Friday, February 12, 2016

It's a Good Thing This Semester was Easy(er)

This is a long one. I even narrowed it down a lot from all the pictures I've accumulated through my first semester of senior year!  It's just been really fun!  Because my classes haven't been stressful, I've gotten to do a lot more things that I just didn't have time for before. I had been through enough school stress and made sure that I would enjoy myself this year. So far, it's been a success.

A lot more went on than this, but here are some highlights from pictures that I took during the past few months' adventures.  Every day is a great day to do something!
To start school, I decorate my binders!
With inspiration from this summer's team camp and pictures, this verse became very meaningful to me.  "Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.  Make level paths for your feet, and be steadfast in all your ways."  Proverbs 4:25-26
**find and add the blue one
My math class for this year was an easy one, but I enjoyed it!  Basically no homework, time to work in class, and lots of humor from Mr. Hayes.  Over the course of the semester, I decorated my folder with some of my favorite quotes!
The first few weeks are especially low-stress because dual enrollment hasn't started, and peer tutoring classes aren't assigned. That means 3 weeks of only 2 classes. 
Ps. Katlyn Haas is looking extra pretty!
This comic makes me smile for multiple reasons: ice cream, truth, and a pun. Yeah life is tough sometimes, but we have to go with it. What we can't control, God does. Work with it!
Sub Debs this year has been the best!  We've been really involved and participated in a new project almost every month!

Julia and I made an adventure out of a couple Monday's that we had meetings!  I drove her to practice, we ran, from practice to dinner at Buddy's, dessert at TCBY, then to the Sub Deb meetings!  It was crazy busy, but lots of fun!

Selfie Section

I dress up sometimes. And since mom never gets to see me in my school clothes, I'll send her a picture.  Sometimes I just really like my outfit, especially when it involves color coordination.
Yearbook staff members get nametags like the school staff.  I personalized mine a bit with my Peanuts lanyard and a label for me as business manager.  This is great prep for future jobs that I may have!  I get to use excel, word, and other online programs almost daily to keep track of yearbook and ad sales and keep in contact with those who bought books and ads.
Our shirts this year are pretty awesome, too.

 Family Festivities
We've been able to have some family fun a lot lately!  Debi and Chum have come to visit a few times, and traveling has given mom, dad, and I chances to adventure together. 

When Debi and Chum come, we usually go out to eat at one of three places:  ihop, Cracker Barrel, or El Sazon.  Other times, we have barbeque at our house or the park.  This year, we've done all the above! 
Chum created his own caption for the photo taken at Cracker Barrel (left).
One Sunday morning we met after church service for brunch at ihop.  I hadn't done this in a long time, so it was a delicious treat!  I decided to go all in, too:  harvest grain blueberry pancakes, blueberry compote, egg whites, turkey sausage, pumpkin spice coffee, and nutella!  This ended up being the fuel of one of my best long runs which I took that afternoon!
Around the off-season, we go out for dinner more often.  It's just a treat when we have a bit more free schedule after school and work.  Akita is one of those favorite places!   Unfortunately it's on the other side of town so it takes a while to get there, but it's so yummy!  The business is also great:  closed on Sundays so the employees are free to go to church or spend family time all day, guaranteed, gives them great flexibility and pay, as well as holiday gifts, parties, and fun activities all year!  All my friends who work there absolutely love it. 
Plates full of meat, veggies, and sauce/flavor are my forte.
Church is family, too, and some mornings we go to Dunkin Donuts for small group time of Sunday School!
Sophie is so cute, but sometimes she is vicious as she attacks the door when she's hungry and/or cold.
Dad loves biscuits and gravy, but mom never makes it.  Continental breakfast at hotels while we travel for cross country is his and mom's favorite because they get all their favorites that they never take the time to fix for themselves.  I'm usually not in the breakfast area at the same time as them on race days, so mom and I snapchat each other.
It's tough for us all to sit down for dinner together because of practice, work, and running errands, but we sit together at least for some amount of time each night!  I'm usually the last one ready to eat.  As you see, Mom had moved on to her new "toy," Dad was eating dessert, and I had just started dinner.
Surprises are the best.  Granannie has become accustomed to milkshakes any time of day now!  She absolutely loves them!  It may take a while for her to get it all drank, but she does it!  It's one of the simplest things for her to eat, which is also good and hearty since she has trouble eating now.  It's all about finishing out life happily ever after!
Sometimes Mom is cooperative and even funny!
We woke up to a horse in our yard one day.  Where it came from and how it got there, I may never know.  Eventually someone came to take it back home, though!

One of the best things about traveling is finding places to eat.  Mom and Dad like to go to familiar places, but I like to explore.  Every once in a while they'll venture out somewhere new, but we usually go to our favorites.  Wherever we go, there's something I'll like!  Up top is some blackened fish with spicy corn and mixed vegetables from Cracker Barrel.  Below is from Longhorn Steakhouse in Greenville, SC where we sat at the bar to watch football while we ate before checking in for my Furman visit.  They had a limited time mango salsa--my FAVORITE--which I double ordered on top of my steak.  Longhorn has amazing knives, fyi.  No trouble cutting your steak there.

Family #2
When we went to Waterville for the picnic this year, I wore the exact same outfit as a couple years before without even meaning to.
It's a pleasant surprise when someone sends you a screenshot of something they saw of you on the Internet.
Our cross country GroupMe is great for sharing important info, but we also goof off.  We understand each others struggles.
So many people have this pretty Garmin watch!  Running gear is always a great conversation starter.  "Hey, I like your watch!"


Rooming with Katlyn is always fun because you can be sure something tragic will happen.  Knight's Crossing was one of the best race weekends I had this year, all the way from the trip there til I got home!  I really enjoyed having Susan in our room, too.  She's such a sweet momma!  As I attempted to take a snapchat of Katlyn's snazzy socks, I got us the first time instead.
The hotel we stayed in for this race was also awesome; everyone got their own rubber duckie and was encouraged to post pictures with it and tag the hotel!
Yay friends!  I just happened to see Riley (left), my friend from Georgia that I met at Furman Camp last summer.  Surprise!  Libby and I (right) went 1-2 in this race!  After the race, Dad said, "I didn't know if you would be disappointed after getting 2nd to Libby Davidson," and I responded with, "Uh, yeah!  I am totally fine with getting second to Libby Davidson!"  She is a Footlocker All-American multiple years now.  I was excited to be racing with her and to get to talk to and cool down with her afterwards!
This is a really big race, so there are always professional photographers and video-takers there.  I usually don't buy stuff at race tents, but this one had some great stuff since it was such a big race!  I fell in love with this hat, and it made my day even better when mom and dad bought it for me.  Now all I need is summer time sunshine and heat. 
We rarely get a picture with all three of us in it because mom usually is taking the picture or doesn't want her picture taken, so I am thankful for this awesome family photo from one of our fun weekends!
Farmer was absolutely exhausted. He's usually going going going and so high strung, but he had worn himself out!  We had a break between any races that we had people running in, so he said, "I've never done this before, but I'm gonna take a nap!"  Lots of the kids had already crossed that bridge. 
Mom...she gets more tired than I do!  This is how she waited for our food to come when we went out to eat after the race. Imagine if she actually had to run or something. 

Another one of Miss Bailiff's start-line-selfies!
In honor of my last Panther creek race. It may be the toughest course you could possibly run, but I love it. There's just something about racing there that gets me going. Maybe I'm just so used to it; I'm free and feel like it's "my course."  Over the years I've raced there more than anywhere else, and I'm pretty sure that will stay that way!
8th grade and senior year. Wow that's a big difference!
I just love this picture. One of my favorites of the whole season!  Knight's Crossing had the best pictures this year!

Team Travels

One of the best things about cross country season and our team is all the traveling we get to do. We go to Kentucky, Alabama, NC and SC, Virginia, and of course across Tennessee. We sure do have our adventures. It's a blessing to get to do this; few high school teams in the country even get to leave their state, but we go to 5 others.  

Olive Garden is the usual dinner of choice. This was a fun "table squad" for sure!  Maggie has now heard of chicken meatballs. Megan thinks their spicy. Katlyn doesn't like the way it makes her tongue feel funny. Our waitress was a genuine sweetheart!  'Twas the adventures of this dinner.

Yes we are making angry faces. Farmer promised us Chick-fil-a for lunch on a longer trip, then took a route that he knew didn't have one, but had this "super amazing Mexican restaurant, way better than el Sazon, we'll love it, it's never failed him..." yada yada, which is where we ended up. Not a single person there spoke English. It was super slow and got almost everyone's orders wrong in one at or another. Mine didn't even come out until it was almost time to leave. There were items on the menu that they didn't even know what it was. You could point and say the word, and they responded with, "um, I don't know" and a shrug. Again, adventures with Farmer.
Sometimes we mix things up for dinner, and it is great!  Favorite: Longhorn Steakhouse!  Azalia was cracking me up with her potatoes. Double-dipper!  French fries dipped in mashed potatoes was an accident the first time she tried it, but this was on purpose, inspired by her previous blonde moment. 

 Since the ride to Alabama is so long, we take one longer break at a rest stop museum so we can walk around a little. This place was so cool!  They had all kinds of interesting things to look at. I almost even bought some. Original stuff is the best. 
The best lunch stop this season was Cracker Barrel!   I went for brunch on this one. Debating between two limited items, one dinner and one breakfast, I chose the breakfast and admired Maggie's choice for the dinner. Getting to share meals with these girls are when we make some of the best memories!  We end up laughing so much. 
We hate the Olive Garden that we always go to before Jesse Owens!  It's awful!  You would think that the simple solution to that would be to eat somewhere else, but Farmer never seems to understand that. 
You could literally make music on the plates with the breadsticks at first. Needless to say the bread-lovers asked for fresh ones.
Things got a little out of hand. Don't ask me what they were doing. I was sitting there, yes, but I have no idea.
Trying to make the most of a not-the-most meal. Another thing about team travels is that it makes you practice patience. 
Same, Zails...same. Sometimes we all embarrass each other though. That's what family does.
Breakfast meals are fun, too, but not the same at all. Race day is intense. It's not a goofy, relaxed meal, but we all have the pain of the race ahead in the back of our minds. It's exciting, but just brings a different aura to the table. Pun intended. 
Above is my favorite pre-race breakfast: oatmeal, cereal, fruit, and coffee from the Hampton with some pumpkin and blueberries I bring along with me. 
This one had a very attractive breakfast area, too!  Complete with

 The tradition before region every year is a picnic brunch at Fred Miller park down the road from the school.  We race in the early afternoon, so we get out of school after 1st period and go have a fun, relaxing picnic!  Then Farmer drives the long way to Daniel Boone just to kill some more time.  It's always a really fun day, even though we're all intense about the race.  Region is lots of fun because we get to miss school and race during the day. 

There was a rare Friday night that we didn't spend the night before our race because it was just in Bristol, so we decided to have a pasta party and Bible Study at Emily's house.  This was also a crazy coincidence:  Jessica had messaged us "eat pasta, run fasta," then my friend from Georgia snapchatted me the exact same thing!
I got a surprise from my secret sister when I got to Emily's!
This was one of the best times!  Emily's mom is an AMAZING cook!  I would have her cook my meals any day!  She made a huge lasagna and some noodles and sauce.  We also had salad and side veggies, and ice cream!  While we ate we watched some of the girls' obsession:  Survivor.  I'd never seen it before, but it was interesting! 
The Bible study was amazing, too.  We didn't have anything really planned, but God just kept pulling stuff out, and we went until after 10:00!
Yay for friends!  Again, running opens doors to so many new people.  I had already made friends with Niamh, who is the only girl on her team (a private school in Knoxville), but I got to introduce her to some of my teammates and coach Farmer!
This little dude is going to be a blazer, too!  I met him a few years ago when he just started running in a youth summer program, and now I get to see him kill it in middle school!  Next year he'll actually be running in high school!  Time flies!  It's awesome to get to meet and be involved with people then watch them grow.  Both of these runners will be sure to do big things; watch out!
 I love to share the things I do!  People give me little things that they know I like, like this notepad, so I use it when it fits food gifts since it says "sweet treats made with love."  I do make my treats with love...both for the food and the recipient!  Comics are also one of my favorites, and I cut them out and save them up.  This one came in handy for Azalia's birthday!

A new thing I've participated in a few times is  They host all kinds of campaigns for awareness and contests for any issue or...basically anything you could think of!  This one was something that the Lords and I had done actually last year, but I applied it to a project of leaving encouraging notes.
 This one was called #SuperStressFace to help kids cope with stress from school.  I, personally, have had more than my share of school stress, and I do not want other kids to do the same thing to themselves!  It's awful!  I got Abby and Emily to make some stressed out faces with me and posted it with the verse:  "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."  1 Peter 5:7

We had this one race at Panther Creek that no one was happy about.  Our own team made up over half the field.  It was originally supposed to be at a totally different location for a totally different course that Farmer again told us would be something great.  Was not.  That path ended up getting mowed over where we couldn't even tell the difference between the path and the field, so we couldn't use it for a race.  We didn't want to race there anyways because it was hard to breathe the dust, holes and uneven surface everywhere, no bathrooms, no parking, no shade, all random turns and hills...need I say more?  However the replacement was awful, too.  All the other teams dropped out because they heard we were moving it back to Panther Creek, and they didn't want to race there again, so Farmer created a new course, and it was even harder than the first.  I ran the slowest 5k in years for me.  It was also over 90 degrees and super humid.  We all basically died.  The bib numbers were totally plain, so we made a joke later and decorated them.
Jesse Owens is always a good time!  It's tree-to-tree (rather than wall-to-wall) people, a new race starting every 20 minutes all day long!  It's a huge event!  There's music and tons of concessions and shirts, and the whole atmosphere is exciting.  Big races like this just get you pumped to run fast!
"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, that only I may finish the race and complete the task that the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace."  Acts 20:24
I have received so much grace, and that's what I'm here to tell about!
First year that we didn't win it, but second place isn't too bad considering this is one of the biggest races we could go to.
"We all need somebody to lean on!"
As is the usual travel treat, something cold and sweet, namely yogurt or ice cream.  

I have loved being able to spend more time this year with my small group and doing Bible study with them and on my own!  I know the business of life and school shouldn't keep me from spending time in the Word, but sometimes I get caught up in everything I have to do and push it aside or scrunch it to a too-short time.  This year, however, I have hardly had any homework or studying to take up my free time in class or my evenings, so I got to go and relax and spend time with some awesome people!
This fall we started Lady in Waiting, which I actually read a few years ago, but still enjoyed it even more now!  I'm not "boy crazy" like I used to be because I've realized that there are more important things, but it hit me in a different way, about how to live my whole life! 
Each chapter is a different quality of what a woman of the Lord should have, full of real life examples, verses, questions, and more.  Chapters/qualities:  Reckless Abandonment, Diligence (one of my favorite chapters), faith, virtue, devotion, purity, security, contentment, conviction, patience.
Instagram is my favorite.  I always happen upon pictures that are totally relevant to me and others I know!  The new feature where you can directly send them to others has been great for me so I can just share a good one as soon as I see it! 
 How I used to be...anxieties on anxieties...not anymore!
 Some of my favorite foods.
 I never got to try these seasonal flavors, but maybe one day!  Orange leaf had pumpkin spice latte and salted caramel latte.  They would probably be my favorites from there.
 Happiness, health, running, and a pug all in one!
If I were a snowboarder, you know I would have one of these Burton snoopy boards. 
My kinda party. 
 Instagram is full of spiritual encouragement, too!  There are so many encouraging, artsy, and positive pages that you can have lighting up your news feed.
 Amen Snoopy!
These shoes made me so happy, you just don't understand.  My dad picked them out all by himself, too.  He has some of the best fashion sense for a man that I have ever seen!  Once they came and I started running in them, they were also the most comfortable shoes that I've had, too, so we ordered another pair! 

Round one of pajama day I wore my pug pants and socks!
Not a fortune cookie, but Bart & Judy's cookies that also come with a quote in each bag! 

Beautiful morning heading into Panther Creek for a run!
The best picture mom got from conference!   I love the course at Johnson Bible College.  I had a lot of fun and felt great that race, too.

How awesome was it to have several Bible verses in various places around the course, too!  I made sure that I got a picture with one of my favorites.  It was also great to get to see one of my friends that lives nearby who came to watch! 
Here she is again!  One Sunday afternoon Niamh came down to the park to run with me!  She is going to be a great runner, I tell you.  One of my favorite things is getting to spend time running, talking, and having fun with other runners.  We're like such a family and get great encouragement from each others' experiences.

Some more great and talented running friends from East Tennessee!  Halle Hausman from Science Hill and sisters Breanna and Taylor Roy from David Crockett.  They're just getting started, but blazing!  It's real talent when you can run that well, that young, with basically no teammates or coaching (the sisters).
Sydney is such a sweetheart!  She's also a good cupcake baker!  I love Chantal and Cherie's with a special love, but Sydney's are great, too!  Especially considering this one is smores!  Speaking of Chantal and Cherie, to the right is a snapchat they sent me of some Peanuts cookie cutters they got!
One of my all-time favorite races:  Region.  It's one of the most challenging courses we ever run, but I love it.  The location is a lot of fun and a beautiful place to be.  I'll always have so many memories here, just like Panther Creek!
Stink bugs try to take over any inside place they can get:  homes, vehicles, garages, school.  We find them everywhere.  One day I looked down, and I had a new friend. 

State is in the great city of Nashville, which always leads to shopping adventures afterwards, especially in prime Christmas shopping season.  Mom booked their hotel room another night and we hit a bunch of places to get started!
I am always sad that I don't get to have hotel breakfast on race mornings, so when we get to stay on other days, I get excited and have to have some fruit loops like a little child.
Dad had also been wanting Backyard Burgers since we don't have one in Knoxville anymore, so that's where we had lunch.  Places that have unique options always make me happy, so I was pleasantly surprised to see thier menu!  Pineapple on burgers is fantastic (first tried at Red Robin), and flat breads fit in my mouth easier.
Mom and I found this cute little shop that was similar to Hallmark while Dad looked in REI.  If that Life is Good shirt wasn't in the kiddie sizes, it would've been perfect for me.
This ketchup label made me laugh.
"Don't squeeze me.  Our fries are so good you really don't need to add any tomato ketchup.  But hey!  It's a free country."

 It was well past time to update my profile and wallpaper pictures!
The banquet was bittersweet this year.  We always have so much fun at this get-together after the season is over!  I was glad to be able to spend one last banquet with my family.  I'll miss them so much.  they've been one of the main things that has made me into the person that I am.  We have shared the most fun and love of probably any team out there, while being really successful, too.  However, I am really excited to be moving on to the college version!
  Of course, "if we're meeting, we're eating," but we were a little afraid that there wasn't enough food this year!  Luckily, all the runners made it through.  Thank you parents who sacrificed the goods and just scraped up what was left.  We really went to town on the various salads, pastas, and sauces.  And thanks for making the amazing desserts, noteably the pumpkin pudding and chocolate whipped pie.  As cliche would have me say, "You the real MVP."
Caption of table picture:  "The last supper."
Little box:  the watch that is a traditional gift from Farmer to his seniors.  Not a running watch, but a dress watch to symbolize other things we will take on in life.
Maggie's snapchat of a picture of her, Elizabeth, and me.  I never knew this picture was taken, but it's so cute!  Candids are the best anyways.
Dad got volunteered as booster club vice president my freshman year, which put him as president the next year, and he said he would never do it again.  Well, he did.  Said the same thing the next year.  Did it again.  It was tough on him at times, but he's a trooper, organizer, and great example of always "doing work" and trying to do it right.  Thanks for helping our team be a success Daddyo.
Another special thing we love about the banquet is the video recap of the season.  This is another tough parent job!  Thank parents for taking and sharing your pictures, and thanks Edith for your pictures, videos, and time putting it together!

Yeah, I've been getting fired up lately.  It's not always the best times that get you going, although it does give you incentive to praise, but God challenges us most in our trials.  I just love that feeling inside where God shows me so much and I get so excited and I just don't know what to do because I want to share it all but it's just bubbling over!

Alright.  Here's the final section.  Some edible concoctions I had over those few months.
Runner's World's Personal Best section one month had a page on sprouting.  What?  Sprouting!  Growing little plants from seeds, oats, legumes, etc.  Basically, I ate a chia pet.  I would've done beans, too, but we don't have any dry ones.  All you have to do is soak your seeds until they grow, then you eat them.  Sprouting makes them easier to digest and boost thier protein, fiber, and vitamins.

I eat them in some form or fashion most days of the week.  They are something that you can use any meal or snack, sweet or savory, hot or cold, soft or crunchy. 
Left:  That Bricks Bar was like Thanksgiving in a bar!  It was sweet potato, cranberry, pumpkin seed, and turkey.  Interesting, yes.  It was a great snack as well as addition to my tater at dinner.
Right:  Sweet potato cranberry cookies, new cereal, and sweet potato oatmeal raisin cookies!
Just in case you didn't know what the inside of a papaya looked like.
Target for the win again!  18 rabbits is an awesome and cute brand that I found there.  Delicious nutritious stuff and helpful to the bunnies.  These are the two flavors I've tried.
Shopping in Nashville and Charlotte also revealed to me the wonders of Godiva truffles.  Sadly, the best ones are "boutique only," but that makes the trips to the store even better!  Did you know that they even have soft serve in their stores, too?  Gotta try that one day!
This is a simple dessert, but it is so good!  And packs a punch.  Lenny & Larry's cookies are great for those who, like me, have a sweet tooth and need for hearty fuel.
Hey, another Lenny & Larry's!  We don't have the pumpmkin spice flavor here in Morristown, but I picked this one up in Nashville.  It was awesome.  Oikos's limited edition for this season was pumpkin pie, another winner!  Combining the cookie, yogurt, pumpkin, vanilla maple ice cream, cool whip, cinnamon, and honey made for one of the best desserts of the pumpkin season!  (But for me, pumpkin season lasts all year.)
Want to try a new burger topping?  I suggest beets.  And pineapple like the burger from above.
This is a daily activity. I don't know what I did before I got my ninja. Now I can get my milk, protein, yogurt, and countless other additions all in one smooth blend!
 Yay beans!  Savory, hot meat and veggie dinners are my favorite.  Basically any meat, and veggie, and any bean.

Mmmmm...the flavors of fall...
Raspberries have become just about my favorite fruit.  Expensive in comparison, but worth it.  Same thing mom says with pineapple.  I agree.
These dark chocolate with a crunch truffles were found on my trip to Whole Foods!
The Feed hooked me up all the time this cross country season; I just kept finding new great snacks to try and special offers to add in even more.  Waffles and wafels are probably my favorite new discovery.  They are delicious and come in all sorts of flavors.  I have tried Rip van Wafels, UnTapped Maple, and Eat Dutch Waffles.
I also tried Picky Bars, a brand started up by professional runner Lauren Fleshman.  I ate this smooth caffinator (which does contain caffine) and drank some Skratch Labs caffinated hydration mix before running one of my best panther creek races ever!  That's when I decided caffine and chocolate do me well pre-workout.
My running/community friend Vanessa always sends me little bits of encouragement and things that she thinks I may find cute or interesting, and one of those is!  It's crazy!  Literally any flavor and (up to 3) combination of any kind of oatmeal, cream of wheat, other hot cereals, and peanut butter powder with all kinds of add ins you could imagine! 
One of the best flavor combinations known to man, can I get an amen?
These delicious cups were actually made with sunflower butter, but basically the same thing.  I actually think it tastes a bit better.  (Maybe just because it's something different, but I definitely want some more!)  Nutritionally like a PB cup, too.
Similar combo, with added banana!  PB banana is another one of those universally-loved flavors.

Well, that was a lot, but life is a lot--a lot to love!   And it's only getting better from here.