Fitness · Parenting

To Quote a Baseball Player

This summer, I have the privilege of assisting with both my children’s baseball teams.

 

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Photo by A. Arnold.

 

To set a little groundwork, both leagues are sponsored by local clubs. The Lion’s Club sponsors the boys. The Rotary Club sponsors the girls. This keeps the season cost down to $15 for the boys and FREE for the girls. The boys get to keep their t-shirts. The girls return them at the end of the season. Our boy’s team consists of ages 7-8. The girls are ages 4-7. It’s a hoot!

Best quotes from the boys:

  • “I know you put me as last batter because I’m a slugger!”
  • “I’m like a vacuum for balls.”
  • “Did you see me do a burnout?”
  • “Watch this! I can do the splits!”

He really could do the splits! All the way down. He demonstrated it during both practice and at the last two games on 1st base and on the final out at home. Impressive!

Best quotes from the teeny tiny (mostly preschool) girls we are teaching the basics to:

  • “Can I ask my mom now if I can go home?” – 2nd inning in the outfield
  • “Are you sure we can’t go play on the playground?” – before the game even started
  • “But I’m so sweaty!” – We really haven’t been up past 80 degrees yet.
  • “I really need a vacation!” – almost done with our 3rd of 3 innings.

In addition to quotes and seeing both groups of kids learn and grow in coordination, there are obvious differences between the genders. I’m not trying to stereotype here, but honestly, this has to be nature.

From the get-go when t-ball started two years ago for our family, the boys have been eager to run, optimistic to smack the ball, and exuberant to get the games started! Now in coach pitch, multiply those characteristics by 200%.

The itty bitty girls are excited to start the game once the playground idea is shot down, cautiously optimistic about hitting the tball but not as vicious with the bat swings, and only into it for as long as required, including at least one group trip to the bathroom. Our 6-7yr old girls are definitely more “into it” than our younger ones.

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Skipping between bases. I don’t mean missing a base. This is actual hop, skip, jump, skipping from base to base. Quite the creative phenomenon to witness. I’m sure if there was music, some of the kids would dance from 1st to 2nd.

Boys and girls are similarly encouraging for their teammates. It was uplifting and sweet to hear them cheer each other’s names as they stepped up to the plate. The boys dogpiled the last kid to snag a line drive on the final play of the game last week. They nearly took down our most solid-statured player (100#, 5′, 7yr old) after he hit an in-the-park grand slam. The excitement is contagious.

Summer baseball is a gift. It is pure, honest fun for the kids, coaches, parents, and friends that come to watch.

To quote our little baseball players from both teams- “I can’t wait for the next game!”

 

Faith · Fitness · Perspective

Psalm 19 with a Sprinkle of Science

Do you ever feel like you are just missing the point? Like with the current excitement over fanny packs and high-waisted jeans (which I experienced the first time a few decades ago), some things just leave me clueless.

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Yep, that’s me! The last few weeks have been a quest to “get it.” Once you realize you are missing something, you want to find it.

With my husband gone for a trip and then the transition time back into normal rhythm, I slipped out of my habits. I stopped running because where was the time? I stopped doing my devotional in the morning because I wasn’t getting more than a few hours of sleep. My stress level was thru the roof. My kids were fighting constantly. Sugar and bread cravings were all I could think about at meal times.

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Appreciate what’s around me? Struggling to…

Pay attention to the people and places I went? Just enough to keep us all alive…

In the words of Nemo, I was trying to “just keep swimming.”

That is not what this life is about! Sometimes, well… most of the time, God puts something in front of me like that rumble strip on the sides of the highway. The one that signals “CAUTION” and to make a correction. (side note- it is also good at distracting screaming babies on long car trips – not sure how we would have ever made it to Austin, TX with a very angry 5 month old without that rumble strip)

The first day of May, I set a goal of 90 miles of running this month (max 10/90 on bike). I’ve run basically every day. Running is part of my worship. It is impossible to not appreciate nature and all of Creation when running outdoors. It is extremely hard to demean yourself on the treadmill if you are aware how all the intricate cells in your body are working together to make that happen.

Monday, I picked my devotion time back up as well. Psalm 18. Psalm 19 Tuesday. Talk about a swift swoop into my world!

Psalm 19 (NIV).

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 
2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 
3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. 
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 
6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. 

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 
8The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 
9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. 
10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 
11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 
12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Verses 1-6 refer to the beauty of creation, created by God in intricate interwoven detail. “Verse 3 – they have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.” It doesn’t have to be! Beauty and majesty speaks for itself. There are no words in any human language that does it justice. “Yet their voice goes out to all the earth, their words to the ends of the world…”

How sad that I was so wrapped up in man-made chaos, that I completely missed all the miraculous things going on around me!

As a lover of science, I understand the desire to know all the inner workings. I want to know too! But much like Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, I have to pick which part I’m sure of to make calculations. I choose God and will leave the other part to be less certain. In doing so, I’m able to enjoy and appreciate life around me with both my faith and my questioning, scientific mind.

In doing the study commentary on verses 7-13 this morning, I realized that I had completely misunderstood much of the intent of the Bible!

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In my naivety, I’ve thought that many of the teachings were extremely limiting and harsh. What about my self-expression? my self-interests? my hopes, wishes and dreams?

Notice a trend here? Consider MY ears opened this morning.

Back to basic science – Newton – Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Why do I think MY actions, hopes, dreams, expressions, and interests won’t have a ripple effect on others? #selfish

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The harder I push against God’s guidance, the harder or more awry life goes for me and those around me. Our world is doing its darndest to muddle things up. Again *raises hand*, guilty… Those guiding principles are not there to punish us, but to walk us towards a deeper joy, the kind only possible when you’ve made humble peace in your soul. Consider this me working towards being wise.

Verses 11 to 13. Who hasn’t told a child “Don’t touch that! It’ll burn your hand!” Then the seeking fingers touch it, burn, and tears ensue. *raises hand* Who has been that child thinking that he/she knew what was best? *raises hand*

These lines illustrate how God is trying, so so hard, to guide us away from troubles. It is frequently MY choice which path I choose – walking away without blemish or needing a salve and a bandage.

Hidden faults. We all have them. A very difficult step in maturing is recognizing those faults and rectifying them. I’m feeling fairly confident that I’ll never master all of mine. Thank goodness for the grace, forgiveness, and mercy of my husband, family, friends, and the One who made it all possible with His sacrifice!

Willful sins? I think by this, my study means vices and things we do on purpose. What is your vice? Put simply, I like my pants to fit, so fitness is probably one of mine. Pride seeps into fitness like sweat into a t-shirt after a good workout.

About a month ago, I ran a little over 10K for a team half marathon event that benefitted local scholarships. I struggled physically and thus was not happy with my time. I completely missed a chance to be thankful that my body will move how I want it to. With MS, this is not something to overlook! Alas, my pride got in the way. To exercise with the desire to only be proud of myself or for the attention of others is willful.

After this eye and heart-opening study, I can honestly say I’ve hit the rumble strip. This is my modern day application of Psalm 19. I appreciate the wake up.

Faith · Family · Fitness · Parenting · Perspective

Fresh Air and Sun

What a glorious weekend! My crew spent the whole weekend outdoors. Fresh air is the best remedy for little people with bad attitudes! Or I guess, at least mom and dad having the patience to deal with them. 🙂

I ran in the limited windows of time I was given (child-free) with only one skunk generated detour in my weekend miles. I’ve got 22+ miles in so far for the month of May! #90milemay

Our yard needed a major overhaul and my little hedge clipper didn’t make a big enough dent. giphy2

So…. my husband brought out the chainsaw and a skid steer loader with a grapple and tree shear. He “trimmed” cedar trees while I took down the 5 wire fence around our old garden with a pair of pliers.

Because my MS doesn’t care much for the heat, I took frequent breaks to cool down in the shade with large glasses of water. I don’t like it when things like my whole arm or half my face, etc. go numb, so I’m learning to be more cognizant about my body temperature.

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4+ hours into the yard project and we called it an evening. Our son came home from his activity. I grilled while the kids played in the water table. Showers and bed couldn’t come fast enough after dinner – for everyone.

Sunday my crew was exhausted, short-fused, and desperately in need of a solid nap. And that was by 9am. We worshipped, enjoyed a fellowship lunch with our neighbors and community at church, and then came home for what amounted to non-existent siestas. I gave up on quiet-time after 30 minutes and rounded up my crew to help plant the garden.

We are getting a late start due to some wet, cool weather in the month of April. After about 20 minutes of my kids nit-picking each other and arguing (should have had that nap), we managed to get the yellow and white onions in.

– insert drink and snack break –

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Because everyone was being so whiny and cantankerous helpful, the hubs and I decided we’d hurry up and put the peppers in before baseball practice. After some surprisingly successful teamwork where no one cried (gardening with a 4yr old who needs a nap!!!), I also planted the peas. We’ll call it a start…

On to the first baseball practice of the season. I love this time of year! Thgiphy4e boys were so excited to start practice. Everybody was pumped up and ready to go. By the end, all the boys were hot and tired. “Wolverines!” in a huddle and headed home until next week.

And so was our weekend. We were happy to spend it with family and friends. Always, regardless of the grumps, we love our crew. Fresh air makes it hard to take anybody’s groans too seriously!

 

Faith · Family · Fitness · Perspective

A Few Wednesday Reflections

Reflection #1:
I did a fair amount of traveling in the last week. My sisters and I drove eight hours (@60-75mph) to our cousin’s wedding, celebrated, then drove eight hours back. We piloted three states of roads. It’s been years, probably close to a decade since we took a “sisters only” trip anywhere. It was refreshing.

img_0475My sisters are highly intelligent. When wading thru the mundane conversations of life, the spark of a quick-witted and sharp dialogue breathes life back into my brain and soul. That was more apparent when I came back to the mish-mash of people that make up everyday life. God paints this planet with people in a variety of talents and levels. Without this variety, life would be dull and monochromatic. It is however, a nice spritzer to converse new ideas and relive memories with my sisters.

Reflection #2:
I need to figure out my direction for serving others. I want so badly to throw myself into a million different places to help and serve others. I’ve always had a heart for adoption. There are multiple children adopted into both my mom’s and dad’s sides of the family. I don’t know that this is the right time for us. We both have to be on board as a united couple. We’ve discussed fostering, but with our current schedules, we aren’t sure we could give the focus necessary to be healthy for our children, the child in need, and for ourselves. 

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There is a new opportunity for us to get more involved with providing the needs of those just outside the realm of social services – connecting directly to families who need things like clothes of a certain size, a mattress, $50 to cover an electric bill so they don’t lose electricity, etc. The idea is to provide help before the family falls down into the rabbit hole of kids going into care. It is called CarePortal and links churches directly to needs. The call then goes out to those who may be able to help in some way and hopefully that need is filled.

Helping and serving others is a thirst I need to quench, but I believe it will take a lifetime of service to help satiate it.

Reflection #3:
I’m traveling again this weekend. We’ve made the childcare arrangements for our littles. I’ve started printing out our itineraries. I fly a couple of times a year. I hate flying. It makes me want to vomit. Talk about a level of trust… I’m putting all my cells literally in the hands and competency of the people who built, service, and fly the plane (and I don’t even know them). Obviously I am trusting them – I will get on the plane. But… Ugh. Once you are up there, there is nowhere to go but down… Pray for me please.

Reflection #4:
This is Us. Is anyone else watching this show? I’ve been watching/ listening to episodes on my computer at work during breaks. The stories of these people are so beautifully raw and intertwined. Last night’s episode had me sniffling at my desk this morning. Fabulous music. The characters and emotions so real. The sites of Memphis. So so good – and this is coming from someone who watches maybe 2 hours of television a week. Maybe. Usually less. Check it out, but start at the beginning. My husband tried to watch it with me a few weeks ago – midseason. He was confused by the flashbacks and it soured him on the whole show. He’s missing out… but he also didn’t appreciate my attention for Downton Abbey or my years of Grey’s Anatomy...

Reflection #5:
I broke my toe last week. I’m astonished at how fast the tiny bones heal. It is still a rainbow of earth tones, but I am wearing running shoes today. I gave it a few trial jogs while the kids and I have been out enjoying this incredible and un-February-ish weather. I have a 10K planned for St. Patrick’s Day weekend and I need all my toes for it.

Favorite song on my playlist today:

 

 

Family · Fitness · Health · Perspective

Tingles

Did I Push Too Hard?

That is the question I was asking myself as I laid with my 4yr old at bedtime last night. We finished prayers. She talked about Lola the dog and Aspen her daycare friend. She answered my daily request of “what was the best part of your day?” And then we laid there and held hands while her favorite lullabies played softly.

I cherish this time of night with my littles. My husband and I trade-off nights with each child. Sometimes it is a quick 5 minute tuck-in with prayers, but tonight was 45 minutes of laying still and cuddling. And there is nothing wrong with that for so many personal reasons. Those reasons I’ll discuss in another entry.

While I laid there patiently waiting for her to settle down and fall asleep, I thought over the past two days. I am pushing for a 40-mile December. To some, that might not seem like much. Only running 40 miles in a month. Many in my online running group have big, amazing goals like 100+ miles or are headed for a 3000 mile year. To others like my non-running husband that seems like a ridiculously large amount.

To me: Attainable but it would require finding time whenever possible to squeeze in a few miles. Time would be a much bigger challenge than distance.

So I did. Sometimes in only 10-15 minute increments. Running into the Wellness Center or down the road for however long I could snip a quick moment out of the day (with childcare). Looking at the calendar, it’s easy to see when school was still in session: homework, carpool, work, meetings, appointments, feeding my crew… and not much running.

I’m sitting today at 37.2/40. I’m feeling confident I can get the last 2.8miles today.

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However, it may be slower than the past few days. Just speculating, but I think I made my neck lesion mad.

Wednesday I knocked out a pace that I haven’t managed before. I ran my 5K in approximately 24 minutes. As I finished up mile 3, my legs started to get wonky and did not want to stride correctly. It was a strange phenomenon I’ve never experienced before.

Thursday, I ran intervals for mile 1. I warmed up from 6.0-6.5. I revved the treadmill up to 8.2. I needed a quick trip to the bathroom following mile 1 so I jogged to the locker room. 

I’ve had the “tingles” in my legs before when running, but never quite like this. It wasn’t painful, but tingles on the outside of my thighs, and on the inside and outside of my knees when I sat down. When I stood up they were gone.

My spine felt good – no L’hermitte’s. Hips good. No issues in my legs upon washing my hands and walking back to the treadmill. I ran another mile at 7.0 revving up to 9.2.

But in the quiet of my daughter’s bedtime, I have to ask myself – Did I push too hard? Is this normal for anyone else?

For years, I assumed that the strange things that my body did were just normal quirks. No pain, so not a big deal. Just an occasional muscle jerk here or a double clutch on my left foot when doing Zumba. It wasn’t until the numbness of my actual “event” (which I thought was exercise induced by bad form with a kettlebell) that my medical professional and I were led to say “what is going on in this otherwise healthy person?”

Pretty sure my neuro (who I’ll see in February for a 6m check) would say “Hmmm… Jen, use some common sense here.”

Common sense – Looking at, working out with, or having a conversation with me would lead a person with common sense to say ‘she’s perfectly healthy!’ But looks are deceiving, which I was reminded about by the presence of my tingles.

Looks like I’ll be finishing up my last 2.8 a little slower than I’d planned. I can’t express how thankful I am to be able to run or even hop or walk those last miles toward my goal. Those tingles gave me something to think deeply about and brought about a whole new depth of gratitude for simple mobility.

Don’t take anything in life for granted.


Much love to you as we close out 2016! — Jen

 

Fitness · Health

Socks for Christmas

What is the big deal about asking for practical things for Christmas? My list this year included foaming hand soap for the kitchen, a new knife set to replace our 11yr old dull, well used wedding gift set, and socks. I get poopoo’d for asking for simple things like this, but usually end up with what I ask for. Apparently, it isn’t ‘fun’ to buy practical items?!

I’ve asked for socks for Christmas for the last 3 years. Not just any socks though, running socks. If you run distance and haven’t tried a specialized running sock, I highly recommend you invest in a pair or ask for a pair for Christmas or your birthday!

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Crazy Compression Socks that I purchased.

Brands: I like Balega (made in South Africa) and Crazy Compression (pictured here -made in NC, USA). I’ve also heard positive reviews of Feetures and Bombas, but I’ve never tried them. Upon researching the companies (because that is something that I do), I found that Feetures is a family owned company in North Carolina. Owning a small business with my husband, I try to support businesses like this. Bombas are made in China, but do a 1 to 1 donation in the USA with homeless shelters. For each pair of socks sold, they donate a pair to a homeless shelter. This gets snaps in my book.

Cost: They run $10-30 a pair depending on the brand and what sale codes you can find. Thus, they usually go in my “gift” category instead of in the “necessity” category. I did splurge on two pairs of compression socks this year. I didn’t own any, but thought it would help with muscle recovery after long runs. Good news! Crazy Compression has a 30% off sale right now with code: “fun30”

Why Invest in Running Socks?  My philosophy on investing in good running socks lies in keeping the condition of my feet at a tip-top level for running. I’ll never be a foot model. My husband swears I have “hippie feet” from spending my summers barefoot. My feet aren’t pretty, but are completely functional for distance running. Dedicated runners get blisters, lose toenails, and can sometimes have gnarly looking feet. Running socks help with the hot spots and blisters. Getting fitted for the right running shoe for your feet plays a large part with the black and missing toenails.

My Next Run:  I tend to call the 5K, 10K, and half marathons “runs” instead of races. The word race implies that I’m trying to medal. Most half marathons do present you with a medal at the end for completion, but I’m talking about placing in the top 1-2-3. I’ll likely not be able to do that and honestly, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t run for accolades or public praise.

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I’m toying with the idea of signing up for 1 of 3 local half marathons. I haven’t chosen one yet. One is in March – Rural Route 13.1, the next in April- Wicked Half, and the final option is in May- Bill Snyder Half. Every year, I think I’ll sign up for the run in March, but then I don’t. Last year it rained for that whole event. The run in April is a good option, but I’ve heard it is a fast course. I’m not sure that even with the addition of interval training for speed that I would be happy doing a “fast course.” The final run is in May. That is as late in the spring/ early summer as I will run due to the heat in the Midwest and my body. Heat and MS do not mix. Depending on which I choose, I’ll have to start a training plan. Hmmm….

Any way around it, I’ll be needing some Christmas socks!

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Creativity · Faith · Family · Fitness · Health · Uncategorized

Creative Insomnia

Insomnia. Apparently, it is quite common. Defined as “habitual sleeplessness or inability to sleep,” this is a frustrating part of life for millions of people. Some struggle with getting to sleep. Others struggle to stay asleep. According to medicalnewstoday, there are many causes ranging from psychological and medical issues to technological media being present in the bedroom. The diagnosis of insomnia covers a wide range of people and blankets a myriad of diagnoses.

In the Trenches

When my doctor first asked me about my sleep, I was eyeballs-deep in parenting a non-sleeping 1 year old and rambunctious 3 year old. I kid you not, my 1yr old slept only eight nights the first 14-15 months. She was a tiny, healthy little thing that simply did not sleep. “This too shall pass” was a frequent phrase for me. I was also working full-time. A glowing picture of sleep, I was not.

Flashback!!!
Sleep? Who are you kidding?

So what do you say when your doctor looks at you and says “How are you sleeping?”  My reply was simply that I wasn’t but isn’t that what most parents in the trenches say? Was my situation really any different?

Insomnia and the Brain

The nervous system is an amazing superhighway transferring messages (stimuli) along the neural pathways. Central command is the complex powerhouse known as your brain. Have you seen the Pixar movie ‘Inside Out’? That’s a fun illustration, but it does so much more than just control feelings. The brain delicately sends out messages for voluntary and involuntary muscle movements. When you have a lesion – it screws everything up.

If I could find my latest disc with my annual MRI pics, I’d post one. It’s fascinating. Every year when I have my MRI, our hospital sends me home with a copy with the current scan and a copy of the previous year’s to take to my neuro. I go home and pour over these images trying to note any changes. Thus far, I haven’t had any since the first one showing the initial lesion(s).

Snowball

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Autoimmune fatigue is a different kind of animal… and it likes to snowball. For example – I like to run. I can run a half-marathon and be tired at the end. I might even “hit the wall” in proverbial running terms. It still isn’t the same kind of fatigue as autoimmune fatigue. When the real thing hits, you really don’t have a choice about “should I stay and work 15 more minutes on that project?” or “I wonder what we’ll have for dinner tonight?” It is a cancel or postpone whatever you can, tone it down, rest, keep your eyes open and body awake enough to safely get everyone home type of reaction. It is bad — and I didn’t really understand that until I experienced it.

The kicker is…. just because you rest doesn’t mean you sleep. When you don’t actually sleep, your body doesn’t get the deep REM cycle it needs to heal. Thus begins the snowball effect. It doesn’t always start with autoimmune fatigue, but you can bet that after a few days or weeks of not getting that deeply needed sleep you are seriously tip-toeing along the edge of the autoimmune cliff.

Creative Insomnia

I fall into that category of insomniacs that don’t have a problem falling asleep, but can’t seem to stay that way. Who am I kidding??? When I tuck my littles into bed, I’m probably drooling and unconscious before they are…

Back to an appointment with my neuro… He suggested a few options:

  • Melatonin
  • No media 30 minutes before bed
  • Amitriptyline (wide range of uses!!!)
  • No caffeine
  • Empty bladder

On top of those options, I’ve found that regular exercise and making sure my magnesium levels are sufficient are the keys to a full night’s sleep. Not every single night, but the majority are better with the assistance of these supplements. I can’t handle even the lowest dose of amitriptyline, so I take a half dose if its been multiple days seeing 2 or 3am. At a half dose, I still have weights on my eyelids at 9am and my amazing husband handles the school prep and drop-off.

When I do see 2 or 3am, I try to make the best of it. In the quiet of the wee hours, creativity flows and deep heart-wrenching prayers are said. If only there was a good way to record that creativity in the dark and warmth of my bed? I feel comfort in those deep prayers and sometimes an indescribable spiritual peace.

If you suffer from insomnia, I strongly encourage you to talk with your doctor and open your mind to possibly look at “outside the box” remedies (exercise, lavender, lifestyle changes, quiet meditation/prayer time).

As with all things, a positive outlook is something I strive for. Psalm 34. It’s worth the look.