October 30, 2018

RECIPE: Chocolate Lava Cake Pudding

Chocolate Lava Cake Pudding

Yesterday, I had a rare and random craving for chocolate pudding. And not just any chocolate pudding. It had to be warm, homemade chocolate pudding. When I asked the kids if they wanted some, they sounded kind of "Meh" about it. Eli helped me make it, and when I let him lick the spoon, he couldn't stop exclaiming how good it was. 

When Noah tasted it, his face lit up and he said, "This is like dessert! Actual DESSERT!" I laughed, and said, "What do you think chocolate pudding is? Of course it's dessert!" Sadly, both of the boys had only ever experienced Snack Pack pudding cups (and "Get Well Pudding", for which I will have to post the recipe another time). Eating the homemade pudding yesterday opened up a new world of dessert for them--I found their reactions pretty funny.

If you eat this pudding while it's still warm, about 15 minutes after cooling, it tastes just like the center of a lava cake. To make it extra heavenly, add a big dollop of whipped cream on top.

Anyway, here is my recipe for "lava cake" pudding. (In full disclosure, this is actually just homemade chocolate pudding. But when you eat it warm, you will think you died and went to lava cake heaven. I'm sure if I'd asked the kids if they wanted "lava cake pudding" instead of "chocolate pudding", they would have reacted completely differently.)

Don't let the photo fool you--I'm not a food photographer, so this is as pretty as it gets, haha.

homemade chocolate pudding

Click here for a printer-friendly version

Chocolate Lava Cake Pudding (makes 4 servings)

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 cups milk (I use whole milk)
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. butter
(optional) whipped cream, for topping

Separate two eggs and discard the whites. Put the yolks in a bowl, stir until smooth, and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa powder, and cornstarch. Before turning on the heat, whisk in the milk slowly (make sure it combines with the cornstarch before pouring all of the milk in, otherwise you will end up with clumps of cornstarch).

Once the milk is stirred in, turn the heat on to medium-high. Keep whisking frequently until the mixture comes to a boil. Carefully pour about half of the mixture into the bowl of egg yolks, and stir well, then pour the yolk mixture back into the pan and stir it all together.

Bring it back to a boil and cook for about 30-60 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Divide among four bowls. Let it set for 15-20 minutes to eat while it's warm (or put the bowls in the fridge and wait until it's chilled.

Then just listen to your kids exclaim that they didn't know chocolate pudding was a *real* dessert ;)

October 27, 2018

An Intermittent Fasting Experiment

Starting a 30-Day intermittent fasting experiment

(I explain later why I chose such an unflattering photo for the title of this post, haha)

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last year or so, you have probably heard the words "intermittent fasting" thrown around a LOT.

In a nutshell, intermittent fasting is cycling between periods of eating and periods of fasting--usually fasting for a minimum of 12 hours, up to about 20 hours, per day. You have a "window" of time where you eat each day, and then spend the rest of the time fasting. This is done daily. (There are other methods that involve fasting on certain days, but when I refer to it here, I'm talking about the time window on a daily basis.

I've always made it clear that I'm not a fan of hopping on the next bandwagon of fad diets. I did that for 20 years, and it got me nowhere. It wasn't until I made the decision to only make changes that I was willing to live with forever that I finally lost the weight and kept (most) of it off.

Each new fad diet contradicts that last, and it's a never ending cycle. In my opinion, the ideal diet boils down to 1) variety, and 2) moderation. Basically, just eating a diverse variety of foods and keeping portions controlled to what our bodies are comfortable with.

Interestingly, I also think that intermittent fasting is a good idea--and I don't consider it a fad diet. (Right now, it's definitely trending, but fasting has been around since the beginning of time and it's not a new concept.) I feel like intermittent fasting is a logical concept--until the last several decades, food wasn't readily available at all times of the day and night, and eating snacks between meals wasn't really a "thing".

And WAY back in the day, when people had to hunt and gather food, they probably weren't snacking all day long. So, when I think of it that way, it makes a lot of sense to me. I don't think our bodies were meant to constantly digest food.

(All of this is my opinion, of course. I am not suggesting in any way that it is the ideal way of eating. As I've always said, we all need to do whatever works best for us as individuals. So, please don't feel the need to defend snacking. I'm not trying to recruit anyone, haha. That's why I'm calling what I'm about to write an "experiment".)

So, because I believe that intermittent fasting can be a good thing, I'd like to give it a try. Of course I'd like to drop these extra pounds I've picked up, but I also want to see if it makes me feel better in general. I get bad stomachaches sometimes after eating, and I also get very bloated when I overeat. I'd be interested to see if eating less frequently helps that.

(In the photos below, I was in Portland with Jerry, and I was MISERABLE. My abdomen felt so bloated that I thought it would burst open like a popped balloon. I was so sure that I looked six months pregnant by the way my stomach felt, so I had Jerry take these pictures. I was shocked to see that I looked normal--thin, even!--because I felt enormous.)

Feeling bloated, but looking normal

I also like the idea of the simplicity of it; the thought of not having to worry about what to eat for breakfast or lunch is so appealing. I've always done best with keeping my diet simple!

Anyway, the whole point of this is that I'm going to try out intermittent fasting for 30 days and see how I feel/what kind of results I notice (good or bad). I'm going to write in a journal to keep track of symptoms that I hope to improve (bloating, stomachaches, energy level, sleep, mood, and some others).

On my 40 Goals Before 40 Years Old list, I listed a goal of committing to a 30-day challenge. I've been thinking and thinking about what I want that challenge to be (and I've attempted a couple, but didn't make it). I finally decided that I'm going to challenge myself to try intermittent fasting for 30 days to knock this goal off my list as well as see if it works well for me.

Like I said, I am not pushing for or against intermittent fasting, nor am I trying to change anyone's opinion of it. I just think that because the concept makes sense to ME, it would be fun to try it as an experiment!

I know I could start this now, but I like the idea of starting on the first of the month, and since it's almost November, I'll start on Thursday, November 1. I'll mark down my starting weight, measurements, and body fat, then note anything else that may be helpful (hunger levels, sleep, energy, etc.)

As far as the length of my eating "window", a common time frame that people do is 16/8 (16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating). That would be like starting the fast at around 8 PM and then eating at noon the next day. That seems like a large window to me, and I know I could eat a lot of food in eight hours, hahaha.

I'd like to aim for six hours to start, and see if that feels doable. Four hours would be even better. So the fast would be roughly 8:00 PM to 2:00 PM the next day. I'm not going to keep a rigid start/stop time, but I will aim for 2:00-4:00PM until 8:00-10:00 PM as an eating window.

By the way, LOTS of readers have suggested that I read The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss, by Dr. Jason Fung. I think this book played a large part in the huge interest in intermittent fasting recently. I do have the book (I actually bought it a long time ago!) but I have only read the first couple of chapters. Since I'm going to be doing this experiment, I'll do my best to finish it as soon as I can.

I'm really looking forward to trying this, even if it winds up being a big flop. It's always exciting to focus on something new. And this is a good time to try it, because I've been staying super busy working on the kitchen (I finished painting half of the cabinet doors--it's taking forever because it's been so cold that the paint won't dry! I'm painting them in the garage, which doesn't have heat.)

If any of you have tried intermittent fasting and want to share your experience (good or bad), please do! I'd like to know how other people do with it.

October 23, 2018

25 Fun Race Signs to Cheer for Runners

Like I mentioned yesterday, Jerry and I went to the Detroit Marathon to cheer on Dave as he ran his first half-marathon. On the way there, we stopped and bought a few poster boards to write signs to hold during the race.

I'm terrible at coming up with ideas for signs! But I know that I love to see them during races--especially the funny ones. Inspirational signs are nice, but I love a sign that can make me laugh when I'm chugging along in a race.

Anyway, as I was searching through sign ideas on Google, I saved some that I thought were great. Here are 25 of my favorites :)

Share your favorite race signs in a comment, if you'd like! If you're going to be cheering on a runner, I wrote a post about some ideas that may be helpful: How to Support Your Runner.

October 22, 2018

Finally, Some Renovation Progress!

Yikes--I can't believe it's been a week since I've written!

For once, it's not because I haven't been feeling up to it... it's simply because I've been crazy busy. Last week was a very busy week for cross country (the season is now over, but we are having an end-of-season party for the kids on Friday). I think this has been my favorite season so far!

Yesterday was the Detroit FreePress Marathon (the one I ran in 2012 with Rik). There are also two half-marathons (international and domestic). I love spectating this race. The (marathon and international half-marathon) runners go over the Ambassador Bridge into Canada, and then through a tunnel back into the States. The tunnel exits at mile eight, and that's my favorite spot to cheer on the runners.

Dave, Renee's husband, was running the international half yesterday--his first half-marathon! Dave is a fantastic runner (along with the rest of their family) and a coach for high school cross country and track. He's always done 5K's, however, and this was his first time doing a distance race. Naturally, I wanted to go cheer him on!

So, Jerry and I went up to Detroit early yesterday morning, and we got to our spot right as the first runner came through the tunnel--the timing couldn't have been more perfect. It was super cold (33 degrees) so it was great that we didn't have to stand around waiting. I figured Dave would come through about an hour into the race.

spectating the marathon

We met up with Renee and her son, Noah, and cheered on the runners. My hands were SO COLD. I had on gloves, but my fingers were hurting/numb from the cold, so I picked up a pair of mittens that a runner had discarded and I wore those on top of my gloves.

We finally spotted Dave, and Jerry yelled his name REALLY loudly so he would see us. I thought Dave looked tired, but I'd never seen him race before, so I had no idea if that's how he normally looks. I later learned that he'd started feeling pretty rough by that point. Renee and Noah headed to the finish line while Jerry and I stayed to watch for Stephanie (who was running the full marathon) and my sister, who was running the half with her friend, Audrey.

We somehow missed Stephanie going by, and I thought we'd missed Jeanie and Audrey. Right as we were going to head to the finish line, Jeanie and Audrey were passing by. We talked to them for a second because they stopped to eat a Gu. Then Jerry and I went to a spot about a half mile before the finish line and cheered there until Jeanie and Audrey passed by again. Then we headed home.

Dave ended up doing great! He said he was pretty much jogging the last four miles or so because his legs were definitely feeling the extra miles. This made me laugh, because he ended up finishing in 1:40. That's quite the jogging pace! haha

I'm still having issues with my right arm and hand. I went to the neurologist last week, and I wasn't very happy with him. I don't feel like he really listened and I felt rushed. But he said it's probably carpal tunnel syndrome, and prescribed a wrist splint and steroid, and scheduled an EMG test to confirm. The wrist splint hasn't helped in the slightest, and the EMG appointment isn't until November 6th. I see my general practitioner on Thursday, so I hope that he can suggest something in the meantime.

We are FINALLY making some real progress on our kitchen! I spent a few days last week making cabinets to extend up to the ceiling. I had no idea what I was doing, and I just made it up as I went along, but I love how they turned out. (I wish I'd taken pictures of my first two attempts--I wasn't happy with them at all, and had to start over.) This is what they look like right now:

extending cabinets to the ceiling

The whole top layer of shelves wasn't there before:

wasted space above the cabinets

These new cabinets will stay open (I don't have doors for them, and I'm not going to buy any) so they are more like shelves than cabinets. I just didn't want all the wasted space on top of the cabinets, so I thought making use of it would be a good idea. I have no idea what to put up there, though! Here are a couple of progress photos:

building shelves above cabinets

DIY shelves above cabinets

I also finished painting the cabinets, but I haven't started the doors yet (that's next). So, please imagine that the cabinets have doors. I don't know how people have open cabinets that look so pretty! I have way too many clashing things in my cabinets, and I count on the doors to hide it all.

Anyway, I LOVE the cabinet paint color! As soon as I started using it, I knew it was exactly what I'd hoped it would be. However, I thought it clashed with the color of the walls. The walls were a light gray, which looked okay on the color swatch cards, but it didn't look right in the kitchen. It was bothering me, so I decided to paint over the gray with white (only in the kitchen area). I think it looks much better with white!

This is the gray walls/blue cabinets combo from before versus the white walls now:

blue cabinets with gray walls

blue cabinets with white walls

I have to put up trim or something where the color transitions are, but I'm really happy that I switched to the white. I cannot believe the difference in the kitchen (and living room and dining room) since we started this whole thing! I'm super excited to get the painting done so that we can start on the floor. I still have to paint the island and the doors (the cabinet doors and pantry/laundry room doors). Hopefully, I'll have that done this week.

October 16, 2018

Sharks and Minnows (and Wednesday Weigh-in)

(Edit: Ohmygosh. Today is only Tuesday! I was so sure it was Wednesday.)

I knew I was out of running shape, but I didn't realize just how much until cross country practice last night! I'm still clearing my throat from the workout my lungs got, haha.

The kids LOVE playing a game called Sharks and Minnows. Basically, there is a rectangular shaped perimeter, and the kids ("minnows") all line up at one end. There are a couple of kids who start in the middle as "sharks". The object is for the minnows to get from one end of the area to the other without getting tagged by a shark. Then they turn around and go back to the other end, over and over, until there is only one minnow left.

At the end of each practice, we have about 10 minutes or so to play a game, and the kids always choose Sharks and Minnows. Yesterday, Renee suggested that she and I should be the sharks. I thought it sounded fun, and we got in position to start. Little did I know, it was super challenging!

When we blew the whistle to start, the kids would all scatter to the sides, and each time I would go after someone, they'd zig-zag all over the place. It took Renee and I about eight rounds or so to tag everyone, and I couldn't believe how hard it was! Aside from being really cold outside, my lungs just couldn't keep up with my legs.

playing sharks and minnows at cross country

When I got home, I was talking to Eli and when I laughed, it came out as a wheeze. So, I had what I call "Runner's Lung" last night and even today. It was worth it though, because I thought being a shark was fun!

Speaking of cross country, the award system that I did this year has worked out really well. Most of the kids have been super motivated to earn different colored "tokens" for their keychains. Sometimes when we play a game, a few kids will even choose to run some extra mileage instead of playing.

There are about 4-5 kids that will likely hit 50 miles run at practices throughout the season. One girl has already done it. When I chose the award tokens, I listed one as 25+ miles and another as 30+ miles. I had no idea that anyone would run even more than that!

So, I found some really perfect keychains at the craft store for the 50+ miler kids to add to their tokens...

shoe keychain

Cute, right? We only have two races and one practice left. This season went by so quickly!

I am leaving for my appointment with the neurologist in about an hour, and I'm so relieved. I feel completely sleep deprived; I don't get much sleep anymore because of the numbness/pain in my right hand at night. The lack of sleep has been wearing on me.

I saw the chiropractor again, and he said I should ice my neck daily, so I've been doing that (I've had to force myself to do it, because I hate being cold!). I have a wrist splint, like what people use for carpal tunnel syndrome, but it doesn't help at all (I'm assuming because the pain is originating in my neck and not my wrist). Hopefully the neurologist will be able to tell me more and help me fix it.

I am loving the frozen crock pot meals I prepped last week. It is SO EASY to just dump the food in the crock pot in the morning and then not have to worry about cooking dinner later. I've enjoyed trying new recipes, too.

Yesterday, I made pepper steak, which we haven't had in a very long time. It was SO good! Having cooked it in the crock pot, the steak was really tender. Next time, I'm going to triple the amount of peppers, but it is definitely going to be on the list of dinners to prep ahead.

slow cooker pepper steak

I think the planning ahead and having meals ready has been helping with my weight, too. I haven't been snacking before dinner, because I know that dinner will be ready when I am. And we haven't been eating out.

As I wrote in my post, "The Heaviest I've Been in 8 Years: A Reality Check on the Scale", that I was in the 160's (162.8) and it was a big wake up call.  But I still wasn't making progress (I wasn't gaining, but wasn't losing, either).

Anyway, today I saw the 150's again--which was a big relief. I was going to post a weigh in photo, but I was exactly 159.8, and each time I picked up my phone to take a picture, it switched to 160.0 (due to the weight of the phone)--haha!

I feel good about it. I haven't been counting calories or anything like that, but just working on changing habits. I think having dinner prepped and ready to throw in the crock pot each morning has helped a lot. That never would have occurred to me!

Well, I'm off to my appointment. Hoping for good news :)

October 12, 2018

20 Slow Cooker Dinners--Prepped and In My Freezer!

I've never been a big meal "prepper"--preparing things ahead of time to just heat and eat. Usually, it's just because I never know what I'm going to be in the mood for, so I don't want a bunch of meals in my freezer that I might never want to eat. Also, it just seems like SO. MUCH. WORK. preparing a bunch of meals at one time.

Since I've been renovating the kitchen, it's been a pain trying to cook dinner. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't even know how many times Jerry has picked up a pizza over the last month because the kitchen is a huge mess.

I was looking for a tutorial on Pinterest a few days ago, and I came across a pin about slow cooker meals--20 meals in 4 hours, prepped and in the freezer. I thought it sounded perfect for our current situation. I could just pull a dinner out of the freezer each morning and throw it in the crock pot. Then I won't have to worry about cooking later.

It's only been three days now, but I LOVE this system! I hated the prep work (it took me eight hours, not four!) but it's totally worth it now. We had lasagna on Wednesday, stuffed peppers yesterday, and beef hash today.

Here is a link to the website where I got all of the recipes. It's super convenient, because it even includes a shopping list! I literally printed out all of the recipes and the shopping list, and then went to the store and bought everything on the list. It was $200 😳 But, considering it would last us until the end of the month, it actually wasn't that bad.


(You can see how slow the progress is on my kitchen! I took all the doors off of the cupboards, preparing to paint. Then I got sidetracked by building shelves on top of the cupboards--see below.)

Also, it included a LOT of meat. My family doesn't usually eat this much meat, so if I do this again, I think I'll just pick and choose recipes that we like and cut back on the amount of meat in them. I'll make up some of my own meals, too.

Anyway, it took me FOREVER to cut up all of the meat (chicken breasts; chicken thighs--which I've never bought before; ground beef; ground turkey; pork; pot roast; stew beef; and a couple of other cuts of beef. I buy beef about three times a year, so I felt odd buying so much red meat, but I thought it would be fun to try different meals, so I didn't question anything.

And the recipes are actually really simple! I like simplicity when cooking. If it has less than six ingredients or so, I'm very happy. Bonus if I already have most of the ingredients. And that's how a lot of the meals I just prepped are!

The meal prep basically involved trimming meat (I am super picky about meat! I have to trim all fat, and anything else that just doesn't look "right" from it before I will cook it), then putting it into a gallon size freezer bag with the other ingredients (some of which need prepping as well, like sweet potatoes and peppers--holy cow, I cut up 10 green peppers!--onions, etc.).

I wrote the name of the meal on the bag and the instructions. Most of them just say, "Low for 6-8 hours"--so easy! A couple of them have one or two other instructions, but I was so glad that none of them have the directions to "cook this meat first and then add it to the crock pot" then "sauté these onions and peppers and add them to the meat" and then "stir all of these ingredients together to make a sauce, and add it to the crock pot when you have two hours of cooking time left" followed by, "30 minutes before serving, add cheese on top and reduce heat to low" and finally, "Oh! And serve it with rice or pasta". Seriously! Why bother using a slow cooker if you have to do all of those things?

So, from 10:00 AM until nearly 6:00 PM on Tuesday, I turned $200 worth of ingredients (not including the stuff I already had at home) into 20 meals ready to take out of the freezer and dump into the slow cooker. I'm super excited about it! Not only the fact that I don't have to cook for three weeks, but also that we are trying new things. And it's the perfect time of year for the crock pot.

Anyways, the days are flying by. The kitchen progress has been slow... even though I work on it every spare moment I have. This whole week, I've been working on building shelves above my cabinets. This involves measuring, measuring, then sawing the wood, then measuring some more, making adjustments, measuring again, and drilling and then securing with screws (I originally wrote "screwing" but that just didn't sound right in these circumstances). Then going back for more measuring and adjustments.

I honestly think I could start my own TV show... first, you have an idea for a renovation. Then you search Google or Pinterest for ideas on how to put that idea into action. Then you watch a few YouTube videos to learn how to do it. I've learned how to tape and mud drywall, skim coat, "cut in" when painting, all the differences between latex and oil-based paints, and about a thousand other things. Jerry says he feels bad that I'm doing everything, but I actually really like doing it. I'll be super proud when it's done! (If it turns out okay, haha).

I want to post progress photos, but my house is such a mess! I have things all over the place, depending on what room I'm working on at the moment. Also, when I'm done, I will write a post about the expenses. We are still staying debt free since paying off our credit card in August, and we are doing this whole renovation with money that we had been using toward our debt. It's SO MUCH MORE FUN to put the money toward things like updating the kitchen than it was to pay down debt. I don't ever want to get into debt again, so we've been very conscious about our budget.

The bruise on my shin is finally healing and has stopped hurting. But I do love freaking people out with it! A girl at cross country practice told me that she couldn't run that day (she has a different excuse at every practice) because she tripped when getting off the bus and her shin hurt. I was like, "REALLY?!" as I rolled up my pant leg. Hahaha.

huge bruise

(If you missed it, I fell off of a chair while I was painting, and my shin scraped against the seat of the chair the whole way down. It hurt like a mother!)

I'm still having issues with the nerves in my neck/arm, but I have an appointment with the neurologist in four days. It has gotten a little better, though. I've only been waking up with the pain about once each night, and it's not bad enough to make me pace around the bedroom. My hand is always numb from 6 AM when I wake up until about 10 AM. It's so annoying! I'm curious what the neurologist will say.

I only have one more week of cross country--it's kind of sad! I think this year has been my favorite out of the four years I've been coaching. The kids are fantastic and I love how motivated some of them are. We have a race tomorrow morning. I really wish I could sleep in!

October 08, 2018

A lot to catch up on! A double date, chiropractor, homecoming, and spontaneous 5K race

You know how some weekends are super laid back, without plans on the calendar, and you can just chill? And then other weekends are packed full and you feel like you need another weekend to recover from that weekend?

Yeah, the latter was my weekend.

On Friday, I was in SO. MUCH. PAIN. from this compressed nerve in my neck. I'd been up most of the night crying in agony... and I'm not exaggerating. I've given birth twice and I've broken my jaw completely through in five places, going through two reconstructive surgeries... and this pain in my hand is WORSE than any of those. It only flares up that badly at night. It literally feels like my whole arm is on fire, and someone is smashing my fingers with a hammer.

It comes on like contractions during labor, and if you were to just listen to the audio of my nighttime, you would probably think that you're hearing a woman in labor. The worst of it lasts from 10-20 minutes, and it happens about 3-5 times per night.

So, Friday morning, I was miserable. I was willing to do anything at all for relief, so I ended up calling a chiropractor to get in ASAP. I have never been a fan of chiropractors, because my sister told me about a couple of patients she's had that became paralyzed from chiropractic adjustments (she's an occupational therapist). But I was desperate to have a night of sleep without the pain.

I explained the situation to the receptionist and she had me go in at 10:30. After talking to the doctor for literally an hour (including x-rays), he did adjust me. It was funny, because I'm a super skeptic; but as soon as he examined me, before taking x-rays or anything, he said my right hip was out of alignment. I didn't mention my hip at ALL during the visit, but I have always had issues with it and I frequently ask Jerry to push on it hard.

When he mentioned that about my hip, I actually started believing that he knew what he was doing. I let him adjust me--my hips, back (that weird spot where I have always had pain), and neck. I was super nervous about my neck, but it actually didn't bother me at all. I left there with super high hopes of it having miraculously cured my compressed nerve.

I didn't have any numbness throughout the day, but I did wake up twice during the night with that excruciating pain again. I told Jerry that I'm never going to a chiropractor again, but he convinced me to go a couple more times. I have another appointment for Wednesday. I also made an appointment for a massage. I am hoping that massage will help, too--although I expect will hurt like a bitch!

Shortly after the kids got home from school, Jerry and I headed up to Detroit to meet up with Eric and Maris, a couple that we've known for a long time but rarely spend time with. I had four tickets to see Kevin Hart's show "The Irresponsible Tour" at the Little Caesar's Arena, the new arena where the Red Wings play.

We went out to dinner first at a little bar nearby and then walked to the arena. Our tickets got us into the VIP lounge before the show as well as the after-party when the show was over--so cool! We stood out horribly, but we had fun pretending we were "VIP's" for a while ;)

The show as amazing--I love Kevin Hart! The opening comedians were fantastic, too. Jerry and I actually saw the show earlier this year in Canada, but we had the opportunity to go again, and since we'd loved it the first time, we were excited to go.

I'm super old and was ridiculously tired after the show, but we went to the after-party for a little bit, just to say we did. (Jerry and Eric geeked out over a couple of Lions players that were there.)

We got home close to 1:00, and I had to set the alarm for 6:00 for a cross country meet in the morning. I was up all night because of the hand pain, and then went to cross country in the morning, where it rained. My hand was totally numb, and I couldn't pin the kids' bibs on their shirts because I couldn't feel my fingers. It's such an odd feeling!

After cross country, it was time for Noah's first homecoming dance! While he was in school on Thursday, I went out and bought his clothes for the dance, and I'd say I did a pretty good job. He loved what I chose! I had to convince him that Converse shoes were totally okay to wear. I was so excited to find them at Salvation Army for $5--and they were purple, and in his size! It was a sign.

I picked up his corsage from the florist, and then Jerry and I took him to his friends' house (Ellie and Cadie are twins that he is good friends with). His girlfriend, Amber, was there as well; and some of the other friends in his "group". It cracks me up that he is the only boy in his group of friends!

We stayed and took pictures for a little while before we drove Noah and Amber to meet the others at Ruby Tuesday.

While Noah was eating with his friends, Jerry and I had dinner and then went to look for a clock for our living room (we bought one, and then later found out it doesn't work--bummer!). After Noah was done eating, we picked up him and Amber and drove them to the school for the dance. Amber's mom picked them up and brought them home. I was so tired that I actually fell asleep before 12.

Yesterday morning, I got up early again because it was the day of the Melanoma 5K Walk. I had signed up in honor of my friend Sarah, who died in 2014 after a long battle with melanoma. As I mentioned, I hate asking for money, even if it's for a good cause--so thank you SO much to those of you that donated!

Many many thanks to: Jen Grimes, Kristina, Gina Kenney, Megan Bell, Megan Mele, Lacey Baker, Music Watson, Tracy Marsh, Erin Sutton, "Runs for Cookies Reader", Susan Snyder, Allyson Cathey, Kaitlin O'Rinn, Tricia Neuburger, Cathy Bailey, Carol Hanscom, Rachel Coles, Barrie Nelson, Megan Dunn, Angie B, Vanessa Plante, Rebecca Smith, Tammy Buckner, Ann Lightfoot, Karuna Demla, Jennifer Bracht, Meredith Rodriguez, Les and Sue, Pamela Holmes, and Thomas Graf.

I admit, when I woke up and it was raining, I was so tempted to go back to bed... but knowing that so many of you had donated to our team, I wasn't going to miss it for anything! I drove up to Kensington Metropark (about 65 minutes away). I was kind of excited to see the park, because I'd never been there before and I heard it's a really nice one. It didn't disappoint (I'll have to go back with the family one day when it's not so rainy).

When I'd registered, I planned to do the 5K walk, not the run. I assumed all of "Sarah's Stars" would be walking together, so obviously I didn't want to be the random one that did the run. But once I got there, I realized that everyone sort of did their own thing (except Sarah's mom and kids, who walked together). When I saw Sarah's daughter, I couldn't believe how much she looked like Sarah--it was uncanny! And she's almost the same age Sarah was when we became friends.

Anyway, it was cold and raining. I hadn't thought to bring a long-sleeved shirt with me, because it had just been 80 degrees on Saturday. About five minutes before the race started, I asked at registration if I could switch to the run instead of the walk. They gave me a bib, and a few minutes later, I was at the starting line.

I didn't feel at all prepared. I wasn't wearing my running tights, but yoga pants instead (which meant my thighs would be all over the place, haha). I also didn't have my Garmin 😱I'd only run a race without my watch one time, and I hated it--I'd sworn I'd never do it again. All I was thinking was that I was cold and wet and if I ran, I would be done sooner.

The rain was just drizzling, and it was in the low 50's, so it was actually perfect running weather. I didn't intend to treat it as a "race", but rather just a regular run. It felt SO odd without my Garmin. I had absolutely no clue what pace I was running. There was a woman just in front of me that I kept pace with for the first half of the race. She was going just a tad bit slower than I would've liked, but I didn't want to feel like an idiot by passing her, only to get way too winded and then have her blow by me.

It was an out and back run, so when we got to the turn around point and the woman stopped for water, I kept going and was able to pick up the pace just a touch. There was a young boy who kept sprinting and then walking, over and over again. He cut me off several times, and it drove me crazy. It gave me the idea that Renee and I should talk to our cross country kids about "runners etiquette" during a race.

It's so funny that I was totally ready for the 5K to be over during that last mile. I've run marathons! But this 5K felt so difficult and long because I have gotten so out of shape over the last couple of years. I was desperate to look at my Garmin, and I kept forgetting it wasn't there.

When I was almost to the end, I saw a woman waiting for her friend on the side of the trail. I thought, "She looks like she could be in my age group... she should get moving!" ;) After that thought, I realized I hadn't seen many women who looked my age ahead of me. I never, ever expected an age group award, but I thought it'd be funny if I actually got one.

Finally, I could hear the music from the finish line, and I was so grateful it was almost over. I wasn't racing my best, but I was definitely pushing myself. My face felt like it was on fire--something that used to happen after all of my runs when I was a beginner.

I really enjoyed that race! Not necessarily the race itself, but more so the atmosphere and the camaraderie of the people. Other than Sarah's Stars, there were other teams of people showing support for loved ones with melanoma, or who they'd lost to melanoma. There were lots of clever sayings on shirts about moles or staying out of the sun. I was really glad I'd taken part in it.

Just now, as I was looking up the race results, I saw that I actually DID finish first place in my age group! Hahaha. My pace was 11:04/mile, so clearly the field wasn't very competitive. But fun for a last-minute 5K :)

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