I’m the girl in the sports bra and ponytail, probably on a bike, fingernail paint all scratch up, and bruises on my shins. i’m the girl with blue eyes and a smile, sun tinted cheeks and a happy heart.

~ my fortune cookie from Friday night said, “you have a charming way with word.  write a letter this week”.  The above is my first non-school or work related writing in a while.  I’m going to try and use my english degree a bit more for things other than abstracts and statistical dissertation summary descriptions every once and a while.

For all my wonderful friends and family, we are in the process of writing out thank you notes.  It has only taken way too long but they are coming.  it just takes a while to figure out how to accurately express our gratitude for everything…and to find time among the houses, work, racing, school, coaching, health, and everything else that’s been going on.  I’ll update again soon but for now- Pura vida everyone, life is beautiful, and things are happening!

Greg and I have a new addition to our family- or actually, soon to be legally binding family with our upcoming wedding.

To this family I bring in my awesome cat (though G may not always agree with that statement) HRH Mr. Furley.  I have had Furley since my first semester in Connecticut at graduate school when he sucked me in to taking him in on a cold winter’s night.  He will be nine years old this July and has his own personality and for someone who has never been a “cat person”, Furley is the perfect match.

Now, much to Mr. Fulrey’s disapproval, we’ve added one more to our cave crew.  For a while Greg and I have talked about getting a dog.  For anyone who knows me, they know my obsession with dogs.  I get dogs, I dont always get people.  If there is a dog at a race or wherever we may be, I go meet him/her.  I remember people’s dog’s names much more often than I remember their name.  I can be in mid conversation with someone, mid word, and walk off because a dog just walked by.  Again, I get dog.  I havent had a dog because for so long I lived in an apartment.  Once I moved into my house, the thought of a dog was closer however Greg and I are so active and travel so much that we wanted to make completely sure we were ready.

We met a sweet Blue Lacy about a year and a half ago and found out that this amazing breed is the official state dog of Texas.  That sealed the deal with us and we knew that one day we’d have a Texas Blue Lacy.  I am not a fan of dog breeders and have always had rescued dogs in my life.  There are so many sweet and wonderful shelter dogs that need homes, we were determined to find our friend at one.

After looking on petfinder.com way to many times, I found a sweet pup at a shelter in Lampassas (about an hour and a half drive from Austin) that was a blue lacy mix.  She was thought to be 11 months old and her name was Lady.  I emailed Greg on Thursday with the subject line, “Why do I torture myself?”, meaning that she was beautiful and wonderful but I didnt think we could get her.  Greg jumped on it and emailed the shelter and the next morning went out to meet this Lady.  Friday afternoon he came to my office with her in his truck.  She was a little timid at first but once we rolled around on the floor together, I knew she was our dog.

Her name at the shelter was Lady but being proper Texans as we are, we had to give her a Texas name.  Please met Lady Bird.

Long legs and big paws that she will grow in to one day.

LB and her new dad.

She has a white patch on the back of her head that looks like a lightening bolt. Can you say superdog?

Wednesday she accompanied me to work while Greg put the finishing touches on the new fence and did his own work.  She had a good day here at Omni Environmental and took a number of naps- especially after our first 3 mile run.  One of these days, when she is ready, she will get her very first half marathon medal, with me in tow.

Passed out after our first run.

Right at home in my bed.

Today she is at home resting after being spayed yesterday.  She slept on the bed with me the whole night, taking up 70% of the space, while Furley was taking up 15% by my feet.  A cozy little night.  Furley is warming up to her- actually, I guess, he’s learning to tolerate her and last night’s morphine laced Lady Bird allowed for closer, much more calm inspection by Furley.  Lady Bird is very happy to have a big brother and just wants to play with him.  He’s not amused just yet.

New fence, designed and constructed by Greg.

Nothing really all that special to say but there are some really big fun things happening soon.

This weekend is the first big mountain bike race for my season- the Dirty Dozen. I will be doing the 6 hour race while my Caveman will be spinning his wheels for 12 hours.  I’ve been having some health issues lately and have not been able to train so I’m just going to be happy to be on my bike.

Next weekend is the Austin Marathon. Sanity and vincibility (right,that’s the opposite of invincibility) has set in and I will not be doing the full marathon…but there’s always a chance. I will instead run the half beside one of my very closest friends as she does her first half marathon (that’s you E!).

The third weekend this month marks one month till our wedding. Crazy and fun. We are super laid back but I have officially deemed that weekend “Wedding Work Weekend” where the stuff that needs to get done, will get done.

The last weekend this month is the first race of the TMBRA series and will be my first race as a Cat 2 rider. I have a strong team and cant wait to be out there with the big girls. Luckily it will be at a course I know well, Warda and I’ll just keep getting better each time I saddle up.

Last but certainly not least, Tri Zones Training is beginning the planning and work for the women’s triathlon training season. I’m very excited for the pre-season and unbelievable blessed to have two other wonderful people as co-coaches this year! More than anything else I can think of, signing up for my first triathlon has changed my life in so many ways.

An now to two things that make me very happy. I believe you, Joe will remember my love and adoration for the Platypus.

~ride blessed, be blessed ya’ll

I cant help it, I am a sucker for Zombies!

the type of super hero i will be

OK, don’t freak out!  Seriously- stop that! I fully admit that all day yesterday and for the start of today, I’ve been taking smoke breaks at work but I promise you, it is for my health.

First off, let me give some background to explain.  I work in a windowless office.  Me, the person who loves the outdoors, is BFF with the sun, enjoys fresh air like a meth addict, works in an office without a single window.  This is a very, very, very hard thing for me.  I’ve though about painting the walls with a fake window or two but haven’t yet and actually it saddens me that fake windows is what it has come to aside from quitting my job . In the office it is just me, my computer, microscope, loads of paperwork, and my cream white walls- and not a drop of real light.

This has really started to put pressure and stress on me.  I find myself extra tired and in a bad mood.  My soul cries out for some solar stimulation and these office 6  lights simply smirk at my appeal.

In order to keep my little soul happy, I’ve started taking “smoke breaks”.  I don’t have a cig because I am not a smoker but I do go outside at least once every two hours for an office break.  I try to shoot for every hour but sometimes I’m in the middle of a project and don’t get away.

My break may be as simple as going to my car for something or taking out the trash but it is my little pill for sanity that I must take.

All florescence and no sun makes me depressed girl.

So with that, I end this brief post to go take my 5 minute smoke break for this hour.  Maybe I’ll change the terminology and call it my “sun break”.

I hesitate putting up another post about wedding stuff but I wanted to because we just set our date and are waiting for the final paperwork to come in so that we can make the official announcement to everyone.   I don’t want to tell everyone just yet for fear of plane tickets being purchased and then something happens to change the date.  I know how my family is and once they find out when and where, they’ll be booking asap.

We are getting excited about all the fun things we will have at the celebration.  Having our friends and family there is the most important thing to us and so making sure that it is a fun time for all is really the theme of the wedding.  We are not concerned about colors, matching china plates, appropriate timing for dances, speeches, and whatnot- we are there to have fun and want our friends to have fun as well.

So many brides-to-be get so caught up in the details of it all and the planning.  Sure, our planning cycle is very short- less than three months- but other than invitations to our guests, food, and drink, there’s no other big “necessity”.  All the “have to’s” and “must have” and things because they are appropriate do mean much to us and will not mean much in the long run.

I have a list of things in my head I keep running through as I envision how we want the wedding and how to keep planning it without turning into an woman obsessed about the perfect shade of plum in the flower arrangements.  Really, what are we and the guests going to remember more- the flowers or the fact that we have a bouncy house and bike zoo there for everyone to enjoy?

These are just some of the things in my list:

1. The Planning

I will NOT go to ANY “Bridal Extravaganza”

I will not get caught up in what the Wedding Industrial Complex (term stolen from the brilliance of my favorite wedding blog, 2000dollarbudgetwedding).  This 161-billion dollar industry includes all the books, magazines, websites, tv, etc. that tell couples what is necessary and critical for for weddings.  These sources focus on creating “one perfect day” instead of emphasizing the importance of the union for life.  One site, The Knot, actually has suggestion for which cars go with your wedding themes.  Check this out as well as other “essentials” list 2000dollarbudgetwedding lists.

This book is 485-pages and weighs 2 pounds! Really, is there that much necessary information?

I highly recommend clicking this amazon link to read more about the book, One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding and learn some more about the WIC.  I really would like to read this but but honestly cant bring myself to spending money on it but I will check my local library or bookstore to flip through it’s pages.

2. The Dress– I have some very strict policies to follow regarding my dress.

I will avoid most (if not all) bridal shops.  I have a small intention to hit up one shop in Austin that seems to fit my style called, Unbridaled.  On that trip I will be accompanied by a small, small handful of my friends (Mel,Jen,Sarah,Christie) and a large bottle of wine or vodka.

I want something simple- no train, no tulle, no yards and yards of fabric.  A sundress from a non-bridal store will fit the bill perfectly but am conflicted on long or short.  I’d love to rock out a short one however with my outstanding ability to launch from my bike and on to awaiting sharp rocks, my legs are typically ornamented with bruises and cuts.  On one hand, a long dress will cover this up, on the other, as my cousin put it, my friends all know that is just part of being me.  I also want a short dress so I can have a fun, colored petticoat under it.  I’m thinking either bright yellow or bright orange or even a nice UT burnt orange!

I will not spend over $175 on a dress and am hoping to spend more like $95 or less.  To some this may seem crazy- if you are a female, it may seem on the low end, if you are male and do not know about the Wedding Industrial Complex, it may in fact seem a little pricey.  I assure you men, it is not considering the average wedding costs between $21,000 and $24,000 and the dress can run between $700 and, yes even $10,000 or more.  Just typing those numbers actually makes me feel really ill inside.  I don’t get it and I know that there are women who want that really expensive formal dress for their picture perfect wedding and that is good for them, however I am not one of them.

It pains me to think that someone would spend that large amount of money on a dress they will wear for one day and one day only.  The dress is not the important thing about the wedding, the acknowledgment of the lifetime commitment you will make to your partner is.  I understand it is  “your day” but there are so many other important things that money could be used for- like to double the GDP of Malawi, Comoros, Somalia, and the Solomon Islands or, heck, even donate a little to those who need help in your own community.(sorry, I could really go off on that tangent for a long time)

My dress will be comfortable and not include a train.  I want to party all night in my dress and for the mere fact that I will be wearing a dress over my typical trainers, shorts/jeans, and t-shirt, it will be special.

If I do get a “traditional” dress, I will donate it afterward. There are some amazing programs out there which take wedding dresses, resells them, and uses the money for some very important causes.

Also, I will wear whatever my little feet want.  If that is a pair of smoking hot heels, I shall do it.  If that is a pair of flips or cowboy boots or no shoes at all, that is how I will be.  Same goes for my groom- whatever he wants to wear is perfectly fine with me and that includes shoes, dress, facial hair, hats, costumes….(but if he gets a costume, so do I!)

3.The Ceremony

The ceremony will be fun and simple.  We are not having bridesmaids or groomsmen because we want all of our guests to be part of the wedding experience, not just those who are fortunate enough to hold flowers or rent a tux.

4. The Party

There will be good food and good drinks, no china, eat with your hand if ya’ want, no formality, and no pretension.  We really want the whole thing to feel like a big party because that is what it really is.  We dont want our guest to feel like observers, we want them to rock it out along side us the whole night long.

I’ve scrapped the idea of a slip-n-slide however I have more fun ideas like that in my head.  We will have horeshoes, redneck golf, and washer (just for you Jen!) so everyone can play.

I have lots of great ideas for decorating.  The site at which we are having everything is beautiful and outdoors so that is the main decoration but for things like flowers and table decor, I plan to do it in a way that reflect how we are in everyday life.  All containers for flowers will be recycled containers from home and work and the flowers with either be from the farmer’s market or a local farm and put into the vases by our own hands (imagine that!).  The average cost of wedding flowers is $698.  That money can be used much better other places and if I’m buying at the farmer’s market, I will be assured the flowers are local and the money will go to a farmer I’ll actually meet.

The site does not have tables and chairs so our initial thought was to rent.  Once I started pricing rentals between $600 and $900, I expressed that I really wanted a laid back feel and wished we could just get picnic tables or something like that there.   Greg agreed and came up with a brilliant idea.  We could make our own simple tables and benches from nice wood- finishing the construction at the site.  The benches would also be used for the ceremony and then moved to the party area. After the wedding (the day after) we will break them down and keep the wood to build a storage shed we have both been wanting for a very long time.  That’s the plan now and I’ll update with pictures and details as we figure it all out.

5. Tradition

We are only following those traditions that mean something to us.  There are many things that surround a wedding that don’t really reflect our relationship or our values so we are not doing them.  I refuse to do something just because it is tradition.   Old, blue, borrowed, new….maybe but tossing of a garter, probably not (unless the drink is really good!).

6. The Registry

We both own our own houses and have more “stuff” than we need.  We pretty much have two of everything so a traditional gift registry isn’t what we want, need, or like.  We are thinking of creative ways to have a registry like donations to our favorite charities or help with certain projects around our houses or for our honeymoon but seriously, the most  important gift our guest can give is their love and blessing for our union.

For today, that’s all the things that are coming to mind from my checklist but I’m sure it will get ever longer as we get closer to the day.

I’m a bit tired of thinking about wedding things at this moment and must go clear my mind with images of bikes.  Here ya’ go, the bike I am about to order from my new team, Specialized Epic 29er Comp.  It was a hard decision between the Comp and the Marathon (which is super sick and has sramXX on it) but I decided to save the money, get the Comp, and maybe upgrade to the Marathon after a full Cat 2 season.

ain't he a beaut'!

I was asked this morning what my New Year’s Resolution was.  I’m sure you’ve asked and been asked.  I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.  I just don’t.   I resolved a long time ago, probably when I was about 3, to just strive for awesomeness and, well…here ya’ go- still striving so that resolution is still working it’s charms.  Being rad and stoked just kind of come natural so awesome has fit the bill achievement since age 3.

If feels like ages, decade, many millennium if you will, since Caveman and I have loaded up bikes to race.  Realistically it has only been since December 12th but that seems ages ago and for someone who is use to a race every weekend, it almost puts it in the “back in the day” category.  Back in the day when I raced the San Marcos Cyclocross race, the weather was nasty, the course was muddy, my fingers, toes, and ears were numb, it was awesome cross weather!

This weekend will mirror the San Marcos weekend with a double race weekend in The Woodlands (that’s outside of Houston to all of you non-Texans).  There is severe weather a’comin’!

ARCTIC OUTBREAK LIKELY LATER THIS WEEK…  AN OUTBREAK OF COLD ARCTIC AIR WILL ARRIVE EARLY THURSDAY MORNING AND REMAIN THROUGH THIS COMING WEEKEND. THIS ARCTIC OUTBREAK WILL BRING THE COLDEST TEMPERATURES SO FAR THIS WINTER. TEMPERATURES WILL LIKELY BE COLDER DURING THIS COLD OUTBREAK THAN AT ANY TIME DURING THE PAST FEW YEARS.

Some of you may know that I am engaged.  A happy, wonderful, amazing (wait, why is it amazing? what are you trying to say, did you think it wouldn’t happen?…) event which left my fiancee and me both giddy and excited.  After it happened we wanted to share the news with everyone and our friends and families have been very supportive of us, however some of what came after the the magical moment of engagement is something for which for I wasn’t prepared.  Something also  have been working at understanding and accepting as what it is since approximately 26 hours after the event,  when the first “have you set a date” question was asked.

Once those words came out of whoever’s mouth, the first pebble fell for pretty much anyone (whether we new them or they were just admiring the ring) to ask, advise, and comment on what was to come for the celebratory ceremony.  The colors…The location…The food…The photographer…The DJ…You want to do what with the who and the where?  …blah, blah, blah….I know people mean well but I was grossly unprepared for the flash flood of questions.  I shall not let them drown me.  Somewhere in there I became the girl formerly known as Colleen and now identified as “the betrothed” over my many other identities.  At times I am no longer questioned about school, life, work and whatnot and only about the plans for the wedding.  I say “I” and “me” mainly because I believe it is a bit different for a guy.  They have a pretty cool way of getting past the mess.  They worked pretty dang hard to get the courage up to buy a kick-ass ring and start the ball rolling, they deserve some downtime.

Have shows like “Bridezilla”, “Who’s Wedding Is It Anyway” and “Say Yes to the Dress” (which I have never actually watched but seem to be perpetually on TVs at my gym) completely distorted views about what is really important during a wedding and changed how they should be held?

What works or worked for one person’s wedding or what they themselves have floating around in their mind may be beautiful and precious to them but, in the same way they have those ideas, we have our own ideas about our wedding and our own stances on what is and is not important, necessary, and appropriate.

Just remember, this was her idea of classy.

The planning of the wedding has really made me think more and more about this.   It is hard to steer your mind from getting all wrapped up in what the websites tell you is “necessary” for a wedding and it takes some strength to step back and consider if what is peaked your interest for that moment is actually on your mind because it is something you feel reflects your values, beliefs, and celebration or is it something you have been told should be there.  Things must be so planned and details must be worked out…or what?  Why must we do this or do that?  Why must the little things be so important?  Call me crazy but I personally don’t think the main attraction of the wedding is the fact that the flower arrangements contain eight pieces of baby’s breath and sixteen calla lilies and three-fourths of the budget was spent on flowers.  (Granted to me it is another thing if we are talking about three-fourths of a $2,000 the budget spent on a great keg of beer and multiple numbers of Tito’s bottles, but again, that’s just me)

What every little girl dreams of?

What I typically wanted to do.

Some girls have been planning their wedding since they were little, playing dress up with friends and envisioning the day where they will step their dainty foot out of of a white carriage festooned with roses onto a silk runner before thousands of guests in a storybook fashion to meet their prince charming.  I was making mud pies and skinning my knees from falling off of my bike (both of which I am still proud to do).   I never really thought of big white dresses and tiaras.  Seriously, I didn’t.  I remember when Princess Di walked down the isle for the mere fact the chap to whom she was getting hitched had really fun ears much more than the dress and seeing myself as such a bride.  That is just me and I’m not saying that way is wrong but daydreaming of doves being released while saying your vows is just not something I have never done.  I have only been thinking about this whole walk down the isle thing since I’ve had this beautiful ring on my left finger. {………..five minute typing pause, distracted by looking at my freaking awesome the ring……………..}

This was also someone's good idea.

So what do we want from our celebration?  Since the moment we thought of the wedding together, we keep saying that we want it to be fun and a party with our friends and family.  I think know the word “hoedown” has been used. There are things we don’t care about and things we feel very strongly about and since this is our wedding, we will plan it the way we want and I will flutter kick myself across that river so many brides get swept down.   The fact that we decided on beer selection and food way, way before we thought of locations says a lot on what we envision.   Yes, there are traditions we are going to stick with- like the fact that I am going to wear a dress instead my jeans and Dude Girl shirt or bike clothes- however I wouldn’t feel myself in a big ol’poofy number with ten yards of train, nor do I think it is our style to have ten people each in our wedding party.  We want every guest to be part of our wedding and not just those who stand right next to us and so that’s how it is going to be.  If the wedding and our ideas are not as traditional or too traditional as some may think, that’s cool with us because that is not what is important.  The most important tradition to us is the fact that we will be standing up there together with God making a commitment to each other for the rest of our lives and something as trivial as not having calligraphy on our invitation envelopes has no place overshadowing it.  So our plan for planning is to make it just that- exactly what we want.

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