March 31, 2020

Some random trivia about me to pass the time

Since everyone seems to be on Facebook lately, I've noticed a ton of questionnaires about random things... just silly questions to answer to pass the time. I actually really enjoy reading them! I usually learn something new, even about people I know well.

So, I compiled three of the lists together, and here I go...

What was the last thing you drank?  *Water

Where was your profile picture taken?  *On my back deck (it's the same picture that is on my Facebook page). Yes, this is an old picture (from 2017) and I am probably about 40 pounds heavier(!) now, but I love it. I remember exactly what I was doing (texting; they asked what I was doing and I sent a selfie as a reply). I remember thinking, "Wow, I look good! I didn't have to take a hundred pictures and my skin looks good enough that it almost likes like I filtered the pic!" Hahaha.

Worst pain ever?  *On the pain scale of 1-10 (just for reference)... giving birth was a 9; breaking my jaw was a 9. The absolute worst? My carpal tunnel syndrome--at its peak--was definitely a 10. Carpal tunnel is no joke!

Favorite place you’ve traveled?  *Portland, Oregon

How late did you stay up last night?  *2:15 AM

If you could move, where would it be?  *Portland, Oregon (my home away from home!)

What do you collect?  *I don't really collect anything. But I'm always tempted to buy more water bottles, for some reason!

Favorite day of the week?  *Friday, of course!

Amusement park or aquarium?  *Aquarium

When was the last time you cried?  *Interestingly, I can't remember! When I'm in a depressive episode, I cry over everything. I must be pretty stable right now, haha.

Who took your profile picture?  *Moi! It was a spontaneous selfie and turned into a favorite picture of mine.

Who's the last person you took a photo of?  *This self-quarantine business leaves me wondering who the last person I even TALKED to was (outside of my family). But the last person I took a picture of was Eli, while he was holding a cat.

What's your favorite season?  *Fall, 100%. I wish it could be fall year-round!)

If you could have any other profession what would it be?  *A forensic pathologist

If you could talk with anyone right now, who would it be?  *Mark

Are you a good influence?  *Yes--I'm boring and I am too scared to do bad things!

Does pineapple belong on pizza?  *Absolutely. Yes. A story about this...

When I was in elementary school, we hosted a German exchange student (my sister's age) named Britta. We took her to our family's favorite pizza restaurant, and asked her what toppings she liked on her pizza. She kept saying, "anana" and none of us had a clue what she was talking about. She said it was yellow and round. My parents ended up asking the server to bring out a plate of toppings so she could point it out. It turned out to be pineapple! None of us had ever HEARD of putting pineapple on pizza! But I love it now.

You have the remote what are you watching?  *A teen slasher film. Love slasher movies!

Just for fun- High School reminiscing. Think about your SENIOR year in High School. (If you can remember that long ago.)

Class of:  *2000

Did you marry your high school sweetheart?  *I did! And we've been together for... 21 years now.

What did you drive?  *A 1988 Chevrolet Celebrity. It's still my favorite car I've ever owned! And I have a (recent) funny story about it... When Jerry and I were in Portland in 2017, we were talking with Thomas and somehow, the topic of our first cars came up. I was explaining the Chevrolet Celebrity, and why I liked it. Thomas had never heard of it.

As I was talking, we were walking to the top of a parking garage at night, and when we got to our floor, the first car in front of us was a Chevrolet Celebrity! (Circa 1988 model). I couldn't believe it! The Celebrity was a great car.

Where did you work?  *I had lots of jobs, but I think during my senior year of high school, I worked as a video clerk at a grocery store. That was when you could rent video tapes! I also sold cigarettes and lotto tickets behind the counter, haha. In the picture below, I was wearing my Denny's uniform--that was one of my first jobs (I was 16).

Where did you live?  *In Rockwood, Michigan. About 20 minutes from where I live now. I've only ever lived in these two places, other than when I was in a dorm on the EMU campus.

Were you in choir/band?  *Nope. I'm not musically talented.

Ever get suspended?  *No, I was a "good kid"

If you could, would you go back?  *No, but I wish I knew then what I know now. I'd do things differently for sure!

Still talk to the person that you went to prom with?  *I didn't go to prom

Did you skip classes?  *Just auto mechanics. My friend Jake and I would skip almost every day and go get fast food or something. I don't know how we got away with it! Our teacher was a first-year, and we took advantage of it. I should've chosen more wisely... skip the stupid trigonometry and learn as much as I could in auto shop!

Go to all the football games?  *I never went to a football game in my life until a couple of years ago for the homecoming game. My cross country kids and I walked in the homecoming parade, so I went to the game after that.

What was your favorite subject?  *Anatomy & Physiology (Mr. Haver was the greatest! He showed us the "Autopsy" series of videos that are now on HBO, I think. It was because of his class that I wanted to be a forensic pathologist.)

Do you still have your yearbook?  *Yes, I have my yearbooks all the way back to kindergarten!

Did you follow your "original" career path?  *In a way, I think I did. When I was in second grade, I wanted to be "an author". And eventually it became "a writer". But when that was too unrealistic, according to my teachers, I favorited a forensic pathologist until it was time to go to college, haha. So, now that I blog and I earn money from it, I guess it counts?

Do you still have your class ring?  *I never wanted a class ring. Or a varsity jacket.


What was your style?  *Now, I think it would be considered "hipster". Back then, it was just called "weird", hahaha.

Favorite shoes?  *I don't remember the brand, but I got them at a thrift store. They were like Converse chucks, but they were wider and made of blue suede. They were awesome!

Favorite thing to eat for lunch?  *A plain un-toasted bagel with cream cheese. I had this just about every day.

Favorite band in high school?  *Kindred, of course! ;)  (My friend Trysh and I made this--quilt? thing--from scraps of fabric in our sewing class!

Do you put ketchup on hot dogs?  *Absolutely NOT.  (See, I was even awkwardly holding my head up above the ketchup in this photo, because it clearly didn't belong there)...

Choice of soda?  *I'm not a huge fan of soda, but when I do get a fountain drink, I choose Sprite + lemonade, 50/50. When I was a kid, my friend Sarah and I were at Chuck E. Cheese. We mixed pink lemonade and Sprite, and we thought we were so clever--we named it "Pink-Spry". But ever since then, that's what I usually make when I have a fountain drink!

Do you own a gun?  *No, but I would LOVE to get whatever rifle it was that I used up north. It was Nathan's, and I felt like a badass sniper when I shot it (even though it took me about 20 minutes to line up the shots, hahaha).

Can you swim?  *I can swim in the sense that I won't drown, but I don't know how to do "real swimming"--laps that look elegant. I wish I could.

Hot dogs or cheeseburger?  *Hamburger! I love hot dogs (especially the ones with the skin, like the Kowalski brand); but if I had to choose, I'd probably choose a hamburger (no cheese).

Favorite type of food?  *Italian? I don't know. I love pizza and pasta. But I also couldn't live without rice.

Do you believe in ghosts?  *Not even a little bit

What do you drink in the morning?  *Water and/or decaf coffee.

Can you do 100 push ups?  *BAHAHAHA

Favorite time of year?  *The fall, of course!

Your favorite hobby?  *Woodworking

Tattoos?  *Just one and I hate it. It's a ladybug on my toe that I got when I was 18. It's super faded and the ink has bled over the years, so now when people see a picture of it on my weigh-in posts, I get emails telling me to have the mole looked at. If it wasn't insanely expensive, I'd get it removed.

Do you wear glasses?  *I had HORRIBLE vision and wore glasses, then contacts, until 2002. Then I had lasik surgery, and my vision has been 20/20 ever since. I do wear glasses occasionally now--they have an anti-glare lens, so I don't see halos around lights. And they look cute!

Do you have a phobia?  *I'm terrified of getting Alzheimer's disease. But as far as a typical phobia, I'm extremely ridiculously scared of spiders.

Do you have a nickname?  *Cookies, Boo

Three favorite drinks?  *I mostly just drink water... but my very favorite drink would be a margarita on the rocks with salt. I can't think of three!

Do you like to be indoors or outdoors?  *Indoors

Rain or snow?  *Rain--I love rain and cloudy days!

Can you change a tire?  *I used to know how, back in the days when I skipped auto shop; but I don't know if I could anymore

Favorite flower?  *I'm definitely not a flower person. I don't even know the names of any flowers!

Can you drive a stick?  *No, but it's something I've always wanted to learn

Ever gone sky diving?  *Hell to the no. I'm pretty sure I would die of anxiety before the plane even took off.

Kids?  *Two boys, 14 & 15 years old. I can't believe I am old enough to have teenagers!

Favorite color?  *Orange. Obviously.

Employed?  *Self? I get paid for advertisements, so I make money. I don't technically have an "employer".

Can you whistle?  *Heck yes I can

Favorite vacation?  *This is tough! It would probably be when Jerry and I took the kids to Virginia Beach. Nothing went as planned, but it made for a fun vacation!

Siblings?  *An older sister, Jeanie; an older brother, Brian; and a younger brother, Nathan. Here's the (brief) scoop on them.

Surgeries?  *Four--my wisdom teeth removal; jaw repair x2 after breaking my jaw; and skin removal surgery

Shower or bath?  *Definitely shower. I hate baths!

Last song you listened to?  *Hahaha, I just listened to Funky Cold Medina. No idea why it popped into my head while Jerry and I were watching Gilmore Girls, but I had to find it on iTunes and download it of course.

Broken bones?  *Just my jaw. I fainted and fell flat on my face, breaking my jaw completely through in five different places.

How many TVs are in your house?  *Two--my bedroom and the living room

Do you like to sing?  *Sure! I sometimes break into a sing-song voice when I am talking. It's completely random.

Are your parents still alive?  *Yes, and I haven't seen them in over two months, even though they live less than a mile from me! They were on vacation for a couple of months and now that they are home, I am not visiting because I don't want to get them sick if I should have coronavirus. My parents are adorable... my mom posted this on Facebook a couple of days ago:

Favorite sport?  *I have to say that it's little league baseball! I LOVE watching my kids play ball.

What do you enjoy binge watching?  *This isn't really an easy question to answer. Basically, just any show that I find interesting. Most recently, it was Tiger King. That was a total train wreck that I just couldn't stop watching.

Pumpkin or pecan pie?  *Absolutely pecan pie! It's the only thing that I can bake, and it's delicious. My dad loves pecan pie, so I make him one for Father's Day and his birthday every year.

And there you have it... maybe you learned something new about me? But after writing well over 2,000 blog posts, I'm pretty sure that there is nothing I haven't written about before!

March 30, 2020

Home Again

Sadly, the kitties went back to their foster home today--which is now their "forever home". I feel disappointed about it, but foster mom and I agreed it was best for the cats.

I was hopeful this morning because during the night I heard the cats use the litter box. It was a relief because was really getting worried that they hadn't gone to the bathroom at all. They also came out of hiding for a moment here and there, but the second Jerry or I moved or looked at them, they would disappear again.

This morning when I got up, I was so sure that they would have eaten the wet food I gave them before bed, but it was still untouched. They were hiding under the dresser. I tried giving them a can of tuna fish, sure that they would want it, but they didn't show any interest at all. (I used the same foods they were eating at their foster home, so I know it wasn't that they disliked the food.)

I am well aware of cats needing an adjustment period (we've adopted several cats, and they all hid under beds or in closets for a while at first, and I totally expected that). I had the new boys confined to my bedroom and bathroom, keeping the rest of the pets out, so they never came into contact with Phoebe, Estelle, or Joey. I wanted to give them time to adjust without the chaos of other pets.

They are super sweet cats! I wanted them to work out so badly. They refused to eat or drink, though, and I was worried about that. I could understand them feeling stressed and not eating for a day or two, but after three days, their organs can start to shut down. Their foster dad was VERY attached to them, and I think they probably missed him. He was very happy to take them back and keep them as their own pets instead of fosters.

Foster mom and dad were super understanding and they have lots of cats that need adoption. They have 13 kittens, all without mamas! I couldn't believe that they hand-feed all of them. They said that people will find a litter of kittens and take them in, thinking that the mom has abandoned them. And then they bring the kittens to her, because she runs a rescue. She said that if you find kittens, you should leave them alone because the mom is probably just out finding food. She'll return only to find that her babies are missing.

Anyway, I'm glad that Slick and Jessie are back at their happy place (they lived there since they were just babies). We would still like to adopt, though--I'm sure we'll find the right cats for us!

Meanwhile, Estelle is thrilled to have my bedroom back. I haven't slept in two nights because Estelle paws at the door constantly (the door is right next to my bed). Estelle is super attached to me and sleeps with me every night. This morning, I think she was mad at me for locking her out of the bedroom. She didn't sit on my lap while I drank my coffee--something she does every day.

After an hour or so, she stopped pouting and wouldn't leave my side. She's pretty content to sit on my shins as I write this!

March 29, 2020

When things don't go as expected...

Unfortunately, things aren't going so well with the new cats. I'm super bummed! I hope that everything works itself out, but I'm worried about them.

They were just kittens when their fosters took them in (I think she told me they were six weeks?). And they are now about 10 months old, so the only home they've known is their foster home.

I know cats very well. I've had pet cats my entire life, and I learned a TON when I went to the Purina events (especially the True Nature of Cats weekend). So I know that cats are stand-offish when they first go into a new environment. I expected that.

We've taken in strays and adopted from shelters before, and I'm familiar with how cats behave under new circumstances. Usually they hide out under a bed or in a closet for a few days, eventually warming up until they are comfortable.

These two, however, are behaving differently than I'm used to, and I'm worried that they really just don't want to be here. I've set up my bedroom with food, water, litter box, toys, scratch pads, etc for them. That way, they won't have to be around the rest of the family and the pets until they get more comfortable.

They've been hiding non-stop (except for a couple of times when I pulled them from hiding to try to get them to eat (and they did sit on our laps for a little bit). But they haven't eaten a single bite of food, haven't had any water (that I know of) and they haven't used the litter box.

I've never had this happen with cats before! I've tried enticing them with wet food, dry food, treats, toys, and catnip, but they aren't interested in any of it. I wouldn't be worried if they were just hiding out--that's normal--but I do worry that they aren't eating/drinking.

Today, I barricaded all around the bed and the couch in my bedroom so they couldn't go under there to hide (I did give them another "hiding" place where I could at least keep an eye on them, though). Once they realized they couldn't go under the bed, they explored a bit, which gives me hope!

I've been keeping in touch with their foster "mom" to let her know what's going on. Their foster "dad" was very reluctant to let them go, because he'd gotten very attached to them--so he told me to promise that if it wasn't working out for any reason at all, we'd bring them back and they would keep them. (I love knowing that he cares so much for them.) I'm just hoping that kitties come around and start eating soon! They really are SO sweet.

I really don't want them to be unhappy or stressed out, though, so if they still aren't eating tomorrow, I may consider bringing them back to their fosters 😞 They're the sweetest! I just want them to be happy. Hopefully, they'll do great tonight (maybe while we're sleeping) and everything will work out.

When we first got Phoebe, she was VERY stand-offish. She hid and avoided us at all costs. Now, though, she is the most loving, loyal cat ever! I never expected that after seeing how she behaved in the beginning.

Anyway, I really hope that I have good news to report tomorrow! I'm trying to give them their space now, so I've just been checking in on them occasionally (they haven't budged from their hiding places since I removed the barricade).

March 28, 2020

Hosting A Virtual Game Night With Friends

I picked up our new kitties today! I will write more about them tomorrow. They are very shy right now and getting used to us, so I want to give them a moment to take it all in before I start snapping lots of pictures.

Last night was super fun! I love game nights with friends, but considering this quarantine fun, I wanted to look at virtual options.

I watched a movie called "Unfriended: The Dark Web" a few weeks ago, and it gave me the idea to host a game night with friends. On the movie, the friends played Cards Against Humanity via Skype. When I suggested using Skype, I was apparently moved to the "Boomer" category, hahaha.

I learned that Zoom is the new Skype!

So, I downloaded Zoom, and it was actually really simple to set up. I created a meeting for last night at 7:00 pm and I had an idea for a game that I thought would work well virtually: Wits & Wagers (Amazon affiliate link).

Wits and Wagers is a super fun game! You draw a card that asks a question (the answer is always going to be a number). The answers are nearly impossible for anyone to actually guess, which is the whole point.

When playing in person, everyone writes down their guess on a little dry erase board and then the boards are placed in order from lowest to highest. The number "1" is a given (think of The Price is Right" rules... you want to be closest without going over). I just made up these numbers to show an example to my friends:

Then everybody takes turn placing "Meeples" (little wooden people, big and small) on their bets. You want to guess the closest number without going over. The big Meeple is worth two points, the small Meeple is worth one point. You can place your Meeples on one card, split them up, put them both on your own card, or on others' cards. Wherever you want.

Then, after reading the answer, whoever guesses closest to the actual number without going over gets one point. Each of the people who have Meeples on that card also get points, depending on whether they are small/large Meeples.

It's a super fun game!! And I thought I'd be able to modify it pretty easily for playing virtually with friends. I used index cards and post-it notes to write down the guesses, because we had more people than we had game boards/Meeples.

Jerry and I used each of our laptops. One of them was facing down at the game pieces and the other was facing Jerry and I so we could easily chat with everyone. The computer on the left is mine, facing down at the game pieces. Jerry's is on the right, where we could chat.

I read the question aloud, then each person wrote down their guess on a scrap paper without anyone seeing. Once everyone wrote down a guess, they read their guess aloud and I wrote it on their index card. I placed all the cards in numerical order. Then, we placed our "Meeples".

Since we had more people than the number of Meeples, I had to improvise with game pieces. I used color coded pieces from one of Eli's Rubik's Cubes that had come apart. It worked out well!

We had fun playing the game, but mostly it was fun to just see everyone and catch up! We played with two other couples--Jack and Amy, and Eric and Maris. I had no idea how it was going to go, so I didn't invite a lot of people. But everyone liked it, so we made plans to do it again next Friday.

If you haven't tried Zoom, it's a great way to connect with people right now! I'm going to see if my parents/siblings would want to set up a game as well. Yahtzee would be an easy game to play--almost everyone has dice! It's super fun to play a virtual game night :)

March 27, 2020

The One With the Two Kitties!

A few days ago, I wrote about how excited I was to possibly adopt two cats--a pair of bonded brothers (tuxedo cats). I sent in an application, and waited to hear back. There were some communication issues with our vet, but that was finally worked out.

And then we were approved!!

Jerry, the kids, and I were SO excited. These cats sounded perfect for us. The foster couple of the cats described their personalities and one of them sounded just like Estelle. I can only imagine the trouble the two of them would get into, hahahaha.

I've been getting the house ready to take them in (the foster parents said that they would need two weeks to adjust by staying in a bedroom, so I've been getting my bedroom set up for that. I have to get the food they are currently eating and set up a litter box in my bathroom. I haven't left my house (other than going outside) in about two weeks!

The boys cleaned their rooms meticulously (in the hopes that the cats would want to sleep with them).

The cats' foster dad called me last night to tell me more about them, and they sounded SO perfect for our family! Jerry and the kids are crazy excited about getting the cats, of course ;)

Currently, their names are Slick and Jesse. But you all know that we choose Friends characters to name our pets after. The cats are 10 months old, so I don't think it's too late to rename them.

When I shared the cats' picture the other day, several of you said you were excited to see what "Friends" names we came up with. We were pretty set on Treeger and Heckles. Jerry, the kids, and I all liked those names.

But then Jerry dropped a bomb that was just... perfect. The PERFECT names for these cats!!

The cats look very much alike. Jerry thought back to one episode of Friends and came up with the best names... watch this video clip from Friends:

So... would Ross and Russ not be the PERFECT names for these look-alike cats?!

I've never liked Ross, and I swore I'd never name a cat Ross, but when the scenario is this perfect, we just have to do it.

<3 nbsp="" p="">I'm going to pick them up tomorrow at 1:00. Of course I'll post pictures! I'm assuming they'll be a bit shy as they warm up to us, but hopefully we can earn their trust quickly. We will spoil them ;)

March 26, 2020

How to Play Grandma's Game (solitaire) - A video tutorial

I shared this video five years ago, but I thought now, amidst this coronavirus social distancing, it'd be a great time to share it again.

I never knew what this game was called until I wrote about it on my blog, and a couple of people suggested it was called "Grandma's Game" or also "13 Stacks". I think the way I play it is slightly different than those rules, but it's very similar.

You can find digital versions of this game, but I think most of the fun of it is playing with actual REAL playing cards. The deal is the funnest part of the game!

You use two decks of cards (no jokers). To explain it in words here is nearly impossible, so I made a video way back in 2015 explaining how to play. I've only ever ONCE won the game, and it was so exciting! Here is what I wrote in my blog that day:

"I've mentioned the game in my blog several times, because it really helps me to keep from binge eating sometimes. I like to play it with real cards (not digitally). I've been playing the game for over two decades, and I'd NEVER WON. Not once! 
Well, apparently, today was my lucky day. I ACTUALLY WON. My heart was pounding toward the end, because I was doing so well, and I couldn't believe it when I actually won. My mom is the one who taught me the game, and she only won it one time (about 40 years ago). It's a really difficult game to win! 
I was dying to tell someone, but nobody really cares(!) so I decided to make a video that I've been planning to do for a long time but just never got around to it. I made a video that explains how to play the game. It's a hard game to describe, and I never even knew what it was called until I wrote about it on my blog a couple of years ago (the closest game I can find to what my mom taught me is called Grandma's Game). 
Anyway, if you're into playing solitaire, here is a video that explains how to play. I wish it was a little closer up, but I hope that it's pretty explanatory."

So, here is the video. Give it a try! You'll be hooked for life, because the odds of actually winning are nearly impossible, hahaha.

This is a photo of what it looks like when you win... Good luck!

March 25, 2020

Exciting run today!

On Monday, I wrote about how I had done a hard run for the first time in years. It felt SO good to sweat, breathe hard, and push myself out of my comfort zone. After doing heart rate training for so long, and keeping my heart rate low, I was just really in the mood to push myself.

After that run, I felt so good that I altered the training plan I'd written for the Detroit Free Press Half in October. I'd been planning to do walking for a few more weeks, then following my Six-Month Half Marathon Training for Beginners plan.

Yesterday, I changed the plan to start out with running two miles at a time. I've always felt like three miles was the magical number, but what's wrong with running two?

On the plan, I have the distance increase by only 0.25 miles every two weeks (the long run, once a week, will increase a little faster). Then, when I'm 12 weeks out from the race, I'll start my 12-week "Finish Strong" Half-Marathon plan (on July 27).

For these next 18 weeks, though, I don't have a specific pace goals, or heart rate goals, or anything other than just running a distance. This week, it's two miles.

For a moment today, when I thought of the fact that I was planning to run, I felt the "but I don't wanna" attitude that I've had for... well, ever. But when I remembered that it was only a two mile run, and the faster I ran the sooner I'd be done, it didn't bother me! I didn't even procrastinate.

Monday's run gave me the confidence to try to push myself a little harder today. Thankfully, I didn't have problems with the iPad like last time, and I was able to start my run on the treadmill right away. I wore my Altras today. I'd like to start working them into my routine again.

I decided to start the treadmill at 6.0 mph. I haven't run at that speed in I have no idea how long. But I wanted to see if I could do just a quarter mile--or even half a mile--at 6.0, and then I could drop it down to 5.0 if I wanted. I put on a Forensic Files show, but it was really boring and definitely not made-for-treadmill watching. So, I was bummed that I didn't have a good distraction, but it was just for two miles.

When I got to 0.5 miles and I was still holding that 6.0 mph pace, I thought how great it would feel if I could do a full mile. It started to feel really difficult at around 0.75 miles, but I knew that I could keep going. For a moment, I thought about going for two miles at that speed, but I knew that wasn't going to happen. My heart rate was approaching 170, and usually once I hit 173 I'm toast.

When I reached one mile, I dropped the speed down to 5.5. For the next 0.75 miles, I bounced between 5.5 and 5.7. Then in the last 0.25 miles of the run, I kept increasing the speed until I finished on 6.5 mph (only for a moment!).

I felt so good! It was a big confidence boost, and I loved feeling like I'd worked really hard. I miss pushing myself and playing little head games to make myself go farther or faster.

My first mile split was 9:55; my second mile was 10:30. I was thrilled with that! So, today's run was two miles in 20:25; on Monday, it was 21:36!

My face was super red when I was done. I sat down on the treadmill in front of the fan, chewing on ice and just catching my breath.

I haven't felt this good about running in ages!

March 24, 2020

Making Time for Things We Don't Have Time For

As of today, it's been well over a week since the kids have been out of school and we've been told to distance ourselves socially. At first, it really did feel like a few snow days! Now the reality is setting in.

I feel terrible that Eli's baseball season is canceled. He LOVES baseball and was so excited about this season--he'd had some private lessons with a hitting coach and he'd been practicing with a travel team. He even started running on the treadmill and doing sit-ups, push-ups, and planks! He was determined to be a great ball player this season.

Noah hasn't been happy with me at all because I won't let him get together with his friends. He doesn't understand the reasoning behind social distancing. I've been letting him play games on his computer way too much, but I'm not worried about it. It's his way of socializing with friends right now.

This morning, I started thinking about how great this time is for doing the things we usually don't have time for. I recently shared a list of things I'd like to learn; and some of them seemed impossible. However, now I feel like it's the perfect time for several things!

Jerry and I were both talking about learning a foreign language. We looked up the cost of Rosetta Stone and were weighing out whether it would be worth it and if we'd make the time to actually work on it--and there is no reason NOT to right now. So we may end up doing that soon.

Today, I was SUPER sore from my run yesterday, so I had a "lazy day". I read a little of my book and watched a movie. And it occurred to me that I could multitask while watching the movie--I used to knit or crochet while watching TV in the evenings--so I cast on for a garter stitch afghan today. It'll be gray, white, and light blue to match the decor of my house.

I don't think garter stitch looks the best, and it's literally the simplest of patterns, but it is certainly super cozy and squishy and I love it.

I finally brought inside the project I'd been working on... my first project that I made with my table saw! I wanted to replace a cheap/broken little table that I'd had in my bathroom. I had the table across from the toilet in my bathroom--the drawer had feminine hygiene products and then I had a roll or two of toilet paper on the shelf. It wasn't anything fancy--it just made for easy access.

The drawer broke on the table, so I decided to use my table saw and some scrap materials to make a new table. I love how it turned out! It took forever (and I even had to remake the entire thing at one point) but I'm happy with it now. I didn't realize just how powerful wood glue was until this project--once you use wood glue, there is NO going back! That's why I had to start from scratch at one point.

There is a big learning curve with the table saw, so the table is not perfect. There are several things that I could have done better! But the table does its job and it's in a place that no one sees anyways, so I'm fine with it. I learned quite a bit while making it, so I'm happy with how it turned out as my first project.

I painted it orange (of course) and I really like it. It replaces the old table perfectly! (Obviously, on the left is the old table; and on the right is the new table that I made with scraps)

It's so nice to have had time to work on this project. I also started working on a shelf for Noah's room (I just have to paint it).

Basically, I feel like NOW, during this coronavirus quarantine, is a great time to make time for the things we don't usually make time for. To start hobbies we always wanted to, but just didn't think we'd be able to find the time to do. Learning a foreign language, knitting, woodworking, and anything else that comes to mind.

Yesterday, I used the sewing machine that Jerry got me for Christmas. It was my first time using it! I patched up his work pants and I hemmed a pair of jeans for him.

My sister sent me a link to a pattern for face masks, and I was surprised to see that some hospitals are open to using them because they are so desperate for masks right now. I printed out the pattern (ugh, I finally solved the printer problem this morning--it only took me about six hours total!). I'm going to try making a mask tomorrow. Even if it doesn't work for this virus, I can certainly use it when I use the table saw! Haha, the dust is terrible.

There are several hobbies that I enjoy doing but I don't make time for them, because it makes me feel guilty for spending time on them when I feel like I "should" be doing something else. So with this quarantine going on right now, I really feel like this is the perfect "excuse" to work on things that I enjoy.

I would love to learn a language, knit the super squishy, comfy, garter-stitch afghan, sew some masks or anything else that I want to make, organize my photos, play around in my wood "shop" and make some things, and even teach my family how to play Hearts (Spades and Euchre are to come soon!). Now I have the time to do these things without feeling like I "should" be doing something else. I love not feeling guilty about it.

By the way, here is my "happy place" in the garage. Kind of boring looking, right?! But I turn my podcasts up loud and I love making things out of scraps here. I never would have guessed that I'd one day have a little "shop" set up in the garage, and Jerry teases me about it, but it's definitely where I can forget about my anxiety for a while. It's so nice.

Pssst... Here's a "secret" that I'm very excited about: Today, I sent an application to adopt two cats! After the black cat came to visit us and we really wanted to keep him, I've been thinking non-stop about getting a new cat (or, preferably, a bonded pair!). I've been looking online to see the cats at local rescues and shelters and I fell in love with a sibling pair of brothers (they look like mirror twins).

Even if we don't get that particular pair, I'm going to keep looking. I feel like now is a good time to get a new pet--the kids and I are at home 99% of the time, so it'd be great for the adjustment period. We're certainly not going on a vacation any time soon.

I would love to get a pair of bonded male cats (they get along better than females, and Phoebe and Estelle would definitely do better with males).

I REALLY miss Chandler. All of the cats got along with him. Hopefully I will hear something soon about adopting these cats :)

March 23, 2020

I Ran Hard Today

The title of this post is extremely anti-climactic. But it's kind of a big deal for me--I haven't been running at all lately, even after running three times a week for three months in a row (October through December). My last run was January 3rd.

And my last HARD run? I honestly have no idea! I got so used to doing MAF training that I just didn't even remember what it felt like to run hard. 

I had absolutely no plans of running today. I wanted to get some work done, or at least just feel productive. My printer has been offline, which is driving me crazy, so I tried to figure out the problem with that. That led to making storage space on my computer, which led to sorting through photos (it's never ending). 

When looking at photos, it never fails that when I see photos of myself at my goal weight I am filled with a desperate feeling--I want to be back there, or at least close, so badly! I know exactly what I need to do, and I know that I have no *real* excuses not to just do it. I literally just don't have the drive or the discipline to stick to it.

When looking at the photos today, I thought that I really should go for a run. No plans other than that--I wasn't thinking about a specific running routine or anything--just run today.

I'd been doing MAF training for such a long time and I was so tired of focusing on my heart rate. From my knowledge of running, I truly believe that heart rate training is one of the best ways to train. But mentally, I just don't want to do it right now. 

When I first started running in 2010, I began by building my distance until I was able to run for three miles. (Here is a plan I wrote that is very similar to what I did.) Once I was able to run for three miles, I tried to make myself do it a little faster each time. Even if it was only a couple of seconds, I pushed myself to get faster. (Here is my running story in a nutshell)

It worked! I don't believe it's the best way to reach your maximum potential (I believe in the 80/20 rule--80% of the time spent running per week should be at a very easy pace, and 20% should be at a hard pace), but it definitely works until you reach a certain point in training.

Today, I decided that I would run by feel--I wasn't aiming for a heart rate or pace, but I wanted to run out of the comfort zone. I wanted it to feel uncomfortable, like I really wanted to stop--but then I'd continue to run for two miles. (I could've done three, but I haven't pushed myself to run hard in a long time, so I decided two was good for a start.)

I almost gave up before I started. I wanted to run on the treadmill, not outside. My iPad was totally dead, and I plugged it into the charger but it was taking a while to charge enough to turn it on. (I use it to watch TV while I run.)

While I waited for my iPad to charge, I grabbed a packet of photos that I'd gotten developed a few months ago. They are all photos that motivate me to want to try to get my weight under control again. My "thin" photos ;) 

I quickly grabbed six of them that I liked and I taped them to a piece of paper. Since I hate seeing the very slow going distance tick away on the console of the treadmill, I taped the paper over the numbers on the treadmill. And then if I felt like quitting, I could look at those photos and hopefully keep going.

It's kind of dumb, I know, but hey--whatever works!

Finally, my iPad was charged enough to start. Then, when I found the show 24 on Amazon Prime (which is what I'd been watching while running October-December) I noticed that it wasn't free anymore on Prime! I was super bummed. I had no idea what show to start. I like shows that are action packed when I'm on the 'mill. Dramas are too slow-moving.

I spent way too much time trying to find something--anything--to watch, but eventually, I settled on Bloodline on Netflix. I'd started that show when it first came out, but quit watching after a few episodes for some reason or another. 

I FINALLY started the treadmill. I hit 5.0 mph, but when I realized that felt kind of comfortable, I bumped up the speed (I think I ended up at 5.7-5.8, but I wasn't watching). 

It was hard!! I could've gone a little faster, but I didn't want to completely burn out before I hit two miles, and since it's been so long since I pushed myself, I wasn't sure when that would be. I was definitely very uncomfortable at that pace, which was my goal. I felt like I was working hard.

I wanted to stop, but I knew I could finish.

I have to say, it felt really good to breathe hard and sweat and feel like I was really DOING SOMETHING. I ran until the treadmill hit 2.00 miles (my Garmin distance/pace was WAY off, so I had to change the distance later). When I saw that my pace was under 11:00/mi, I was really happy about that! My heart rate definitely proved I was working hard...

My MAF heart rate is 142 bpm, and for this run, I was over 160 bpm for all but five minutes or so of the run. Overall I ran 2 miles in 21:36... a 10:48/mile pace.

When I was running 8-minute miles in 2016, I never thought I'd be thrilled to huff and puff through a 10:-something mile one day, but I'm actually feeling really good about it. I'm starting where I am TODAY, not where I was in 2016.

For the rest of the day, I've had what I affectionately call "runner's lung". This happens when I do a particularly hard run. It makes me cough kind of frequently for the rest of the day, especially when I take a deep breath. When I have runner's lung, I'm reminded all day that I worked hard. It feels good!

I have 30 weeks to train for the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon. I'm glad I have so much time--especially considering how hard it felt today! But today's run made me realize that I can't waste those 30 weeks. I can technically train for a half-marathon in 12 weeks, but I'm not in the shape to do that right now. I'm going to take advantage of these 30 weeks.

Today made me feel excited to do it!

March 22, 2020

Changing the Family Dynamic (due to social distancing)

"Social Distancing"...

This is an actual phrase now! How odd is that? Taken out of context, it seems like such a negative (a nicer way of saying "anti-social", I guess).

It feels so odd that this what we are doing right now. For some of us (introverts), it's great! For others (extroverts) it's incredibly boring.

I was chatting with my sister on the phone and she mentioned that she wonders how this "social distancing" is going to change the family dynamic overall.

Families are being forced to slow down--no more sports, clubs, and activities one after another for kids after school. Families staying together for most of the time, with limited options of what to do.

I love seeing pictures from Brian and Becky showing what they're up to with the kiddos...

They were fishing in their pond and they've been doing lots of nature walks. Because Brian is a pilot, and the airlines are flying about half as much as they used to, Brian has been able to spend more time at home with the fam :)

I have actually really enjoyed the time of "social distancing" with the family so far. I understand that there are SO many people who have temporarily lost their jobs and I feel awful about that. We are lucky that Jerry is still working (for now). His hours have been cut down (no overtime) but we are thankful that he is still able to work.

But in terms of being at home with the kids, we've really liked getting to spend so much time with them. All of us have been doing things we personally enjoy, and then we spend time together as a family each day as well.

I have been working on projects in the garage. I made my first project with my table saw, and I want to share a picture, but the paint is still drying. It's frustrating--I painted it DAYS ago, but because of the weather, the paint just isn't drying. A couple of days ago, it was 60 degrees! And right now, we have half an inch of snow on our porch.

Whenever it's cold or humid, the paint takes forever to dry in the garage. This summer, I'd like to work on insulating the walls of the garage and adding drywall. But we are holding off on spending any extra money until after this virus passes over. But here are a couple of progress photos... hopefully I'll be able to share the finished photos tomorrow!

Any ideas of what it is? ;)  Some days, it's SO cold in the garage. I have Reynaud's syndrome in my feet pretty bad, and my toes look like this when I come inside...

(I have to blur my ladybug tattoo, because it is old and ugly and when I post photos on here, I always get emails telling me that I should have "that mole" checked out! hahaha) But anyway, my skin is crazy dry and my toes turn translucent when they are cold.

I also went to Nathan's to work on removing his popcorn ceiling (although he just told me that he wants me to stay away for a while because a couple of people that he works with have tested positive for COVID-19).

Eli has been practicing his Rubik's Cube skills like crazy--today, he hit a new personal record of 37 seconds. That's doing the 3x3x3 cube... ONE HANDED. The kid is amazing, I swear!

Noah plays a lot of videos games, but that's how he connects with his friends. He's asked me several times to be able to get together with friends and I've said no--I feel bad about it, but I want to make sure we do our part to stop the spread of the virus.

In the evenings, when Jerry is home, we play a board game and then watch a movie, usually. Yesterday, I taught everyone how to play Hearts (the card game) and they really liked it. I was surprised (and happy!) when the kids asked about playing it some more.

After playing Hearts, we watched The Bourne Identity. Today, we played Scattergories and then watched the second Bourne movie.

Jerry was off work today and in the morning, we were just going to watch an episode of something or other while we drank coffee and ate breakfast. Well, we started watching a documentary series on Netflix called Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.

Holy cow!! We couldn't stop watching it. It was like a train wreck... on Jerry Springer... with lots of true crime thrown in.

It just seemed so unbelievable... but it was true! Even if I wanted to spoil it for you, I couldn't. It's too hard to describe what it's about. But if you like true crime and you like crazy, dramatic entertainment with lots of twists, then you should watch it.

We ended up binge watching the series (seven episodes!) today. We were so enthralled that we just couldn't stop.

Anyway, I totally strayed from the point of what I was going to write about. I guess I just realized that social distancing has a big effect on families (or at least it has on mine). And it's been a positive change! We've spent a lot of time together. We used to do a family game night once or twice a week, but now it's been every day. The same goes for family movie night.

I've asked a few friends how this social distancing has affected their families, and it's been pretty much the same. They've spent more time together.

My brother, Brian, called yesterday just to see how things are going. That never happens anymore! Usually, everyone is in such a busy rush that we send quick texts here and there. But I've spoken to my siblings on the phone more this week than I have in a year! It's so different, in a good way.

I think it's great that families are spending more time together and things are slowing down--it's not a big rush to grab a quick dinner and fly out the door for sports or other activities. Now, it feels like we have the time to do activities that we enjoy.

It's scary that we don't know what's going to happen even a day or two into the future and that we can't make real plans for the months ahead of time. It's VERY scary seeing the economy the way it is, and that people are losing jobs and that we don't know how long this is going to last. But in the meantime, it's a great reason to take a break from reality and to spend time with family, doing things that we ordinarily wouldn't make time for. (Teaching the family to play Hearts was time-consuming... but they really liked it and now they want to play more!)

What have you all been doing during the "social distancing" that is recommended? I admit, I've watched too much TV over the past week, but I honestly don't feel guilty about it. I never do this! I never take the time to be "lazy" without feeling guilty. I always wish that I could just stop time for a little while to catch up on things.

I'm not saying that I'm actually "catching up", but I am definitely feeling less stressed. I don't have tons of appointments to keep, I'm not driving the kids all over the place, and we don't have places to be. It's just such an odd feeling! But nice :)

March 21, 2020

The Reality That "Weight Loss Success Stories" Don't Tell You

Today, something showed up on my Facebook feed--a memory from 2014. It was a photo of Woman's World Magazine. Yours truly was on the cover, advertising a full spread of my weight loss secrets.

Looking at it now, it's kind of embarrassing. Even at the time, I cringed a little at the dramatic way they flaunted my "success" at losing weight.

What the heck is "success", anyway?

I lost 125 pounds, gained some pounds, lost some pounds, gained quite a few pounds, lost quite few pounds to reach my lowest adult weight, gained too much back to reach my highest weight in 10 years... the magazine only shows the one small part of my story.

I can't even be specific when I write how much I gained and lost each time over the last 10 years. I simply don't know! Yes, I lost a lot of weight. I guess that's considered a "success story". But when does it end? At what point am I considered a "success"?

I thought I was a weight loss success story when I hit my goal weight and stayed there for a few months. I thought that I had it figured out, that I could stay within a small range. I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to, but I thought that if I felt the pressure, I'd be able to do it. Especially considering how public my weight loss had become.

As we all know, I never did figure it out. Even after 10 years, I'm working on it. I'm still down 80+ pounds from my starting weight, but I honestly can't tell you if I'll be up 10, 20, even 30 pounds next year! Or, maybe I'll be back down to my goal. I don't know.

All I can tell you is that losing weight is fucking hard. Mentally, it's the hardest thing I've ever done.

Looking at this cover of Woman's World, it advertises that I lost weight by "eating Pop-Tarts, peanut butter, ice cream, and cookies!" (with the exclamation point).

True. I did eat those things.

What it doesn't tell you is that I ate about one-half to one-third of my previous portions of food, that I struggled with binge eating disorder, that sometimes I got so pissed off at the world for not being able to just eat whateverthefuckiwantedwheneveriwanted and that I had anxiety about eating too much or not knowing how many calories were in the food I was eating.

I even had nightmares--literally--about eating too much food and gaining weight.

The "success stories" that we read only tell a small part of the story. I used to read them all the time for inspiration, and it seemed like it was so easy. Just eat less food, swap out some high calorie foods for lower calorie foods, and exercise. Soon, you'll be a tiny size 2 and you'll run a sub-4:00 marathon. You'll lose your urge to overeat and you'll love choosing carrots over ice cream! (Exclamation point)

(I'll include a link to a PDF at the bottom of this post if you want to read the article)

I don't want this to sound cynical, because maybe it actually does work that way for some people. I was not one of them, however.

Here I am, 10 years later, feeling like I failed because I gained some a lot of weight back. I'm still 80+ pounds below my high weight, so why can't I feel happy about that? The magazine doesn't mention the constant battle in your mind when you lose a large amount of weight, then gain some, then lose some, etc. It doesn't go away! (At least for me.)

I don't want it to sound like I regret dropping the weight--I certainly don't! I just don't want anyone to read the "success stories" like mine and think that it ends there. That I lost weight, I'm super happy, and that I have it all under control.

Because of my blog, I've gotten to know several people who are "weight loss success stories"--some of them very well-known--and I've yet to meet one that feels they have it all figured out. Each one that I've talked to has the same feelings I do. We all feel like it's only temporary, and that a single bad day could lead to gaining every pound back.

I want to be happy with how I look now, but when I look at photos, I can't help but compare them to my photos from 2016 or 2017 when I was my thinnest. When I was 253 pounds, I would have killed to look like I do now (roughly 170 pounds--I avoid the scale these days!).

I wrote in detail about a lot of this on my post "What I Wish I Knew When I Started Losing Weight". When I started losing the weight, I had no idea I'd actually get "there"--meaning my goal weight. I had tried SO many times before and failed, so why should that time be any different?

I want to end this on a positive note, because I really don't want this post to sound negative. I really, truly, believe that all the sacrifices I made were totally worth it to lose the weight. Not just for the vain reasons, but life felt easier when I was thin. I am so glad that I did it!

I just really don't want people to see my story and think that it's all sunshine and rainbows. To sound cliché, rainbows don't appear without some rain--and trust me, there was a LOT of rain!

If you're on a weight loss journey of your own, please don't think that it's easy. Don't read those magazine stories and think that the person's journey ended there. The magazines share what sells. They share the all the fun, inspiring, motivational parts of weight loss. They make it look easy.

It's not easy! But it's worth it. And even though my weight is up and I've been trying to get back to losing weight (although it's not working well), I don't ever want to give up. I felt so good when I was the "success story".

I don't care if I am considered a success story in the public again. That doesn't mean anything to me. I just want to feel like I'm living my best life--eating to live rather than eating to ease my stress or anxiety. I have good days and I have bad days. My hope is to have more good than bad.

I really want to get my weight under control again, and feel good about myself. I want to feel that "success story" that Woman's World (and other media) made me out to be. Mostly, I just want to feel healthy and live my best life!

(Here is the full Woman's World article in PDF form if you're interested in reading it)

March 20, 2020

A Follow-Up From Peanut Butter & Co. (and my favorite ways to eat their peanut butter!)

(I just want to preface this by saying that this is NOT a sponsored post--I had written a complaint about this peanut butter, the company followed up, sent me some replacement products, and these are my thoughts. I was not asked to write a follow up, but I wanted to share!)

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how I used to LOVE Peanut Butter & Co.'s peanut butter. My favorite flavors were the White Chocolate Wonderful, Dark Chocolate Dreams, and especially Cinnamon Raisin Swirl.

The Cinnamon Raisin Swirl was the BEST (although I tend to pick out most of the raisins, haha) because of its texture--it was gritty (gritty like cookie dough--we'll pretend it's not from sugar). It wasn't too thick, wasn't too thin, and had great flavor.

And then the last couple of times I bought it, it was terrible. Super runny, no flavor, even the color was very pale (I showed side by side pics on this post)

I noticed the same thing with the other flavors, too. The White Chocolate Wonderful was my go-to for oatmeal, but the new jars I had bought were so bad I just had to throw them away. Nobody in the house liked it.

Eli used to love the Dark Chocolate Dreams flavor, but he wouldn't eat it anymore because of the changes.

I knew that PB&Co. had to have changed their recipe or something, because buying these from multiple locations and time periods took those variables away.

Anyway, I wrote a post about it and I shared photos of the differences in texture. My sister is the one who introduced me to the White Chocolate Wonderful flavor, and when she read my blog post, she texted me right away to agree that the last jars she bought were terrible. So, I knew it wasn't just me.

I tweeted the post to Peanut Butter & Co. on Twitter, and they messaged me a reply:

Naturally, I said yes! I was REALLY hoping that the peanut butter actually had changed back to the "normal" stuff I was used to eating for so long.

And a couple of weeks later, I got a package in the mail from PB&Co with six jars of peanut butter--two of each of my favorite flavors! They also included an adorable spoon that says "My Peanut Butter Spoon".

I opened the jars immediately to give them a taste and see if they were back to normal. And I was thrilled to see that they were back! I toasted a piece of Dave's Killer Bread and added a thick layer of Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. I was so happy that I even left the raisins in it ;)

The "Best By" dates on these jars are Sept 2021 or later, so if you're going to buy some, I would look for dates around then or later.

If you're looking for a DEEEElicious combination, try making these Banana Oat Bran Muffins--split them in half and then top each half with some of the Cinnamon Raisin Swirl peanut butter. The muffins are only 137 calories each, so topped with some peanut butter, the calories aren't crazy high. (In the muffins below, I also added blueberries to the recipe)

Anyway, I looked through some of my Instagram food log photos and I found some pictures that show how I like to eat the different flavors:

An apple, quartered, with Cinnamon Raisin Swirl...

A Sierra Trail Mix CLIF Bar with Dark Chocolate Dreams...

A Peanut Butter Chocolate Larabar with Dark Chocolate Dreams... (the calories here include the mug of tea with cream and sugar, so it's a little higher than the others)

Coconut Chocolate Chip Larabar with Dark Chocolate Dreams...

Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar with White Chocolate Wonderful...

Oatmeal with White Chocolate Wonderful...

Toast with Cinnamon Raisin Swirl... (Note that I don't exactly swirl the raisins into it! I wish that this flavor was simply Cinnamon Swirl, but I'll deal--it's just too good)

And a super yummy treat--I was craving cookie dough, and while this isn't exactly "healthy", it's much healthier than actual cookie dough! I combined raw oats (quick cooking works best, because you don't cook them) + White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter + mini chocolate chips. (I can't remember how much of each I used, sorry! I would guess 1/3 cup oats, 2 Tbsp peanut butter, and 1 Tbsp chocolate chips?)

Thank you to Peanut Butter & Co. for showing me the love--I'm thrilled to be able to add your peanut butter back to my breakfasts and snacks!

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