Tuesday, December 15, 2009

getting in the Christmas spirit

Christmas truly is my favorite time of year. I had pretty much all of my Christmas shopping done this year before Thanksgiving....I'm not joking! When I was younger, I started listening to Christmas music in September! Last year, I really got into baking new sweets/candies for Christmas parties I attended so I'm going to keep this tradition going again this year.

On the menu for an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party I'm going to on Saturday night.........

Cake Balls (recipe found here)

Rather than doing red velvet on the inside and milk chocolate on the outside, I'm planning on a dark chocolate inside with a white chocolate outside. I can't wait to try these puppies!

The other new item I'm baking for the first time....

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies (recipe found here and here)

No, you're not hallucinating. That is a chocolate ganache icing on the top to make these brownies a little more melt in your mouth, wonderful deliciousness! Caution: This WILL make your love handles a little more lovable! Um, Honey, I REALLY need that elliptical......

Bakerella just might be my new favorite baking blog! I was introduced by her by this lovely lady's blog--Pioneer Woman! Seriously, if you have some spare time (like, really...a LOT of spare time) check out Pioneer Woman's blog. She is absolutely hilarious! Okay, so she's been around awhile and maybe everyone already knows her, but I just discovered her. And, she has a ton of amazing "Cowboy/Cowgirl" recipes on her blog that are a little more my speed. She lives in OK and is the wife of a 4th generation rancher. So, she's a city girl turned country girl. Although I can't relate to country life, Coach would absolutely love live in the country someday, so maybe her blog will help me be more open minded about the possibility of that....someday.....like WAY down the road.....uh, let's not get ahead of ourselves here:)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

half marathon training....failed

So, this week marked the start of my training IF I decide to do the Topeka to Auburn half marathon. I'm still on the fence about it--since I'd be doing it completely solo, running through the country roads of Kansas with God knows what kind of weather in mid-January--but was planning on starting to train for it and then would decide whether or not I'd run it once I got a little ways into my training. The temperature is below zero today with the windchill with ice and snow covering all the trails and sidewalks in town. And, since I cancelled my gym membership and don't have a home gym, running is impossible right now. I refuse to run outside if the temps are below zero with the windchill...I'm not that crazy.

So, basically, I just need a kick in the butt to get me on my training program and the weather to cooperate...that's not too much to ask, right?

On a less depressing note, I talked to my friend Cookie last night and she's thinking about running a half marathon--come to find out she was inspired to do this from my blog, so even more exciting for me:) And, since another friend of ours, Twit, is going to run the St. Louis half marathon--and Cookie lives in St. Louis--Cookie and I decided that we should all do that race. So, I sent Cookie a couple of training schedules to get her even more motivated! It's going to be so much fun!

Monday, December 7, 2009

chiefs football game

Coach and I scored some free tickets (very good tickets, might I add) to Sunday's Chiefs vs. Broncos game. We got a late start heading to the stadium and discussed selling our tickets since it was kind of cold outside. Yes, this is greedy, but we seriously had our money spent by the time we pulled into the stadium, on many glorious Christmas presents for one another. Too bad we didn't pull into the stadium until 11:50. Yes, I know. We didn't have any time to sell our tickets, so we ended up going to the game.

But, to entertain ourselves during the 25 minutes of stop and go traffic outside the stadium, Coach and I did some role playing of what I'd say to someone who was interested in buying our tickets.

Me: Two tickets....anyone need some tickets?

Coach: Sure, I'll give you twenty bucks each for them.

Me: Twenty bucks? You mean to tell me that you're trying to STICK ME (Coach informed me I meant to say "STIFF ME") by offering me twenty bucks per ticket to the Chiefs/Broncos game, one of the Chiefs biggest rivals, the game at which they're retiring Derrick Thomas's jersey, for two tickets with a face value of $90 each?!?!?! I'd rather rip both of these tickets to shreds and throw them out the car window rather than sell them to you for that price!

We role played many other scenarios and had a ton of laughs....I was crying by the end of it! The Chiefs lost, of course, and we ended up leaving in the 3rd quarter, but still had a good time. Coach informed me that Chiefs fans are known to be some of the white trash-iest of any NFL fans. This, I didn't realize. But, after he told me that, I started to look around at some of the other ticket holders and by golly, he appeared to be right.

Our favorite quote of the day by a Chiefs spectator. Said by a man holding a beer, "I haven't been this drunk since last week!"

So, we were among Missouri's finest Whiskey Tango! Hopefully we didn't blend in!

Friday, December 4, 2009

from the beach to the freezing cold

On Thanksgiving, Coach and I left for Mexico. We had a wonderful time away, although we wish it would have lasted longer. Here's the view we looked at for 5 days.

We returned to Missouri just in time for temperatures in the twenties and blustery winds. I took my workout clothes to Mexico with full intention of working out in the fitness center, but needless to say they never made it out of my suitcase. In fact, even more depressing is I haven't even run a millimeter since my half marathon.

Tomorrow, Coach and I are going to get our Christmas tree which I'm so excited about. I've already wrapped about half of my Christmas gifts and only have about two more gifts to buy before I'm done. This is my absolute favorite time of year: listening to Christmas carols, trimming the tree and wrapping presents. So, I've got a very festive weekend ahead of me.

The next couple of weeks are filled with parties, one is a Snuggie couples shower (yes, we are being forced to wear Snuggies out to the bars) another is an ugly Christmas sweater party, and the last is a girls Christmas party with some fellow Jr. Leaguers. So, many fun things to look forward to.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Oh, and one last thing. Coach and I were thinking about hanging lights this year outside and I like the white lights, but Coach wants to hang blue lights. I seriously thought that blue lights were for Hanukkah...anyone want to weigh in on this?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

christmas wish list

So, in case any of you need any Christmas gift ideas (this is mainly for Coach:), here you go!

#1 on my list is a new camera!
I've had my current camera for probably 7 years and I think it only has 5 or so mega pixels. So, it pretty much sucks. Yes, that's the camera that took those wonderful half marathon pictures. And, since Coach was the one taking the pictures, he finally realizes how bad it sucks. This Sony Cybershot camera has 12.1 mega pixels and 5x zoom. I would love it in Black or Silver...heck, at this point I'd even take the Navy Blue one. I'm really not going to be picky. Also, my parents just got this camera and took it with them on their trip to San Antonio. I saw the pictures today, and they look great! So vibrant and clear.

#2 is arm warmers
I saw so many people wearing these at my race last weekend, which made me want them even more. They are so cute, but practical too. In fact, last Sunday's race would have been the perfect time to wear them. I was just a little warm with my long sleeves on so if I had been wearing short sleeves with my arm warmers it would have been perfect.....with just a little air being able to cool me down. I really like these black/grey ones below.

Finally, #3 on my list is an elliptical
I know, I don't ask for much, do I?! HA! And, this isn't really a wish to receive as a Christmas gift, but maybe money to put towards one to get next year. I mean, can't you just see me rocking out on this! We'll see if Santa thinks I've been really good this year.

So, that's about all. I hope everyone has a wonderful Turkey Day and enjoys spending time with their family and reflecting on what they're thankful for. Coach and I, however, will be reflecting with a fruity, slushy drink in our hands while laying on the beach....yes, we're leaving for Mexico bright and early tomorrow morning. Hasta La Vista, baby!

Monday, November 23, 2009

goal achieved

Yesterday was my first half marathon in three years! Back then, I ran the KC half marathon as part of my marathon training. I had just started running a couple of months earlier and finished with a time of 2:16 and change. After my marathon, I ran very sporadically up until about 6 months ago when my running became much more consistent. That being said, I really had no idea what except for my time in this half so I set my goal at a ten minute per mile average. Once I started training, I thought this goal was very realistic and one that I could attain. Well....yesterday I ran my half marathon in 2:04:05, earning myself a new PR! I was so excited because that is an average of 9:29/mile which is really good for me for this distance.

The course was a mix of trails and sidewalks and was pretty flat. The only down side was that because most of it was on a trail, and the trail was only about three people wide, you occasionally had to run in the grass to pass people. Overall, though, I really liked the course.

Coach came down and followed me at a few points on the course. I was really excited b/c this is the first race he's been able to come to. I stressed to him the night before, that I wanted him to make sure to take a bunch of pictures with our camera**.


Mile 1-3
I started off the race feeling really good, but was stressed out about starting too fast right out the gate. You see, I did that when I ran my full marathon and was completely exhausted by the time I was at mile 13, so I didn't want to make that same mistake this time. The view on this part of the course wasn't the greatest. It was a little hilly and we were literally running through parking lots during some parts. By the end of this portion, the crowd was starting to thin out a bit so I got a little more comfortable and was able to keep my pace better.

Mile 4-6
The first mile of this was seriously a blur. I was just running away to the music on my iPod enjoying the scenery on the trail. At mile 5, I sent Coach a text saying I was at mile 5. We had planned this the night before b/c he was going to be around mile 6 or 7, which is where the course was on the street rather than the trails. I already had the text all typed out, so all I had to do was pull out my phone, hit send, and put it away. Coach, being the considerate husband that he is, of course didn't text me back as he knew I was running. But, then I started wondering where he would be. Then, I swear I thought I saw him driving down the street the opposite direction of where I was running. So, I pulled out my phone and text him that I thought I saw him and told him where I was located at that moment. He text me back and told me it wasn't him and told me where he was. He was one block ahead!!!!

Mile 7 & 8
Since I knew Coach was just ahead I started looking for him and spotted his light blue Royals hat. I started waving really big and he continued to just stand there staring. A few moments later, he waves and get the camera in picture-taking position. I was really excited and could tell he was snapping away. So much picture taking, in fact, that he didn't even speak to me. No words of encouragement, no "hi honey", nothing! At first I was a little disappointed, but then after the race he told me that he was so nervous about getting good pictures for me that he didn't want to stop taking pictures to say anything to me. So, then I decided it was really cute. Right after I saw Coach, a car full of girls I know drove by and all shouted my name and got me pumped up.

(Me just past mile 7. I'm in the blue---the one with the ponytail:)

Mile 9-11
At mile 9, I saw my aunt and uncle who had come to cheer me on.....another boost! Mile 9 was pretty much all downhill, which was nice. It was also the end of the street/sidewalk running and heading back onto the trail. I was passing quite a few people at this point too. Then, sure enough, I saw coach again at mile 10, snapping away again...this time I got a "hi" too :) I figured this would be the last time I'd see him since the trails started and I was getting pretty close to the finish.

(I'm so bummed this one was blurry, but I'm posting it anyway)

Right when I got back on the trail, I heard someone call my name. It was my friend John who ran the Phoenix Marathon with me. He tore his ACL and had surgery earlier this year and this was his first race since. He had a knee brace on which was bothering him...he was hurting pretty bad and I could tell by the look on his face. My compassionate side really wanted to hang back with him for a bit to help keep him going, but my competitive side want to keep running. Of course, he told me he was fine and for me to run ahead, so I did.

Mile 12-Finish
By this point, I picked up my pace for the last mile. All of a sudden, out pops Coach! (This reminded me of watching New Moon the other night and how Edward kept popping up on Bella...and that made me happy too:) He decided to make one more stop to see me before the finish and this time he said "You're almost done Honey!" I started sprinting once I saw the finish line (Coach popped up again right before the finish line) and ended the race feeling really good. I wasn't sore, tired, nothing.

(Mile 12 - Coach was right above me on a bridge taking this one. I love it because my left quad looks muscular. It totally might just be the blur on the camera and probably is since my knee appears to be concave, but either way, I'll take it!)

(I'm coming up on the finish on this one...still smiling!)

(Sporting my medal after the race)

Afterwards, I found Coach and he was so cute. He looked so proud of me and told me how good I
did. We were both happy that he got to experience watching me do this! I'm sure he won't be able to come to all of my races in the future, but it's nice to have a cheerleader on the sidelines every now and then.

So, next on the agenda is to plan my 2010 races. There aren't many races of any distance other than 5K's in January-March, but there is one half marathon in the Topeka, KS area in January. And, I have a friend in law school there so I'll probably see if she wants to run it with me. I looked at the website today, though, and it said it was a very challenging course with many hills. So, if I do it, I'm not planning on PR-ing again. It will be more of something to do to keep my running up in the really cold months. I'm also thinking about maybe doing the Saint Louis half in April, but we'll see.

**As a side, many of the photos are not the best quality. I don't really like my camera, but I really do think that most of the reason they didn't come out very clear was because I was in motion. Sorry if you get motion sickness while looking at them.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

team jacob

Last weekend, I went to the Mizzou/K-State football game in Manhattan, KS. The tigers pulled off an easy win and I got to have some fun spending time with my extended family. I have a cousin who is a senior at K-State so it's become a tradition for him, me and my cousin Aaron (Aaron and I went to Mizzou) to go the the football game each year with our dads---our dads are brothers.

I was reminded that I can't really party like I used to. The game started at 11:30 and then we immediately went to the bars to start drinking. It was a lot of fun and I even got to play some rounds of PhotoHunt on the Mega Touch! Good times. But, also, after spending some time at my cousin's house (basically a fraternity house for the seniors in his fraternity) I was very grateful that I don't have to deal with immature college guys anymore and made me feel even luckier to have my wonderful husband back at home waiting for me (OK you can all gag:). My parents had to drag me out of the bar (and off the dance floor) at about 11 PM to take me back to our hotel room. Here's a picture of some my three cousins who went to the game with me.

Tonight I'm going to the movie theater to see Twilight and then to watch the midnight showing of New Moon. I absolutely cannot wait and have really found it hard to concentrate at work today, I'm so excited. I'm going to have to pay for it tomorrow, though since I'll be lucky to get four hours of sleep tonight. I'm sure it will be worth it though.

For those of you who don't understand the Twilight hype...take a look at the photo below. And, yes, I know he's only 17!

Friday, November 13, 2009

crazy week

So sorry for neglecting my blog all week, but I'm so happy the weekend is here. Work has been so crazy and I really need to unwind. On the work front, we had a reorganization and now I have new team members, a new boss and am working with about 40 agents up in WI now (previously I worked with agents around St. Cloud, MN and I loved them). These WI American Family agents have a lot to live up to! But, I feel like my work load has at least doubled...not kidding!

On the personal-life front, I went to the doctor this week as I'd been feeling tired and fatigued. Well, after some blood work, I found out that my B12 was really low. So, now I have to go in for a weekly B12 shot for 4 weeks and then get monthly shots indefinitely. My doctor said that if I got in a couple shots before my half marathon next weekend, I'd shave 10 minutes off my time. So, we shall see! I really hope he's right, although I'm not really sure what I think my time will be. So, in turn, I don't know what ten minutes less than that time will be. I haven't run a half in over! three! years! and I don't know how accurate that time was compared to my pace now. I guess I'll find out in about a week.

Because I haven't run a half in over! three! years!, I'm feeling a little anxious about the race. I know I'll it will be fine because I felt really good about my 10 miler last Saturday, but the pre-race jitters are starting to hit. My new goal is to run at least one race a month, but it seems like around the holidays down here all of the races are only 5K. And, I really just don't want to run a 5K. I'd like to run only in races with a minimum distance of 10K if I can help it. I'd also like my next half marathon to be somewhere fun so that I can make a mini vacation out of it. Some friends of mine had talked about running the Mardi Gras half in February in New Orleans which would be so much fun, but I'm not sure if it actually panned out and they are really going. Any takers on running a destination half or full?!

Tomorrow I'm heading to Manhattan, KS to go to the K-State/Mizzou football game---Go Tigers!!!!! Coach is down in southern MO hunting all weekend. Hopefully he doesn't bring any of that nasty deer meat home :) Next week doesn't seem to get any less busy, but I'm so excited that Coach and I are heading to Mexico on Thanksgiving. We are in desperate need of a vacation.

Finally, speaking of vacations....I've yet to blog about the rest of my Hilton Head trip last month. And, quite honestly, I'd like to forget that trip so I'm not going to blog about it. So, instead, I'll leave you with a picture of the beach.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Thank you to those of you who left comments. Since I'm new to this blogging thing, I didn't have my settings set up to email me when anyone left comments. So, I've now responded...better late than never. And, my settings have been updated;)

mind over matter

You may not know, but I'm training for a half marathon I'm running in Kansas City on Nov 22ND. Today was my 10 mile run and I was very nervous. Last weekend's 8 miler was pretty rough on me. To make matters worse, my friend Katy (with whom I'm training) was having some IT band problems and would probably take it pretty slow today...and that's if she was even able to make it the full 10 miles. So, after the first quarter mile I ran ahead and spent most of the run not knowing if she was behind me or if she had to stop, turn around and head home due to her injury.

I find training alone very hard because I have a hard time motivating myself. So, I was pretty nervous about running the 10 miles, basically, alone. I felt pretty good the first 7 miles or so---by the way, Katy was able to run 8 miles and I saw her when I turned around after mile 5, so it was comforting knowing she was still behind me---and then I started to psych myself out. You see, I truly think most of running is just mind over matter and I can easily start to lose focus on running and start focusing on the hills coming up or the sore muscles...basically anything to get me off track.

Right around mile 7.5, I was running towards a female walker decked out in head to toe zebra print. Thankfully, this lady gave me big smile, a thumbs up and said, "You're doing awesome!". Even though she was a total stranger, that was exactly the boost that I needed in order to keep pushing on. So, if you ever see someone running that looks like they're training (a Fuelbelt and Garmin are good indicators:), please say something uplifting to them to cheer them on! The last couple miles were rough as they were all uphill but I was pleased that I finished without walking an inch!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Today I had a doctor's appointment. While in the waiting room, there was only one other person (also, why is it that even when there are 15 empty seats, people choose to sit in the seat right next to you?!)...a woman, although she resembled a man (this may be why she wanted to sit directly beside me if you catch my drift), with a permed mullet. In the waiting room, there was also a TV. So, I was sitting there minding my own business when the permed mullet woman says, "I just can't take this anymore". I was confused, unsure whether she was referring to the HGTV program we were watching or something else. She proceeds to tell me that she hated coming to the doctor. I just kind of laughed nervously like I tend to do when I'm uncomfortable and said, "Yeah".

A couple minutes later she elaborates and begins to tell me (through half closed eyes, mind you. Like maybe she was high, drunk, or maybe just tired???) that she had to drink 40 ounces of water (or maybe 40 ounces of vodka by the looks of her) to fill up her bladder so the doctor could get a good "look". I'm not sure what body part, exactly, the doctor was looking at because then she tells me that she's going to get a hysterectomy. Last time I checked, those parts don't have anything to do with the bladder. Nurses, help me out if I'm misunderstanding, though. Remember that the only response I had to her was "Yeah" after her very first comment. But, apparently I opened the door for her to share her entire medical (and menstrual) history. She goes on about how they don't have to do a total hysterectomy, but that she's going to have them do one because "as you get older your periods get worse. They're a b!tch. They just get heavier and heavier".

As if God sent one of his angels, a nurse opened the door and called my name. Note to self: next time a mulleted freak starts small talk with you at the doctor's office, do not try to be polite and respond or else you might hear how heavy her periods are.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

worst! day! ever!

So, I just got home from a trip to Hilton Head with one of my old coworkers from Kansas City. Our old boss, gave us his timeshare that was otherwise going to go unused. It was a very nice gesture, so Lori and I jumped at the chance to go. I will tell more about the trip on a later post, but in the meantime will tell you about my day today.....the worst! day! ever!

This morning I woke up around 8 AM in order to leave our hotel room by 9 to make our way to Savannah, GA to see some sights and possibly take a tour prior to catching our 4:20 PM flight home. Mind you, I was already not in good spirits since the trip was going downhill fast (starting on Thursday night when Lori invited a random guy..random to me anyway, she used to date, whom I had never met, to crash our vacation. He arrived on Thursday night and didn't leave until Sat morning when we left for Savannah. Nothing like sharing your hotel room with some random guy you've never met, who monopolizes your trip and keeps you from doing what you want! Oh, and she texted me the day before we left asking me if it was ok if he came in town and had dinner with us one night....I had no idea at the time what was in store). All that said, I was determined to have a good day in Savannah. So, around 8:45, I go down to our rental car to put my suitcase in the trunk when I notice the remote unlock isn't working. Then, I tried to pop the trunk....not WORKING! Finally, I manually unlock the door and try to start the car....DEAD!!!!!!! Lori's friend, who was driving our rental for us all day on Friday, left the lights on all night. I was absolutely livid! I'm lucky I cried all the tears I had on Friday night, otherwise I might have thrown a full blown tantrum right then and there!

I'll cut to the chase and just tell you that we finally got on the road to Savannah around 11. Then, I was in such a hurry to still try to do at least a couple of things in Savannah before we had to catch our flight, that before I was even out of the Hilton Head city limits, I got pulled over doing 58 in a 40 mph. So, now I'm $81.50 poorer.

FINALLY, we arrive in Savannah and make our way to Bonaventure Cemetery. It is absolutely beautiful, with tons of those trees you see in the movies with the hanging down thing-ies blowing in the wind. This cemetery dates back to the 1700s, I think. Anyway, I had to convince Lori to walk through the cemetery rather than drive. After about 20 minutes, she was continuously sighing about being hot or having blisters on her feet, that I just gave in and said, "let's go!". So, I wanted to drive through Savannah to see some of the old mansions and the downtown area. Since we were running so far behind my original schedule, I was unable to do any of the Trolley Tours like I wanted to. So, I asked Lori to follow our map and guide us through downtown while I drove. Another sigh and absolutely no direction from her, I finally had had enough and snapped! I know it's hard to believe, but I just couldn't keep it bottled in any longer. I proceeded to tell her how the trip and taken a completely different direction than I thought it would and that I didn't appreciate her inviting some guy that I don't even know to spend our trip with us and keep me from doing the things I wanted to do. I told her that it was obvious she didn't even want to be in Savannah so we would just go sit in the airport until our flight left.

She was rather quiet after that and did apologize, but it didn't mean much to me. I mean, you seriously should have heard me talking to mom on Friday night.....hysterical and wanting to go home. I felt like a kid at summer camp or something who was homesick. The icing on the cake was that our flight was delayed an hour, but I guess it could have been worse.

Anyway, as I mentioned, I'll tell more about the trip in another post since I'm sure you're dying to hear more about this wonderful vacation getaway! It's sad when you'd seriously rather be at work, than on this vacation. Oh, and also, there will be very limited photos of Hilton Head, since I didn't get to do any sightseeing or anything. All I saw was the f***ing outlet mall!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

it's all a blur

So, the other day I went to my parent's house to finalize the photos for my wedding album. Coach and I have been married for nearly 15 months and am just now ordering my wedding album...sad. The cost of one of these albums is equivalent to feeding a family of four in Cambodia for about five years. That being said, I'm very excited to see the finished product. It's been a long time coming.

While at my parents, I was looking through photos on their computer and came across some that I hadn't seen before. They were from one of my bridal showers thrown by some of my parent's friends from church. One of the things you hear often while planning and celebrating your wedding is "Enjoy every moment. It goes by so fast, it's all a blur." Well, apparently so do bridal showers. Hey, don't take my word for it. See for yourself!

A bit of a blessing this one is blurry as I'm not fond of my profile.

My sister, mother and me...can't you see the resemblance?

No, I don't really have three rows of teeth as it appears above. I am quite thrilled, though, that my gold sandals look extra sparkly in this one!

So, there you have it! I'm sure you almost feel as though you were there at the shower, celebrating with me. And, if anyone is in the market for a new camera that only takes the highest quality snapshots, the above photos were taken with a Sony Cybershot.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

like a virgin

Well, this is my first post (hence the title). Unlike most people, who start blogging in an attempt to capture memories of their families/travels/accomplishments, the reason I'm blogging is different. I set up my blogging account many many months ago so that I could follow the blog of a friend of mine, Journey to a Better Me.

Once I started following her blog, I found all of these blogs created by women (not that I'm opposed to following the blogs of men...just haven't found any that I like yet:) whom I found inspiring. Whether it was inspiring me to be more creative or to lace up my running shoes that had been collecting dust in my closet for far too long. These wonderful women had giveaways, asked questions, wanted advice, etc. And, I so badly wanted to comment on their posts. So, bloggers, THIS is why I wanted to finally create my blog. It was so that I could make comments and enter to win said giveaways. But, most importantly, it was so when that blog owner clicked on the link to my blog by my comment, it wouldn't pull up a (nearly) blank profile without any blog entries. Because, you know if you did this, you would think, "Who is this crazy lady?! Is she a blog stalker?" The answer to that is "No." But, those bloggers have now inspired me enough to come out of the closet, so to speak. And, not I don't mean what you're thinking. Get your minds out of the gutter...I am married after all!

So, thank you ladies for giving me the courage to "come out"!