July 31, 2017

July Recap and 1 Second Everyday Video

Well, it's already the end of July! A little over a month until my kids will be back in school. It feels like summer just started! It's been a good summer, though, so I'm not complaining.

In recap:

Jerry, the kids, and I spent a week in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at Jeanie and Shawn's "camp". I went four-wheeling, sat around the campfire, made s'mores, watched Brian's ridiculously amazing fireworks show, spent tons of time with Luke (my favorite part!), found lots of cool rocks on a beach of Lake Superior, and ate some Mackinac fudge on the way home.

Noah went to church camp, and while he was gone, I gave Eli "cooking lessons", which he was very excited about. He especially loves chopping vegetables now. Today, he made us fish (blue gill that he caught himself!) and home fries.

The stir-fry prep took an hour and a half! Hahaha--but he learned to chop
all sorts of veggies, and he loved it. 

Eli played in an All-Star baseball tournament, and their second game was literally the most nerve-wracking thing I've ever sat through. We needed ONE STRIKE to win the game against a very tough (and extremely cocky) team; but things turned around and we lost. Still, Eli's team did much better than the other teams did against them.

Eli was catcher for the entire game--I was impressed, because it was 85 degrees outside!

Best of all, Jeanie and Shawn totally surprised us by showing up at Eli's game! We had no idea that they were coming to Michigan, and I was speechless when they got to the game. It was super fun having them there.

Noah turned THIRTEEN years old! How did that happen so quickly?!

My friend Sarah came into town from Arizona, and she and her husband, Ne, came over. Noah cooked us sausages on the grill he got for his birthday, and then Sarah, Ne, Jerry, and I played Euchre. I've missed Euchre! I want to teach the kids how to play.

I learned that Monica had terminal liver cancer, which was devastating. We only had her for a year, but she was the sweetest cat! I was so sad to make the decision to have her euthanized, but she was not doing well at all in the end. I was with her when the vet put her down, and that was so much harder than I anticipated. Thankfully, my friend Andrea was there with me.

Noah went to Brian's house and Brian helped him make a corn hole set. For Noah's birthday, Brian bought all the materials to make it, and then Noah went to Brian's house and they built the set. I didn't see it until after Noah stained it, and it's AMAZING. I can't wait to play a game! The bags we ordered should arrive tomorrow, so we'll likely play a game tomorrow night. I wish I'd taken a picture of the boards, but I'll have to do it tomorrow.

I went fishing/boating with Eli and my dad. Eli had been wanting me to go to a particular spot in the lake for a long time, so I finally went. I didn't fish, but it was fun seeing Eli so excited and totally in his element. He was born a fisherman.

I went for a run--just because I felt like it. For the first time in about five months!

Jerry, the kids, and I went on a dinner cruise with my dad's extended family. Not only was it fun to meet family members I'd never met before, but the views from the boat were amazing! I loved seeing the Ambassador Bridge from underneath.

I saw Luke again yesterday, and every time I see him, I just can't get over how much he's grown. It's cool to see how he progresses in his coordination each time, too. When my kids were babies, I didn't notice it so much because I saw them every day. Since I only see Luke about once a week, each milestone stands out. Yesterday, I was cracking up at how he grabs his feet and pulls them up next to his ears. And it's so fun to make him smile and coo. He melts my heart.

Luke was getting super tired, but once Nathan held him, he perked up and gave us
lots of smiles and coos again.

Here is my 1 Second Everyday video for July:

So, other than Monica, it's been a pretty great month. I think August will be much quieter, because we don't really have any plans. I am going to be coaching cross country again, and our practices are supposed to start in a couple of weeks (which reminds me that I have to get together with Renee and figure out the details)!

July 29, 2017

Dinner Cruise on the Detroit River

I just got back from the most amazing dinner cruise with my (very extended) family.

When my dad's uncle passed away, and he specified that he wished for the whole extended family (my paternal grandmother's side) to go on a Portofino dinner cruise. Portofino is a restaurant in Wyandotte, Michigan, on the Detroit River. I think I've only been there once for dinner--ages ago--but I thought the cruise sounded like a fun idea.

I had no clue what to expect, and I honestly didn't know if I would even recognize who any of the family members were. I'd met my dad's sisters and brother, but his mom died when he was 18, and his dad was estranged to me (he died last year, but I'd only seen him probably twice in my life).

Anyway, my paternal side of the family has never been very close, in that they don't get together often. So, I was a little nervous going on this dinner cruise with people that were essentially strangers, but I thought it would be fun to learn about that side of the family (as well as meet many of them).

I should have taken a picture of the boat itself, but I didn't think to do that until I started writing this post. The cruise ended up being awesome! Normally, I'm not a big "boating person"--I enjoy land more than water. I LOVE Detroit, however, and I got to see it from a completely different side than I'm used to. The boat went from Wyandotte to the Detroit Riverwalk near the Renaissance Center, and then turned back to the restaurant--a total of about two and a half hours.

I spent most of my time at the bow of the boat taking a thousand pictures. Jerry snuck some photos of me from behind (mostly of my butt) but here are a couple that actually look nice.

Until this one. I took this, and clearly we weren't ready for the photo. But since most people pick the best of the photos to share, I just thought I'd change it up and use this random one.

This is my mom! I don't have many pictures with her, so I took this photo op.
We went past Zug Island, which is where Jerry actually worked for three months back in 2013. If you've been reading since then, you might remember when he switched jobs. He went work on Zug Island, which is a plant that burns down coal to make coke, supplying steel factories in the area. He hated it there, and after three months, went back to his other job. He told me a lot of horror stories about the island, and I'd only ever seen it from the expressway. So, it was interesting to see Zug Island from the river.

We also went past this Boblo Island dock building. Boblo Island was an amusement park that we used to go to when I was a kid. Because it was an island (in Canada), there was a ferry that would take you from this Detroit dock to Boblo Island and back. The amusement park closed in 1993, but you can still see some parts of it from the water.

Last week, I went out fishing with my dad and Eli, and my dad showed us Boblo Island where the boat used to dock and we would get off and enter the amusement park. It was actually really cool looking! It reminded me of the run-down Jurassic Park years after it closed.

I would give just about anything to be allowed to go on the island and take pictures! 

As I was fact-checking for this post, I learned something VERY interesting about Boblo Island. During the Vietnam War, Boblo was used for American men to avoid the draft. They could buy a ticket to Boblo (the amusement park on the island), and then once on the island, they would trade their tickets with Canadians--so that they could take the ferry back to the port in Canada (a safe haven to avoid prosecution) instead of Detroit. When taking the ferry from Boblo, people didn't have to go through customs. Clever, right?!

Anyway, back to the dinner cruise. We went underneath the Ambassador Bridge (the bridge that joins the United States and Canada), and seeing it from the river was awesome. I've run across it, biked across it, driven across it, and now boated under it.

I love this picture of Jerry's hair! The wind just had its own plans today.

Like my random hair sticking straight up in this photo:

It was a great cruise! I got to meet members of my family that I didn't even know that I had, visit with the few that I knew, see amazing scenery, and enjoy time with Jerry and the boys.

Tomorrow, Jerry's going to the Tiger's game with my Uncle Ronald (my dad's brother). My mom is having several of my dad's family members over for more visiting. A busy weekend!

July 28, 2017

A Much Needed Makeover

Finally! A new post. It's been a week since my last, and it's not that I haven't been busy with my blog. I decided to give my blog a makeover. With all the new changes in my life recently, I wanted a fresh start with my blog. There are still lots of things that I want to tweak, but the hard part is done. It took me forever, because I had to learn about HTML and CSS coding.

I've decided to stick with the name Runs for Cookies--for several reasons. Mainly, because that has become my blogger identity over the last six years. I'm Runs for Cookies on all of my social media; whenever people mention my blog either in writing or by word of mouth, it's Runs for Cookies; I was even in a documentary that featured my blog.

Who knows, I may end my running hiatus in the future. Actually, I went for a run today (insert shocked face here). I'll write more about that below. But running was a HUGE part of my life for the last six years, and it's still very important to me. Without running, I have no idea who I would be today.

Would I have maintained my weight loss? Would my depression and anxiety have been even worse? Would I ever have reached my goal weight in the first place? Would I have learned that I can set some really tough goals and reached them? I really don't know.

So, I am going to stick with Runs for Cookies as my blog name, whether I'm running or not; eating cookies, or not. (Actually, these days I've been eating three packets of Mott's fruit snacks for a treat every night--I'm obsessed!)

I am also working on merging my Runs for Cookies Recipes blog into this one. I've transferred all the recipes over to my Recipes tab on this blog for now. It is complete unorganized, but that is something I'll be working on over time. Also, when I post recipes, they aren't the gorgeously photographed elaborate posts with a thousand photos of a styled dish. Mine are plain and simple. I'm asked frequently about what foods I eat (or ate) when losing weight, so I just post my favorite recipes.

If I ever get into a good groove with blogging, I'd like to post a recipe each week, and maybe have a couple of other "regular" posts (like Wednesday Weigh-in). But right now, I'm just going to aim to post more regularly like I used to. The blog makeover has made me feel excited about blogging again!

Since I've been focusing a little less on weight loss these days, I wanted a change for the blog. Yes, I am still going to write about it occasionally, and probably continue my Wednesday Weigh-in posts. (Actually, I did my weigh-in this week, with full intentions of writing a post about it, when Eli informed me that it was Thursday and not Wednesday, like I'd thought. The week flew by for me!

These days, I enjoy thinking, talking, and writing about a little bit of everything: weight loss/maintenance, mental illness/health, my family, my pets, traveling, money and budgeting (my newest project, which I plan to start writing about soon). Remember when I used to post my thrift store finds? I want to do that again, too. I just bought several things earlier this week, so I'll take some pictures tomorrow and write a post about those.

So, my weight has been staying very steady between 131 and 134 for about a month now. It's interesting, because I picked the number 133 as my goal weight (kind of randomly), and now that I'm not counting calories or anything, and just living my life, my weight seems to be settling around there. I don't look quite as fit as I did when I was running, but I'm okay with that. My clothes fit well, and I love not obsessing about a number.

My Wednesday Weigh-in (which was actually Thursday, but I was so sure it was Wednesday):

I think it was a little low because I was so busy working on my blog for a few days, that I barely stopped to eat. Today, I definitely made up for it. I'm not sure if it's because I went for a run or because my food intake was lower for a few days, but I was super hungry today.

Speaking of running, it was so random--I had a doctor's appointment this morning, and on the drive home, the sky was overcast. The thought, "Today would be a nice day for a run" popped into my head, more out of habit than anything. It's funny, because once that thought was there, I was pretty much trying to talk myself out of running.

I hadn't even thought twice about going for a run in months! I had no desire to whatsoever. But today, on my way home from the doctor, I got the thought in my head and I couldn't shake it. So, I decided to go for a run when I got home, and if I hated it (even after just reaching my neighbor's house), then I could quit.

I had to dig out my Garmin, FlipBelt, ID bracelet, etc. I was pleasantly surprised when I put on my running clothes that they fit much better than the last time I wore them. The way I felt today when I ran was different than ever before--all I thought about was the feeling of the nice weather, the scenery, moving my body, and just enjoying the time outside.

I don't spend a lot of time outside, especially in the summer (it's ridiculously humid in Michigan), so today, I just tried to forget I was running. Instead, I focused on how it felt to be outside. I didn't care what my pace was, or my heart rate, or any other numbers.

When I got home, I didn't think about the future of my running (I don't know if I'll ever go for another run!) or make plans to start running a certain number of times a week, or anything else I would have done in the past. Today's run was just a run. Because I felt like it.

A few things I noticed: 1) my weird abdominal muscle spasm has returned (maybe it's something that happens after a running hiatus); 2) my lungs were definitely working harder, but not as badly as I expected; 3) my legs felt just fine, except maybe a little tight; 4) I love a nice breeze when running; and 5) running with a tailwind in the sun makes me feel like I'm dying.

Look how red my face was when I got home!

I think it actually got even redder the longer I sat there, and it was still beet red after taking a shower. My legs immediately felt sore, so I'm sure I'll be suffering tomorrow. My pace was 11:57/mile, and even that was because I ran harder at the end. The first two miles were 12:00+. And you know what? The world didn't end ;) I enjoyed the summer weather, if only for 36 minutes (well, the overcast parts, anyway).

I will try not to make my future posts this long! I've not written in a week, so I am just rambling now. Today was a good day :)

July 23, 2017

The One Where Monica Crossed The Rainbow Bridge

Yesterday was tough, I'm not going to lie.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we learned just last week that Monica (the long-haired tortoiseshell kitty we adopted last year) had late stage liver cancer. I'm still feeling guilty that I didn't recognize any symptoms before, but they were so subtle and they crept up so quickly.

I noticed that she was getting less and less energetic, and she was sleeping more than usual. But I wasn't alarmed by that at all. She was still eating and drinking, and she looked fine. Last week, I noticed that her belly was bulging out a little. I thought it may have been my imagination, but I made sure to pay more attention to it. (Because her belly was big, I didn't even notice how skinny the rest of her had gotten).

I saw her in the litter box one day and she was straining kind of hard to poop, so then I just assumed that she may have a little constipation. I made a couple of small changes to her diet. Then on Tuesday or Wednesday last week, I noticed that her stomach had gotten even bigger and it was firm when I touched it. I knew that was bad.

In retrospect, I realize there were other symptoms I missed: she stopped grooming herself, so I was having to brush her more often; she wasn't nearly as cuddly as she used to be, and didn't always come when I called her; she stopped eating her favorite treats; and when I cleaned out the litter box daily, there was less in it than usual (with three cats, it's hard to tell who is having issues).

Anyway, when I noticed the distended abdomen, I made sure to get her into the vet right away. I called at 9:00, and they told me I could come right in--it was great! But I knew the outcome wasn't going to be good, and I even warned the kids that Monica may be nearing the end of her life. I didn't want it to be a huge shock to them.

Just as I suspected, she was in organ failure--her liver had a tumor, and her abdomen was full of fluid. The vet drained some of the fluid to make her a little more comfortable, but she said that Monica likely would pass away within a week. It was clear that Monica was uncomfortable, and I told the vet that I'd like to choose euthanasia instead of letting her suffer at home (and having my kids watch her go through that).

I made an appointment for Monday, and I brought her home. We spoiled her rotten--giving her all the wet food she wanted (she loved canned food!) and we carried her here and there so she wouldn't have to painfully walk around. We lifted her onto her favorite perch on the cat tree, and we petted her almost non-stop. Eli took her outside several times, too. When we adopted her, we agreed that she would be a strictly indoor cat, and we always adhered to that; but I wanted her to feel the grass and spend some time in the sunshine. Eli loved spending time with her outside, and she seemed very happy out there as well.

The one thing that was reassuring to me over the last few days was that she was still purring when we would pet her. She had the loudest purr of any cat I'd ever owned, and hearing that purr made me feel better.

Then on Friday, she stopped purring. She wasn't moving around much. When she tried to step into the litter box, she could only get a couple of her paws in. She vomited quite a bit on Friday morning. I knew we couldn't wait through the weekend. I called the vet, and after talking to him, he suggested I come in either right away or on Saturday morning.

Noah and Eli wanted to wait until Saturday, so we spent one last night with her. I made sure to give her as much attention as possible. She slept on my stomach, just like she used to a few months ago.

We had to decide if we wanted her cremated or to bring her home. The cost of cremation and taking her ashes home would be $550! So we had to choose between a group cremation or to bring her body home and bury her. The kids wanted to bring her home and bury her by a tree in our back yard.

Jerry worked nights on Friday, so he was sleeping Saturday morning, and I didn't want to make him get up to go to the vet. My friend Andrea offered to take me to the vet with Monica so that I wouldn't have to go alone, and I'm grateful for that--Andrea was just the right person I needed with me. I wrapped Monica up in a blanket and we went to the vet. I knew I was doing the right thing, but I just felt so guilty and so sorry for doing it.

I won't go into the details, but it was awful and I cried, and Andrea cried. It was my first time ever having to go through this (other than when I went with Andrea to have her dog put down a couple of months ago--but never with my own pets). The vet assured me that Monica didn't feel any pain, but I just felt so sad that she didn't know what was going on.

Andrea drove me home, and when I walked into the house, the kids weren't in there. Jerry was still sleeping. I walked around calling for the kids; then looked outside, and my heart just fell into pieces. The boys were digging a grave by the tree, and they'd spent the entire time I was gone digging it deep enough.

And before anyone mentions it, yes, I looked up the laws
about burying pets on private property.

I had no idea they were doing this, and it just melted my heart when I saw them. Monica was wrapped in her favorite blanket and inside of a cremation bag, so the kids didn't have to see her. We placed her in the grave, and buried her. Eli kept saying how glad he was that we got to do that. It made him feel much better than cremating her. 

My mom suggested that the kids paint some rocks to place on her grave, so they made a couple of small ones are are working on a big one. 

"Mon" (which is what we called her a lot of the time)

"You were perrrrrfect"
I'm still feeling so sad that she's not here, and it feels so odd to have just two cats. The last time we had only two cats was in 2009. Monica was gorgeous, with the exception of her "resting bitch face", hahaha. She always looked like she was mad about something, but that was just the way she looked.

Monica was also the most attention-hungry cat I've ever been in contact with. She adored being stroked and petted by anyone who was willing. And whenever they would stop petting her, she would simply rub her face against their arms or use her paw to tap their hands until they started petting her again.

She was SO affectionate, in fact, that I was taking an online course to get her (us) certified as a pet therapy team. I thought she would be great to take to nursing homes or group homes--both for the benefit of the patients as well as her need for attention.

Monica would always come to us when we wanted her--all we had to do was click our tongues a certain way, and she would be there in a moment's notice, looking for affection.

Always helping me blog

We only adopted her a year ago, but she was a fantastic addition to our household. And I hope that she enjoyed her time here. This may seem out of place, but I am always stressing how important it is to adopt a pet instead of buying from a breeder or pet store. When buying a puppy or kitten, you have no idea what their personality will be when they grow up. When adopting from a shelter, you can go spend time with the pet, and even bring your current pet(s) and family along to see how they get along.

All of our pets have been adopted from a shelter or taken in as strays, and I don't have a single complaint about any of them. People are always commenting to me about what a good dog Joey is. My cats are extremely social and get along well with people.

When you adopt a pet from a shelter, you are actually saving TWO lives--you are saving the pet that you bring home, but you are also opening space in the shelter for another homeless animal. Monica was about 8 or 9 when we adopted her--far from a kitten--but she was a fantastic pet! And she got to spend her last year in a loving home instead of in a small crate at a shelter.

I will get off my soapbox, but I just wanted to use Monica's death as an opportunity to stress that it's best to adopt, don't shop! (You can check out PetFinder.com to find pets in your area that are looking for homes.) I also want to remind you of a program I mentioned before called Dogs on Deployment. If you don't want to commit to having a dog for its full lifespan, consider fostering a dog that needs a home while its owner (a military member) is on deployment. A lot of dogs have to be surrendered to shelters because their owners are deployed overseas.

Also, my friend Andrea (the one who took me to the vet yesterday) is a foster for a very small local organization called One Last Treat. A man named Joel founded the non-profit, and he takes older dogs out of shelters so that they can spend their last years in a home instead of in a shelter or being euthanized simply due to old age. (I just love the name One Last Treat, don't you?!)

Andrea fosters these dogs for a few weeks until Joel finds a home for them. I know he spends a ton of his own money for this organization, so if you feel like donating to them, here is a link to the donation page. Andrea said they are also in need of collars and leashes (even used ones are appreciated). If you have any extra collars or leashes lying around and would like to donate them to One Last Treat, I know they would be appreciated! Here is the address to send them:

One Last Treat
6227 N. Dixie Hwy
Newport, MI 48166

You can also follow their adventures on Facebook, which is very entertaining (and you will fall in love with the dogs!).

Well, I never meant to get off on such a tangent from Monica. But I'm sure she would be thrilled if even one person was inspired to take an animal out of a shelter. Monica was such a special cat (she could even give me five on command!) and my family already misses her so much. I'm sure Chandler and Paolo were waiting for her and happy to take her in at the Rainbow Bridge :)

Rest peacefully, Mon, my sweet girl. xo

July 21, 2017

All the emotions

I have nice things and sad things to share, and I'm debating which to write about first. So many things have happened recently that there is just too much to even put into words right now!

I don't want to go into too much detail, but I had to call the police yesterday about a little boy who came over to our house looking for a glass of water to drink. He was only six years old, and locked out of his house (at 8:00 pm). There are a lot of details that I will omit; but overall, I was very concerned for his welfare. I gave him water, of course, and also a bowl of Superman ice cream. My friend Sarah and her husband Ne (pronounced "Nay", short for Norberto) were visiting from Arizona, so we all just sat on the back deck and waited for the police to come.

I wish I could write the whole story, but I'm pretty sure the neighbor is mad enough that the police were called, so I will keep the rest of the story quiet. I just hope that everything is taken care of, and that poor boy is okay.

Before all that happened, Noah cooked us dinner on his new grill. My parents bought it for him for his birthday, and he was very excited to use it, so he cooked us kielbasa sausages. He did a great job!

After the incident with the neighbor boy, Sarah, Ne, Jerry, and I played Euchre in the house. Sarah and I are kind of telepathic when we play games (seriously--it freaks people out how good we are at reading each other's thoughts!). I love playing Euchre and don't get to play very often, so it was a good time. I'm hoping we'll get together with them again before they go back to Arizona.

Today, I actually went out on my dad's boat with Eli and two of his friends. Eli has been asking me for a couple of years now to go to "Crystal Bay", or "Blue Gill Bay" (as he calls it). It's a hidden little nook in Lake Erie that has the cleanest, clearest water I've ever seen in that lake. I'm not a boat person, and certainly not a fishing person, but I knew how much it meant to him (and since this is the year of saying YES), I agreed to get up at 7:00 this morning and go out on the boat.

We went to Blue Gill Bay first, and it definitely was pretty nice. You can look down and see the bottom over each side of the boat, so you can see the fish swimming around in there. Eli calls it Blue Gill Bay because there are TONS of blue gill in there. My dad usually just keeps perch and walleye to eat, but Eli really wanted to get some blue gill so he can cook it for dinner this week.

He ended up catching a ton of them, but only kept about 10. They also caught a few walleye, a perch, and a couple of rock bass (my friend Andrea really likes rock bass, so we save them for her). Since I don't fish, I just went along for the ride and took pictures of the kids as they caught their fish. I couldn't believe how old Eli looks in these pictures:

With his longer hair, he looks like a teenager. I think he's going to be popular with the ladies when he's older ;)

There was a very close call at the boat launch that still has my heart racing. It was awful. While my dad was pulling the boat out of the water, Eli was standing at the docks looking for fish in the water. I looked over at him and saw a guy in a truck backing his trailer up REALLY fast in Eli's direction. Eli was directly in his path, but he didn't see the trailer coming. I started screaming for Eli and running over there, but the guy was going so fast.

Eli looked up at the last second, and the guy in the truck saw me running and screaming, so he finally stopped--literally about one inch from where Eli was standing. If he hadn't stopped, Eli likely would have gotten run over by the trailer, pulled underneath it, and drowned at the launch. That was the closest call with my kids' safety I'd ever seen in my life. It made me feel like maybe that was the reason I was meant to go fishing with them that day. I never ever go; but today I went, and Eli is okay. Thank God.

Finally, some bad news...

Ever since we got home from vacation, Monica has been acting odd. She seemed sad, and was sleeping a lot. I assumed it was just because we were gone for a week, so I was watching to see if she'd get back to normal. She almost was acting depressed--not enjoying any of her usual things. Then I noticed she wasn't eating as much, and she stopped playing with toys. She wasn't even coming up to me and begging me to pet her.

A few days ago, I noticed something very concerning--her belly was really bloated. She's always been a pretty thin cat (7 pounds), but her belly looked very distended and it was firm. Having had cats my whole life, I knew this wasn't a good sign. I called the vet and got her in right away.

Sure enough, the news was pretty much what I expected. She has cancer--a tumor in her liver, which caused a lot of fluid to build up in her abdomen. The vet removed enough fluid to make her a little more comfortable, but said that it was basically down to her quality of life now, and with no treatment, she would likely live about a week longer. (She was still seven pounds when we got there, but the vet said there was likely a couple of pounds of fluid build up, so her weight had dropped to about five pounds or less--I just didn't realize it because her belly was so distended).

Considering the advanced stage of the cancer, there really wasn't anything that could be done. So, the vet said the humane thing to do would be to euthanize her. It broke my heart, but I agreed, and I made an appointment for Monday. I wanted to be able to bring her home and spoil her rotten, while letting the kids and Jerry say their good-byes as well.

I bought some wet food for her (she loves wet food!) and I've been feeding her that (although she really doesn't show any interest anymore). We decided to take her outside and let her explore a bit of the outdoors. When we adopted her, I signed a contract saying she would be a strictly indoor cat, and she hasn't seen the outdoors at all except though a window.

So, Eli and I took her outside and let her walk in the grass and bask in the sun. She seemed to really like it. And Eli, being the sweetest kid and biggest animal lover on the planet, felt good about doing something nice with her.

Today, she has gotten much worse. She can't move very easily on her own, so I've had to move her to her food/water dishes and to the litter box. She couldn't even get into the litter box on her own. Last night, she threw up a lot of bile. She seems to be in pain when she tries to walk around, so I've just been sitting with her on my bed.

I was so worried about how Eli was going to take the news, because he gets horribly upset over any sort of animals being hurt. (Even fishing causes him a lot of stress about whether he should keep them or release them). He was with me at the vet when the vet explained what was going on, so I think that helped him to understand that euthanizing her was the best option.

It's been almost a year to the day that we had to have Chandler put down. That was much worse, because we had no idea it was coming, and we didn't get our chance to spoil him and say our good-byes. I think the fact that Eli can spoil Monica is helping him. I told him it's a lot like Mark--we are making her as happy as we can before she dies. I think Eli learned a lot of life lessons from Mark, and  compassion has been the biggest one.

So, tomorrow at 12:20 we have an appointment for Monica to join Chandler and Paolo at the Rainbow Bridge. We've only had her just over a year, but she was the coolest cat (she even gave us high fives!). I'll write a post of its own about her soon. xo

July 19, 2017

Wednesday Weigh-in catch-up and some funnies

It has been about three weeks since my last weigh in! I hadn't realized it has been that long until I was writing this. I weighed in before going to my sister's place up north, and then we arrived home on Wednesday night (so no weigh-in that week). Then last week, I had such a busy week that I really didn't even get a chance to write anything at all.

When I was up north, I ate the same way I eat at home--whatever I wanted, just in reasonable portions, and eating just four times a day. It worked out really well! I even had a s'more each night for my bedtime treat. I was very surprised, then, when I got home and saw that I'd gained four pounds! I couldn't believe it.

Pretty much the only thing I love about camping ;) 

I wasn't worried about it, because I hadn't binged or anything, so there was no real reason for the gain. I assumed it was just from traveling and eating different foods than I was used to. I didn't try to overcompensate when I got home and drop the weight right away--I just kept doing what I've been doing for the last five months or so.

It took a couple of weeks, but my weight has really steadied around 132-134. It's been here for the last month or so, which makes me think that maybe this is the weight my body wants to be when I'm eating "normally". Anyway, today's weigh in:

I was at 132.2, which I think is 0.2 less than it was three weeks ago when I did an "official" weigh in. I'm pretty happy at this weight. My body feels "softer" than I was when I was running, but I'm good with that. Every time I go outside and the humidity takes my breath away, I'm glad that I'm not running in it. Some of my friends have asked if I miss it, and the honest answer is no--I still don't miss anything about it. Someday maybe I will.

I haven't been doing any "formal" exercise; rather, I have just been being very busy and moving a lot. I actually really enjoy cleaning and organizing my house (sounds so strange, I know) and that's a tough workout! On Friday, Jerry and I did a TON of yard work. Our landscaping was looking really rough, so I spent the morning pulling weeds, and then I decided that it's about time we split our hostas. My mom is always telling me I need to do that, and I had never done it before.

My neighbor came over (she's amazing at gardening) and told me it was super easy--you just wrap some rope around the top so it holds it all together (like a ponytail, haha). Then you use the shovel to split the root. She said it'll round itself out again as it grows, and I can plant the other half somewhere else if I want.

Well, it went NOTHING like we planned. But we laughed SO HARD. I honestly have never laughed that hard in my life--I couldn't breathe. And then all the laughing made my nose start running, and I couldn't stop coughing. Jerry tried to get video of my laughter because my laughing was making him laugh; but every time he got out his camera, I would calm down again.

Here is a clip of the mess we made of our hostas...

We ended up pulling out two hostas altogether, and did a shoddy job with the others. We also pulled out two bushes that were attracting ants like crazy. So, it's looking pretty bare. We just suck at that stuff! hahaha

Ever since I started my 1 Second Everyday project, I have been taking much more video than I have photos. I'm not sure if I like that or not! It's fun to watch them, but I don't have very many photos to share anymore. After Eli's game on Saturday, the kids and I filled 100 water balloons. We got a pack of those awesome balloons that you don't have to tie yourself--you just hook it to the hose, and it fills all of the balloons and fastens them automatically in about 20 seconds.

I filled them for the kids, and then I decided to let them take some free shots at me. I told them I'd just stand there and they could peg me with water balloons. Eli threw the first, and it was a direct crotch shot. I called out, "Cup check!" because Eli had recently told me that when someone gets hit in the crotch at baseball practice, they yell, "Cup check!"

We all laughed, and then did some slow motion videos. Water balloons HURT--I wasn't expecting to get welts on my stomach from them! But it was super fun, and the kids loved being able to throw the balloons at their old mother.

I wanted to keep this post light-hearted, because I have some bad news that I will share tomorrow or Friday. I just wanted to get the good stuff out here first. (I hate when people write cryptic posts, and here I am sharing something cryptic. Sorry.)

By the way, I've been meaning to mention this... I am in the process of migrating all of my recipes from one blog to this one. I don't know why I thought it'd be a good idea to have two separate blogs for them. I back-dated the posts so that they wouldn't show up in anyones newsfeed, otherwise you would get (literally) over a hundred new posts over the last few days. Right now, I'm trying to figure out a way to organize them that doesn't confuse the heck out of me ;) So, I'll let you know when they're ready.

Tomorrow, my friend Sarah from Arizona is going to come over for a visit. I'm excited--it's been a while since I've seen her! She and her husband, Ne, are going to come over for dinner. We're supposed to have pretty bad thunderstorms tomorrow, and I'm hoping that's not the case. It would be nice to sit outside!

July 18, 2017

A fun Sunday surprise!

It has been a string of crazy weeks back to back. I am glad to be staying so busy, but boy, I am exhausted. I used to think that kids kept me busy when they were little--now I know just how busy things get when they're older.

Noah went to church camp, and Eli had baseball literally every single day (including tournaments last Saturday and Sunday as well as this past Saturday and Sunday). Yesterday, their first game was at 11:45, and their second game wasn't until 3:00. We had to get there at 10:00, and didn't get home until 5:30--it's a long day! And I think we have to do it all over again next weekend.

It was about 85 degrees and sunny, which made for a very long day of baseball! It was so exciting, though--the kids (Eli's team) played the most nail-biting game I've ever seen.

We played against a VERY tough team that pretty much everyone in the league wants to beat. They are very cocky and do a lot of trash-talking. They're stacked with players from travel teams (we only have ONE kid who plays on a travel team). I was fully expecting our team to get crushed.

My friend Dave, who was the third base coach, could hear their kids in the dugout trash talking our team, especially after they were beating us 3-0 in the first inning. But then we tied the score, and the other team got really quiet. In the fifth inning, we were WINNING at 9-6! The time limit on the game had nearly expired, but since we only had one inning left, we played it. And that's where everything fell apart. It was actually down to the point where we only need ONE MORE STRIKE to win the game. I was a nervous wreck.

Even if they hit the ball, we only needed one out, and then the game would be over, 9-6. But the kid who was pitching tends to be very inconsistent, and without getting into all the details, the other team ended up coming back hard and scoring five runs, making the score 14-9. We didn't get in any more runs on our last at-bat, so that was the final score. It would have been SO great to wipe the smirks off those kids faces.

However, our kids put up a fantastic fight, and if it weren't for that last inning, we'd have won against the notorious team. Eli was catcher the entire game, and I am so impressed that he managed to stick through it in that heat while wearing all that catcher's equipment. He looked great! He also got a few hits, including a triple.

Anyway, about the big surprise... before the game started, I was sitting under Renee's tent for shade, and then I started walking back to where I'd set up my chair by the backstop. I saw my parents, and then I saw someone who looked like my sister. I was a little startled by the resemblance, and then I realized it was my sister! And Shawn (my brother-in-law) was with her. They'd come all the way from Illinois for Eli's tournament! We were also going to be having dinner and cake at my parents' house later for Noah's birthday, so they figured it would be the perfect surprise. And it was.

My parents and brothers all knew about their surprise, but Jerry, the kids, and I were clueless. So it was super exciting to see them. They couldn't have chosen a greater game to go to--it was SO CLOSE until that last inning.

Anyway, we lost both games yesterday (you could tell the kids were totally whipped after the first game in the sun/heat, and then to play another tough team (who were fresh and hadn't already played a game that day) was too much. I'm so glad Eli joined this team--it's only for 11-12 year olds, and it's for a short time each year. He'll be able to play next year as well. But he's loved it!

Eli is super disappointed that the season is over, because he LOVES to play. But his summer rec ball coach decided to have pick-up games at his house (he has a baseball diamond in his backyard) on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so my kids can still keep playing, if only for fun.

I looked back in my computer to the first year they played t-ball, and I can't believe just how cute they were! And look how much they've grown...

The first photo is from 2009 when they played 3-4 year old t-ball. And the second photo is from this year. They've grown so much!

After their game, we came home and took a quick shower before heading to my mom's for dinner. Noah had requested ribs for his birthday dinner, so that's what my mom made. Since I'm not a fan of ribs, I just loaded up on sweet potato casserole (my favorite). And, of course, cake. I made a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting, and it was delicious.

I was short by two candles, so we nixed the candle idea and just found some other cake decor. One of them was so funny, just a little happy birthday frame. So we put a photo of Noah in it and stuck it on the cake.

After cake, someone had the idea to throw knives, hahaha. Last year, when the water bottle flipping was popular, and I felt like my head would explode from hearing that water bottle noise, my dad had the idea to teach the kids to throw knives instead. Because that makes more sense--hahaha! But they actually really enjoyed learning about it, and my dad built a target for the garage wall.

So, instead of playing corn hole or something that typical people would do, my family threw knives and hatches at a target last night. I had never tried before, and I was terrible at it, but it was pretty fun. Eli is actually really good. His record is 14 in a row! I threw about 12 hatchets and 12 knives, and I only stuck 2.

Anyway, I have lots more to write about, and hopefully this week will be the week it happens. I have Wednesday Weigh-in to catch up on, and I've been wanting to write about the budget Jerry and I have been using to pay down our debt. It's been going really well, and I'm excited about it! Also mental health stuff and weight maintenance stuff, and the rest of the usual.

Since it's just after midnight as I post this, I guess it's Tuesday... so I'll write tomorrow with Wednesday Weigh-in!

July 13, 2017

The "Little" Moments (13 years of motherhood)

Today, Noah turned 13 years old--a teenager. I simply cannot believe that I am old enough to have a teenager! I remember very clearly my last moments before heading to the hospital to be induced into labor. Jerry and I stopped at the store to buy a few last-minute things we'd need for the new baby. We were as ready as two newly expecting parents could be (i.e. not at all ready).

My induction went well, and I was in labor for 36 hours (from the moment they induced me until Noah was born). Thankfully, he was born very healthy--he was two weeks early, because I had intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), but he was 8 pounds, 8 ounces and ready to take on the world.

Jerry and I were young (22 and 23 years old) and had no clue what we were doing, but apparently we were doing it right, because Noah was growing and thriving.

As a new mom, all of the experienced parents tell you over and over, "Make sure you enjoy every moment! It goes by so fast!" and it kind of goes in one ear and out the other. Of course I was enjoying the moment... what does that even mean, anyway? But now I understand it, and I desperately want to convey the same message to other new moms.

When I watch old home movies of the boys, I am just amazed that they went from babies to pre-teens in the blink of an eye. When did their voices stop sounding so squeaky and cute? When did they stop running into the bedroom to pounce on Jerry to wake him up for work? When did they stop yelling across the house, "Come wipe my butt!" when they were finished on the toilet? When did they stop needing me to cut up their food, give them drinks in "real" glasses instead of sippy cups, and help them get dressed?

Looking back, I wish I'd truly lived in the moment. I'm so thankful I was never one to get mad when they got dirty or made messes (with baby powder, Desitin, Sharpies, or anything else). Instead, I grabbed my camera and took some pictures. Then I cleaned the mess. And now I laugh about it and share those stories with others.

Noah helped Eli get ready for his first day of pre-preschool

What happens when I take a 10-minute shower

(When I asked Noah about the following picture, "What did you guys do?" he replied, "Don't worry, we didn't use all of it!" Hahaha, because clearly, that's what I was worried about ;) )
Desitin is SO fun trying to remove from furniture ;)

But it was all the other in-between moments that I miss, that I didn't take note of, or stop time for and truly just appreciate. Feeding them. Cuddling when they were sick or scared. Listening to their chatter in the car. Watching them crawl around the house on their bellies, and eventually walking. When they started tying their own shoelaces. Even watching an episode of Dora, or, worse, Thomas the Tank, with them.

I didn't realize those were the moments I'd miss until a decade later. Noah is 13 years old today. That's 4,748 days of memories. I wish I could recall every single one! I'm just grateful that he is growing into such a fantastic young man--he is so much like Jerry in so many ways, and I love that about him. Jerry has always been the classic "good guy" that goes above and beyond, especially for me, and it makes me so proud that Noah is learning from him. He wants to get married and have kids of his own one day, and I know that he will make someone special feel very happy.

This advice to new moms will likely go in one ear and out the other, but if there is one thing I'd do differently, it would be to pause whatever I was doing and truly appreciate ALL the moments. They are growing every single second of every single day; and one day, you'll be missing these days and telling other new moms that they should appreciate when the kids are young.

I always feel so sad when I see young kids talking to their parents, but their parents are staring at the screens of their cell phones and not really listening to what their kids are saying to them. I'm grateful that the temptation of smart phones wasn't "a thing" back when my kids were very young. But even now, I'm very conscious of when I use my phone--when I'm with my kids, I rarely use it for anything other than taking photos. I don't want to look back on these days a decade from now and wish I'd been paying attention to the little moments instead of staring at something on a screen that I will have no memory of in a month, week, or even day.

When I was diagnosed recently with bipolar disorder, I started to worry that the memories my kids would have of me would be "Crazy Mom". But as I've been going through and sorting/organizing my photos, I realize that "Crazy Mom" was actually pretty fun through the years. Maybe they'll think back to some of those memories and laugh.

Like when the weather was too cold, but they wanted to play with their inflatable bouncer, so I just moved the furniture and brought it into the house to let them jump.

And the time they kept taking off their shirts, so I drew shirts on them with a marker. They thought it was hilarious and couldn't stop giggling.

Or when I was putting Eli to bed the night before his first 5K, and he said he wished he had a shirt that said, "Runs for Cookies is my mom" so I stayed up half the night making him one as a surprise.

And when I told the kids it was okay to color on their walls, because hey, walls can always be painted over. No harm done. They thought it was AWESOME.

I hope my kids will have as many good memories of me as I do of them. My kids are fantastic.

Noah turned 13 years old today. A teenager. Cheers to 13 years!

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