friend's wife is cooking.  She is Italian and a great cook, but she tends to ignore?  forget?  not care? that I am a vegetarian.  So we are bringing 3 things -- a butternut squash cheddar bread pudding (likely my main course), a cheese-onion-mushroom tart, and a dessert (pumpkin crisp). 

3. Do you prefer pumpkin pie or pecan pie?  Allergic to nuts, so obviously pumpkin.

4. Will you watch football on Thanksgiving Day? No.  If it's on TV, I will do my best to ignore and focus on spending time talking with people, not watching TV.

5. Do you plan to exercise Thursday? We are both planning to do the 8 mile local turkey trot.  That race is actually my longest running streak.  This will be year 9!  Over the last several years, I'd been on a steady streak of improving every year.  Sadly, that is coming to an end this year.  I'm not in PR shape right now, especially since I ran pretty well last year.  But it will be a great race with lots and lots of friends, and it's hard to argue with starting your day at -800 calories! 

6. Do you prefer ham or turkey?  Neither, over 10 years as a vegetarian now!

7. Will you shop on Black Friday? If so, where will you go first?  Probably not.  I've never done it before and have no real desire to start.  Plus, I only have lists from a couple family members, so it would seem kind of pointless, and I prefer online shopping anyway. 

8. Do you take a nap on Thanksgiving?  Sometimes.  I'm hoping to squeeze one in this year after the trot and cooking our contributions, and before we head to hubby's best friend's house. 

9. Share one dish that probably won’t be on anyone else’s table.  I'm sure there will be some very interesting things on our table.  I would guess that my main meal contributions (butternut squash bread pudding and the cheese-onion-mushroom tart) are fairly unique. 

10. What are you thankful for today?  Whew, almost everything.  Great marriage to a healthy and wonderful husband, my wonderful family whom I love AND like, my awesome group of friends (both running and non-running), my health and ability to run, my job that I love, the opportunity to travel (in terms of finances, health, vacation time, etc.).  Pretty much my entire life! 

Now it’s your turn to post the questions on your blog! Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments! Happy Monday, and happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012


I'm not sure when I stopped going to the movies regularly. 

I moved to Dallas and passed the bar in 2000, and I know that in about 2002 or 2003 or 2004, I could look at the list of top 10 current movies and feel like most of the time, I'd seen all of the ones on the list that appealed to me (and often a few that didn't, chosen by the man of the hour or a friend).  I always felt like I'd seen most of the top 10 list.  It seemed I went to the movies about once a week.

But at some point that ended.  I have no idea why. 

Then there was a time when a friend always had a big Oscars party and at the firm I worked, there was an informal contest to see who could come up with the best sentence incorporating all the titles of the best picture nominees.  (The examples I came up with that I remember:  Capote was on his way to Munich when he got into a crash on Brokeback Mountain and said "good night, and good luck."  When the queen started to babel about letters from Iwo Jima, little Miss Sunshine had heard enough and departed.)  So for those years, I made a point of seeing all the best picture nominees.

But at some point, even that ended.  I have no idea why. 

Films being released held less interest for me?

Movie theater experience became more irritating and cumbersome?  (Other than at the artsy theaters here, seems like there are always kids, phones, and people going in and out, which was definitely a factor in why I stopped enjoying going.)

Going to movies with my husband was never our "thing"?


Other allocations for my free time that I preferred? 

This year I've seen a few movies, but I can't even remember the names or plots other than the Bourne movie and one about a woman who had an affair with her neighbor, left her husband for him, and then became equally miserable.

But there are now 3 on my list for the remainder of 2012.

Two books I really enjoyed have movie releases next week, around Thanksgiving, and then one movie opens around Christmas.

My 2012 film plans:

Life of Pi, a great book.

Anna Karenina, one of my favorite books of all time.

Les Miserables, my favorite musical.

Now, the real question is, could I see the first two on that list between Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) at 4 p.m. and Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) at 7 p.m.?  It would be more in theater movies in that short amount of time than I've done in many, many years.  And hubby might object, wanting to add in a movie of his own. 

But it strikes me as worth a shot! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wasted Time

Many days without seeing my husband, inbox and voicemail at work filling up, eating unhealthy restaurant food in an unfamiliar city ... and all for what?  For a chance to get hammered in court?  Ugh.  Lucky me. 

Of course the ultimate award that was issued could have been worse (I suppose any award could be worse, you can always just add a zero on the end!), but it wasn't great. 

And this means I have to tell my boss about it. 

I have no fear that I'll be in trouble or anything, I certainly couldn't have changed anything.  And our defense counsel did a good job.  It was just bad facts and bad records retention.  And then just luck of the draw on who was issuing the award -- they certainly could have been neutral or predisposed in our direction, but they were most assuredly not. 

And so now, all these "sacrifices" on my part, and it all feels like it was for nothing.

If I'm gone for days, backlogged with regular work, eating unhealthy in a new city AND we win, then it's all worth it.

But right now, with our @sses handed to us, I feel very blah.  Ready to go home and have life get back to normal.

One upside though was that I got to go out with my former peer advisor from law school, whom I hadn't seen in more than 10 years, and get caught up with him.  We stayed out way too late, and drank way too much, but it was so much fun.  He and his family might be coming to Dallas in the next year, so hopefully I'll get to see him again.  I know my husband will think he's a riot. 

Oh, and when we went out, we went to such a fun place -- Continental in downtown Philly.  Not healthy really, but so, so good! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

FMM: Fridge

The chaos of my current life continues, but if I can just get to Philly in a few hours and then back to Dallas tomorrow, things will get back to normal.

This weekend marked the completion of marathon number 16 I think?  I should do an accurate count.  I think it was my fourth time running the marathon in San Antonio.  It was far from my fastest (about 45 minutes slower in fact), but it wasn't a big deal to me.  First, the weather wasn't great.  It was low 70s at the start, mid-80s at the finish, and sunny for most of the race.  Ugh.  But really, even if the weather had been good, taking off from running for a month while on vacation in China meant that I wasn't going to be setting any records anyway.  Third and finally, I ran most of the race with friends.  The first 10 miles with my local bestie, then the last 7 miles with someone I casually know here in Dallas who has the most amazing life story -- a marathoner for charity for years, head-on collision with a drunk driver 2.5 years ago on his way to come meet our running group early one Sunday morning, and now back to running marathons, gradually building up speed.  This was his second race post-accident, and sharing his company was lovely.  By that point in the race, he was mostly doing walk-run, and so I suppose technically, I might have been a bit faster if we hadn't run together, but my time only slowed by at most a few minutes, and having the company made it roughly one billion times more fun.  So lucky I saw him! 

Since it's Monday and I'm at my desk and about to leave town again, figured I'd do a topic where I don't have to think -- Friend Making Monday!

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

What’s in Your Fridge?

1. List a few common items that can always be found in your fridge.  Spinach, bananas (not mine), blueberries (mostly not mine), apples, soy and regular (not mine) milk, cold water.

2. What kind of milk do you drink?  Fat-free plain soy milk. 

3. Do you prefer fresh or frozen vegetables?  We usually eat fresh and I prefer that.

4. What do you currently have to drink in the fridge?  Diet A&W, vodka, V8 splash (whatever the sugar-free version is called), bottled water, sparkling water, beer, various energy drinks (freebies from races, untouched for over a year), soy milk, regular milk, white wine, light grape juice. 

5. How often do you clean out your refrigerator?  About twice a year?  I don't know really.  We usually keep stuff in there until we eat it or it's bad, usually the former.  Actually scrubbing shelves happens very rarely.

6. What’s the healthiest thing in it right now?  Veggies and fruit.

7. What’s the most unhealthy thing in it right now?  Alcohol, which we keep in there mostly for entertaining, except the wine, which I think my husband drinks most nights, but not all.

8. What do you wish you had in it that you don’t have now? Grapes.  Hubby grocery shops on Wednesdays so it is getting bare.

9. How often do you shop for groceries?  My husband shops (lucky me!), and he goes to two different stores on two different days each week. 

10. What’s the weirdest thing in your fridge right now?  There is a bag right in front with some kind of red peppers that look very spicy.  As I've been out of town most of the last week (heck, most of the last 6 weeks), I have no idea why he bought them, what he's used/using them for, or what they're called.  

Bonus: If you could choose one thing to put in the fridge and make it calorie-free what would it be? Cheese.

Now it’s your turn! Don’t forget to answer the questions and come back to post a link in the comments section! Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

More Time on the Road

Life is so hectic right now I can barely get my head around it.

Last week, we came back from weeks in China.  Landed very late at night (technically early in the morning), and I had to go to work that day.  Such is life when you use all your vacation time for a single trip and try to make it as long as possible.  Solely my doing.

Then I had basically 1 day in the office, then we were off again to Milwaukee for a family wedding.  I had to work remotely the rest of the week from a family member's house. 

Got back into town this past weekend, and actually had a few normal days.  Went to work Monday through Wednesday just like I usually would.

But today, off to Pennsylvania for an arbitration tomorrow.

Fly back to Dallas Friday night late, then up and out the door early Saturday morning to head to San Antonio for the marathon on Sunday.

I'm staying with a good friend, and last year her husband made an awesome dinner on the grill Sunday night after the marathon.  So weeks ago, not knowing how chaotic November would be for me, I decided to spend Sunday night with them again this year. 

I'll get to relax with a great dinner and some wine, and have a relaxing night in their lovely guest room.

Then Monday morning I'll fly back to Dallas.  Perfect plan.

What I didn't know however, is that it turns out I have to fly out of Dallas Monday afternoon to be in Pennsylvania AGAIN on Tuesday for another arbitration. 

So hopefully it will wrap up early enough that I can come back to Dallas Tuesday night. 

Then I'll get to have a normal Wednesday and Thursday -- then we have a half day of work on Friday because our office move is set for that weekend. 

Chaos, I tell you, chaos.  So the following Monday will be unpacking my new office.  I was a little worried I had to be in Pennsylvania that day as well for a settlement conference, but fortunately the judge is letting me appear by phone.  So it will be one day of unpacking at work, two days of work, then Thanksgiving. 

Wow.  The good news is that for most of the miles in the air, I just made the next highest frequent flyer status on our way back from China, so it's upgrade-city for me now.  Well, it would be if there hadn't just been a big storm hitting Philly with major flight delays and cancellations, so now my flight will probably be oversold and/or full of flyers with a higher status than me. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ready for Tomorrow

When I say "ready for tomorrow," do not make the mistake of thinking I am even remotely implying I'm prepared for the marathon this weekend.  My head is full of what-ifs.  What if the Beijing Marathon hadn't been cancelled?  Would I have PR'ed?  What if I'd made at least some effort to do some long runs during the few weeks of vacation in China?  What if I'd at least done some strength training while we were there?  What if I'd found a 24 hour gym last week and gone running after I woke up at 1 a.m. from jet lag?  What if I'd had less to drink at my brother's wedding this past weekend and gotten in at least a 10 mile run or something?  What if I hadn't started back to boot camp yesterday and run this morning in a final days attempt to restore some fitness that I know is 100% futile at this point?  If any of that had changed, would I be ready to run the marathon this weekend?  Who's to say?  But mark my words, this marathon is going to be ugly -- like my time is likely to end up where it was more than 5 years ago.  No chance of a RE-Q (and my last RE-Q has now expired, so I need to requalify if I want to run Boston again).  Ugly.  If the weather's bad, it will be hideous. 

But I'm ready for tomorrow in that I'm ready for the elections to be over.  I've had mixed feelings about voting this year.  My best friend posted a status to FB today that sums it up well:  "Having lived previously in Texas and Alabama, I appreciate living in a swing state where you know your vote matters and where the candidates actually campaign. That said, my children and I will also appreciate the end of the constant barrage of negative campaign ads! There is no excuse for showing the same ad four times during one commercial break."
When you live in a state that has no chance of changing color, regardless of whether it's the color you want, it's hard to get motivated to vote. Especially when you're out of the country for most of the early voting time and way behind at work when you return from that very long vacation, so it's hard to get to the polls on election day.

For the record, I made it to the last day of early voting.  We were back in town and due to jet lag, I was at the office well before the crack of dawn (and completely exhausted by early afternoon), so I stopped on my way home from work and was able to quickly get in and out.  Whew.  There were a couple things I actually cared about on the ballot where there is at least some chance that my vote matters -- the sheriff and a bond proposal.  However, as to president and many other options on the ballot, either my vote doesn't matter, or I just don't know/care enough about the issues -- I have mixed feelings on electing judges anyway (and don't get me started on partisan judges in the first place,) and judicial races composed about 90% or more of our ballot here. 

But the main reason I'm ready for tomorrow is I just want it to be over.  Having been in Wisconsin for the last few days for my brother's wedding, wow, I'd be even more ready if I lived there.  At least we don't really have any political commercials on TV here at least for President.  The political ads and phone calls there were non-stop.  I'm especially in awe of the China-hating (on both sides) that seems to be so prevalent and interesting in light of our trip there last week.  But the main reason I'm ready for tomorrow is because I hate the awful things people, including friends, say and the extreme partisanship.  I'm not naive enough to think this is something new or getting worse, though I understand that inclination, I feel like this is nothing compared to say the 1800 election.  Extreme partisanship, hyperbole, etc. has a long and storied tradition in this county and that's not changing anytime soon.  But what has changed is now it's in my facebook news feed!  That wasn't the case for someone in 1800 who wanted to ignore the hate and spin and misleading statements.  But it's just a shame to feel like I don't like some people who I know full well I do like when they're not spouting politics all the time. 

The good news is that living in the US, I don't feel like the election is really that important.  We're lucky enough not to have a candidate at could completely chage our world -- that whole checks and balances thing helps.  Unlike in other countries, there's no real communist party or anything like that with any chance of winning today.  Sure, some important things could change based on who is in office, and there's always the possibility of something crazy happening, but history is a strong predictor, and this country has been very stable for very long, and I don't really think either of these candidates will change that. 

Anyway, I'm ready for tomorrow, be it the result I'd prefer or not.  I just hope it's a definitive answer one way or the other! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

FMM: Ten Reasons to be Thankful

Well, this week officially marks my "return to normal."  We got back from China last week, then had to fly right back up north for a wedding in my family.  We came back to Dallas yesterday and made our big "return to boot camp" this morning, which is step one of "return to normal."  However, I technically have a marathon on the calendar this weekend (Rock and Roll San Antonio), and I have to go to Pennsylvania for work, so it won't really be a "normal" week.  But some normalcy is better than none.  I spent time yesterday uploading all our pictures from the trip to snapfish and I am shocked by how many we took.  I think the total number is over 1000!  I need to work on a "highlights" album, as well as pulling some favorites to share here.

Since it's Monday and my brain is still way behind, I'm doing Friend-Making Monday again.  If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Ten Reasons To Be Thankful

1.  My sweet husband.  After weeks of traveling around China, encountering all kinds of different cultural things, struggling with language barriers, and more, I still can't get enough of him.  I wish we could spend every second of every day together sometimes.  I feel like we're such a good team.  He's a good sport about my huge list of sights I want to hit in some cities, and he balances me out when I get too stressed about trying to explain that we want the taxi to take us to a certain temple -- he's more inclined to just go for the ride.  I'm so lucky to have found him, and I'm also so lucky I held out for the right guy, rather than getting hitched to the first guy I thought I loved and felt marginally compatible with...

2.  My family.  Being with them this weekend for my brother's wedding reminded me how much fun they are.  Of my 6 brothers, now 5 are married and they have all picked amazing and fun women (and they are all stunningly beautiful, which makes the "amazing and fun" part maybe more surprising).  I have nieces and nephews that think I'm the bomb for no apparent reason.  And even better, we all get along well, I have the best time when I'm with them, and I can't imagine being born into a better bunch!  I've also been fortunate to marry into a great family.  I enjoy going to visit my in-laws and love spending time with them. 

3.  My job.  Lots of lawyers end up not liking their jobs.  Big firms will show you the money, but at the expense of your life.  Small firms don't have the money, and the work is kind of for the brain-dead (largely, obviously, there are exceptions).  Although it took me about a decade of practicing, I finally found the perfect balance by working for a company -- the money is good, the work is challenging and interesting, my co-workers are great, and the hours are wonderful -- the main issue with the hours is that I like the job so much, I could happily just keep on working!

4.  My health.  I was going down a very unhealthy path for a long time (see above about your life at a big firm).  Too much alcohol and unhealthy food, too many dinners at my desk, too many all-nighters, too little exercise, too few "extra-curricular" activities.  But finally in 2004, I started running regularly with co-workers, training for my first marathon that year.  And then in 2007, I added cross-training and weights several days per week, which made a huge difference in my running and in my body shape.  And then finally in 2008, I worked on cleaning up my diet.  That brought it all together and I would say I became a much healthier person.  But aside from all that, I'm also blessed with good genes and good luck.  Not much cancer or other disease in my family, no obesity with my siblings or parents, good luck in avoiding any major accidents.

5.  Tied into that, my running buddies.  I've had a wonderful group of friends with whom I've run several days per week for many years now.  They are frequently the reason I get up at an ungodly early hour to go run.  We frequently have similar goals, and even when someone is taking a season off from racing, it's a fun enough group, that person usually joins in anyway.  I feel like I've been through so much with this group -- a couple people have moved away, which stinks, but our group has been through job changes, weddings, divorces, deaths in the family, having kids, deciding not to have kids, job losses, injuries, etc.  It is amazing how important people become to you when you spend hours talking each week without any distractions.  I'm so lucky to have this group, and I know the two guys who have moved away miss it a lot. 

6.  The opportunity to see the world.  This is a bit related to things like my husband, my job, and my health, but I love to travel.  Without those few things, it would be different -- I'm glad all three of those work well for me to get to indulge my love of travel.  I think it's so important to be a citizen of the world, to learn about what's out there, to get out of this US bubble, or the English-speaking bubble, or even the first-world bubble.  I've long loved to travel, beginning with that first trip to Europe in high school, but now I'm finally really getting to see the world.  I'm so glad my husband is game for unusual trips, and I'm so glad I have a job with vacation time (though of course I'd love more!), and I'm so glad I'm healthy enough to travel.  I should also mention that I'm glad my husband is on board with making some tough financial decisions to make sure that our world travel dreams happen -- sometimes not spending money on what we want in the moment to make sure we can take a big trip every year. 

7.  Living where I live.  Between a trip home to the great white north in the last few days, and the devastation the superstorm, I'm so happy to live in Dallas.  We're fortunate here to have very few natural disasters, and what I consider to be perfect weather for a vast majority of the year.  It makes me so happy to be warm -- having to bundle up this past week at home just reminded me how miserable that makes me.  It's fine for a week, but I'm so glad we don't have to deal with it often here.  While it is hot in the summer, I meet my running buddies at 5:15 in the morning, and it's manageable to be outside and active at that time and in those temps.  On a smaller level, I love our house.  It's just enough space for the two of us.  It's new construction, which means very little upkeep.  It's a condo, so it means no outside maintenance.  It is a good fit for us, and every month, it gets closer and closer to being all ours. 

8.  My friends.  This should be much higher on the list, but I'm not really putting the list in order of priority.  Part of what makes me happy to live in Dallas, despite being so far away from my wonderful family, is having a bunch of friends that I love.  We both have godchildren here in Dallas, and it makes me think friends are the family we choose.  We have a fun bunch to spend time with, so many common interests. 

9.  Technology.  Is it bad to say I'm thankful for my iphone?  Last year at Christmas, we ran out of gas along a highway in Wisconsin.  What would we have done before cell phones?  Walked I guess, or taken a chance on trying to flag someone down.  But with the phone, we were able to call for help and tell them exactly where we were.  When we were lost in Chongqing China last week, we were able to turn on data roaming and pull up a map to show our exact position, rather than trying desperately to find someone who spoke some English or spending hours lost.  Plus, it lets me stay in touch with my family, it let me manage to make sure no complete crisis arose at work while I was gone, etc.  Beyond the iphone, wow, I love having a DVR...

10.  My accumulation.  I definitely have a bad habit of holding on to things, but at the same time, I am fairly frugal (the whole thing about not spending needless money so we can travel) and I am happy with the material possessions we've amassed.  I look around my living room -- a beautiful silk rug I bought in Thailand, an 8-panel oriental screen I bought through an art dealer, a couch, chair, table and armoire I spent days selecting with my mom in town many years ago, a dining room set I inherited from my parents, the hutch that is now filled with beautiful things we got for our wedding, pictures on the wall documenting our travels.  I do need to purge more, but I'm glad we're at a comfortable level.