August 20, 2019

My 10-Year Weight Loss Anniversary (and 10 crazy-cool opportunities I've had because of the weight loss)

I have been such a terrible blogger lately! It's amazing to me that I used to write every single day for a few years. I've been writing less and less frequently, and I'm starting to wonder if I'm approaching the end of the road of my blogging days; but I'll cross that road when the time feels right.

I will write a post about our wedding anniversary (similar to this post) hopefully before I'm 100 years old, hahaha.

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of when I started losing weight. It was the last day that I weighed 253 pounds. It's so hard to believe it was that long ago; but on the other hand, it's hard to remember what life was like before I lost the weight.

Some crazy accomplishments regarding my weight loss over the last 10 years:

#1. I lost a total 132 pounds at one point (February 2016). (The lowest Wednesday Weigh-In was 122, I believe; unofficially, I reached 121 at my lowest.)

before and after weight loss photo

#2. I started running--something I never thought possible. I ran 5K's, 10K's, half-marathons, and even three full marathons. WTF?!

Chicago Marathon finish photo

#3. I started writing Runs for Cookies in 2011. Here is my first post (there are some that are dated prior to this post, but I copied those over from a previous online journal I had). My blog has led to most of these opportunities.

Jerry's design for my virtual 5K shirt

#4. I was featured in Runner's World magazine, Woman's World magazine, Shape magazine, the local newspaper (twice), the morning Channel 4 news, The Today Show, The Dr. Oz Show, Another Mother Runner podcast, Half Size Me podcast (three times), Everyday Runners podcast, Run to the Top podcast, and a full-length documentary called From Fat to Finish Line that was available on Netflix (again, WTF?! CRAZY.). Here is a link to my "Press" page, which lists everything with links.

From Fat to Finish Line on Netflix

#5. I started coaching cross country (this is my fifth season). Getting kids excited about running is super rewarding, even though I am not currently a runner myself. (I have no idea what was happening in this picture, hahaha)

Cross country meet

#6. I met some amazing people--super inspiring blog readers; other bloggers; Bart Yasso (the "Mayor of Running); David Willey (Editor-in-Chief of Runner's World); Kerry Sanders (of The Today Show); Pete Thomas and Ada Wong (of The Biggest Loser); and probably a few more that I'm forgetting.
I met up with total strangers to run two Ragnar Relays, and some of those people have become super close friends. I've had meet-ups with blog readers, and I have to say, these have been my favorite people to meet! I love hearing their diverse personal stories.

Reader meet-up in Indianapolis

#7. I traveled to places I wouldn't have otherwise:

St. Louis, MO (for Purina, who sponsored a few posts in my blog)
Boston, MA (to visit a Ragnar teammate and for a Runner's World magazine series of races)
Portland, OR (to visit a blog reader-turned-BFF and to run my personal best 10K time)
Roanoke, VA (to visit a Ragnar teammate)
San Diego, CA (to run a Ragnar Relay)
Key West, FL (Ragnar Relay)
Kansas City, KS (to visit a Ragnar teammate)
Bethlehem, PA (for Runner's World magazine)
Seattle, WA (to visit a blog reader)
NYC (for The Dr. Oz Show, a BlogHer panel, and a couple of Purina events)
Indianapolis, IN (a blog-reader meet-up for The Indy Mini)
Joliet, IL (for The Warrior Dash)
Minneapolis, MN (for my first Ragnar Relay)
Cleveland, OH (for my first marathon)
Chicago, IL (for my third--and final--marathon)
Rockford, IL (to surprise my sister and run her first half-marathon with her)
Lake Cadillac, MI (for a last-minute random 10K race with Jerry)
Dayton, OH (for my RRCA certification, and to visit a Ragnar teammate)

(I have a list of all my traveling adventures and corresponding blog posts on my Travel page)

Hiking in Oregon

#8. I became an RRCA-certified running coach.

RRCA certificate

#9. I had a boudoir photo shoot--something I never would have done if not for the weight loss. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I never felt better about my body as I did during that photoshoot. You can see a couple of my (more modest) photos here and here.

boudoir photo

#10. I had surgery to remove excess skin from my abdomen after the initial weight loss. This helped not only cosmetically, but my comfort and health as well (I was getting rashes under my excess "apron" of skin, and the bouncing of my skin was very uncomfortable when running).

pre-surgery from skin removal

As a bonus (#11): While I'm currently the heaviest I've been since 2010, I am still about 85 pounds less than I was on August 19, 2009. While some may not consider that an accomplishment because of the recent gain, I am a million times healthier, happier, and more able-bodied than I was 10 years ago. I consider that a success.

current selfie

(Not saying that I don't want to drop about 20 pounds, but I don't want to downplay the fact that I've maintained such a large weight loss for such a long period of time.)

And there you have it. This list is far from complete of all the opportunities and accomplishments I've had over the last 10 years, but these are the most notable that come to mind.

Interestingly, writing this post just inspired me to run. I don't know if I'll do it regularly, but just for today, I'm going to do a short, awkward, difficult, and very slow run. Because I can :)

August 13, 2019

Rescue Pets! Before and After Adoption Photos for Transformation Tuesday

I wanted to get this up last week, but I have been working nonstop on a major project (which I'll write about tomorrow, hopefully). I've wanted to do a Transformation Tuesday post like this for a long time, and I'm excited to finally share these pictures! I asked for people to share photos of their rescue pets before and after their adoptions. I always love to see the difference that some tender loving care can do for animals who really need it.

I am a huge proponent of adopting pets from shelters and rescues rather than purchasing from breeders or pet stores. All of my pets have been either adopted from the shelter or taken in off the street. There are so many (TOO many) fantastic pets at the shelters just waiting for a loving home.

Adoption makes a huge difference in at least three ways: 1) The animal you are rescuing gets a home; 2) It opens a spot in the shelter for another animal to be placed rather than euthanized, and 3) You will feel an enormous sense of joy for helping an animal in need in the best way possible.

When Jerry and I adopted Joey, his fur was grimy and he reeked of urine. He was pretty docile and seemed a little reserved about whether or not it was okay to get excited that we were paying attention to him at the shelter. Once we took him home and gave him a bath, along with tons of attention, he was like a different dog. He was so excited!

We are SO glad that he came into our lives, and I'm pretty sure that he is, too ;)  Here is a "before" photo of Joey on the day he came home from the shelter versus a recent photo of him (four years later) after finding his "forever" family.

And here are some photos that readers have sent in of their own rescue pets! Thank you for sharing these photos--they make my heart happy :)

This is Dobby. I found her wandering down the street, starving and suffering from mange... I opened my car door, she jumped in and the rest is history!

- Meg, rescued by a dog in NC

This is Gertie the Jack Russell Terrier/Beagle mix in her cage before being adopted and then out on a long walk after we adopted her!

- Becky, Pennsylvania, Dog and Toddler Mama

We adopted Annie from a shelter nine years ago. She was about two years old and was shy, timid, and very sweet. Little did we know at the time, Annie was pregnant with 11 puppies! We kept Buddy (included in the "after" photo) and, luckily, found homes for the rest of the puppies as well.

- Debra, Missouri, Dog Mom

Seven years ago, I took in a group of ferrel kittens that had been living in the bushes being fed scraps by neighbors. I ended up adopting Razzy, who is 7 years old now, and she is the sweetest, most beautiful cat (in my biased opinion).

- Staci, Seattle, Cat Lover

We adopted our amazing pup Molly from the local humane society (emaciated, sick, and absolutely terrified) four years ago – now she's in training to pass the Canine Good Citizen test and to become a certified therapy dog to bring joy and comfort to people in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools!

- Kaitlyn

This is Bella and Lulu before and after rescue. Bella had been adopted by a family and then returned to the shelter. When I adopted her, she was extremely skittish and shy and it took months to gain her trust. Someone dumped Lulu near my parents’ house malnourished, covered in ticks and suffering from mange. They’re both pretty happy pups these days and have added so much joy to my life!

- Ali, Kentucky, Animal Rescue Advocate

This is our beautiful rescue dog, Lizzie, on the day she arrived in the shelter (from Alabama all the way up to Wisconsin); and then after just three months of being in our home. She’s the happiest girl!

-Amanda, Wisconsin, obsessed with her dog

We recently rescued a baby kitty from my mom’s front yard. He had a very bad infection and a severe eye abscess when we found him, and unfortunately had to have one of his eyes removed. Now, two months later, he’s vibrant and full of life! He’s now living his best life with his three doggy siblings, and getting all the love he deserves!

—Lauren, Texas, Proud Fur Mama

P.S. We named him Squints—for obvious reasons ;)

This is Delilah, a neglected and surrendered senior doggy.  The "before" photo is from the day she became a Mr. Mo Project Dog after being dumped at a busy city shelter (clearly neglected and in pain).  The "after" is 4 weeks later--happy, safe, loved, and well accessorized!

(Mr. Mo Project is a 501(c)(3) dog rescue that gets senior dogs out of shelters and placed in forever foster homes. Then they cover the medical expenses for the life of the dog. They even have an application where you can submit a shelter dog's information who you think should be considered for a "project" dog.)

- Jeannie, forever foster mom

Thank you so much for sharing the photos of your pets. I think that seeing the before and after adoption photos speaks volumes about rescuing pets and the difference it can make (in their lives and in ours). Love these--thank you!

August 05, 2019

Touché, Dad

Now that the inside of our house is almost completely made over, there are some things I have been wanting to work on outside. My biggest is that I want a new front porch--ours is SO bad that it's probably dangerous.

Yesterday, I just had it with the loose boards moving around when I would walk on it (I hadn't fixed them because I kept thinking we'd get a new porch "soon") and I decided to screw the loose boards down. I got out my drill and started working on it.

While I was working, I glanced up and happened to notice an apple on my apple tree. It was big and red and looked perfect!

big red apple on my apple tree

First, the quick story of my experience with fruit trees...

I have always wanted an apple tree. That was one of the first things I bought when we moved in here, and I planted it in the front yard. Not even a couple of weeks later, some teenagers were walking around late at night and they ripped it out of the ground and it died. I bought another, and it started growing, but died for some unknown reason. Finally, I got one that grew for a couple of years and actually got a few apples on it!

My dad told me I should trim the ends of the branches to help it grow faster. I had no idea what that was about, but my dad has a decent garden and a cherry tree, so I just took his word. It died!

I started over again with another tree. My dad kept telling me about trimming it, and I told him never to touch my apple tree. It became a running joke between us, and he was always teasing me about the apple tree that took a decade to grow an apple, haha. Several years ago, my parents gave me a stick Asian pear tree. Asian pears are my FAVORITE fruit ever, and they are so expensive. I was thrilled!

the start of an Asian pear tree

I planted the stick in the ground, not expecting anything, but it grew. And it grew and it grew and it grew. Now, it's actually pretty big! It still hasn't flowered or given any fruit, so I must have done something wrong with it. I know you are supposed to cross pollinate fruit trees, but I didn't learn that until a few years after I had my trees.

Anyways, it was just another thing for my dad to tease me about. I have an Asian pear tree that is five years old and I've never grown a pear. This is what it looks like now; so crazy that it used to be a simple stick in the ground!

Six year old Asian pear tree

So, when I was working on the porch yesterday and I saw the perfect apple hanging from the tree, I was shocked. I got so excited to pick it before the bugs got at it!

I went over to the tree, and upon further inspection, I saw that I'd been had. Of course, it had to be my dad's doing!

Fake apple hanging to the tree by a rubber band

It made me laugh out loud, though, and then I had the idea to get him back by swapping it out with an orange. I threaded a rubber band through an orange with a crochet hook, and then I hung it on the tree. When my dad dropped my kids off a couple of hours later, he noticed a nice perfect orange "growing" on my tree, hahaha.

Who knows if I'll ever get any fruit from my trees. I do get a few apples each year, but they get eaten by bugs and birds before they even get big and ripe enough to eat.

Speaking of birds, I was nearly traumatized for life yesterday because of a bird that has been hanging around my house for a few weeks. It's a really big bird, and my kids have seen it once in a while sitting on the railing of my deck. I thought it sounded pretty cool, but I hadn't seen it yet.

Yesterday morning, Eli and I were sitting outside on the deck with some walnuts to feed the squirrels. All of a sudden the bird flew over our heads and into the tree across the alley. I was trying to get a good look when Eli said, "I think it's looking at that squirrel on the next tree". I didn't think much of that, because the bird was about the same size as the squirrel, so I didn't think it would try to hurt the squirrel.

I don't know anything about birds, but Eli told me it was a hawk. Then we saw it fly to a branch that was closer to the squirrel, who was minding his own business. I started to get nervous, and Eli asked if he should go scare it away by making noise. I said yes, and he started walking across the alley. Suddenly, I saw the hawk swoop down to the squirrel and grab it!

I panicked and instantly banged on the deck railing as hard as I could to make some noise. Almost as soon as the hawk had picked up the squirrel, he dropped it and flew off away from us. Thankfully, it did not carry the squirrel away. Still, I was horrified!

I read a little about hawks yesterday after that happened, and I saw that they may hang around bird feeders--not for the bird seed, but for the birds themselves! Since we got the bird feeder recently, I wonder if that's what attracted it. I definitely don't want it grabbing my beloved squirrels, so I took the bird feeder down. I hope I don't see it again. My squirrels are one of my biggest joys.

Anyway, any tips on growing a fruit tree? Particularly an Asian pear tree? I would love to grow my own Asian pears.

August 02, 2019


I have totally been avoiding blogging this week. And counting calories, like I'd said I was going to. And deliberate exercise, another promise. And even going out, other than for cross country.

It's not even that I'm going through a depressive episode. I was just feeling so overwhelmed that I put myself in a little bubble of avoidance. I feel like I need a time out--stop the clock, chill for a few days without worrying about all the things I'm NOT doing--and then resume life without the consequences of having fallen behind.

Does that make any sense?

On my last post, I wrote about feeling like I need to count calories again to drop some of this extra weight and feel better. I think that the extra weight is contributing to the recent avoidance. A couple of days ago, Jerry asked me to go to his softball game, and I was too embarrassed to go. The last time I went I was in great shape.

I think one of the, if not the biggest, drawbacks to being so public about my weight loss/gain/loss/gain cycle is that I know people notice it. They may not say anything, but of course they are going to notice. Ten pounds over my goal weight, I can handle. Everybody's weight fluctuates now and then. But being thirty pounds over my original goal weight makes a very big difference.

I need some new workout clothes. Mine are too small and since I haven't been running, I haven't bought anything that fits. Even getting dressed for cross country is challenging. So, I think I'll go to Salvation Army today and find a few things (mainly tops) to wear. Maybe that will help motivate me to want to exercise.

Changing the way I eat has been the hardest. I've gotten so used to not counting calories over the last few years that I find it so difficult to get back into it. I don't mind the idea of counting; I just forget how I used to take the time to plan things out. And few of the foods I used to eat appeal to me anymore. I planned out two weeks worth of dinners and their shopping lists, so that isn't the problem. It's breakfast, lunch, and a snack/treat that challenge me.

With the exercise (specifically running, which I would really love to get back into), I just can't find motivation to do it. I know that once I get in a solid routine, I'll be able to get used to it. It's the first couple of months of runs that suck, because it feels so much harder than it used to. It feels like I'll never get in shape again! When I was losing the weight nearly a decade ago, I was running faster and easier than I am now, even being thinner now than I was back then. I know that I need to be patient, put in the work, and just get it over with already.

I actually really do miss running. I never know what to say when people ask me if I still run. Sure I do... about once or twice a month. I've now taken a full two-year hiatus, and I know I want to get back to it--the desire is there--but I truly am a beginner again. There is nothing wrong with walking instead of running, but I miss the way that running made me feel. I felt strong, fit, determined and proud of myself.

I decided on a fun idea for the kids at cross country on our "long run" practices. I'm going to tell the kids that whoever can run longer than I do without stopping or walking will be able to choose a prize from my bag. I have such a hard time getting them to do even one 0.25-mile lap without stopping or walking! They are ALL capable of doing it. They will have to do it at their races. They just run too fast from the start, and teaching them to pace themselves is so difficult.

So, when they see me running painfully slow, maybe they'll see that they can keep going. I know that I can do about 3 miles (which is about 38 minutes or so for me right now) and it'll be interesting to see if any of them can match that with the motivation of a prize at the end.

Anyway, this whole post is not meant to be one giant complaint or lots of excuses. I know what I need to do and I've done it before. Like everyone else, I wish I could just blink and be back to feeling and looking my best. Since that isn't going to happen, I have to make a plan and put the blinders on. I need to go through the motions until it feels natural again. Once I start seeing results, I'll feel the determination that I need to see it through.

I do get the motivation doses several times a week, especially after each cross country practice. But it's the determination that I'm lacking. (Here is a post I wrote about the difference between the two and why motivation doesn't get you to reach your goal for weight loss.) My biggest obstacle that I have now that wasn't there before is chronic pain. The carpal tunnel, my back issue, knots in my shoulders, and an odd pain when I bend my elbows (the muscles in my forearm and upper arm just above and below my elbow). I'm also older.

When I was running regularly, I didn't have any of these physical problems except for the back pain, but that was there since I was a kid. I've been to numerous specialists about that and tried all sorts of treatments, but nothing works. However, I can deal with that as I always have. I'm just hoping that the other problems will resolve by taking better care of myself.

So, like I said, this post isn't to complain, but rather to just sort my thoughts about this avoidance that is going on. I've done it before and I KNOW that I can do it again. I would love to be able to document it here as I make progress, so another goal that I have is to write more frequently and stop avoiding it. I just never know what to write when I haven't worked on my goals.

Thank you to those of you that have said you are in the same boat. I am sorry that you are going through it, too, but it really helps to know that I'm not the only one feeling this way! I appreciate the support and kind words more than I can even express. I wish you the best as you work on this with me!

I was hoping to find some photos to share of the past week, but I really don't have much! But here are a few...

These are some of the foods I've been eating lately. I've been eating a lot of fruit (I'm obsessed with cherries right now--they are so expensive, so I rarely buy them, but they've been on sale for $1.99/pound this week.

These are my Banana Oat Bran Muffins with added blueberries, topped with Cinnamon Raisin Swirl peanut butter by Peanut Butter & Co.:

This is a chicken fajita bowl that I made when peppers were on sale:

I had a huge craving for roasted cauliflower with parmesan cheese, something I used to make when I was losing weight. I love this! (Just cut cauliflower into florets and toss with a little olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Then roast at 425℉ until it gets little brown bits on it.)

And I love watermelon season! Watermelon is one of my very favorite fruits. I am horrible and choosing good ones (they are either mushy or they are horribly underripe) so I don't buy them often. But Jerry usually has good luck, and he bought this one. It lasted all of two days in my house ;)

I went to visit my friend Spencer, who is now in hospice care at home. If you don't remember, he has stage IV brain cancer. I wanted to bring him something, but I had no idea what to bring. I ended up choosing a Red Wings Tervis tumbler (he's a big Red Wings fan) and a couple of pairs of cool socks. I thought they looked rather hipster, and since we share a love of Portland... ;)

There is a new squirrel coming around, who we've named Chip (as in Chip Matthews, from Friends) because he has a little chip in his ear (not "chip" as in microchip, but rather a little tear). He's not quite as bold as Tuck, but he is getting braver now that he knows we give him nuts.

If you remember, Eli bought me a bird feeder for Mother's Day so that the birds would quit stealing the squirrels' peanuts. Well, since we got the bird feeder, the squirrels do everything they can to eat the food from the bird feeder--including dangling by the very tips of their toes to reach the feeder. It's hilarious! So, when I saw this shirt on Amazon I just HAD to buy it for Eli. It's too perfect ;)

The squirrels are getting quite spoiled now--I recently spent about $60 on nuts for them! I got walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts all in-shell (healthier than peanuts for squirrels). We have a big jar sitting by the back door for when they come begging.

Right now, I'm going to head out to Salvation Army for some workout tops. I hope that my next post will show a little better progress!

July 24, 2019

A Sobering Weight Gain Photo

Sobering Weight Gain Photos

It's kind of funny--I remember writing a blog post with the same title in May of 2009, shortly after completing the Indy Mini 13.1 mile race (walking) at my heaviest weight of 253 pounds. When I saw the photos from that race, I looked NOTHING like I had imagined. I couldn't believe it was actually me--was I seriously that obese?!

My original "before" weight loss photo

In my mind, I'd thought I "carried my weight well" or just generally looked smaller than I actually weighed. But when I saw those photos from the race, it was like a slap in the face. The reality was quite sobering.

I vowed at that point that I was NOT going to look like the heaviest person in the photos for next year's race. I wasn't going to constantly question if I was the "fattest person in the race" while I was walking. It took a few months for me to get started, but then in August, I finally started losing the weight. And the following May, I was about 165 pounds when I walked the race.

Over the last 10(!!) years, I have seen tons of photos of me--some where I look thinner than I imagined, and some where I look heavier. My mind and body are not at all connected when it comes to how I look. Still, over the past decade, I haven't seen any photos that truly shocked me with the reality... until now.

Yes, my weight has been up--in the 160's for the first time since 2010--and I actually felt okay with that. I stopped thinking my weight was very important, and while I didn't want to gain any more (losing would have been even better), I wasn't upset by it enough to want to count calories or do any sort of "dieting". For the first time EVER, I started to see the bigger picture and worry more about my health than my weight.

Once the weather got hotter (we went from cold to hot without anything in between), I started to feel uncomfortable again. I felt sticky and my clothes (even the new/used ones I bought), felt more restricting. My hands felt puffy like they used to way back when I was obese.

I am still about 85-90 pounds down from my heaviest weight, but I feel like I am that size again. Physically, things are harder now than they have been over the last 10 years. Not enough to sound the alarm, but definitely noticeable and definitely not comfortable.

Recently, one of my cross country kid's mom took a photo while I was talking to the kids at our first practice. When she sent me the photo, I was, once again, shocked with the reality. It's not a flattering photo--I'm wearing a sports bra under a shirt that is now too small, and I still have excess skin on my upper body that hangs over--but even bad angles and/or poses can't skew the reality.

(I REALLY did not want to share this photo, and I cringe at the thought of clicking the "publish" button on this blog post because of it. But, I've always tried to keep it real here, and this photo is simply the reality.)

Current photo of my weight gain

And compared to a cross country photo in 2015, when I was about 140 pounds:

Comparison of 2015 and 2019

I am now at the point where I am not okay with the gain.

I know that I am the "queen of changing her mind", and this is, yet again, one of those changes. I'm still not wishing for the body I had when I was 122 pounds--that took a TON of work and I just don't want to do that again--but I would like to look at photos and not be shocked at what I see. I don't want to feel embarrassed to post photos of myself, even when they are taken from unflattering angles.

All of this is to say that I think I'd like to start actively working on losing the weight I've gained.

I am changing my goal weight of 133 to a more realistic 144 pounds. I didn't weigh myself today, but I've been sticking in the mid 160's for weeks (months?) now, so that would be about a 20 pound loss. I think I looked good at 144 pounds, and I felt physically comfortable at that weight. I chose that number because it's the top of my BMI range; and you know that I love the number 11 and its multiples (hence the previous goal weight of 133).

As far as the action plan for losing the weight... I definitely don't want to do any sort of "diet" plan. I love the idea of how I was eating in 2017, where I was losing and then maintaining my weight very easily by simply eating less and listening to my body.

However, I don't think I am able to get back to that place right now after being so far gone from it. I think that I might have to count calories for a while to get my portion sizes back down to what I had gotten so used to. (Here is my post about calorie counting my way back down to goal weight)

Restricting the types of food I eat has never worked for me (it leads to binges), so I am not going to do anything other than count calories. I have always liked eating by a schedule, and my magic numbers seem to be eating breakfast at 8:00, lunch at 12:00, dinner at 4:00, and snack/treat at 8:00. Lately, I haven't been eating with any sort of rhyme or reason--I might go all day without eating until dinner time, or I might eat throughout the day all day long.

I haven't been binge eating at all, and it's hard to say why the weight is sticking on. I thought I'd lose weight when I quit drinking, but I must have replaced those calories with something else. I haven't kept a food log, so it's hard to say exactly what is going on. I do know that I've been eating way too much ice cream this summer--the good premium stuff!--and I imagine that makes up for the alcohol calories. I've also been far less active than I was from 2010-2016.

My mood has been pretty stable lately, other than high anxiety a lot of the time. I haven't felt depressed or hypomanic, which is good. However, I've been VERY overwhelmed with things to do. Cross country has been my main focus for the past few weeks. I am loving all the new ideas I've had and having a smaller team this year (I have 12 kids on the team, 6 boys and 6 girls). The team is really fantastic, and I am excited to see how the season goes.

By the way, THANK YOU to those of you that sent me your old Garmins! Deb, Rikilynn, Catherine, and Christina, you are so generous and I can't tell you how much I appreciate your helping out our team. And Cathy, THANK YOU for the super generous Amazon gift card for our team! I bought some sports rings to use for musical hula hoops (our cheap hula hoops were getting destroyed each time we used them), some fun running socks and cool sweatbands to use for awards for my points system this season.

While I'm super excited about this season, getting everything ready has been very overwhelming. I'm a total nerd when it comes to numbers and spreadsheets, so I've spent lots of time making sheets for the kids to see all of their data. They may be too young for it, but some of them are pretty serious about improving their times, so this will give them a visual.

We have practice three times a week, and I am keeping track of their initial mile time, all of their miles logged, and their points received for attendance, mileage, and "extras". I had a new boy come to practice on Monday, and afterward he told me, "I want to join again next year!" Hahaha, that was great.

Because I've been feeling so overwhelmed lately, I haven't been working on the summer goals I'd hoped to achieve. I know it's not too late, but I think I'd like to put most of those on hold and just go back to the basics and get that down pat before I add in other stuff. There is still time for me to complete my Summer Run/Walk Checklist, so in addition to calorie counting, I'm going to work on that.

Once the checklist is done, I may start another idea for fall to keep the momentum. But right now, one thing at a time. I'm hoping that by fall, I'll be able to share some candid photos and not cringe! ;)

July 17, 2019

A Dill Pickle Obsession

Things have been so so so crazy around here for the last couple of weeks. I have constantly been making mental notes about things I plan to write about on my blog, and then I just haven't found (or, I guess I should say, "made") the time to write a post. And now that I'm sitting down to write a post, my memory has lost 90% of those things, haha.

I guess I'll just try to update and write a few things that have been going on lately.

Today is the boys' last baseball game of the season (I love baseball, but now that I'm starting cross country, I'm glad they won't be overlapping). I am completely shocked that we are even playing today--it's the championship game for the summer league.

We had a tournament on Monday, and our record was really bad (our record was 2 wins and 9 losses, which made us last place in the league). Remember how I wrote about filling in as the coach when we played against the really cocky team? Well, that was one of our two wins, and I wrote about how I was crazy excited about that.

That teamed ended placing first in the league... which meant we had to play them in the tournament. For some reason, the tournaments have a seeding placement where the first place team plays the last place team, the second best places the second to last, etc.

keeping score at the baseball game

At the tournament on Monday, the team showed up with the coaches acting as cocky as ever. (It's the coaches and the parents of the kids on that team who take the fun out of summer baseball.) Because it was a tournament, however, they weren't allowed to argue and yell at the umpires like they usually do, so it was nice! In the first inning, we didn't get a single hit--three batters up, three batters down. Then, their team wound up with four runs in the first inning!

It was looking like it was going to be a miserable game. However, our team made a big comeback in the last few innings, and we ended up with a tie at 5-5 going into the seventh inning (this league plays seven innings). I couldn't believe it! We actually had a chance to beat them. But I still didn't have my hopes up, because it usually just takes one bad inning for us to give up a bunch of runs.

Our team did great--and we ended up getting three runs! Their team had the last at-bat, so as long as they didn't score more than two runs, we'd win the game. I was SO NERVOUS.

Renee's son Isaac was pitching and he struck out the first two batters. Then the next batter was up... strike one. Pitch two--strike.

And then strike three. Batter was out. And WE WON!!!! We beat the first place team!

And now there is a championship game tonight. Honestly, I couldn't care less how the game goes tonight. It'd be nice to win, but winning against that other team totally made the season for me.

I held my third cross country practice yesterday evening, and it went really well. I love having the smaller team! It was so hard to keep kids focused when we had 25 or so kids on the team; and while it would be great to let the third graders run, I think it's better for the program to keep it at fourth and fifth grade right now. I have 11 kids on the team, so I'm able to pay more attention to each kid.

Yesterday, we did speed work at the track. For the kids who hadn't been to a practice yet, I had them run their first timed mile (to be compared to another timed mile at the end of the season). Thanks to a reader who donated her old Gamin Forerunner, I had enough watches (four) for the remaining kids to run intervals using the watches. I set them for 1:00-minute running and 1:00-minute walking intervals (the running was to be done at a very hard effort). It was a good practice!

I didn't take a "before" picture (I really need to start doing it any time that I think I may transform something!), but I finally worked on pulling out all of the weeds in the landscaping. While I was at it, I raked out all of the old mulch that was in there and I tilled the dirt. Today, Jerry put new mulch down, and it looks a million times better! The landscaping still leaves much to be desired, but at least it doesn't look like a bed of weeds anymore.

My favorite aunt (Aunt Mickey) turned 80 last Tuesday, and her daughter put together a party for her at my parents' house. They invited all of the women in the family, and my Aunt Mickey's friends and neighbors, so I was able to see lots of people I haven't seen in a while. It was a party just for the women, and I especially loved getting to chat with my younger cousins.

When I was a teenager, I used to babysit for all of them from the time they were infants--and they are now all grown up! Kaitlin, the oldest of my Aunt Mickey's grandchildren and the cousin who I was the closest to while growing up, is now a nurse practitioner. It blows my mind that I can actually remember the day she was born.

I saw a couple of childhood friends recently, which was awesome. Sarah (my childhood best friend who now lives in Arizona) and her husband Ne came over for dinner on Sunday. We had lasagna and played Cards Against Humanity (always fun). I never realize just how much I miss Sarah--or any of my friends, really--until I see them again and get to catch up.

Today, I drove up to Ann Arbor to meet another of my childhood friends, Lance, for lunch. I've been thinking of him and his family a lot lately. His younger brother, Spencer, was diagnosed with inoperable stage IV glioblastoma (aggressive brain cancer) about a year and a half ago. He moved back home to Michigan (he'd been living in Portland, OR) to spend time with his family and start treatment. There is no cure for glioblastoma, but the doctors said that chemotherapy and radiation could give him more time.

He's been going through chemo and radiation ever since, but he came home from the hospital and into hospice care last week, which is heartbreaking. I saw him at Christmastime when we had our annual get together with the kids that I grew up with. I asked him a couple of times if I could visit, but he hasn't been up for visitors. It was good to chat with Lance today to see how Spence is doing (Spence has stopped treatment and now hospice is helping with pain management.)

I didn't think I'd get so emotional after having a great chat with Lance, but once I was back in the car driving home, it hit me. I cried all the way home from Ann Arbor. It just sucks how unfair it is that genuinely good people get dealt a shitty hand like cancer.

In good news, Lance's wife is pregnant with their second child. They had a baby boy shortly after Spencer's diagnosis, and now they are going to have another boy. Of course I am biased, but I think having two little boys so close in age is fantastic! It's great that they have something happy to look forward to when the baby is born in a couple of months.

I've been kind of obsessed with dill pickles recently. When Noah went to church camp last week, Eli and I were excited to create a menu that included lots of dill pickles (Noah's not a big fan of them). We tried this dill pickle pizza and it was AH-MAZING. It was literally one of the best pizzas I've ever had. I thought it was odd that the crust didn't have any yeast, but I liked it so much that I will definitely use that crust again. It was very thin and crispy.

Dill Pickle Pizza

I thought the "sauce" seemed very odd as well, but I made it as written, and it was part of what made the crust so fantastic. (If you make this pizza, don't be tempted to use more cheese than called for... it didn't seem like much, so I added more. But the spots of the pizza that had less cheese were actually better, because the cheese gets baked into the crust. Next time, I will stick with the recommended 4 oz.)

I had several jars of pickles in the fridge, so I just used up what I had. This pizza was SO good. If you're a dill pickle fan, it's a must-try!

Rather than dumping out all of the yummy pickle juice, I used it to make Dill Pickle Soup the next day. I'd made it before, but it had been a long time and I forgot how good the soup is! Again, there were a couple of things about the recipe I found odd (like mixing sour cream with flour to add to the soup after it boils) but I followed the recipe exactly as written and it was absolutely delicious. Again, a must-try if you like dill pickles!

Dill Pickle Soup

(The soup recipe is written by the same woman who shared "The Best Dill Pickle Sandwich"--which is, literally, the BEST dill pickle sandwich. I went through a phase where I ate one every single day for a long time.)

I'm sure there are lots of things I'm forgetting to write about, but I've got to get ready for the baseball game tonight. I really am going to try to write more frequently! I always feel good when I get a blog post up.

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