Dec 29, 2009

God Is Enough

For those of you who have been reading our blog since the beginning (2004) or at least since Roger was diagnosed with brain cancer (2006), you might be able to relate to the following. Pastor Matt Chandler of the Village Church in Dallas, Texas had a seizure a couple months ago which sent him to the doctor where a brain tumor was discovered. Soon after he was scheduled to have the tumor removed, experienced some difficulty after surgery which kept him in the hospital longer and required rehabilitation before he could find out the pathology results to make the decision about his next course of action. He began radiation therapy today. Sound familiar? It's kind of scary how familiar this story is to us.

Wow, as I have been keeping up with Matt's condition, streams of emotion keep flooding in as I am swept with memories of our experience in 2006. Being able to relate to what they are going through and knowing how scary and overwhelming it all is, one other element is also constant in our similar ordeals and that is our God is enough. When Roger walked into my office on that Tuesday and shut the door to tell me he had a tumor and it was scheduled to be removed the next Friday, our first thoughts and prayers were God will get us through this and He will be glorified in it. We had already experienced this two years before when Roger got the call from his First Sergeant saying he was being deployed to Iraq. We knew then God was sending him there for a reason and He would be glorified through it. As most of you know, God sent Roger to Washington DC instead of Iraq, in order for Roger to glorify Him there and to show He keeps his promises as our whole church prayed corporately Roger would not go to Iraq. Amazing story there too.

But what I mainly wanted to share with you today is, again, that our God is enough. He is faithful and He loves us and He's right there beside us in everything we are going through. But He is enough. I can not lie that it didn't cross my mind on more than one occasion that Roger might die in war in Iraq or on the operating table in DC, but I always knew no matter what, God would get me through it and I had Him. That's all I needed. Him. Nothing else.

Every time we go through a struggle I think about how we get through it because of Him. Before I found Jesus, I heard a lot of testimony at the church we were attending of people going to God when they went through a tough time. I remember thinking, "I hope when I go through my first tough time I remember to go to God first." You know, since I hadn't experienced anything 'bad' yet. And when we hit our first rough spot, the Iraq deployment, not even a year into our marriage, I remembered, "Go to God first." He is faithful. And He loves us. He keeps His promises. And He is enough.

You can keep up with Matt's story by visiting a blog on the church's website. And be motivated to praise God by watching a great video made by Matt's church family here.

Thanks for letting me share with you today what I have been experiencing lately. ~ Holly

Dec 23, 2009

Christmas Eve Service

I'm truly looking forward to our first ever Christmas Eve services at Austin New Church. I hope you are planning on joining us at 11530 Manchaca Rd, Austin 78748 and our special guest Andy Melvin as we celebrate in a simple time of worship and communion together.
  • Two identical services to chose from: 5pm and 7pm.
  • Plan on coming early to allow time to park, check in the kids, and find a seat.
  • Services will be approximately 45 minutes once we get started.
  • Childcare is provided for birth-preschool.
  • Elementary kids are encouraged to worship with their family.
Merry Christmas!

Dec 17, 2009

Update from the Austin Komen Race for the Cure

I had to share this as it really tore my heart in half.

Dear Friend,

The holiday season brings me joy and appreciation for family, tradition, laughter, love and blessings. I have a unique understanding of the word blessing. As many of you know, I have been fighting Stage IV breast cancer for four years now. It has been a challenging month since we finished the Komen Austin Race for the Cure on November 1st. I began to experience debilitating pain in my back and scans would later confirm that my cancer has spread. We immediately moved to a new drug with high hopes that it will slow this beast's progress. Only one drug remains in the medicine cabinet... please God, let this work. Forget needing more time to shop for Christmas. I need more time, period.

As I type this update to you I watch my son Reid sleep; Yes, bad mommy let him sleep with us tonight! I mentally cannot wrap my mind around not being here to raise this beautiful being. I struggle with celebrating the holiday season versus mourning the possibility that it may be my last. I have one more drug available to me and we are now beginning our search for trials. With all of the research being done out there, surely there is something that can see me through my 38th birthday, Reid's 6th birthday and the Komen Austin Race in 2010. That is what I want for Christmas this year....a chance to see Christmas NEXT year.

Many of you already know the name of my Race team is “Michelle’s Angels”. These amazing people have walked with me, stood by me and brought love and faith with them as we’ve experienced this journey through breast cancer together. They have helped me “eat life with a big spoon” and I like to think I’ve helped them live their life that way too.

Become a "Pink Angel" this Holiday...Holiday Pink Angels

This holiday as we search for ways to show the people we love how we feel, I want to encourage you to reach out for the intangible holiday gift that will impact not only you and the one who receives your gift, but also the many women just like me that Komen Austin supports with your generous donations throughout the year. Donate to the Pink Angels Holiday fund on behalf of a family member or friend and help Komen keep their promise to all people at risk, including me: to end breast cancer forever.

After you make your donation you will be able to email or download and print a Pink Angels Holiday eCard to let your loved one know they have been honored by you this season. There are many gifts we can choose to give but a gift of hope is eternal.

Thank you for all you do for the cause. With supporters as passionate as you, it is not a matter of if we will find a cure but when. Your continued love, hope and blessings ensures there will one day be a world without breast cancer.

My warmest wishes and blessings for the holiday,
Michelle Bynum
2009 Honorary Race Chair
Austin Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

P.S. Don’t forget! Your year-end contribution to Komen Austin helps save lives AND is tax-deductible. Thank you again for your generosity!

Dec 16, 2009

Ways to Enjoy the Holidays Without Ruining Your Fitness

I get a newsletter every week from USA Triathlon (USAT) with good articles regarding fitness, nutrition, triathlons, etc. And this weeks newsletter had a great article about ways to enjoy the holidays without ruining your fitness. Even if you aren't training for triathlons or marathons, I think the tips in this article apply and can be used by anyone who doesn't want to over do it during the holidays. So check out the article "11 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays Without Ruining Your Fitness" from I personally won't be doing tip number 11. ~Holly

Dec 15, 2009

Advent Conspiracy Alternative Ideas

Below is a post from our church's blog about other ways we can take back the story of Christmas. There are some good options to think about and meditate on how we can change our Christmas stories.

Advent Conspiracy: Alternative Ideas

As a part of our pursuit to “take back the story of Christmas”, our hope is that we can encourage one another by providing practical ideas that accompany the heart of the simple and humble biblical story of Christmas. Most the people I know are frustrated with the patterns they’ve established with their Christmas spending. While the credit keeps piling up as well as the anxiety that goes along with it, often times the very joy we’re chasing is lost in the shuffle. And most certainly the story as well.

Here are a few alternative ideas to make a difference this Christmas. Feel free to add any that you might have:

  1. Simplify: If you’ve got kids, instead of buying a ton of things that probably won’t be remembered six months from now, narrow it down to four key things: (1) Something you want, (2) something you need, (3) something to wear, (4) something to read.
  2. Match It: Make a commitment to give away as much as you keep. For every dollar spent, donate a dollar to a favorite charity or non-profit organization. To see more about Austin New Church’s non-profit partners click HERE.
  3. Give Presence: Do something designed to spend time with your family or friends this Christmas. Take a trip instead of spending money on presents. A cheaper alternative is to do the same thing locally. Maybe a family game day or a day spent around town doing other things together.
  4. Volunteer Together: One of my favorite organizations and partners of ANC is Mobile Loaves and Fishes. Early Christmas morning they invite families to join them (before they open their own presents) and do truck runs to feed the homeless, give warm clothing, and more than anything, let them know they’re not forgotten on one of the hardest days of the year to be alone.
  5. Forego Your Gifts: Ask friends, family, co-workers to donate to the non-profit of your choice instead of them buying YOU a present. Maybe that’s a $20 donation to “Charity: Water” or a $50 micro-loan to KIVA. Either way, that’s a great way for YOU to be the one making the sacrifice, while increasing awareness in others.
  6. ReThink Christmas: Check out the website “Rethinking Christmas” to see what other “Advent Conspiracy” Churches are doing. There are some great ideas found on their website.

There are many, many, many more things we can do. Bottom line, it just takes some thought and maybe a little creativity. The reward and impact goes far beyond a single morning in December. Maybe you’ll even find a new family tradition that will pass down to your children and their children.

Dec 11, 2009

Another chance for last minute gifts!

Need any last minute gifts? Come shop Saturday, December 12th from 3pm-7pm in a relaxed atmosphere at the Legacy Model Home in Rancho Alto at 1821 Ralph Cox Rd, Austin, Texas 78748. Nine vendors will be there with special offers, one of a kind hand made gifts, yummy treats, and something for everyone on your list!

Dec 8, 2009

Holiday Extravaganza

I will be in attendance with about 30 other female vendors and business owners at a Holiday Extravaganza on Friday, December 11, 2009 from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm at My Party Palace, 208 West Bagdad Avenue, Round Rock 78664. Shop for unique holiday gifts in a relaxing atmosphere.

Dec 6, 2009

Change Your Christmas Tradition

We are started a new series of messages at Austin New Church today about changing our Christmas tradition to look more like the original Christmas story. It's called the Advent Conspiracy. The main topic of today's message was nothing tells the true story of Christmas better when the church lives, loves and gives like Jesus lived, loved and gave and for us to worship fully by spending less and giving more therefore loving all. It's a great contrast to what our Christmas stories look like today. You can listen to the message by clicking on "anc teaching" on the home page and launching the sermon player. I recommend listening to the introduction then the sermon. And you can watch a video introduction below. More information at

Dec 4, 2009

Eat At Jason’s Deli and Make a Difference

A great organization, Wonders and Worries, will be benefiting next Tuesday night, December 8th, from 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. from the meals purchased at six area Jason's Deli's. Wonders and Worries will receive 10% of all dine in sales. Wonders and Worries helps children cope when a parent has a chronic or life threatening illness.

For more information and a link to the flyer you need to print out and take with you, check out a blog post from Austin New Church here.

Dec 3, 2009

Busy Thanksgiving

We had one busy Thanksgiving weekend. It started on Thanksgiving morning. I ran the Austin Turkey Trot which benefits Caritas of Austin. It was five miles of fun. It was really a good run. I enjoyed every minute of it. Okay, not the last hill, but the rest was great. And I am really happy with my running time. I ran the entire five miles in one hour which means 12 minute miles. Not bad for a slow poke. I took a lot of pictures during the run. Yes, I ran with my camera. I do it in most races except triathlons. But my camera started acting funky during the middle of the race and didn't start acting right until the end. So I would have taken more pictures but I couldn't. I missed pictures of a lot of interesting costumes. You can check out the pictures by clicking on the picture to the left or here.

Then after getting home, showering and packing up, we went to Roger's parent's house for Thanksgiving dinner. Roger fried two turkeys and they were delicious. The guys watched all the football games outside and then in the garage while the rest of us got all the rest of the food ready inside. There was a full house of family and friends. You can see pictures by clicking on the picture to the left or here.

Then on Friday, after we slept in late because we didn't get home until 3:00 a.m., we went with the Mommaerts' family to see the movie A Christmas Carol in 3D at the IMAX. Then we had a great dinner of Indian food at the Clay Pit down town. No pictures from that because we were too busy stuffing our faces with delicious food!

Saturday we spent most of the day putting up the rest of the interior Christmas decorations and the Christmas tree. We don't decorate the inside very much, mainly because I'm lazy and don't want to have to take it all down at the end of the season. But we are very excited about our new Christmas tree. We can finally have a full size Christmas tree. So we donated our old Christmas tree and all the decorations to a family last year. Which meant we had to get all new Christmas decorations. But you know me, I'm frugal. So we made Christmas ornaments out of holiday cookie cutters and only had to get a few other items. You can see pictures of the Christmas decor by clicking on the picture above or here. We also took our Christmas card picture. But you can't see a picture of that until you get our infamous Christmas card in the mail.

And finally on Sunday, we helped renovate the Soli Deo Gloria building with fellow brothers and sisters from our church for Serve Austin Sunday. We had a great time working on the building getting it ready to serve East Austin better and getting to know people from our Restore Community (community group) and our church more. You can see pictures from Serve Austin Sunday by clicking on the picture to the left or here.

See, I told you we had a busy Thanksgiving weekend. ~ Holly

Nov 23, 2009

Serve Austin Sunday (Nov 29th)

It's that time again, a month with a fifth Sunday. Our church, Austin New Church, will not be having a morning service this Sunday, November 29th. Instead we will be serving and loving our city at six different projects. Roger and I will be joining our community group to continue the renovation of the Soli Deo Gloria building so we can better serve the poor and marginalized of East Austin from 3-5pm (4th/Pedernales). This project is full but if you would like to join another project you can see the others at the church website by clicking on Restore Austin then Serve Austin Sunday or read a post from our church's blog about Serve Austin Sunday. Both locations have instructions for how to sign up for a project. Thanks!

Nov 22, 2009

Call To All Crafters

It's Sew Much More's Annual Christmas Stocking Competition! Why not put your creative talents to work and help a great cause in the process? Due by December 5th, all stockings will be donated to the Center for Child Protection after judging. My mom and I don't do it to win, we do it for the kids.

Nov 11, 2009

Happy Veterans Day

We would like to thank all the men and women who have served in the military of the United States of America. Thank you for your service, dedication and sacrifice to our country.

Also, if you are a veteran, there are lots of discounts and specials out there for you today. And free meals!!

Veterans Day Discounts

Lowe’s, Home Depot offer vets discounts

Nov 5, 2009

Holiday Bazaars, Fairs and Open Houses

I have been invited to quite a few holiday open houses, bazaars and fairs this holiday season. Some Saturdays I have two to choose from. I really like setting up a table and displaying a custom J. Hilburn shirt and one of our Luxury Blend Cashmere sweaters because so far I have been the only vendor with products and holiday gift ideas for men. Our gift cards for a custom shirt are so popular with the ladies perusing these bazaars because their shopping for a birthday or Christmas gift for their husband, boyfriend, father, etc is done. The gift cards never expire and they all think it's such a cool gift to give a gentleman. Plus I can give them the $20 new customer discount on the gift card which ends November 15th. I will be at a holiday open house tomorrow night from 4pm-9pm with six other vendors of great products and hand made items for everyone on your shopping list. There will be special offers, yummy snacks and a free gift just for attending. Bring a friend and shop in a relaxing and fun atmosphere. Click on the link below for more information. If you have a holiday event coming up in your neighborhood or at your child's school, please let me know. ~Holly

Oak Parke Holiday Open House

Nov 1, 2009

Race for the Cure

The 2009 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was held this morning at the Domain. It was great. I really like the new location. And the turnout was unbelievable. I really enjoyed it. Join me next year on November 7, 2010! You can see some of the pictures I took here.

Oct 22, 2009

Church Service Moving to 10:30 AM

November 1st (one week from this Sunday), Austin New Church will be moving our worship service to 10:30 a.m. We will also be launching a new children’s ministry program. We meet at Jackie’s Performing Arts Academy on South Manchaca, 11530 Manchaca Road. So come check us out!

And don't forget to turn your clocks back the same day, November 1, 2009.

Oct 16, 2009

Business Update

I wanted to give a quick little update about my new business to let you know how things are going. I am having so much fun and every day this business gets more and more exciting. I think the best part of this business for me is I am helping people and building great relationships. I didn't think when I started this about how much I would be helping people or about the relationships it would create and build. It's really amazing. I prayed a lot while I was doing research about this company before I decided to join it. I can see now how God is going to use me through it.

The other amazing thing about this business is this country has been in a recession for a while. People are watching every penny and our company is exploding. Our sales are sky rocketing and more and more people are jumping at the chance to join our company. We really are providing an economical service to people. We are saving people money with our custom apparel. The quality is great and therefore they aren't throwing their money away. That makes me feel good also.

For more information about our products and services, you can check out our website or ask me. If you are interested in joining this great company, let me know. Below are some links to recent articles about our company.

Tailored Around Your Man - The Examiner
September 20, 2009 Post: Holly's New Business


Oct 2, 2009

Message From Honorary Race Chairman

Honorary Race Chair Michelle Bynum recently found out that her metastatic breast cancer is spreading. As we prepare for the upcoming 2009 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Michelle and her family are sharing their stories with us.

Update from Michelle:

Cancer is a funny thing. It’s ugly, it’s unpredictable, and it’s emotional. My tumor markers were down and now they are showing an increase in size again. I haven’t lost my faith. We are going to continue my chemotherapy treatment and see what my next scan brings. Every day is a precious gift.

I’m sharing this with you because I want you to understand how this disease can change from day to day. We must find a cure!

Today is the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness month. I have to admit, I never really was a “pink” girl growing up. It seemed a little girlie and too bright. Other than thinking the “Pink Ladies” were cool in the movie Grease, it was not on my list of favorite colors (though I did want one of those jackets!). Many years ago, the color pink became synonymous with breast cancer. As loved ones were diagnosed with the dreaded disease, the color took an entire new meaning for me. It meant life, hope and the prayer for a cure someday. When I was diagnosed with late stage breast cancer at the age of 33, the “bright, girlie” color became a part of me (not quite as much as my beloved UT burnt orange, but a part of me none the less). It became a symbol of empowerment. Pink means “feminine” to those of us who face life with no hair, missing breasts as well as internal and external scars. Personally, it reminds me that I am not alone.

Yes, pink is a marketing tool to get your attention. However, this disease NEEDS your attention. Current statistics give a woman a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. If it isn’t already, this epidemic will be at your doorstep at some point in time with the diagnosis of a loved one or heaven forbid yourself. Many have fought and will continue to fight until breast cancer is a concern of the past. I dream of a day that my little niece Kendall is a grown woman with no fear of a ticking time bomb in her chest. I pray our children today will look back at my current treatment and think, “How barbaric!”

Every day is Breast Cancer Awareness for me but this month is special and worth reflection. When we see pink, wear pink, or think pink this month, please remember that awareness, education, and empowerment are three weapons we have to fight for life and wipe breast cancer off the map! Please sign up for the Race today, and if you can, take the 125 Challenge to pay for a woman’s mammogram.

I can’t wait to meet you, your family, and friends and share the magic with you on Sunday, November 1st!

With all my heart,

Oct 1, 2009

Alaska Vacation Pictures!

Family and friends, I know we have somewhat slacking on the blog. We seem to spend most of our time on Facebook and Twitter these days. If you’re interested in following us there, leave a comment or email and I’ll get back to you on how to do that.

What I really want to do right now is share some pictures with you. Holly and I took a long vacation a few weeks ago. We took a cruise starting near Anchorage, Alaska and finished up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. And then we spent a few days in Vancouver. Anyway, we’ve been slowly going through our pictures and I wanted to point you to the first three days that we have up so far. They can be found here on Flickr. Enjoy and we’ll let you know when we get more posted!

Sep 28, 2009

Austin Marathon Relay

I participated in the Austin Marathon Relay yesterday with Team ANC, a group of friends from our church, Austin New Church. The race benefited Junior Achievement of Central Texas, which provides educational resources to teach financial literacy by local business and community volunteers that meet with over 16,000 area students each year.

It was such a fun race. This was my first relay, but it was easy to figure out. The length of the race was a marathon, 26.2 miles, broken into five legs (12K, 10K, 10K, 5K, 5K). You could run the entire race yourself or have anywhere from two to five runners join together. Our friend Adam ran the first leg (12K) of the race and the last leg (5K) of the race. Susie ran the second leg (10K) of the race. I ran the third leg (10K) of the race and Jessica ran the fourth leg (5K). Her husband Adam brought it home for us. And because there was so much time between legs, people were hanging out all over Auditorium Shores having a grand time socializing. There were lots of activities for children so it was a good event for families.

The race route was really neat. We ran across Riverside Drive at Auditorium Shores over the South First Bridge, up Congress Avenue around the Capitol then back down Congress west on Cesar Chavez. We turned around at the top of the hill on Cesar Chavez almost to Mopac-Loop One then back to the South First bridge and down Riverside to the finish. It's so neat to run up the middle of Congress Avenue and around the Capitol. The weather started out nice but got hot fast. But it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed finishing the 10K leg, joining a group from my church to help a great organization and hanging out with friends getting to know them better. Roger was our official team photographer and he was all over the place getting photos of us at the start-finish to hand off the team wristband to the next runner and trying to catch each of us at least once out on the race route. He walked a lot and got some great shots as a result. You can see them all by clicking on the photo above.

Also at the race a Guinness World Record was broken. It was so crazy cool! A new record was set for the fastest marathon relay. Of course this race held the record from last year but they broke it by five minutes. It was an amazing race to see so many different participants, young and old, experienced and non-experienced, amateurs and professionals, all out there for the same cause. I hope next year we can have more than one team participating in this race. It would be fun to cheer on even more friends.

Sep 20, 2009

Holly's New Business

I started a new business this weekend. I am now a Style Advisor and an Austin representative for J. Hilburn. I am so excited! J. Hilburn is a men's clothier. We make custom shirts of high quality Egyptian cotton milled into fabric at the same fabulous Italian mill as Zegna and Ike Behar. And they are at affordable prices. We also currently sell polos. This fall we are adding custom trousers and cashmere sweaters. Next year they are adding accessories and suits. So we will be a full wardrobe source for men and they will never have to leave the comfort of their home. I take ten measurements and help you select from over 200 fabrics. Then we style the shirt to your liking and your fit, in roughly twenty minutes. You get to pick the collar, cuff, pocket, placket and back pleat styles of your choice. A few weeks later, you receive an amazing shirt that reflects your body and style.

Here's what Denver Magazine and D magazine in Dallas had to say about J. Hilburn. You can also hear what one of our founders had to say about the company's success.

If you wear button down shirts every day for work, have difficulty finding shirts to fit you or with or without the features you like, or if you know of a man who does, I can help you. If you do not like to shop with your man or if you are a man and don't like to shop, I am your life saver. If there is a man in your life with a birthday coming up and you want to get him a unique gift, I can help you do that. You can give a special man in your life a gift card for a custom shirt and amaze him. Do you know of a graduate who will need an interview shirt, give him a gift card for a custom shirt. Know a guy who has everything and you don't know what to give him for his birthday, I do. If you are spending over $100 for off the rack shirts that are just okay, you need to see me. And through October 19th, I can offer you $20 off your first shirt order. Which means I can get you a custom fitting shirt for $59!!

If you are interested or have more questions, drop me a line. I would love to show you what we have to offer.

Sep 1, 2009

Because of you, lives will be saved.

I recently accepted the challenge to help Austin New Church raise funds to support the Susan G. Komen Austin Race for the Cure. As Team Captain of the Restore Austin team, I would love for you to join us on Sunday, November 1, 2009 to walk for a cure. If you would like to join my team you can do so by visiting my Team Page.

Komen's promise is to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality of care for all and energizing science to find the cures needs your support. Please help Komen Austin reach its fundraising goal of $1,000,000 for the 11th Annual Race for the Cure.

If you can't participate in the walk, but would like to help online donations are fast and easy. Please visit my Personal Page to make a donation today. Remember,
  • Your gift funds breast cancer education, screening and treatment programs in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.
  • Your gift supports the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Award and Research Grant Program.
  • Your gift is tax-deductible.
Thank you!! ~ holly

Aug 30, 2009

So Much Fun Today

Oh my gosh, we have had such a fun Sunday. First we started at Lanier High School helping makeover a room for Communities in School. It turned out great. It was really a lot of fun. Roger's big project for the classroom was cutting molding for a frame around a bulletin board. He had to miter the corners with a hand saw and a miter box. He loved it. Okay, that's exaggerating but the end result he was happy with. I spent most of the time hemming fabric for curtains and sewing a table cloth. You can see pictures from today at the link to the right or here. I didn't take as many as I wanted because my camera battery died. So I didn't get any final pictures. But you can get the gist of the project.

Then we hustled home to host a fantasy football draft party with Roger's coworkers. Talk about fun. We laughed, talked smack, ate lots of appetizers, drank lots of beer and laughed some more. It was a lot of fun. I only took a few pictures during the event since I was the keeper of the picks. Roger found a great spreadsheet online that had all the current NFL players and you could choose a player for each person or manager every round. And if a player was already picked, they would show up in red so it was easy to keep up with who had been picked already. One of the sheets in the spreadsheet was linked to the picks and you could see the picks by manager to make sure you could had all the positions you wanted. It made the draft super easy for me especially since I have never done any thing with fantasy football before. But sports to me are about socializing and fellowshipping and we certainly did that tonight.

Aug 28, 2009

Serve Austin Sunday

This Sunday, August 30th is Serve Austin Sunday. We are not having regular worship service at 5:00 p.m. but helping others. There are five choices for serving our community this Sunday. More information can be found on the Austin New Church blog. Roger and I are helping at the Extreme Classroom Makeover at Lanier High School for Communities in Schools. If you would like to join us, please let me know. You don't have to do the project we are working on. You can do anything your heart desires. So come on out and help us serve our city!

Aug 27, 2009

Good Visit With the Good Doctor

I had a favorable appointment with the Neurologist at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio today. The Neurologist said that my condition is stable, but that I am still 'unfit for duty' and will continue to be so until all this mess is over in June 2013. I'm not sure exactly what his report will say and will not know until it is mailed to my home, at which time I will need to 'concur' or 'nonconcur' with his findings. It will most likely be 'concur.' I then send my response back to the Medical Evaluation Board office in San Antonio and then it gets forwarded to a Physical Evaluation Board which will look at his findings in conjunction with all my past medical records and decide whether I continue to stay on the Temporary Disabled Retired List, be taken off the list and returned to Army Reserve duty (contrary to the Neurologist's findings) or simply be Permanently Retired early. Their decision comes back to me, I have to again 'concur' or 'nonconcur,' and send it back to them. We think that they will simply keep me where I am right now and I'll have to come back in twelve months and do this dance all over again. It is a highly bureaucratic process that we need to go through in order to keep my disability benefits active for continued medical care provided by the government for me and Holly.

I'd love for them to simply Medically Retire me early so all of this can over and done with for the rest of my life, but I think we're going to continue to do this until 2013 when they will hopefully Permanently Retire me and never look back. We'll continue to keep you posted over the coming weeks as the paper flies back and forth from here to San Antonio. Thanks for your prayers.


Big Day For Roger

Today is a big day for Roger. We are heading to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas to meet with his neurologist. His neurologist will be part of the decision making process of whether Roger's temporary Army disability and retirement will stay temporary, change to permanent or they could decide he is no longer disabled and take away all his benefits.

So... we are asking for prayer requests for the doctors and others who will make the final decision to understand that cancer is not temporary and there is always a chance for it to return and for peace during this whole process. Thank you!

Aug 26, 2009

Wurst Tri Ever

I love the name of the triathlon I participated in this past Sunday. The name comes from the location. It was held at Landa Park in New Braunfels, Texas which is the same location of the Wurst Fest which is a big celebration of German culture in Texas. Lots of brats and beer. Good times.

So I made through the entire triathlon. It was a Sprint distance triathlon: 350m swim, 14 mile bike and 3 mile run. I am so excited and happy. It was tough, but so much fun. I didn't have any problems with fearing what was under the water. I had a lot of peace. I know there were lots of people praying for me. I really love doing triathlons. Everyone is so nice and it really is a lot of fun. I placed 16th in my age group (females 35-39) and 85th out of all the females on a really tough climb on the bike leg. This was the first time I had ever downshifted all the way to the bottom of my gears to make some of the hills we rode on. But it was super cool. I really, really enjoyed it. And I can't wait to do it again next year.

Aug 21, 2009

Fun Friday

I have had an exceptionally fun Friday. It started off with working on my front flower bed this morning. I dug up some dead bushes the landscapers planted when our house was built. I knew those water loving, non-heat tolerant bushes would be gone soon. After I dug them up, I drove down to my nearest local nursery, It's About Thyme, to get two small pots of plumbago. But they just got bought out of all their small pots and only had two huge pots left. I decided to pass and drove over to the Natural Gardener on Old Bee Caves Road to see if they might have some. I have never been to this local nursery but have heard lots about them. All good things. So I drove down Old Bee Caves Road not knowing where it was or how far I would have to go. I just assumed it would be there on one side of the road eventually. And it was. This is my next favorite local nursery. It was amazing and extensive. As I drove in there were small pots of plumbago sitting right there. I knew I was at the right place. Of course I bought more than I originally intended but only one pot of a standing Lantana and two tiny pots of Mexican Heather. All for the front flower bed. This place is great for kids. There were a couple moms there walking their children around. They have a butterfly garden, a tee pee, a labyrinth, donkeys, chickens, goats and tons of stuff to look at and lots of stuff to learn about. All the staff were super nice.

I headed back home to finish my flower bed. I got everything planted and covered the flower bed with rubber mulch. Rubber mulch is made from old recycled tires so it's environmentally friendly and it lasts 15 years longer than normal tree based mulch. It holds moisture in better and doesn't attract bugs like termites, etc. And it looks fabulous. The whole flower bed looks way better than it did before. Anything looks better than dead bushes.

After a quick bite to eat, I headed up to Barton Springs pool. I have a triathlon this Sunday in New Braunfels and I wanted to practice open water swimming. It wasn't that I wanted to actually swim but just expose myself to open water in all it's creepiness. You see, I have issues with not knowing what's under water I can't see and things touching me. I don't know where this fear has developed because I grew up swimming in some of the nastiest watering holes you could imagine. I didn't care about what was in the water as long as I got to swim in it. Cow and horse manure didn't bother me. Fish didn't bother me. Even snakes in the water didn't bother me. Those we just got out until they passed us by then we jumped right back in.

The only time I have ever been uneasy about open water was on our cruise in March of 2007 while we were on a snorkeling excursion in Grand Cayman. One of our snorkel stops was swimming with stingrays. I was super excited and thought it was going to be really cool. But the weather was not good and caused the seas to be really choppy. Actually the weather was so bad, the cruise ship canceled all it's water excursions for the day. Of course we booked our excursion through the boat operator and they were still going. And this was just after Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, was pierced through the heart and killed by a stingray. Everyone on the boat kept talking about it. Before getting in the water with the stingrays, we got the lecture about shuffling our feet in the sand to walk so as to not step on the stingrays because that's how you get barbed by one. All this time our boat is bouncing up and down all over because of the choppy seas. They even had a hard time anchoring our boat because the seas were so choppy. As we descended the ladder into the water, the stingrays were every where. All around us, all under our feet. The water would pick you up and then bring you back down and underneath you would be this huge freaking stingray. And they were big! I held onto Roger as tight as I could. I was actually pissed at myself for being scared. I'm not usually like that. I withstood it for about 5 minutes when we all assembled into a circle for another lecture, then I told Roger I couldn't take it any more. I made a B line back to the boat. Every time the water would pick me back up and bring me down near a stingray I would shriek and grab onto any man who was near me. I didn't care who's husband or boyfriend he was. I finally made it back to the boat. I wasn't happy that I was scared, but I felt better in that boat. I really wished the weather would have been better because the boat crew told us normally the water comes to your waist and you can walk around no problem. Not this time. Maybe we'll have to go back one day.

So back in April I did a sprint distance triathlon at Aquarena Springs. All the notes about the swim leg of the triathlon said the hydrilla was really bad but they would do everything they could to get it cut back for us. I didn't think anything of it. Until I got in the water at the start of the race. Wearing goggles, I could see so clearly under the water all the way to the bottom. And my goggles were magnifying everything. I swear that hydrilla was all the way up to the top of the water. And the first time I felt it touch me, I freaked out. Literally. I could feel panic building up over me. Of course this is happening as I am swimming. I tried to calm myself saying, "You can do it Holly" and "Snap out of it Holly". Then the lady who I had been having a pleasant conversation in line with came swimming over the left side of me. Yeah, that didn't help. I kept swimming and kept trying to talk myself through it. It didn't work. I had to get out. I swam to the side and a lifeguard helped me out. Roger was there, (Taking pictures of course!) and he asked me what was wrong. I told him how I felt and what I was thinking and he said it reminded him of how I reacted with the stingrays. Darn stingrays!

Obviously I have an open water issue now. But I love doing triathlons. So my mission at Barton Springs pool today was just to expose myself a little more to my fears. I didn't do bad, but I didn't stay in very long. Not only was the water initially freezing cold (constant 68F), but I did get out eventually because I felt the panic. And it was kind of boring by myself. But I made myself swim to the other side of the pool before I got out. I think the more I do this the better I will get with open water swimming. Then I laid out in the sun on my beach towel reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for an hour. It was definitely refreshing swimming in the pool, but it got really hot outside (102F). So I went home to miss rush hour and take a shower because Roger and I are on our way to eat sushi with friends at DK Shushi. So the fun continues!


Aug 17, 2009

Update & Pictures

Roger and I had some portraits taken in June by our friend Amy Melsa. She is a great photographer. You can check out the pictures by clicking on the photo to the left or on the Flickr link to the right of our blog.

I received the results of my labs from my doctor last week. If you remember from a post a week ago I mentioned that my last cholesterol tests showed I was border line but my doctor told me it wasn't my LDL that was bad, but my HDL that was too low. So the results of my most recent labs were better. Last time my LDL was 146 and it is now 127. LDL is the lousy number and you want it low, preferably lower than 120. So I'm getting better there.

HDL is the happy number and you want it high. My HDL was 36 last time and it is now 49. It increased which is good but they would like to see it in the 60-70's. So before I start trying supplements to increase the HDL number I am going to try increasing my fish/seafood consumption and using products that have more omega 3 fatty acids and less transfats like Smart Balance spreadable butter and Smart Balance peanut butter. I will schedule another lab test in 3-4 months. I have to return in a few weeks for a follow-up pap smear since mine showed abnormal cells. But they tested for high risk HPV cancer cells and that returned negative. I have had positive paps before and am not worried about it. It's usually nothing with a follow-up.

And last but not least, Roger and I linked our blog to our Facebook accounts a few months ago. So when ever one of us blogs, it shows up in our Facebook Notes. Unfortunately, it doesn't show who posted the note as our blog does. It has confused people lately with news of my grandmother's health and some thinking Roger went to the doctor for an annual woman visit. To keep everything clear we have decided we should sign our posts.

So that's all for now,

Aug 15, 2009

My Grandmother

I spent Thursday in Bryan, Texas at St. Joseph's Hospital. My grandmother, Pauline Cahill, went to the emergency room Wednesday. Her health has been slowly deteriorating over the years. Her mobility went years ago and she's been asking everyone who they are for at least a couple years. She always knows her own children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. It's non-family members she can't remember. For some reason she always remembers Roger. But lately her deteriorating health has sped up faster than we could have imagined. She has lost all her strength and energy. Her kidneys are failing and she has fluid on her lungs. Her speech is slurred and she has weakness on her right side. Her symptoms illustrate a possible stroke which might have happened in the last two weeks. Test results will confirm what the doctors believe.

My grandmother turned 91 years old this year. She was born in 1918. Yes, she's lived a long life and seen a lot of changes. I don't think she knows much about computers or cell phones though. My grandmother is definitely old school. She grew up in a frugal family with twelve children in Bremond, Texas. Which is still a mainly rural area. She has lived on a farm all her life even after marrying my grandfather. She grew up picking cotton by hand and many other manual labor jobs. She's had a hard life. Lots of laughter, fun and love, but still hard. She took care of all her grandchildren well. She was such a good grandmother she let us go pick our own switch when we needed some discipline. Don't worry, she loved us a lot and did everything she could for us. But I deserved every whipping I got and I can admit it.

I have many fond memories growing up on the same farm land as her. We'd walk or ride our bikes up the driveway to her house. I loved sleeping on her cold wood floors. She made delicious homemade bread and we loved when she deep fried little pieces of the dough for us. I even loved when she would make us artichokes for snacks. I could sit there peeling off leaf by leaf dragging my teeth across to scrape the meat off. It was a treat to get to the heart. Her fresh pasta was so good. Her yard has many pecan trees which we picked and shelled when they fell to the ground. And it was full of shade. It always seemed cooler sitting under them eating watermelon or drinking sweet tea with family for gatherings. She would ask us to go into the shed house with it's dirt floor and bring back a jar of canned black eyed peas or tomatoes. She was always sewing a quilt which would get so large they hung from the ceiling in her front room or crafting doilies on a metal frame which she would give you a stack to give to a friend when you mentioned how they were doing. I loved walking through her garden picking cherry tomatoes, wiping them off with my hands and popping them right into my mouth. Sometimes I wished I carried a salt shaker with me they were so good. I also remember the times as I approached her house I could smell the sauerkraut she was cooking and I would turn around and walk back home the smell bothered me so bad. Yes, lots of good memories of her.

Thursday she was moved to the clinical decision unit to be observed over the weekend until she can be moved into a nursing home next week. She will never return to her home. It's kind of sad and we all know there comes a time when this happens. We knew it would come and now that it is upon us, we are still not ready.

Aug 6, 2009

Our Church Is Moving!

Just wanted to give you all a heads up our church, Austin New Church, is moving permanently to a new facility this Sunday. We used to meet at Akins High School on Sundays, but now we are moving over to Jackie's Performing Arts and Private Education building at 11530 Manchaca Rd Austin, TX 78748. It's on Manchaca Road south of Slaughter Lane. The building itself is on the west side of Manchaca just south of Marcus Abrams Boulevard which is the entrance to the Olympic Heights subdivision. Or it's just north of Cafe 1626 if you are familiar with the restaurant. We can basically walk over to Cafe 1626 after church for dinner which I think is convenient. So come check us out some time. This summer we are meeting at 6:00 p.m. and will return to 5:00 p.m. after school starts.

Aug 5, 2009

Funny Experience

I had a funny experience at the doctor's office today. Okay, it was funny to me, but probably not the person I was laughing at internally. So I had my annual well woman visit with my doctor this morning. All women look forward to this event. Thank goodness it's only once a year. But truthfully, it's not that bad for me. I have had unpleasant experiences in the past, but my new doctor is awesome. And she's nice and cool so that makes it better. Her nurse is great too. So at the annual visit, you not only get the yearly poke and prod, but you usually give a urine sample and some blood for labs. I didn't give blood last year because my gastroenterologist does it every year and his visit is a month before this one and my doctor has access to all his stuff so she can see what the lab results are. But his blood draws and labs aren't done after a fast so she thought this year we should go ahead and do labs since I fasted last night and this morning. I was interested in getting the labs done this year because my last fast and blood draw labs were two years ago and my results for cholesterol were "borderline". Which I was shocked about because I exercise a lot, eat pretty healthy and at that time I was eating Cheerios every morning for breakfast which is supposed to bring your cholesterol down. But what I learned today was it wasn't my LDL (the lousy number) that was high. It was my HDL (the happy number) that was low. That would have been good to know two years ago! So I was glad to give blood today so I could find out next week the results and see if I need to get to work on increasing my HDL.

So I happily walked back to the blood drawing room. Someone walked in there right before I did so I sat down and took the opportunity to read some of the book I brought with me for any potential waiting times. I am reading Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy. No, I'm not pregnant and don't plan on getting pregnant. But I have been wanting to read her book for years now because I heard it was really, really funny. And it is. I was crying from laughing by the third chapter. So I sat down in the middle chair and began reading. Very quickly I was giggling reading the book. Not shortly after that a nurse escorted a slightly over middle aged gentleman into the blood drawing room. He sat down right next to me. I looked at him and said hello. He said hello back. I went straight back to my book, giggling and all. As soon as he sat down, I heard him make a long, deep sigh. I just figured it was a normal sigh, you know, mid-morning, sitting in the waiting room kind of sigh. Then I heard it again. And again. I then realized, these weren't sighs. This man was breathing in deeply trying to calm himself down for the needle he was about to meet. I decided to ignore him as to not make it worse for him and got back into my book. Of course, the giggling started again. I'm not talking about out loud giggling, just low, more of a big smile and sometimes a shocking gasp kind of giggling.

The phlebotomist called my name and I sat my book down on my purse and walked over to the chair. I sat down realizing my feet didn't touch the ground. So I swung my legs a little big. I noticed the heavily breathing gentleman look over at my legs. I quickly stopped thinking that was probably not helping him. I struck up a conversation with the phlebotomist. I'm sure she doesn't get asked often how she is doing or how things are going. She's stuck back in basically a storage closet all by herself. So I try to be nice and make her smile. She deserves it. No telling what kind of people she encounters all day since she's the needle lady. And I don't have any problems with needles. I am actually proud of how well I am when it comes to blood drawing and how easy it is for them to find my blood vessels. So I don't have a problem with needles or watching my blood being drawn. I know, I'm weird. Hello, I was in the Army. Do you know how many shots we get when we join or just to go overseas? I also gave plasma in college for years for extra money. I even made a comment to her about how fast it was flowing into those little tubes. She agreed. I'm sure we were not helping the man who was now trying to turn his entire body away from our direction.

So she was all done with me and wrapped me up with hot pink tape. We said our goodbyes and have a great days and I got out of the chair to go grab my purse and book. She then proceeded to ask the gentleman waiting if he was ready and he let out a very loud "NO!" I thought at first he might be joking but then I saw his face. I walked out the door as he was walking toward the chair so I missed his experience. I can only imagine what it was like for her to draw his blood. I'm just glad my experience with her was easy. As I drove away from my doctor's office, it crossed my mind that he was a grown man and completely scared to death of that tiny little needle. I just don't get it. And yes, I snickered at that too.

Jul 24, 2009

Construction Next Door

Our builder has finally started building a house next door to us. We've been here six months with an empty lot next to us. I already checked with the sales lady and our construction manager but we won't have new neighbors for a while. Although our builder doesn't usually start a house until someone puts escrow down, secures financing and picks everything out at the design center, they want to have houses on inventory for all those people who will be taking advantage of the new home buyer tax credits.

Today they are pouring the concrete for the foundation. It's quite interesting. Since they can't get a concrete truck in, they have to use a boom pump truck. Yesterday they started the foundation for a house right across the street. There's going to be a whole lot of construction going on around us for a while. But it's better than an empty dirt lot blowing sand all over you while you are sitting outside or all over your vehicles and weeds growing up on your grass that you have to pull and weed-eat. I'm getting used to all the noise and crews around all day. It's the early Saturday mornings I don't like.

Jul 23, 2009

Health Happenings

Okay, so I know I said I would post some good health news a while back. I forgot. Sorry, but I have some more to add now which reminded me. First, I had my yearly visit with my gastroenterologist in June and I expressed to him how great I have been feeling since my visit last June. How I feel like I don't have a disease at all. Of course I do but since I take my medications regularly and have been having great results I just don't feel like it. So he let me taper my medications down. I am so happy to go down two less pills a day. It's a really good thing. Even though he added 1000 mg of calcium over my multivitamin which is two pills a day and nulls the two he took away. But I don't care. It's two less ulcerative colitis pills I have to take which is a great thing. And I'm super happy about it!

Now on to the latest health news. Roger and I went to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio yesterday for his semiannual MRI and visit with his radiation/oncologist. We knew it would be the same as usual but it was even better. It looks like the scar tissue/junk that is still in Roger's brain where the tumor was removed has gotten smaller by 1 millimeter. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but it is! We never thought it would go away or get smaller so fast. Roger had his craniotomy in March 2006 and his radiation ended at the end of the summer that year. So it's been three years and we are already seeing a decrease. Awesome!! The edema (aka fluid accumulation) hasn't changed much but like I said, we know it will take years and years. So to have the scar tissue area decrease in size is another great blessing. And three years cancer free! I think we are on cloud nine! We can't help but praise the Lord for yet again taking care of us.

And last but not least, Roger has decided to get serious again about his physical recovery from the paralysis he experienced after the craniotomy. He was rear ended in my vehicle a month or so ago and it aggravated his hip which is still not strong. So not only did he get a referral for physical therapy for that, but we also bit the bullet and purchased a Wii and a Wii fit. We started the EA Active 30 day challenge this week. And it's great. It's a really good workout for Roger and will help him to build his strength back up in his right hip and leg muscles. Which means we will soon be able to go for long walks and rides on our bikes. I can't wait to get back on the trails on our mountain bikes together. I will continue to do my regular morning workouts and workout with Roger in the evenings so we can do it together. Although the Wii EA Active workouts are good, they are kind of like a warm up for me so I'm not going to stop my other workouts. I recently went up to 2300 meters twice a week in the pool and have added weight resistance twice a week to my workouts. But the Wii is so much fun too. I can totally see Wii bowling party nights at our house in the future. Watch for your invitation!

Jul 11, 2009

Austin Farmer's Market

Roger had to be at work at 7:00 o'clock this morning and since he was going to be up that early I decided I'd get up early too and head down to the downtown Austin Farmer's Market. I would normally go to the Sunset Valley Farmer's Market because it is closer to where I live, but I went to the Austin Farmer's Market today because I read in Edible Austin's e-newsletter that there was a new vendor selling 100% pure Texan olive oil. We have some friends who love olive oil and dipping spices with bread for appetizers and snacks with friends. We are visiting them at the end of July to go see a Cirque du Soleil show in Houston and I wanted to bring them a bottle of 100% Texan olive oil as a gift and so we could check it out with them and see how good it is. The last time these friends visited us in Austin, we opened a bottle of olive oil pressed in Italy from olives grown on a College Station lady's farm in Italy and sold at the Brazos Valley Farmer's Market where my parents sell on Saturdays and Wednesdays. It was good but now I'm interested to see how olive oil made from Texas olives taste. Of course I'll let you know.

While at the farmer's market I enjoyed a tasty turkey empanada made from market ingredients from a local family of great cooks and good iced coffee roasted in East Austin. I also enjoyed live music from a local band, Wiretree. I really liked their sound, so much so I bought a CD. Then I bought something I have been wanting for a long time, an orchid plant. The orchid lady in Spring, Texas gave me all the instructions. I have always heard orchid plants are way easier to take care of than most people think. We'll see. I'll keep you updated on it.

I was happily surprised by how large the downtown market has gotten. It used to be a short, little strip of pop-up tents and was kind of a joke. But it's now up to four or five double sided rows and they even had to take over part of the parking lot next to it. The Sunset Valley Farmer's Market is at least twice as large as the Austin one is, but they have a lot more space in Sunset Valley. It was a really nice morning. I had some nice conversations with people sitting around me under the tent with tables and chairs. I talked to a young Indian family where the father really liked the band. I talked with two ladies about the habanero plant they bought. It was already full of fruit. And I talked to quite a few people about their dogs. There were dogs every where. Super cute ones too. Lots of mutts and purebreeds, but a few I could tell were a very well groomed and behaved standard poodle, a goldendoodle puppy that was super sweet and a super cute little jack russell terrier that was every one's friend. Especially if you had food with you. But it was starting to get really hot. I was glad I brought my own water although they had coolers of water for the public. I actually stopped at the information table and asked some questions. The volunteers that man the table are really nice. I even got a Market Card which is stamped with market purchases and you are entered to win fabulous prizes. I think the prize is $10 in market bucks. Not bad. If anyone ever wants to venture out there early on a Saturday morning, let me know. I'll make any excuse to go to the farmer's market, especially with friends.

Jun 26, 2009


Here's another book I'm excited about reading. From the author of the last study I did, being released next Wednesday is Interrupted: An Adventure in Relearning the Essentials of Faith by Jen Hatmaker. Here's a link to a little synopsis and a video. I can't wait to read this book. I hope you check it out.

Jun 24, 2009


This has been our lives for the past week. Roger had some post nasal drip last week that led to congestion in his lungs. And I guess I caught his 'cold' Monday of this week. So he's going on a week of the junk and I just started. He kept us both up every night coughing. I'm keeping him up coughing this week. This week his lungs seem to be working on getting all that junk out. Lovely. Roger stayed home from work two days last week. But he's plugging away regardless. Poor thing. I've had to cancel about three engagements I was participating in this week and one birthday party. Boo. That's no fun. I hope it doesn't last long. We have lives to live. We don't have time to be sick. I feel like I'm not getting anything done. We do have some good news to share and I'll get to that soon. When I have more energy.

Jun 12, 2009

A Little Rain

Austin and the surrounding areas received quite a bit of a storm last night. Of course, we got very little of it. North Travis County and Williamson County got the worst of it. Three tornadoes were spotted up there. We were at Butler Park, a cool new park near Auditorium Shores and the Long Center, with a group of neighbors when the storm rolled in. We had just enough time to run through the drive through at Sandy's for dipped cones before the drops began. It started to come down pretty hard as we approached Mopac (Loop 1), but of course, as we drove south, closer to our homes, the rain began to let up. South Austin always misses out on all the good storms and rain. We were all hoping it would be coming down at our homes, but no, it was not. So we went inside as the lightning and thunder rolled around us. We finally heard rain drops, but knew it wasn't going to be a lot. But I'm not complaining. We'll take any rain we can get. I checked the rain gauge this morning when I was mowing the back yard. It said we got 3/4 of an inch of rain. I was kind of disappointed but glad we got something. That meant one or two days I wouldn't have to water the lawn. Then I walked over to see how much water was in the rain barrel. I figured it might be half full from only 3/4 of an inch of rain. I couldn't believe my eyes as I approached the rain barrel and saw water around the top edge. It was over flowing with rain water! Whew-hoo! I had used almost all of the water from the last rain and now it was completely full again. I am so glad we finally got the gutter downspout redirected to the rain barrel. Roger had mentioned when we finished that he wondered how he could connect two barrels up so one would over flow to the other. I pretty much laughed at that because I was like, "Yeah right. Like we'd ever get enough rain to have overflow much less fill up two barrels." Now I wonder...

Jun 10, 2009

Outdoor Curtains Project Done

Roger and I got the idea from several HGTV shows about turning outdoor spaces into another room of your house. We also thought it could add some privacy on our deck. Since our deck is up higher from the ground, we can see right into our neighbors' backyards and homes. We started this project a few weeks ago and I was finally able to hang the drapes today. Three weeks ago I shopped around for outdoor fabric, brought home swatches and we decided on a striped fabric for color and price. Then I sewed the panels and tiebacks. I might have enough fabric leftover for some bench cushions. Two weeks ago Roger and I began the task of hanging the outdoor drapery hardware. It wasn't easy. We went through several ideas before we figured out they wouldn't work. The space between the arbor joists is only 2-3 inches wide so we really had to get creative to be able to fit our hands and tools in the space to hang the brackets. Finally it dawned on us how to make it happen and we did. And I was able to find outdoor quality drapery rods on sale plus I had a coupon. You know me, I never pay full price. They look really cool and add a little more privacy and shade on the deck. I really like how they turned out.

Jun 5, 2009

Rain Barrel Project Done

We brought the rain barrel from our old house with us to the new house. There was no way I was leaving that rain barrel there. I bought it through the City of Austin. It's a really nice rain barrel and I would have never paid what it costs retail. But through the City of Austin I got it half price. I got it all set up in the back yard a couple weeks ago. We missed out on some really good rains before that. Well this week we finally found the time in the evening to work on diverting a down spout from the house gutters to the rain barrel so we can take advantage of all the rain that hits our very large roof. The rain barrel on its own does not collect much water from our infrequent rains here in Texas. But with a down spout from the gutters it can collect a lot. The night we finished diverting the down spout it rained a little during the night. We were so glad to have the down spout done because the rain barrel had a quarter of water from that little rain. And I have plenty of rain water to water my potted plants. We always intended to do this at our old house but never got around to doing it because we didn't have gutters at all on the back side of the house. I love being able to water my potted plants and eventually my vegetables with free, healthy rain water instead of paying for treated city water. Although Roger wasn't sure about this rain barrel when I first brought it home, he loves it now. I think he thought it was going to make the back yard a little too eclectic, hippy, Austin-ish for his tastes. But the savings, how cool it is to take advantage of our large roof to collect rain water, and the fact that it's not that unsightly warmed him up to it. If you are a City of Austin water customer you should really take advantage of this deal. Even some surrounding water districts are eligible for the rebate. There's always a waiting list for the rain barrels, but it's definitely worth the wait.

Jun 4, 2009

Serve Austin Sunday

This past Sunday, May 30, 2009, was the fifth Sunday of the month. So you know what our church does... we serve the community. This Serve Austin Sunday (SAS) there were four choices as usual: downtown grill out, an illegal dump site cleanup, block party at our East Austin church plant and an extreme classroom makeover. Roger and I decided to beat the heat by serving indoors this time. We helped perform an extreme makeover for a Communities In Schools classroom at Rodriguez Elementary School to create a more conducive environment for learning. And it was out of this world! We had a lot of fun doing the work and hanging out with our brothers and sisters. We have some really creative people at our church. Sorry we didn't post about this one ahead of time to be able to give you an opportunity to join us. I promise next SAS we'll give you advance notice in case you might want to join the fun and serve Austin. Check out the pictures by clicking on the picture above.

Jun 2, 2009


I get a weekly newsletter from USAT emailed to me with articles and tips about endurance training, fuel, and gear and news about triathlons and triathletes. There are always interesting and educational articles. And they always have pieces about people's personal lives. Usually they are about professional and seasoned triathletes. And especially stories that are very inspirational. Today's newsletter included an article in the headlines section about a wounded soldier competing in an Ironman. For those of you not aware, an Ironman competition is the ultimate test of physical fitness. It's longer and harder than the triathlons in the Olympics. The one this warrior will be competing in is a total of 70.3 miles of swimming, cycling and running. So the thought of a wounded Iraq war veteran participating in one was intriguing to say the least. I had to check it out. I hope you do too. It is super inspirational. I want to take his motto of "Life SUCKS" and paint it across my wall.

Group helps wounded veteran compete

May 28, 2009

My First Grill

Okay, so the title sounds like a Fisher Price toy like My First Kitchen. But it's not. Tonight was my first night to grill completely by myself. Roger had to work late so I decided I wasn't going to wait for him to get home to start dinner. I didn't want to be eating at 10:00 p.m. And I didn't want the meat that was thawed and marinating in the refrigerator to wait any longer before we cooked it. So I grilled all by myself. Yeah! I tried to remember everything Roger does so I didn't miss any steps. Like preheating the grill, oiling the grates before, probing the meat with the thermometer and setting it for five degrees below the desired temperature because it will continue to cook once you remove it from the heat. I even remembered to turn all the burners to high when everything was done cooking so that the stuff stuck on the grates would burn off. And I brushed off the grates when it was done. I grilled southwestern marinated turkey tenderloin and corn on the cob seasoned with this stuff. It was very tasty. Man, I'm good. The only bad thing about grilling by myself is that Roger now knows I can grill on my own and I can't use it as an excuse to not cook and make him do the grilling now. Darn. The grill has cooled down completely so I have to go cover the grill back up. Oh, I forgot to turn the natural gas off at the house. Oops.

May 22, 2009

Tune In

While we were so busy these last few weeks, I totally forgot to tell you about a great book my women's bible study class covered this semester. And we hosted it weekly at our new house which was really cool. What a blessing to be able to host groups and meetings again in our home.

Tune In: Hearing God's Voice Through The Static was an amazing book to study. I highly recommend it. I learned a lot about hearing God's voice and being able to hear what he's telling me through relationships, people, circumstances, spiritual gifts, His word and the Holy Spirit. I learned about His will for us and His kingdom. The author, Jen Hatmaker, was our leader so that was really cool. She utilized all of the Bible, Old and New Testament, in her study. I read scripture I had never read before. I even read scripture I had read before but the Holy Spirit revealed something different to me. I love it when that happens.

And it was super funny too. Our group of women did some crying but a lot more laughing. It was great. Getting to know more women from our church and making new friends was awesome. I can't wait to do more of her studies. You should check them out. I'd let you borrow mine, but I already loaned it out. Sorry.

May 21, 2009

Can We Say Busy?!

Oh wow, talk about busy. We have been so busy lately we have completely neglected blogging. Starting at the end of April and going to the end of May, we have had at least two, sometimes up to five events per weekend. We don't always get to all of them but we try. And we will have to split up once to cover all our events. Week days have been filled with work for Roger as usual and lots of projects, volunteering, serving and house duties for me. Of course I drag Roger into as many of those as I can. Here's a run down of what we've been doing lately.

For Easter our church held a Passover Seder celebration. It was so cool. You know I did my research on a Passover Seder meal before we attended. I have to know what I'm getting into before I get into it. Although it is a Jewish ritual feast, there is a Christian version of it which is what we did. It was amazing. Full of knowledge about the Old Testament, God himself, his character and his promises and about the Good News. I highly recommend everyone attend one in their lifetime. I want to go to Jerusalem even more now.

On April 26th I participated in my first sprint distance triathlon that wasn't canceled at the last minute or turned into a dualthon because of bad weather. I was so happy to finally do a sprint triathlon. I had a disastrous start, but my finish was great! Although swimming is the hardest part of a triathlon and I was more than prepared for it, the swim leg of the race did not go well for me. I learned a lot during this triathlon. And I mean a lot about every part of triathlons but I definitely learned I need to practice open water swimming a lot more.

I borrowed Roger's truck one day to get some over sized garage organization materials home and he was rear ended on the way home in my car. He suffered some pain in his right hip and was sore and stiff for a few days. But he's a lot better now. This would be the second time the rear end of my car has been damaged since we got it. The first time a teenager backed into it. But all repairs have been made and the other person's insurance covered it all (both times). Thank God we were hit by people who had insurance. Speaking of garage organization, we are finally finished with all our home improvements and decorating of the new house. We are basically done. All we have left is one chair to replace whenever that happens. We started trying to host gatherings, dinners, bbq's before it got too busy this month. We hosted a grilled pizza party for our community group and a happy hour with Roger's coworkers. Having the new deck and back yard landscaping done is working out well for socializing and grilling. Especially since our back yard faces East and is in the shade in the evening unlike our last house. We plan to host many more especially with our neighbors.

We have also been very busy volunteering and serving with our church. One week I volunteered eleven hours. We have served families that lost everything in an apartment fire, helped people move, washed cars for a free single mom's car wash, edited a video for church, hosted a birthday party for homeless children while their parents went to a class, signed in children to childcare before church, ran the lyrics and message during service, helped tear down after church, and cooked and delivered dinner to a couple with a new baby. Tonight we are delivering and assembling a baby crib for a single mom and Friday we are helping babysit for a fundraiser for a wonderful young lady in our church to go on a mission trip this summer. I'm sure there will be more serving and volunteering before the month of May is over. I know there will be. Our church has another Serve Austin Sunday coming up on May 31st. And you never know what else will come up. I'm just thankful our church is service oriented. They let us know when there are people in need and how we can help. "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27

Last but definitely not least, our family is keeping us busy lately. We have quite a few birthdays in the month of May which means lots of parties and none of them are local. One special birthday party was my cousin's Quince Anos this past weekend. We traveled out of town to help decorate and attend it. And it was so much fun. It turned out to be a mini family reunion too. It was such a blessing and so great to see so many family members that we haven't seen in so long at one time. We did a lot of dancing. And if you know me well, you know how much I love to dance. I hope to have pictures up soon. The other birthdays celebrated and will be celebrated are another fifteen year old, a six year old, a one year old and I won't mention how old my brother-in-law is. That's just the last week of April through the end of May.

One thing is for sure, we have had a lot of fun staying busy. God gives us joy in all of it. "I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!" John 15:11 I know I have said this many times before, but I will try to blog more often so these things won't be so long. I know, you are all laughing right now.

May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

May your Mother's Day be a happy one!

May she who gave you birth be happy. ~ Proverbs 23:25

May 7, 2009

Free Car Wash for Single Mom's Saturday!!

In honor of Mother's Day, Austin New Church and South Austin Cares ( is hosting a FREE car wash for SINGLE MOMS, this Saturday from 10am-2pm at the Corner of South 1st Street and Slaughter Lane. In addition to a clean car, there will be Bounce Houses and "Mothers Day" crafts for the kids, and a few freebies and special offers for the moms (like $5 haircuts at the barbershop next door)

Apr 19, 2009

Fredericksburg Pictures

Okay, I finally posted pictures from our sixth anniversary weekend in Fredericksburg on Flickr. Click on the link to the right to see them or go straight to the set here. We had a great time. I highly recommend checking Fredericksburg out on a weekend. We hit four vineyards, two free dances, the Nimitz Museum and a bunch of stores, restaurants, shops, galleries, etc on Main Street. We didn't do all we planned but we planned more in case we had more time. Obviously we only had enough time to do what we did. It was great. We'll just have to go back to finish the rest. And we had so much fun together. It's definitely been six fun, adventurous, wonderful years. The pictures have more information and links in the captions about our weekend getaway. Enjoy!