Thursday, April 30, 2020

Day 301

Well, I didn't sleep much last night. Tonight, I'm really going to bed at or before midnight. 

I had my last class of the semester today, so that was exciting. I still have a few things due tomorrow (specifically, two papers and the final version of my conference proposal) then I can decompress a bit this weekend. I am ready.

This is the last day of this block of 100 days. Normally, I would offer some sort of reflection or insight from the semester, but all I can really say is that spring 2020 has been a wild ride. Perhaps I'll get to that next week (or more likely, sometime after my final next Friday). 

That's all I've got today.

Something that made today great: Thursday night Happy Hour with some of my classmates!
Time I woke up: 8:40 am

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Day 302

I just searched my blog for the word "donuts," and it seems that I have posted about donuts five times before today. Two were when I was training for the Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh. (This was also when I expected to be living in Raleigh, but maybe I'll do it eventually.)

I hadn't had a donut since I started working from home. A few days ago, Ellen texted me and asked if I like donuts. (I do.) She suggested run/walking to a donut shop that's about 1.5 miles from her house, and I was all about that plan. We tried her route today, and I am pleased to report that we completed the route, purchased and ate donuts, AND I brought some home that have since disappeared.

Not bad for a Wednesday!

This is a stock photo from Pixabay, but I did eat jelly-filled donuts today.
Something that made today great: I switched up my work style, and it was nice! Breaks are important.
Time I woke up: 10:00 am

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Day 303

I must say that today was good but also strange. I just watched a YouTube video on how to calculate composite reliability using output from AMOS (the program I am using for structural equation modeling), and it was one of the high points of my day. I doubt anyone else would get quite the same thrill that I just got from watching this video, but here's a link to it anyway:

This especially exciting because the reliability was not looking as great for part of my proposal using a different measure. I still have to report both, but construct reliability just saved my bacon...I think.

My qualitative methods professor moved our paper due date to Friday, so I am celebrating by going to bed not only before 4:00 am, but I should be in bed shortly before midnight.

This last week of class stuff is not for the weak.

Composite Reliability Calculator | The Statistical Mind

Something that made today great: My Tuesday class met tonight to share findings from our case studies!
Time I woke up: 10:30 am

Day 304

I missed my midnight deadline once more, but I'm really not fretting over it, especially considering how hard I have been working over the last few days. I have certainly satisfied the "write something everyday" objective that I hoped to achieve when I started my first 100 days challenge. Still, rules are rules, and I have not been following my own rules. It kind of reminds me of when my Grandaddy Stone was approaching the end of his life, and he decided he was old enough that he didn't always have to be polite. I won't say he was right to say that, but he wasn't wrong either.

Anyway, the end of this block of 100 days is almost here, and it is coinciding with the end of my semester. I vacillate between, "I only have a few more assignments left" and, "Oh my gosh, these last few assignments are going to take so much time!" My advisor and I were supposed to have a Zoom meeting this morning to discuss a grant proposal that is due next Monday, but she e-mailed me about an hour before we were supposed to meet and suggested that we save our efforts for a different grant. I agreed with her reasoning, and I felt a weight lift off of me when I no longer had to think about another proposal. I think this is the COVID-19 version of canceled plans, and I am not mad about it.

What is rewarding is that many of the things I am working on--the case study, the conference proposal, and my strategic planning paper--are starting to build off of each other. I would really be in trouble if I had to start from square one on everything. This bodes well for my dissertation proposal.

A funny moment is that when I finally came to bed last night (at 4:00 am, yikes), Richard rolled over and asked me, "Why were you up so late?" I told him that I'd finished my ASHE proposal draft, and he asked if it was "finished finished," and I said I was. (That really meant that I'd sent it to my advisor for review.) Then, he said, "Does that mean you don't have to be sad in front of a computer anymore?" That does not bode well for my dissertation proposal.

Photo from Pixabay.
Something that made today great: I feel good about the paper I submitted today!
Time I woke up: 8:45 am

Monday, April 27, 2020

Day 305

Oh no! I missed my blog post yesterday. I literally just watched my clock change from 11:59 to 12:00. Then, I decided that I make the rules on this blog and could allow myself a ten-minute grace period.

Sunday was more of the same from Saturday. I am still plugging away at my conference proposal, though I did make time to test out a new hydration pack on an 8-mile run today. It wasn't as exciting as running the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon (which was my original, pre-COVID-19 plan for the day), but I'm grateful that I can still go out for a run.

I didn't take any photos today, so here's a stock photo of a fat squirrel.

Photo from Pexels

Something that made April 25 great: Richard grilled bratwurst and corn for dinner!
Time I woke up: 10:00 am

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Day 306

I have been working on a conference proposal over the last three nights, and I am still not satisfied. What I am is tired. I have been staying up super late every night. When I had the opportunity to sleep in today, I totally took advantage of the opportunity. I'm still plugging along, but I have nothing to write about because that's all I have done today. Whew.

Photo from Pixabay
Something that made today great: Richard made a delicious lunch and dinner for us!
Time I woke up: 12:45 pm (yep. WOAH.)

Friday, April 24, 2020

Day 307 (NIAW Day 5)

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, so I'm spending to dedicate some of my blog space to that this week. Today is my last post for NIAW. 

Within the running community, some people throw around the phrase, "Running: Cheaper than therapy!" It's on shirts, medal hangers, and stickers, and Google tells me there is even a book by that title. When I was training for my first marathon, I kept a training blog on Tumblr. I usually posted about how training was going, but occasionally I reblogged things that I found to be amusing, helpful, or both. The image below was among them. I'm not sure what the original source is, but I found it here today.)

For the first year (plus a few weeks) of trying to conceive, I was disappointed for sure, but the sadness and hopelessness really did not start until June of last year. I knew that 12 months was a rule of thumb for a "normal" period of trying to conceive, so I did not stress too much. I was the maid of honor in my best friend's wedding on June 1, and I measured each month of trying to conceive by what my status would be for the wedding. Once, I told Ariel that I might be as big as a house at her wedding, and she assured me that it would be okay. The months went something like this:

"I might have a baby by Ariel's wedding!"
"I might be really pregnant at Ariel's wedding." 
"I might be a little pregnant at Ariel's wedding."
"Well, at least I don't have to alter my dress for Ariel's wedding."
"I guess I can drink at Ariel's wedding."

After the wedding, I didn't have a convincing excuse for why not conceiving that month was not so bad. The best I could tell myself was, "Well, at least I won't have to balance a baby and school during the fall semester." When I ran out of excuses, I really started to feel the frustration of infertility. That was when I started crying more and spending more time in bed. After the chicken sandwich explosion and the tearful days that followed, I decided that I wanted to start seeing a therapist. Trying to cope alone was not working, and my pattern was unsustainable. 

I was fortunate that I found a therapist pretty quickly and that we are a good match in most ways. I started seeing her in late January, and in one of our first conversations, she told me that infertility grief is a real thing. Looking back, it makes total sense to me, but the thought never crossed my mind before I started going to therapy. When I thought about grief, I thought about losing my dad. When my dad died, he was no longer there to call when I had a question or wanted to share some good news. I lost a friend and a huge piece of my personal support system when he died. When I didn't get pregnant, I didn't lose anything. I just delayed what I hope will eventually come.

Or so I thought.

As it turns out, it is entirely possible to grieve something you never had. With so much else unexplained in my life, it helped tremendously to be able to explain the outbursts, uncharacteristic sadness, and despair. Yes, I was frustrated, angry, and hopeless at times (and sometimes a combination of those), but those are all symptoms of grief. 

Once I realized that I was dealing with grief, my whole perspective shifted. I have faced grief in the past, and I will experience it again in the future. Grief is difficult, but recognizing the underlying cause of my feelings and behavior helped me identify strategies to move forward. Richard and I are still trying to conceive. I am still disappointed when I realize that yet another month has passed where we were not successful or when I think about how long we have been trying. 

The difference now is that I take a moment to say, "This stinks, and it's okay to be sad," and life continues pretty normally after that. I don't tell myself that I was stupid to think I would get pregnant, I don't feel guilty for being upset about not conceiving. I doubt that infertility will ever be an easy topic for me, but therapy has helped me learn strategies for coping, and I feel more hopeful than ever now.

Something that made today great: Catching up with the BAKErs on Facebook messenger (and playing the silly games on there!)
Time I woke up: 8:35 am

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Day 308 (NIAW Day 4)

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, so I'm spending to dedicate some of my blog space to that this week. 

I recently did the CliftonStrengths assessment (formerly/better known as StrengthsFinder), and my top strength was "Achiever." Achievers have a reputation for being hardworking, productive, and goal-oriented. This strength is typically a good thing, as is having the attitude of gratitude that I mentioned yesterday. There is, however, such a thing as "too much of a good thing," and my infertility has brought that out in me with respect to achievement and gratefulness.

While I knew I was a busy person, I can truly see how active and scheduled I was before everything shut down with COVID-19. I put a lot of pressure on myself to exceed expectations, and sometimes that backfires. Infertility is not the kind of problem a person can fix by studying hard or reading about it. Even the "just keep practicing" advice is only applicable at certain times. I think that is part of what has been so challenging for me. Many of the problems I have had to face in life have been resolved by dedicating beaucoups (I just recently realized that's how to spell "boo koos") of time and effort. For most things I have not excelled at, beaucoups of time and effort would have helped me thrive. Infertility is not that way. Working hard doesn't result in fertility bonus points; in fact, the stress of a busy, overscheduled lifestyle could make the situation worse.


Sometimes, I have also been hard on myself because I realize that many women have much longer, more difficult struggles than I do. As I mentioned, Richard and I have unexplained infertility. It is possible that we are just super unlucky with timing. Some couples have to work through complicated diagnoses before they can conceive. Some people have miscarriages. Some couples receive news that they are not able to have biological children. Then there's me, and I have experienced none of those things. I have been disappointed 24 months in a row. That has involved some tear, frustration, and loss of hope, but some people have it so much worse.

In turn, I would feel guilty for being sad when some people have it so much worse than I do. I told myself that I should be grateful that the worst that has happened is spending time crying and being disappointed. The combination of the sadness I felt due to my infertility and the guilt I felt for feeling that way compounded and made everything worse. Eventually, I came to realize that being sad and disappointed did not make me ungrateful.

It took time for me to realize that (1) infertility is not resolved by working harder and (2) my feelings were valid. Accepting both of those facts felt like lifting an enormous weight off of my chest, but it took time. I don't know which of the CliftonStrengths reflects patience, but it certainly was not in my top five. I guess a silver lining to all of this is that I am being forced to grow in my patience as Richard and I wade through whatever comes next.

Something that made today great: I had a good run this afternoon!
Time I woke up: 8:45 am

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Day 309 (NIAW Day 3)

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, so I'm spending to dedicate some of my blog space to that this week. 

The day after I ran the Loup Garou 40-miler in 2018, I was hanging out with some other GOATS while we waited on the 100 milers to finish up. I had just met my friend Laura's husband that weekend while we were camping, and I must have been particularly energetic that day because he asked me, "You really love running, huh?" and I said, "I love being alive!" It's true. Even with the bad stuff, life is good.

I like to think I fall into the excellent (or at least above average) category for maintaining a positive attitude and outlook on life. When I started my first 100 day blogging challenge, I committed to reporting at least one thing that was great about the day because I believe that even the bad days have good moments. Like we talked about at Girls on the Run, it is important to develop an attitude of gratitude!

Well, even for people who are positive, negativity creeps in sometimes.

For a while, every month was a repeat of the same cycle of tracking my fertile window, getting my hopes up that it would be the month that we were successful, and feeling crestfallen when my period arrived again. Some people who experience infertility do not ovulate each month, which means that their opportunities for conception are fewer and farther between than someone like me who has a regular menstrual cycle. I told myself I should be grateful that at least I knew I wasn't pregnant and could start planning for the next cycle.

The hopeful stage typically included looking forward in my calendar to approximate a birth month, thinking about how I would tell Richard (assuming that I could restrain myself enough not to immediately text him a photo of a positive pregnancy test), and rationalizing why that month was different from all of the others. On months when I finished or nearly finished a box of tampons, I would think to myself, "Maybe I won't have to buy these again for a while!" I would also look for any slight indication that I could be pregnant. A tricky thing that I did not really realize until we were trying to conceive, however, is that premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and early pregnancy share many symptoms.

I found myself thinking I had been foolish to be hopeful. Specifically, I said mean things to myself things such as, "It was dumb to think you wouldn't need to buy more period supplies this month," and "It was stupid to think that this month would be any different." The worst things I could think to tell myself were all related to being foolish or stupid for being hopeful after I did what I thought was right to finally conceive.

One day, I read this post about reframing negative self-talk (which does contain some F words and some anti-Trump sentiments), and it really made me stop and think about the way I talk to myself. The link post specifically mentions Donald Trump, but it could work with anyone. If any other person said some of the things I have said to myself, I would tell them to shut up, and then I would file them away in my mental filing cabinet under "H" for "horrible people." Why, then, would I tolerate that kind of treatment from myself?

With some effort, I have gotten my thinking back on track and stopped calling myself stupid for being hopeful and optimistic. I don't follow the advice of the post exactly; I try to be kinder to myself than the person in the Tumblr post would be to Donald Trump. Still, acknowledging that the things I am telling myself are false and hurtful and that I would not tolerate them from other people has helped me shut that behavior down. Even though infertility is frustrating, learning to cope has helped tremendously.

Something that made today great: We had a Gamma Iota alumnae mini-IRD on Zoom today!
Time I woke up: 8:30 am

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Day 310 (NIAW Day 2)

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, so I'm spending to dedicate some of my blog space to that this week. 

I used to spend what felt like a lot of time crying about my infertility. Really it was mostly on the days I started my period and realized, "This isn't my month either," but sometimes it happened seemingly randomly. Usually, it happened in private, with Richard, or with my doctor. I didn't even want to cry in front of Scooter. One time when Richard was working nights, I sat in my car in my carport and bawled when I got home from class because I didn't want my dog to see me cry. (It made sense in my head. I'll admit that I am not always rational.) It was that awful kind of crying like when you look in the mirror while you're crying, see how disastrous your face looks, and cry harder because you look bad when you cry PLUS whatever thing that initially made you cry is still a factor. Definitely not cute.

The first time I cried about my infertility in front of anyone besides Richard or my doctor was on Christmas Eve last year. The night before, my best friend (Ariel) FaceTimed me and told me she was pregnant, and even though I was excited--my best friend was pregnant, after all!--I was also disappointed because that was one more person who had what I was failing to find. I thought I did a good job being enthusiastic, but she later told me that she could tell I was hurt. Sometimes best friends just know these things. I'm also pretty awful at controlling my facial expressions. That's one reason why I'm not a counselor.

On Christmas Eve morning, my father-in-law enthusiastically shared news of a friend having a new grandchild. I remember him saying, "A Christmas baby! Isn't that great?" and thinking that a baby any day of the year would be equally great to me. What I said instead was along the lines of, "Yeah, that's great!" While I knew it was great, my heart didn't feel great. My heart felt sad that I didn't have a Christmas baby or even a baby on the way at Christmas...for the second year.

While everyone else in the family went to see the Star Wars movie, I grabbed lunch with my sisters-in-law at Sundown, a restaurant we like to go to when we're in Ruston. Since my last visit, the restaurant had discontinued the buffalo chicken sandwich, but they had something close, so I ordered that. What I received was certainly a chicken in spicy sauce, but there was Sriracha or something involved in the sauce. I commented that it was spicy but decided to fight through it.

At some point, the conversation shifted to a baby Maryanne had seen and held at her husband's family Christmas the previous night. I guess three baby conversations in 24 hours was too much because my eyes started filling up with tears. I did that thing where I contorted my mouth and tried to keep my lips from trembling. I think Rebecca noticed first and said something like, "Are you okay? That sandwich must be really spicy," and I couldn't stop myself from the outburst that ensued.

"I don't want to talk about babies!" This was followed by some tears and probably some snot and heaves that sound like a dragon with nasal congestion.

Like any nice human beings, my sisters-in-law apologized, and we shifted the conversation to something else. I told them it was okay and that I realized they didn't know. Most people in my life didn't know. Because of my running schedule and my school obligations, I think some people assumed I was waiting on purpose or that I don't want kids, but the truth is I didn't know how to tell people that I can't seem to do what most women do very easily. This isn't the kind of thing I want to wear on a T-shirt.

One of the challenging pieces of this whole situation is that many people don't know how to talk about infertility. Coping with it (mostly) privately led to the Great Chicken Sandwich Outburst of 2019, but all that really did was put babies on the "Do Not Discuss" list and maybe give some context to my sisters-in-law about why Richard and I don't have children (if they had been wondering).
Something I have been working on (and that I'll get to later this week) is learning to talk about infertility, but it is truly difficult sometimes. I don't want to be known as that lady who's always going on about her reproductive struggles, but I also realize that it is challenging to get more people talking about infertility without first talking about infertility. Hopefully, my stories this week, even the ones that revolve around spicy chicken, will spark some conversations.

Color NIAW Logo with Tagline
Something that made today great: Ariel called, and we got to catch up!
Time I woke up: 9:30 am

Monday, April 20, 2020

Day 311 (NIAW Day 1)

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, so I'm going to dedicate some of my blog space to that this week. 

I am not the fastest runner in most scenarios, but I go into most of my races with a plan that will get me through the finish. This is something my running friends know about me. I'm not one to change distances on race day because I typically mentally prepare for the race the day before. I take Bob Coolidge's advice of, "Get your mind right" to the next level.

There's an all-night trail run through the woods of south Louisiana in July, and the race takes place on a looped course. During this race in 2018, I passed Preacher from GOATS, and his ankle was hurting. I asked if he wanted me to keep him company, but he told me to go on because I was looking strong. He ended up dropping out of the race. Later, he told me that he realized his goose was cooked when I passed him because he knew I had a plan that was going to put me pretty close to the allotted 10 hours for the race.

It's kind of funny that I have this reputation for always having a plan because failed plans have been the beginning of some of the greatest stories in my life. I have been intentional about the timeline for my plans, but as the saying goes, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."  Richard and I decided that we did not want to have children while we were still in Shreveport, but as our time in Shreveport was drawing to a close, we started planning to have children. When we shopped for houses, we weren't looking for a forever house, but we wanted at least three-bedroom houses so we would have a place for a child and a room for guests. Nearly two years later, we have two guest rooms.

As it turns out, nothing related to becoming parents has gone according to our plan, and we have no idea why. We could just be unlucky. After a year of trying, Richard and I took the first steps to figure out what might be the problem. Every test has come back normal, which left us with the diagnosis of unexplained infertility. That's exactly the kind of diagnosis that a person like me really hates to receive. If we could just identify the problem, there would be something to attack, right? Well, maybe. That part is frustrating too.

The "unexplained" part of unexplained infertility applies to so much more than the science part.  I question myself and wonder if this is happening to Richard and me because we waited until I was nearly 29 to even start trying. Also, I ask so many other questions.  I ask my doctor questions about what I should do differently or what out next steps are. I read success stories and try to weigh which suggestions seem credible. At one time, I would Google questions about pregnancy as it relates to running, being over 30, or having hypothyroidism, and a few months later, I would Google those same questions again because I wondered if I missed something the last time I looked up answers.

It took much effort on my part to stop drowning in the "What ifs?" but I have been working on curbing my questions. Through everything, I have to remember that there are plenty of other wonderful parts of my life. While reframing my thoughts has not exactly solved my problems, it has certainly made the wait a little easier. Additionally, it has gotten me to a place where I would rather share my experience than immerse myself in a Google rabbit hole. So, I'll be sharing some pieces of my story this week.

Color NIAW Logo with Tagline

Something that made today great: I made this Italian bread, and it was fantastic. The dough was sticky, but I had fun getting a little messy while I kneaded it.
Time I woke up: 10:00 am

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Day 312

I did it! I finished the Quaranineteen challenge! A minimum of 1.9 miles every hour for 19 hours...and I did it!

There was humidity, heat, sunshine, rain, and wind, but I made it. I hope to write a race report tomorrow. Tonight, however, I am ready for bed. I did approximately .4 of the three things I needed to do for school today, but I did a good thing for my mind and body by taking on and completing a challenge. I'm ready for a great week!

Finisher selfie after my last round of 1.9 miles!
Something that made today great: I really enjoyed my socially distant runs with friends (Ken and Ellen)!
Time I woke up: 3:40 am

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Day 313

After my great service to the community yesterday (purchasing beer), I spent time today getting my hands dirty and doing more traditional community service. This morning, I went and weeded part of a community garden, and after lunch, I went to the diaper bank for a few hours. The community garden was perfect for volunteering with others while maintaining plenty of space between people, and I was at the diaper bank by myself. Other than picking up beer yesterday, running has been the only reason I have gotten out of the house over the last two weeks or so. It was good to do a little something for others and mix up my activities. Also, community needs are certainly not waning right now, so I was happy to do a little something to help others.

Tomorrow is a bit day of running for me, as I am taking on the Quaranineteen Challenge and will run just over 40 miles thanks to a few extra miles I'm picking up in the morning. This should be a good, stoopid/stupid adventure...just what I need!
Photo from Pexels
Something that made today great: I had lunch at Sonic today, and their Reese's Overload waffle cone is delicious!
Time I woke up: 8:00 am

Friday, April 17, 2020

Day 314

The things I am doing these days under the guise of "supporting local businesses" or "stimulating the economy." Richard went back to work on Wednesday, and I thought some fun beer might be a good treat for him, but I failed yesterday. (Turns out I was looking at the beer list for a different location of the same restaurant.) Today, however, was a success, and I bought to-go crowlers of several beers...including Shiner Cheer, which is one of his favorites but isn't typically around in mid-April. I might have to call and find out how much it would cost to buy whatever's left in the keg. Anything to support my local economy during this pandemic, you know.

Something that made today great: I had a lovely afternoon run/walk with Ellen
Time I woke up: 9:45 am...a little late today after staying up last night (again)

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Day 315

Thursdays are weird days for me. With the change of my class structure, Thursday is the only day I have class. The morning seems to fly by, and class moves pretty quickly too, then it's 4:30. Whew! Also, Thursday means the next day is Friday, which is basically the weekend. When the weekend comes, I usually lie to myself about how much stuff I will accomplish. Then, the new week shows up faster than anticipated, and the cycle of "Oh I need to do stuff" begins again. 

I think I'm at the best part of my week?

Here's a meme someone posted about Zoom classes:
No photo description available.

Something that made today great: A great 7-mile afternoon run with Ken!
Time I woke up: 8:45 am

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Day 316

Sometimes I make poor choices. Last night, I made all of the following choices:
  • Eating lots of brownies
  • Staying up until 3:00 am...
  • ...Because I was looking at survey data in SPSS (a statistics software package)
Although I didn't get as much sleep as I usually do, I managed to have a good day. I did have to take a late afternoon nap, but I have accomplished most of what I hoped to do today. 

I'm still learning to give myself grace when I am not as productive as I want to be some days. Since I am in a comfortable home with dependable internet and don't have other people to care for, I feel like I shouldn't have any problems getting things done. Turns out, it's okay to feel whatever feelings happen during a global pandemic, even if they get in the way of doing work stuff.

Something that made today great: Wrapping up most of the content for my office's website
Time I woke up: 9:30 am

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Day 317

Back in August, my sister and I started doing weekly-ish check-ins on Facetime where we set our goals for the upcoming week and evaluated how we did on the previous week's goals. I was regularly failing to drink the amount of water I wanted, and I put off submitting some articles for potential publication so many times that I eventually just removed them from the list altogether. Despite my shortcomings, the goal-setting calls were still beneficial for planning my days and spreading out everything I needed to do. 

After several months off, we had our first call tonight. Not only was it nice to chat with Leah, but the preparation for the call was fun! My planner is currently buried under books and papers that I need to file, and I can tell I have not been as organized lately as I once was. What I already knew but realized is that the end of this semester is coming and coming quickly! Whew. Actually writing everything down and talking about my assignments helped me recenter myself. 

I also baked brownies that are delightfully gooey. Even though I can make brownies from scratch fairly easily, there's something nice about the convenience of brownies from a box that was appealing today. (Also, I bought the mix several weeks ago when I was first staying home, and I needed to use it.) There might not be any more brownies at my house in the morning, but at least I will be happy and focused on the things I need to do in the next few weeks. 

Ducan Hines Milk Chocolate Brownies 13 x 9 Family Size 18 oz Box ...

Something that made today great: Ashley sent me a Spotify playlist of Strongbad/Homestar Runner songs
Time I woke up: 9:00 am

Monday, April 13, 2020

Day 318

Running is such a funny thing. Certainly, preparing the body for running longer, faster, or at all requires effort, but training and practice won't guarantee a good race day or even a good training day. I have been known to wake up feeling "off" in a way that I can't really explain, but it definitely affected my running. Sometimes I crash after a few miles. As the kids say, "It be like that sometimes." Other times, it's nothing I did, but the weather is just uncooperative. With hot runnin' season approaching in Louisiana, I reckon I'll be having a few of those bad weather days in the near future.

On the other hand, some days I don't expect much from myself, and I have a better-than-expected performance. Today was one of those days, fortunately! I ran at varying levels of difficulty from Thursday through Sunday, and Sunday was tough. It was humid and warm-ish, and I ran out of fluids before I finished my 8-mile run. My pace was below most of my recent runs, but I was glad to get it done. Today, my expectations were low, and I had a great 5-mile run at lunch.

I am planning to take tomorrow off from running, but I am looking forward to more strong runs this week. The forecast is looking magical, though I remember what OutKast said in "Ms. Jackson" back in 2000: "You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can't predict the weather."

you can plan a pretty picnic but you can't predict the weather...

-outkast- Matte White Poster Print Statement Custom

Something that made today great: Snacking on string cheese with Scooter
Time I woke up: 9:00 am

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Day 319

Well, Easter was unusual this year. I made icebox rolls, which are a staple for holiday meals with family, and Richard did the rest: honey pineapple pork loin, broccoli, and potatoes. We certainly missed the in-person fellowship at church and at the lunch table with family and friends. We also saw zero bunnies and did not hunt for any Easter eggs. Alas.

I did get a run and a nap in, and Richard and I spent lots of quality time together. Storms are heading our way, and Scooter was too nervous to go on our evening walk this evening. We are hoping for better results tomorrow.

Something that made today great: A quiet and safe holiday with my best husband and best dog
Time I woke up: 9:00ish

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Day 320

I have not returned to the College Woman's Cookbook that I mentioned on Day 330, but I am less embarrassed by that since I had to look up what day that was and realized that it was only ten days ago. Today, I ventured into the land of the Copycat Chick-fil-A sandwich, complete with these homemade hamburger buns. It wasn't a total bust--in fact, it was pretty darn good--but I have work to do before I share these sandwiches outside of my own home.

After sleeping in today, I actually managed to have a productive day. In addition to my cooking festivities, I did several loads of laundry (washed, dried, folded, AND put away!) and did some cleaning in our kitchen. Yesterday, Richard started some new batches of mead, and one of them erupted like a volcano in our guest bathroom. We bonded over cleaning honey, water, yeast, and blackberry paste off of the walls and ceiling in our bathroom. Overall, not a bad day!

My first batch of hamburger buns! The sesame seed buns were delicious, but so were the naked ones.
Something that made today great: I saw Ellen and Eric on my run/walk today, and we talked loudly from opposite sidewalks.
Time I woke up: 5:30 am for maybe ten minutes...then I went back to sleep until 10:45.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Day 321

I have written roughly 380 entries in this blog, and it's possible that I have never acknowledged that I am not an only child. I was an only child for many years, but in 1999, God decided that I should welcome a sibling and a new millennium in quick succession (which is different from secession--check your dictionary). Thus, I got my only sibling, Leah.

Perhaps the readers here don't know that I was born in 1988, but I was. That puts exactly 11.25 years between my sibling and me because we were both born on the 19th of months that are three months apart. Math is crazy. Now, she is 20, and I am 31, and life is weird. Fortunately, we have each other to navigate this wild time in our lives. The fact that we are in school slightly mediates the drama in our relationship (that's right, I am using age as a mediator because I am attempting to use multivariate statistics) but we are also celebrating being over the hump where Leah was an angry teenager and I was a semi-responsible adult.

Here is a picture of us at the beach last summer. She is wearing a responsible bikini, and I am wearing a string bikini that Richard and I purchased at a truck stop on the way to Florida. I am not making any statements about string bikini vs. regular bikini other than....I think the roles are reversed in this photo. Hey, you only live once. #YOLO.

Rogers siblings at St. Augustine Beach, June 2019
Something that made today great: Happy hour with Ashbar and Embar on FB Messenger Video!
Time I woke up: 8:50 am

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Day 322

Only one of my classes still meets at its regular time, and that's my Structural Equation Modeling class. On Thursday afternoons, I have the joy of meeting with my professor, teaching assistant, and two other classmates for modeling fun.

A few weeks ago, I was having problems with one of our modeling programs. I fought with it and couldn't seem to make the model run. Today, I had a similar issue, so my TA and I worked together after class on it. (Giving someone else remote control of your screen is kind of trippy!) After half an hour of extra work, I thanked him for his time but told him I wanted to put the model on pause and go exercise. With the promise that I would try again later tonight or tomorrow, my TA gave me one final suggestion: try completely restarting the program.

Tonight, I shut down my computer and restarted everything. The model ran! I think that makes me an expert at tech support and structural equation modeling. I'm really developing some skills!

what if I told you a restart will fix your computer - What If I ...

Something that made today great: Happy hour with my classmates!
Time I woke up: 8:30 am

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Day 323

Wow, I’m really losing steam on blogging. I’m also not as dedicated to running as I have been recently, but I’m trying to stay on some semblance of a routine. Even though I have more time, this week especially has been a bit of a rough patch. Yikes. 

Here are the results my sister and I got from the philosophy test on Tomorrow I’ll probably take some more tests. 

Something that made today great: Richard and I watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High tonight! 
Time I woke up: 9:00 am

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Day 324

I had three separate video calls today: one with my work wife, one with Richard's side of the family, and one with my friend Jake. So many video calls! Here's how it all went down:

  • Tricia and I started with a happy hour, then she had the joy of watching me make cornbread and chicken pastry for dinner.
  • Family FaceTime was a hot mess, as one might expect a group conversation with four children under the age of fifteen. 
  • Catching up with Jake was both hilarious and informative. 
I think I'm going to take a break from video calls tomorrow other than my staff meeting, but it is nice to have this way to connect with friends and family...though maybe not so much family at once.

This corn-shaped cornbread pan is a family heirloom from Richard's grandmother.

Something that made today great: My chicken pastry was delicious
Time I woke up: 9:00 am

Monday, April 6, 2020

Day 325

You know what's delightful? Connecting with humans who knew you before COVID-19, that's what. At one point we thought we'd lost Mary Bess, but she is still here among the living (thank goodness). During this time, we have to be intentional about finding things to be thankful for, and I for one am thankful that Mary Bess did not succumb to any evil forces.

That seems like enough goodness and progress for a Monday, but the bar is low at this time.

Something that made today great: Power hour with Suz and Mary Bess
Time I woke up: 9:15 am

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Day 326

Sunday is for statistics!....sometimes.

After working steadily on a bit of work that is due later this week, I spent some time tonight playing around with some data that I hope to use in an upcoming conference proposal. While I enjoy tinkering with data, I learned through my project last semester that great research takes commitment, but even research that is not great can take a lot of time and energy. Thus, I am having to remember to check myself every now and again to make sure that I haven't made any mistakes or wrong assumptions. Realizing that you've spent hours on something that was thrown off several steps ago is pretty unpleasant.

I guess that's good advice for more than just statistical work: check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Meme from
Something that made today great: A running adventure through some new areas! I wouldn't necessarily return to all of them, but it was nice to switch my route up a bit.
Time I woke up: 9:15 am

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Day 327

Earlier this year, Richard and I had to be intentional about scheduling entire weekends together, even calling them “Protected Weekends.” Now that my races are getting canceled, any weekend he isn’t working is a protected weekend for us! That’s a small sliver lining in this time of sickness and chaos. 

This morning, I went for a run while Richard worked in the yard, then we had some lunch together. I took a 3-hour nap and slept like a rock, and he played video games. Another exciting thing was being able to catch up with my work wife, Tricia. FaceTime and Zoom dates are a fun part of the new normal. 

Tonight, we walked Scooter and had a team effort dinner. He grilled steaks and made potatoes, and I made asparagus and a peach cobbler. When I weighed this morning, I had lost a pound since starting to work from home, but I’m sure I undid some of that today. I’m okay with that. 

Something that made today great: We received masks from several loved ones today!
Time I woke up: 9:30 am

Friday, April 3, 2020

Day 328

I submitted two papers today, which was somewhat strange, but what was even weirder was what came next. After feeling the satisfaction of turning stuff in, I started figuring out how quickly I could reasonably do everything that’s still left this semester. I hope to ride this wave of ambition as long as possible. I have plenty of supplemental reading to do in the event that I finish early. 

 I didn’t take any photos today, so here’s a meme that is relevant to my current life.

Something that made today great: An article I co-wrote was published today! 
Time I woke up: 9:15 am

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Day 329

I've grown bored with recounting my daily activities in my blog posts, so I thought I'd switch it up today. First, I thought I might do an "On This Day" type post with exact text from my Diaryland diary that I kept from 2001 through part of college, but the only time I wrote on April 2 was in 2006. The post was about getting rejected from Duke and, quite frankly, was rather boring.

Then, I thought I would fill out a MySpace survey, but I couldn't find one that was short enough to hold my attention.

Finally, I turned to BuzzFeed. I used to love BuzzFeed quizzes. One time when I worked at LSMSA, some of my students and I stayed up late eating pancakes and taking Buzzfeed quizzes, and it was hilarious. I found out I was 2% single and 20% basic from one of those quizzes. I took one about which movie I should watch on Netflix in April, and it recommended "Molly's Game." I might watch that show, but that was not a particularly exciting BuzzFeed quiz. There seems to be a trend of "Do you ____ the same ____ as everyone else?" e.g., "Do you have the same opinions on these Harry Potter villains as everyone else?" and "Do you love the same iconic TV duos as everyone else?") but I'm simply not here for that. There are also quizzes that are like "Wanna know how many kids you'll have one day? Just design your dream house to find out!" (I took that one, and the answer was three.)

I really just want to answer some questions and receive an answer of which character I am from a TV show or which variety of cheese I am. I am not trying to answer questions about one thing and receive an answer about something completely different. Still, since I've been watching "Glee," I did take this "Bake a cake and we'll tell you which 'Glee' squad you belong in" quiz. (I'm Rachel, Kurt, and Mercedes.)

BuzzFeed quizzes aren't what they used to be. I think this is just another indicator that I'm turning into an old grump.

Something that made today great: I caught up with Elena on the phone for a bit!
Time I woke up: 8:45 am

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Day 330

There is a variety of advice out in the universe about how to choose friends and build relationships. In the case of my friend Cari, we first met through our Great Books class during our first semester at Mercer University, and she joined Alpha Gamma Delta the following spring. In our sophomore year, we shared a suite in Shorter Hall, and we both lived in the Alpha Gam house for our senior year. I had approximately zero fashion sense in college and frequently raided her closet when I needed something stylish to wear. We also shared a particularly strong bond over weird things, especially weird sorority history.

When I got married, Cari bought me a copy of The College Woman's Cookbook, which was a cookbook that was published by Alpha Gamma Delta in 1934. The proceeds went to Alpha Gam's philanthropic focus at that time, which was a summer camp near Jackson, Michigan for underprivileged children. I thumbed through the cookbook when she sent it to me and chuckled at a few of the recipes, but the urge struck me today to cook something from the book.

Desserts are typically my go-to, simply because I enjoy a good treat. One recipe caught my eye because it was submitted by Estelle Shepard Beswick, who is one of Alpha Gam's founders. (Alpha Gam was founded in 1904, so I should not have been surprised that the founders would still be alive and cooking in 1934.) Whatever Estelle submitted either did not catch my interest or required too many ingredients that I didn't have on hand. However, I quickly found another recipe that was written by a different founder, called for ingredients that I had, and was called Hermit Cookies. What more could I ask for during this period of isolation? 

At first glance, Hermit Cookies are pretty basic. However, there were a few things I had to look up or completely wing.
  • I had to Google what "sweet milk" is. Turns out it's not sweetened condensed milk but just the regular cow milk many people already keep in their refrigerators (as opposed to buttermilk). 
  • "Soda" means baking soda, not Coca Cola.
  • I didn't have any allspice, but following this recommendation to mix cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg worked just fine.
  • "Enough flour to roll dough" is really freaking vague. I started out with heaping teaspoons, switched to heaping 1/4 cups, and ended up dumping entire cups of flour into the mixing bowl. I don't know how much flour I added. I will keep better records in the future, but I could have benefited from sort of range for how much flour I would need. Here's what my dough looked like pre- and post-roll. I have no aspirations to start a recipe blog or become a good photographer; I realize my photos are junky looking.

Cool. The dough was ready. The issues didn't stop there, though. 
  • A "moderate oven" should be between 350 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit. The cookbook contained a handy reference to oven temperatures ranging from "slow" to "very hot." 
  • The recipe gives exactly zero instruction for how long to bake these cookies in the moderate oven. My first guess was 10 minutes, so I decided to start with 8 minutes to err on the side of caution. It worked in my favor, as 8 minutes seemed to be just right. Here's how my cookies looked.

They turned out to be quite yummy! I think Georgia Dickover would be proud of my finished product. The cookies are not overly sweet; Richard referred to them as "old lady" cookies. Our cousin Emily said they sounded like oatmeal raisin cookies without the oatmeal. The recipe yielded about 50 cookies (I didn't count), so I am sending some to work with Richard tomorrow.

Overall, making these cookies was a good adventure in trying something a little different. I connected with the past, and Cari's gift hasn't gone to waste! Who knows what I'll try next? 

Something that made today great: I submitted a paper for publication!
Time I woke up: 10:00 am (Stayed up late last night, though)