Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Before I start writing today, notice that this post will be twice as many as I wrote ALL of last year - and it's only February! (Look at me, pretending people read this. Hi kids! Hi sisters! Hi Heather!)

So I started my Whole30 on January 1. If you're not familiar with the program, it is 30 days of eating healthy protein, fats, vegetables, and fruit. No bread, no grains, no alcohol, no dairy, no added sugar, or legumes. There are other rules to the program, but these are the basics. It wasn't hard to follow, except that I kept feeling progressively worse. Our daughter Emily was doing her third Whole30, and I asked her if this was normal. It felt like a cross between the worst labor pains ever and being kicked in the stomach. After five days of this, I went to the doctor. And except for regular check-ups or injuries, I NEVER go to the doctor. After several hours of uncomfortable medical exams, I was diagnosed with diverticulitis. It perhaps had nothing to do with the Whole30 except temporally, but I'm not taking chances with that much fun again. So while I was waiting for my Cipro to be filled, I walked to the coffee shop next door and had a scone and a latte. Mmm...dairy AND gluten...

Now that all my intestinal flora has basically been killed off, I am back to normal. January 23rd was the first day I felt like myself. And how do I know this specifically, you ask? Well, since last September, I have been keeping a bullet journal, which is a consolidation of all the lists I had scattered all over the house and in my mind. And on the 23rd, I marked that I was starting to feel good.

So even though I didn't do a Whole30, I watched what I ate and tried to keep the not-so-good-for-me foods to a minimum. Not absent, mind you, just not with the reckless abandon that characterized the holiday season. And what do you know? 5.5 pounds gone. Now I KNOW I'm more than a number on a scale, but that number needed to be just a little lower or I'd have to buy all new clothes. While I've always worked out, after one particularly tough workout, I realized I had been phoning it in for awhile. I've since amped up the pace a bit, both cardio and weights.

The funny thing about exercise is that I never regret it - when it's over. But when I'm feeling not quite myself, the last thing I want to do is work out, even though I know it will make me feel better. Talk about a Catch 22! (Side note: Harry Connick, Jr was guest-hosting on the Today Show yesterday, and he said that he hasn't missed a day of working out in seven YEARS. Dang.)

I did keep one part of Whole30: I have not had a drink since New Year's Eve, so except for the champagne we had at midnight that night with our friends, this girl has been dry all of January. It's the longest I've gone without alcohol since I was pregnant with Erin, and that was in 1988. I had wanted to make it a month and I did, although I admit I was tempted last night. Today, not so much. I'll keep you posted on that front. Weird, arbitrary rules, I know.

post signature

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Well hello there!

It's time for the obligatory January blog post! I started this in January of 2012, and wrote 81 posts that year. 2013 dwindled to 35, 2014 to 32, 2015 to 6, and 2016 to ONE. I am already tied with last year!

I've been trying to figure out what I want the purpose of this blog to BE. I started it as a means to get in shape for our son's wedding. It evolved into an on-line diary of everything I was eating and all my work-outs. While it's been fun (for me!) to go back and read the posts and remember the times, life has changed. Now I'm a nana (most fun job EVER!), retired from any job requiring me to leave my house (an introvert's dream), have a casual calligraphy business, have three children (and their partners/families) in three different states which will most likely never change unless WE move, and an aging parent/in-law just to make things a bit more interesting.

I still believe in the title of the blog, in that 80% of success is just showing up. Last year I participated in the The 100 Day Project, and for my endeavor, I chose 100 days of calligraphy. There really is something to just showing up - for one, the improvement in my writing was noticeable. It really made me sit down and put on my creative thinking cap, and I'm happy with the results. If you want to see for yourself, head on over to Instagram and check out my account: I'm cathyboll over there. I posted quite a few (most?) of the 100 days on my personal FB page as well.

So after surviving 2016, I decided to return to this little corner. I know some people had a great year, and while ours wasn't exactly bad, it falls into the "not exactly wonderful" category. We traveled SO MUCH, and while some of the trips were awesome (North Carolina! Ohio! Florida! Wisconsin! Any trips to see our kids!), some were okay (Kansas City airport to get our Global Entry pass), and some were just plain work. I'm looking at you, Bismarck. We made a total of 11 trips to North Dakota between the middle of March and the beginning of November - 1200 miles round trip (times 11!) all by car. (That aging parent thing I mentioned).

But we remain healthy, and after several friends' trials and tribulations, that is truly one of life's blessings. To help me remain so, after several years of thinking about it, I decided to do a Whole 30 this month. You know that old saying, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results"? Well, my clothes are starting to not fit so well, so I am doing something different for the month of January and seeing how it affects my jeans.

I'll write more about that later, but if you're interested in following along on that journey, I started an Instagram account with this blog's name: cathy.shows.up. I'll be posting meals and recipes there.

Ways to watch me be accountable that are public:

This blog:
Facebook page: Cathy Shows Up
Instagram account: cathy.shows.up
Instagram account: cathyboll (mostly calligraphy with occasional pix of adorable grandsons)


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Bring it on, 2016

Thanks for the avatar, Bitmoji.

So. 2016. Not to sound old, but time is flying. I am one of those people who think 1990 was only ten years ago. But since it IS 2016, it's time to figure out how to travel this trip around the sun. I know calendars are a somewhat arbitrary invention of man, but there's something so cleansing about a new year and all that stretches before us.

I saw something at the end of the year, probably on Pinterest, along the lines of "My New Year's resolution this year was to lose ten pounds. Only thirteen more to go". Funny, and a little true. It seems my goal EVERY year is to lose weight. I'm not aiming for a specific number, just wanting to feel more comfortable. But mostly, I want to be around - and participatory! - in the lives our kids and grandkids. And in that spirit, what better time than a new year. And even better, the first Monday in January, since everyone knows diets start on Monday. Wait! No diets! Read on...

I saw something on Instagram last month that said December 1st is the new January 1st, and so in that spirit, I made a list of resolutions starting December 1st. I was really good about keeping all of them for the first two weeks of December. And then, well, life got in the way, as it pretty much always does. And because they weren't official resolutions (i.e. New Year's) , they were fairly non-specific: less screen time, eat healthier, exercise consistently, read more, drink less, consistent sleep, blah, blah, blah. Because the list was so nebulous and non-quantifiable, I pretty much faked it for awhile and then forgot about it. 

I love it when real life happens! A beautiful surprise Christmas Eve snowfall with my favorite girls and first-born grandson!
  L to R: Aly, Erin, Brody trying to catch snow on his tongue, Emmy, and me

This year I decided to get more specific. I am using a Moleskine journal to make it all official. Also, I decided to set smaller goals for each month, with the thought that they will turn into habits and be easy to build upon. In the past, I would dive headlong into everything (1200 calories a day! 5 days of cardio each week! 3 days of weightlifting! 1 of yoga! 8 glasses of water! 8 hours of sleep! 10,000 steps! Journal every meal!), before realizing it was all unsustainable for the long haul. This month's habits are small steps on the journey:

The no alcohol part is strictly for the month of January, since we have absolutely nothing going on. TRUST ME, if you know me, you know how much I love a glass (or two or three) of wine or a gin and tonic. Or a martini. Or a good sour beer. Insert All the Booze Emojis here. I just thought I'd take a break, since I don't think I had an alcohol-free day the last ten (and if I'm being honest, probably longer) days of December. 

Calligraphy practice, but it certainly fits here.

I am still using My Fitness Pal to record all my meals, but I am also using a daily page in the Moleskine to record all the food, along with any other pertinent info. And opposite that page, I'm recording the time I went to bed and woke up, along with the quality of sleep (which is usually poor). I also have a checklist on that page, to see how I did on the above habits.

I've been doing a lot of reading this year about why diets don't work, the sustainable way to weight loss, and two things jumped out at me: 1) Most diets don't let you eat enough food (seriously, 1200 calories aren't enough), and 2) you need to change your habits for the long run. I knew #2, but again, I felt I needed to identify the habits I wanted to incorporate and make them measurable. To figure out my Total Daily Energy Expenditure, I used this calculator. I figured out my BMI and TDEE at both my current weight and my goal weight, and then subtracted about 500 calories. I can seriously eat 2000 calories and theoretically lose weight. Oh, and another thing I learned was that most everyone underestimates how much they eat and overestimates how much they work out. Just a little something to remember...

You'll notice there is nothing about movement in my list for January; that checklist will come next month, even though I am working on that all the time.

For now, to quote the socks that my friend Bev gave me for Christmas, "kick this day in its sunshiny ass". I think I'll go calligraphy it and put it on my bathroom mirror. It may become this year's motto.

post signature

Friday, October 30, 2015

Fresh start

In reference to the blog title, Cathy has NOT been Showing Up. Sometimes life just gets in the way and derails any and/or all good intentions. This is especially true when you have depression and anxiety issues, but things seem to be evening out now, thanks to time and prescription refills. (Remember that old Dow commercial: "Better living through chemistry"?) While I'm not thrilled that my personality is dependent on pharmaceuticals, at least there are drugs to help. Mental health is not the easiest subject to write about, but the last few weeks have been the inspiration for some good angst-ridden calligraphy. Along with meditation and exercise, calligraphy is calming to me. Me and Vincent, just two tortured artists. (Seriously Cathy, get over yourself.)

I could write pages about what's been going on in my head (scary thought), but if your brain chemistry has ever been out of balance, you know what I'm talking about. And you are not alone. If you're lucky enough to NOT have this happen to you, let me assure you that you know someone who is suffering.

If you are interested in reading about these issues by an insanely (see what I did there?) gifted author, run, don't walk, and pick up this book. You can also read her blog, The Bloggess.

you will literally lol, cry, and nod your head in understanding

look for it
I was thinking of the Harry Chapin song, "Dance Band on the Titanic" when I wrote this
a quote by one of my favorite authors, sent by my sweet DIL as a reminder that we are all in this together
this helps
So this weekend will be busy as I'm driving up to Minneapolis tomorrow to help Emmy move into her new apartment. Gail and Dan were so kind to open their home when she needed a sanctuary, but it's time to leave. I have the feeling that most of the boxes will be books - darn English teacher.

I get home on Tuesday, and then our Michigan kids show up on Thursday. We get to watch the little boys while their parents head over to Des Moines to talk about potential employment. The position is not until summer of 2017, and while I'm trying to not get my hopes up I would love for everyone to be in the same time zone. In the meantime, Nana and Papa will be wrangling a toddler and an almost-five-month-old. We are beyond lucky - and I totally mean that.

I'll be back next week, hopefully back on track. Get ready for boring pictures of toast and fruit or oatmeal for breakfasts.

Monday, September 7, 2015

What I did last summer, part 2

I guess I shouldn't write at night. When I posted yesterday, I forgot two major highlights of the summer! It turns out that turning 60 really isn't that bad.

Okay, a little background here: Dwight's birthday is in May, as is Mother's Day and our anniversary. My birthday and Father's Day is in June. Our poor kids - those are expensive months for them. So this year, we were asked to give them a few dates in May to keep open. We didn't know why. They chose May 17, and the only hint given us was that further instructions would arrive at noon. So my imagination was running wild. I knew the pregnant girl wouldn't be traveling that close to her due date, but I thought maybe a party? Like when they threw us a surprise 25th anniversary party and I didn't show up due to a little heat exhaustion. There were other even crazier thoughts running through my head - poor Dwight. He'll attest. Anyway, I woke up early, put on makeup, got dressed, and waited. Shortly before noon we got an email thanking us for being such good parents and grandparents (okay, maybe I cried when I read the email), and treating us to a lovely dinner downtown. And they encouraged us to have cocktails since a night at the Embassy Suites (walking distance from the restaurant) was included as well. Seriously, do we have the best kids ever or what? Thank you thank you thank you to Emily, Alex, Aly, Erin, and Tim.

it started with a little patio drinking in the Old Market

our dinner total

this was waiting for us in our hotel room when we got back from dinner

Then for surprise #2: about a month after that, Dwight asked if I'd like to go out for breakfast on Saturday. We actually do that fairly often in the winter (yes, we're THOSE people), but never in the summer because golf. They he suggested Summer Kitchen, a restaurant we like but don't go to for breakfast hardly ever anymore. I STILL wasn't suspicious. Tell me anything. I'll believe it. 

He was kind of poking around in the morning, and I - being the person who eats right away when I get up - was hungry. Finally he was ready to leave. Now we have going-out-for-breakfast guidelines: because we usually go so early, it's no makeup, no contacts, and really casual. Not jammy pants casual, but close. That day it was the shorts and t-shirt I had worn the day before, because I figured I'd be coming home, cleaning house and working in the garden, and then showering before our neighbors would be coming over for dinner. And we're really not alone in our casualness; as a matter of fact, I remarked to Dwight that very morning that if you brush your teeth, you're ahead of the breakfast game. 

We sat down, ordered, and while waiting for our food to arrive I was looking out the window at some people walking up and thought, "That guy looks like Tom" (our brother-in-law). Then I saw who he was with and realized that guy WAS Tom! Right then I'm pretty sure Dwight thought I was having a stroke because I literally could not talk - just stare and point. Tom and Jeanie from Chicago, and Gail from Minneapolis were walking into the restaurant! They had driven to Omaha the night before to surprise me for my birthday! They had stayed at a hotel right by the restaurant and had planned the whole thing with Dwight. Not only were Amy and Dennis coming over for dinner, but a few other friends as well. Dwight had bought all the liquor and snacks and hidden them from me, being glad that I never look in the basement fridge. So an impromptu (for me!) party happened! Jeanie's 60th is in a few years, so Gail and I have some time to plan.

LOVE these girls!!!!

 I'll close on a sad note, to say good-bye to our Ernie. We got him and his brother, Pete, in March of 2000 from the Humane Society. When I took them to the vet for their initial check-up, he figured they were around 3 months old, so we chose January 1, 2000 as their birthday. Our millennial kitties

Poor sweet Ernie had renal insufficiency and inflammatory bowel disease, and after several months we knew it was time. As hard as the decision was, I am so glad we can do that for our pets. It was a really peaceful end to a good kitty. We've had to do this before so we knew we would be with him at the end, but I saw this on PostSecret and it cemented that decision:

always stay

RIP, sweet Ernie
 That's it for now.

post signature

Sunday, September 6, 2015

I have a blog???

I have a blog? Well, not really, apparently, since it's been over seven months since I've posted. So here I am, dropping in, promising to write more regularly.

This year has really flown by, and I really have been writing all along - in my head. In case your ESP skills are a bit rusty, here are some highlights:

We have a new grandson, Sawyer Drake, born June 8th! He joins big brother Brody and dog Ella. We were so fortunate to be in Grand Rapids when the little peanut was born, and we got to meet Sawyer when he was only three hours old. The last baby I held who was that new was our youngest, Erin, in 1988! Sawyer is a beautiful blue-eyed redhead (like his Auntie Erin), and THIS redhead doesn't mind another one in the family. There is red hair on Aly's side of the family also, but I'm pretending it came from me.

three hours old 

stolen from Aly's instagram so you can see Sawyer's red hair
 A funny story on the day Sawyer was born: we were staying at the house taking care of Brody, and Alex texted us right away with a picture, which we showed to Brody. Dwight said, "Here's your baby brother," and Brody said, "Uh oh". No kidding. It's like he knew! He actually says "uh oh" quite a bit, but the timing was impeccable here!

uh oh
Brody and Papa - two buddies
In addition to our Michigan kids, we also got to see our Iowa kids several times, as Erin and Tim used us as a way-station to and from Colorado where they had a much-needed vacation. Our hotel is always open!

After ten years in Des Moines (fourteen if you count college), Emily is no longer one of our Iowa kids, as she moved to St. Paul this summer. Erin and I helped her clean her old apartment, for which she got a whopping $59 of her deposit back. For as long and as hard as we all worked, well, let's just say that a few choice words were spoken. 

So we've been traveling: a few trips to Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota. We've had bunches of company, played some golf (one of us more than the other, but the other is totally okay with that!), and I've been practicing calligraphy pretty much every day.

I was looking back at previous posts, and last June 4 I made a list of personal goals: 

1) Learn camera, take pictures. Let's just say that's a work in progress, but I'm having fun.

2) Finish Erin's and Tim's wedding album. Take my word for it - all done!

3) Practice calligraphy:

Practicing capital letters

Dixie Chicks song lyrics

for my favorite little boys
I love it when I can check things off my list! If you are on Instagram, follow me (cathyboll) if you're interested in more calligraphy. I have been learning so much from the calligraphy community there! I won't post a lot here. Maybe.

4) Blog regularly. Oops. Maybe this will be the start.

That's it for now. Talk to you later!

post signature

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

You can thank me later...

Seriously. No, srsly.

I can never pass up a chance to use this guy

Just pin these two tips right now to your "I can do it" Pinterest board.

Okay, #1:  I consider myself a pretty good cook - not gourmet by any means, but being a chemist, I can find my way around the kitchen. Except for one very basic technique: hard boiling eggs. Basic, easy-peasy, simple - right? Well, no. Mine used to be okay when I did it my mom's way, which was boiling them to death for 20 minutes. They peeled okay most of the time, but they were too hard and rubbery and had a green rim around the yolks. So then I started experimenting. For years. Big mistake. I used everyone's Never Fail Hard Boiled Egg recipe that I could find, and they all failed. I used salt in the water, baking soda in the water, putting the eggs in the water then starting to boil, putting the eggs in boiling water, ice water, timing differences, using old eggs - basically every permutation possible. And they all peeled horribly and looked like the surface of the moon:

So finally I quit following recipes and pulled bits and pieces from everything I learned and came up with my fool-proof (really!) recipe. And my eggs look like this every. single. time.


I bought these yesterday, so old eggs are not necessary. I use a bulletin board push pin to poke a hole in the wide end of the egg. Not sure if this is really necessary, but it's kind of fun and my motto is if it's not broke, don't fix it. Okay, use a large enough pot to hold the number of eggs you want to boil. I always make 11 eggs (they fit into my mason jar), and a 4.5 qt (I think) pot. A big one. Bring a bunch of water to a seriously rolling boil, sprinkle in some salt, and lower the cold eggs in using a slotted spoon. Start your timer for 13 minutes, then lower heat to about medium-low. You want a few bubbles, so maybe it's a high simmer? In the meantime, put a bunch of ice cubes in a large bowl and fill with water. You want a cold, cold, cold ice bath. After 13 minutes, use the slotted spoon and put the eggs in the ice bath to cool. When they are cold, crack and peel. And this is how I store them so we have a go-to snack:


Okay, hint #2. Totally unrelated as it has to do with plumbing, but maybe it will save you a service call. You know how when you start your disposal and it just grinds and grinds and water starts rising in the other side of the sink and you think oh shit? Well, this tip is from an actual plumber, who made a trip to our house years ago but didn't charge us because he was in the neighborhood anyway and I think felt sorry for me. I wrote it down then and taped it inside the cupboard below the sink. I've had to use it a few times since, and I had to use it the other week so thought I'd pass it on. The plumber said it creates more force than plunging.

Fill garbage disposal side with water.

Plug other side and hold down tight. The stopper will want to push up. Seriously, lean on it!

Turn on disposal.

And that's it!

You are welcome.
post signature

EDITED: I forgot to add that I sprinkle some salt in the water when I put it on to boil. Half a teaspoon or so. Again, not sure if it's necessary, but it works for me. Look at those beautiful hard boiled eggs!