May 19, 2022

When Your Husband Goes to Rehab (a guest post)

I have a very special (very vulnerable) guest post to share today by none other than my sister, Jeanie! About a month ago, I wrote about how proud I was that a loved one (I was being vague on purpose for anonymity) had made the choice to go to rehab for alcoholism. With his blessing, I am able to share his name and Jeanie's side of the story. (Shawn would like to as well, but he would prefer an interview-style, so I will do that at another time.)

So, in that post, I shared that someone I cared about had chosen to enter rehab for alcoholism. I'd known about his drinking for a while, but as most loved ones of alcoholics know, telling someone to get help doesn't work. They have to want it for themselves. And I was thrilled when Shawn made this decision!

He VERY BRAVELY shared this with my family; it was not an easy thing to admit. It feels shameful, which is why I believe a lot of people don't seek help. I was so proud of him for doing that, and the rest of my family was just as supportive.

This guest post is written by my sister (Shawn's wife of almost 22 years) and her experience as Shawn went through rehab. Before getting into it, I want to stress that this is HER account. Shawn's issues with alcohol are his own; they may be similar to others, but everybody deals with them in their own way. Jeanie's thoughts may be completely different than another partners' wives who are in the same situation. I just want to stress this because she is not writing this to be "preachy" or tell it like it is. This is just her experience.

(That said, while I don't usually delete negative comments, if there are degrading or hurtful comments regarding my sister or family, I will not publish them. She--and others in this situation--should receive support.)

Okay, I'll get on with it... please enjoy this very heartfelt, vulnerable post by my sister...

On April 4, 2022, Katie wrote a blog post about a “loved one” who decided to enter treatment for alcoholism. That loved one was my husband, Shawn (Katie’s brother-in-law). I have decided to share my part of the story because I am not alone and I hope my experience will in turn help someone else. I write this entirely with Shawn's blessing.

I will not go into the personal details of exactly what led up to Shawn entering treatment, but I can summarize that Shawn felt alcohol was negatively affecting his life and that he felt he no longer had control of his drinking.

I give an extraordinary amount of respect to Shawn for getting help BEFORE he hit rock bottom. He still had his job, his driver’s license, his wife, his house etc. Shawn showed that you don’t have to wait to lose all of those things or to hit "rock bottom" before getting treatment.

Shawn may decide to share his story with you, but I will summarize how he sought help (and I most certainly hope this gives someone else the courage to seek help as well). Shawn pursued help through his Employee Assistance Representative (EAP rep) at work. The EAP rep, "C", was phenomenal.

After hearing Shawn’s story, "C" helped determine what treatment program would be best for him and he met with both Shawn and me the next day to finalize a plan. We had a choice of three inpatient treatment facilities: one in our city in Illinois, one in Utah, and one in California. We ultimately decided on the one in California for a couple of reasons:

1) We felt strongly that Shawn should receive treatment away from our area. This would allow him to focus 100% on his recovery and there was no chance he would be in treatment with someone he knew from work (which was a concern if he went locally).  

2) Shawn's stepfather lives only 40 minutes from the rehab center and initially, I thought I would be able to attend in-person counseling with Shawn while staying with my father-in-law. (Unfortunately, we later learned that due to COVID restrictions, there was no in-person visitation.)

Regardless, once the decision was made for inpatient treatment (this means that patient stays at the facility and does not go home in the evenings) things moved very quickly. If he went locally, he would have been admitted the very next day. Unfortunately, he had a nine-day wait for a bed to open up at the center in California.  

In that time, we received a letter from the admissions coordinator containing a list of approved items Shawn would need during his stay: for example, you are not allowed aerosol items; all grooming items are not allowed to have alcohol (like mouthwash); which clothes to pack etc.  

We got everything together for his stay and when the day arrived, Shawn and I both flew out to California that morning.  The staff at the center was waiting for him at the airport. I tearfully said goodbye to him at baggage claim and then I literally ate lunch and had a manicure, then and got back on a plane back to Chicago just five hours later. It was very important to me that Shawn felt supported and there was no way I was going to have him fly out there by himself, so even the short trip was worth it.

The original timeline for his treatment was supposed to be 30 days inpatient. Shawn ended up being gone 45 days  (about 28 days inpatient, then switched to partial hospitalization which is still in the same building, but smaller groups for the remainder of the time). 

In this post, my goal has been to share what the experience was like for ME. I would like to share what was helpful TO ME.  Everyone who has battled an addiction or has a loved one who has or is currently battling addiction has a different story. This is just MY STORY. If you are in this situation, please take what you like from what I have to say and leave the rest. Maybe something I say will resonate with others as well.

I am very grateful Shawn chose to share his story with our family and a few close friends before he left. We did not have to lie and make up a story of why he was gone for six weeks. Being truthful allowed BOTH of us to receive support while he was gone. And let me tell you, we have some of the most supportive friends and family EVER! I received a ton of messages from family/friends justing checking in on me. A simple message like “Hey, just checking in. You ok?”  just let me know someone was thinking of me.

Shawn also received letters, emails and packages from friends and family. Here are some of the fun items we sent to add a little comic relief to a serious situation. As a side note, there are a lot of tears at rehab, but there is also a lot of laughter. Both are important. These gifts were not a mockery of the seriousness of addiction. It was to bring a smile to Shawn. 

Katie sent him these socks and Shawn's roommate loved them so much that I sent a pair to him as well.

I wanted Shawn to feel loved and supported while he made one of the most difficult and bravest decisions of his life. I asked friends and family if they wanted to participate in the 30-day Support Shawn challenge and share what they were going to do for 30 days with Shawn. For example, one relative gave up evening beer, one choose to climb the stairs 30x a day, I choose an extra 30 minutes of exercise a day, one chose reading a self-help book for 30 minutes, etc. Shawn loved this!

Before Shawn left, I bought a digital photo frame and downloaded 300 images of family/friends. He said this was his favorite thing and he would look through the pictures every evening.

There was a problem with Shawn accessing his email due to two-step verification and he did not have access to his phone. Katie quickly resolved that by setting up a new email account for him so he could receive/send mail. Shawn had limited access to email and phones during his stay but it allowed us to talk almost daily. There was a 72-hour “blackout” period when he first arrived where he could not use the phone/email, but after that, he was able to spend limited time on the computer and/or phone.

So that was stuff for him.  But I wanted to also address my needs while he was gone as well as increase my knowledge on addiction.

One of the steps to healing starts with an "impact letter"--a letter that a partner or loved one writes that goes through all of the ways they were hurt by their loved one's drinking. I started my impact letter shortly after he left for California.  This allowed me to reflect and revise my letter before I had a chance to read it to him in a zoom session with his counselor. This was a very important part of the healing process for me. I could write a whole post on that alone, but that zoom call will remain a highlight in my life. It ended with forgiveness and hope. 

I changed my own mental health therapist to someone who specializes in addiction/recovery. I am very lucky because my counselor "J" is very animated and just tells it like it is. He is has been amazingly helpful. I was hearing how much Shawn was learning and growing when I talked to him on the phone, and I felt so “behind” in the process.

Shawn knew what his end goal was and he was being taught a roadmap of how to get there.  I knew what my goals were but didn’t have a map. "J" is helping me with that map. During my first session with him, he asked why I was there. I said, “I need to learn to let go of things”; “I need to learn to stay in my lane in the role of spouse”; “I need to not obsess with the what if’s?”. 

"J" immediately told me that my goals were doable because I didn’t come in saying, “How to do I make sure my husband doesn’t relapse?” or something like that. I was there FOR ME. He is helping me learn I was doing just fine and I didn’t need to take on the world at that moment. 

I tried to take care of me. Although I was working my job as an occupational therapist, I walked three times a day for 30 minutes each time. I often listened to podcasts geared toward family/friends who have someone in recovery and there were several “breakthrough” moments listening to others' stories who were similar to mine and how they got through some challenging times.  . 

I got enough sleep and tried not to take on “huge projects” that would overwhelm me.

I made a “spring cleaning” list and worked on a little bit each day to keep me mentally/physically active.

My mom came to town and we did a bunch of shopping and made a ton of “freezer meals” for up north this summer.

Katie has been a huge support to not only me but to Shawn, also. I called her frequently and found her insight incredibly helpful.

I ASKED friends when I needed help. A very simple example is that I went to get my oil changed and they wanted to upsell me an air filter. I had no idea if I was being scammed so I called a friend and he was able to help me decide if I should buy it (I did).  I also had a house problem and a friend came right over and helped me though it.  These are things I didn’t share with Shawn when he was gone because there was NOTHING he could do about it while there so there was no sense worrying him about it.

I did join a facebook group for wives of recovering alcoholics. This page is great and very helpful. I also joined an al-anon group but left it but it just wasn't for me. (It didn't focus on helpful problem-solving or support, which is what I was looking for.)

I was surprised to learn that it is not always helpful to share detailed information with friends who cannot relate to my situation. Their intentions are usually excellent but some of the “feedback” they had for me was not very helpful. 

For example, a friend might ask, “How is Shawn?” and I would say, “Oh, he is doing great and learning so much!". Rather than replying with a positive response, they would respond with, “Well, you know he is in a controlled environment and when he gets out in the real world it will be different”.

Of course this has occurred to me! I fee like it would for anyone. However, I felt like they were saying, "Well, don’t be too happy because the other shoe is going to drop when he gets home". I spent some time processing this with "J" (my counselor) and Shawn gave me some great advice he learned at rehab: Worrying about the what if’s is something I don’t want to do anymore. It creates a ton of anxiety and the situation I am worrying about may never even happen.

I am choosing to be happy right now, right in this moment, and I will take things one day at a time. So, in sharing more detailed information, I will save that for “like-minded friends and family” who have been in my shoes and can truly relate.  

I also watched several videos that the rehab center sent to me (videos about addiction, codependancy, etc). At their request, I ordered and watched “Pleasure Unwoven”, which is a 70-minute video produced by a doctor who was treated for alcoholism. He makes the concept of understanding that addiction is a disease very clear.  I actually watched it 3 times over a week to deepen my understanding. This is available on Amazon for $30 or you can watch it in pieces on YouTube.

These last 45 days have been an amazing process of growth, greater understanding of addiction, and learning that I am able to forgive. I have learned there is no benefit to hanging onto resentment and anger. 

Reuniting with Shawn when I picked him up at the rehab center two days ago was amazing. I am so proud of him and his decision to make positive changes for his life and for us.

May 18, 2022

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 51

Eeek! Just one more week and I'll hit one year since I started this "back to goal weight" journey after having gained back 46 of 130-ish pounds. As of last week, I was down 50 pounds and I was thrilled with that. I was only three pounds from reaching 144, a "normal" BMI.

And then I got COVID. What a celebration. I thought that it was going to be very mild for me; Jerry tested positive several days before I did and his symptoms hit him HARD for a few days. He slept for 48 hours almost non-stop and he had a dry cough that just wouldn't quit. Thankfully, it didn't last long. And I didn't have symptoms at first. (The kids never got sick.) 

However, my symptoms started a few days after his (10 days ago) and they weren't terrible. I had no idea it was COVID; I just had a very sore throat. Other than that, though, I didn't really feel much different. Then came the headache. Not migraine-painful, but a very intense sinus headache.

Shortly after came the congestion. I was blowing my nose constantly. Jerry even set up a paper bag for me to throw my toilet paper after blowing my nose (we save Kleenex for guests, hahaha!). My voice sounded absolutely horrible--it was hard to understand me.

Jerry's paper sack he made for me:

And the exhaustion. I was SO EXHAUSTED I can't even describe it. While I'm no longer positive for COVID and no longer considered contagious, I just hope my fatigue doesn't last a long time. But I'm taking it easy--it's just really hard to do. I hate sitting still this long when my mind wants to do things!

AND!! And. To top off my sore throat, my ice maker broke! I rely on my ice maker every single day. (I chew ice; and no, my iron isn't low, it's just a habit that I feel like I can't live without.) The ice was making my throat feel better and of course it quit on me. At the worst possible time.

Anyway, last week, my weight was at 147.0. Today it wasn't much lower:

I was at 146.4, so I'm down by 0.6. Not the loss I was hoping for (about 1.5 pounds) but still going in the right direction, so I'm good with that.

This means that in order to reach 144 by my one-year anniversary of calorie counting, I would have to lose 2.4 pounds. I haven't lost that much in a long time, so I'm not counting on it. However... I had a much better weigh-in earlier this week (I won't spoil it) so I hope that I can aim for that again.

The hardest part this week has been trying to get dinner together (story of my life). With Jerry's work schedule, Eli's baseball schedule, Noah's college/girlfriend/work schedule, dinner has just been a challenge. I've made a few dinners that have lots of leftovers and we've been eating those. Also, my mom, who has been a lifesaver, has made a few dinners, too.

I feel like maybe this week was just a bad week to work on this challenge altogether. I have no idea how I'm going to feel from now until next Wednesday for my one-year weigh-in, so we'll see how it goes, but I'll be ecstatic if I can hit 144.

My plan is to pretty much do the following:

-Eat about 1600 calories.
-Do some sort of activity--even if it's not super active. I have no idea how much energy I'm going to have, so we'll see.
-Write in my five-year journal.
-Reply to 1+ email per day.
-Do something outside.
-If I have the energy, clean something I've been dreading cleaning.

So, that shouldn't be too hard for the next seven days!

May 17, 2022

Transformation Tuesday #71

Happy Transformation Tuesday! I don't want to write another "Woe is me" post complaining about COVID (but good GRIEF, it is horrible--today is the worst day yet) so I'm going to try to get at least one or two transformations up today. I actually have enough for two weeks, so if yours isn't up today, please check next week and hopefully I'll be back to normal then!

The worst part about being sick as a stay-at-home mom is that you don't get a break. If I ignore all the stuff that I'm usually in charge of doing, everything would be total chaos. So I don't get a chance to sleep all day. (Jerry does what he can, but he works and I have to do things around his schedule.)

But anyways, I don't want this to be a downer because these are some good transformations to share! Here goes...

While it's a cliché transformation, I wanted to share our landscaping update! When we moved into our house last year I was pregnant, so we didn't do anything to the landscaping except weed it. We really wanted to clean things up this year so we added some simple edging and fresh mulch. It looks so much better! 

- Christie, Indiana

Christie, it looks so good! It's such a subtle change but it makes a world of difference in how it looks! That is exactly what I would like to do with my own yard. I love the simplicity of it but that it looks so clean and taken care of at the same time. Great job! -Katie

This is a very small transformation, but hoping it will motivate me now to start some projects that need to be done. I bought paint several months ago to paint my kitchen cabinets. Unfortunately it has been a very difficult year and I have just been in a funk of anxiety and depression with no motivation to tackle a project. I decided on a whim last week to order new handles for all of my cabinets and drawers in the kitchen. I replaced the old white and brass handles with a more updated look. And in the process gave the cabinets a good scrubbing which they desperately needed. It’s not much, but it’s a step in the right direction. And it makes me feel a little bit better about my ugly kitchen ;)

- Debra

Debra, doesn't it make such a huge difference in the entire kitchen just by hanging the handles on your cupboards? I couldn't believe how different my own looked from that alone. Yours looks very updated--so nice! -Katie

My kitchen re-do has been months in the making. I tackled painting the cabinets on my own. What a HUGE project, but soooo worth it. I hated the dark cherry stain. I had new granite and backsplash installed the past week. All that remains is my new window, it appears to be lost from the factory. The new window has much fewer panes. I’m so happy to have this project behind me!

- Valerie, Oklahoma

Valerie, holy smokes! What an amazing kitchen transformation. It looks so much brighter and more modern. I absolutely love your backsplash. I painted my own cabinets as well, and I give you so much credit for tackling that--it was one of the most tedious tasks I've ever done! But your handy work paid off big time. Enjoy your new kitchen! -Katie

Thank you so much for sharing your transformations with us! It's so fun to see what you all come up with. Every day, I try to tackle something, even if it's small, but since getting COVID, I have a hard time just walking around the house without stopping to catch my breath. Anyway, please keep the transformations coming! I love having a few in the inbox at all times so I don't have to worry about coming up with something. Just send a before photo and an after photo to me at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Thanks so much! xo

May 16, 2022

VEGAN RECIPE REVIEW: Garlic Mushrooms Cauliflower Skillet

This is going to be a rather short post because this COVID has knocked me on my ass and it's hard to even keep my head up to type anything. I hope you enjoyed Jerry's post yesterday! I just couldn't bring myself to write, so I asked him to do it for me. That gave me a few hours to rest, since he types sooooo slowly ;)

The more I look at vegan recipes on Pinterest, the more I've craved mushrooms and cauliflower. I love both of those vegetables! However, I'm the only one in my family who likes them and so I don't get them very often. Once in a while, I'll buy a head of cauliflower, cut it into florets, and then roast it and eat it all myself. Same thing with the mushrooms, except I like to sauté the with olive oil and garlic.

For this recipe, however, I decided I was making it and the boys could just heat up a frozen pizza for dinner.

I chose this recipe for Garlic Mushroom Cauliflower Skillet by eatwell101. I'll spoil the ending though and say that it was definitely not as good as I was hoping. (I'll link to it again at the end of the post.) As always, I made it exactly as written (with an exception that was out of my control, which I'll write below).

The recipe is super straight forward. Ingredients: vegan butter, olive oil, onion, cauliflower, mushrooms, vegetable stock, thyme, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. Easy peasy! (I added more vegan butter than what's shown; for some reason, I was thinking it was 2 Tbsp. when I took the picture but I actually needed 4 Tbsp.)

I prepped the veggies in the morning. The recipe didn't say to cut the mushrooms or slice them, and looking at the picture they were whole button mushrooms. However, my mushrooms were HUGE, so I did end up cutting them in half. Also, my store was out of fresh herbs (they seem to be out of stock on just about everything these days!) so I had to use dry thyme and parsley.

From here, nothing seemed to go right. I followed the instructions, which really stress to brown the mushrooms thoroughly but they were pretty dark by the time I added the cauliflower.

I was surprised that I wasn't supposed to add the cauliflower sooner. As the cauliflower cooked, the mushrooms continued to get darker and the cauliflower barely cooked at all.

I added the vegetable stock (it only called for two tablespoons) and it evaporated immediately. The mushrooms were starting to burn at this point, so I added about 2-3 more tablespoons of water and covered the pot to sort of steam the cauliflower. Finally, it started to work out. After a couple of minutes, the cauliflower was fork tender and the mushrooms were good. However, the recipe kept talking about the "sauce" and there certainly wasn't a sauce to speak of.

I added the garlic and herbs and cooked for a few more minutes and then it was done. I salted and peppered it, then poured a big bowl for me for my dinner--like I said, I was craving it! (Not exactly pretty, I know!)

It tasted good, but very underwhelming. It could very well be the fact that I wasn't able to use fresh herbs, but I think I could make this much better on my own. I don't like to write negative reviews for other people's things, but this recipe itself was not very helpful. It's hard not to see foods on Pinterest that catch my eye!

Since the family didn't try this, the only opinion to share is my own. And I have to say, I love the mushrooms and cauliflower (and garlic!) together, but for the recipe itself, it's not something I'll be doing again. I'll make something similar my own way. I think the biggest mistake was to add raw cauliflower to *very* browned mushrooms. (The recipe stated several times to make sure to brown the veggies very well).

So, overall, it wasn't a *total* bust if you just go with your instincts instead of following it as written. I have a ton of raw mushrooms and cauliflower in my fridge right now (I got a little carried away) so I'll likely make something similar this week sometime. I'd like to make a curry tonight to hopefully clear out my sinuses haha.

Now, it's back to resting and fighting off this COVID. I desperately want to get up and do stuff, but I get so winded so easily and my head is killing me. My book and movies it is, then!

I have some Transformation Tuesdays for tomorrow, which is awesome! I'd like to save a couple for next week as well, so if you don't see it up tomorrow, it's just because I'm saving it--I didn't forget, I promise! But still, please keep sending them--I'd rather have a surplus than be begging the day before ;)

And please please send you cleaning/organizing tips/pictures. I have only gotten a couple of them, so I'm really hoping for enough to make a post out of it. You can see this post for info: Spring Cleaning/Organizing.

Finally, here is the link for the Garlic Mushrooms Cauliflower Skillet if you feel so included to try it!

May 15, 2022

A Guest Post From Jerry

HI! This is Jerry. I will be writing a post for Katie today because she's laid up with the 'Vid and she's in no shape to be writing today. Over the last couple days she's been feeling some symptoms of being sick but none of her symptoms seemed related to COVID. Today was the worst she's felt so far and she's completely miserable. So, she asked me write a post for her. 

When Katie asked me if I wanted to write a post for her I had no idea what to write about. Finally she came up with the idea to answer some random 'Icebreaker Questions' that are just supposed to be lighthearted. So, here we go:

Q: What is the weirdest food you've ever eaten?

A: As a family we went to a museum and science center in Jeanie's city (Jeanie is Katie's sister). During some presentation a guide had nacho flavored meal worms and asked for volunteers to try them. I obliged and they weren't that bad. They tasted like a tiny, overcooked Cheetos.

Q: What is your favorite theme park? 

A: Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio is my favorite park. It's America's roller coaster capital and is a blast. I have very fond memories of the park from when I was a kid and a pretty funny story as an adult. My employer had given us tickets to Cedar Point one year.

As a family trip Katie and I had taken the kids down to experience the greatest roller coasters on earth. Well, that day Cedar Point weathered a huge downpour. A massive storm rolled through the area flooding out the island. We took shelter under an awning and watched as people ran through the park in the rain and decided that our day was over. We planned on running through the rain with everyone else to get to our car and return to the hotel.

The water flooding the park was deep, well past our ankles. The rain was so heavy that we could barely see anything in front of us. We held our shoulders up as we ran to avoid getting wet (because you know you do that too), but nothing was stopping us from getting soaked.

Katie and the kids each had a towel to wrap themselves in so they didn't get the seats all wet, but I did not. In my infinite wisdom I had thought that I could seek some sort of shelter under the hatch of our car and quickly get changed into dry clothes while being hidden but the curtain of rain. I stripped off my soaked clothes and just as I was completely naked the rain stopped. It was instant. And I was sporting my birthday suit in the middle of an amusement park parking lot. Of course, the family got a huge laugh. I don't think anyone saw me but a pretty funny story nonetheless.

Q: Are you a cat person or a dog person?

A: Totally a cat person. I love Joey but cats will always be my favorite. Just watching cats being cats can be entertaining as hell. This is the best picture of Phoebe. So funny.

Q: What is your favorite sport or physical activity?

A: I love playing softball. However, after COVID and working the night shift it's very hard to find a team. I miss it a lot. Our team was co-ed and our name was Chix & Stix. Katie used to love watching me play. Now, if I can make time, I like to get out and disc golf. It's totally relaxing to play and just get out on a course for a couple hours.

Q: What is your favorite movie?

A: Surprising answer... Top Gun. 

Q: Who is your hero and why?

A: Easy. My dad. My dad served in the Air Force for 30 years. He retired years ago and after retiring from active duty he worked to keep our family fed, clothed, and sheltered as best as he possibly could. He would give you the shirt off his back and help you with whatever you needed. He was incredibly selfless when I was growing up. He gave me a template on how to be a good dad, husband, and employee. I'll be lucky to be a fraction of the man he is. Totally my hero. He just retired recently so I hope that he is able to take some well deserved time to himself.

I tried to keep this short and sweet, I need to get back to trying to take care of my wife. Before this post goes live I'm sure Katie will correct all my speeling misteaks. If anyone ever has any questions for me I'll be more than happy to answer. Just flood Katie's inbox--she's always telling me she's a rockstar at keeping up with her email.

Katie here now. I legit haven't felt this sick in a as long as I can remember, so I asked Jerry to write my blog post today. My only request was that he be politically correct so that I don't have to deal with the repercussions, hahaha. I didn't edit his answers or anything. He was thrilled to write this, so if you ever have questions for him, feel free to email them to me. He just asked if he could have a regular spot on my blog ;)

Hopefully I'm on the mend and will have a "real" post soon. I thought I was getting away easy with "mild" COVID symptoms. If I feel this miserable, I feel awful for the people who wound up hospitalized because of this!

Have a great week :)

May 14, 2022

Spoke Too Soon

When I woke up this morning with a very sore throat (again) and a runny nose, I was irritated that these symptoms have been going on for a while now. Yesterday, I wrote that I was sure I had a sinus infection; I'd been sneezing a lot and had an itchy nose and eyes. My sore throat was the worst part, though--it was like having strep, where it feels like swallowing razor blades. My COVID tests were negative.

I was just reading/approving comments for my blog and someone named Pip mentioned that she had the same symptoms and eventually tested positive for COVID. I was really fighting writing a blog post today because I'm just tired and I have a headache. I worked in the yard yesterday and had to stop and take a break several times, but I just thought it was because I'm not exactly in the best shape. I did go to bed at around 8:00, though!

Anyway, Pip's comment made me think I'd try one more test. If it was, in fact, a sinus infection, then I'd probably need antibiotics. I really don't like taking antibiotics, so I figured if it was a negative test, I'd email my doctor and see what she thought I should do.

Well, what do you know... it was positive.

In some way, I'm relieved to know! And I have to say, I am VERY glad that I don't have the same awful symptoms that Jerry did (he was in bed all last weekend). I'm also glad that I took precautions so I wouldn't spread it to others (I even avoided hugging the kids, and I usually hug them several times a day). I went to Eli's baseball game a couple of days ago, but it was obviously outside and I still distanced myself from others.

I had two events that I was supposed to go to today, too: Jerry's dad's retirement party and my uncle's memorial service. I chose not to go because of my "cold", and now I'm very glad I didn't go!

Anyway, I'm going to cut this short today because my head hurts and I just want to lie down with a book and hopefully get to bed early again. At least I know why I've had no energy for the last week!

May 13, 2022

Friday Night Photos

Happy Friday the 13th! I was SO looking forward to today because there aren't any baseball games on Fridays. Don't get me wrong--I love watching Eli play!--but it's so hard to plan dinner (or anything else really) on baseball days. Eli's games are at 4:30 but he has to stay after school until the game starts. Jerry leaves for work at around 5:00, so we'd either have to eat at around 3:30 or after the game (and Jerry can take leftovers the following day).

With this week being kind of chaotic and not very exciting, I don't have many pictures. But I'll post what I have.

Anyway, I think I wrote this yesterday, but I don't have COVID. I took four tests over four days and all were negative. My symptoms were a bit different, too--especially the fact that I was sneezing a LOT (not a COVID symptom). I'm pretty sure it was a sinusitis--the sinus symptoms showed up yesterday. I feel good now, though! (I've never had allergies, so I highly doubt it was that.)

I felt so good today, in fact, that I managed to go outside and finish digging out all the weeds and stuff from the landscaping area. If you remember, a few weeks ago I dug out a lot of it and I was so proud! Jerry moved the landscaping bricks (I think we're going to build a new fire pit with them) so I finished digging out the area that was covered by the bricks. Next, I have to till the soil and level it out (well, after putting a weed killer on it).

I don't have cat photos this week (shocking, I know!) except for this one. Phoebe was on my lap and Duck got jealous, He decided to very carefully climb onto my lap (closer to me than Phoebe was). Phoebe growls and swipes at any of the other cats near her, so I was waiting for it. But they stayed calm the whole time. Duck was totally on edge, though and couldn't relax ;)

This Wordle drove me CRAZY the other day. First, I screwed up my third guess by putting the E in the same spot. And I screwed up my fourth guess because I didn't include the C, but I was at a loss for what word to try. After that, I had NO IDEA what the word could possibly be. I knew it had the letters COKE in it, but nothing else. I couldn't even come up with a single word to use for my fourth guess! I finally got it right in the eleventh hour: GECKO.

Sometimes (well, a lot of the time) I find selfies of Jerry on my phone. He likes to do that when I leave my phone lying around (which is pretty much always). 

I was looking for ideas to alter sweatshirts that are too big, and somehow I came across this pink hoodie. I was stunned and then I started cracking up. It wasn't even a joke--it was on a legit site where you could buy it! I showed Eli, and he totally wants one. Hahaha!

Eli's team WON yesterday! This is the first game they've won all season. I'm so glad that I was able to go (I took a COVID test right before leaving the house). Their team has improved so much. Eli made some amazing plays (he pitched for four innings and then caught for three innings). The final score was 8-5. I was super hyped up after that game! I just can't get over how good Eli has gotten over the last year. He was always really good, but he looked professional out there yesterday.

Eli's girlfriend, "M", surprised me by showing up on Mother's Day with flowers for me! I just took this picture today, so they are a bit wilty, but I found this one that still looks perfect. That was super nice of her to think of me. 

While I was working in the dirt today, I found several of these things. Doesn't anyone know what they are? Are they pests or are they important for gardening? I have no idea.

Today's random fact of the day. I love Bob Ross! Especially after watching the recent documentary about him. It was kind of heartbreaking to see, but I liked learning more about his life. He seemed so genuine!

I don't know why this popped into my head a couple of days ago, but it occurred to me that wow--this probably wasn't a very normal thing! Hahaha. I texted my younger brother to see if he remembered this, too. And he did! I asked Brian as well and he told me that he remember melting it down and pouring it into shapes. 

The sunrise this morning was so pretty! I just had to take a picture, even though pictures of sunrises or sunsets NEVER look as good as the real thing.

Finally, this is Eli's girlfriend, M. Eli is not dressed up because he's not going to prom with her; she had already made plans before she and Eli started dating to go with her best friend. But the girls came over in their dresses because M wanted to get some pictures with Eli anyway. 

I adore his girlfriend--she is SO sweet and she's super into Eli. Eli feels the same way about her. It's so odd to me that Noah is a little older now than I was when I started dating Jerry--and we got married four years later. M is a year older than Eli, so she's that age, too! I hope my kids don't get married as young as I did (I don't regret it for a second, but part of me wishes I'd traveled a bit before settling down and starting a family.

Well, unfortunately, that's all I have for today. We had another gorgeous day today, and I'm glad I was able to spend some time outside--even though it was doing the chore I hate the most!

Have a great weekend! xo

May 12, 2022

Coming Soon

Oh, wow, it's already 6:00 PM and I haven't even started writing yet. I fell asleep at around 1:00 and took a very long (unintentional) nap--something I NEVER do. I'm fully convinced that I don't have COVID, despite the fact that Jerry got sick shortly before I did and he actually did have COVID. I took four tests over four days and all were negative. Also, I have all the symptoms of a sinus infection and I'm 99% sure that's what it is. It's been SO long since I've had a sinus infection!

I planned to write a post updating about my eating a vegan diet and how/if it's had an effect on my chronic pain. I want to write it, but my head is kind of foggy from my nap, so maybe I'll try it tomorrow. I hate that I slept my whole afternoon away! Jerry and the boys went to see a movie--I'm not even sure which one, but they like to go see superhero movies and things like that, so I usually use that time to have a quiet evening to myself. Now that I took a long nap, I'm probably going to use the alone time to clean up the house.

I'll write about this later after I finish my "experiments", but I got in the mood yesterday to try to change up some items in my wardrobe that I probably would have gotten rid of otherwise. I decided to lighten a couple of pairs of jeans, soften some stiff jeans with a few methods, and even figured out a solution to continue wearing a super cozy sweatshirt. A few of the experiments went entirely wrong, hahaha. Right now, I'm still working on a couple of others. Hopefully they turn out!

After that, I planned to turn this post into a post about transformation "fails". I've done so many projects over the years and there are tons that didn't turn out. Of course, we rarely share about our failures, but I thought it would be a fun post to get a laugh out of. However, I've been going through pictures and it's hard to find good ones! Probably because I'm less likely to take pictures of things that don't turn out. I know I have them, it's just hard to find them when I have 40,000+ pictures on my computer.

However, I still plan to do the post. I just need a lot more time to go through pictures. As I write this, it's now 8:30 and I still haven't eaten dinner. I'm starving! And I'd like to get *something* accomplished while the boys are out of the house--although looking at the time, they'll be home soon--haha. So, I'm just going to cut this off here, even though I didn't really write about anything. 

Someone emailed me at said I should do an "Ask Katie" series. I used to do that a long time ago but I guess I just feel vain for doing it. I don't even know what I could write about that I haven't written before! But if you're interested, please feel free to send me a question and if I get any, maybe I'll do an "Ask Katie" post once in a while.

I used to love writing those posts! People would ask about different running questions (I'm an RRCA certified running coach) or recommendations for products, or how to do something that I've posted about before, etc. Literally anything goes! If it's *too* personal I may choose not to answer it, but if you've been reading for a long time, you know that I am a pretty open book. So, if you have a question and you don't mind my sharing it (I can leave your name anonymous if you want), please feel free to email me at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Even if it's a question I've answered before, the chances are likely that it's been a long time, so I can update.

Okay, I'm going to end this now before my stomach eats itself. And I can't find any pictures for this completely random post! So here is today's random fact of the day:

May 11, 2022

Wednesday Weigh In: Week 50

That is not a mirror-image photo, although it looks like it at first glance. I can't remember what brought it up last week (I think Jerry saw me take a mirror selfie for Wednesday Weigh-In), but Jerry asked me why I always photograph the same side. He wondered if I have a favorite side and I only do photos of that side of my body.

I told him no, that I'm right handed and it's just easier to hold the phone in my right hand (that's the picture on the left--it looks backwards, but that's because of the mirror image). Then it made me wonder if other people are curious about the same thing--if I only take pictures from that angle because it's my "better" side. I never really thought about having a better side!

Today I did both. And holy cow, is it hard to take a mirror selfie with my left hand! It's super confusing. Try looking in a mirror and doing your hair or apply make-up with your opposite hand and you'll see just how awkward it feels. So, the answer is no--I don't photograph a particular "side" for a particular reason. Although, looking at those two photos, I think I like my left side better! (The photo on the left.)

Anyway, after the last two weeks' weigh-ins being pretty good, I didn't have high hopes for this week. My pattern has been lose, lose, gain, lose, lose, gain, etc. until a couple of months ago where it started going up and down about every week. I was happy, then, to see that I had a loss for the third week in a row!

Last week I was at 147.4, so I didn't lose much--but a loss is a loss and I'll take it! My starting weight last May was 197.0, so I "officially" hit 50 pounds lost for Week 50. 

Now, I'm really hoping to lose three more pounds before my Week 52 weigh-in. It would be awesome to reach a "normal" BMI (a weight of 144) on my one-year mark (May 24). Not that there is anything special about one year of calorie counting and weigh-ins, but it would be a nice way to start year two. 

This is the longest I've gone doing weigh-ins every week. In the past, when I would see a relatively large gain or if I gained a couple of weeks in a row, I would just stop doing weigh-ins. But this time, I decided that I'm going to weigh-in every week no matter how embarrassing it is. I even had a five-ish pound gain several weeks ago! I don't know how long I'll keep it up, but I do like the accountability.

Since I did really well last month when I challenged myself to 10 days of a few habits, I decided to do that again for 14 days (starting today) and maybe that will help me to drop the 3 pounds I'm aiming for. The daily habits I plan to do:
  • Eat about 1600 calories. 
  • Drink 4 liters of water.
  • Do some sort of exercise (walk, run, bike ride, etc).
  • Read 10 pages.
  • Write in my five year journal.
  • In bed by 10:00 PM.

Nothing too difficult, but they make a big difference in how I feel. I even made a little sticker chart to keep track, even though I'm 40 years old ;)  

It's hard to believe it's been 50 weeks since I saw my weight approaching 200 and I felt like it was hopeless to get it back down to a comfortable number. I'm glad I stuck with it!

May 10, 2022

Transformation Tuesday #70

Happy Transformation Tuesday! I wish I could say I am feeling better today, but I feel pretty much the same as yesterday. Thankfully, I'm not any worse, though! I may take another COVID test later today unless I start feeling better. As of right now, I'm just acting as if I do have it (distancing, not going out) so I don't get anyone else sick. I wanted to start my new running plan today--I've been trying to start it for a few weeks, but I keep having things come up (like pantry moths!). 

For Mother's Day, I bought my mom a set of spice jars and I told her I'd go to her house and organize her kitchen. After she saw my pantry moths post, she bought a set of the airtight containers I bought for my pantry. So I'm going to work on organizing dry goods and her spices. I'm actually really looking forward to it! I love to organize, so it will be fun for me. Anyway, I will be sure to take before and after photos for transformation pictures.

Well, let's get to it! Here are a couple of readers' transformations for today...

This first transformation is in our garage. We wanted more storage so my husband built these shelves in there. Now to actually go through and get rid of some junk!

The second is our front yard. For Mother’s Day I wanted to do some long overdue yard work. We finally bought and put in a border around the beds, planted some new plants, and put in fresh mulch. I am so happy with how it looks!

- Kate

First, I love that you hung the bikes in the garage--I really need to do that. It would save so much space! That's a great idea to build the shelf near the ceiling, too, so you still have space against the wall. And as for the landscaping, it looks so nice! It's amazing how something so simple--like the bricks and new mulch--can completely transform your yard. Now please come finish mine! ;)  -Katie

My mom passed away in March of 2020. She had owned a 10 acre hobby farm that she loved and had named the Rusty Rooster Ranch--she even painted a sign for it that hung for years near the front gate.  We sold the property after she was gone, and my husband took down the sign for me. It was in terrible shape after many years in the Arizona sun and weather.

My college roommate is an artist and she offered to do a portrait of my mom, but I told her I wish I could just find someone to restore the sign. She simply said, "send it to me." So it took a while, but it returned better than new. I was amazed because that wood was ROUGH. I'm not sure yet how to display it, but I'm so happy to have it as a remembrance of my mom.

- Karen

Karen, this is such and heartwarming tribute to your mom! Your roommate did a wonderful job with restoring the sign. I absolutely love the idea of keeping that little piece of your mom's hobby farm. I'm so sorry about her passing. I can imagine she would be thrilled to have the sign restored.  -Katie

Thank you for sharing your transformations! I love feeling inspired every week when doing Transformation Tuesday. If any of you have a transformation to share, I'd love to see it! Just send a before photo and an after photo to me at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com and include your name and a description of your transformation. Thanks!

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