July 24, 2019

A Sobering Weight Gain Photo

Sobering Weight Gain Photos

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

My original "before" weight loss photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current photo of my weight gain

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

Comparison of 2015 and 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 17, 2019

A Dill Pickle Obsession

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

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

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

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

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

keeping score at the baseball game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dill Pickle Pizza

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

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

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

Dill Pickle Soup

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

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

July 10, 2019

Kids' Cross Country Incentives and a Solution to Keep the Kids Moving at Practice

Cross Country Incentives for Kids

This was written yesterday... I was just so tired that I forgot to get it posted!

This morning was my first cross country practice of the season! As you probably know, I am a volunteer cross country coach for elementary school kids. This year, I have just fourth and fifth graders because I'll be coaching by myself (Renee, who started the program with me several years ago, took a job coaching the seventh and eighth graders).

In the past, Renee and I had always started practices in mid-August, but I decided to have summer "conditioning" for the kids who want to get in better shape before the season actually begins. I have a couple of new things planned this year, and I'm kind of excited about them.

Firstly, I solved the problem of the kids stopping every 1/4 mile for a "water break". I put that in quotes because it was more of a "I really just don't feel like running so I'm going to sip my water as long as I can until the coaches make me run again" break. Multiply that by 10-15 out of 25 kids, and it's a problem.

I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner, but I decided that if they carry their water with them, then they won't have to stop for breaks (obviously). But that was no fun for third through fifth graders, so I looked into buying handheld water bottles like this one I have (and love) from Amphipod. They are expensive, however, and even if I asked the parents to buy them, I felt like that was kind of asking a lot.

So, I did some more searching on Amazon and I found a fairly cheap solution and it's more fun for the kids!

Sports water bottles in multicolored bulk pack (6 bottles per pack x 3 packs)
Silicone water bottle straps for any water bottle (4 per pack x 4 packs)

silicone straps for water bottlesbulk pack of water bottles for my cross country kids

It was a bit of an investment for me (I have 14 kids on the team, and it ended up costing $76.70), but it will certainly save me the headache of practically begging kids to keep running after each lap (I never give them more running than they can handle, I promise. Even if they truly need a break from the run, they should at least walk a lap).

At practice, I let the kids choose a bottle and strap, filled them with water, and they were good to go! (The straps basically turn the bottle into a handheld sports bottle, so that you can carry it without having to grip it. If you've ever used a handheld sports bottle, then you know how much of a difference it makes to have it strapped to your hand rather than just holding it!)

water bottle with silicone strap for cross country kids

I always tell the kids that the first practice is the hardest, for two reasons: 1) It's their first and they're not in running shape unless they've been running through the off-season; and 2) I have them run a timed mile as fast as they can during the first practice.

I like to do the time trial at the first practice because it's a great way for them to see how much they improve over the season. I will do another time trial at the end of the season and then they can see exactly how much better they've gotten. If they come to practice and follow my directions, I expect that they will improve by quite a bit. That is my favorite part about coaching--seeing results! And especially seeing the kids get excited about how much they improve.

Another idea I had this season is for a new incentive program. Last year, you may remember that I gave out "tokens", where each color token represented something that the kids could aim for; and then they could collect the tokens through the season. That worked out well, but since I invested the money in the water bottles, I didn't want to have to buy a bunch of tokens, too.

Instead, I developed a point-based system. I did buy a cool award for this--I found a brand new (in the box) Garmin Forerunner 25 on Facebook Marketplace for $25! Last year, I brought my own kids' Garmin watches to practice and all of the kids were begging to get to wear them. So, I thought this would be a pretty cool prize.

Garmin Forerunner 25 as a prize for cross country

I haven't decided the most fair way of giving it away yet, though--do I give it to the person with the most points? Or do a drawing and each point they earn will give them one entry in the drawing? Any other ideas? I will also get a few more smaller prizes so that the kids who are working hard to earn points will get rewarded. (The whole point of this incentive system is to reward hard work.)

(Actually, as I was typing this, I had an idea... because the watches are super motivating for kids, it would be awesome to have more of them to use during practice. If any of you have an old Forerunner that you no longer use, and would like to donate it to my team, that would be amazing! Any model will do, but I find that the simplest ones are best for kids--like the 25 above or the Forerunner 10 that my kids have. Anyway, if you have one that is collecting dust and you'd like to donate it to my team, just email me for my address. The kids would be thrilled!)

As far as the points system goes, the kids can earn points in several ways: one point for each practice they attend (two points for the "long run" practice), one point per mile run throughout the season, one point for leading the group warm-up at practice, one point each time they better their individual race time, etc. I don't want to base the points on ability, because obviously some kids are much faster than others.

At the practices, I'd like to post a "leaderboard" for the number of points, because I think that just seeing the leaderboard will fire them up to want to move their name to the top.

It's funny--with high schoolers, you don't need incentives. Just the race times are incentive enough, much like adults. Middle schoolers are still at the in-between phase, seeking out if running is really what they want as "their" sport. But my elementary school kids need all the incentive they can get, haha. I'm thinking of doing something fun with water this summer--like a relay race while they have to carry a cup of water, spilling as little as possible, and whatever is left, they are allowed to dump on my head ;)  A water balloon fight might be fun too--getting them to run and cooling them off with water at the same time.

Each year, I wonder whether I really want to coach again, but once I start thinking of ideas for the season, I get fired up. I was worried about doing this without Renee, but I'm pretty hopeful that things will go well, and I'm excited for this season! :)

(I get a lot of questions from other kids' coaches, so if you are a coach looking for ideas, here are a few more posts that I've written about it:

Speed Work for Kids
Hill Workouts for Kids
A Fun Running Game for Kids
Tips for Coaching Young Kids to Run
Running Games for Coaching Kids to Run
An Incentive Program for Kids Cross Country

July 09, 2019

Transformation Tuesday #6

Yikes--I didn't realize that my last post was a whole week ago. I've been super busy getting ready for cross country season. Like I said, I'm coaching the team by myself this year, and I'm super nervous--so I've been working hard on getting stuff ready for that. Tomorrow is our first practice, so I'll definitely write a "real" blog post tomorrow.

But today... I have another installment of Transformation Tuesday! Thank you so much for sending in your before and after photos. It's awesome to see even the simplest of things transformed.

I am still hoping to do a special Transformation Tuesday post about before and after animal rescues, and I have a few submissions that are ready... so if you have one, please send them my way and I'll get it posted as soon as I can. And as always, to keep Transformation Tuesday going, I need before and after photos of anything that you have transformed--big or little! I'll share instructions on how to do that at the bottom of this post.

For now, though, here we go...

This is the little house that my husband and I bought 2.5 years ago. We have completely transformed the house, inside and out. Last summer we tore out the bushes and rocks that were older than I am and planted some beautiful plants. We also pressure washed the siding and repainted the cinderblock and steps!

- Trina, Indiana, Amateur Gardener

Tired of not having grass on the side of our front yard, we opted for shade tolerant plants and mulch over much of that side. A tree was removed and others cut so that there could be some sun, and put in the path to the back yard.

- Traci, Texas, NON-avid gardener

Did you know poodles fade over time? Here is Pegasus at four months versus 5 years old!

- Jenny, mom to a faded poodle :)

I donated a 21-inch ponytail (and a check) to Wigs for Kids!

- Martine, Southern California, Heart of Gold (okay, I may have added the "heart of gold" part, but I met Martine via my blog and she truly is one of the most compassionate people I've ever met!)

This side of our house has always bothered me. My brother told me what plants to purchase and I dug out the bed, planted and mulched!

- Elizabeth, Massachusetts, Outdoor Lover

My middle son has always shared a room with one of his brothers, so for his last birthday we cleared out a room we were using as an office/storage and gave him a bedroom.

- Stacey, Ontario Canada, HockeyMom x3  (Find her blog at The Hockey Mom Chronicles)

This was my attempt to wrangle cords. I turned what looked like spaghetti into a something more manageable and that didn't raise my anxiety up a notch every time I looked in that corner!

- Helen, Minnesota

These are fantastic photos--thank you all so much for sharing! I am especially inspired by the cord untangling... It's something that I always notice in my house and I think to myself, "I need to make a solution for those cords..." but I never get around to it. I really want to do it now after seeing these pictures.

Friends, please keep the pictures coming! Here is how to submit 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 altering the photos with filters, graphics, etc. 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). Please include the following:

-One or two sentence description of the transformation

-First Name; Location; A 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!

(Here are the previous Transformation Tuesday posts)

July 02, 2019

Transformation Tuesday #5

Transformation Tuesday #5

Finally! Another installment of Transformation Tuesday. As I've said six million times, I love this series and I'm so excited each time I get to post one :)  Also, I can't post them unless I get submissions, so please please please send me your before and after shots of whatever you'd like!

(I'm putting together a post that is specifically for before and after rescue pets, so consider those as well.) You can find the information at the bottom of this post on how to submit the photos.

So here are this week's Transformation Tuesday before and after photos! Enjoy :)

Before and after of a chair I got at a garage sale for $2! I sanded it and used a primer I had, and the yellow paint was free from a Glidden promotion several years ago.


wooden chair "before"

wooden chair "after" painting

Last year, we turned our formal living room into a library for our many books (and some toys and memorabilia!). It's been amazing to have this space. We made it technology-free and my kids love to hang out in here too!

- Vanessa, Georgia, Book Lover

formal living room before turning into a library

formal living room turned into a library

Here is a before and after I cleaned up and organized the disaster of our hallway!

- Felicia, Michigan, Master Organizer

hallway before organizing

hallway after organizing

My version of “Joanna Gaines-ing” my dining room!

- Amy, Ohio

dining room "before" makeover

dining room "after" makeover

This is the exterior of my home remodel!

- Susan, Cleveland, greyhound lover

home exterior before remodel

home exterior after remodel

Amazing transformations, as usual. Thank you so much to Jan, Vanessa, Felicia, Amy, and Susan for sharing your before and after photos!

Friends, please keep the pictures coming! Here is how to submit 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 (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). Please include the following:

-One or two sentence description of the transformation

-First Name; Location; A 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!

(Here are the previous Transformation Tuesday posts)

July 01, 2019

Victorious! (This is a long post)

This is the first real chance I've had to write all weekend. It's been busy!

On Wednesday, the boys had a baseball game for their summer recreation league. We were on a bad losing streak, having won only one out of seven(?) games... and even that one was cut short due to weather after the fourth inning.

I had wanted to coach the boys' team this year, and I volunteered; but I told the director of the program that I would need an assistant coach. I could handle the games and writing line-ups easily, but hitting balls to the kids at practice and doing drills with them were something that I needed help with. None of the other parents were volunteering, which was frustrating!

Finally, another mom said she would volunteer as coach. This was fine with me--I told her I'd keep score for her, and that way I could enjoy the game and still feel involved, only not have the responsibility of coaching.

Well, I got a call from the director on Wednesday saying that the coach had pink eye and he asked if I could fill in. I was actually really excited about the prospect of implementing the ideas I had for the team! I am always telling Jerry that, "If I was coach, I would put so-and-so at such-and-such position because they can do this-or-that really well. And I would do my batting order like this, because I want the faster kids in front of our best hitter, yada yada yada."

I was super nervous I was going to screw things up, but since our track record was pretty bad, I figured I couldn't do much more damage. I wrote the line up (very differently from what has been done previously) and changed up the positions a bit. Then I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

The team we played had coaches that were certainly not friendly toward our team, and they had the umpires in their pockets from the get-go. When we got there, since we were the away team, we were supposed to have the dugout on the first baseline (the home team sits along the third baseline.

Well, the other team was in our dugout. Normally, I wouldn't care, but it was 80-something degrees outside and the sun was full force in our dugout (literally ZERO shade). I explained the situation to the coach, but he wouldn't relent, so I just said to hell with it and we took the crappy sauna dugout.

And you know what? The first inning went SO WELL. I didn't want to get my hopes up so early in the game, but I was thrilled that we were playing good baseball. The boys (they are 13-15 year olds) were pretty excited and one of them said, "Hey Coach, if we win this game, will you take us out for ice cream?" He totally expected me to say no.

I said, "Yes! If you guys win this game, ice cream is on me tonight--and you can order anything you want!" So all the boys started talking about order their triple scoops of cookie dough ice cream and Oreo flurries and all that. They were fired up, which is totally what we needed. Each time one of them would go bat, the boys would yell out, "Think of that triple scoop!" or something as a reminder. It made the kids smile and and I think the fact that they felt relaxed helped the game.

The coaches on the other team argued with all sorts of plays, which was annoying. The umpire called a balk at our pitcher, which I didn't see, so maybe it was legit. But after that, the umpire yelled to the other coach (across the field for my whole team to hear), "Don't worry, I took care of that for you, Chris!"

I was fuming when he said that. But I just let it be, and told our team to use that as fuel to the fire to beat this team!

From that moment on, that field umpire's eyes were GLUED to our pitcher's feet. He called balks several more times, and nobody on our team could see why. At one point, our pitcher was literally as still as a statue when the umpire threw up his arms and yelled, "Balk!"

This has never happened in a game before, and from what our side could see, our pitcher was NOT balking. But if there is one thing I've learned from watching my kids play baseball for 14 years it's this: Never, ever get in an argument with the umpire. You will lose. And they will have a bad attitude toward you for the rest of the game.

Anyway, I'll stop dragging this out... WE FUCKING WON!!!

I put Eli in to pitch for the final three innings. In the last inning, he struck out the batters 1-2-3 and we won the game 10-7! I don't think I ever cheered so loudly. Seeing the look on the other coach's face was totally worth it. And the boys' spirits were up, which was great.

And as promised, I took the team out for ice cream :)  I couldn't help but feeling pretty proud that I'd successfully coached the game--with help from Jerry (he can't get to the games until 30 minutes in because of work) and Shawn (another dad) who base coached when we were batting.

I had invited the whole team to my house on Friday for nachos, a game of wiffle ball, kick ball, and a slip 'n' slide to "practice sliding", since it's been a running joke among our team that we need to learn to slide. They had a water balloon fight, too. My goal was to get them to have fun outside of baseball and feel more like a group of friends playing ball when they are on the field.

And of course, several balks were called during wiffle ball, hahaha.

I don't know if I wrote about him, but last year there was a boy on the team that I nicknamed "Wheels" because he was SO fast. I asked him if he ran cross country or track or anything, and he said he doesn't run. I was shocked! I told him he NEEDS to join a running team. He's very shy and quiet, and didn't end up joining last year. This year, I brought it up again.

On Friday, at my house, Renee's son Isaac (who is also on the baseball team) was here. He's SUPER fast at cross country (their whole family was born to be runners). Isaac and Wheels were apprehensive of going on the slip 'n' slide, so I challenged them to a foot race, and the loser had to slide. (Honestly, my money was on Isaac to win). But Wheels beat Isaac! I was shocked. And so excited. (To be fair, Isaac beat Wheels during a rematch; but still, that first race was great. And think how fast Wheels will be with some training!)

Renee told me yesterday that Wheels showed up at cross country conditioning. I really hope that he sticks with it and enjoys it. He's a great kid and has some serious running talent.

Jerry was off all weekend, and it was so nice to have him home because he's been working so much lately. We had a very lazy but fun day--Jerry, the kids, Ashley (Noah's girlfriend), and I had a movie marathon of Toy Story. We want to see Toy Story 4 and decided to watch the first three movies beforehand. We were supposed to go see the fourth yesterday, but we ended up doing something else instead...

Eli has been super into fishing for the past few months, and when he's not playing baseball, he is fishing. Sometimes he'll fish for 10 hours a day! He doesn't keep any fish, but he loves to catch and release them. He learned that Ben (my friend Renee's son) has been into it lately also, as well as another boy "B" on the baseball team.

So, I told Eli he could invite them to go to Elizabeth Park, which is on the Detroit River about 30 minutes away, and spend the afternoon fishing yesterday. Jerry, Noah, and Ashley went along as well. And Joey, of course! We found a shady spot and set up some blankets and chairs on the ground to chill out while the boys fished. I read some of my book (I'm reading World Without End).

I did not get in any of my Summer Challenge walks on Friday or Saturday, but I did do one yesterday and plan to do another later today. I'm doing really well with the checklist so far!

6/21 - Solstice Walk
6/22 - Bridge Walk
6/23 - Trail Walk
6/24 - Evening Walk
6/25 - Penny Pincher Walk (I found a penny while walking; I have no proof of this walk because I'd started it as a "Stone Age Walk"--no technology whatsoever)
6/26 - Night Owl Walk
6/27 - Silent Walk
6/30 - Generous Walk (I dropped four quarters in random places along the route)

I've been trying to get a picture representing each of the walks on the list, but it hasn't been easy.

I've also worked a bit more on my summer health goal bullet journal. (I took this pictures on Tuesday, so they are a little out of date)

Today, I have my annual gynecology appointment--fun! Kidding. But I'd like to ask about getting my vitamins and hormones checked out as part of my health goal this summer. I'm curious if everything is how it should be. I'm also wondering if I should start getting mammograms. Yikes! I don't remember getting this old. Both of my grandmothers had breast cancer, so it's always in the back of my mind.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a great weekend! Remember, tomorrow is Transformation Tuesday--if you have before and after pictures of anything at all, please send them in. I'd love to share them! I get so excited to see new ones :)

I just realized that today marks six months sober--halfway through the year!

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