July 31, 2023

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

This post almost didn't happen. It's nearly midnight already and I'm just getting started, so I'm going to make it super quick. ("Katie quick" is different than normal-people quick, as we all know, but I'll try.)

Jerry and Eli's softball team plays on Monday nights and I *always* forget about it until Monday evening. They play a double-header that doesn't start until 8:30 pm, so it tends to go pretty late. I almost stopped at the grocery store on the way home because we need a few things, but I was just too tired.

The next couple of weeks might be a little different/unusual as far as my blogging goes. I *hate* when people say cryptic things like this, but I have something kind of big going on and I won't be able to write about it until afterward. (It's not super exciting or dramatic or anything, I promise.) It definitely adds stress to daily life, but I'm hoping that I can manage.

I've always liked the saying, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." Even though I don't have anything as big as an elephant going on, I'm just going to work on all the smaller stuff I've got going "one bite" at time. Anyway, all of this is to say that I'm not sure how much I'll be writing or not writing, if at all on some days.

Anyway, tomorrow starts the challenge I made for myself--trying to get in 10,000 steps per day. I know it sounds like a bad time to start anything new, but I think this will be good for me, especially for alleviating stress. I may get up an hour earlier than usual and take Joey for a long walk in the morning. That way, I can get most of the steps out of the way early in the day. I guess we'll see how that goes tomorrow ;)

Eli promised me he'd go with me and we'd listen to the audio version of David Goggins' book "Can't Hurt Me". I *know* Eli will love it if he just listens to it, but his attention span is that of a teen who watches too much TikTok.

I have no pictures for this not-really-a-post post, so here is a selfie I took at the softball game.


I have gotten to the point where I actually *need* my glasses in the evenings now (mostly for driving). I'm so bummed! I had 20/20 vision for 20 years after my LASIK eye surgery, and now, at 41, my eyes are starting to age. I don't need reading glasses (yet) but I am due for an eye appointment so I'm sure I'll need a stronger prescription. These ones *barely* have a prescription and are mainly for the light from devices like computers and phones). Oh, and the halos around lights/signs on the road at night.

Getting old... fun stuff! ;)

For those of you who are going to try walking 10,000 steps with me tomorrow, good luck!

July 28, 2023


When I sat down to write my Friday Night Photos today, I looked through my camera roll and saw that I had literally ZERO photos from this past week that weren't "progress" photos of some sewing projects I've been working on. Then Eli asked me if we could go get piercings today, and we did :)  I took some photos from that. So this isn't really a "Friday Night Photos" post--just about my piercing date with Eli.

It wasn't a spontaneous idea; I'd told myself that when I got my weight back under 135, I would get either another ear piercing or a second nose piercing. Eli has been asking for a while about getting his eyebrow pierced, so I said we would go this weekend and get them. Jerry and I planned to run a couple of errands today, so he came along with us.

We went to the tattoo shop that we'd gone to when Eli got his ear lobes pierced (and I got my tragus and I think one other there). I really liked the piercer, whose name was Josh, and I hoped he'd be there again. When we walked in, the whole vibe was "off"--it's hard to explain. Normally, tattoo shops are a fun, light-hearted atmosphere (in my experience, anyway) but this place definitely didn't feel like that.

It was totally empty, and there was one guy working there. After some questions, I just wasn't feeling good about him. I asked if Josh was still working there, and he said, "We got rid of him four years ago." It was very cryptic and he didn't offer any information, so I asked if something had happened (because saying "we got rid of" is kind of a harsh way of wording things). He said something like, "Well, I don't want to get started about people I don't like, because I think talking bad about someone just makes me look bad. But yeah, we got rid of him."

Well, I have to agree about the fact that when people who run any sort of business put other businesses down, it's a huge turn-off to me and I have no problem going elsewhere. But the way he worded it, he might as well have been putting Josh down anyway, so it defeated the point. I liked Josh, and I was happy with the piercings he'd done for us.

So, before signing paperwork or anything, I told him the truth--that I just didn't feel comfortable getting our piercings there, and we left. My friend Joe is an assistant manager at a different tattoo shop, so I told Eli we'd go there instead. (If I hadn't already had Josh do some piercings, I would have gone to Joe's shop in the first place.)

The second we walked in, I felt that nice but fun vibe and the staff was super friendly. Joe wasn't working, so I didn't get to see him, but the woman who does piercings there was great. I felt very comfortable with her (despite the fact that she was young enough to be my child, haha!).

I'd decided to get a second nose piercing (right behind the one I've had since 2007). I've been wearing a hoop in it lately and it's kind of grown on me (not literally, haha--I just really like it). Once this new one heals, I'm going to switch it to a hoop as well. (Piercings get more irritated and take longer to heal when pierced with a hoop.)

So, I got a little stud (it's called a screw because kind of twists to fit inside your nostril). I've gotten several piercings over the years (my earlobes, eyebrow, nipple(!), nose, helix, tragus, conch, and rook; I have to say, this one in my nose hurt the most!

(I no longer have the eyebrow or nipple piercings--those were silly, very spontaneous college dares decisions. Like the hideous "ladybug" I have tattooed on my toe from when I was 18. (I refuse to let my kids get tattoos, thanks to the lesson I learned the hard way.)

I'm not afraid of needles, and I obviously know what piercings feel like, but I wasn't expecting the pain from this one. My eyes started watering immediately, and it looked like I was crying.

But I'm glad I did it! I like it and I think I'll like it even more when I'm able to swap out a hoop after it heals.

Next, it was Eli's turn. I just now spent way too much time searching for a photo of me getting my eyebrow pierced in college because I wanted to see if it would be good for a side-by-side with Eli (it's not). I knew I had one, though!

This photo makes me cringe for several reasons. I would mention how thin my eyebrows were back in 2000, but then you see that they desperately need to be shaped in today's photo, haha.

Eli didn't seem to be nervous at all, and his eyebrow piercing went smoothly. The worst part for him was that he had to pull his hair back with my hair tie. Eli is very particular about his hair ;)

He said the piercing wasn't bad at all and he really likes it. I think it looks good on him!

Ultimately, I'm very glad that we left the first place and went to another. When we left, I told Eli that it's important to listen to his gut feeling--if he's feeling uncomfortable with someone, then there is probably a reason for that. At his age, I probably would have been too worried about offending someone to say anything and I would have just gone along with it; so I wanted him to know that it's okay to speak up in situations that just don't feel right.

It was a fun day! I'm glad Eli is happy with his eyebrow piercing and it was nice to spend time with him. Of course, if I'd asked him to do something like watch a movie or play a game with me, he'd be "busy" today; but his day was wide open to get his eyebrow pierced ;)

July 27, 2023

Three Things Thursday: Cat Quirks

I'm actually really excited about this post. A lot of times, I think of good topic ideas for "Three Things Thursday", but then I have a hard time coming up with three things that fit the topic! For this post, I had SUCH hard time narrowing it down; I literally considered making this a one-time "Thirty Things Thursday", hahaha.

So, what has me so enthusiastic with ideas? Cat quirks that make them the coolest pets ever.

Here are three things that are quirky, but awesome about cats.

1. Their curiosity.

"Curiosity killed the cat" and "curious as a cat" are sayings for a reason. When it comes to wondering what things are and how they work, cats are like toddlers (to the tenth power). If you bring something new into the house (it doesn't matter what it is) they simply MUST find out everything about it. Why is it here? What is it? Where are you going to put it? Of course, it belongs to them (regardless of what it is). They sniff all around it, tentatively touch it, then whole-heartedly touch it, and then sit on or in it.

Their favorite things are boxes. I've seen a bunch of memes about "how to catch a cat" and it's literally just placing a box on the floor. Within 60 seconds, you'll have caught a cat, guaranteed. ;)  Buy them toys that come in boxes, and they'll ignore the toy but most certainly go inside the box. They also have no doubt that their body will fit into any size box. Just ask Duck--today, he decided to "sit" in this tiny box. I was cracking up at how chill he was, hanging out in the box.

Some cats need constant attention (i.e. Duck), and the easiest way to entertain them is to keep them curious. So, all I have to do is move something from one part of the house to the other--even if it's just across the room--because all of the cats will be dying of curiosity. If I just tip their scratching pad on its side, all four of the cats have to go inspect it. Or I'll drape a blanket over a chair, and suddenly, the cats want to see inside the fort--then hang out in there for a while.

Here, all I did was put their scratcher on a couple of chairs. Entertainment for HOURS.

2. Parkour Skills

If you're not familiar with parkour (pronounced par-core), Britannica describes it like this:

It's really amazing to watch people do it, but to see CATS do it? Hilarious. Sometimes one of the cats (or both Chick and Duck together) will suddenly act like they snorted six lines of cocaine. They run as fast as they can through the house--up and over the couch, across the treadmill console, sliding underneath chairs, jumping completely over the coffee table, using my lap or shoulders to leap as far as they can, yet they still somehow maintain enough grace not to step on unintended objects. They make it through all of the obstacles like they're David Goggins during SEAL training.

There is nothing that compares to the entertainment of watching this happen. When one or more of the cats goes completely crazy in my house, all of us stop whatever we're doing and just watch. It's been extra funny since we replaced the carpet with vinyl planking--the cats will try to go from 0 to 60 mph in a millisecond, and they end up running in place for a second until they're able to propel forward.

"This treadmill looks like a comfy place to hang out."

I'm not sure if cats ever stop doing this. Phoebe is 15 years old, all of 5 pounds, and once in a while she'll just tear through the house like a bat out of hell. The kittens (I still call them that, even though they're THREE years old--can you believe how long we've had them already?) like to chase each other in this way. Let's say Chick is chasing Duck--they do all of the parkour moves all over the place--and then somehow when they race back through the living room, it'll be Duck chasing Chick. At some point, they switch!

"I'm just gonna hang out here on your knee for a while, so don't move."

3. Their finickiness.

This sounds like a negative thing, but it's SO FUNNY how finicky cats can be are. (There are also a ton of memes about this.) "You may pet me exactly four strokes. Don't test me by attempting a fifth." "You may touch me here, but not a single hair over here" (a centimeter away). "My toe beans are off limits. Most of the time. You can try and see what happens." "Whatever happens, do not scratch above the base of my tail for more than 1.6 seconds." (You get the idea.)

Phoebe, just waiting for Jerry to make a wrong move.

Basically, cats know what they like and what they don't like and they are not afraid to let you know. Once you learn what is "acceptable" to them, it's natural. But they may change their mind at any moment about how many times you may pet their face before moving to scratch their chin, or whether it's okay to pet their belly. It's basically a gamble that we cat-people are always willing to make. Just look at the scars on our arms.

This may not fit under "finicky", but cat-people will also attest to the fact that you should never, ever, under any circumstances, move a cat that is asleep. And God forbid you move that cat if they're sleeping on your lap.

They are so sweet when they sleep that it just seems cruel to move them. So what if I stop drinking any beverages to avoid having to get up and pee or if I'm late to an appointment or ignore someone knocking on the door? Moving the cat? No way! ;)

As obvious as it is, I am a total cat-person, through and through. They are so entertaining, loving, fun, curious, and hilarious!

July 26, 2023

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 113

Wednesday Weigh-in: Week 113

Clearly, Jerry picked out this shirt for me--we saw it at Goodwill and he was super bummed it was a men's small, so he asked me if I'd wear it. Hahaha, sure--I'll humor him. I put very very thin elastic around the bottom of it so that it doesn't just hug my hips and butt. I like shirts to sit comfortably at hip level, so I actually do this to a lot of my shirts.

Just as I sat down to write this, a huge storm came out of nowhere (I'm sure it wasn't out of nowhere; I just never look at the weather app). I love to watch storms and I was watching the fruit trees in the front yard blowing hard from the wind. Then suddenly, the dead tree across the street just snapped in half and the top half fell to the road, shattering like a piece of glass. It was really cool to watch! Although, now we will have to clean it up when the storm stops (by "we" I mean Jerry, of course.)

tree after storm

I mentioned a few days ago that I've been going through a pretty bad depressive episode recently. I know I sound like a broken record, but I've been super overwhelmed for nearly a year now and my moods definitely affect the way I eat.

This past week, however, I've been working on maintaining a routine--I want to stay consistent in my eating habits regardless of my moods. I think this will really help me with maintenance (something I've never been able to do for very long). Usually, when my mood changes, so do my eating habits--and it's hard to maintain (or lose) weight.

I focused a lot on eating good, healthy food this week (lots of vegetables). My favorite was when Jerry made his Beans & Greens. I *love* it and it's such a comfort food for me. Jerry likes to make that when I'm having really bad days and it definitely makes me feel better!

I haven't been snacking at night, mainly because I've been keeping my hands busy with sewing. I used to sew *everything* by machine because why sew by hand when you can do it in a fraction of the time with a machine? I had to sew thick denim one day and it messed up my machine; so I sewed that part by hand. And now I love it! I still use my machine for most things, but there is something really relaxing about sitting in bed at night and hand sewing. Usually I listen to a podcast, too.

Anyway, as far as my weigh-in goes, I had another loss this week:

scale photo

I was at 134.6 today--which is inside of my "happy range"! I like to be closer to 130, but the range I'm aiming to stay in for actual maintenance (if I ever figure it out!) is 125-135.

I've definitely felt the difference in my clothes, which is nice. I'm getting more and more physically comfortable, and I don't have to do a "jeans dance" to get into my jeans that are just out of the dryer. I'm sure you know the dance I'm talking about? Squatting several times and moving around, bending every which way to get the jeans to sit right? Maybe it's just me ;)

It's funny, though--a lot of the clothes that I altered for myself just a couple of months ago are feeling a little big--and I haven't even worn some of them yet! I'm going to try to put together a post of before and afters of the clothes I've been working on.

Since so many of you said you really liked the overalls I posted about last week, I worked up the nerve to wear them out. And not just OUT--I went to my brother's summer party with about 150 people! Go big or go home, right?

I felt kind of very self-conscious at first, but I can't even count the number of compliments people gave me on them! It boosted my self-esteem (which was much needed). And it gave me the opportunity to meet and converse with several new people (something that usually gives me horrible anxiety). I am really glad I ended up wearing them. And now I feel confident about working on more fun clothes :)

Anyway, I'm happy with how the week went as far as my habits and routine (and especially stepping out of my comfort zone at the party). I wish I could say that I no longer feel depressed, but we all know that's not something you can just flip a switch and feel back to normal. It's like telling a pitcher to throw strikes!

depression meme

I've always loved this meme ;)  (And seriously, the meme rabbit hole is the BEST for pulling me out of a sad mood.)

July 25, 2023

Deep Thoughts With Jerry #21

Jerry and I were discussing what questions to put on the blog today, and I had the idea that we make an actual "deep thoughts" post--writing vulnerable questions and answers. I suggested things like, "What is the hardest part of having a wife with bipolar?" and "How do you think it will feel to be an empty nester in a few years?"

Well, this just got us emotional--me, feeling very depressed as it is, and Jerry talking about the answers made him tear up as well. Soon, we were each a crying mess. It was an emotional discussion. Literal deep thoughts.

So, we went for the opposite. Maybe next week our emotions will be in check and we can write something like that. This is something a little different than usual, though. This is a "lightening round"--I asked a "this or that" question and he had to answer immediately, without thinking about it.

Does anyone remember the Friends episode where Phoebe helps Joey decide something by asking a bunch of "this or that" questions? And then Joey screws it up when he tries to do the same thing to Ross? Maybe you'll catch the reference...

Vacation or Staycation?  *Staycation

Netflix or Hulu?  *Hulu

Night or Morning?  *Morning

Passenger or Driver  *Passenger

Car or Bike?  *Bike

Train or Airplane?  *Airplane

Ketchup or Ranch?  *Ranch

Bad Breath or Body Odor?  *Bad Breath

Guacamole or Salsa?  *Guacamole

City or Countryside?  *Countryside

Sweating or Shivering?  *Sweating

Fiction or Non-Fiction?  *Fiction

Patterned or Plain?  *Plain

Board Games or Video Games?  *Video Games

French Fries or Onion Rings?  *French Fries

Tattoos or Piercings?  *Tattoos

Store Bought or Homemade?  *Homemade

Plans or Surprises?  *Surprises

Roller Coasters or Water Slides?  *Roller Coasters

Letters or Emails?  *Emails

Loud or Quiet?  *Quiet

Protagonist or Sidekick?  *Protagonist

Animals or People?  *Animals

Show or Tell?  *Tell

Visual Learner or Verbal Learner?  *Visual

Raise or Bonus?  *Raise

Introvert or Extrovert?  *Extrovert

Speed or Accuracy?  *Speed

Sight or Sound?  *Sound

Predictability or Excitement?  *Excitement

Dogs or Cats?  *Cats

Night Out or Night In?  *Night In

Sweeping or Vacuuming?  *Vacuuming

Who would you rather sleep with, Monica or Rachel?  *Rachel

Here is the video clip from Friends that I was talking about ;)  (I had it start at the point where Phoebe quizzes Joey. I couldn't find a shorter clip--but it's funny and worth watching!)

July 24, 2023

An August Challenge: Who's with me?

I know, the last thing I need right now is a new challenge, right?

I've been nothing but overwhelmed for the better part of a year now and it's absolutely taking a toll on my mental health. I've been wanting to write a whole post about it, but (ironically) writing vulnerable posts like that really ramps up my anxiety. I never know what sort of reaction I will get and it makes me anxious that my feelings will be invalidated. It's getting harder and harder to downplay my emotions on my blog and to try to stay positive.

Right now, I'm dealing with one of the worst depressive episodes I can remember. Yes, I will talk to my psychiatrist about it (he may want to change up my meds), and I spoke with a psychologist a few days ago for recommendations for a good therapist for me. I'm dealing with a LOT right now and I just keep hoping that things will start looking up. (This is not just me being dramatic; Jerry and the kids agree that this has been the worst year ever.)

With over 3,500 posts on my blog, I'm sure I've written this exact thing at least a dozen times. And at some point, things have to get better! Right now, my favorite way to relax in the evenings is to hand sew and listen to a podcast. I don't do a lot of hand sewing, but I do find embroidery really fun (I'm using the term "embroidery" loosely--I don't do the beautiful, intricate designs. I just use embroidery floss to try to make cute little bugs or flowers or things like that.

Anyway, to the point of this post...

Since we're down to three cars now (Jerry's, Noah's, and Eli's), I haven't been going out like I used to (grocery shopping, errands, stuff like that). Because of that, my activity level has gotten much lower.

Shawn brought Joey home on Saturday, and since Joey got used to running in and out of the house (via the doggie door) while he was "on vacation" at Jeanie and Shawn's, I want to walk him more frequently.

Since I need more activity and I know Joey would love to get out as much as possible, I thought of a simple challenge for the month of August. I dusted off my FitBit Zip (yes, it's probably older than my children, haha, but I love it because it's SO simple). I figured for August, I'll try to get in 10,000 steps per day. (That is roughly the equivalent of five miles, or eight kilometers.)

To some, that may seem like nothing; but to me, it's going to a very tough number to hit. I did this challenge one time several years ago and I can remember marching around my house with my kids (who thought it was a fun game). It was hard!

I stay pretty active when I'm working on projects (just a few days ago, I spent time cleaning the garage, going up and down the ladder, hanging bikes from the ceiling, stuff like that... and it only amounted to about 3,000 steps. I couldn't believe it! I was pouring sweat and I thought for sure I'd have hit 10,000 steps.

So, for August, I think it would be a good goal to try to hit 10,000 steps a day. It would be good for me (and Joey!) physically, and hopefully it will help me mentally as well. Who knows, maybe I'll be inspired to go for a run when I need to hit my step goal.

I'm not going to make an "official" challenge (that would just add more to my plate), but I'm inviting anyone who wants to join me and try for this steps challenge! It doesn't even have to be 10,000; any number that would be a good goal for you would work. I think we should just pick our own goal and stick to it for the whole month. If we miss hitting that goal for a day, it's not a big deal--we just start fresh the next day.

The point is, I want it to be simple but something that will push me to reach a small goal each day. I think doing that may push me to work on other goals (building up my confidence, which is very low right now). So, if you're interested in joining me, please do! Maybe I'll create a Google document that everybody can keep track of their own steps (maybe weekly). Not for a contest--just for inspiration from others. We still have a week to give it some thought.

Anyway, to end on a good note, I thought I'd share this very cool memory from 2020 when the power of social media actually gave me all the good feelings! Today is my parents' 52nd wedding anniversary (awesome, right?). Well, in 2020, for their 49th anniversary, they decided to take their bikes on a ride along the "thumb" area of Michigan to celebrate (they love to ride their bikes).

My parents have "special" ergonomic bikes because it's much easier for them to get onto (my dad has some chronic health problems and my siblings and I chipped in to get these special bikes for them). Anyway, this is a picture of them on their anniversary that year:

parents on bikes

That night, they chained their bikes to the bike rack at the hotel. And in the morning, the locks were cut and the bikes were gone. My parents were understandably upset, but *I* was devastated. And infuriated. I despise thieves--it feels so violating to have someone take something from you.

My blog isn't huge (Runs for Cookies is just a minnow in an OCEAN of blogs) but I figured I'd post about it on the off chance someone might have seen their bikes. I posted this on my Facebook page:

facebook post

And you know what? Not even a few hours later, I got a Facebook message from someone who had seen a post about "found bikes" in that area, with a picture of my parents' bikes! A man had found the bikes stashed behind a dumpster or something behind a shop he owned.

I remember that I was out for a run when I got the phone call from the super nice man that found them and I just felt this amazing rush of adrenaline. I was SO excited to tell my parents that their bikes were found! It was such a happy ending.

Just for fun, here is a photo of my parents on their wedding day. My mom was only 18 and my dad was 19. Look how young! And 52 years later, they are still happily married. 

1971 wedding photo

July 21, 2023

Friday Night Photos #125

Looking through my camera roll today, I realized that most of my pictures are from when I styled Luke's and Riley's hair for "crazy hair day" at Vacation Bible School. It was so much fun, though, and the kids were happy with how their hair turned out.

(Although, I have to say, having two boys makes me really glad I never had to deal with styling a girl's hair--Riley's is so long and trying to brush it without hurting her head was a challenge!)

It blows my mind, the ideas on Pinterest for crazy hair day. How do people come up with so many creative ideas and then find the time to do them?! After looking through a ton of photos, I picked ones I thought I *might* be able to replicate and said that Luke and Riley could pick from those.

Luke's was easy--he just wanted green hair with a lawn mower attached (as if it's cutting his hair). However, I couldn't find a little lawn mower ANYWHERE, so I had to come up with a plan B on the fly. I saw a foam airplane and thought maybe I could color his hair blue (for the sky), attach the airplane, and then add some clouds (I used a boa that I found at Hobby Lobby, and it didn't occur to me that it wasn't vegan until after I bought it. Otherwise, I would have used cotton balls.)

The hair color is really neat (and vegan!)--I got it from Sally Beauty Supply. It's basically a hair gel, and it comes out after just one wash. (Versus something like Manic Panic that stays in for weeks.)

Riley's hair, on the other hand, needed a little more creativity. She wanted to have a unicorn horn (made out of her hair, of course). I walked around Hobby Lobby, looking for things I could use to come up with a cylindrical form. The foam cylinders (my first idea) were too big. Then I saw a birthday hat on a headband, and realized it was perfect! I could just take off the decorations and wrap her hair around it. After coloring her hair purple, naturally. To top it off, I got a pink bow to put at the base of the horn.

I grabbed bobby pins and barrettes and pipe cleaners and anything else I thought may be helpful. I started by dyeing Luke's hair blue with the hair gel. I couldn't believe how bright it was! He wanted it to look spiky and I really liked it.

While he ran off to let it dry, it was Riley's turn. I was really nervous about doing the unicorn horn, because I didn't have a plan B for her! I started by running the purple dye through her hair (I'd hoped the purple would be VERY purple, but it was definitely a more subtle lavender color). By "running the dye through her hair", I actually mean "combing and apologizing, combing and apologizing", over and over. It's hard enough to brush it without the gel, but trying to coat her hair with it AND style it felt nearly impossible. She hates getting her hair brushed.

Then I took the decorations off of the cone birthday hat and put the headband on her. It took a while (and a LOT of the gel-dye) to finally start wrapping her hair around the cone. The hardest part was getting it to be smooth, because that required a comb--and combs are painful. So I did my best! (I braided the bottom/back part of her hair and only wrapped the hair that was on top of her head.)

I absolutely love this side-by-side of her face. It's like I took the first picture and then told her, "Look like you're having fun!" and then took the second pic, hahaha.

unicorn hair style
I put the garbage bag around her so that she didn't get gel all over her back

I added more gel in order to get the most purple I could, and then probably about 20 bobby pins to hold it in place. If the comb hurt, can you imagine the bobby pins? I don't know how Becky managed to get her hair so cute all the time.

I didn't want it to look too plain, so I added the bow and then the ribbon I had taken off of the hat. Meanwhile, Luke's hair was dry and he came back for me to finish it by putting the airplane and the clouds on. This was even worse than trying to do Riley's hair! Since Luke's gel had dried, it hurt to put bobby pins in it--I tried alligator clips, barrettes, bobby pins, and finally... a headband and pipe cleaners. I didn't love the way the pipe cleaners looked, but it was the ONLY way he would let me touch his hair. So we used pipe cleaners to attach the "clouds" and the airplane.

Here is the final result:

Aren't they so cute that they pose like that? I just asked if I could get a picture of the two of them, and that's how they posed.

Of course, I wanted a picture with them, too, so someday when they have children and they are trying to brush their hair, they will remember try to channel Aunt Katie's patience on this day. HAHAHA. 

crazy hair day

Unfortunately, they did not win the prize the for the craziest hair. I'm just not Pinterest-y enough ;)  But Luke and Riley liked it, so that's all that matters!

I think I forgot to post this after our vacation. Shawn has had this Nova for probably as long as I've been alive (kidding, but seriously--a long time) and there is a long, entertaining story behind it. (Maybe I'll ask him to write about it one day, because it's pretty funny!) Anyway, you know how Noah is totally into cars? Well, he nearly died when Shawn let him drive it on his birthday. Noah already knew how to drive a manual transmission (from his own car) and he did great with it. I think that was the highlight of his trip! (I think Shawn was pretty thrilled, too.)

red Chevy Nova

Speaking of cars, when Jerry and I got home from my parents' house, I couldn't find my purse anywhere. I'm notorious for losing my phone (I seriously NEVER know where my phone is) and my phone was in the purse--so naturally, I would lose the purse. Jerry went out to the car to look again, and finally... he found it. Check this out! I guess I got very lucky.

Another pic I forgot to post (and yes, it looks non-photo-worthy). When Duck plays fetch, a lot of times he'll take the paper ball (or toy) and go put it inside of a shoe. When we got home from vacation, there were about four paper balls and a toy in Jerry's slipper, haha. 

When Jerry and I were driving over to my parents', we saw this little buddy crossing the road--with a whole corn cob in his mouth. It was huge! He didn't want to drop it and run, so he just stopped and stared at us in the car, waiting for one of us to make the first move. We finally started creeping along to the left of him and he ran across the street with his corn.

Jerry and I finally finished our 2,000 piece puzzle! We could have gotten it done a while ago, but we forgot about it--I had covered up the whole table when Noah had friends over because I didn't want the pieces to get lost. Well, at the end, we were missing one piece! Can you spot where it goes? ;) (You'll have to zoom in, obviously)

2,000 piece puzzle
If you didn't spot it or you just don't want to waste your time looking, it was just to the right of the bottom of the red and blue blanket.

Anyone remember making these friendship bracelets in elementary school? (Or, at least for a few years in my generation.) I've been using embroidery floss a lot lately and while Jerry and I were watching a movie, I decided to make him a friendship bracelet. (I pinned it to my sock to hold it in place.) I would really love for these to be a trend again! We used to wrap them around our hair as well.

friendship bracelet

And finally, I went to the dermatologist yesterday to get a skin check. I've been so worried about doing this--considering Sarah died from melanoma, I've always been scared of it. But recently, my friend Martha posted a photo on Facebook of a melanoma she found (it's her THIRD time with melanoma). It looked like a normal mole to me, and while I don't have a lot of moles, I decided I'd better just go get checked out. I should have done it ages ago. And yearly now.

Basically, I had to get totally undressed and then lie down under the very unflattering florescent lighting, while the doctor looked at every square inch of my body (occasionally using a MICROSCOPE). On a scale of mental discomfort/vulnerability, this rated higher than going to the gynecologist. I'd still choose it over the dentist, though (I'd choose anything over the dentist, except for rotten teeth). A mammogram was the easiest and most comfortable, and I'd choose that over all of them!

I've yet to do my colonoscopy, though... because of the pandemic, procedures like that got VERY backed up (no pun intended, but that worked out well) and it takes months to get in. My primary care doctor said she really didn't think there was a rush and it could wait until next year, when my insurance doesn't suck anymore. So I'm planning to do it in January or February. I'm absolutely dreading that one! ;)

And that's all I've got. Have a great weekend! xo

July 20, 2023

Three Things Thursday: Google Searches

Do you ever get curious about something and then brush it off because you completely forget that we have the internet at our fingertips and we can get the answer in moments? No? For some reason, that happens to me frequently.

For Three Things Thursday, I am writing out things I'd wondered for a moment and then just forgot about. I never thought to google them simply because it didn't occur to me! I just assumed that the way I was taught while growing up was just the way it was. Once in a while, a curious question pops into my head, "I wonder...".

And then one day, I laughed and realized that the answers have been at my fingertips the whole time! Just a quick google search can tell me pretty much anything I want to know. So, here are a few random questions I had and the answers I learned...

1. Where do squirrels go when they die?

Yes, this sounds morbid, but considering I think of my backyard squirrels as "pets", it got me wondering one day. I frequently see squirrels that have been hit by cars (poor little buddies!) so their cause of death is obvious. But how often do you see a (neighborhood) squirrel that died of natural causes? I don't know that I ever have! (Note: Here, I am referring to fox squirrels, which is what we have in our neighborhood. They are the most common squirrel in southeast Michigan.)

This is one of my little buddies

Here is what I learned: The answer is much sadder than I thought. The truth is that most squirrels don't live long enough to die of old age (or even reach full adulthood). They are usually killed by cars or by predators (hawks, cats, foxes, owls, raccoons, coyotes, dogs, hunters, harsh winters, etc.). Unfortunately, we have all of those predators living in the marshland across the street from my house, and our winters can get VERY harsh.

Something else that shocked me was that only 15-25% of squirrels will survive their first year. After the first year, there is a 50-75% survival rate (the average lifespan is about 3-4 years, although ones in captivity can live 4-5 times that long). Only 1% will live longer than five years! Right now, there are four "babies" that were born this spring (they are a few months old now) and it's so sad to think that the odds are that only one of them will survive the year.

I never knew a squirrel's life expectancy (another thing I didn't think to google!) and what I learned explains why my family usually sees the same squirrels for about 3-4 years and one day, we realize we haven't seen them for a while. (We used to name each of them, but now I just call most of them "Buddy", haha. I got very attached to some of them and it was really hard on me when they stopped coming around.)

In the spring, we see the babies who are just learning to run around on the trees; they are SUPER skittish (and adorable), but they like to watch the older squirrels come up on my deck and get walnuts. Usually, the following year, they tentatively make their way closer--and by fall, they may get close enough to take a walnut from our hands.

(I leave raw, unsalted, in-shell peanuts outside at all times; the walnuts, because they are expensive, get handed to them.) They love walnuts! And I love seeing the squirrels get plump before Michigan winter :) I also give them fruit in the summer because it's a good source of water for them. 

For the short answer to the question about the lucky squirrels that live long enough to die of old age, well--they usually go to their nests in their little hidey-holes and die there. That's why we don't see them lying around. But most of the time, they are taken (alive or dead) by predators (or hit by cars).

(Sources: DNR; Michigan DNRU of M Museum of Zoology)
(Note: There were discrepancies between several sites--not major ones, but the numbers weren't exactly the same. I tried to use the most common numbers or the rough average.)

2. When you flush the toilet, where does the waste go?

This sounds so simple and it's something I've always just thought, "It goes in the sewer." But that's what I learned as a kid! I realized one day that I actually had no idea where waste travels once you flush the toilet (or even what a sewer actually was). You flush the toilet and then it leaves your mind and you don't think about it after that. So where does it go?

The google answer on this wasn't very helpful at first, so I had to do some more digging. Most of the sites just give the basic answer, "It goes into the sewage system." But I wanted to know WHERE that is--obviously we have sewage pipes under the house, but how does it get from there to the treatment plant?

So here are the basics of what I read (Note: I only read about sewage systems that I'm familiar with using; we have city water/plumbing. Also, I'm regarding rain and storm water as separate systems; this is strictly regarding sewage systems that run from where you flush your toilet. There are different types of systems depending on where you live, but I didn't want to get into all of that and make it way too complicated. So, basically, if you were to flush the toilet at my house, this is what happens:

From the toilet (or the waste from the dishwasher, sinks, etc.), the waste goes from the drain into a pipe under the house (all of the waste pipes in the house merge to that one main pipe) via gravity. This pipe, as well as those main pipes from the houses/buildings around it--the number of houses that share the system varies) all merge into another pipe. It's called the public sewer mainline, which is under the ground. Again, using gravity, the waste from the public sewer mainline travels to a pump station.

Since gravity can only take it so far (you can't just keep going down down down) the pump station is a storage and collection chamber that forces the waste water to a higher elevation. From there, the waste can then travel via pipes (again by gravity) to the waste water treatment plant. (I won't continue from here, but the water is then processed at the treatment plant.)

So, every time we flush the toilet, that waste has a pretty long journey! (I'm so impressed by some inventions that we never really think about--a plumbing system is kind of amazing when you think about it.) (Source: Wastewater Reclamation Authority)

3. Where does fat go when you "burn" it to lose weight?

This one was MUCH simpler than the others, when you don't dig into the chemistry of it. I really just wanted to know how fat is expelled from your body when you burn it. If you lose, say, two pounds--where did that go, and how?

So here is the gist in a nutshell: When we take in less energy than the body needs (reduce calories consumed), the body turns to stored fat cells to make up for that energy. When your body metabolizes this fat (meaning it breaks the fat down in order to use it for energy), the fatty acid molecules travel via your bloodstream to the heart, lungs, and muscles (they need that energy to keep working). These organs break down the molecules and use the stored energy to keep your body functioning. But where does the FAT go?

There are byproducts of that process I described above, which are excreted in the form of water: carbon dioxide as you exhale; sweat; and pee. Mostly, however, it comes from carbon dioxide from simply breathing. Your lungs are the primary source of expelling fat... who knew?! (sources: MIT Technology Review, How Stuff Works). Kind of makes me want to head out for a run ;)

July 19, 2023

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 112

weigh in picture

Remember the Gap Kids overalls I bought at Goodwill to try and alter to fit me? (I loved them, but considering they were children's clothes, they obviously didn't fit.) Well, this is what I ended up doing with them (the above picture). I love how they turned out! This is what they looked like before (on the left is a pair of regular jeans, so you can compare it to the size of the overalls).


I added a strip of dark denim to the side of each leg and I lengthened the straps (otherwise the torso part was so short that it gave me camel toe, hahaha!). I used a straight stitch of about 10 billion colors going vertically down the dark fabric on the leg. (Actually, I did a lot of this in the car on our long drive up north.)

Still in the car, I wanted to add something to the bib, but I wasn't sure what. After searching through Pinterest, I decided on a cat silhouette. However, I had no idea how I was going to cut something like that out--I am terrible at drawing. I asked Ava if she knew how to draw, and she actually did the outline for me in the car! Then I just sewed it on using a blanket stitch.

Ideally, I would like to have the pant legs longer, but I don't think adding fabric there would look good; so I'm just going to keep them cropped and wear them with sandals. The overalls are obviously very casual, so I'll likely only ever wear them at home. This was one of my more difficult projects recently because of the waistband, but for a make-up-as-you-go-along project, I'm very happy with them.

This week was far from normal, so I wasn't sure what to expect on the scale. I was at Jeanie and Shawn's house up north from Wednesday morning through Sunday evening, and the last couple of days we've just been getting back to the norm.

I still didn't have much of an appetite while I was there, even though we had plenty of vegan food. I even brought the stuff to make Truffle Mac--one of my very favorite foods--AND I made two chocolate cakes. I actually didn't eat any of the cake! I haven't eaten sweets in a while and I wasn't craving it, so I didn't want to start that sugar craving cycle again. I did take a bite of Jerry's so I could taste it, though.

I was actually getting a little worried about not eating enough, which I know sounds strange coming from me. I just keep thinking of last fall, when the same thing happened and I dropped weight really quickly. I hadn't really realized at the time just how much of that was due to feeling so overwhelmed and losing my appetite.

Appetite is so interesting. There is hunger, which is a physical feeling that we are all familiar with; and appetite is in our minds. We either want to eat or we just don't feel like eating or we can't eat much. When I say that I don't have an appetite, it basically means that nothing sounds good and I usually just eat something small to curb physical hunger.

Since I got home, though, I wanted to get back to eating regularly so I don't have that same rebound I had last year (getting down to 125-ish and then gaining 20 pounds really quickly once my appetite came back). On Monday, Jerry made my favorite comfort food--his beans and greens--and I ate two big bowls of that. And then yesterday, I felt ravenous! So who knows what's going on?

Anyway, as far as the scale goes, I was curious what it would say after being on vacation this past week...

scale photo

Whenever my weight hits about this point (135-ish) I start to feel comfortable in my clothes. I feel very comfortable at around 130. (I know it's only a difference of five pounds, but it's crazy how much of a difference that little bit actually makes in how my body looks and feels.)

In other news, I got to see Luke and Riley today! My mom has been taking them to Vacation Bible School at her church all week while they are here from Minnesota. Tonight is "crazy hair day" for VBS, and my mom asked if I could do their hair. It was fun coming up with ideas, and while it was kind of hard to do, they really liked how it turned out. (I have to get the pics from Jerry, so I'll post them on Friday with Friday Night Photos.)

Anyway, as far as my weigh-in goes, I can't complain--I'm down from 137.6 last week. I'm only 1.2 pounds from my "happy range" or "goal range" or whatever you want to call it. I think this is about what I weighed last year at this time. Now I just have to learn to stay consistent! I think that is the hardest part about losing/maintaining weight--doing things consistently.

Hoping for a good week :)

July 18, 2023

Family Vacation to the Upper Peninsula

I'm finally working on getting my house back together after being gone for five days. It's kind of crazy how much laundry a family of four can come home with after only five days! (The boys do their own laundry, but I have to hound them to move it to keep the line going.) 

My mood hasn't been great lately--still feeling super overwhelmed and it's hard to pinpoint the exact sources. Everything that we've had to deal with over the last year just seems like we are due for a break! Not even a vacation could erase it from my mind.

However, we did have a good time and I'm so glad that we made the drive up there. Getting to spend time with Jeanie and Shawn--without feeling rushed or chaotic or having lots of people milling about--was really nice. Shawn and I are a lot alike and being able to talk to him always helps validate my feelings and give me some things to think about (he would make a great therapist, actually).

Shawn is still sober--over 14 months now!--and he's doing great. I'm not at all saying it's easy for him, but he's been doing all of the therapy and outpatient work to help him and he's learned a ton. Something that I didn't know until a few weeks ago is that Jeanie quit drinking when Shawn did, too. She didn't have a problem with alcohol, but she quit for Shawn, which I think is awesome. So, there was no drinking all weekend, which was refreshing. We all went to bed at a decent hour and woke up feeling good!

Anyway, I have a lot of photos and there is too much to really go through and describe the whole trip, so I'll just share a few highlights. Most of these, I'll just explain with a caption:

Shawn needed to tow this tractor with another tractor, so I volunteered to steer. I wish I could say I did a great job, but being towed backwards is kind of confusing, haha.

I couldn't believe it when Jeanie served Joey breakfast in bed. He is totally spoiled up there.

Speaking of dogs, this is Walter--he's the special needs dog that Jeanie and Shawn adopted probably a year ago or so. I had no idea just how attached Shawn was to him! Walter and Shawn are like Duck and me.

Remember I said I might get brave and post a picture of me in a bathing suit? Well, I'm doing it. This bathing suit cracked me up! Jeanie said it was a "disposable" suit, which I'd never heard of. I hadn't planned to go tubing down the river with everyone--usually Shawn and I hang back, because we don't like the water--but I wanted to make the most of my time with the kids.

Jeanie's suits would be a million times too big in the boob area, so I went with the disposable suit and a beach coverup over it. Jeanie thought the suit looked adorable (naturally, I could only focus on my body image issues when I saw the picture). But posting it here is a big step in trying to accept my flaws. (Jeanie took a photo in the sun of me, and it was much less flattering, if that tells you anything.)

The texture of the suit reminded me of one of those disposable tablecloths (not the plain thin plastic, but the one with some sort of felt underneath). It was surprisingly comfortable! The butt area was very baggy and a lot of times I felt like I wasn't wearing anything at all, haha.

So, I was a good sport and went tubing with everyone... and I'm so glad that I did! I still don't like the water, but it was something out of my comfort zone and I chose to do it anyway. This is a picture of our full group:

Jeanie, Shawn, Eli, Ava, Noah, me, and Jerry

We hooked our tubes in a big circle so we could see each other and chat. Somehow, I always wound up being the one traveling backwards down the river!

We talked and laughed a lot, and at one point, we even stopped to "bathe" in the river. The water was super shallow, but the current was moving faster than I thought and it was so hard to make my whole body go under water. I eventually learned to quickly sit on the bottom and lean backward... but that short second I went under pulled me several feet back toward the raft, which was funny. Jerry was laughing at me, of course, and I didn't realize it, but Jeanie took some pictures. I look like I was being baptized or something.

It was quite cold, for sure.

Later, we realized just how bad Jerry's skills are at applying sunscreen. His burn was so splotchy! I am always very liberal with sunscreen, so I didn't burn at all--but I got some in my eye, which would not stop burning and tearing up the entire time. Priorities, I guess!

I thought this was cute--Eli and Ava made "pigs in a blanket" one morning (if you're not familiar, you wrap breakfast sausages with crescent rolls and bake them).

This is the SECOND vegan chocolate cake I made while I was there! Shawn couldn't stop talking about how good the first one was (that I made for Noah's birthday) and kept asking for another. I had the ingredients, so Jeanie and I made another. I am so glad everyone liked it! (I get excited when people like vegan food.)

Jerry needed to do some work to take HIS mind off things as well, so he and Shawn cut wood and just played with the big "manly" toys.

Meanwhile, Jeanie taught me the basic concept of American football! Anyone who knows me knows that I loathe football. From the day I was born--which happened to be on the Super Bowl--I have just never understood what people like about it. It seems like that's all anyone wants to do during football season (watch the games) and I didn't know anything about the rules or even the basic concept.

Several years ago, I even read "Football for Dummies" and I didn't "get" it. Well, Jeanie explained everything SO much better in an hour than I learned in the entire book. She used Starbursts to stand in for the teams in order to explain. I actually found it pretty interesting!

She pulled up an old game from last year and we watched a quarter or so of it. She frequently paused it to "quiz" me on a situation and I did pretty good. I am definitely going to try watching a game this fall. I really *want* to like it, because it would be fun to get into it with everyone else. (Jeanie is very good at explaining things; I needed her to talk to me like a five year old, as if I'd never even heard the word "touchdown" before.)

And then finally, after the disaster false-start home we had on Sunday morning, we were on the road to head back home. The trip felt SO much longer, but we made it. (You can read the story about that on yesterday's post.)

It was nice to get away, but it feels good to be home!

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