September 30, 2022

Friday Night Photos #85

I'm just going to dive right into my photos because I actually have a lot to write today!

The day I had my mammogram, I thought I'd be there for a while, so I had Jerry drop me off while he went to a few places to return items. I was in and out of the radiology department so fast that I had time to sit in the lobby.

So what, right? Well, this moment I captured was AMAZING--the lobby was completely empty, it was nice and warm and cozy in there, I chose a comfy loveseat and pulled my Kindle out of my purse to read.

The best part? It was SO QUIET. My life has been chaotic for the last few months and I've been so overwhelmed, that this moment in the photo was the most peaceful I'd felt in such a long time. I texted Jerry and told him to take his good old time, and if he forgets to pick me up, no worries ;)

Speaking of my Kindle, I've been reading a new-to-me series that I'm really into right now. It's a young adult dystopian series (my favorite!) and the first book is called The Cure. This book, Awaken, is the second in the series and I'm almost done with it. A lot of it (well, most if it) is pretty far-fetched, but I like the storyline and I'm going to keep reading. I get sucked into the YA dystopian books so easily!

Jerry made dinner yesterday (garlic noodles) and he was very proud of how it turned out--he actually took this picture and said I could "use it on Friday Night Photos if I want". 

Jerry has been with his employer for 20 years and he was given a catalogue to choose a "gift" for his anniversary. The only thing in there that he thought he would probably use was a set of golf clubs because Eli's been really into golfing lately and Jerry figured he could go with Eli sometimes. Well, Jerry is left-handed and he asked if he could get left-handed clubs. It turns out that no, he could not. Instead, he chose this boombox/speaker and it arrived today.

He'd just woken up so he was wearing his hideous pajama pants, and then he started blasting 80s music with the speaker and dancing around the house. (Now I have the music stuck in my head and I *hate* 80s music!). The boombox has lights that change color to the beat of the music and it's pretty much perfect for Jerry.

Naturally, the cats had to take turns getting inside the box that the speaker arrived in.

Duck has been so needy lately because I have been so busy and haven't been able to give him as much attention as he's used to. When I was working in the bathroom going up and down a ladder, he nearly tripped me several times because he was trying to rub against my leg (or make me fall off the ladder out of spite). Finally, I went out to the garage and got a piece of plywood and made a little perch for him to sit and watch me. And of course, as soon as I did that, he lost interest and wanted nothing to do with it!

I had a bad day and was lying on the bed talking to Jerry one afternoon (I wasn't actually asleep in this picture; my eyes just happened to be closed when Jerry took it). Duck has gotten too big to sleep on my head (although he still tries) so he curled up and fell asleep on my ribcage instead. I love when he sleeps on me!

This picture must have been from my "bad day" above--Jerry saw me getting really frustrated while trying to write a blog post and he said, "I'm going to take a picture of you looking pissed." I didn't pay any attention to him, because I was certainly not in the mood for goofing around.

A lot of things were going wrong that day, but my computer was driving me CRAZY. It's from 2015, and considering the amount of time I spend on the computer, I was far overdue for a new one. However, I was avoiding getting one because they're so expensive. I was thisclose to throwing mine through a wall that day.

Jerry hates that I'm so stubborn about buying new things until I absolutely need to. He's been telling me to get a new computer for at least three years; but I don't get excited like he does about buying expensive new things that don't really do anything different from the one I had that was working.

For example, our TV. After a couple of years, Jerry is pretty much begging the TV to die so that we have a reason to get a new one, while I'm like, "WHERE'S THE DUCT TAPE?!"

And my phone... I had my iPhone 6 until fairly recently because it still worked and I didn't want to spend the money for a new phone until the old one died. Then it was so old that a lot of my apps weren't compatible anymore, so I just went in and said I wanted whatever was the closest to the iPhone 6 that I could get--I didn't want the fancy new stuff. (I ended up with the iPhone SE, which is actually very much like the iPhone 6--and it was the cheapest new phone they had.)

This morning, I finally had enough with my computer. I went to the Apple Store and bought a new MacBook. Jerry was super excited for me, but it wasn't a "fun" purchase for me--I just needed a new one. (And yes, I was acting like a child about it.)

I bought what is essentially the same computer I had, only new (and with more storage because I'm pretty sure the 50,000+ photos on my computer weren't helping any with the problems I was having). I was kind of being a spoiled brat about it, even though Jerry was giddy with excitement that I finally bought a new one. I told him that I didn't need a stupid fingerprint ID or a "Touch Bar", whatever the heck that was, and why do I care if I have an M2 chip instead of an M1 chip, whatever that even meant.

I took it out of the box and started setting it up, annoyed that I had to transfer all of my stuff over, etc. And then. This happened...

I looked at the Touch Bar settings only to try to turn the bar off, really, when I noticed that there was an option to have emojis right there on the Touch Bar! I can just tap emojis on there all I want. I yelled, "JERRY! Look at what it can do!" and just like that, my mood went from šŸ˜” to šŸ˜†.

And, well, the stupid fingerprint ID isn't bad, either. And the extra storage, I guess that's cool. And the speediness, well, that's alright. I guess I can deal with the battery life lasting more than a couple of hours, too. šŸ˜œ

(I am currently writing this post on my old computer, though, because I need time to get adjusted to the new one. Primarily dealing with my all of my photos. I don't use the cloud, so I have a billion photos to back-up and transfer via an external hard drive.)

However, my attitude has changed and I'm pretty excited about the new computer. Moving on...

The purple cauliflower I bought at the farmer's market? I roasted it and it was SO delicious! I actually ate the entire head in two sittings, haha. 

After a long streak of not doing very well at the daily Wordle, I was very psyched to have gotten this one in just two guesses! Have I ever used the word USURP? I'm gonna go with nope. But thinking strategically and then taking a big chance with the letter U, I was thrilled to guess it in two. (I also guessed today's Wordle in two, but I don't want to spoil it in case you haven't done it yet.)

Finally, I saved the best for last...

This picture is from last summer with my brother-in-law, Shawn, when we went up north to his and Jeanie's property. Shawn and I have always been close because we share a lot of the same traits--namely, generalized anxiety disorder, haha.

I wrote about Shawn (while keeping him anonymous) in this post about Alcohol Use Disorder. I called him Charlie, and wrote about how proud I was that he admitted alcohol was a problem for him, that he went to rehab at his own will, and was going to be there for a month. (Basically, a very long post about alcohol that was inspired by Shawn.) My sister followed up with a guest post about what it's like having a husband who is getting treatment for alcohol addiction (with Shawn's permission, of course!). 

The reason I mention this today is because Shawn has been sober for six months today! I can't even describe how proud I am of him. When he admitted to having a problem with alcohol and choosing to go to rehab, it inspired another loved one of mine to seek treatment in a facility as well (this person will stay anonymous unless they choose otherwise). And because of their treatment, even more lives were changed for the better.

The butterfly effect that started with Shawn six months ago has made an enormous impact on more people than I can even count!

And I'll end with that. Have a great weekend! xo

September 29, 2022

Our First Cross Country Race of the Season

Things have been so out of order lately that I can't remember what I've posted about and what I haven't! It's hard to believe that we're five weeks into cross country season already.

Our first meet was scheduled for September 20th. It was at a school that's about 45 minutes away, and I've always loved that particular race for some reason. Usually it's at the end of the season, but it was scheduled first this year.

Jerry was off work and he knew that I was excited about the meet, so he came with me. The school is kind of in the middle of nowhere, so we have to drive the back roads to get there. Unfortunately, we came to a railroad crossing with a train at a dead stop. So we turned around and went to yet another road--and the same train was stopped there as well. I was starting to get worried at that point--not only that *I*, the coach, would be late, but that the kids wouldn't get there in time either.

I messaged the kids' parents to let them know about the train, and Jerry and I finally found a road that we could cross the tracks. I was glad we'd left early so I could get there in time. I started pinning the race bibs on the kids as they arrived and we watched as the high school girls' race started.

At that point, out of nowhere, it started lightening in the distance and the sky started getting dark. I'd checked the weather right before we left the house and it didn't show a single drop of rain coming.

Midway through the high school girls' race, the director canceled the rest of the meet; the girls didn't even get to finish their race. Our kids were only about five minutes from the starting time--it was such a bummer. I told them I at least wanted a team picture before we left, so we rushed together and got this picture... about three minutes before the rain just started pouring down hard.

So, needless to say, our first race was a bust. 

The second race was last Saturday and thankfully, the weather was great! It was at the park that I am super familiar with (because I used to run it all the time). The race is split into boys' and girls' races--we have 17 kids on the team and only 5 of them are boys.

I *hate* that I am terrible with names, because it takes me pretty much the whole season to learn all of the kids' names, and I feel so bad about it! Renee and I have always split the race up, with one of us taking the boys and the other taking the girls--and with only five boys on the team this year, I took the boys because I know all their names ;)

Such a fun group of boys!

I got the boys pinned and ready to go, then we went over the course and I explained my "race rules" for the millionth time:

1) Don't ever look behind you because you will lose time.
2) Never ever ever slow down until AFTER your feet have crossed the finish line. (I stress this at every single race, but I still see kids who slow down a few steps before the finish and then get passed at the very last moment.)
3) When you hear me yelling "CHEETAH!!" that means go as fast as you possibly can (because they are close to the finish line). Cheetah is a word that we use for "sprint" at practice.

I heard the announcer say that we could choose our starting line boxes (most of the time they are assigned). As soon as I heard that, I rushed to pick the closest to the center that I could, which ended up being perfect.

Everyone lined up and then off they ran!

I made my way toward the finish line and found a spot about 100 meters away from the finish so that I could yell at them to sprint. I'm normally a very shy, quiet person, but I get VERY loud at races, haha. I yell at the kids to pass the person in front of them or I yell to them that someone's about to pass them (whether it's true or not).

It's my favorite part of the race because you can see the instant that they hear me and pick up their speed to a sprint and it's exciting! All of the boys did an amazing job and I was thrilled when they finished. I love asking the kids how they feel when they're done with the race, and then if they say anything other than "Like I'm going to throw up" or "Like I'm going to pass out" or something like that, I tell them they didn't run hard enough and they'll just have to go faster next time ;) 

The girls did great as well. I was shocked when I got home and looked up the kids' finish times. Every single one of them had taken at least a minute off of their mile pace, and most took more than two minutes off. I cropped their names out, but you can see the difference on this:

Some of those times make me wonder if they just weren't trying their hardest at our time trial on the first day of practice, hahaha. They have the same course for our next meet, so it'll be interesting to compare their finish times on the same course.

I had planned to write about practices on here, too, because some of the kids are so cute about working hard to reach their goals (they love the awards you donated!), but this is long enough already--I'll save that for later. I just got home from practice, so I want to eat some dinner!

September 28, 2022

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 70

Remember those muscle pants? Hahaha, I haven't worn them in SO long--I think 2013? I was hoping to wear them to cross country practice one day because I think the kids will get a kick out of them, but even at this size, the seams look like they are going to tear apart at any moment. I wish I'd ordered a large! These ones are a small and could not be any tighter.

As you can see, I'm still having to prop the mirror up for my Wednesday mirror selfies. The bathroom is taking forever to finish! When Jerry works nights, he sleeps until 2:00 in the afternoon, so I don't want to wake him up by working on the bathroom. I usually start making dinner at around 3:30 before everyone has work, school, or my cross country practice. So it doesn't give me a lot of time to work on it. I've been doing a little every day, though, even if it's just mudding one or two corners of the drywall. 

Anyway, I'm still getting the hang of maintenance as far as my weight goes. I'm not actively trying to lose any more weight, but the scale was down quite a bit again this week:

I was at 127, which is down from 128.8 last Wednesday. It's ironic, really--I spent so much time counting calories to lose weight, but now I'm trying to *stop* losing weight and I'm increasing my food intake (and I assume calories). I've been adding extra food here and there; in the evenings, I've started eating a little cup of peanut butter (2 ounces) for a treat, which is 400 *delicious* calories.

I feel really good and healthy (at least physically; I still feel extremely overwhelmed mentally right now) so it's not a big deal if I lose a little more weight. But I like the size I'm at now, so I'll continue to add calories here and there until my weight stabilizes. I've never really been in "maintenance mode" before! Even when I got to my goal weight a couple of times, I was still counting calories and it didn't really feel any different than when I was losing weight.

My brain is still catching up as far as this recent weight loss. I remember being this size before (back in 2016) and feeling excited about it, but also scared to death of putting the weight back on. So I was very careful about counting calories, and eventually, I put the weight back on anyway.

This time feels so much different. I'm eating a million times healthier and I am eating what I want to eat. My choosing to become vegan had nothing at all to do with weight loss, but I'm sure it played a big part. It's just an odd feeling that this is the first time I've lost weight and don't worry about gaining it all back. I'm not saying I *won't* gain it back, because who knows what will happen in the future? But I don't *worry* about it like I used to. I am just going to continue eating a vegan diet and if need be, I'll add more calories. I certainly know how to do that ;)

I'm working on a Q&A post about my recent weight loss because so many people have been asking questions about it. I'm not really sure what to write that I haven't written already, because I'm not doing anything special. I think becoming vegan and increasing my fiber so much has had a big role in it, but I will write what I can. I also collected a ton of pictures of what I've been eating, so I'll post those as well.

I have an appointment next week with my doctor for an annual wellness visit and I asked if I could get a whole panel of blood work to see if/how eating a vegan diet has affected my health (other than my weight). I'm VERY curious about this--particularly about my cholesterol. It's been eight months since I became vegan, so I think that's a good amount of time to see a change, even if it's a small one!

September 27, 2022

Deep Thoughts With Jerry #6

I had another busy day today (Tuesdays are the busiest of the week for me) and Jerry saw how stressed out I was while getting stuff together for cross country and cooking dinner, so he volunteered to do a "deep thoughts" post. I gladly accepted! ;)

These posts of Jerry's are just fun questions and answers... enjoy!

Q. Crunchy peanut butter or smooth?

A. This seems like a bigger deal than what it is. I remember early in our relationship Katie and I would talk about this, have friendly debates or playful banter over it. I am a crunchy guy. Always have been. She's a creamy girl. (And that sounded so wrong as I was just typing it.)  I like crunchy as long as the crunchy comes from peanuts and not bread crumbs from double dipping. We at least agree on that.

I think the real question is: in what form do you prefer your peanut butter?

Q. Would you rather be invisible or be able to read minds?

A. Easy--invisible. The only time I would want to read someone's mind is right when I walk into a room. I'm always trying to gauge what people think of me. But just think of all the fun stuff you can do if people can't see you. Not creepy Hollowman stuff either... just fun, entertaining stuff like pranks.

See? This is me, sitting on the back of a rhinoceros...

Q. How do you like your eggs?

A. Fertilized, hatched, and walking around chirping at me. Before eating plant-based, I loved them scrambled and on buttery toast. So good.

Q. Would you rather be the funniest or smartest person in the room?

A. Could this question BE any easier to answer? Funniest. No one likes a know-it-all. And maybe it's just me, but the funniest ones get the girls. However, I bring a comfortable balance to the room, I can crack witty and quick jokes but I also have general trivia-type knowledge that makes talking to people easy. 

Q. Are you summer, fall, spring, or winter?

A. Another easy question for me... not even up for debate. I'm a fall guy. In Michigan, it's beautiful with the cooler temps in the 60's, the crisp cool air at night, and the changing colors... what a sight. However, enjoy it while it lasts because as soon as the colors change we usually get a big gust of wind that blows all the leaves off the trees and we're stuck looking at bare branches for the rest of the year.

Plus, as I get older fall doesn't seem as long as it used to be. Fall seems like nothing more than a two week transition from summer to winter. Sad. But, on the bright side, the fall welcomes in new seasons of my favorite TV shows, the baseball post-season, and football (GO BLUE!). 

Q. What fictional world or place would you like to visit?

A. Being a nerd I could go so many different ways with this. If I was basing my decision off of Star Wars, I would love to visit the peaceful world of Naboo or the industrious planet of Coruscant. Maybe I could visit Kings Landing, Winterfell, or Dragonstone on my tour of the Seven Kingdoms. Or, I could just go to Asgard and enjoy the finest meads, the most beautiful women, and hear latest tales of conquest and victory from Thor Odinson. It's a toss up.

[Katie here: I have absolutely NO IDEA what any of that means. I might as well be reading Japanese. So, unfortunately, I cannot find a picture for it.]

Q. What is your favorite sport or physical activity?

A. This answer depends on my mood. I love playing softball. Love it. However, over the years I just haven't been able to play because no one needs me! The softball community is tight knit, with people who have played with each other for years. Sadly, I'm not part of that group. Disc golf, even though I'm terrible at it, is relaxing and fun. It gets me outside and I can build relationships with whoever I'm playing with on a one-on-one basis.

See? So fun. Even when you're bad at it.

Q. Have you ever experienced a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado?

A. Yes. We have had our fair share of near disasters here in Michigan. About 12 years ago we had a storm roll though here that caused some pretty heavy damage in the area with multiple tornadoes touching down. Nothing like you see in the center of the US, but for use we had trees down throughout the entire area to the point where we couldn't see our roads and were without power for 7 days.

But, the most memorable natural disaster I have been through was a tropical storm in Virginia Beach. In 2016, Katie and I decided to take a road trip to Virginia Beach with the kids. There was a half-marathon I was training for and planned on doing with my friend Rik.

We packed up the kids and headed off, deciding to stop in Hershey, Pennsylvania for the night. We visited the Hershey factory, took the tour, and made our own candy bars. In the evening, we started winding down at the hotel and were just relaxing when I decided to go to the hotel bar and grab a couple drinks for Katie and I. As I was waiting, I got a little chatty with some wonderful ladies at the bar when one of them said I looked familiar. After a couple minutes of trying to figure out where she knew me from she realized she recognized me from Katie's blog! Small world!

Anyways, I was explaining some of the details of the trip with them and where we were heading when she informed me that there was a hurricane starting to tear up the coast. I was completely unaware. Dads are usually all over this weather stuff and I totally dropped the ball. Katie and I had a decision to make... drive to Virginia Beach and see what happens or turn around and go home. Needless to say we made the trek to Virginia Beach, enjoyed the surge, survived the storm, and created memories that'll last a lifetime. [The post about the whole trip is here.]

September 26, 2022

Some Fun Facts for Monday

I started to write out a post about mental health, but I am too exhausted right now after cross country practice to really write out what I want to say. I'll need to save that for when I have more time. But I haven't posted any fun facts in a while, and I thought these ones were interesting!

I'm so curious if this is true! Anyone live in Alaska that can confirm? I've always wanted to visit Alaska--actually, it's the only place in the world that I have a very strong desire to see--and this seems kind of funny that they pay you to live there, haha.  

I'm curious if the bear would have run off if another song was playing--or if it really just didn't like Justin Bieber ;)

I'm a very emotional person (I cry over everything--happy or sad!) so I can't even imagine what my face would look like, haha. 

Well, this was a bummer for him! I guess someone had to be the first, but yikes. What a way to try to prove a point! It reminds me of this episode of Stuff You Should Know (a super interesting podcast!). The episode was about inventions that go wrong (well, inventions that kill), and a man spent years trying to perfect a parachute. He tested it by jumping off the Eiffel Tower, and "dropped like a sack of potatoes" (the host's words--the way he said it was really funny!). 

This one felt very fitting, considering Queen Elizabeth II just passed away. I absolutely love this about her--that act alone shows the compassion she had. I think compassion is a trait that is often overlooked, but it says everything about a person.

I have therapy tomorrow morning, so maybe that will be a good day to write my mental health post, haha. I've only had three sessions and it's been so nice having someone neutral to talk to about all of the things that are overwhelming me right now! I actually really look forward to going each week.

September 25, 2022

A Morning At Eastern Market

I don't know why it popped into my head a few days ago, but I realized I hadn't been to Eastern Market in Detroit in a very long time. I think the last time I went was during my girls' weekend with Caitlin, Andrea, and Bonnie in 2016. Eastern Market is a huge farmers' market with vendors that have everything from plants and flowers to homemade baked goods, fresh cheese to an abundance of jams and tea and all sorts of good stuff.

I absolutely love Detroit, and it'd been a while since I was there (for any reason). The murals on buildings are my favorite!

 I know my mom loves Eastern Market as well, so I asked her if she wanted to go with me on Saturday (yesterday) morning. The market opens at 6:00 AM, so we headed out super early. It was a little bit drizzly, but the market is mostly in "sheds"--enormous tents.

This stand just looked so pretty! I had never seen purple cauliflower before.

I went to the market with one real mission--to find foods that I'd never tried before so that I could taste them. Our Kroger, where I grocery shop, has limited produce and there isn't much variety. So I wanted to try some new things.

My bags were getting heavier after pretty much each stand we went to, haha

I was very excited to see this (stalk?) of Brussels sprouts. I LOVE Brussels sprouts and so do my kids! Eli is a picky eater, but he really does love them when I sautƩ them in coconut oil or roast them.

I've always been such a shy, quiet person, and over the last year or so, I've been making a point to step out of my comfort zone and talk to people. Every time I go to the grocery store or anywhere in public, really, I've started talking to people. Sometimes I just say a word or two, and sometimes I have full conversations. Well, the market is the perfect place to have conversations with people.

I really enjoyed chatting with a man who was selling a ton of different flavors of jam. All of them are vegan and don't even contain any pectin. My favorite part was the creative names, though! Check these out:

One that caught my eye was called Sweet Jesus and it was a sweet jalapeƱo jam. I asked him what people do with it, because I couldn't picture using it (but I love jalapeƱos!). As soon as he mentioned putting it on a grilled cheese, I was sold.

I've been using a vegan cheese recipe that I really like (it doesn't get firm enough to slice or shred, but stays in a very thick cheese-sauce consistency--it's what I use on my homemade pizzas). The thought of thick sourdough bread with the vegan cheese and Sweet Jesus jalapeƱo jam just sounded heavenly. So I bought a jar of that.

He was also selling gift tins of a variety of smaller jars, and my mom bought one for me!

My absolute favorite stand, however, was where a man was selling vegan cheese spreads. (The honey and cinnamon is not vegan because of the honey, but the others are.) He offered me a sample and I couldn't decide, so I asked what his favorite was. He said the herb is his favorite, so I chose that.

He spread a little on a slice of baguette, and it was SO delicious! When I saw the ingredients, I thought I could definitely make it at home--but I wanted to buy some so that I could try to replicate it the best I can.

It's kind of interesting--since becoming vegan, I've started seeing foods differently in that I can make so many items myself--instead of buying hummus, for example, it's so easy to make it instead. I almost bought a dried bean mixture, but when looking through the types of beans/peas/lentils in it, I discovered that I had all of those things at home and could just put it together myself.

By the time I came home, this was my haul:

A few new to me foods:

I forget what these pears are called, but the vendor said that people either love them or hate them, haha.

I couldn't help but try the purple cauliflower! I cut it into florets and plan to roast them tonight.

I don't remember what this squash was called--at least I think it's a squash!--but I thought that would be fun to try as well.

I also bought purple potatoes (!), cranberry beans (never tried those), collard greens for Jerry's Beans & Greens recipe, and some staples: Yukon gold potatoes, jalapeƱos, green beans, Brussels sprouts, and corn on the cob. I made a corn chowder with the fresh ears of corn last night and it was delicious! I don't use fresh corn very often.

Oh! And one more thing I was very excited about:

Fresh garlic. I know it sounds silly, because you can buy it anywhere, but I can't remember the last time I bought garlic that was actually FRESH from the grocery store. Every time I try it, it's old and bitter inside. So, I always just buy minced garlic in a jar. I've missed roasted garlic, though, and I can't wait to roast these and put them on pizza.

Finally, this picture is kind of random, but there is a story behind it. Jerry and I love the movie Meet the Parents with Ben Stiller, who plays a man who is trying to impress his girlfriend's dad. He stops inside a convenience store and asks the bored looking employee at the counter what their most expensive bottle of champagne is. The guy said they have Mums on sale for $13.95, and Stiller's character asks, "You don't have anything nicer, like an $80 or $100 bottle?" and the guy replies, "You could buy a whole bunch of Mums."

Jerry and I always laugh at that part and it's one of those movie phrases we say randomly sometimes. (We quote movie lines all the time!). When I saw all of these mums, I just had to get a picture of me with "a whole bunch of mums", haha.

Anyway, it was a great morning at the Market and I definitely want to go more often. We were home by 10:30 AM and I had a huge pile of produce to eat this week!

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