Tuesday Things

About that relay… I’m still struggling to put together a recap for last month’s Reach the Beach. Ideally I’d like to keep it to one post so you’re not subjected to another multipart recap but it’s proving to be pretty difficult. Here’s the short version: it was awesome and I kinda-sorta-maybe unexpectedly fell in love with New Hampshire. In a “I could have a summer house here”, not in a “ooh, I’d like to live here year-round” type of way. My team was great, the views were gorgeous, the weather was perfect. It really couldn’t have been any better.

Reach the Beach - Pumped Up Kicks - Finish Line

Coming up next… I realllllly need to take care of the RTB recap because after this weekend, I’ll have another recap to write. For another relay. I mean, have I completely lost my mind? I voluntarily signed up for all of these but I’m sure it sounds crazy to run 3 relays in 3 months. This particular one, Ragnar Trail Hill Country, is a little bit different than a traditional Ragnar. We’ll be ditching the vans and replacing them with… no, not smaller cars: TENTS! Instead of leap-frogging one another for 200 miles from Point A to Point B, we’ll setup a base camp and each of us will alternate running 3 different trails until we’ve completed each once. That probably sounds confusing. I like visuals, maybe a picture will help?

Note: we are a ‘Regular’ team because I have not yet reached the level of crazy that one must possess to sign up for an ‘Ultra’ team.

Ragnar Trail - How It Works

The loop distance and difficulty varies by location [find one close to you here] but one aspect is always the same: you will be running on trails. Let me tell you a little bit about my history of trail running… Oh. Right. This will be my first trail race – ever. EXCITING. Brad and I hike a trail [it’s debatable whether or not you can even call it that] almost every weekend and sometimes I trip over tree roots in broad daylight. The thought of running on a trail in the darkness at 2am seems slightly terrifying. If I make it through this race upright it’ll be a damn miracle. Hopefully I’ll be able to tear myself away from monitoring every single footfall to catch a glimpse of those Hill Country views they speak so fondly of on the website.

Ragnar Trail Hill Country - Course Map

On internet life… Lately I’ve become increasingly aware of just how much of my life is out there on the internet. I knew when I signed up for Twitter and then published my first blog post in 2010 that that was likely the end of any semblance of privacy. You can search the internet and you will find me. Not on Facebook though, I have that locked down so hard that even my coworkers are like “I tried to send you a friend request on Facebook, do you even have Facebook?” Anyway, back to my story. It wasn’t surprising when someone from my past – who has absolutely no business being a part of my present – emerged and began attempting to contact me on various social media channels. They started with LinkedIn, then moved on to my work email, then called my work 10+ times a day only to hang up on my voicemail. They then discovered my blog and in turn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I know this because of all of exit links in my analytics report.

One night while stalking my Instagram they accidentally ‘liked’ one of my photos and then had a ‘holy shit, I messed up’ moment and promptly ‘unliked’ it. Maybe I wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t on my phone at the time – but I was. BUSTED. Instagram is now on private. Tear. This person also started reposting photos of my sister’s family to their own Instagram account. (!!) Seriously creepy. I’m not entirely sure they understand how Pinterest works either, because they repinned several of my pins, which obviously I can see. Pinterest is the probably the least of my worries – it’s a bunch of photos from the Internet pinned to categorized boards. But I blocked them anyway, because why not? I left my Twitter account on public because I really have nothing to hide on there. Over the weekend I had tweeted about the UT/OU game and this person then proceeded to retweet a few things about OU winning the game. This person has never showed ANY interest in college football, let alone anything to do with a team close to where I live.

I never really cared much about my analytics until this whole fiasco. I don’t have a ton of traffic but I know who reads my blog back at home and where they live. I began seeing extended visits from two locations that I knew were associated with this super creeper. And over the course of 3 days, they spent over 7 hours going through my archives. And then began checking my blog every.single.day [and multiple times a day] for new content. Did you know you can block IP addresses? Helpful information. The only social media stream left for them to see is my blog’s Facebook page. The views are up. WAY up. Directly related, undoubtedly. Unfortunately for them, most of my activity on FB is sharing links to new blog posts. Good luck accessing them, stalker, with your blocked IP address.

I’m kind of blown away by the situation. If I won’t return your phone calls, text messages, or emails … why would you think I’d respond to you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest? Take a goddamn hint and move on with your life. It’s embarrassing.

Go Away Stalker

On marathon training… Remember when I was talking about how “life happens” and our marathon training schedule may need to be tweaked accordingly? I didn’t anticipate having to change it so early in the game. The entire first week was plagued with thunderstorms. It rains in Texas, like, twice a year. And never on consecutive days. But the rain from mid-September completely washed out [heh, see what I did there?] Week 1. Rude. The following week was a struggle to get back on track and I had to flip around our long run mileage until it looked like a feasible build up. Such a pain in the ass. This past weekend we had our long run scheduled for Saturday morning and it monsooned/thunderstormed from 1am through almost noon. We moved it to Sunday, even though we’d be out late the night before at a hockey game drinking beer and eating crappy food. Halfway into our run [with a forecasted 4% chance of rain] the skies opened up and we were stuck in a torrential downpour. Hopefully this type of luck doesn’t carry through the rest of the cycle.

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Tuesday Things

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1. My work-life balance is struggling. Our annual audit begins each year in March but doesn’t really kick into high gear until the end of April and carries through the month of May. May is also one of our busiest months on the revenue side. For the past several years I’ve made the stupid mistake of taking vacations the first week of May: New Jersey Marathon, Long Branch Half Marathon, Ragnar Relay Cape Cod. No matter how well I plan for the time off, I’m inevitably buried for the remainder of the month. The third week in May is always our annual user conference, so basically as soon as I have a handle on my to-do list I have to somewhat abandon it again for four days. I try to stay caught up on emails between sessions but it can be overwhelming. This was my 5th year working the conference and for the first time I actually came back to the office to get work done. It definitely helped me stay on track but there were still items that didn’t get done and ended up coming home with me last weekend. No idea why I keep doing this to myself year after year, but I want to declare right now that MAY 2015 WILL BE A VACATION-FREE ZONE. It has to be. I miss my sanity.

2. I was chosen as an ambassador for the Houston Marathon!  I was blown away in January by the organization of the race, the number of spectators on the course and how great the course actually was. The weather was pure perfection [this is a variable, I know] and despite having a miserable race performance-wise, I knew this wouldn’t be my last time in Houston. As an ambassador, this also means I will be running the Houston Marathon. After quite a lengthy hiatus, I’ll be making my grand return to the marathon distance in January 2015. And possibly the most exciting part of all? Training doesn’t start until September. So while I may be slightly jealous of everyone running Chicago and NYC this fall, I won’t have to do any sauna-running at 4am this summer.

COME RUN HOUSTON WITH ME! Early registration for my fast friends [sub-4 full marathon or sub 1:52 half marathon] closes on May 29th. The lottery opens up on June 4th and will run through June 19th , with results announced on June 23rd.

Houston Marathon Registration

3. In August I’ll be running Hood to Coast with Nuun. After several years of trying to make it on the team and now finally securing a spot, it still doesn’t seem real. Airfare has been purchased and 3 months from today (!!) I’ll be heading out to Seattle. After running Ragnar Cape Cod last weekend I feel less nervous and much more excited for HTC. I have a loose training plan sketched out for the next few months but probably will push the kickoff to the 26th. My shin & knee are now more of a dull pain, but I don’t want to rush into it just because the plan was supposed to start this week. Once it’s underway I’ll talk a bit more about the training. HTC_logo4. RedFest starts on Friday and we FINALLY won tickets. I’m not even sure how many different contests we were entered in to win tickets to this festival. Eventually we came across a voting-based contest, which allowed us to plaster the link all over social media. All of the begging [so annoying, I know] paid off when we scored 3-day VIP passes! To be honest I’m a little nervous because there is little to no information about the event on their website. They finally uploaded a map and schedule over the weekend, but there is nothing about what time the gates open or what activities are included with the ticket. I emailed them two weeks ago to find out and apparently they were “still in the process of figuring that out”. Two weeks out from the event. In any case, we’ll be drinking and eating for free all weekend while listening to country music. I highly doubt we won’t have a good time.

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5. We’re going to Europe! Unfortunately, the trip is 18 months away. After we unexpectedly had cancel our Mexico trip [which coincidentally freed me up to run HTC…] Brad was on a mission to find us a replacement vacation. One of his suggestions was a European cruise. I was hesitant initially because while our all-inclusive resort in Mexico was fairly pricey for 7 days, the airfare to Cancun was about $350 per person. A trip to Europe requires a ridiculously expensive [and ridiculously long] flight and the total cost of the trip was almost twice as much as Mexico. There was no possible way we could go anytime soon, so we pushed the date out to Fall 2015.

Cannes, France

It’s hard for me to get excited about it because it’s really far away and there’s definitely potential for a wrench to be thrown in our plans. But this didn’t stop me from ordering a couple books on Mediterranean cruise ports. On the agenda: Barcelona, Cannes, Rome, Naples, Palma Majorca, and Florence/Pisa. I’ve already been researching hotels and we’re in the process of learning Spanish. The plan is to be pretty damn fluent en Español by the time we leave. We’ll be spending an extra day before/after the cruise in Barcelona so if you’ve been there [or any of the ports we’re exploring] please tell me EVERYTHING.

Tuesday Things

1. My ‘Explore Austin’ project has been getting some love. While friends were in town a couple weeks ago, we hit some of the bars and restaurants I’ve been dying to try over the past few years. I don’t want to go into too much detail since the post tomorrow covers all the good stuff, but my new favorite thing to do is visit breweries. Definitely need to add a few to the list, like Adelbert’s, 512, and Circle Brewing. And after Cely’s review of the Austin Brew Bus, let’s go ahead and put that on the list too. For March, obviously – my wallet is zipped tight this month.

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2. In my opinion, iceberg lettuce is the worst lettuce ever. My go-to greens are either romaine or a spinach-arugula mix. Iceberg only appears in the house when there’s a BBQ and I need some cheap toppings for burgers. After having people over for the Super Bowl, I had a giant chunk of the ‘berg leftover and no idea what to do with it except throw it away. Then the light bulb came on: wedge salads. I’ll rant and rave about iceberg being a sad excuse for ‘greens’ but put a wedge salad in front of me and I’ll eat my words. And that salad. If you’re good at drawing conclusions, I bet you can guess what was for dinner last night.

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3. Speaking of Super Bowl Sunday, Jeanette came by and brought Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate PB Cups with her. She very quickly became everyone’s favorite person. Brad wanted to know why we never have them in the house. I wasted no time letting him know it was because he can’t be trusted around anything dessert-related. Then I felt bad [even though my statement was true – he agreed!] and headed to TJ’s yesterday to pick up some PB cups for him.

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And the Cocoa Swirl Cookie Butter. And managed to grab one of the last two containers of Coconut Body Butter, which they are alwayyyys out of. Also, a few other unpictured purchases were the Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper soup, aged gorgonzola, and a bag of blood oranges. Typical TJ’s story: go in for one thing, walk out with 12. TJ’s & Target are basically the same.

4. Our adorable little puppy has been more of a little menace than usual lately. After our Houston trip [where she was crated for most of the weekend] she went on a destructive tear throughout the house, leaving a softball-sized hole in our comforter and an even bigger hole in another quilt that we ended up tossing. She’s a nightmare while unsupervised during the 2 hour period between when Brad leaves for work and I get up, so we started crating her again until she can be trusted. She sleeps in bed with us every night from 10pm – 4am and never budges. So when I woke up at 2am early this morning and didn’t see her curled up at my feet, I knew we were in trouble.

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RIP pillow, you will be missed.

5. This is probably counterproductive, but at the end of January I ordered a bunch of new kitchen toys to help make cooking more fun throughout the month of February. I replaced quite a few of my spoons/spatulas with Tovolo utensils – and I am in LOVE. They’re much easier to clean than the normal plastic ones and they’re super pretty too (<— important) I also bought these soup bowls, giant coffee mugs [100% against Brad’s will “we already have enough mugs!”], and a pizza wheel. Joseph Joseph has the coolest stuff: this spatula is ginormous & perfect for flippin’ pancakes and this scoop colander is great to use instead of your giant colander when cooking a smaller portion of shells or elbows. I own both of them but purchased awhile back. Big ol’ stamp of approval from this girl. OH! And a new knife block because half of our knives are missing and/or need serious sharpening. 10 years and many a dishwasher cycle put some serious wear on them.

Chicago Cutlery Knife Block

So yes, I spent money to save money. They’re INVESTMENTS. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Tuesday Things

1. Are you sick of me talking about the office? Well sorry, I’m not quite done yet. The project is still unfinished but we’re much closer than we were a week ago. I bought a twin comforter set and while I’m sure it’s the norm, it bothers me to no end that it only comes with one pillow sham and no option to buy an additional one. The daybed looks dumb with just one pillow at the top and definitely requires 2(+) pillows in the middle. Currently I’m on a hunt for two red decorative pillows to match the sheets, but not really red … maybe cranberry? Or wine? In any case, it’s proving to be impossible to find pillows to match. Don’t even get me started on how expensive effing Euro Shams are. WHY?! It’s a piece of fabric. Also, please kill me for caring this much about a bed in a room we rarely go in.

dumb bed

2. I accidentally became a VIB member at Sephora. Seriously, it was accident. My online account said I had 92 points – clearly not enough for VIB. Once I dug a little deeper it looked like they issued me a new BI card at some point and never linked it to my other account. So I was earning points in the store with one BI card and earning points online with another. While I was in there stocking up on moisturizer recently, BAM – they handed me a shiny silver VIB card. I have no idea what this card gets me except a private shopping event in November (which is REALLY far away) so I don’t know whether to be excited about the new status or upset I spend so much time in the store. I blame my sister mostly. In any case, I’m getting a post together about all the fun makeup-y things I’ve bought over the past few months. Makeup? On the blog? There’s something new.

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3. Oiselle, Oiselle, Oiselle. A few items from the S14 line hit their website recently and the colors are ridiculously beautiful. It’s taking quite a bit of self restraint to keep myself from putting every single new item in my cart. The newest Stripey (now Earn Your Stripes) comes in two of the best colors Oiselle has put out: brill blue + jade green.  I’ve figured out how to wear 90% of my Oiselle wardrobe to work, which is AWESOME. The seamless flyte tank is perfect for layering and much more exciting than a standard cami under a cardigan. If you’re currently Oiselle-less, this is a great piece to start with!

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4. It’s race week! For some reason even though I’m only running the half, this feels like a bigger race than usual. Maybe because there’s been so much build up since the lottery last summer. I’ve heard so many great things about Houston so I’m really excited to finally be able to run it. I’m also running the 5K day before – hello, bonus medals – with Brad. Well, Brad is a maybe. He sprained his ankle playing basketball while we were in Florida (probably trying to get out of having to drive on the way home) so he said he’ll make the final decision on Saturday. Either way he’ll be heading down there with me, so Houston here we come!

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5. The Verizon Wireless ambassador program is wrapping up this week and it was definitely a great experience. I learned a lot about the Verizon Edge program and new Isis Mobile Wallet, both of which I look forward to using in the future. One of the perks I received as an ambassador was a Samsung Galaxy S4 to use for the duration of the program. I’m not going to list out all of the technical specs because (1) your eyes will glaze over and (2) I don’t even understand what a lot of it means. The main thing I say to everyone who asks what I think of the S4 is that the battery is horrible. This may be because I came from the Droid Razr MAXX which had a much larger battery. I could stream Pandora in my car for 90 minutes on my way to work, use the phone intermittently throughout the day, stream Pandora for 90 minutes on my way home, and still end up at around 50% battery. With the S4, if Pandora is used on my way to work, the phone will need to be charged by early afternoon – even if I’m connected to the WiFi at the office. Hashtag first world problems. So now I listen to the radio in the morning instead. I’ve tweaked many of the settings but even with minimal use I’m usually at about 40% after 12 hours off the charger.

Okay, so now on to the non-battery related things. The camera is excellent! It’s just average in low-light (concert photos turn out not so hot) and at night, but for everything else the pictures are great. The screen is huge and super bright, even when the setting is at 50%. The Samsung-affiliated apps are nothing to write home about, with the exception of S Memo and WatchON. S Memo is exactly what you’d expect, a note-taking app. WatchON allows you to turn your phone into a remote for your TV. Rather than scrolling through your provider’s channel guide, WatchON recommends shows to you based on your preferences. You just press the photo of the show you want to view and voila, your TV switches to that channel. Pretty cool feature and the recommendations are always spot on.

WatchON App

Also (this is minor) since I own a Samsung Tablet, I really appreciate that the two run on the same operating system. When I had a Motorola phone, it was somewhat annoying to go back and forth between the two devices. Now everything looks almost identical. Also minor, but there are a lot more options when it comes to cases. My current favorite is the Spigen Neo Hybrid – very simple and lightweight.

Overall, I really like the phone. My main issue is with the battery and it’s probably only because I was majorly spoiled with the Razr MAXX. I carry a portable charger (purchased with my own dollars, not provided by VZW) with me when heading to concerts where the camera will drain my battery or when I’ll be away from an outlet for most of the day. I also connect to WiFi at the office and at work, which helps avoid battery draining caused by roaming. Would I recommend the phone? YES. But if you’re a heavy data user, you may want to look into an extended battery or portable charger so you aren’t SOL mid-day.

Tell me something about your Tuesday. Or Wednesday, since this went up way later than I originally planned.

Tuesday Things

Sox is a destructive little monster. As much as we think it’s safe to set her free from the crate while we’re at work, it’s obvious she’s just not ready. We lost two pairs of sunglasses, a pair of shorts, and a piece of carpet in a perfect square (?!)

Honestly, I don’t know whether to be pissed about the carpet or impressed with the square.

square carpet

I know it doesn’t look that bad, but this morning she so kindly finished it off:

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SO! She’s going back into the crate until further notice. Probably not this crate though, because she has officially outgrown it. Related: puppies are expensive.

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Next weekend we’ll be participating in Challenge Nation: Austin.

Challenge Nation   Austin Challenge

It’s similar to the Amazing Race and we’ve been looking for another adventure race ever since the Urban Dare last spring. They’re SO much fun and a great way to break up the standard racing schedule.

Austin friends – discounted pricing ends TOMORROW! Sign up today for only $35/pp (instead of $50!) and join me next weekend for this urban scavenger hunt. Registration requires a team of 2 or more people.

Eric Church is playing at Stubb’s on Saturday! When the ACL lineup was announced, we were excited to see Eric Church on the list but also disappointed because this year they weren’t selling one-day passes. Wristbands for the 3-day festival are pretty pricey and we couldn’t justify the cost, considering we really only wanted to go for the one act.

Eric ChurchIn the middle of August, C3 announced their ACL Late Night shows … and Eric Church was scheduled to play a show at Stubb’s. I joined their mailing list just in time to receive a pre-sale code and buy tickets the second they went on sale. We thought we’d have to wait until 2014 to see him (he’s been touring with Kenny Chesney who we kinda-sorta-maybe can’t stand. I mean, at all.) so we’re pretty pumped! Stubb’s is one of my favorite venues and I don’t think I could pick a better place to see Eric Church.

I’ll never get sick of that song.

I’m giving NaNoWriMo another go. For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and basically you have from November 1-30 to write 50,000 words. Not an easy feat, by any means.

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In 2010 I attempted NaNoWriMo and only made it to 7,500 words before hitting writer’s block and calling it quits. A couple weeks back Jeri tweeted about possibly participating this year and after much thought, I’ve decided to give it another go. If I disappear in November, please assume I’m spending quality time with my laptop over long nights and multiple pots of coffee.

I’ve been sucked into Breaking Bad.

Breaking Bad

Better late than never, right? A week before the finale aired, we started S1 on Netflix. Now that fall premieres are kicking off and the Red Sox are in the postseason (hey-o!) we’re at a bit of a stand-still at the beginning of S3. Desperately need more hours in a day. To watch TV. FWP? Yep. Definitely.

Tuesday Things

1. I registered for my first 2014 race.

Austin 2014

Using that word “register” fairly loosely considering I didn’t have to put out a dime for next year’s Austin Half. Race organizers were trying to bring in some more registrations (possibly down due to their previous title sponsor and Lance’s PED scandal in the media – that’s just my opinion though) so they ran a BOGO one-day deal: register for the 2013 race and they would comp your entry into 2014.

Austin Marathon One-Day Deal

Brad and I jumped on that IMMEDIATELY. For once in my life, procrastination paid off. I don’t expect that to happen again. Ever.

In any case, this race is one of my favorites in town and I’m excited to run it for the 4th year in a row!

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2. I entered the lottery for another race in 2014.

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I went back and forth on this one probably a billion times. It falls on the same day as 3M, which has the fastest half marathon course in Austin and is where my current 13.1 PR is from. As much as I’d love to run 3M again, I was itching to try something new. Obviously running Houston will be a little more expensive since it requires a hotel stay and 3-hour drive, but the change of scenery will be worth it.

And if my luck plays out the way it does 99.9% of the time, I won’t get selected in the lottery and will be running the 3M Half Marathon for its 20th Anniversary.

Either way I’ll be racing on January 19, 2014. Location: TBD.

3. I’ve become slightly concert obsessed.

I’ve seen more concerts in the past six months than I have in probably my entire life. It started last fall when I saw Jason Aldean & Luke Bryan in San Diego. Holy crap. SO MUCH FUN. Country concerts are so much better than most Top 40 artists because they actually sound the same as they do on the radio.

615971_10100183422831305_388190108_oWe came back from San Diego and immediately bought tickets to see Brantley Gilbert in October. And Easton Corbin in November. And Chris Cagle in December. It helps that the venue we go to sells tickets for $8-12 so it’s not like we’re breaking the bank.

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Then in March the Austin Rodeo happened. We saw Kip Moore one weekend and Gary Allan the next.

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Last weekend we saw George Strait, Miranda Lambert, and Martina McBride put on a killer show in San Antonio. And two days later I bought tickets to see Justin Moore in July. And the day after we jumped at the chance to get tickets for Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert at the new Austin 360 Amphitheater in September. Then in October we’re going to see Jason Aldean, Jake Owen, and Thomas Rhett in Dallas.

AND! I saw Fallout Boy at Stubbs on Sunday night. They don’t quite fit in the country genre but the show was A LOT of fun.

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Hi Pete Wentz.

So yeah. I may need a concert intervention at some point. But it’s so hard to say no when tickets are only ten bucks!

4. We added a new member to our family.

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Meet Sox! We’ve been talking about getting another dog for quite awhile now and finally pulled the trigger on it this week. I freakin’ love her. How cute is that face?! I’m fully aware it might be less cute when she starts chewing on my running shoe collection. But for now … how cute is that face?!

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Bo isn’t too sure what he thinks of Sox yet. Probably has something to do with him being 104 pounds and her only being 10. She’s basically a toy.

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Our love for the Red Sox isn’t apparent at all. {Boston Red Sox}

5. I’m flabbergasted over this “Tebow to the Pats” announcement.

I have no doubt that Belichick has a plan up his sleeve, but I’m still in the WTF phase of acceptance.

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That seems about right.

Maybe in signing Tebow Belichick & Brady can get some inside info from him. Like why God hates the #Patriots so much in recent years.

And that too. Find out for us, would ya Tebow? K thanks.