Sunderbrunch Park for Hiking and a Picnic!

We knew we needed to do something outdoors today.  The weather was way too gorgeous for this time of year!!  We decided to head over to Sunderbrunch for some hiking after Caleb got done with Bible study.  While he was there, some friends from church sent a text asking if anyone was interested in a hike/picnic at Sunderbrunch…. haha!  How fun!

We hiked some really fun trails and Tyler’s phone said we did about 3.5 miles in a little over an hour.  Pretty good when you consider 4 adults were hauling at least one kid in a carrier, one stroller made it part of the way, and we had a total of 10 kids with us!

Just two little troublemakers on a dinosaur! haha

Say cheese!

Our poor little bug collecting, bug loving, daughter Abby with her moth.  “It’s the first one I ever caught!!”  After this I had to explain to her that when you hold a moth too long, the dust on its wings can all brush off and then it won’t be able to fly and might not make it in life.  She set it in a nice weed patch and we cheerfully hiked on, optimistically hoping for the best.

Evie dreaming wild dreams of crazy mountain bike riding.

Some of the group.  I missed getting Darah in any of these pictures I see!  We’ll have to fix that next time.

Hiker girls!  The kids were all such troopers!

We found a cool wooden table with tall chairs!  Girls, girls, girls!  We love them! ❤  Of course, mine were the obstinate ones with me behind the camera….. *sigh*

More girls….

Abby enjoyed the fast hike a few of us did.  Her and Lily were the kid walkers that went for it.  At one point she said, “My stomach is kind of hurting, but that’s good!  Because it means it’s getting stronger!”  (We’ve used this line on her quite a bit….haha!!)  Elly was cracking up while we jogged.  Apparently it’s pretty fun to bounce around in the carrier.

The end of the hike!  We made it!  Time for lunch!

My Running Farewell…

I put my best foot forward and ran a mile almost every day this past summer.  Depending who you are, that may sound pathetic or extreme (probably, mostly pathetic).  For me, it was what I had time for.  Could I have ran more/further?  Yes, if I wanted to prioritize it over other things on my massive to-do list, but I didn’t.  I ran to lose baby weight and I did not like it. ha

Initially, I intended to keep running until I hit the goal weight I had created for myself, which meant losing 22 pounds.  However, running and I apparently have a hate/hate relationship.  Most people don’t deal with a ton of injuries when they’re running such short distances, buuuut me on the other hand…..  I found out my body isn’t what you’d call a “runner’s body.”  I took up running shortly after pregnancy and dealt with a couple unpleasant ingrown toenails.  Off and on in the earlier running days I had shin splints and some knee pain.  Things seemed to stabilize for a while, until I had my final injury sometime in September – runner’s knee.

I wrote a little about my runner’s knee in a previous post, so I’ll just give a quick update.  I have continued seeing a physical therapist off and on.  Although I have had some definite improvement, it has been very slow and both knees (particularly the left) are still bothering me to the extent that I can’t sit cross-legged, put weight on my left knee, go up and down stairs normal, or run.  I have a brace and a knee strap and I always have one of them on the left leg during the day.  Watching the kids with the knee issues has been…. well, as I have taught the girls to say when they’re served something they don’t like, “not my favorite.”  It definitely has gotten old and I am definitely more than ready to have my knees back to normal.  I have decided I will never run again if my knees will only get back to normal.  I’m still hoping they will and my therapist is starting to wonder why it is taking this long – it has been almost three months now!!  I have been faithfully doing all the nightly exercises and stretches I’m assigned, trying my best to rest them when I can, and they are just not getting back to normal.  It’s been a little disheartening.

During my running months, I was able to lose around sixteen pounds, which was great.  I was bummed when I had to give up running, since it meant giving up my goal weight for a while.  The good news is, I somehow managed to lose the last six pounds just with our two miles of walking each day and focusing on less sugar!!  I found that out tonight when I randomly decided to check my weight.  What a pleasant surprise! haha  Miracles do happen!  Now, if only one can happen on my knees……

In case you are interested, here are some tidbits I discovered while running over the summer:

  • If you run with your mouth wide open, gnats are no joke.  They’ll get in your eyes too!  And if you do get a gnat in your mouth, it isn’t a good idea to spit it out forwards while running….. hindsight is 20/20.
  • Don’t think about how tired you are, how limp your body is, or how much you hate running while you are running.  It makes it like a million times harder.
  • Low tree branches and obstacles over the sidewalk are hard.  You keep your body in a kind of forced, continue moving forward mode and you just kind of stare at the things in the way as you get closer and closer.  It’s almost like you expect some sort of mind trick to magically remove those things before you run into them, but they don’t go anywhere.  Instead, you slam into them and keep awkwardly stumble-running on.
  • It’s about a million times easier to run when there are bystanders.  They don’t even have to be watching you or care, but you instantly feel like they are and it gives you extra momentum and strength and you suddenly feel like the beastliest runner out there.  STRIDE. STRIDE. STRIDE.  Check this out!  See how fast I am??  Nothing can stop me now!!!!!!
  • Long hair can be really annoying and it has to be CENTERED on your head.  Oh my goodness.  The worst runs were ones where my ponytail was off-center.  It threw off my whole balance!  I had no idea how annoying that could be, but wow.  I would work so hard to get an evenly centered ponytail – the tighter, the better!
  • Thursday runs literally STUNK.  Garbage pick-up day was Friday morning, and everyone hauled their reeking trash bins out to the edge of the sidewalk (my running trail) on Thursday evening.  I couldn’t run until the kids were in bed, so I always “enjoyed” the full benefit of every stinking pile of trash the neighborhood had to offer.  PHEW!  You can’t hold your breath as easily when you’re running and you really can’t hold it when there’s a new garbage bin every few feet.  There was no stopping it.  Rancid.
  • The days I would run the fastest and the days my runs felt the quickest were the times I noticed the sky.  SO BIG.  So beautiful.  I could just breathe God’s work in those breathtaking sunsets, or the huge starry night skies.  It really made me want to simply praise Him!  The more I studied the sky, the faster I ran.  It was fun.

Running isn’t my thing.  We didn’t mesh well.  I loved the feeling after a run though.  It was great to exhaust myself and know I had gotten in a solid workout.  I’m grateful I made my goal weight in spite of having to give up running.  I hope my knees heal soon and completely.  I appreciate lifelong runners more.  Good for you, sister.  You do your thing.  I’m out. 😀

Down and Out for a While

Well, I continued my running all summer.  One mile a day.  Fridays off. It was going well for the most part.  I lost 16 pounds, meaning I still need to lose 6 to hit my goal weight.  The plan was to keep it up until I hit that weight.  Unfortunately, I have had a bit of a setback.  Yes…. I got a running injury.  It feels dumb to even say that out loud.  I was running one mile a day – and got a running injury!!  How does that even happen?!  I feel like I didn’t deserve to get injured with how little I was doing, but annoyingly enough, that is exactly what happened.

I noticed some pretty uncomfortable knee pain, especially in my left knee, a few weeks ago.  I ran through it, took my day off, ran through it again (much worse this time), and couldn’t do it the following day.  I tried a few times, but my body just wasn’t going to get it done.  It was hurting pretty solid.  I decided to quit running for a couple days to let it rest and hopefully get back to it asap.  That’s not what happened though.  It kept hurting, and had a lot of swelling as well.  My whole knee cap area was pretty rough pain-wise.  Going up and down stairs was super painful, I couldn’t sit cross-legged, or bend my left knee much at all without quite a lot of pain.  Even walking with the girls was no fun, although I still managed to get that done because… sitting in the house all day with my nutty bunch?  Not on your life.

A couple weeks of no running, trying to baby it, keeping it straight as much as possible, and it wasn’t getting better.  We finally decided I should try a physical therapist, because taking care of kids all day with a bum knee you can’t bend without hurting?  It was wearing on me.  He said I had (I forget the long name and don’t want to google it) “Runner’s Knee,” which is what my P.A. brother-in-law, running fiend sister, and her runner hubby all thought too.  He told me not to run on it until it’s better (I tried multiple times…. it wasn’t happening anyway), that I need to rest it (ha), should ice it, and gave me some stretches to do.  Apparently this was brought on by putting too much strain on my knees while running, over striding, and having a weak “hip area” (aka butt).  Cool stuff.  Too bad I’m impatient, and don’t want to take off a bunch of time to get over this.  I am a little frustrated with this, but at this point I just want my knee back to normal.  You always appreciate your body more when it’s not working right.  You think about how nice it was to have two knees that didn’t hurt every time you had to hobble down the stairs with a giant load of laundry. haha Hoping to move past this soon!  For now, I am seeing the physical therapist once a week and trying to do my homework.

Slow Cooker Mexican Haystacks

My favorite kind of food…. healthy and delicious!!  This is a also a great meal for anyone with kids because they can pick what toppings they want and, I can attest, may eat impressive amounts afterwards.  This idea came from Six Sisters’ Stuff and couldn’t be much easier.


Slow Cooker Mexican Haystacks

  • 6 or more frozen boneless/skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 packet your favorite taco seasoning
  • 1 jar chunky red salsa (I used a 24oz jar, but less would be fine too!)
  • cooked rice (we like to use brown rice!)
  • Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • corn
  • red bell pepper diced
  • onion diced
  • other toppings of your choice!


Plunk your chicken in the crock pot and sprinkle taco seasoning on top.  Dump your salsa over the chicken, cover, and cook on low for 6 – 8 hours.  Shred it up with a fork and keep warm while you cook your rice.  I cooked 2 cups dry brown rice in chicken broth (it really boosts the flavor!) and had to make one more batch for the amount of chicken we had.

Scoop some rice on your plate, add on the chicken, toppings of your choice, and enjoy!  We think all Mexican food needs cornbread on the side.  If you’re interested, this is one of our favorites: Buttery Corn Muffins.


Tug Fest Run

Around here there is a Tug Fest every year where two teams, the Iowa team and the Illinois team have a tug of war contest across the Mississippi.  There are a variety of activities surrounding this event.  The Tug Fest Run is one of those.  I’ve been trying to find more one mile races around, but most of them are kid centered because normal adults run 5K or longer. haha  Anyway, I decided to run this race along with a bunch of children just because, but our 3 year old really wanted to race with me.  Turns out, her excitement was too much for me and I decided to slow jog it with her instead.  She held my hand most of the time, but I did convince her to try running next to me for part of it.  She gets a little nervous in crowds and apparently didn’t trust me not to bolt and leave her in the dust.  Here we are before the race.


I was pretty proud of her as she ran the whole way, stopping for a very quick sip of water at the halfway point.  She beat her last mile time by a little over a minute!  She ran right around a 12:30 mile.  She got a bit tired about 4/5 of the way through, but pushed through it and did awesome!  It looked like she was the youngest one out there, but she certainly wasn’t last! 🙂  After the race….


All (children – boo) participants got a water bottle from Happy Joes filled with coupons, candy, a toy, and a running medal.  Abs was pretty excited about that, but gave me her goofy smirky prune face instead of a smile.  She’s been a twerp with pictures lately.  She wants to be in every one, but kind of forgot how to smile for the camera. ha!



Some people have been wondering how my running is going.  I think it’s been successful since, after all, it is still going.  I have been running a mile every night (Friday is my night off and I look forward to it allllllll week).  My (runner) sister and her hubby helped me do some roll it out thing to stretch something that was causing me some pretty rough knee pain.  I know I’m being very descriptive here, but I can’t remember what they called it.  Regardless, it has helped a lot and my knees very rarely give me pain anymore!  That is great, but I still don’t like to run. haha  I do it for the workout, the good feeling afterwards, and mostly the weight loss.  I’m down 13 lb since I started running a few months ago.  It feels like slow progress to me, but I am glad it’s happening!  I’ve been feeling better about myself and am excited to lose 9 more pounds and hit my goal weight!  If that happens, I will start cutting out running if possible. hahaha!  I’ve only had my beloved ice cream on three occasions, helped eat one batch of brownies, and am trying to overall snack on fruits and eat less at meal times.  I also still drink my keifer and enjoy my bedtime bowl of popcorn (popcorn popper style – microwave tastes nasty, and I’m liking the non oily popper vs. stove kind).  If the pounds get harder to lose, I will probably have to be even more careful foodwise, but since it’s working for me now, I’ll stick with the current routine.

The Rustic Run!

I officially completed my first race since making the decision to take up (short distance) running.  The sad thing is, the last time I ran this one mile race (pre babies), I hadn’t trained at all and had a much better time.  The good thing is, I ran the entire mile and got my best postpartum time yet!  I finally broke 8 minutes (barely!!) with a time of 7:58.  That may not sound too amazing, but it was exciting for me!  I was the 2nd female in my age group (19-39) which means there wasn’t a whole lot of competition. haha!

Shout out to my 9 year old sister who ran the whole mile in 7 minutes 52 seconds!!  Future track star in the making!!  We ran some of our mile together which was pretty fun.  She was verbally encouraging me while I could barely manage to give her a thumbs up.  ha!

I was also pretty proud of our three year old, who steadily jogged the entire mile with Daddy.  Her time was 13:35.  She only stopped once for a quick water break.  She wasn’t tired a bit at the end, while I was ready to pass out.  Age…… haha!

Rustic Run!



It’s been about a month and a half of (almost) nightly running for me now.  I have mostly worked through the ingrown toenail “fun.”  On the bummer side of things, I’ve been experiencing a lot of knee pain lately.  It can be pretty rough some times, but I have still been making myself get out there and run around a mile each night.

I’ve cut out ice cream and a lot of other sweets.  I still allow myself a little pile of M&M’s with almonds at quiet time, because I need something to get me through the day.  It’s kind of a good thing for me because if I eat my sweet snack in the afternoon, then I know I have to prioritize running that night to make up for it. haha

The good news is….  I have officially lost ten pounds since beginning to run!!  That feels like really slow progress, but it is still progress.  I have about 12 more pounds to shed to get to my goal weight.  I hope losing the pounds doesn’t become even harder at any point, but I guess I will find out!  My goal weight isn’t the very smallest I have ever been, but 3 babies later and in the middle of nursing, I tried to come up with something realistic that I would be happy with.

In addition to running, I’ve been doing a small amount of strengthening/toning exercises like push-ups (the knee kind haha) and some different weight work-outs for my arms.  I’ve also rekindled my daily dose of homegrown keifer.  I really did love drinking it every day in the past, but I had to take a break from it after being pregnant with Evelyn.  I drank it during my morning sickness with her (really bad idea) and I couldn’t even think about it for the next couple of years afterwards without getting sick to my stomach.  I hate that you can ruin things for yourself during pregnancy! haha  I don’t know if I will ever be able to love steak the way I once did or enjoy Hy-vee take out Chinese again. 😦  Sad.