Top 5 Things I’m Obsessed With…

Cathy Hale LululemonI think we all suffer from short-lived or long-lived obsessions. I remember back in the day when I just couldn’t stop watching Real Housewives or eating blueberry muffins or stumbling on StumbleUpon. Yikes! Here are my Top 5 Obsessions going into 2015. Chime in and let me know what’s floating your boat.

#1 – The Food Network – Heaven help me, I can’t stop watching Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay and Cutthroat Kitchen. I was also glued to any Holiday Cooking competition too. You’re gonna make cookies, cakes, gingerbread houses, salted porks? I’ll watch it. I am not a foodie. In fact, I’m the opposite of that. (Oh yes, I am loving Worst Chef in America too!)

All of the judges and the amateur and professional chefs just blow my mind. Alton Brown is highly entertaining and admittedly, I do root against Bobby Flay, although he always wins. Will my new passion for watching people cook actually motivate me to cook? Time will tell.

#2 – Lululemon – I know, I know. I’m a few years late to the Lulu party, but I made it. It’s a splurge for me to shop “The Lemon,” so I’m not sporting every outfit they construct. It’s crazy how comfy and cool their workout gear is and now that I’m also obsessed with Pure Barre, (see #3) I have a great reason to wear it 24/7. The wild tank is my favorite top at the moment. I had trouble deciding on a color, so I got them both.

#3 – Pure Barre – All of my friends and family know that Pure Barre will always hold a special place in my heart. I’m recovering from a debilitating L5 herniation which pretty much ruined my physical life.  was down and out — literally — for months coping with tremendous pain that never stopped. There wasn’t a comfortable position or a miracle cure. I opted not to have surgery and waited it out. As soon as the pain lessened enough for me to walk normally, I started working out.

I felt the only workout option I had that would protect my lower back and help me regain my strength was Pure Barre. Pilates was too much pressure on my back and I have no flexibility to do yoga again, which I had done for many years. My Pure Barre Lakeway family means the world to me and they’ve given me back my life. Awwwe, tear.

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I’m Writing a Book: Interview with My Bestie

Interview with My BestieThe Prologue.

I’ve finally decided to write that book I’ve always been talking about writing about. It will focus on the epic, oft gluten-free and humor-free-to-the-public adventures that bind me and my bestie together for all eternity in the goofy and nonsensical ways in which besties are intertwined. (Disclaimer: No twine was harmed during the writing of this book.)

My book is dedicated to everyone who has a bestie or has recently purchased one via the Interweb. I’ll share the laughter, the tears, the tears due to laughter and the laughter due to tears that me and my longtime bestie, Alli, have experienced. It’s the epic journey of faith, sarcasm, extreme, extremities, delusions, hallucinations, tenderness, chicken tenders, enlightenment, perspicacity, fortunatelessness….okay, I made that last one up. It’s about us.

Featured chapter titles include:

No Way, Please Tell Me You Didn’t Do That

That’s not a Dress, It’s a Shirt

I Like to Break Out in Song Mid-Sentence

Let Me Consult My Wrist Calculator Beep Boop Bop Beep Beep

Yay, Your Hair is Longish

What You’re Saying is Totally Weird and I Totally Get It

I’m Laughing Because You Just Fell Down

“I Look Like a Chubby Hooker”

Didn’t You Pass Out at My Baby Shower?

Hey. Hey. Remember That Time When You Did That Thing?

“Am I Sexy Now?” {Insert circus music]

We Already Talked about that Shirt…

Funny Dancing (Part I, II, III, IV and V)

What if a Pharmaceutical Company Combined Ambien and Viagra

“She Thinks She’s So Bendy. Watch This.”

Look for it in a place that sells books or e-books or things you can read, perhaps on 18% recycled paper, in 2017.

Win Craft Brew for Your Crew at Oasis Texas Brewing Company

Summertime in Austin typically brings new delights in the way of cool new hangouts. This summer we welcomed an awesome new taproom to the Lake Travis area, Oasis Texas Brewing Company. Not only is this brewery serving up delicious ales and lager, but it happens to be situated on one of the most beautiful hillsides in the city, so the views of Lake Travis are amaze-balls!

Oasis Texas Brewing Company celebrated its official grand opening last week and it also celebrated a co-grand opening a few months ago for its spectacular (shared) venue space, The Mansfield. I was an event planner for years and I can honestly tell you this new venue is THE place to throw a soiree. The space is vast, gorgeous, rustic-inspired and totally hip, just like Austin.

So how do you win a brew with a view for your crew? Lake Travis Lifestyle, LT’s resource for all things happening in the Lake Travis area, has partnered with Oasis Texas Brewing Company and SherpaLux, Austin’s premier transportation and tour provider, for a TOUR & TASTING giveaway where one lucky guy or gal wins a private tour & tasting at the brewery for 10 people! SherpaLux is stepping in to provide transportation to and from the brewery. It’s a unique prize that you can share with your best buddies and peeps that retails for around $800.

Head over to Lake Travis Lifestyle for all of the details and find out how and when to enter. (Hint: Book a babysitter for Saturday night!) Good luck!

Photo: Oasis Texas Brewing Company

How Martial Arts Transformed a Nonverbal Autistic Toddler into a Thriving 9-Year-Old Sensation

Kung Fu StudentWhen he was a happy but nonverbal toddler, our oldest son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Doctors told us they had no idea if or when he’d become verbal or if he’d ever be social enough to have meaningful relationships. The outlook for his future was unknown and grim. Last year, at the age of 8, he performed a kung fu routine onstage in front of a crowd of 300 people, proving any obstacle can be overcome. This year, he will take the stage again Feb. 27 and dazzle the crowd with a martial arts routine consisting of fan-fighting and staff-fighting techniques with his Sifu (instructor), Robert Roy.

Video of 2014 Practice Session: http://youtu.be/XtnRPP66tVE

We had never thought about getting Steele involved in martial arts until Sam Hicks, the principal at Steele’s school, Lakeway Elementary, told us how much he’d seen other children in Steele’ situation thrive from martial arts. It sounded like a good idea to us, so we did our research and found Robert Roy. During Steele’s very first kung fu lesson, we knew we had found something special.

Kung Fu cropped“Martial arts helped Steele develop both sides of his brain because techniques require students to alternate between left brain and right brain skills, which many autistic children struggle with,” explains Sifu, a twice Hall of Fame inductee as kung fu master who trained in China at the Shaolin Temple. “I worked with Steele weekly and after only a few lessons, I saw dramatic improvements. His physical abilities were improving, his ability to focus was getting stronger and his level of confidence in himself was soaring.”

During the course of his kung fu lessons, we saw Steele transform into a focused, confident and skilled martial-arts student who specialized in staff fighting. In February 2013, he decided to share his martial arts achievements with his community by performing in the annual talent show at his school. The first step was making the audition. The staff at Lakeway Elementary School was extremely supportive and let Steele audition with Sifu. Four more weeks of practice flew by as the talent show quickly approached.

On Feb. 26, 2013, the Lakeway Elementary School gymnasium was packed with more than 300 parents, family members, teachers and friends, all eager for the talent show. I was a nervous wreck! He had never done anything like this in his life and we didn’t know how he’d react to such a huge crowd. When it was time for him to perform, he grabbed the microphone (which was unexpected and unscripted!!!) and asked the crowd, “Are you ready to see it?” The crowd clapped and cheered as Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” played and Steele and Sifu performed an exciting martial arts combat routine.

I’ll never forget that moment for as long as I live. I cried from the moment he took the stage, because I was so overwhelmed with joy. Nobody in that crowd understood how every single thing he did was so magical. It was surreal. He didn’t get nervous, he spoke on a microphone from his heart in front of hundreds of people, and his routine was awesome. I still meet people who remember that routine vividly. It’s just amazing. (And they usually say, “Hey, aren’t you that mom who was crying at the talent show?” Yep, that’s me!)

Video of Performance Last Year: http://youtu.be/IIQGf29K5o4

kung fu 2013This year, he’ll be performing again with Sifu and he will be incorporating fan-fighting into the routine. We’re so very proud of him and can’t wait to see him do it again!

Meet Robert Roy (our Sifu!)
Robert Roy, who was trained in China at the Shaolin Temple, has been actively leading the martial arts community in Austin. As owner of Martial Arts Academy, he was active in Crime Stoppers programs, worked with the Austin Police Department’s SWAT Unit, the Department of Public Safety officers and the Parks and Recreation Department in Brazoria County. He is a two-time Hall of Fame inductee as kung fu Master and Living Legend of the Year. He has performed in countless shows and movies featuring martial arts.

He is currently working on a Bully Prevention Certification program designed to supplement anti-bullying campaigns nationwide. He and his wife are also developing an e-book video instructional series for parents and children called “ROOTAGE: Plant the Knowledge.” It will illustrate the hidden techniques and provide a clearer understanding of how ancient martial arts benefits child development.

(Sifu currently teaches throughout the state, but he holds private lessons at World of Tennis in Lakeway.)

Sochi Olympics Proving to be an Emotional Ride

I’ve been tuning in to watch the Olympics and wow, it’s been a crazy week of competition! A few days ago, on the 18th, I just tweeted “carnage” due to all of the crazy slides and spills during the debut of the first-ever parallel slalom race.

Today we see more bad news since a German Olympian failed his drug test. Grrr. Really? Come on. I can’t believe any athlete would even dream of doping during the Olympics?!? And the ice skating controversy chatter continues. (Of course it does.)

If you want to check out a pretty wild slide show of 38 photos that depict “The Agony of Defeat in Sochi,” hop on over to USA Today online. Amazing photos, but oh-so sad.

There’s still plenty of Olympic excitement left including cheering on Mikaela Shiffrin who is halfway to history as the youngest Olympic women’s slalom champion in history. She’s 18 and from Eagle-Vail, CO. You go girl!

Photo courtesy of USA Today