May 30, 2019

Another Fainting Scare

Estelle and Tuck the Squirrel

I don't have any photos for this post, so here is a photo of Estelle and Tuck, the squirrel who comes to the back door for nuts every day. I'm not sure which of them is teasing the other, but I'm pretty sure Tuck knows he has the upper hand ;)

I have been wanting to write a more personal post lately, but I just haven't really had much to write about. There hasn't been anything going on lately, other than my continuing to feel like a chauffeur. I had never hated driving until this year. I spend SO much time in the car now!

A typical school day:
Drive Eli to school
Drive Noah to school
Drive home
(If I have errands or appointments, I do them here)
Pick up Noah and friend, drive his friend home
Drive Noah home
Pick up Eli from baseball practice
Bring Eli home
Take Noah to drivers training, drive home
Go pick Noah up, drive home

Overall, that adds up to about 3-1/2 hours in the car. It wouldn't be that bad if it was all at once, but because it's spread out throughout the whole day it feels like driving is my whole life.

Thankfully, Noah's last drivers training class is today, and school baseball is over (the kids start summer baseball now, but they are on the same team and they don't have practice every day like Eli did. Tomorrow, Noah's driving instructor is actually picking him up from school, and Noah will make the 30-minute drive home. I cannot believe this is happening! haha

Speaking of Noah, he fainted again. On Monday morning, Jerry, the kids, and I were watching a movie and Noah stood up to go to his bedroom. A few seconds later, I heard a loud thud and Jerry jumped up. I looked over and saw Noah on the floor, so I ran over to him. He was really confused and disoriented for a few seconds, and he said he remembers standing up and then the next thing he knew he was waking up on the floor.

When this happened a couple of months ago, I took him to our general practitioner, and his blood work was all normal. The doctor said it's not that uncommon and without other symptoms, the fainting is probably nothing to worry about. Telling a mom not to worry is like telling the grass not to grow.

On Monday, Jerry said that when he got to Noah on the floor, Noah was shaking. I couldn't see over Jerry very well, but when he said that, I wondered if Noah had had a seizure. To be safe, we took him to the emergency room. They did an EKG and ran a bunch of blood work. Everything was normal. After describing the shaking, they were confident it wasn't a seizure--it was Noah trembling when he came to (I remember this happening to me when I fainted, too).

I asked about a CT scan (my biggest worry is that it's his brain; I've mentioned that my childhood friend Spencer has stage IV brain cancer, and his tumors were discovered in the emergency room after he'd had a seizure). The doctor explained the radiation risks of the CT scan and we decided to hold off on that (I had no idea it involved so much radiation exposure and I'm so glad he told us--I've researched it a bit more since we've been home.)

If Noah has any neurological symptoms, then it would be something we'd want to consider, but the doctor explained how dehydration can cause fainting. I am sure Noah doesn't drink enough water, and that made sense to me. (And later, I remembered that my friend Spencer did have a symptom for a few weeks prior to his seizure--he had phantom smells. He would smell something that wasn't really there or that others could not.)

They gave him IV fluids and then we decided to really push him to stay hydrated from now on and hopefully this won't happen again. He's been taking it pretty seriously, too--bringing a water bottle with him to school and making sure to refill it at least a couple of times throughout the day. I never would have thought that having kids would be so worrisome!

I made a goal for June--to eliminate eating out, getting take-out, or ordering pizza. Because I feel like I am constantly in the car, cooking has felt impossible much of the time. I know that I probably just need to plan better (and utilize my slow cooker more often). The amount of money wasted on food this past month has been insane.

Yesterday, I wrote out a menu and grocery list for the first week of June. I'm going to grocery shop just once a week--no more--and cook dinner every day. If it's a busy day, I will use the slow cooker or make a super quick and easy meal; definitely no more take-out. This is what we did when we first started our budgeting plan to pay off debt. I grocery shopped on Fridays and I planned everything out really well so that nothing was wasted and we used a lot of what we already had.

Aside from the money, I just don't feel good when I eat restaurant food. I feel tired and lethargic, even when I don't overeat. I've been feeling very drained of energy and motivation lately, so I am hoping that eating better will make me feel better!

(I didn't post a Transformation Tuesday this week because I only had a couple of people submit photos--so I'll wait until I get a couple more. Please send in something! It can be something that seems ridiculously insignificant to you, but I assure you, it will be fun for others--including me--to see. The link above explains what/how to send.)

May 26, 2019

Setting Running Goals: Tips and Training Plans for Reaching Common Goals

I have had this post in my "drafts" folder for over two years now! Haha, I finally finished it and am now publishing it.)

There is something about this time of year that makes me feel motivated to set goals. This is also the time of year that people think about signing up for fun novelty races in the summer, or start training for a fall longer-distance race.

Whether goals are big or small, they are all significant. I created this list of common running goals, and included my blog posts and training plans associated with each goal. Some of the posts and/or training plans are applicable to several of the goals, and some are unique. But whatever the goal, chances are, I've written about it ;)

So, here are the goals--whether it's taking that first step out the door or running a full marathon, running a sub-30 5K or a personal record in the 10K. Hopefully these posts will be helpful in setting and reaching some running goals!

Goal: To get in the habit of running regularly

For: Those who have perhaps finished a 5K training plan or who have just reached the point of being able to run a few miles at a time, and would like to make running part of their lifestyle

To read:

To train:

Goal: To run your first 10K

For: Those who have run a 5K and are now ready to take on the 10K

To read:

To train:

Goal: To run your first half-marathon

For: Those have experience with 5K's and 10K's, and are ready to step up to the half-marathon distance

To read:

To train:

Goal: To run your first marathon

For: Experienced runners who have run regularly, and are hoping to tackle the marathon distance

To read:

To Train:

Goal: To get faster

For: Runners who have a solid base of easy running, and whose bodies are conditioned enough to start working harder (a good base is about 300-500 miles total)

To read:

To train:

Goal: To run a personal record

For: Experienced runners who want to improve their time for a particular race distance, and are willing to put the time and energy required into reaching this goal

To read:

To train:

Goal: To make running enjoyable

For: Runners who aren't necessarily interested in racing but who want to continue to run and not get bored

To read:

Resources that I have found to be very helpful when training and/or writing my running plans:

  • Hansons Marathon Method (even if you aren't running a marathon, the information in this book is invaluable)
  • 80/20 Running (this is what helped me get my fastest; but even if not training for speed, it is great information to get stronger, stay injury free, and simply train properly. I highly recommend buying the paperback rather than Kindle version, because you will do a lot of flipping back and forth between pages.)
  • After reading 80/20 Running, I suggest reading about The 180 Formula by Dr. Phil Maffetone. I used this formula to calculate my heart rate when doing easy runs.

In addition, here are my favorite books/movies about running that you can use for inspiration :)

Finally, I have a ton of other posts that may be helpful when setting goals, which can be found on my "Running" page, as well as several free training plans. I hope this is helpful!

May 24, 2019

Summer Running and Walking Challenges for 2019


It's that time of year again! Summer is quickly approaching, and as I've done for the last few years, I'm sharing a summer running/walking challenge that I created. (New this year, I have a fun alternate list as well.)

I've always found getting motivated to exercise in the summer very difficult--it's hot outside and with Michigan's horrible humidity, the thought of drowning in sweat isn't too appealing. So, in 2016, I made up a list of ways to make running during the summer a little more fun. I challenged myself to check off the runs on the list, and focusing on the list rather than plain old running was much more appealing!

I shared the list on my blog, and it became pretty popular, so I posted an updated version in both 2017 and 2018. I tried to think of some new ideas to change up the list this year, but my mind was totally blank. In looking at the previous years' lists, which included a couple of national "holidays", such as National Ice Cream Day and International Beer Day, I had an idea...

I thought it would be fun to make a list of runs or walks that centered entirely around these quirky national "holidays". Since this one isn't quite as customizable, I suggest that people pick 13 or more of the runs/walks (there are 13 weeks of summer) and try to do at least one per week. Super bonus to anyone who does all of them!

I made it in this calendar form to make it easier to see what holiday falls on each day:

Summer Run/Walk Challenge 2019 calendar screenshot

I also included a list of the runs in case you prefer to check things off. Here is a snippet of the "traditional" list (this traditional challenge is more difficult)

Summer Run/Walk challenge checklist screenshot

So, here they are--in checklist form as well as a calendar--each is printer friendly! Just choose whatever challenge you'd like (or even come up with some combination that suits you). The challenge starts with the Summer Solstice on June 21st and ends with the Fall Equinox on September 23rd.

For Runners:

Runs for Cookies Summer Running Checklist 2019 (the traditional challenge)
Runs for Cookies Summer Running Calendar 2019 (fill this in to plan out when you're going to do each run on the checklist)

Runs for Cookies Summer Running (Quirky Holiday) Checklist 2019
Runs for Cookies Summer Running (Quirky Holiday) Calendar 2019 (this is filled in for you)

For Walkers:

Runs for Cookies Summer Walking Checklist 2019 (the traditional challenge)
Runs for Cookies Summer Walking Calendar 2019 (fill this in to plan out when you're going to do each run on the checklist)

Runs for Cookies Summer Walking (Quirky Holiday) Checklist 2019
Runs for Cookies Summer Walking (Quirky Holiday) Calendar 2019 (this is filled in for you)

I would love to see updates on your runs or walks on social media, so please make sure to use the hashtag #CookiesSummerChallenge and tag me @runsforcookies on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook (I use Instagram the most).

I even made a little badge if you want to commit to the challenge by going public. Haha! Being very public about certain goals helps me sometimes (ahem, clearly not *all* the time). As for myself this summer, I haven't yet decided whether I'm going to do either challenge, but I am thinking I might try the traditional one again--walking, not running. Since I've been walking lately, I think it would be fun to work on the checklist--and in three years, I haven't even come close to finishing it!

#CookiesSummerChallenge : Runs for Cookies Summer Run/Walk Challenge 2019

(My blog settings don't allow you to right click the badge to save, but you can click it once to open it in a new window and save it that way. Then just upload it to Instagram or wherever you want to announce that you're doing the challenge.)

Hope you enjoy :)

May 21, 2019

Transformation Tuesday #2

I'm so excited to post Transformation Tuesday #2! I think this is my favorite series I've ever done on my blog. I just can't get enough of before and after photos, no matter what they are.

I hope you enjoy this week's transformations :)

Two years ago my husband and I bought a circa-1980 house that used to be located on a farm.  It was professionally moved to a city lot and totally rebuilt and updated from the inside out.

- Holly, Oregon, Placemaker

I dropped the coloring bottle and embraced my natural hair color! One of the best things I’ve ever done. So freeing!

- Elizabeth, Michigan, au natural

I’ve also lost 40 pounds over the past couple of years!

- Elizabeth, Michigan

My daughter was born at 28 weeks gestation, weighing just 2 lbs 4 oz. She contracted MRSA and Meningitis while in the NICU (for TWO MONTHS) and fought them both. She is now 18 months old and I could not be a prouder mom! She weighs over 21 pounds and is running and talking so much!

- Laura, Virginia, super proud mom :)  (Laura's blog can be found here)

My husband and I sanded and stained our deck, got some deck furniture, planted our vegetable garden, three trees, two bushes, and flowers. We both have never done anything like this before as new home owners, but we’re so happy with the results!

- Amy, Kansas City, KS, backyard DIY makeover beginner

Our garage before and after a paint job and epoxy flooring!

- Sue, Michigan, Katie's mom

To keep doing the series, I need transformation photos, so please keep them coming! Here's how to send them:

1) Email one "before" photo and one "after" photo, of anything you'd like, to: transformations (at) runsforcookies (dot) com.

Please keep the photos separate rather than collaging them, and refrain from using filters or Photoshop on the photos. I feel like everything is filtered these days, and filters tend to invalidate the "wow" factor. If necessary, I may crop or resize the photos simply to fit uniformly into the post, but I will try to keep them as original as possible. Also, if there is someone in the photo, just make sure it's cool with them that I share it here.

2) You may include a link to your personal blog or social media page if you'd like (no business or promotional pages--this will be at my discretion). Include a one-sentence description (I'm sure the photos will explain themselves for the most part). For each submission, I'll include:

-One sentence description of the transformation

-First Name, Location, Few words of who you are (i.e. "New DIY'er" or "Cat Lover", etc). If you want me to leave out name/location, just let me know.

3) I will post whenever I get enough submissions to do so--it could be one week or it could be several. I'll send you an email to let you know beforehand, though.

Thanks for sharing!

May 20, 2019

My New Favorite Hobby

Ever since I built the island in my kitchen, I've been a little obsessed with making things out of wood. It's a hobby I never even imagined I'd fall into, but I absolutely love it! It's so cool to be able to turn a pile of wood (mostly scraps) into a piece of furniture or something else that's useful.

Yesterday, I finished one of my favorite projects so far... I made Noah a bed frame. When Jerry and I were in a time crunch to make over the boys' bedrooms while they were away for a week, I'd planned to buy Noah a new bed frame (his was very old and very overdue for a replacement).

Noah's bed before

However, we ran out of time. I went to a couple of stores looking for one, but didn't see one that I liked. Last week, I was looking on Amazon for one, and I couldn't believe how expensive they were. Now that I know a little about woodworking, I knew that I could make one for a small fraction of the cost of buying one.

I liked the idea of making Noah a daybed, because he likes to sit on his bed as if it's a couch--doing his homework, watching TV, working on his computer, etc. I've always kind of thought of daybeds as being girly (I had one when I was a teen), but a quick search online showed that they could be boyish, too.

I found some plans by Ana White, and I thought they would be perfect. I printed off the plans and purchased the wood from Lowe's. The materials only cost $140, and I knew this bed was going to be super good quality (assuming I didn't screw it up, haha).

Buying the materials from Lowe's

Wood cut and ready to piece together

(The beer bottle in the photo was from Jerry! I'm still doing great without drinking--139 days now)

Putting together the headboard and the sides was really easy, but I noticed that the plans ended there. The plans I'd printed were a modification to a different set of plans for a storage bed. I'd seen this in the instructions, but I didn't realize that I'd need to actually print and follow both sets of plans.

Kreg Jig for pocketholes

putting the headboard together

So, I had to improvise. I still had leftover scraps from the other projects I've done, and I used that to finish it up with a nice, solid frame. I painted it with the leftover paint from my closet shelves (which I'll write about below), then I put his old bunkie board and mattress on top.

After caulking the frame

After painting

I LOVE how it turned out! It's simple, not too girly, and a very solid, quality piece of furniture. And I made it with my own two hands! The total time spent on this project was only about six hours. The priming and painting took the longest. Now we just need to get (or make!) some cool pillows.

Noah's bed after

Not as exciting are a couple of other projects I did recently...

I mentioned that I gutted my bedroom closet (which is a mirror image of my pantry; when choosing the layout of our house/trailer, there was a "sunroom" between my bedroom and the kitchen. I had no use for a sunroom, so I had the builders split it down the middle and make half of it a walk-in pantry and the other half a walk-in closet. One of the best decisions I've ever made! haha).

Here is a picture from before. Everything was crammed in there. (This picture was from before we got new carpet, however).

bedroom closet before makeover

Jerry scraped the ceiling texture off for me, because of my carpal tunnel (the ceiling part is what makes the carpal tunnel flare up the most). He even tried his hand at the taping and mudding for the drywall seams. He realized how difficult it was and decided to leave it up to me from now on ;)

Anyway, I painted the closet a slightly off-white ("spare white" by Sherwin Williams), the same color that I used for the trim in the house. I didn't want to go with a darker color because I wasn't thrilled with how dark the pantry seemed to be after painting it blue. I also decided to paint the shelves white, because we'd have lots of gray and black baskets/containers on the shelves.

I didn't use a plan for these shelves, but I did read a lot about building sturdy shelves before I made the plans for these. I built the shelves closer together than the previous ones (with varying heights) so that I could fit an extra shelf in there. I also made them a little deeper so that we could fold things like jeans in thirds instead of fourths to reduce the height of the piles (and therefore fitting more in the pile and saving space).

You guys... when everything was said and done, we were able to fit ALL of our clothes in the closet, INCLUDING the clothes that we'd had in the dresser! A couple of years ago, I adopted Marie Kondo's method of folding and storing clothes so they are standing up in bins. I leave out the bulky things like sweatshirts, though, and just stack them. So, now we can get rid of our dresser and have more space in the bedroom. The dresser is really nice, so I think I'll sell it on Facebook Marketplace.

Anyway, here is what it looks like now. The only thing left to do is put in molding along the floor. That will have to wait until we either buy a trim nailer or charge the batteries for Brian's (the charger isn't here).

bedroom closet after

Finally, I made a shelf for the TV in Jerry's and my bedroom. We had the TV on the dresser, but since we are getting rid of the dresser, we needed a new spot for the TV. For this, I used this plan from Pretty Handy Girl. I made it 40 inches long instead of 48, just because we didn't need it any bigger. Also, I definitely wasn't comfortable about whether it would be sturdy enough without having supports underneath it, so I added those when I was done.

TV shelf made from scraps

This was unbelievably difficult to paint! I would highly recommend painting before assembling. Again, I used leftover paint from the shelving in the closet. This isn't anything fancy, but it's the perfect size for our TV, DVD player (I have no idea why we still have one, because we never use it) and a few little baskets for remote controls and such.

Now, I'm constantly thinking of other things I can build! Jerry and I don't have a headboard on our bed, which drives me crazy, so I may make one of those. I'd also like to build some shelves for the laundry room, but that is going to have to wait until we are ready to completely make over that room this summer.

It's kind of funny how my Amazon wishlist is growing and it's full of tools, hahaha. I would really like a table saw next. I've been watching Facebook Marketplace, but so far, I haven't had luck finding what I want. I'll just have to set aside my allowance for a few months. I never thought I'd be saving up for a table saw! It cracks me up.

Anyway, I am loving this new hobby of mine, and it feels so nice to accomplish things that have nothing to do with weight loss or running or anything like that!

May 14, 2019

Transformation Tuesday #1

I posted a couple of weeks ago about a new series I'd like to start doing on my blog, and I'm excited to share this first post!

Transformation Tuesday is not about weight loss (although it can be). Rather, I love the idea of sharing transformations of all kinds--refashioned clothing, room makeovers, new haircuts, pets before and after rescue, etc. No transformation is too small or insignificant! I love seeing before and after photos of things, and I know others do as well.

So, let me show them off! I'll include how to do so at the bottom of this post. But first, for this week...

Before and after of our amazing rescue pup, Lizzie, on the day we got her and her one-year-gotcha-day anniversary!

- Amanda, Wisconsin, crazy dog mom

My 65-pound weight loss transformation!

- Mandy, Ohio, total badass (Okay, Mandy didn't include the badass part, but seeing these photos, I just had to add it!)

Before and after painting kitchen cabinets and changing out the backsplash and light fixture.

-Melissa, Michigan, amateur home renovator

Aren't these stunning?! I love love love seeing transformation pictures. To keep doing the series, I need you to share pics of your own transformations, so please keep them coming! Here's how to send them:

1) Email one "before" photo and one "after" photo, of anything you'd like, to: transformations (at) runsforcookies (dot) com.

Please keep the photos separate rather than collaging them, and refrain from using filters or Photoshop on the photos. I feel like everything is filtered these days, and filters tend to invalidate the "wow" factor. If necessary, I may crop or resize the photos simply to fit uniformly into the post, but I will try to keep them as original as possible. Also, if there is someone in the photo, just make sure it's cool with them that I share it here.

2) You may include a link to your personal blog or social media page if you'd like (no business or promotional pages--this will be at my discretion). Include a one-sentence description (I'm sure the photos will explain themselves for the most part). For each submission, I'll include:

-Brief description of the transformation

-First Name, Location, Few words of who you are (i.e. "New DIY'er" or "Cat Lover", etc). If you want me to leave out name/location, just let me know.

3) I will post whenever I get enough submissions to do so--it could be one week or it could be several. I'll send you an email to let you know beforehand, though.

Thanks for sharing!

May 12, 2019

Current Moods, Habits, and Just Life in General

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

I am alive and well. I know I've been posting so sporadically--and rarely--that it may seem like something is wrong. But it's just the opposite! I've been living life and feeling content lately. I think "content" is a key word. I haven't been hypomanic or depressed, and my anxiety is pretty low. It's so nice!

As I've written about lately, I've been really working on being peaceful and happy with who I am right at this moment and not who I "dream" of being. My weight is hovering at 160-165, and has been for a while now. I haven't been counting calories or even actively trying to eat "intuitively". I've just been trying not to think about it at all, and I like having some space cleared inside my head to think of other, more important, things.

My main form of exercise has been walking, which I'm actually really enjoying. Joey loves the extra walks, too ;) I'm not following a plan, but I would like to start following the walking plan that I wrote recently. Not for a very particular reason, but I do like to follow some sort of plan because I always feel best when I have a schedule (for nearly everything, really). I like to see what's happening each day beforehand.

Anyways, I (obviously) haven't been spending much time online at all, and I have enjoyed the break from social media, blogging, even surfing the web (is that phrase even used anymore?). Instead, I've been reading on my new Kindle Paperwhite, and I love it! I've missed getting into books. Also, all of the DIY projects.

I would like to start writing more regularly, and now that I'm nearly done with all the DIY projects in my house, I'll have more free time to do so. I just recently did my bedroom closet, although it was nothing exciting.

I did the usual removing texture from the ceiling, taping and mudding the seams, painting. Then I removed all of the wire shelves and built wood shelves, much like I did in the pantry. I made the shelves deeper and the height between shelves closer together so that I could fit an extra shelf, and it's given me so much more room!

Today was a fantastic Mother's Day. I had no idea that the kids were going to give me gifts! They told Jerry that they wanted to get me something, and they picked out the gifts themselves. Eli got me a bird feeder. There is a very bold squirrel in the backyard that comes right up to my door for nuts every day. He's so cute! I named him Tuck, and the cats alert me when he shows up. I hand him almonds, walnuts, or peanuts on the back deck.

Anyway, there is a blue jay that has been stealing the nuts that I leave out for the squirrel. (Noah took this amazing picture of it recently.) But the blue jay takes the nuts immediately after I set them out, and I can see him watching me from the tree in the backyard, ready to swoop down. So, that is why Eli chose a bird feeder. We are going to hang it in the backyard and hope that the blue jay leaves the nuts alone.

Noah got me a new protective case for my computer. My old one was broken and has been for a long time. I just never got around to buying a new one, even though it had been on my Amazon Wish List ever since the other one broke. He also got me some Burt's Bees lip balm, because I go through it like crazy--I keep some in my car, my purse, my nightstand, the living room, all over.

And then Jerry even got me a gift--a case for my Kindle. He saw that when I take it places, I would put it in a Ziplock bag and then place that inside of a cloth zippered pouch (definitely not an ideal way to take my Kindle with me). I LOVE the case he picked out!

It's so crazy that today is the 14th Mother's Day that I've been a mom. My kids have gotten so big! They're bigger than I am now.

This picture was on Easter morning. It was so funny--the kids said they had been talking to each other for weeks, wondering whether or not they would get Easter baskets this year. They thought maybe they were too old or something, but they didn't want sound spoiled by asking me if they would get one. So they were very excited on Easter morning when they got their baskets ;)

Noah is in driver's training right now and will start training on the road next weekend. I cannot believe that my child is old enough to drive! And Eli is literally the sweetest kid I've ever known. He's an old soul and I can't even describe how big his heart is.

I'm a lucky mom :)

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