First Softball Game

In anticipation of our softball game Tuesday night,  Andrew insisted that we visit the batting cages.  (Is he a little bit competitive?  What gave it away? ;-))  Earlier that day my dad reminded me that when I was a kid and we’d play in the cul de sac, I batted much better left handed than I did right (I am right handed.)  I decided to give both a try.  At the cages, I was able to hit the ball both ways, but felt stronger with the right, so I made the decision to bat righty that night.

We arrived at the field, met our teammates, and before long the game began.  We played two games, and the first was truly a practice game–we followed most rules, but for the sake of batting practice, everyone swung until they hit the ball.  Prior to this game, I thought that concept sounded fantastic.  Who doesn’t want to keep batting until they get a hit?  What if that fourth pitch is yours?  For my first at-bat, I chose a bat, walked to the plate, and positioned myself to hit the ball right handed.  The first ball was pitched, I swung and missed.  Then the second.  And the third.  No contact.  My face was burning.  Can I please sit down?  That was three.  Then the fourth (nothing,) fifth (nothing,) and sixth (nothing.)  I was mortified.  I decided to switch sides and give my left hand a try;  it couldn’t be any worse.

Amazingly, I hit that first pitch left handed!  For the rest of the game, I hit everything I swung at.  During the first game I played right field, and in the second game I played second base.  While I didn’t have any outstanding plays, I don’t think I made anything on the field worse.  That must count for something, right?  😀  At second base, I stopped more balls with my shins than my glove, but I stopped them!  And before you think that I am exaggerating and no balls came my way, please allow me to say that I now have two serious bruises on my left leg, one on my right, one on my left foot, and one on my right elbow.  I heard someone on the other team call me a “brick wall.”

bruisesLots of icing happened that night.

Bruises aside, I really enjoyed playing.  I still stand by my statement that, had I played softball as a kid, I could have been pretty good.  With a little practice, there might be hope for me yet (assuming I can learn to catch the ball with my glove rather than my legs. ;-))

 

Cape Charles (Memorial Day Weekend)

As we drove across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Saturday morning, I thought about the popular get-to-know-you question:  Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?  Then I thought, God bless Virginia, because I don’t have to choose.  Mountains Friday, beach Saturday and Sunday.

Andrew’s dad and his girlfriend recently purchased a house at Cape Charles and have been working hard to renovate it before summer.  The house is finally live-able, and this weekend we helped them move furniture from Richmond.  Saturday afternoon, after moving all the large pieces into the house (plus lunch and a 2-hour nap…hah!), Andrew and I set off the explore the small town. Unfortunately, at 60 degrees with 20 mph winds, it was not a great beach day, but we were content to walk around in sweat shirts. 🙂

cape4 cape2 cape cape3

Cape Charles definitely has a small-town feel.  There is only one street with stores–a few restaurants, a pharmacy with a lunch counter, a hardware store selling everything from paint to hula hoops to cleaning supplies that may have expired in 1987.  Outside most of the shops, locals sit in rocking chairs, greeting passerbys.   It was charming.

After dinner Saturday night, we caught a beautiful sunset over the bay:

cape6 cape5

On Sunday morning, I went for a short, easy run; my primary motivation was to snap a few pictures before too many people were out and about.

cape9

cape7 cape8 cape10 cape11

I saw an otter (that Andrew tells me is a muskrat…) swimming in a pond!  Walking closer to the water I thought, “Either this is an otter (muskrat,) and this is going to be awesome, or it’s the biggest snake I’ve ever seen, and I’m in big trouble.”  Thankfully, it wasn’t a snake. 😉

cape14    cape20 cape12    cape13

For lunch, Andrew and I walked to the Cape Charles Coffee House (where I had also grabbed a coffee at the end of my run :-D.)    On Sundays they only serve breakfast, which suited both of us just fine!  Andrew ordered the egg platter, with scrambled eggs, bacon, and fresh fruit (including local strawberries!,) and I ordered the Belgian waffles, which came with fresh fruit, whipped cream, and sausage links.  The waffles were huge, and other than Andrew helping me with the sausage, I ate every bite.  I was pretty hungry, and it was so, so delicious!  I wish I’d taken a picture!

On the way to lunch we passed this pretty blue wall.  This is what happened when I asked Andrew to model in his red shirt:

cape15   cape16 cape17   cape18

How did I get so lucky? 😉

After lunch we packed up our bikes and drove to the nearby National Wildlife Refuge, then Kiptopeke State Park.  The NWR had paved or fine gravel trails, but not many of them, and the state park had lots of trails, but most of them were grassy and tough to ride through.  Still, between the two, we spent about two hours on our bikes exploring.

cape19

The marsh overlook at the National Wildlife Refuge

DSCN8265

The Bay Overlook at Kiptopeke State Park

DSCN8272 DSCN8274 DSCN8267 DSCN8262

I’ve said this before, but I rarely notice our height difference until I look at pictures… and then I think it’s hilarious.  I look like a child on the bike.  😀

We ended the afternoon with some beach time at the park.

DSCN8279 DSCN8281 DSCN8284 DSCN8277

By the end of the day, we were completely exhausted.  I think we were in bed by 9:30!  It was an awesome weekend, despite the cooler weather on Saturday.  We drove home early Monday and spent most of the day resting and watching Arrested Development on Netflix.

…And I continue to be thankful that I don’t have to choose between the beach and the mountains. 😀

What did you do for the Memorial Day weekend?  Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?

Dobie Mountain Hike + Peeing in the Woods

On Thursday afternoon Andrew and I made the somewhat last-minute decision to take the day off Friday and hike.  We already had a three day weekend for Memorial Day and figured, why not make it four?  Plus, we hadn’t been hiking since that bizarre warm day back in January, and we were itching for some mountain views.  After a bit of deliberation–we wanted to minimize driving distance and maximize views–we decided on Dobie Mountain.  The starting point of this hike shares a parking lot with one of our favorites, Humpback Rocks, and is less than ninety minutes from Richmond, but we had never done it before Friday.  As it turns out, we didn’t know what we were missing.

The weather forecast for Friday showed us that we’d have a cooler hike (about 55 degrees,) and we dressed appropriately for the temperature, but what we did not anticipate was the wind: 25-30 mph!  Thankfully, when we’d walked out our front door that morning it was raining, and even though I knew it wasn’t in the forecast for where we were hiking, I ran back inside to get my rain coat.  Just in case.  I definitely needed the extra (wind resistant) layer!

Aside from the wind, which wasn’t terrible once we entered the woods, the whole day was fantastic.  We took a picture of the map in parking lot to use as our trail map:

dobie8

Starting at the Humpback Rocks Parking Area, we went up the Albright Loop, onto the Appalachian Trail to the Glass Hollow Overlook, then back to finish the loop.  The first half of the hike is downhill with a lot of rocks and switchbacks, then the trail ascends to the overlook and back to the start.  It was a good workout, but not quite as strenuous as Humpback Rocks.

dobie7

Braving the wind.  My hair tells the story.

The views at the overlook were incredible:

dobie6

DSCN8242  DSCN8247

Because it was a weekday and we were on the less popular of two neighbor hikes, we didn’t see any other hikers once we left the parking lot.  Beautiful solitude… Together. 😉  We set up our ENO hammock and took a break for lunch.

dobie5 dobie9 DSCN8245 DSCN8248

PBJ’s on gluten-free bread, apples, tortilla chips, carrots (Andrew,) trail mix (Catherine;  fine, I only ate the chocolate)

Also, despite using the restroom immediately before starting the hike and drinking less water than I probably should have, nature called.  Guys have it so easy when it comes to peeing in the woods.  Girls?  It’s a little tougher…and not something I have practiced often.  Here’s my advice: after finding a safe location (no poison ivy or people,) choose a tree, point your backside downhill, grab the tree for support, and squat as if you are water skiing with your butt very close to the water.  That advice and mental image are free.  You’re welcome 😉

Cool finds of the day: a log that looked like a dragon (I decided to ride it,) and… these green things:

dobie3 dobie4

The whole day was a blast, and we were glad we made the trip.  Lots of quality time, beautiful views, and–one of my favorite parts of hiking–a workout that doesn’t seem like a workout.  Seriously, if I lived within 15 minutes of a mountain, I would hike every day.  Or at least a few times a week.

dobie2 dobie

Do you ever use hiking as a workout?  What’s your favorite hike/place to hike?

College House Reunion

First, I apologize for being MIA for the last week;  it was pure laziness rather than busyness.  I am back!

Last Sunday-Monday I got together with my college housemates.  There were five of us that randomly lived in the same dorm suite our freshman year, and we quickly became best friends and rented a house together for the rest of our time at JMU–the Dollhouse.

Amazingly, all five of us still live in Virginia, so it’s not impossible to reunite a few times a year.  This week we traveled to Norfolk and stayed with Leah.  Before I left Andrew asked what we had planned for our time together, then said, “Wait, let me guess:  eat breakfast and talk…go to a coffee shop and talk…eat lunch and talk… find another coffee shop and talk…”   😀  It’s true; we’ve noticed that when we get together, we just talk as we move from one eating establishment to the next.

We all arrived around noon Sunday–two of us from Richmond, two from D.C.–and immediately drove to a coffee/sandwich shop near Leah’s apartment.  Then we walked around by the water for a bit.

norfolk

…And Sarah decided to test-sit a stranger’s boat…after climbing over a locked gate to reach it… 😉

norfolk2

After a while we found a place to sit by the water and enjoy the day.  And talk.  And laugh. And talk.

norfolk3

Leah, with Kate’s help, reenacted a scene in which she fell while on a run and was groped (she suspects intentionally) by a homeless man who helped her back up.  Hah!  (Leah, don’t kill me for posting this photo… you are hilarious :-D)

norfolk6

From the water we headed to the grocery store, then back to the apartment to make dinner:  quesadillas and bell peppers…

norfolk5

…+ homemade salsa and sangria

norfolk4

I’d also like to mention that our quesadillas were vegetarian because, while none of us are vegetarians, we all decided that the packages of raw chicken were just too gross to touch, and we’d rather go without.  Andrew’s mind was blown by this, but it’s one of the millions of reasons that I love these girls. 🙂

It was a beautiful evening so we ate dinner on the back porch, then talked for hours about life and love and pranks we pulled in college (and a few we’ve pulled since…)  Then ate ice cream & half-baked cookies.  Then talked until we fell asleep.  Glorious. 🙂

Monday morning, Leah made us waffles with a strawberry syrup, all from scratch, with strawberries she’d picked herself.  It. Was. Delicious.  After breakfast, Hannah and Sarah went for a walk while Kate, Leah, and I went running.  If there are two things the five of us share, it’s a love for food and a love for fitness. 😀

After running/walking, we cleaned up and drove to the beach!  We took lunch to go from a cute sandwich shop and ate on the beach.

norfolk7

It was awesome.  Beautiful day… At the beach with my best friends…on a Monday.  All I could think was, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”  Complete in-the-moment contentment.

That is, until Leah turned around and said, “Uh, check out those clouds…”

norfolk8

To the East: perfect beach day.  To the West:  rain clouds of doom.  We sat in the sun and denial for a little longer until I finally said, “You guys, this really is coming towards us.  It’s probably already raining on the car.”  We packed up, and after trying to wait it out in the car, gave up and headed back to Norfolk.

In our final hours together we parked ourselves back on Leah’s porch, ate pizza (yes, I ate more dairy this weekend than I have in two months,) and squeezed in a few more laughs.

I miss these girls like crazy when we are apart, but thanks to regular life-update email chains, we are always able to pick up where we left off when we do reunite.

norfolk9

(Our one, super-grainy, self-timer iphone photo group shot ;-))

Dollhouse ❤

Youth Stuff and Yard Work: A Full, Fabulous Weekend

Well, I survived the crazy weekend!  Despite the stress I experienced leading up to this weekend, everything went incredibly well.  Here’s what the last two days held:

Saturday morning I went with a group of our youth to volunteer with the Miracle League of Richmond–a baseball league for kids with disabilities.  We “buddy-up” with the players each week during the league’s spring and fall seasons to help them enjoy the great American pastime.  It is an absolute joy to know and be able to spend time with these guys and girls.  Plus, it’s my kind of baseball: everyone gets up to bat, everyone swings until they hit the ball, and everyone makes it home. 😀

ML

One of our youth, Eliza, and Carrie Rose have been buddies almost every game for about four years!

If you live in the Richmond area and are looking for awesome volunteer opportunities, check out the Miracle League!

When I returned home Saturday afternoon, it was time for yard work.  Andrew was working on the roof installing… something related to ventilation along the very top (not my area of expertise. ;-))

roof

After thanking Andrew for having such useful life skills, and also having a serious chat about not climbing on the roof when a. no one else is home and b. no one is holding the ladder (seriously, Andrew, what were you thinking?), I offered to mow the lawn.  Now, I mowed the lawn frequently when I was in high school, but the lawn mower we have now stinks.  It just stinks.  The previous owners of the house left it behind, and it works, so we figured, why buy a new one?  It is a full-body exercise to push it across the yard, and only once have I successfully started it by myself.  (Andrew started it for me initially, and then when I took a break after, oh, four rows, Andrew was back on the roof, and our neighbor Gary took pity and started it again for me :-D)

In the garden we thinned the broccoli, Swiss chard, and beets.  I know it has to be done–if two or three plants are too close together, none of them will thrive–but I have such a hard time pulling up little plants that are doing well!

DSCN8083 DSCN8075 DSCN8081

 

 

Saturday night, this happened.  I am scarred.  Absolutely scarred.

Sunday morning was Youth Sunday at church, which meant the youth were responsible for most every aspect of all three worship services.  This was a large part of my crazy-stressful week last week.  Everything came together beautifully, and all our youth did a wonderful job!  I am one proud youth director. 🙂

253244_10151435755838553_967094558_n

Meg was one of two high school girls to offer the sermon…Go, girl 🙂

After following the bulletin closely and nervously for three services thinking, “What did I forget?  Where is there a hole in the service?” I headed home to rest for a few hours before our youth year-end banquet.  I was nervous about the banquet, but all went well!  Okay, I  forgot to recognize and include one of our mission teams from last summer in the slide show…Sorry, LA Team!  (Or as Forrest renamed it, the “Lost Angeles Team.” ;-))  Oops.  Aside from that, all went well. 🙂

We ate, watched the slide show, thanked our parent volunteers, and honored our seniors and some other youth, including our awesome Servant of the Year, Lauren!

DSCN8111

DSCN8129 486707_259840507495102_99722568_n  DSCN8109  DSCN8108

…and the public speaking wasn’t as horrible as I’d imagined 😉

When I returned home at the end of the night, I enjoyed reading through notes from youth and parents.  Thanks to everyone for your kind words…they brought me a lot of joy!  Perhaps the greatest…item…I received last night was this collage from hilarious 9th grader, Courtney:

DSCN8131 DSCN8132  DSCN8133

Why, yes, she photo-shopped herself into a bunch of pictures and added captions like, “Our engagement photos turned out GREAT” and “I’m so glad we’re married now!”  😀  Andrew and I laughed SO hard.  What a funny kid.  We’ve considered adopting Courtney, but because she comes from such a loving, outstanding family, we don’t think the courts would approve the request. 😉

While I feel like I say this every Monday, this was a full, but great weekend!  Thanks to everyone–youth, parents, Andrew–who stepped up to make everything run smoothly!

Today, I enjoy my first day off in three weeks. 😀

Workout Schedule + Laughing During Yoga

Today I feel much, much better than I did yesterday and exponentially better than the day before!  I think a night of Benadryl-induced sleep was just what I needed.

After a full, long day at work yesterday (I arrived home at 6:00;  don’t feel too bad for me ;-)) Andrew and I made a curry dish using a bottle of Thai Kitchen’s Green Curry 10-Minute Simmer Sauce.  It is not an especially pretty dish, but it was quick, easy, and very tasty:

DSCN8052

 

First we browned some ground chicken in coconut oil, then added the simmer sauce, sliced green peppers, baby corn, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and bean sprouts.   After it simmered for the full ten minutes, we tasted it and decided it needed ginger and some chili garlic sauce to give it more heat.  We then served it over our leftover brown rice.  Delicious, and easy (Are you noticing a trend?  “Easy” has been our meal theme lately;  I’m hoping to break out of that soon. :))

After dinner we made our way to yoga at our gym.  Oh man, I had a bad case of the giggles throughout the whole class!  “Bring your right foot beside your left hip, cross your left leg over your right leg, make sure your sitting bones are completely on the floor, and lean forward and touch your forehead to your thigh.”  Whaat?? “Now take your toes in your hands, and straighten your legs.”  Yeah… that’s not happening.  But I will definitely laugh at Andrew (and myself) as we try. 😉

Now that I am feeling better, I am itching to do some more intense workouts–they have been missing from my routine the last few weeks.  First, I was taking it easy in the week leading up to the 10k, then I was recovering from the 10k, then I had a busy week and minimized my workouts, and then I had another busy week…  Four weeks later, I’ve stayed fit with a lot of walking and yoga, but haven’t had a really good, sweaty workout and am feeling a bit “bleh” physically.

So, I am setting a new workout plan for the coming weeks (well, I’m really just rewriting what has worked for me in the past as a means of recommitting to it.  :))  As always, it will allow plenty of flexibility:

Monday: Running- 30-45 minutes

Tuesday: Weight Circuits- 30 minutes (Jillian Michaels DVD), Walking/Elliptical

Wednesday:  AM–Running-speed work (intervals, tempo, etc.)  PM–Yoga

Thursday:  Weights- 30 minutes

Friday: Long Run- 60+ minutes

Saturday: Rest

Sunday:  Anything/Just Move- 30 minutes

It definitely helps me to have a plan in place.  I am looking forward to sweating again 🙂

I apologize for the very scattered post;  it’s just that kind of week!

What does your weekly exercise routine look like?  Do you ever get the giggles during yoga?

Climbing Walls, Canoes, and Capture the Flag (Retreat Recap)

It’s Monday morning, and I feel like I must have been hit by a train this weekend.  Soreness everywhere.  Our youth group retreat was a huge success.  Here’s the play-by-play:

We arrived at Camp Willow Run Friday night just in time to catch the end of the sunset, settled in to our boxcars (the cabins are renovated boxcars… I realize that might sound weird, but it’s actually very cool, :)) and had our first session in our meeting room.  We played a few icebreaker games, including Extreme Elves, Wizards, and Giants (it’s like Rock, Paper, Scissors, with different/bigger motions, teams, and chasing.)

Elves, Wizards, Giants(Sorry for the blurry iphone photo…)

We ate some snacks, introduced our lesson theme for the weekend–What You’re Worth–and talked about how we are often our own biggest critic.

Saturday morning we made our way to the dining hall at 8:00 for breakfast–biscuits, sausage, gravy, grits, eggs, cereal, fruit… Mmm.  This was the first time I’ve been dairy-free at camp, and it was so tough to turn down those biscuits!  After breakfast we met for our second group session.  We played telephone charades, which is a hilarious game for those of you who haven’t played it!  The clue is given to the first person in line, then acted out person-to-person (getting skewed a bit along the way.)  The last person in line guesses.

DSCN7939 DSCN7943

At one point the boys acted out “going on a first date,” which the last person guessed was, “kissing.” (Parents, you should probably have a chat with your boys ;-))  The girls acted out “whitewater rafting,” which the last person guessed was, “dying on a boat.”  Lots of laughs all around!  In our lesson that morning we discussed the impact other people have on our sense of self-worth and how we can tune out those negative messages we receive.

Before lunch we played capture the flag–always a favorite with this group.

DSCN7948 DSCN7946

Headbands, eye black, game faces–we are serious about Capture the Flag.

We ran around in the woods for over an hour, sprinting after opponents, sprinting back to safety after jailbreaks.  Only a few band-aids were needed at the end of the game, so I consider it a success 😉  I did manage to sustain a 4-inch cut on the back of my thigh when I was forcefully tagged just before crossing back to my side.  Ahem.  Battle scars.

For lunch we ate burgers, fries, and fruit cocktail.  Power lunch for a busy afternoon!  After lunch we went canoeing…

DSCN7954

…played nine-square (like four-square, but bigger, and 3-D)…

9square2 9square

Nine-square was a huge hit;  we may need to invest in some PVC pipes!

…and climbed the wall and braved the Giant Swing…

DSCN7956 DSCN7969 DSCN7992   DSCN8004

DSCN8011

DSCN8021 DSCN8013

Whew, it was a full afternoon!  For dinner we had spaghetti and salads, then headed back outside to play some more nine-square (yes, every free moment we had was filled with nine-square.  To quote one of the boys, “Nine-square is life.” 😉 )

Later that evening we met inside for our third group session.  In my last post I mentioned that sometimes we play games whose sole purpose is to make me laugh.  Saturday night we played, “Sock Wars.”  It was one of those games that could either really be a hit or really flop…and turned out to be hilarious. The object of the game is simple:  be the last person with a sock on your foot.

DSCN8042

DSCN8044 DSCN8047

The result was total chaos.  It was like the Hunger Games, with socks instead of murder.  Some people hid.  Some people attacked.  Alliances were formed.  They were ruthless.  Unfortunately I was unable to upload the video, and the photos don’t quite capture the madness, but you get an idea. 🙂

For the sake of not making this post too much longer than it already is (thanks to anyone who is still reading!,) I’ll finish with a Cliff Notes version of the rest of the weekend:

Campfire.  S’mores.  Third lesson:  God is our biggest fan, and we are worth more to Him than we can comprehend.  Grog (outside, nighttime game in which one person is the “Grog” and tags people, and everyone else must find hidden pieces of a flashlight, assemble, and defeat the Grog by shining the light on them.  In other words, more running around :))  Sleeping hard.  Breakfast.  Games.  Fourth lesson:  building up others so they know how much they are worth to God.  Nine-square.  Home.

It was a full weekend, to say the least.  I loved being able to spend quality time with this group–laughing, playing, encouraging.  Retreats always remind me what a cool job I have, and what an awesome opportunity I have to be part of the lives of these youth.

They also remind me that I am getting older, and my body can’t endure as much as it once could.  Here’s to hobbling around like an old woman for a few days. 😉