Kramer’s First Vet Visit

This evening Kramer had what was almost definitely his first-ever vet visit. All in all, a successful visit.

The quick rundown: he is heartworm and Lyme negative. At a healthy weight (maybe even slightly underweight). His heart sounds good. He has an enlarged prostate (which will be alleviated when he’s neutered) and bad teeth (which we’ll take care of with a dental while he’s under for the neuter). His eyes are good. His ears are dirty but nothing alarming.

And this picture accurately sums up our visit:

IMG_2057He really wasn’t as bad as this picture makes it look. He was just wriggly, squirmy and energetic for the entire visit. It often took three of us to hold him in place for basic stuff, like hearing his heart. He was having none of it – he wasn’t angry, per say, he was just confused and wiggly! He’s wiggly at home, too – sometimes it takes me a good 30 seconds to clip his leash on because he squirms so much!

We’re waiting on fecal test results and an estimate for his neuter/dental. If the estimate is too high we may have to find another vet but big picture, he’s pretty darn healthy all things considered.

Oh, and I’ve been a tad busy since Saturday afternoon. I agreed to watch Spike, former SNORT foster and now Marty’s dog. I’ve been dying to meet the guy and he was as adorable as I expected, but three dogs (one of which is close to 70 pounds and still all puppy) in 680 square feet was a bit of an exhausting challenge! Spike left this afternoon and everyone – Lucy, Kramer, me – will be recovering for a few days!

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You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

In many cases, that’s a good thing. Sometimes it works out well to be semi-oblivious when embarking on something new, unknown, different, etc. If I let the unknown hold me back, I would not be where I am in life right now and while life is up and down, I’m largely in a good spot.

This morning, one of my Facebook memories was of my first foster, Nellie (fka Cindy) from four years ago.

I look back on that experience and realize I had absolutely no freaking clue what I was getting myself into. It’s not a secret that when I started volunteering with SNORT, I had no intentions of fostering. Lucy was still a puppy – probably around seven months old or so. Our apartment had space but it wasn’t huge. My job hours were nuts (and remained nuts for the next four-plus years). ­

I’m not even sure what prompted me to change my mind about fostering. Because Nellie was a puppy mill dog, there were no photos of her (the Amish don’t allow people on their property to take photos of dogs they are surrendering). There was zero information about her besides she was a puppy mill mama who was being given up because she could no longer have litters.

But something in me just had to take her in, so we did. I picked her up sight unseen on a super cold, cloudy, depressing January morning, took one look at her, thought to myself “what have I gotten myself into?!” And promptly fell head over heels in love.

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Meeting Nellie for the first time. Love at first sight.

Now with seven fosters under my belt (and hopefully more in the near future), I’ve come to realize there’s a whole list of things I didn’t know I didn’t know before I embarked on this adventure. I was clueless about a lot.

I Didn’t Know:
1. I had such high levels of empathy and patience.
Patience has never been my strong suit. It’s why I’ve remained up in the air about wanting to have kids. But my level of empathy and patience has been practically unlimited with each foster. I don’t even have that much patience with Lucy. But with the fosters? Sure, I got upset when they crapped on the carpet or flipped the heck out during thunderstorms and kept me up for hours. But the amount of poop I cleaned up or the time I spent in the bathroom with a certain foster (Isaac!) during thunderstorms rarely fazed me. I’m not saying I’ve become Mother Teresa, but I’ve learned I have a higher capacity for patience and empathy than I previously thought.

 

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This handsome boy was petrified of thunderstorms.

2. There was so much medical lingo to learn
Entropian. Cherry eye (which I actually learned about with Lucy). Interdigital cyst. Pyometra. Thyroid levels. Seasonal alopecia. Unexplained alopecia. Spina bifida. There isn’t a single foster I’ve had that hasn’t underdone surgery or had a major medical issue. Nellie – heartworm, lyme. Violet (fka Snowy) – spay, entropian, dry eye, bladder cancer scare. Buddy – neuter, dental. Isaac – puppy Prozac, alopecia. Novalee – spina bifida. Blossom – spay, dental (I think). Lady – spay, dental.

I don’t know everything, but I’ve sure learned a lot.

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Novalee had spina bifida but you never would have known it.

3. I’d have to learn to not be squeamish
No sooner had I laid eyes on Nellie than I realized she was leaking…down there. And not pee. It was a…thick goo. Leftover from an infection or a recent litter, probably. But that poor girl just left a trail of gunk everywhere she went for a few days/weeks.

Many fosters have not been housetrained so there’s been countless pee puddles and piles of poo to clean up. So much laundry. Wiping of all bodily areas. I’ve seen tons of incisions, ears filled with wax and countless eye boogers. And let’s not talk about post-surgery poo…

Novalee once ate an entire bag of raw almonds. Let’s just say it became quickly apparent she hadn’t chewed said almonds when she spent three days walking around inside our apartment like a giant pez dispenser of almonds.

I’ve developed a stronger stomach over the past few years.

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Buddy the Pug may have peed on me (and Lucy) a time or two. #maledogproblems

4. That I would handle adoptions better than I expected
Don’t get me wrong, I was a disaster when Nellie was adopted. And tears have been shed every single time a foster has been adopted. I miss them all. But I absolutely love the experience of fostering. It gives me a sense of purpose, something to keep me busy and selfishly, it feels so good be a part of saving a dog. If I had an unlimited budget and a bigger home, at least a few of these fosters would have probably wound up as “foster failures.” But I know going into each foster that I really can’t have two dogs – not enough money, not enough space – and that reality helps when it comes time to find a forever home for each foster. Now, there hasn’t been a foster in which I haven’t uttered the words, “I think I’ll keep him/her,” but deep down I’m fully aware it’s not the ideal option for either party involved.

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Lady, my first foster all on my own.

5. It’s a total team effort
Six of my seven fosters came when I was living with Marty. While the interest in fostering was 100% me, actually fostering was a different matter. When more than one person is impacted by taking on a foster, it becomes a team effort. Maybe not with the equal distribution of work and time, but each person in the home has some added responsibility and stress.

It also takes help from my employers – days I may need to leave early for a vet appointment or even take an entire day off to shuttle a dog to a vet appointment or surgery.

And travel impacts everyone – most holidays I’ve had a foster so that impacts every family we visit over the holidays. Each foster is different and because each was not my own nor raised as my own, their quirks don’t necessarily make them ideal houseguests. So it does indeed take a village.

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Backseat roadtrip buddies.

6. It’s stressful
I believe I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but it is stressful to bring a foster home. The days leading up bringing home a foster are anxiety-ridden. What will he/she be like? Will they like Lucy? Will Lucy like them (probably not). Are they housetrained (probably not)? Will they eat (probably not)? Where will they sleep? Are they super sick? And then once I get them home? What does that bark mean? Are they scared? Why don’t they lie down and sleep? Is that cough normal?

I’m an anxious person by nature so the early days surrounding a foster are really stressful for me. Everyone’s different but stress is one of the overriding emotions for me when I’m fostering.

I’ll never forget one of the biggest sources of anxiety with Nellie – she refused to eat. I tried everything. Dry food. Wet food. Chicken and rice. Wet and dry food mixed. Straight bouillon. Nothing worked. Until it was suggested from a fellow foster mom that she probably had no clue what a bowl was or how to eat out of it. So, I scooped some food into a super shallow frisbee and voila! She was eating like a champ. But I was just so stressed out during those first few days when I could not get her to eat.

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Making a mess; we soon progressed to a frisbee. Baby steps.

7. I would have a hard time saying “no”
I’m kind of a selfish person. Hence the reason I’m not sure I want kids. I like setting my own schedule (when work allows), taking naps on the weekends and essentially doing what I want to do when I want to do it. Fostering puts a crimp in that. Having a foster is double the work, often triple the work. After Nellie was adopted, we were going to take a break and reassess whether we wanted to foster again and how quickly. We’d had Nellie for about six months, I think, which is a pretty substantial amount of time. But roughly six weeks after her adoption, I got a phone call about Violet, saying she needed a new foster home and wondering if I was interested. “Yes” may have slipped out before I could give serious thought to it. Oops.

So despite being a self-proclaimed “selfish” person, I’ve found myself saying “yes” a lot more when it comes to fosters.

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I’m not quite sure how you say “no” to that face.

All of this is to say that fostering is a big (and important) commitment. But there isn’t a single foster experience I regret. Each dog has meant so much to me and I can’t emphasize how much the benefits outweigh the stressors.

Foster Adventure #7…

Get ready for a long one with very few pics…

Tonight I drove to Selinsgrove to drop Lucy off with Marty where she’ll spend the next two weeks. Why?

Tomorrow night I’m bringing home my seventh foster. Meet Lady:image1.PNG

(The above pic is from the shelter)

Normally Lucy wouldn’t be going anywhere with a new foster, let alone for two weeks, but a few hurdles with this foster made it necessary.

On Sunday,  Jan. 29, a request was put out from SNORT to foster a nine-year-old pug mix (that would be Lady) who was in a kill shelter in Maryland and had until Wednesday at 7 p.m. to find a foster home. You can put two and two together and figure out what would happen if a foster home wasn’t found by Wednesday.

I agreed to foster, thinking that it would be like every other foster – I’d bring her home, slowly introduce her to Lucy and then go from there.

Except on Monday morning, SNORT found out that Lady has kennel cough (and more – I’ll get to that in another post) and needed to be kept in a dog-free home for two weeks until the medication ended any threat of her infecting other dogs. Yikes. I am most definitely not dog-free but SNORT also had no dog-free homes available to foster.

Lady started antibiotics on Saturday and apparently within two days was a totally different dog. She went from despondent, detached and nonreactive to playful and friendly. How in the hell could I let a happy, unsuspecting dog be euthanized?

I couldn’t, so with Marty’s support and (immense) help, I am able to foster Lady. Lucy will spend the next two weeks with Marty while Lady finishes up her medication for the kennel cough. After the two weeks are up, I will bring Lucy back home and we’ll begin our “normal” fostering journey.

While every foster is drastically different, bringing home a new foster without Lucy there (for two weeks, no less) is just plain strange. While I know Lucy is in phenomenal hands with Marty, I’ll miss her. She’s been my buddy for the two-plus months I’ve been out here on my own.

Plus, I worry about Lady getting comfortable being the only dog for two weeks when all of a sudden I add Lucy into the mix. And I worry about Lucy walking into my apartment only to discover a new dog who’s gotten plenty comfortable in Lucy’s absence (don’t worry, I’ve already thought of a solution for that one!).

One thing at a time, though. For a change, I can devote all my attention to my foster for the first few weeks (which are undoubtedly the most stressful and chaotic) rather than having to divide my time and attention between two dogs.

I can also get a sense of Lady’s temperament and try to figure out how to best manage the two dogs once Lucy’s home. My apartment is not that big but I picked up a new crate and have a baby gate so we’ll make it work if the dogs wind up having to be separated when alone (or together…).

So to address my aforementioned solution for integrating the two dogs, my plan is to pick Lucy up from Marty’s with Lady in tow. That way they can meet in semi-neutral territory and then walk into their apartment here in Lancaster together. I don’t know what the hell Lucy would do if I walked her into the apartment after two weeks away and she saw Lady curled up on the couch in Lucy’s spot. Nothing good, I’m sure.

And hey, maybe Lady won’t be a typical Velcro pug (hahaha!) and won’t want to be on the couch with us. Or insist on following me everywhere – although even if she does, my apartment is 680 square feet. She’ll quickly find out there’s nowhere far I can go. Maybe Lucy will be her favorite companion, not me.

That’s the nerve-wracking and exciting part about fostering. You almost always have no idea what to expect.

Also, the big variable with this foster? Minus these first two weeks, I’m doing this all on my own. Two dogs. One very tiny apartment. Vet visits, potty breaks (and cleaning up those potty breaks if Lady chooses to take them inside…), mealtimes – all on me.

I guess this is kind of my test as to whether I can foster on my own although it admittedly varies widely based on the specific foster dog. Isaac would have been fine to handle on my own. No health issues, no housetraining issues, etc. Cindy (now Violet) would have been much harder with all her vet visits, housetraining issues, etc. But if I can manage Lady who, from what I can tell, is in need of some serious TLC and attention, I have confidence that while fostering may be a bit less frequent than in the past, it’s still possible.

Wish me luck!

Four Years Ago…

Four years today ago my life changed in the biggest, best way possible. I brought home my first foster, Cindy (now Nellie).

Looking back on my blog posts from the first few weeks we had her, I had forgotten how much I didn’t know!

Cindy was a puppy mill mama to a “T,” and while they are the most rewarding fosters, they are also the most work, the most depressing (because of their pasts) and the most stressful. I had forgotten she refused to eat for the first few days, snapped at Lucy and had fluids leaking everywhere. I forgot she had no idea what toys were, what food bowls were and what a soft, comfy couch was.

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She was quite the complicated foster and yet from day one I was hooked. I can’t fully express how rewarding fostering her (and every other foster) was. It really hit home when she was adopted. We drove her to her forever home and after getting her settled with her new family, Marty and I got ready to leave. And then she followed us as we made our way to the front door. I remember sitting in my car and seeing her standing at the glass door watching us. It just about broke my heart and I cried the whole way home. But looking back on it I realize the fact that she wanted to follow “her” humans meant I did what I was supposed to do. I made her trust humans; I let her know people can be kind, unlike the humans from her past; I taught her what being a pet is.

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Cindy was the first of six fosters to date. The stress of the first few days with each foster always makes me question why I do it but then after we settle in a new routine, I wonder why I ever questioned my decision.

The rest of my fosters were equally rewarding:

Clearly I’m more than anxious to foster again but now that I’m living on my own in a teeny, tiny apartment, I need to wait for the right foster. My complex doesn’t allow bulldogs (I got in before that rule was passed, so Lucy is fine but I’m beyond annoyed) so I’ll have to wait for a pug or Boston from SNORT. I work further from home than at my previous job which is a negative but I do have weekends free so I know I can make it work. I won’t pretend it will be easy to foster and be in charge of the care for two dogs but I really need to foster again. I have a few hobbies but NONE bring me this level of fulfillment.

Happy Holidays

It’s 2017, so the holidays are officially over. I’ve said this many times before, but I absolutely love Christmas and this was a really good holiday.

Now that I’m no longer working in college athletics, I don’t get the full week off between Christmas and New Year’s so Marty and I crammed visits with both families over the course of just four days. It was busy but so, so good to see everyone.

Time for a picture overload:

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As usual, Marty and I spent New Year’s Eve doing nothing which is MORE than fine with me. I’ve never been a big New Year’s Eve person and I can’t even stay awake until 10 p.m., let alone midnight. We had a good weekend, though, with a brewery tour/tasting, some shopping and just much-needed time relaxing at my apartment.

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No New Year’s resolutions for me this year but I did see this insightful list of questions to ask yourself about LAST year. Looking at the past year can shape how you approach the new year, whether you set resolutions or not.

  1. What was the single best thing that happened to you this year? My new job. It’s not the most glamorous event but when all is said and done, it’s the best thing that happened.
  2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened? Changing jobs and moving.
  3. Pick three words to describe this past year. Challenging, exciting, stressful
  4. Who were your most valuable relationships with? Parents, as always. Marty. Marty and I have to really work at our relationship now since we no longer live and work together. It’s changed our relationship dynamic, that’s for sure.
  5. In what ways did you grow emotionally? I found myself living alone for the first time in five years and it was one of the parts of taking the new job that worried me most. But I’ve learned over the past six or seven weeks that I can be happy on my own.
  6. In what ways did you grow physically? Stronger and healthier. Fatter, too, if I have to be honest. But five pounds more than my “ideal” weight is still better than 30 pounds underweight (which is where I was really not all that long ago) so I’m working on accepting where I am right now.
  7. What was the most enjoyable part of your work? I changed jobs because I no longer liked my previous career; it was draining – physically and emotionally. Mostly emotionally. So the best part about my new job is that it’s all new. I’m learning every day and I like that aspect.
  8. What was the best way you used your time this past year? I disconnected more after work. Before I’d check my work email from the minute I left work until bedtime; this past year I tried (and was largely successful) to stop that habit. If an emergency came up, people knew how to reach me. It allowed me to actually relax when I was home. I read more than I have in  years, I took more walks and generally just enjoyed my down time more than previous years.
  9. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Change still isn’t easy for me but inevitably it’s good for me. I’d been stuck for six years (and was going through the motions in just about every part of my life) and even though I was unhappy, change scared the crap out of me. Taking this job was a leap for me but I knew in my gut it was the right leap to take.

Settling In

I’ve been in Lancaster for almost two weeks now which have flown by, thanks in part to work and the move. Besides the physical move, I forgot how much other stuff has to get taken care of! Change of address, new mail key, bills put into my name, items for the apartment I still needed (took me over a week to finally get bath mats). I have a few things left to take care but bit by bit my to-do items are getting crossed off.

I love my new apartment; it’s super tiny (680+ square feet, I think) but it’s perfect (minus the overflowing toilet issue…). The rooms are small and getting furniture in was a bit of a jig saw puzzle but after two weeks things are pretty much in place.

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Lucy was settled in the minute I put her food bowl down.

I found a new CrossFit gym after some trial and error. Did NOT like the first one I went to; in fact, the first time I cried since being out here was after going to that first CrossFit gym. It made me desperately miss my old gym and the people there. Outside of co-workers at Susquehanna, they were my only friends in Selinsgrove. But the second gym I tried was much better and made me miss my old gym a little bit less. It’s less than four miles from my apartment and with evenings and weekends free, I should still be able to get there a minimum of four days a week, five if I really try (5:30 a.m. classes are available three days a week but man, that is early). Still trying to fit in running – early morning running around here isn’t totally feasible right now. I have to be at work at 8 a.m. so it is too dark to run before work because I live near some really busy roads and right now I can’t get into my community building during off hours to run on the treadmill (I need to get on fixing that issue). Nor does treadmill running sound appealing anyway.

Anyway, onto the holidays! Marty and I spent Thanksgiving in Lancaster, just the two of us (and Lucy). I had to work Wednesday and technically my office was open Friday and I did not want to use a personal day so early into the job. To travel both to my family’s (or Marty’s) in one day just did not seem practical so he came down to Lancaster Thursday morning and will spend most of the weekend here. We did manage to make Thanksgiving dinner without any disasters. Next year’s goal? Homemade stuffing rather than the boxed stuff! Feel free to send any (easy) good recipes my way!

 

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Plus, now that I have weekends free, I can get home more often and we’ll be making it back to New Jersey for Christmas. For Thanksgiving, though, it was really nice to just stay put and relax.

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Lucy and I discovered a park just a short drive away.

And I have lots to be thankful for since last Thanksgiving. The bittersweet ending to a job I’d held for six-plus years in a career field that has been my life for 10-plus years. A new job in a new career field. Three successful fosters (Isaac, Novalee, Blossom). A (mostly) healthy Lucy. A new life in a new “city” (while Lancaster is referred to as a city around here, I still can’t refer to it that way with any sincerity). The opportunity to see friends and family more. There’s plenty more – as much as I love to complain, I have many, many things for which to be thankful.

Now onto my absolute favorite time of the year – Christmas! I may or may not have pulled out my Christmas tree at 6 a.m. this morning 🙂

Summer So Far

It has been a wonderfully unremarkable summer. We do not currently have a foster, Lucy is active and healthy and up until this past week and a half, we spent the majority of our weekends at home relaxing.

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Ok, a CrossFit competition isn’t relaxing but it was fun!

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One of the summer’s highlights? Visiting this handsome devil and his dad!

Yesterday, we got back from an 11-day, 1550-mile roadtrip/vacation. We started out by dropping Lucy off at my parents’, driving to Lake Placid for Marty’s Ironman race, then down to Western Maryland for Marty’s family vacation, then back to NJ to pick up Lucy and then back home to Pennsylvania. Phew.

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Ironman Finisher

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Lake Placid

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Deep Creek Lake, Md.

It was an exhausting 11 days, not helped by the fact that I got food poisoning midway during our Maryland vacation. Still feeling some mild effects from that, to be honest, but I’m mostly back to normal. And it was worth it – everyone had a wonderful vacation.

It’s unfortunate that tomorrow is Aug. 1 – it means almost back to reality for me at work. The summer months are largely 9-5 with free weekends and it’s so easy to fall into that relaxed routine. Sadly 10 months out of the year are the polar opposite of that so I thoroughly enjoy relaxing summers like we’ve had so far. It’s nice to not be on the go and not being required to be anywhere for the most part. I got to see friends and family but still had lots of time to read, relax and – most importantly – nap on the weekends.

While late August marks the real start of the fall athletic season, it’s always this time of year that I start to really want to foster. That sounds like a backwards way to think but I know it’s because fostering gives me a distraction from work with which I am less than satisfied. I honestly do not know if Lucy is ready for another foster but if I think what appears to be a good fit comes along, we will foster again and sooner rather than later.

I’m sure we’ll have a few more highlights as the summer winds down and hopefully I’ll be checking back in soon with a new foster!

A Few Days Late, But…

Sunday marked Lucy’s fourth “Gotcha Day!” with us. On May 8, 2012, my mom and I drove to Philly to bring Lucy back to Selinsgrove.

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Bringing Lucy home

That year, Marty was at a track meet and gone until very late at night. My mom was spending a few days with us, so that night we put Lucy in her cage and went to bed before Marty got back. He tried to be quiet when he got back but I was so excited to see his reaction to Lucy that I raced downstairs to show her off.

Since that day, the four years have flown by. I so desperately miss Puppy Lucy. She was just the absolute cutest puppy ever. And I’m superficial – there is nothing better than having a cute puppy that’s all yours. But she’s still super cute and housetrained now, so things have evened out, I guess.

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She’s still cute but man, I miss having a puppy.

I honestly did not know how much I would benefit from having a dog. I love her entirely too much, more than is healthy, but she makes me unbelievably happy. There has never been one second that I’ve regretted my decision to bring Lucy home. Literally – I have never once wished I did not have Lucy in my life. I can find the negative in anything so for me to have zero doubts is huge.

These four years have gone by way too fast but there is not one day that I don’t appreciate having a healthy and happy Lucy.

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Car ride buddy

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One Year of CrossFit

It’s been weeks since I’ve posted and today’s post won’t even be dog related. There isn’t anything newsworthy regarding the dogs. Isaac is still with us and the verdict is still out on whether the medication is making a difference. It usually takes up to six weeks to see the full effect so I’ve sort put it out of mind. I just give him the meds each day and forget about it. We’ll see where we stand in a few more weeks.

His energy is still low. Poor guy.

His energy is still low. Poor guy.

I have a fun survey at the end of the post because I like surveys (in some ways I am still 12 years old) and because I have nothing else to say!

A quick personal update, though. One year ago today I started CrossFit. I had been working out for years and years before trying CrossFit. I ran, I cross-trained, I lifted weights, I did p90x, I did Insanity. I was in good shape but certainly not in CrossFit shape. I found that out real quick when I couldn’t walk for two days after my first class.

Let's just say my legs didn't look like this a year ago.

Let’s just say my legs didn’t look like this a year ago.

Some background for anyone new: I suffered from an eating disorder and exercise addiction for more than six years. I once weighed 90 pounds and my life revolved around food (not eating it) and working out. I did permanent damage to my body (my bone density is crap for a 31-year-old) and in some ways forever changed (not for the good) my approach to food and exercise.
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HOWEVER, CrossFit has helped all of those issues more than anything else ever has. I am such a better place physically and mentally than a year ago. I care so much less about what I weigh. I care so much more about what I can lift. I eat more often when I’m hungry rather than ignoring my hunger. I eat far more whole food and a lot less processed food. I hit the gym most days of the week but have finally learned to listen to my body and take rest days. I run less but run smarter. CrossFit isn’t for everyone and I’m not going to try and make everyone drink the “CrossFit Koolaid” but it’s been a life changer for me. I’m still not where I want to be in regards to my mental approach to food and fitness, but I’ve made gigantic steps.

A 5k PR with LESS running.

A 5k PR with LESS running.

Now, onto some mindless information about me:

A – Age: 31

B – Biggest Fear: Spiders. Creepily clustered holes (it’s a real phobia!)

C – Current Time: 5:30 p.m.

D – Drink You Had Last: Polar Lime Seltzer Water.

E – Easiest Person To Talk To: My parents. I have to include both because since my mom’s stroke, she can’t really hold a conversation but she’s still easy to talk to!

F – Favorite Song: So many. Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac is up there.

G – Grossest Memory: There was one diaper in particular during my babysitting days that makes me cringe to this day.

H – Hometown: Morristown, N.J.

I –  In Love With: My dogs. Wine. Chocolate.

J – Jealous Of: People who are happy with where they are in life.

K – Kindest Person You Know:  One of my best friends, Lauren.

L – Life Isn’t Complete Without: Dogs. Wine. Chocolate.

M – Middle Name: Anne.

N – Number of Siblings: 1 – a twin brother.

O – One Wish: To have enough money to foster all the bulldogs. And then adopt them. In a home with a fenced-in yard, of course.

P – Person You Spoke To On The Phone Last: Marty.

Q – Question You’re Always Asked: What exactly is it that you do? Collegiate sports information isn’t exactly a self-explanatory career.

R – Reason To Smile: It’s not Monday.

S – Song You Last Sang: All the songs from Tom Petty’s Greatest Hits album. Makes for great driving music.

T – Time You Woke Up: 5:20 a.m. Well, alarm went off at 4:55 but I’ve become a snooze button pusher.

V – Vacation Destination: Having just been to St. Croix, I certainly wouldn’t argue a return trip.

W – Worst Habit: Picking scabs. Usually until they bleed. Drives Marty bonkers.

X – X-Rays You’ve Had: A lot. My teeth are a disaster and I’m at a high risk for stress fractures so that adds up to a ton of x-rays.

Z – Zodiac Sign: Cancer. Born a few weeks too late to be a Gemini whose sign is twins!

The Best Week Ever

Just a few hours ago, Marty and I returned from what I deem the best week ever. My parents take semi-frequent vacations to various U.S. Virgin Islands and on their most recent booking to St. Croix, they offered to let myself and Marty come with them. They were renting a two bedroom house and they obviously only needed one of those bedrooms so when they posed the question of whether we were interested in occupying the other bedroom, the answer was a very emphatic YES!
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For the past 9-10 days, I have been completely disconnected. I did not bring my laptop, only sporadically turned my phone on and pretty much avoided any talk of work 99% of the time.

Because it was such a perfect week, I wanted to document it so that I could remember it for a very, very long time:

We flew out of Newark early Saturday morning and had a brief layover in Puerto Rico before flying into St. Croix late Saturday afternoon.

Saturday night after we got settled in, we went to a local brewpub for dinner. I just had wine so I can’t speak to the beer, but the food was shockingly good. And the view (we were right on the boardwalk) was spectacular.

Beginning Sunday morning, Marty and I began each day around 6 a.m. For the first few days I was awake at 5 or 5:30 a.m. but there’s something about laying in bed with a fabulous view, strong breeze and warm air that makes it impossible to actually get out of bed at that time. Eventually Marty would brew coffee and we’d have a cup on our own personal deck prior to getting our day started.
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Most mornings we picked a place to run; I say most mornings because before leaving on vacation, I tweaked my back during deadlifts and gave myself permission to take days off to make sure my back didn’t bother me too much. And with nothing but hills and mountains around, my back wasn’t exactly keen on running each morning.

After our (or just Marty’s run), everyone would spend the rest of the morning having breakfast, drinking coffee, reading books and floating in the pool.
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Lunch was around noon and usually eaten at home; cold cut sandwiches just taste better on vacation. 🙂

After lunch we’d decide how to spend our afternoons.

On Sunday, we went to Point Udall for some photos and then spent two or so hours at a beach (Shoy Beach) which was my one and only requirement for the trip – multiple trips to a beach. It has been a very, very long time since I’ve been that relaxed. The water was calm, warm and clear. I could have spent all day in the water – it was perfection. I haven’t been truly happy in years but I was pretty darn close on Sunday. My dad cooked some delicious chicken thighs that night and we spent the rest of the night relaxing.

Point Udall

Point Udall

Shoy Beach.

Shoy Beach.

Monday afternoon was spent walking around Chistiansted, the “biggest” city/town on the island. We stopped in tons of little shops, picked up some trinkets and I found the perfect ring – a gift from some of the early birthday money Marty’s family was kind enough to give me before leaving.

Fort Christiansted

Fort Christiansted

Christiansted

Christiansted

That night I treated my parents (and Marty) to dinner out along the coastline at eat @ cane bay. I normally stick to wine but my mom and I both decided to order one (ok, two) “Sex in the Champagne Room” – vanilla run, cranberry juice, maybe pineapple juice and champagne. Beyond good.

Tuesday we started the day with another run and then spent the afternoon playing tourist. We had lunch in Frederiksted and then toured the Cruzan Rum Factory and the St. Croix Botanical Garden. Both were worth the visit but the rum factory was the definite highlight.

RUM

RUM

Botanical gardens

Botanical gardens

Wednesday we went to Chanay Bay for another beach day; this time we broke out the snorkels and it was awesome. Starfish, fish, sea urchins. Wednesday night dinner was at Off the Wall – casual dining with the sand literally between our toes.

My more than generous parents.

My more than generous parents.

Thursday we visited Cane Bay – my least favorite of the three beaches we visited. The water was rougher and the water not deep enough for my liking. We also got sandblasted and I think I stepped on a sea urchin. But any beach in St. Croix is still fabulous.

Our final full day was Friday. We went back to Christiansted that morning to pick up some final gifts and mementos and then headed back to Shoy Beach for the afternoon. I spent a ton of time snorkeling and relaxing in the water, soaking it all up. It was definitely my favorite of the three beaches and the weather, while hot, was gorgeous. We capped off the night at Cheeseburgers in American Paradise – another perfect atmosphere with great food (and company!).
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Again, I could not have asked for a better week. I was beyond relaxed and exploring an entirely new place was utterly fascinating. From driving on the “wrong” side of the road to asking if we wanted rum in our morning smoothies from the local coffee place, it was more than I could have hoped for. I know this isn’t a trip we’ll be repeating for a very long time so I more than soaked up everything we experienced the past week.

Odds and Ends from the Week:

The poverty on the island is depressing. Nothing I didn’t expect but still sad.

In relation to the above point, the number of homeless/stray dogs and their conditions hit home the most. We saw one dog outside one of the grocery stores we visited with a severe limp and a massive tumor growing near her front right armpit. She was just sitting outside the grocery store watching people come in and out. My heart just about broke. And she was just one of the many strays we saw.

The wild life here is different. Very different. Horses that don’t appear to actually belong to anyone. Goats, chickens, roosters and baby chicks everywhere. Teeny, tiny lizards. Big iguanas. Crabs. Birds unlike those in the States.

Just a random horse hanging out right by the road.

Just a random horse hanging out right by the road.

Island time is real. We went to a parking lot that was supposed to open at 8:30 a.m. It definitely opened no earlier than 8:35.

The prices. Oh. My. God. $7 for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s? $6.99 for a regular-sized box of cereal? I genuinely have no idea how people afford to eat on this island and we weren’t exactly suffering from the impoverished conditions in which many of the locals live.

Obviously a big “thank you” to our dogsitters. Without them there’s obviously no way we make this trip.

And an even bigger thank you to my parents for taking us along. Seriously more than we deserved and I appreciate it.