Friday, May 18, 2012

Tim vs Timmaay

Tim vs Timmaay, the showdown begins. In one corner, weighing in at 267 pounds, low self-esteem, chain smoker, occasional drinker, and all out wimp with excuses. In the other corner, weighing in at 220 pounds, 1 time marathon, 3 time half marathon, and 1 time 15, 10, and 5k runner, a lot healthier, happier, and more confident in himself. One can easily guess who the winner would be if those two went head to head for an all out beat down.

Here lately, I've reminisced a little bit about what it would be like if I ever ran into my younger self. Would I be fit enough now to knock some sense into the younger me? I've often wondered if the current me could take on the aggressive teenage me back when I was (at the time) fit and what I thought was in the best shape I could've been in. As the saying goes, "to be wise, you first must be stupid"!! Yep, that would be me. Over the passed 3 years, I feel like I have rediscovered myself again. As I keep reminiscing, I look back at when I slowly starting regaining my health, I have found out what capabilities I didn't know I had. I think running a marathon was one of them. Last fall when I started training for my first marathon, I was averaging 25-30 miles a week, and occasionally cross trained on the spin bikes. A  few runs that I was training on, I managed to do an 18 mile run/walk, a 17 miler (which actually became a DNF on a 20 miler), and then a 17 mile knee throbber. To be honest, I felt going into running the marathon, that I was very much "under-trained". I thought to myself, if I can swing a good 15 miles without a hitch, I could swing that plus 11.2 miles as an easy cool down or jog the rest of the way. Good theory, bad idea!! Along came the injury that sidelined for a while. Until now:

These passed few weeks, I pushed for improvements. Back in February, my sports doctor advised me on sitting out my spring races, I wanted to. I said back then that it was the best decision I did, and I still stand by that. It started back in early April when I did 6 day run streak with a total of 32 miles. Not bad, but not as good as I wanted, still I took it as a sign of progress. That along has pushed me to this week when I aimed to a 10 mile strut in my neighborhood. Best feeling I've had in a while to complete a double digit distance since running my first marathon. 5 months in the making, well worth the wait. I admit, I can be very impatient at times, but as I've gotten older, I've gained some more wisdom here and there. Since that 10 miler, I did 2 easy recovery runs, and in my opinion felt effortless at the pace I was going. Funny I say that, when 2 years ago I was fighting to run at the speed I was going for this week. Improvement, yeah absolutely. I'm taking it as it comes. I guess you can say at this point, Timmaay is kicking Tim's butt right now. I think the biggest reason why Tim was so "under-trained" was a case of excuses. Timmaay has pretty much laid those excuses down this time around. I've decided to stick to just training this summer, and maybe catch a 5 or 10k (depending on cost) and kick this fall of with the following races, dates TBD

Labor Day 15k
Honored Hero 20 miler
Houston Half marathon (possibility)
Dallas White Rock Marathon

Along with these races, I plan to spend a lot more time at White Rock Lake and also at the Trinity Trails logging in some more training miles. I'm setting the bar higher to where my new average will be 40+ miles a week instead of 30. No more excuses. Here's to hoping Timmaay can be an even greater winner over Tim. We shall see...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

In Loving Memory

Brenda Kay Smith: Was born on June 23, 1961 and was called home to be with the Lord on May 7, 2012.

This next segment was written out by her mother, Hazel. This can also be found on

"On June 23, 1961 a little angel was sent to this earth. God knew she would never be able to run, walk, or play like most other children. God had other plans for her. One purpose was to bless everyone whose lives she touched with her love, sweet smile, contagious giggle, and trusting nature. With all her physical obstacles and ailments, she taught and surprised everyone many times with her strong will to live and be able to return back to her own quality of life"

"Brenda's joy for life was spent under great care of the wonderful staff at the Lubbock State Supported Living Facility (formerly the Lubbock State School) for 42 years. This great staff and God's will can definitely be credited for Brenda's ability to survive her many disabilities for 50 years."

.....all of this again was written by Hazel Love, Brenda's mother!!

It saddens me to find out about a love one being gone. What does one say or do in moments like this? You make all the necessary phone calls to relatives, friends, etc. Make arrangements for the funeral, take time off of work, and try to make things run as smooth as they can. This passed week, my wife's family did all of this. It wasn't easy, but it happened. The week before last around Cinco de Mayo weekend, my father in law James got the call from Hazel saying that Brenda was not going to make it through the night and that he needed to be here now. In his heart, he knew he had to be there for her. As I stated above (per Hazel), Brenda's "strong will" kicked in during the final moments of her life here on earth. I believe deep down it was so James (dad) could be there one last time to say goodbye to her. It was as if she was ready, but didn't want to leave without telling her parents that she was "ok" and that she will be in a better place. I have no doubt that this was the case.

I received a call Monday night that Brenda had passed away around 8pm. As I calmly sat down and told my Stacie about it, she was in tears, but yet relieved since she knew as well in her heart that her big sister was in a better place. So, once the shock was worn off, we made our phone calls to other relatives and they made their respective arrangements with their jobs and transportation. Stacie's brother, Stephen made a trip from Galveston up to Ft. Worth to pick up her other brother, Kelly and his wife, Julie, then make the other half of his long trip to Lubbock. Almost 12 hours of driving can put a tole on anybody. Stacie's mom and dad rented a vehicle and was already in Lubbock at the time with Stacie's oldest brother, Craig (She has 5 brothers all together), and then she and myself took our own vehicle and made our long 5 1/2 hour road trip out to west Texas from the Ft. Worth area ourselves. Whew it was a long haul. It felt longer than the last time we drove up to Lubbock, but nonetheless, it was a good trip. This trip not only tired us out physically, but gave us a new lease on life in a good way. I always have this really bad habit after taking a road trip somewhere that if I only had a job, or if I could find out a way to live here or there, I would. 2 trips out to Lubbock, Texas in less than 2 months has really got me thinking.. More to come on this!!

As we all gathered in Lubbock to meet up with family and friends, we we're blessed indeed by the Lubbock State Supported Living Center, and when I say blessed, I don't mean it lightly. This trip was a HUGE financial burden on all of us that came out for Brenda's funeral. We barely had in our own budget to get a hotel, much less gas money and food. The blessing you say, and my dad in-law can testify to this, the LSSLC provided us with a place to stay for duration of the time we were in town. Oh, and it was F-R-E-E!! The living center has a couple of cottage type houses that they provide to family members for anyone that is a full time resident of the school. That meant for us, since we we're family to Brenda, we could stay in one of the houses. It was a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house with a laudry room, kitchen, den, family room, and fireplace. It was done up almost like a 70's style house the way the design looked. Fine by us, so we took it. Stacie and shared a room with a full size "four post" bed and small bathroom, her parents shared the "master" room with their own bathroom, her brother Kelly and his wife Julie had a room with a king size bed, and Stephen had his own room which was connected to Kelly and Julie's room with a bathroom. Again, PTL (Praise the Lord).

Now that we had the room situation taken care, we had enough funds to take care of food and gas as we needed to. One trip to the grocery store, and we were stocked up for the week. Unfortunately, we didn't get pics of this awesome place we stayed at, but let me just say for the whole experience that we we're there, we can't thank the state facility enough for providing this for us. Side note: As for me being a runner, the facility itself is 1.5 miles in diameter all around, so you can guess what I did while I was there. Yep! I ran around a few times to keep up with my fitness...and to keep my mind focused while I was there. My main objective was to be there for my wife and her family as she was there to be by her dad's side. Mission accomplished pretty much.

By Wednesday, as everyone made into town, we met up with the Chaplains who took care of Brenda while she was in the State Facility, but at the hospital as well when her health was threatened. We all got together with them and the rest of the family that lived in Lubbock to go over what and how the funeral was going to be done. From music to who was going to speak, open casket, closed casket. Smooth as butter as far as I thought. Couldn't have planned a better memorial if you'd asked me. Stacie's brothers Scott and Craig provided music and Chaplain Ken Cartwright from the State School and Chaplain Elizabeth Abraham from the UMC hospital in Lubbock both preached and gave a word at the pulpit. And was concluded with Stacie's dad, James giving his appreciation for all the work that the Lubbock State Supported Living Center provided to Brenda after all these years. I myself was involved in the memorial as I volunteered to be a pall-bearer along with other family members: Brenda's half brothers Johnny, Donny, Stephen, Kelly, and nephew Kyle. Again, a great job was done by all who participated.

I shared all of this because, as I said above about a new lease on life. Brenda's condition and the way she was has really inspired not only me, but Stacie as well. This is why she herself hopes to be a nurse someday. Working with the under-privileged is what she feels is her calling. I know deep down because of Brenda, this is a personal persuit she is taking. I know in confidence, she will succeed. As for me, I have a personal experience with this as well, and that it is a testimony in itself. More to come on that.

In showing of appreciation of the LSSLC, when we were shacked up in the cottage we stayed at, Stacie found a plaque on the wall in the hallway that really hit home with her. The words itself could make anyone cry, and also she read these words during the memorial. As Brenda's youngest sibling, she felt honored to do this.

"A School For Little Angels"

a poem by Donald Dehay - 1994

"A school for retarded children,
That's what some folks say it is;

But I think it's a school for little angels;
Well, in fact I know it is.

Some of the kids are crippled.
Some are very weak.
And if those little kids weren't angels;
Well, they just couldn't be that sweet.

The parents are very happy with the school;
its love and care
Where some children really need the school,
But their parents just don't care.

Yes, the school is just for angels;
Where normal kids can't go
They teach the angels
What normal kids already know

All the kids are happy;
To me it always seems.
They all go to play and learn,
Until they earn their wings.

Sometimes it just takes days;
Sometimes many years.
They they get their wings
And leave their parents with (many) tears

Some think it's a school for retarded kids;
But I think it's a little unfair.
I think it's a school for angels,
For we had one that went there.

If that doesn't make you sob, you are heartless. It definitely speaks volume of what this facility is all about. And, partly for me, a big reason WHY I fell in love with Lubbock the 2nd time I came out that way. I have a passion as I stated for handicapped kids and adults. Because of them, I am now a child of God, and pretty much sober these days. Long story short, at 21, I was following my own way of life, and not what God wanted me to do. I spent a good time in the bottle, and didn't care if I lived to see the next day. A big time life of sin, and I was content. Instead, he brought a young 22 year old man with down syndrome into my path and it changed me. I spent a week at a camp for special needs in July of 2002. It was the last night before we all packed up the next day and went home. I found my friend, Casey laying in his bed crying because he knew he had to go home the next day. To make matters worse, I showed up that Monday for camp with a massive hangover because I drank way too much the night before. Again, I didn't care. I just wanted to skip town for a bit and get back at it when I got back home. God's perfect timing is all I gotta say. So, anyways.. As I tried my best to comfort my new founded friend, Casey, he asked me if I was going to see him next summer. I promised him right then and there that I would. Then, out of the blue, this same kid who couldn't tie his shoes, but can't quote the Bible asked me a gut checking question. "Hey Tim" he says, "will I get to see you in heaven someday?" I don't know where that came from, but in an instant, I was taken back. This is one question you CAN NOT lie about. Especially to a kid with his condition. And, you really can't say NO either. That night, I gave my life to the Lord, and never looked back.

I am so blessed and honored to be married into a family that cared for a soul like Brenda. It really gives life a whole new perspective for me. Another was written by an anonymous writer that speaks volume as well for anyone with special needs, and for family members of someone who is handicapped. I don't like to use the word "retard", that makes my blood boil.

"Heaven's Special Child"

A meeting was held, quite far from earth.
"It's time again, for another birth"
Said the angels to the Lord above,
This special child will need much love

Her progess may seem very slow,
and she'll require extra care
From the folks she meets
way on down there

She may not run or laugh or play
her thoughts may seem quite far away
in many ways she won't adapt
and she'll be known as "handicapped"

So let's be careful where she's sent
we want her life to be content
Please, Lord find her parents who
will do a special job just for you

They will not realize right away
The leading role they're asked to play
but this child sent from above
comes stronger faith and richer love

And soon they'll know the privilege given
 in caring for this gift form Heaven
Their precious charge so meek and mild
is Heaven's very, special child,

Sorry friends, if this blog itself has shed tears, but what would you do if you ever lost a loved one. Let me rephrase, if you had to lose a loved one with a condition like my sister in law had, what would you do? The answer is unknown. I can't tell you what to do. Otherwise, that would be too easy. All I can tell you is, you love them the best you can while they are on earth here with you. Life is too short!!

My wife, Stacie and Brenda a few years back. Way before we ever met.

My father in law, James and Brenda. One last visit with her before her health started to decline

If you look real closely at the center of the cloud you can see a heart. This was taken by Stacie as we were driving back home. Nothing says "confirmation" that Brenda has arrived to the gates of Heaven quite like this. Very humbling

I'm just an in law on the outside looking in, but I can see a lot of love in this family that was inspired through the life Brenda had. I hope this love never dies for the generations to come.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Our New Place!

Well, I told you all that I wasn't making promises about posting every week like I wanted to. But still, I have managed to make it less than a month, so give me some credit. Since my last post, Stacie and I did what people dread to do the most, MOVE!! We got the luxury of moving to a much bigger place, and by far a better community, I think. We've settled in nicely for the last two weeks now, so we are thrilled with it. It wasn't that way in the beginning however, as one would "typically" deal with the stress of moving. To say the least, we had our fair share. In all the times before when I have moved; from the very first time I told mom I was leaving and moving in with my first roommate, to my first solo apartment, my second, roomie, even coming back home because I fell on hard times, and to even the first place Stacie and I moved into together, I don't think I ever encountered as much stress in those times as we did in this move. Where do I begin?

Well, let me tell you the beginning. At first, after 3 years of being in our "starting out" apartment, we were strapped for room. After taking on the responsibility of our first "child", Corkie, and after a few holidays and birthdays celebrated.... Um yeah... We collected a lot of stuff. Doesn't everybody? Plus, we were getting fed up with the new management, and the bratty little kids that were living in the complex we lived in. Nothing against them, but we felt it was time to pick up and move out. So, we planned a weekend in February since that was around the time we had to give our 60 day notice, and time for us to find a newer place. We had debated on a either a 2 bedroom, or a much bigger 1 bedroom. Me being optimistic, I was opting for the 2 bedroom, but every place we looked at, I thought we were getting gouged on rent. No surprise there. In the apartment lifestyle, that is to be expected. We spent one Saturday in February, armed with a list of places we checked out online, we set out and hunted for our next place to live. The first one we looked at was in the "Ghetto" side of town. Funny how apartment guides and pictures don't really do justice to what places look like in reality. Now, I stated before that we were thinking about either a 2 bedroom or a large 1 bedroom, we had also considered a split level, or studio loft apartment. As we searched and searched, we found some lofts that were right up our alley as far as rent cost and location. Still nothing appealed to us. The 2nd and 3rd place we looked at that same day were hopeful, but a no go at the last minute. We agreed that for a 1 bedroom, $700 was too much. Some parts of the country, that is considered cheap, but not where we live. Finally, I looked across the street at the last place we looked and saw a place I had previously looked at a few years ago with my last roommate, and noticed the name change of the complex and a sign that said "under new management".. Ok, I optimistic, so I thought, what the hell.

So, we get in, talk to a lease consultant, got a nickel tour of a model unit, and even a tour of the new layout. One word... SOLD.. The location, cost of rent, and even the accommodations for Corkie was enough for us. This place gave a discount because my wife, Stacie is now a student, and that we both work in the medical field. The attractions included: A dog park, a tiki bar kind of setup at the pool with grills and bars to sit at, 24 hr fitness facility, and my favorite, up front parking by our unit. With these great attractions that lured us in, we did however have to make some sacrifices. To us, they were worth it though. We had a HUGE bedroom on the second floor, but very limited closet space. Only one bathroom, but it was upstairs, so if company came, guess what?? The last big doozy we had to give up was our washer and dryer. When I said we had limited closet space, well, a small corner was taken up by a stackable washer and dryer. From what we have been told, and even now if what we have experienced with this, a stackable unit is not that bad. They may be small in size, but you would be amazed at how much laundry can fit in the washer, then afterwards load it up in the dryer. And they are FAST at getting you clothes done. We're happy with that.

Now to the meat and potatoes. Here's where the real fun begins!! After all the negotiations and agreements we made with our place of residence that we were moving out of and with the place we were moving to, disaster struck. We were scheduled to move in on the weekend of the 21st of April. Just like in the business of the real estate, the right hand never knows what the left hand is saying. With that, we had a big time mix up with our unit, and with management. When we finalized our move in day, the lease consultant we spoke with had everything written down, and even and agreement drawn up in which we signed. Somehow, that was not communicated to the manager, nor was it entered into the system. Talk about furious, there was a lot of tension that day in the office. I was drove the unit we were going to move into, and nothing was done to it. The workers were in there ripping out carpet, taking out appliances, and painting. Manager said, it would be impossible for us to move in when we wanted to. With that on our stressor, I had to make a quick phone call to my power company to shut down that particular account to that location I had set up. On the flipside of the mix we had with the manager and the lease consultant, we were able to move into a different apartment, same floor plan, but much better location. YAY!! We were thrilled about that. All the maintenance people had to do with that place was clean the carpets, and repaint the walls. Ok, it would be ready for us in 24 hours. Not a problem, except one thing... the power would not be available until the following Monday. So, it was a weekend we move in, and no power. Thankfully, Stacie's parents let us crash with them during all of this.

Oh it gets better. We decided to take the stress out of us, and not even worry about relying on friends and family to help us by hiring movers. Yes, I mean it does it get better. As I stated above, we were scheduled for the 21st of April to move in to our new place, and we still were. Just not the new place we originally planned on. So, a quick phone call to the movers to let them know we are still moving to the same complex, just a different unit. Not a problem on their part. However, there was a big problem they had which effected us in a bigger way as well. We had scheduled a move for 10am on Saturday, April 21st. Got a call from the movers that it would be about 3pm instead because their customer before us had a lot of stuff to move and they were way out west of us in Weatherford, Texas, which is 2 hours away (not sure on miles). Ok, not a problem. So, Stacie and I took what little items we could move and took them over to the new place, had lunch, sat around and waited, yady yady yady... Well, got a phone call again around 5pm saying that they were going to be much later, probably around 630. By then, we were so frustrated that we both had turns at letting the moving people know how mad we were. Long story short, about the previous customer before us, well, apparently they had more stuff to move than what they led the movers on to thinking they had.

Finally, after cooling off, and by then laughing at this whole situation, Stacie told the movers to just come by on Sunday morning instead. By then it would've too late in the evening for them to come out, and since we had no power established yet, it would've been a safety hazzard for the movers. So, Sunday morning came, and everything FINALLY came together as planned for once during this whole move. Movers showed up at our old place, loaded the truck up with all we had, followed us over to the new place, and unloaded everything in 2 hours flat. It was like a flash before our eyes at how fast these dudes worked, and I quickly apologized for my aggression towards them. They understood, so they sympathized by knocking a little bit off the price for their troubles they caused us.

Here's an aerial floor plan of our new place. This pretty much describes how we have everything set up.

Here's the first thing you see when you open the door. I'm stoked because I have never lived in a place before that had stairs. Probably my favorite feature of this apt.

To the left of the stairs is the living room. It looked small at first, but once it was filled up with our stuff, it looked bigger for some reason.

The Kitchen. We love the look of our appliances from the stove, fridge, and microwave. We're going with the more moderate, contemporary look.

As you first walk upstairs into our bedroom. This was before we put anything in it. Trust me when I say this, but it's huge!!

Our cozy little corner section of the room with a place to sit or lay on. It's actually big enough for the dog to jump up there and sleep if she ever wanted to.

I won't spare anymore details about the rest of the room. All there is, is just the tiny closet and tiny bathroom. Nothing much to it.

I've never lived somewhere that accommodated pets like this. This little dog park has a small creek bed that is ran by a water fountain that the dogs can actually drink from. Plus there's a poop station, so you can pick up after them if they have to go. Corkie likes it so far.

So far, in the passed couple of weeks since we've lived here, we've been very pleased with our new choice of residence. Corkie likes not only the dog park, but she like the stairs as well. In fact, the first night, she got herself a good workout by going up and down them I don't know how many times. Last weekend, our dear friends Bill and Lynn Parker gave us our first house warming present. As most of you know that follow my blogs, know that I am  a runner. I run when I can. Sometimes, when I need to run, the weather has a disadvantage, so I resolve to using a treadmill if I can ever use on. Well, luck would have it, The Parker's blessed us with that very same thing. Granted, I'm more of an outdoor fan and like my hills and change of scenery, but sometimes a treadmill is the best solution. So far I've ran a few miles on it here and there, and appreciate having it. Thanks, Parker's

Our house warming gift. I plan to use it quite extensively in the future

For the most part, we're settling in quite well. Our plan is to stick it out here for 3 or 4 years. Basically, however long it takes for Stacie to finish school, and when we are ready to purchase our first mortgage. Oh the joys of moving. Till next time.