Normally when I write a “Currently” post, I tell you all about the things and products that I’m loving lately. Instead, I thought I’d change things up a bit and tell you the things I’m NOT loving, because there seem to be a lot more of those. I’m going to leave out summer, because that goes without saying. I just keep telling myself “It’s almost September, it’s almost September, it’s almost September.” Not that it is cool in September where I live…but at least it’s that much closer to November. Anyway, here is some stuff that is annoying me lately.
My dog and his cone: Poor little Rocket had a tumor on his foot, and like the unobservant parents that we are, we didn’t notice until it had basically taken over his paw. Actually, we never noticed – the vet told us when they were giving him a bath and found it. In our defense, it was on the leg where he tore his ACL last year, so he always limps on that leg anyway and nothing seemed any different. Anyway, it had to be surgically removed, which meant stitches, which means the cone of shame. My dog, magnificent and beautiful creature that he is, has never been smart or particularly coordinated. Adding a giant plastic cone has not helped matters. He runs into everything, but mostly the backs of my legs. He also has figured out a way to still somehow get part of his foot inside the cone. I can’t wait til we can get rid of this thing.
Unsolicited advice: I don’t think anyone really likes unsolicited advice, but I have been extra annoyed by it lately. I make it a point not to give advice unless I’m being asked for it because I hope that one day, someone will notice and treat me the same way. I’m a pretty introspective person and I have a tendency to think and research things like foster parenting, travel, and everything else obsessively before ever speaking about it to anyone – even AJ. It’s not that I never ask for advice – I definitely do – I just do it at a very specific point in my thought process, and only if I feel like I need it. The reason for that is primarily because I struggle with confidence in my decision making, and I find that it is much worse when I involve other people in the process. So when I make a decision and announce it, that’s it – I’m not asking to hear anyone’s thoughts on it. Feel free to offer them, but my mind is already made up
Protein as a macronutrient: When I started going to the gym regularly and training with my personal trainer, we briefly touched on the topic of diet. Since I generally eat pretty healthy (and have really been focusing on it since getting back from Africa), it was a short conversation. “As long as you’re getting at least 100 grams of protein a day, don’t worry about it,” he said. “Oh, I definitely do for sure,” I replied. Well, then I started thinking about it and…I definitely do not. 60-70 grams, maybe, but not 100. So I started trying to add more protein into my diet – eating 3 eggs at breakfast instead of two, upping my meat portions, grabbing the occasional protein bar for a snack…well, you get the idea. It’s hard, and 100 grams of protein is nothing. I recently bought protein powder and I’ve been making protein pudding with it (shakes/smoothies are awful), so I guess now I’m one of those people. Why can’t carbs build muscle?
Wall decals: “Purchase a wall decal,” they said. “It’s easier than painting a mural and you can move it around,” they said. “It will be fun,” they said. They have clearly never tried to stick a 70″ x 45″ wall decal on a wall without it being totally crooked, having a million air bubbles, and sticking to itself. AJ and I put the finishing touches on our foster child’s bedroom last weekend (well, sort of finishing – as finished as it can be for now) and one of the last things we needed to do was put up the giant world map I purchased. It was basically impossible. It took us over an hour to get it on the wall correctly without it being completely crooked, and I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say I considered divorcing him during the process. No, just kidding, I’d be nothing without him. But also, that wall decal would have gone on a lot faster. Just saying. At least it looks good! We bought pre-painted plastic moulding at Lowe’s to frame it so it wouldn’t just look like a giant sticker on the wall, even though that is exactly what it is.
Loud grunting/noises at the gym: I go to a fairly hardcore powerlifting gym, and while not everyone that goes there is into lifting crazy heavy weights, there is a pretty large contigency that is. Apparently, lifting really heavy weights (like, we’re talking squatting 700+ pounds) is synonymous with yelling/grunting/exhaling violently when you lift them. It’s not so much that I even find it ridiculous (I mean, who am I to judge someone who is lifting 700 pounds?), it just startles me. I do question how effective it can possibly be, since I feel like I would just wear myself out if I was yelling all the time before I started lifting, but what do I know? When I was attempting my toughest bench press yet the other day, I had to remind one of the spotters not to yell encouragement, lest I get scared and drop the weight on myself. What can I say, I hate loud noises!
I was hoping for a really solid week of workouts before leaving to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc, but that’s not exactly what happened. In fact, this week was the first time I had a really bad strength workout. Let’s dive into it.
Monday, August 7, 5 mile treadmill run, personal training – legs: It was pouring on Monday when I woke up, and Pearce was out of town, so I had no desire whatsoever to go run outside by myself. Luckily, my gym has treadmills, so I decided to head over and knock out my 5 miles. I didn’t think anything of it – I set the treadmill to a 2% incline, 6 mph, and did my run. Well, a few hours later, my knees were starting to get sore. It was leg day at the gym, and I thought I would warm up and be fine, but I could not summon any strength in my legs. I struggled to do even half of the weight I normally do on the single leg press (I often do 180, and I could barely do 90). My trainer ended up sending me home halfway through my workout when it was clear that things weren’t going to get better. I wasn’t dramatic about this at all. Wait, yes I was. I was in the worst mood for the rest of the day and so disappointed and frustrated with myself, but ultimately, bad workouts happen.
My knees were sore the rest of the day, so I iced them and rested. I think it was the treadmill – apparently, running at the exact same pace and incline for a long time can bother your knees if you aren’t used to it. Normally, the only time I use the treadmill is when I am doing speed work, so I’m varying my pace a lot. It’s never bothered me before, but I won’t be trying it for anymore steady-state runs for awhile. Lesson learned!
Tuesday, August 8, 30 minutes mixed cardio, personal training – arms: There was no way I was running on Tuesday with my big hike coming up and my knees bothering me, so I headed to the gym for lifting. I did biceps and triceps, which obviously didn’t bother my knees at all. Afterwards, I decided to do 30 minutes of mixed cardio: 10 minutes on the elliptical, 10 minutes on the stairmaster, and then another 10 minutes on the elliptical. I was watching some crazy videos of special forces doing their workouts on the tv at the gym and it was absolutely mesmerizing. I could have stayed there for hours!
Wednesday, August 9, 3 mile run, personal training – backbody: I had planned to just go for a walk on Wednesday morning, but my knees were feeling a lot better and the weather was beautiful in the morning, so I ended up going on a short run to see how they felt. I definitely felt achy on the uphills, but overall, it wasn’t too bad. At the gym, it was deadlift day, and that’s pretty much all I did. It turns out, there are tons of different types of deadlifts, so it’s not like you get bored. We have to be really careful with my back, but I like the power I feel when I do deadlifts! I will probably never be able to do a lot of weight, but I’m doing about 100 pounds now.
Thursday, August 10, 4 mile run, personal training – chest and back: I was able to meet Pearce this morning for a run, which was nice! I didn’t want to do too much because of my knees, which are still slightly sore. They definitely bother me more on inclines, but I’m icing like crazy and praying they will be fine for the hike. No more runs for me until I get back! At the gym today, I continued to work on building up my bench press so that I will be able to do 135 pounds! This week, I did 135 pounds with a double block on my chest – basically meaning the bar stopped about 4 inches about my chest. Last week, I used a triple block, so this is progress! I considered making an Instagram account to document this process and calling it “@theroadto135” but when I told AJ about my idea, he said it was “unnecessary.” Sorry you have to miss out – blame him.
Friday, August 11, OFF: It was cute how I thought I was going to wake up early to go to the gym for one last workout before my flight. I most certainly did not.
Saturday, August 12, OFF: Travel day! Resting up for the big hike tomorrow.
Sunday, August 13, hiking: FIRST DAY OF OUR HIKE! Pray that no one falls off a mountain or collapses.
LEAVE A COMMENT: Does running on the treadmill bother your knees?
A little confession: I can’t remember if I ever mentioned on the blog or on social media that I am doing this trip, so it may come as a bit of a surprise. I am leaving today for the Alps! Sorry if I didn’t mention it, as it wasn’t meant to be a surprise – I am just the worst and I can never remember what I have and haven’t already said.
You may remember a casual little jaunt I took through Nepal last year. I went with my friends Bobbi and Allison, and it was the first time we had ever traveled together even though we have run together for years. Well, we basically had the best time ever and decided we had to make these trips a tradition. We actually started brainstorming for our next trip while we were still in Nepal.
Ultimately, after a bit of research, we decided that we wanted to conquer the Tour du Mont Blanc for our next hiking adventure! The 110-mile loop trail is a classic tour through the Alps that goes through Switzerland, France, and Italy. There is 30,000 feet of elevation gain along the way, so it isn’t for the faint of heart, but then again, neither is my life, ya know?
Along the way, we’ll be staying in different mountain lodges and refuges. Some of them are small and we’ll have a room just for the 3 of us, while others will have us sleeping in massive dormitories of 50+ people. They recommend making lodging reservations well in advance, since July and August are the busiest times of the year, so we have had our route planned out for months. We are planning the 110 miles in 8 days, which…might be interesting (recommended is 7-11).
We’re excited and nervous but really looking forward to it! It’s always a bit stressful packing for something like this because you know you have to carry everything on your back. That means that every single ounce matters, especially when you’re climbing 30,000 feet over 110 miles. So I’m packing, unpacking, and repacking every KUHL item I have and freaking out about bringing the wrong stuff. Don’t worry, I’ll be able to give you lots of solid advice when I get back!
This is my last big adventure before the next big adventure, and I’ve been looking forward to it for months! It’s time to see if all that strength training is paying off. I will have Wi-Fi at some of the lodges, so follow me on Instagram and see photos from the hike before anyone else! I have a feeling this is gonna be pretty epic.
LEAVE A COMMENT: What’s the longest or toughest hike you’ve ever done?
In case you haven’t figured out from the title of this post, AJ and I have a big announcement! Probably the biggest announcement in the history of my entire blog. We will be opening our home and becoming foster parents at the end of this month! We started the licensing process back in April 2017 and figured it would take about a year to complete, giving us plenty of time to wrap our brains around the prospect of our entire lives changing. Spoiler alert: it did not take that long. I have a whole separate post coming on all of the nitty gritty details of the licensing process, in case you’re curious. But today, I want to tell you about what led us to this decision, how our feelings about it have changed, and what we think about it now. Brace yourself, this is a looonnngg post.
As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to adopt children. I guess you can say I feel “called” to do it. I would consider having biological children if it was important to my partner, but the one thing I knew for SURE was that I would adopt someday. I didn’t know from where or what ages or genders or races, but adoption was non-negotiable. I have made this abundantly clear in every relationship I have ever been in. Over the years, I’ve been very intentional about checking items off my bucket list (like trekking in Nepal, visiting New Zealand, hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, seeing Victoria Falls, and going on safari in Africa) because I knew that I did not want to start a family feeling like I had missed out on something I really wanted to do. As I’ve now checked most of the HUGE things off my list, I’ve started feeling more settled and a little bit more ready to slow my life down, so AJ and I started tossing around the idea of starting a family. Without getting into every detail of the conversation, we decided to start by becoming foster parents.
Talking it Over
I’m not going to lie – there were mixed feelings about this decision at first. I feel extremely called to foster/adopt, whereas AJ came from a place of what would best be described as ambivalence. He wasn’t a hard no, but he also wasn’t super excited about it. We decided that it would make sense to start the licensing process, go through the required training, and see what we decided at the end of that process. If we were not both fully on board, we would not go through with it and would explore other options instead. To make a long story short, AJ got on board pretty quickly. Once he saw the statistics and numbers, started hearing what these kids go through, and started learning about what we could actually expect (versus the extreme horror or unrealistic success stories you usually hear), he agreed – we have to at least give it a try.
This is not a decision we came to lightly. We have thought through and discussed every aspect of this change that we can think of time and time again. After all, our lives are pretty cake right now – we travel whenever we want, go out to dinner, have expendable income, etc. It’s easy, you know? But then I think – how can we not take this opportunity? We have the time, the means, and the space. How can we turn away from these kids, just so we can travel more and go out to dinner whenever we want? There’s nothing wrong with making that choice, and of course, nothing is that simple. I know we will miss the way life was before, probably a whole lot. But I feel like we have to try, because there are kids suffering and not enough good foster families out there. We feel like we can be a good resource for kids and families in need.
At the beginning of the licensing process, we (although mostly me) were extremely nervous about what we might be getting ourselves into. Part of that was just having no experience with parenting in general (what do kids even do these days?), but another part was a deep-seated fear of being totally ill-equipped to handle behavioral issues that might arise due to trauma that the kids have faced. We (and again, mostly me) wanted this to work so badly – we see fostering as a long term thing – and I was terrified that we would become parents to a child with behavioral issues well above our pay grade and we would fail them. After reading more books on parenting kids from trauma backgrounds and attending numerous training sessions, I can now say that we don’t really worry about that anymore. We believe we have the tools and resources we need to help these kids unpack their emotional baggage. That’s not to say it won’t be hard, because of course it will! But now, it seems possible. Now, we (and again, mostly me, because AJ worries about nothing) worry about things like not knowing how to register a child for school. Does anyone know how to do that, by the way?
One thing I’ve noticed over the course of my research and attending the trainings is that we have come to foster care a bit differently than many families in our area do. There are all sorts of reasons why families foster children, but here in the Upstate of South Carolina, there seem to be two big ones based on our experience: Christians feel called by the Bible to do it, or people struggling with infertility hope to grow their families through foster care and adoption. Neither one of those apply to us since we’re not Christian (AJ is Catholic, but that’s not Christian in the south – seriously) and, as far as we know, we are not struggling with infertility. So, that has left us in kind of an awkward spot. We have entered foster parenting with the simple intention of helping children and families who need it – nothing more, and nothing less. We are not fostering with the intention of adopting, although we are open to the possibility if the right circumstances presented themselves. The reality is that something like 50-70% of children who enter the foster care system are reunited with a biological family member at some point, and reunification is the goal of the foster care system, as it should be. We view foster care as hopefully a long term commitment on our part and not something that will end when our family, adopted or biological, reaches a certain size.
There’s a whole lot that happens when you begin the licensing process to become foster parents, but one of the big things is that you decide what ages and genders you would like to foster. When we started thinking about it, we had absolutely no idea! Our application initially said we were open to kids ages 0-18 which, needless to say, is a pretty big range. We had no clue what was right for us! After talking with our licensing coordinator and doing a lot of soul searching, we ultimately decided to open our home to boys and girls ages 4-11. Basically, elementary school age (kids here can start kindergarten at 4). Our primary reason for choosing this age range had to do with a couple factors. First, with both of us working full time and the logistics of the day care system as it pertains to foster care, we felt that we could not reasonably care for children that were below school age. Second, given the fact that we are relatively young (31 and 29), we felt that taking on teenagers would be challenging with no parenting experience whatsoever. We definitely see ourselves working with teens in the future (there is a huge need!) but we wanted to get some experience under our belts first.
After deciding on an age range, gender, and the number of kids (we are starting with 1 but will eventually bump up to a sibling set) you are willing to accept, you then fill out an expansive checklist that talks about a huge range of medical issues, behaviors, and more that you are willing or unwilling to accept. So, for example, the checklist might ask if you are willing to accept a child with a learning disability or a family history of learning disabilities. If you say yes, you then have to say whether you are willing to accept mild, moderate, or severe forms. The list covers everything from cancer to hearing loss to food hoarding issues and mental illness and everything in between! This list helps the licensing coordinator write your home study (the giant report that talks about what you would be like as parents), which the Department of Social Services uses to match a family with a child. Of course, there are many times when a child may come into the foster care system and have issues that are not immediately known about or discovered, so there are no guarantees, but the list helps frame what you do and do not feel comfortable handling.
One thing that is super important to note is that there are very strict rules about sharing identifying information online or on social media about the kids in our care. Namely – we can’t do it at all. So there will never be identifying photos, names, or stories on this blog or any of my social media accounts. I will share some of the ups and downs with you as I can, and I’m happy to answer any questions about the process, but if you are looking for juicy stories about the biological families and why the kids are in care, you won’t find them here.
As I mentioned, we’ve been reading, training, watching videos, and more for months now to get ready. Are we really ready? No, definitely not. But at this point, we feel as ready as we possibly could without having any parenting experience. We have got the kids’ room ready and are slowly accumulating all the gently used clothes, toys, and books we can find. After all, 4-11 is a big age range! We will be opening our home at the end of August but have no idea when we will receive our first placement or how long it will last. We know it will be a whirlwind trying to adapt to becoming parents overnight, so we are trying to enjoy the calm before the storm for now.
The Answer to the Question You’re Asking Yourself Right Now
“Are you really prepared to give up travel?” Of the few people who knew we were becoming foster parents prior to me publishing this post, every single one of them has asked me this question. It’s a fair question, to be sure. And the answer is “sort of.” I am fully prepared to give up traveling the way I do right now, which is constantly and by myself to crazy places for weeks at a time. I’m ready for that because, as I mentioned, I’ve checked the big things off my bucket list already – that was intentional and planned with parenthood in mind. However, one thing we believe we have to offer kids is the opportunity to see and experience the world, and we are hopeful that we will be able to take trips with our foster children as often as the circumstances allow. There will be some kids who are not in a place where they can handle the stress of a changing environment, so in those cases, we won’t. But when possible, we fully intend to take them with us, whether it is to a wedding in New Jersey or Washington DC or out to Utah for a marathon. That said, we also plan to take breaks between each long term placement in order to take a breath and regain a sense of “normal life” for a while – probably a couple months. So, I’ll do big trips during those breaks. Don’t worry, your favorite globe trotter is not giving up the travel lifestyle anytime soon! It just might look a little different.
What about running?
To be honest, I have no idea what my workouts will look like once we become foster parents. I know that my days of two-a-day workouts are probably over. I know I’ll likely be doing early mornings and lunchtime workouts only. But I also know how important working out is for my body and my mind, so I plan to make it a priority to the extent that that is possible. It will depend on the child in our home, but I know I will be healthier mentally and physically (and a much better parent) if I can workout regularly. So, we’ll just have to wait and see what that ends up looking like!
Yup, it’s happening.
At this point, we’re just ready to get started and figure it out as we go. We vacillate between feeling ready and excited and completely terrified and like we’re making a huge mistake. I think that’s probably normal. I don’t know how long we will last or how good we will be, but we’re ready to give it a try. I look forward to taking you along for the ride!
LEAVE A COMMENT: I’d love to hear your questions or thoughts about foster care. Have you ever considered becoming a foster parent? What information do you want to know about the process?
I was hoping for a really solid week of workouts before leaving to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc, but that’s not exactly what happened. In fact, this week was the first time I had a really bad strength workout. Let’s dive into it. Monday, August 7, 5 mile treadmill run, personal training – legs:Read more
First of all, thank you all so much for your wonderful and supportive comments on my recent post about becoming foster parents! I’m really looking forward to sharing more about this huge change in our lives with you. I think this is the beginning of something really special and I’m so glad all of youRead more
This week brought big things! Between a shift in my speed workouts, a new bench press PR, and a workout that consisted entirely of deadlifts, my body got pushed to the max this week. Have I mentioned lately how much I love strength training? Monday, July 24, 5 mile run, personal training- legs: This wasRead more
I don’t know what came over me this week, but I was sort of a running machine! I ended up running 6 out of 7 days this week, which should never happen (and hasn’t for years). The circumstances just kind of worked out that way, but this won’t be happening again any time soon. MyRead more
Ahh, the dog days of summer are upon us and gone is my will to run. Ironically, this week brought my first long run since the Prague Marathon, but more on that in a minute. I always welcome July because July means that it is almost August, which means it is almost September, which meansRead more
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the most motivated one of all? Me, apparently. I don’t know what has happened, but I’m going out of my way to get my runs in, enjoying my time in the gym, and even forcing myself out of bed to walk and kayak while on vacation. I even limitedRead more