Tag Archives: change

2014 — Highlights (and Photos) from my Year

I’ve seen a lot of people wishing to wash 2014 away from their memory, and it makes me sad. Was 2014 the best year of my life? Yeah, probably not. I mean, we celebrated Penelope Joy’s birthday — the first of many, many more without her. We also marked her one-year angelversary. Oh, yeah, and my dad died.

But I could never tell you that 2014 was an empty year. Or a year I wish to wash from my memory bank. There is something to be gained every year — and something to be celebrated. And, even if it wasn’t a great year when compared to some of the other years of my life, it deserves its space in my history book. And it deserves to have its tale told.

January

  • After many months, Mr. B finally convinced me that I wasn’t meant to be an apartment gal for the rest of my life
  • I finally found my running legs after Penelope Joy’s birth — and death — surprised by how much emotional recovery I had to do before running felt “right” again

    A Saturday run

    Scenes from my chilly Saturday morning run.

February

  • We purchased our first house

    Our first picture of our first home

    Our first picture of our first home

  • I celebrated my 33rd birthday

March

  • We moved into our house and immediately began turning it into our home
  • I attended some social media training in San Diego for work
Checking out the sights during a break from business.

Checking out the sights during a break from business.

April

photo with Piper

Our first photo with Piper.

May

  • Rosebud and I traveled to Indianapolis to see our friends, The Secret Sisters, perform

    The Secret Sisters, once again, wow The Rosebud Sisters.

    The Secret Sisters, once again, wow The Rosebud Sisters.

  • I ran the Fifth Third River Bank Run 5k for the Alzheimer’s Association of West Michigan

    My traditional post-race selfie.

    My traditional post-race selfie.

  • We found out that Sprout was on her way
  • A downed power line gave us quite the scare
An exciting way to welcome spring at our new home.

An exciting way to welcome spring at our new home.

June

  • We took a long weekend getaway to “The Island” with T and W and our crazy dogs
On our way to The Island.

On our way to The Island.

July

  • We took Piper up north to run (and run and run) around the farm
A stop-light family photo

A stop-light family photo

August

  • Piper passed her Canine Good Citizenship Test
Our Canine Good Citizen — silly as ever!

Our Canine Good Citizen — silly as ever!

September

  • Gary’s Gang raised thousands of dollars for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s

    Gary's Gang at the Walk to End Alzheimer's

    Gary’s Gang at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s

  • We celebrated Penelope Joy’s birthday with cupcakes and hugs on the beach

    Cupcakes for our precious Penelope Joy's 1st birthday.

    Cupcakes for our precious Penelope Joy’s 1st birthday.

  • We celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary by trying out a new restaurant we both agreed wouldn’t make our list of regular dining establishments

October

  • We marked the anniversary of Penelope Joy’s death
  • We found out that our Sprout is a girl and, at the same time, heard the high-risk pregnancy doctor say “your baby is healthy, and we don’t want to see you anymore”

    Sprout's a girl!

    Sprout’s a girl!

  • We said good-bye to my dad
Hugs, smiles and laughter were always a constant with Dad.

Hugs, smiles and laughter were always a constant with Dad.

November

  • We got a very positive report from Sprout’s echocardiogram and learned that her heart looked, as far as the scans could reveal, “perfectly healthy”
  • We joined my mom and lots of loud, wonderful family for Thanksgiving up north
Nothing like family and laughter on Thanksgiving.

Nothing like family and laughter on Thanksgiving.

December

  • We celebrated our first Christmas in our new home

    Christmas at Casa B

    Christmas at Casa B

  • We said good-bye to 2014 and hello to 2015 with “Lilo & Stitch,” a slice of cheesecake and a smooch

By no means is this list exhaustive. In fact, I know of many wonderful things I left off the list. But to include everything that happened in a year? It’s a list that would run long. Too long. Know this, though: the most important thing that happened this year was that we continued to live our love story. And we continued to learn about love and its many, many forms.

2014 was a transformative year for me personally. There was loss and love. Fear and hope. Dark and light. And through it all, I changed. I continue to change. My life continues to transform as I continue to live it and take it all in — the good and the bad. And I look forward to that continued transformation and growth in the new year.

As I thought back on my year and that word, “transformative,” I wondered how other people might describe their year. So, I asked. Friends and family from various social media platforms — and countries all over the world — shared with me the one word they would use to describe their year. It’s really interesting to look at that collection of words and how similar and how different they are from each other. See what I mean?

2014 Word Cloud

It’s fun to look back at 2014 — appreciating that while it may not have been a perfect year, there was good that came with it, too. With the dark, there is light. With the fear, there is hope.

No one knows yet what 2015 will hold. But I do know that it will be a very, very special year, indeed. We’re starting our year off with our continued countdown to Sprout. Due Feb. 3, Baby Girl Baker is already making an impact on our daily lives. And I simply cannot wait to hold her for the first time and touch her sweet toes.

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Paw Prints on our Hearts — and our Hardwood Floors

Mr. B and I have, obviously, had a very tumultuous year. Nothing pulls the rug out from under you like losing your child. And since then, also obviously, our hearts have been slowly healing — bit by bit. But there has always been a dark cloud hanging over any of our happiness. Because there was always something missing. There will always be something missing.

A couple weeks ago, we visited an animal rescue shelter. Knowing we had a lot of love to share — and so eager to give a home to a dog who needed one. We visited with a couple of dogs — neither really seemed “right.” But as soon as the staff member brought “Speckles” out to meet us, we started falling in love. We spent a little bit of time with her at the shelter. And as we were driving home, we both said we wanted to adopt her. That night we filled out the online application and anxiously waited to hear from them that our application had been accepted.

While we hadn’t yet heard from them by Friday evening, we already were making plans to visit “Speckles” again on Saturday. Even just for a few minutes. Even though we didn’t know for sure if we would get to be her family. We just wanted to see her again. Spending time with her made us happy — it made things feel … lighter.

 When we walked in Saturday and they said “Oh! You’re here to take Speckles home!” we were, admittedly, surprised — and a little unprepared. But we were ecstatic. First step, though, was to change her name: Piper Mae.

photo with Piper

Our first photo with Piper, courtesy Pound Buddies.

Like all changes, it has taken some adjustments — for Piper and for Mr. B and me. But, I can tell already that the gray cloud of grief is starting to lift. Piper is slowly starting to help us heal from the loss of Penelope Joy — and her smiley face and wagging tail (boy does it wag!) brings us such joy when we walk in the door after work. No longer are we falling in love with her — we love her. Even Moe Cat and Annie Cat are starting to come around!

Cats and dog

Every day they get a little closer to each other.

Piper is helping to make our new house a home — we thought we were going to give a dog a home, but she turned out to give us a home. We are so honored to be her family and so looking forward to getting to know her even better.

In a couple of weeks, we’re going to start obedience training with her — we’ve actually already had one private session to get some tips and tricks for leash training. I am so looking forward to enjoying a happy, playful spring/summer outdoors, taking walks and playing in the backyard!

collage of Piper pics

Just a few snapshots from our first couple of weeks with Piper.

And, yes, if you follow me on Instagram, you probably should be prepared to be inundated with photos of Piper.

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Home is Where Your Heart Is

I’ve not written in a while about what’s going on in my life. It’s not because I don’t have anything to say. Because I do. It’s just that, well, we’ve been busy.

We bought a house!

We bought a house!

Mr. B and I didn’t set out to house hunt. Rather, we saw a house we liked and decided to take a look at it. And, while we were in the neighborhood, we figured we’d check out a couple of other houses. No sense wasting our real estate agent’s time. After a very crazy night of looking at four or five houses, we fell in love with this house — the one we’d both ranked as our least favorite, based on the pictures and Zillow description. But once we set foot in the house, we knew it was our home.

I was headed out of town for business, so Mr. B had to do all of the offer-making dirty work while I was gone. And, by the time I came home, we had a signed offer — and a long to-do list. Visits. Inspections. Surveys. Appointments.

I’m told the process went really quickly, but the next four weeks seemed to drag on and on. Soon, though, we were signing on the dotted line (times 1,000), and the house was ours.

It’s been a very strange experience. We weren’t in our apartment before this very long — we’d just moved in October, the weekend before Penelope died. So, it never really felt like home, and it was full of sad memories. It was a place of limbo, I think we both knew that. I don’t think either of us knew what was next. I certainly don’t think we planned to buy a house.

In fact, I’d never wanted a house. Before Mr. B — well, before Penelope, really — I would have been happy being a renter for the rest of my life. Home ownership never really appealed to me. I didn’t want the mess or fuss or stress that came with it. Mr. B, on the other hand, wanted a house — projects (especially) included.

And, had we never had a tiny taste — a fleeting glimmer, really — of having a family, Mr. B never would have even gotten me slightly interested in a home. I would have come to home ownership kicking and screaming.

But then, I got pregnant. And I wanted to have a home where my kids could grow and make memories. I wanted a “home” that was ours. Like I had, when I was growing up (we never moved when I was a kid, and my parents still live in that house).

After Penelope died, that became even more important to me.

I wanted a place that would be ours. Where sad memories could live in the past, assigned forever to that temporary home, and we could carry happy memories in our hearts.

And, so, a month later, Mr. B and I are still settling into our house — still not quite believing it’s really ours. It’s bittersweet, yes. Because Penelope Joy isn’t here with us. But, also, it’s refreshing to have a blank slate. Where we can make our home what we want; where we can create new memories — always carrying our darling daughter in our hearts.

The most important decorations in our house — and the first thing we did before we even unpacked.

The most important decorations in our house — and the first thing we did before we even unpacked.

 

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Finding My Running Legs — Again

Since I started running, that has always been a safe place. It was where I went to process what was going on in my life. It was where I went when I needed “me” time. It was where I celebrated victories and mourned losses.

And after Penelope died, I was certain running would help me heal. And, once I got the A-OK from the doctor, I was so excited to get back out on the trail.

But, then something happened. I got back out there. And it was different. It didn’t feel like my safe place anymore; it wasn’t comforting to get back into my old routine. Rather, it was emotionally painful — almost to the point of being physically painful.

I periodically went for walks, and I tentatively returned to the gym. At the gym, the same thing happened. It just wasn’t the same. And no amount of T2.5 “counseling” time could fix it.

So, I turned away from it. I learned long ago that if something wasn’t good for my soul, there was no way I could make it good for my body or my mind. 

So, I took some more time off. Some more frustrated time off. For a while, I couldn’t figure out why I was having such a hard time returning to my routine. But then, in the middle of writing Penelope’s story, it dawned on me. 

Those things? The gym. My favorite running path.  They were exactly as I had left them when the doctor told me I needed to back off the running and weight lifting. But me? I was different. Very, very different. 

And I needed something different — healing in a different way — from the gym and from running. But I wasn’t ready for it yet.

You see, the last time I’d done all of those things? I was carrying Penelope. And the grief was too fresh, too raw to be able to fully put myself back into it.

Then, I started writing a book. A book about Penelope Joy and all of the amazing things she taught me — taught all of us — in her short 38 days. And it was cathartic.

And, slowly, as I wrote the words and re-read them over and over, my healing truly began. Then, I returned to the gym to hit the treadmill for some short run/walks, and I started lifting (lightly) weights again.

And one cold, cold Saturday morning I  bundled up and strapped on my running spikes. And I went for a cold run.

A Saturday run

Scenes from my chilly Saturday morning run.

I had the trail pretty much to myself that day — it was that cold. And step after step, I found my running legs. I wasn’t as fast as I once was. And there were a lot more walking breaks that I’d have liked. But I was out there. And it felt so good.

As the “Polar Vortex” hit, I was sent back indoors for my workouts. I don’t enjoy the treadmill — never have — but it was better than nothing, and the routine was nice.

Then, January Thaw came for a visit. And it got a bit warmer. Which meant I could head back outside. So, yesterday, joined by a friend, I hit the trail again.

I felt every single muscle as they compensated for the uneven, icy trail. But between chatting and enjoying our time outside, we ended up getting in just over 7.5 miles. It was definitely a run/walk — I still have a long way to go — but it was just what my body needed, just what my soul needed.

And, so, I’m starting to feel that old passion return. Even Mr. B sees it — commenting on the dopey grin I had on my face for most of the day after my run yesterday. My excitement was clearly showing.

Running is starting, once again, to feel like a safe place for me. It is not an unchanged place; it’s different now. I am different now. I have different goals as a runner than I used to have — just as I have different goals for myself, my life.

But, for now, I’m just going to enjoy being back out there, taking it step by step.

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A Blogging Hiatus

I’ve not had much to say on the fitness/nutrition/healthy living front lately. Admittedly, my mind’s been elsewhere. With a baby on the way who has some heart issues, that’s where my … well … heart is lately.

I’m still exercising — as much as I can. Doctor said he “prefers light jogging and walking to running.” Though, I don’t know if this ever-growing belly of mine would be very comfortable for a real run anyway. And weight lifting? Limited to 25 pounds or less.

I miss it. I really, really do. And every time I see someone running, I get sad — and jealous. That’s my happy place. And I miss my happy place. And when I’m in the weight room, I feel miserably weak and lazy. Even though I know, on all counts, that I’m doing this for our darling Pickle.

So, I apologize for being “that” blogger who just leaves her page quiet for weeks on end. I think that it’s a sign I need to take a bit of a hiatus from this blog. I may be back this summer — posting periodically through the pregnancy about life and living. Now that Mr. B is on first shift, I may even have a few more recipes to share.

And I can guarantee I’ll be back after our darling Pickle is born in the fall. I’ve got a lot more goals to reach (I’m contemplating another marathon, perhaps, and some heavily increased weight-lifting goals), and I certainly have a lot more living to do. But, right now, I need to focus my energies on Pickle and on our family.

If you miss me and care to follow along on this part of my journey, you can find me at “The Pickle Chronicle,” where I’ll be writing about my pregnancy, Pickle’s heart defect and our family’s story.

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Processing the Unimaginable

It’s been too long since I’ve updated. I have five posts in my queue. Some about running, some about racing, some about life.

But right now, I have something else I just have to share. Because, well, that’s how I process.

There are some things in life that are easy to understand. Like ice cream. And then there are those things that are so incomprehensible that, no matter what you do, they just don’t make sense. Like sick babies.

Mr. B and I found out that our darling, growing, precious Pickle has a rare (and major) heart defect that he/she/we will be fighting for a lifetime — beginning at birth with the first of many surgeries.

Pickle at 21 weeks

Pickle at 21 weeks

As you can imagine, it’s been a very difficult 24 hours for everyone. There are a lot of emotions — ALL the emotions. And, of course, there have been countless tears. But Pickle reminds us constantly that he/she is still in there, growing stronger and kicking.

If you’re the praying type, please send us all you can. If you’re not the praying type, please send us as much love and sunshine as you can spare. Because we’re going to need it all — and then some.

And, in the meantime, we also ask that you respect our privacy and allow us to work through this shocking and terrifying news in our own way — and in our own time. As soon as we have any information, we will share it. For now, we’re dealing with the news in the best way we can as we set up numerous doctor/specialist appointments and take care of our growing baby.

So, if you’re looking to my blog for posts about running and healthy living and recipes, it’s probably going to be a while. For now, I’m not running. I’m staying active, but as this newly labeled “high-risk” pregnancy goes on, I’m on a break from running. I’ll be continuing to live my life as normally as I possibly can — eating healthful foods and nurturing my body and, most importantly, Pickle’s growing body. Because our baby needs all the strength and nutrition I can give him/her.

But, there’s going to be a lot I need to process in the coming months years lifetime. And I process through writing. So some of that may come through on this blog. Because that’s life. That’s my life. And this blog is part of that.

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Stuff and Things

A roundup of randamity. Also known as the randomness of what’s been going on in my life and what’s been floating around in my head:

  • I ran a hole in my favorite pair of running shoes. Sadly, my go-to running store didn’t have any in my size (not my favorite shoe, not any shoe). After way too many emotions about a pair of shoes, I tracked down one pair in the city. Unfortunately, the colors are … well … they speak for themselves:
New shoes

Love the shoes. Don’t love the colors.

  • My favorite springtime running jacket — from my first half marathon (in 2011) — no longer fits comfortably over a growing Baby B belly and, mostly, growing Baby B boobs. I zipped it up Saturday and could barely breathe; there was NO WAY I was going to be able to run in it:
Running jacket not fitting

I am the most sad about this jacket (temporarily) not fitting me. (Apparently the mirror needs cleaning — please ignore.)

  • This weekend, I was due for nine miles as part of my Gazelle Girl Half Marathon training. I was really hoping to get in 10 miles, though — knowing that I could get in 10 at least a couple of times between now and April 13 would leave me feeling more comfortable about the race run. Well, Mr. B wanted to go for a run Saturday morning. Always happy to oblige, I said “of course!” And we went out for two miles together. After he left for work, I laced up the new shoes and headed out for my planned training run. I got in my 10 miles. But, it wasn’t pretty. The first eight miles were good. I felt good — mentally and physically. But at about 8.5, everything started hurting. And my IT band gave me the first fit it’s ever given me since I started running. It was horrible pain. But I limped/ran/jogged/walked through my last 1.5 miles to make it to 10. Only when I was driving home did it hit me that I’d actually run 12 miles Saturday. No wonder it was so hard on my legs: it’s been a long, long time since I’ve run that much in one day. I’m proud of my 10 miles. Slow and painful as it was (for me), I’m proud of that run. Because I finished it. For me and the little one:
on my run

A smile at mile 7. Before everything started screaming.

  • I am blessed with the most wonderful husband. He’s kind, compassionate, generous and loving. And he puts up with a lot of emotions from me (which have only been made more “interesting” lately). But, best of all? He gives the best IT band massage in all the land. It hurts oh-so bad. He doesn’t even get mad at me when I  accidentally smack at him when it hurts too much. He’s so much better than my foam roller.
  • This weekend Mr. B and I head north to spend Easter with my family. I’m so very much looking forward to it. I’ve been feeling homesick lately — a feeling I’m thinking is only going to get worse as the pregnancy continues. (It’s SO WEIRD going through all of this without my mom by my side.) There will be lots of family time and lots of yummy food. And Son-Rise Service at my mom’s church. I’m not an overly churchy person, but there is just something about Easter that I’ve always enjoyed. My favorite songs are Easter songs. Especially these ones:
  • Since I’ve told people that Mr. B and I are expecting a darling Baby B, I’ve had a lot of interesting reactions. While the reactions have been mostly happy and excited, I’ve heard my fair share of “Wow! You work fast!” — as if our family planning decisions are anyone’s business but our own. It’s quite bothersome that anyone would want to steal one tiny ounce of the joy and over-the-moon excitement that Mr. B and I are feeling. Letting it roll off my skin feels so good. Because we couldn’t love this baby more. And, like our entire love story, Baby B is happening at exactly the right time — for us.
  • I’ve also had several people wonder about how I feel about pregnancy weight gain. “After all that hard work you put in to lose weight, you’re just going to gain it all back.” That’s the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever heard because:
    • Part of the reason I wanted to lose weight and get healthy was so that I’d be able to have a baby (or babies) some day. Because I wanted a healthy pregnancy and to give my child the best possible start he/she could have.
    • I lost 100 pounds. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to gain back 100 pounds during this pregnancy.
    • Getting my life in order, taking care of myself, eating right and losing weight has given me all of the tools I need to take care of myself before, during AND after this pregnancy. For me and my family.
    • Whatever weight I’ll gain because of this baby is weight I’m happy to carry. Because I’m growing an actual human being. And I am proud of what my body is doing for this baby.
    • My weight gain (or lack thereof) during this pregnancy is no one’s business by mine, my husband’s and my doctor’s. Trust me, I’m all over it. I do enough worrying for all of us.
  • My tiredness is starting to fade. Instead of “needing” a nap every day when I get home from work, I’m operating on just two or three naps a week. Sadly, the bazillion trips to the bathroom a day are not waning. I drink a lot of water, so I’ve always been a frequent flier to the bathroom. But this? It’s ridiculous.
  • I am already so very much in love with this baby.
  • Some days, at the end of the day, when all is quiet and life is calm, I find myself just sitting on the couch thinking about my life. Full of disbelief that this really is my life. Married to my best friend — and the best person I’ve ever had the pleasure to know (not to mention lucky enough to get to spend my life with). Expecting our first child. Working in a job I love that teaches me something new every day. Surrounded by family who are friends and friends who are family — people who want the best for me, who bring out the best in me. Even on the worst of days, my life is blessed so big. And I am so humbly and unbelievably grateful.

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