Category Archives: Photos

Girls’ Trip to Valhalla

Saturday was a beautiful day. Not too hot. Sun was shining, there was a slight breeze. Just gorgeous. And the boys were off doing their thing, so we decided to pack lunches and ride our bikes (me on a trike) to Valhalla Park. This is a great local park with a picnic area, playgrounds, and a small lake (aka giant pond) for swimming. Natalie loves to swim so she was more than willing to bike the three miles to get there. Not only that, but she packed our lunches for us!

I let her swim while I sat and relaxed on the shore. We ate our lunches and then she dried off in the sun. It was just a really relaxing day. We had no place to be, no responsibilities to attend to. We just enjoyed the time and each other. It was a lovely day.

Earlier in the week she had asked me if I had a favorite kid, and I told her no, of course not. I loved both of them equally, but sometimes in different ways. However, on this day, our day at the park, I told her that day she was my favorite. And what she said surprised me. She said thank you. Because I think she just needed to hear that encouragement. I think her heart had been doubting a bit because she’s the younger child. Her brother is very active with sports so often it probably feels like he gets more attention. I don’t ever want her to feel like she means less to us. So that’s why this was an important day and an important outing. I plan to make more trips like this with her this summer.

The Zoo Snooze

You may say I’m crazy, but I spent the night at the zoo last weekend and I LOVED it! This was a really fun event put on by the Girl Scouts and my daughter was super excited to be going. She’s an animal lover right down to her core so this was right up her alley.

We rode down Friday late afternoon to Binder Park Zoo and stayed until Saturday afternoon. It’s only an hour away from us but I don’t think I’ve ever been. After this trip, I’m sure I’ll be back. I was extremely impressed with the staff and the conditions of all the exhibits. None of the animals looked sad, like they sometimes seem to be at the zoo. They all looked happy and relaxed.

We saw SO many animals! Peacocks, a sloth, bears, kangaroos, a snow leopard (if you can find it in the 2nd row photo), goats, red pandas, zebras, and my new favorite: giraffes!! We also saw a lot of other animals I didn’t photograph, like rats, bunnies, doves, tarantulas, turtles, ostriches… the list is longer than my memory.

There were so many great moments throughout this trip but my favorite and most memorable moment had to be watching Natalie feed lettuce to the giraffes. The joy on her face was just priceless! Those giraffes just came right up to us as we all stood on the platform. I couldn’t get over how enormous they were! I mean I know giraffes are tall, that’s kind of their thing, but the heads attached to those long necks were huge! And they were so stinkin’ friendly! All those giggling girls with their arms out and those gentle beasts just came right up to us. Just stunning. I’ll never forget it.

Several times throughout the second day Natalie would tell me how much fun she was having and she would thank me for coming with her, or thank me for letting her come. We walked over 6 miles that second day and there was not one complaint from anyone. And if anyone was going to complain, I would have expected it to be my daughter, but no, she was truly grateful to be there and sharing this experience with me. Neither of us had ever seen a giraffe in person before and we got to share that first together.

These are the moments, folks. Natalie is only 9 once and she’s quickly approaching 10. I’ve got to grab hold of these opportunities while I have them. This was such an incredible adventure for the girls to have and I’m so happy I was there to share in it. Who knows what the future holds but I’m hopeful it’s full of lots more exciting adventures.

With lots of recuperating in between, of course. This momma took a serious nap when she got home!

My son’s 6th grade field trip

Last week was our children’s last week of school. For my son, this was the ending of his first year of middle school. He is no longer a 6th grader, no longer a novice. This was a challenging year for him, as he adjusted to life with a locker combination, waking up ridiculously early, moving from one class to another, and having to keep up with homework assignments and tests from multiple subjects. I’ll be honest, he struggled a lot in the beginning of the year. He has a lot of energy, and he had a hard time focusing. That quality may never change, but he changed nonetheless. He worked extremely hard to manage everything and he ended the year in even better shape than he had expected to. Attending the end of year class trip was an enormous privilege, one that he very well could have lost. But he didn’t! AND, he asked me to be a chaperone on the trip!

We met at the middle school with all the other 6th graders and chaperones to board charter buses for the 2 hour drive west. We were headed for Michigan’s Adventure, an amusement park in Muskegon. Our day at the park was memorable, for sure. Luke rode a few rides, he walked around with some friends while I hung back and read my book. He swam and rode some rides at the water park. We ate Dippin’ Dots (did you know they have a dairy free flavor?)!

One really exciting thing Luke decided to do was ride the RipCord, which is basically a thrill ride where they pull you up super high (180 feet, to be exact), you pull a cord, and then you go flying. It’s insane, and it has always made me really dizzy and freaked out to see people riding this ride. It’s one you have to pay extra for, and I told Luke he would have to pay for it out of his birthday money if he really wanted to go. This kid loves thrill rides. I don’t even think he’s afraid of heights. He paid his money and waited TWO HOURS with no complaints. And as you can see in the photo, he was happy to wait and ready to go. I got the whole thing on video so we could show dad when we got home. It was terrifying and a lot of fun all at the same time.

The amazing part about the whole day for me was that Luke actually wanted me there as a chaperone. Though I could groan at having to walk around all day with a bunch of middle schoolers, I didn’t. Because I know in the coming years he may not want me anywhere near him and his friends. And since I don’t get to bond with him over baseball like his dad does, it was really great to be able to spend this day with him. That, and at the very end of the day, we enjoyed a fresh elephant ear as we hustled back to the buses. He and I share a love for this sinful confection, and we discovered that our favorite parts of the “ear” were opposite (he likes the crispy, I like the doughy) so there wasn’t even any fighting over the last bite.

All in all it was a fantastic day and I hope I never forget it. I am so proud of Luke for all his hard work this year and I look forward to making more good memories with him down the road.

Summer break has begun!!

We started off our summer break with a trip to the dentist yesterday (because I’m the best mom ever) via Spec-tran. Then today we went to Taco Bell via bikes (theirs) and feet (mine). I refused to buy fast food for the kids so they opted to pay for their meals. I was just in it for the miles.

This run went pretty well, considering my recent knee problems. I wore a new knee brace that was surprisingly comfortable to wear. I still had some knee pain beginning in the 4th mile, but the compression from the brace seemed to keep it tolerable. What I noticed in the beginning was that the added support on my right knee seemed to help me lift the left leg when I began to experience a little foot drop. I’m not sure how or why that works but I’m not complaining. The drop foot used to be so much worse and now I barely think about it. I’m just praying my body continues to cooperate as I add on more miles.

I really love that my kids enjoyed riding their bikes while I ran. This will allow us to go to a lot more places around town. They get their fun and I get my training runs. It’s a win-win. Of course the ultimate bonus is that we are spending quality time together.

I am super excited for this summer. Kids are getting bigger, I am getting stronger, it’s gonna be great.

Walk MS 2019

If I already blogged about this, forgive me. I’m just pretty sure I didn’t, so you’re getting this report a month late.

So! In May Mindy’s Minions gathered again to walk 3.1 miles around the capitol city in support of everyone living with multiple sclerosis. This is such a fun and lighthearted event, but it also does so much good, seriously.

The National MS Society puts on this event, and I am always eager to support them because they have been such a huge support to me from the beginning. Even before I was diagnosed with MS in October 2009 they helped me. During that summer, I had this strange and painful itching in my right arm. I was googling on the interwebs to find out what could be causing it, and I stumbled on their website. What I found was a detailed description of my symptoms, one far more detailed than I could have written. In short, they nailed it. I remember the moment so clearly. I was on my lunch break, sitting in my cubicle, and I had to hide the tears that were rolling down my face. I knew at that moment what I had, and I was terrified.

I was later diagnosed, of course, and the Society helped direct me to support groups for people like me. The first group I walked into was probably 80% older folks who were confined to wheelchairs. So, again, I was terrified. I thought I was staring into my future. It wasn’t until I found a support group for people my age that I started to have some real hope. Our group is a little more dispersed now and doesn’t meet in person anymore, but we still offer each other regular support through a private Facebook group. We share our struggles and our victories, we talk about our changes in diet, exercise, and medications. We are there for each other when we feel like no one else can understand. It’s been a true gift to have these people in my life, and I wouldn’t have them if it weren’t for the National MS Society.

So I raise money to give back. I walk, WE walk, to show our support. It’s an exercise in solidarity. I am surrounded by amazing family and friends all year long, but this day is special to me. It’s a day for my family and some of my dearest friends to come together and show their official support of me and my battle with this awful disease. I could not fight this alone and I am truly grateful to have these people in my corner.

Ikea, you’ve won my heart

My friend Stephanie and I went to Ikea today and we had a blast! She is due to have a baby girl in July and she needed a few things for the baby’s room. Of course I found a few things for our home as well. And in between the shopping we had a delicious lunch. Did you know Ikea served food? They have a whole cafeteria up on the second floor. It’s wild, people. The prices are decent, and the food is actually really delicious!

I had only been to Ikea a couple times and I think both times it was with our kids. Those trips were not ideal. The kids got bored and wanted to keep touching everything. It was so frustrating. If I had known they had soft serve ice cream at the check out area we could have used that to bribe them into good behavior! Lesson learned, I guess.

This store has so much of everything you can think of for the home. I did not go with a list or anything, but I knew once we got there I would find there were things I “needed” that I just didn’t realize before. I exercised some serious restraint and was able to leave with a haul of just over $30. Not too bad!

We talked about stopping at Trader Joe’s after Ikea but we were both pretty tuckered out from all the walking. All in all I would call the trip a success. Steph found her curtains for the baby’s room and I have a new salad spinner to play around with. That and we had a lot of great conversation on the long drive there and back. I’m hoping we can make the trip again later on in the year!

We were on a break

Piper looks like she’s mad, doesn’t she? Probably cuz I didn’t bring her with me on this run. She’s passive-aggressive just like her momma lol.

It felt great to get back to running after my 8 mile fail a couple weeks ago! The knee is healing but I wrapped it for this run just to be on the safer side. I’ve been trying to be careful while staying active with walks and home exercises. The safest bet would be to keep resting it but I’m stubborn and I missed running!

So small steps, slow, short runs, compression wraps, and ice afterwards and I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to keep training for that half. The good news is that though it gave me a couple twinges during the run, the pain didn’t last and the knee feels great now! Yay for healing bodies!

In other but sort of related news, I’m really excited to share with y’all some of the changes I’ve been making with my health. I’ll try to get a post up about that tomorrow. Stay tuned and happy Friday folks!

Gorgeous day for a run

So I was anxious to get out and run today. I want to stick with my half marathon training plan so I don’t get too far behind. However I let my anxiety cross right over into stupidity and I forgot to stretch before hitting the pavement.

Of course I paid for that.

After 6 miles my knees were in so much pain I had to walk the rest of the way. I’m pretty sure it was my IT band causing the pain, so I just iced the knees and took an anti-inflammatory once I got home. I’m gonna be sure to stretch next time, always, and hopefully I haven’t done any permanent damage. So glad I took this happy smiley selfie half way through! It really was a beautiful day to be out and about. Wind in the trees, birds chirping. I heard it all and I’m still so grateful that cochlear implants allow me to. Super super great day. God is good!!

The things you forget in just one year

I’m doing some decluttering in my bedroom and I came across some gifts my kids made for me last year for Mother’s Day. You just can’t make this stuff up. Priceless.

Luke made a bunch of coupons for me and the one on top says he’ll make dinner for the whole family. “Even your vegan stuff.” Nice.

In this next one Natalie says I’m smart because I correct her grammar. Maybe. Or maybe that just makes me a major jackwad. Nobody likes a know-it-all, Right?

This last one really warms my heart. She says I crochet the softest cuddliest blankets ever! I tend to agree, and I hope all my nieces and nephews agree, because I’m working on making one for each and every one of them. The whole entire bunch! (see what I did there? Redundancy.)

Mason 5k 2019

So Friday night was just us girls, as the boys had a baseball tournament (post to follow). It was Staci (pictured above, left), me, and my daughter, Natalie. She will kill me when she finds out I posted the picture below, with her goofy smile and scraggly teeth.

Now when we got to the race Natalie decided to be a major grump because she was going to have to wait for us to finish running, and she had no friends there (so she thought) and she couldn’t even partake in the bounce house because she was too big (so she said). I refused to let her attitude frustrate me, and I told her that she could be grumpy, as long as she stayed nearby so I could find her after the race. (This was a small town race and we knew a lot of the people there so I wasn’t worried with leaving her alone.)

I told her that as soon as the race started they would be setting up a snack table at the finish line for the runners, and that she was welcome to grab a snack while she waited. This perked her up quite a bit. Then, she asked me if she could run with me at the end, and I explained she could watch for me near the finish line, and when she saw me coming up the hill, she could join me in crossing the finish line. Then Staci asked her if she wanted to run the race, because it was probably still early enough to sign her up. And guess what? She said YES, she wanted to run it! I couldn’t believe it! So we rushed over and got her a bib.

My original plan with this race was to shoot for a new PR, but when Natalie decided she was running, I thought for sure she would poop out like she did with the one mile run two years ago. But I was just so thrilled she was running with us that I gave that up. I would walk if she needed to, just so we could stay together.

And then as we were waiting for the countdown, Natalie saw that a friend of hers was running, so they paired up. We counted down, the gun went off, and so did Natalie and her friend! They left us in the dust. I saw her one more time at the turnaround, and then again at the finish. She was smiling the biggest smile, and waving her medal proudly. She was a 5k finisher.

I did beat my original PR, which is exciting, but it paled in comparison to Natalie’s achievement. She turned her attitude around and stepped out of her comfort zone. She didn’t know if she would be able to run the whole way, let alone run it in 34:32! Not bad for a beginner. The best news is that she had such a great time, she says she wants to run another 5k in the future, perhaps with her brother and me! This one proud momma right here.