Joy in My Mailbox

How do you feel when you open the mailbox day after day and there are only bills, fliers, and junk mail addressed To the Homeowner At...? Yeah, it's a little bleak isn't it? Imagine this, you open your mailbox and you have letters addressed to you personally? Maybe even a little padded envelope filled with a surprise? Time for a happy dance right? You betcha!

That's the whole idea of Good Mail, something tangible to let another person know you were thinking about them. It's extremely simple, but so rewarding. It might be in the form of a note, a card, or a little do-dad that caught your eye and made you remember your friend. It's simply spreading a little kindness, generosity and joy. It truly is a bit of joy and goodness right in your mailbox.

That said, I need to document some of the goodness that has come my way recently...

A cute, cute card from Lisa saying congrats on my marathon. The sticker says goal--how appropriate and very sweet! Thanks Lisa.

A darling card from Stephanie. Look at the FLAMINGO on the stamp!! Love it. She also sent along some stamps from her stash for A. to play with. Thank you Steph.!

A sweet card from my friend Lacie letting me know she was happy for my marathon accomplishment and she was thinking of me. Thanks Lacie!

Knock me over! Mique sent me this FLAMINGO covered journal and a sweet, sweet card for my birthday and marathon. So funny, because I had just posted about my journal addiction and sneaky Mique had this on its way. I love it!! Thanks Mique!

Jill was so kind to send me this pretty card with a thoughtful note about completing my marathon. Thank you Jill!!

This package of goodies arrived from Natasha filled with a set of Mary Engelbreit cards, sticky notes and a rubber stamp. She also sent a thoughtful card congratulating me on the race. Thank you Natasha!!

My Pink Christmas Girlfriend, Amy, sent me this fun card to say "Way to Go" on finishing the marathon. It sings All Star by Smashmouth--how fun is that? Annelise has kind of taken over this card though, that's okay. Thank you Amy!

Along with this cutie pie FLAMINGO, Kristi sent a thoughtful note with her congratulations about my recent accomplishment. Thank you Kristi!!

Receiving so many kind words and expressions of thoughtfulness fills my heart with joy. Like Jill says, documenting it reminds me of the blessings in my life. I consider myself so fortunate to exchange good mail with not only Friends in Real Life, but also several Bloggy Friends.

Now, I'm in the mood to send some Good Mail. Want to give it a whirl? Send me your address through an e-mail and wait for a bit of joy to arrive in your mailbox!


I Took Myself on a Date

Sort of.

A. was at Pre-K today, and sure there were things I could do around the house. Things on my list to tackle, groceries to buy, yada-yada, blah-blah.

Instead, I took myself to the early bird matinee to see this:

It was delightful. Mostly. I mean, the premise IS a teenage girl in high school faced with a positive pregnancy test, but that happens you know. It's PG-13 and the language is a bit rough around the edges. And yet.

I liked it.

I liked its quirkiness, its off-beat humor. I LOVE Jason Bateman (Can I just say, LOVE him). I loved that she used a hamburger telephone. I loved how they focused on adoption. I loved her attitude. I liked that there was running in the movie. I liked seeing Dwight (Rainn Wilson) from The Office, I miss him. I loved the soundtrack. It was quirky and cool. I loved that they included a Buddy Holly song. (I may need to watch The Buddy Holly Story soon. Again.) Jennifer Garner was beautiful, controlling and sweet at the same time. I liked that I arrived 2 minutes before show time and I was not freaking out about missing the previews and thereby jeopardizing the entire fun movie experience (a la Scott).

Quick SP before going in. 2 ladies looked at me funny as I was taking my picture with my cell phone. I just smiled and continued to document my experience. They must not be bloggers.

After the movie I treated myself to soup and salad at La Madeleine before picking A. up from school. I think I floated home on a euphoric cloud.

Just so you know, in the spirit of a guilt free movie experience, I did vacuum, straighten and clean sinks and potties before I left for the movie. And, no it doesn't bother me to go to the movies by myself from time to time. I promise, I'm only barely a nerd.

Do you ever take yourself to the movies? Have you seen Juno? How do you feel about Jason Bateman? Do you take self-portraits too when you are out and about?


SPT: The 25th Hour

If you were given an extra hour, what would you choose to do with it? Hmmm...

This girl can't help it. If an extra hour dropped into my lap, I would gleefully lose myself in a good book. Right now, The Count of Monte Cristo has me in its grasp. Since it has 1200+ pages, I think I'll need several "extra" hours!

What would you do during your 25th hour?

Visit Lelly's Blog to see how other friends would spend their 25th hour.

Odd sidenote: Ever since reading this challenge I can't get Wilson Picket's "Midnight Hour" out of my head. Pesky song.


Note to Self

Don't ever say, even in jest, "Well, I wouldn't mind a good stomach virus just to jumpstart some weight loss."

The viral gods are always listening.


I Swap, You Swap, Hey It's a Soup Swap

After reading about swappin' soup from Lelly's blog, I threw the idea out to the Girls. Since we usually meet once a week to discuss our Bible Study lessons, we decided to add some soup swapping to the mix last night. Coffee, chat, snacks, chat, prayer, chat...and frozen soup. Perfect!

The timing WAS actually perfect because our dear friend Lacie was in town with her sweet family for the Men's Retreat taking place this weekend. Here we are posing in front of our soups in Robyn's kitchen. Using the self timers on our cameras was quite entertaining as we dashed back and forth to pose. At least we can say we got our exercise, right?

Zesty chicken tortilla soups, yummy Olive Garden soup and tasty taco soups were all in attendance. We each talked about our soup and shared the recipe before loading up our ice chests with all the soup-y goodness. We all agreed it was pretty satisfying to cook one big batch of soup, share it and go home with 4 different soups to try. This might be something we do a couple of times a year to "Fill the Freezer". We even tossed around the idea of swapping casseroles too. Someone stop us before we get too out of control!

Look how happy they look in their new home--my freezer!

Our first soup swap was small and simple, but it definitely was a success.

Now for George Costanza...notsomuch...

Have you ever swapped soup? Do you think you'll give it a whirl?


Banana, Cabana, Havana...Savannah

So, some of the Girls and I are planning a little weekend getaway next month. Where are we jetting off to you ask? Why, Savannah, Georgia y'all!

Maybe we'll tour Forsythe Park and make a wish in the fountain.

Stroll the city streets and pop in all the shops. Take a carriage ride. Maybe a trolley tour when our tootsies get tired.

We'll definitely eat here, even if we have to wait in line for hours (we'll pack snacks to fortify ourselves).

Maybe we can tour Wormsloe Plantation and Bonaventure Cemetery.

Over on the hysterical side though, I was rambling to Scott about the trip the other day, when I finally paused to, you know, breathe, I noticed he had a concerned look on his face. He thought I was talking about going here...

Yes, Scott, the Girls are going to Havana, Cuba. EIY-yi-yi.!

My question to you, dear Internets, is this, "What else do we need to do?" Are there fun things to do just off the beaten path? What are the Absolutely Don't Forget to See or Do This In Savannah things?
As you know, I'm quite sheltered and not well traveled. I need your help.
Please discuss...


Oh Deer!

Well, howdy-do! Wanna help me feed the deer?

Great! First you need to put on your boots because it's muddy out here. Mine are caterpillars. Oh, are yours plain? I'm sorry. Go ahead, it's okay to put them on over your church tights.

Next, you scoop out some corn from the bag daddy hauls out from the garage. I use an old frosting can. Hmmm...Mom? Can we make cookies later?

Sprinkle a little here...

a little over there...

Time for a refill!

I bet I have time for a quick swing or two.

I guess it's true, if you sprinkle it

they will come.


SPT: What's In A Name?

What is the story behind your blog's name?

Many moons ago, well...okay, last April, I jumped feet first into the world of blogging. A dear friend, Lacie, was moving to another town, and she started a blog to keep in touch. Blog? Hmmm...I thought to myself, "Self, this seems like it would be fun." Since I'm a joiner, (Got a bandwagon? I'll jump on it.) I absolutely HAD to try this crazy little thing called blogging.

I came up with the title by combining two of my favorite things. Over the last two years I have developed an addiction obsession with all things running. While definitely more of the tortoise than the hare, I love the overall experience. I enjoy participating in Half Marathons and just recently completed my first Full Marathon. That explains the Marathon in my title.

The Bird refers to my favorite, and misunderstood tropical bird, the Flamingo. Sadly, they seem to be associated with tacky yard ornaments and double wide trailers. This makes me love them even more!

So... I guess that is what makes me the Marathon Bird.

Meet my flamingo, Flo, along with some of my running paraphernalia.
Not sure why, but the floor seemed like a brilliant idea at the time.

I have stewed and brewed over changing my blog name to one that is broader, something more universal since I talk about all sorts of topics (thank goodness) and not just marathons and flamingos. However, I can't come up with anything else. Any suggestions?

How did you come up with the name for your blog?
Pop over to Lelly's Blog to uncover the mysteries behind other blog titles.


I Have a Bit of a Crush

On one hip, very cool music man, Dan Zanes.

Truth be told, I have been known to turn the volume up when we listen to his CDs in the car. Or when we see him on TV. Shhh...don't tell anyone.

His music is just a whole lot of fun. And I'm a grown-up and all that.

Oh...yeah, Annelise likes him too.

You can find and listen to some of his CDs HERE.

Which song is your favorite?

L-O-V-E Swap

Just ran across this fun swap and wanted to share the goodness. I can't resist sharing a little bit of LOVE. Can you?

Hurry though, today is the last day to sign up!! Go ahead, you know you want to!

****EDITED TO ADD**** The LOVE swap sign-up has been extended one more day, so hop over there and join in on the swappin' fun!!! Go...now....


SPT: A Closer Look {The Sunday Edition}

is there a part of you, a part of your home, a part of your creativity that gets more attention from you than anything else? when you look at your reflection, do you automatically zoom in on a feature you love or you loathe? when you are in your creative space, is there one project that gets your attention before all the others?

Once again, I am a little late with my SPT. I figure it's better to at least do this late, than not at all. If you are interested in trying out SPT for yourself, you can read more about it here.

My spin on this week's challenge might be a tad different. That's one of the fun things about SPT, it's open to interpretation. I enjoy expressing myself creatively in many ways, from crafts, making cards, scrapbooking, and of course through blogging. I am also learning to express my creative side through photography.

The most important way I see and express the "me within" is through journaling.

I have always felt a strong pull within myself to write about my daily, not so thrilling life. I know this feeling stems from my mom. She wrote in a plain, red, Mead spiral notebook when I was in Preschool. It's really nothing profound, just daily ins and outs of her life and our family. She only wrote for about a year off and on, then I guess she lost interest (I am SO her daughter). Since she died when I was in high school, her old red spiral is one of my treasured keepsakes. I wish I had more.

I went through my stash of filled, partially filled and blank journals and was surprised by how many I have collected. Yes, it's a weakness, one of many. I am always thrilled with the anticipation of writing in a blank, new notebook. The potential. The life waiting to be documented. Some are spiral bound with a nice cover, some are just spiral notebooks or composition books. Some were prayer journals, some were for daily happenings (or non-happenings as the case may be), some recorded our journey through infertility and adoption, and some recorded my running adventures.

When I opened them up and arranged them for a picture I was so happy to see the progression of time and the memories recorded. Yes, there are sometimes huge gaps between the dates and often I'm just rambling about mundane, daily tasks. Still though, it's a record of me. That makes me truly happy.

Hop over to Lelly's blog to take a closer look at some other creative minds.


How Do You Like Your Vegetables?

Steamed? Grilled? Well, those are all yummy, but we also like ours up on the big screen. Today we had a family date. First, we enjoyed our favorite Tex Mex lunch, then it was off to the movie show. Any guesses what we saw?

Sadly, A. left her shades in the car.

You guessed it! The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything.

Now that she is 4, and this was of all things, the Veggie Tales, I was hopeful that we would be able to make it through the entire movie without a cryin' jag. See, A. either gets scared or if one of the characters gets hurt or is sad, she emphasizes with them. Loudly. Strangely enough, Madagascar is the only movie we made it all the way through, and it remains an all time favorite.

Things were going well, until the incident with the rock people and a tad too much big mean pirate guy. Oh well. She did enjoy most of it, especially the Rock Monster (Did you know that was a take off on The B-52s Rock Lobster?) song at the end. She even played pirate for a while when we got home.

Personally, I like the Veggie Tales. Not only do they have a moral and often biblical message, they are adorable vegetables. I especially like the silly songs (my favorite is Larry's song "I Love My Lips"), I'm just strange that way I guess. So enjoy a bit of silliness on me...

Name That 80s Rocker

Is it Joan Jett? Anne Wilson? Eddie Van Halen? Steven Tyler?

Nope. Straight from a time warp or a casting call for "I Love the 80s", it's Bed Head Annelise. This, my friends, is what I deal with every morning. 80s rocker hair.

Or as I affectionately refer to as Rat's Nest. Bless her little thick, curly haired head.

All she needs is a guitar and some eyeliner, right?

Who was your favorite 80s rocker?


Five for Friday

I have always enjoyed Kelly's Five for Friday posts. They seem to be an ideal way to assemble a hodgepodge of happenings. So, since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I'm totally copying.

1. I recently crawled out from under this...

and discovered this...

I had heard about Nutella, but never tried it. Yesterday, I toasted a slice of cinnamon raisin bread and smeared a dab across the top. Nutella, where have you been all my life? I'm in serious trouble.

2. I hope I hide it well, but lately I haven't felt very smart. I'm not sure how to describe it other than Mom Brain. I feel like I have variations of the same conversations over and over. Dullsville. I have been inspired by April's word of the week. She enlightens us each week with a new word to stretch our vocabulary a bit. I. Love. This. I just pop over there and BAM! I instantly feel smarter. This week the word was charily. Perfect word post marathon. I walked charily around the house for several days, trying not to wince. Thanks April for helping my Mom Brain.

3. Another way I try to fight Mom Brain is by escaping into a good book and allowing the language to wash over me, all the while hoping I absorb some of it. For several days I've been at a loss trying to decide my next book. While the Earth is still rotating on its axis, this has caused me to be very out of sorts. You know how I feel about my books. I started two, only to quickly dismiss them (Time and Again by Jack Finney and Saturday by Ian McEwen. Sorry guys.). I don't really think of myself as a tough customer, but the book has to grab me fairly quickly or at least show promise in order for me to stick with it. Now I've settled on The Winthrop Woman, however, I am still in that precarious early stage. I'm sure Ms. Seton is trembling with anticipation in her grave.

4. Annelise has a couple of favorite new phrases. "Mom, you've been in your pajamas for HOURS!" or "Mom, are you going to wear your pajamas ALL DAY?" or "Mom, you wore that yesterday." Yes, they are true statements. Not sure what this says about me exactly, but I'm pretty sure I'm in a decline fashion wise. Sigh.

5. Because I know you have been wondering, I am still mulling over my word for 2008. I have tried on a few to see if they fit and I still haven't been able to choose. I imagine my word should challenge me yet remain comfortable, like favorite jeans (or in my case pajamas). I'm sure I am putting way to much pressure on this little word and over thinking the whole thing. It happens. Mom Brain is not helping either. Sigh.

How do you combat Mom Brain? How do you feel about pajamas? Have you ever tried Nutella?


Just a Little Bit More Marathon Bidness

I promise, this is the last marathon post for at least a while. Pinky swear.

Last Friday night my running group, Bay Area Fit, hosted a very special event called the Blessing of the Feet. It might sound silly, but it truly is an excellent way to end the official training season and set the tone before race day. After a pasta supper we listened to some motivational talks, celebrated achievements, and yes, blessed our feet.

Bay Area Fit members about to bless their feet

There were over 500 members in Bay Area Fit this year and most made it to the start line Sunday. The group is made up of experienced runners and beginners. Their motto is get up off the couch and Change Your Life. It works.

I received a huge surprise Friday night during the award presentations. I was just sitting there minding my own business, enjoying the show...when they called my name!! What?!? The coaches had chosen me as one of the "Outstanding Returning Members". I was floored and walked up on stage in a daze!

Receiving this award meant a lot to me. During the race, when I realized things weren't going how I had planned or trained, I was even more embarrassed because of that plaque. Now I see though that sticking it out to the finish was most important, so I guess they'll let me keep it!

During the race, when A. wasn't cheering the runners and ringing a cow bell...

She found time to color on the convention center floor.

I have had this sticker on the back window of our SUV for almost 2 years. Since we are NOT bumper sticker/decal people, it's the only one.

That number has always made my heart beat a little faster and given me a little thrill. Silly as it may sound, now I feel like I've finally earned the right to have the sticker on my window.

Sunday afternoon I was convinced I would NEVER run another marathon. I was going to stick with the Half and write 26.2 off as an error in judgment.


Yesterday I told Scott that I WOULD try again next year and I wasn't going let the Chevron Houston Marathon get the best of me.

He almost rolled off the couch.

Call me crazy. I can live with that.


No Sudden Movements Please

This video has been making its way around the web, so you may have already seen it. Let me just say, having just completed this feat, this video is right on the money. Well, I wouldn't know about the last guy's problem, but still...

Monday morning A. bumped her arm and was crying in her room upstairs. Marathon Mom (me) actually asked her to come DOWN so I could comfort her. Proud mom moment, but stairs are NOT my friend right now.

Tuesday has been worse than Monday. I keep muttering, "My quads, my quads, why hast thou forsaken me?" I am hoping tomorrow will be better. I should have tried to at least walk or do the elliptical today, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Thursday I will ask more of my legs. Right now sitting for the potty is painful, so I'm just trying to survive!


26.2... With A Twist

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. " Joshua 1:9

A quick self-portrait before walking out to the start line.

The day had arrived. The event I had spent several months training for was finally about to begin. As I made my way to the starting corral on the Marathon side I was teary eyed and nervous. It hit me what I was about to do. Thankfully, as I wandered through the people waiting to start, I found several of my running group buddies and being with them calmed my nerves.

Soon we were on our way, a huge sea of people with a common goal. It was exhilarating!

"...let us run with perseverance the race marked before us." Hebrews 12:1

For the first 9 miles the Full and Half runners are together, then the Half Marathoners turn back. There are a TON of spectators, cheers, music, and you feel part of the pack. Scott, Annelise, our friend Kim (her hubby ran his first half and did a GREAT job!) and T. and T. (their mom and dad were running the full--woohoo!) were along the course to offer support. Seeing them was such a boost, especially the hug from Annelise!

This was the first year I did NOT turn, I continued on the Full route. Somewhere between mile 8 and 9 I got separated from my running group girls. The 5:30 pace pack had left me in the dust too. I plodded onward as the course quickly thinned out. I enjoyed the distractions along the course and still felt on track.

Soon though I felt kinda lonely.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

I kept going, trying to stick with my run/walk intervals. I was still close to my target pace, so I felt okay. Quick visit to the lovely Port-a-Pottie and back on the road again.

Now I was leap frogging with the 6:00 hour pace group. Okay. Somewhere around mile 17 I made a mistake. I looked back.

Thankfully, I did not turn into a pillar of salt, but still...

The pace police cars were on my heinie!!! How did THAT happen?

I had become part of a small band of stragglers and we were being pushed along by the police and the threatening vans whose job was to pick up the support stations. Uh-oh.

See, the Houston Marathon has a course time limit of 6 hours. I knew that. However, I did not realize how early they start breaking things down to adhere to their policy. And what this realization would do to my mental game. I now know I should have used the anger I felt at those pace cars to dig deep and pick things up. Instead, I felt defeated and slowed even further.

Our little band of stragglers continued on. Even when we were pushed off the course onto sidewalks, bike trails, across construction sites, etc. we kept going. When we saw the dismantled support tables, the crews picking up the trash, the course cones being removed, we kept going.

I struggled with feelings of disappointment, worry, frustration, and embarrassment. Some kind ladies were handing out bottles of water along with pretzels and crackers around mile 20. I wish I could send them a thank you note! I had been worried about fluids since they were dismantling the course ahead of us. These ladies saved us!

"...if only I may finish the race and complete the task..." Acts 20:24

At mile 22 Scott was waiting along with some other kind supporters checking on the stragglers. I was terribly embarrassed of my performance and didn't want him to take my picture. However, it is part of my whole experience so I guess I'm glad he didn't listen to me.

Even though this was not going how I had imagined it, I was determined to finish. My hips and IT bands were so tight and my feet were throbbing, but I still tried to alternate jogging and walking.

I missed shaking former President George Bush's hand at mile 23; I missed the belly dancers (they were packing up but told us to hang in there); I missed spectator support the last few miles. The sweet lady I was with kept saying she didn't care about getting a medal or a shirt, she just wanted to finish. I was not the bigger person, I still WANTED my stuff!!

Eventually we made our way into downtown and closer to the finish line. Our little band of stragglers crossed the finish line as they were taking everything apart. Yes. We were met by enthusiastic cheers from our personal supporters. It was more intimate that way.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

Even though the crowds had all departed and they were packing up, it felt so wonderful to cross that finish line! Hearing Scott, Annelise, my dad, and my sweet friend Heather (thanks for being there girl!!) cheer me in somehow made it all okay.

One of the volunteers handed out medals to the families that were waiting in the stands so that we would get one when we finished. Thank you! Other volunteers stayed longer inside the convention center to hand out finisher shirts, I was so thankful they waited!

I did not finish the race like I had planned, I know I CAN do better. Maybe I will try 26.2 again someday. Most likely I will, because I want to improve. While I am disappointed in my performance, I am proud that I finished and that I covered the distance.

(and I got my STUFF)
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