Not hyperbole, and given some of the truly uncalled-for things that have happened to me over 39 years, that’s saying quite a lot.

(I originally had a list of the top 5 until-this-point occurrences, but damn, that made for some depressing reading. Let’s say that the look of pity in the funeral home employee’s eyes as he clarified, “This check pays off the balance of your father’s funeral, and this one is a deposit on your mother’s?” was only at number 5, and leave it at that.)


I read a lot of personal development books, or self help books, whatever you want to call them. And nearly all of them, while the author recounts their own experience, references a moment on which their whole outlook, their whole life, hinges. A moment that separates your life into before and after.

Rock bottom. Now I can say I’ve been there, done that.

For me that moment came in early September. First I noticed that my oldest son, Jake, was 15 minutes past curfew on a Friday night. Then I was livid at 30 minutes past curfew. I went to get my phone, sitting on the charger in my bedroom.

Several numbers had called earlier in the evening. None that I recognized. None that had left a message. It left me on edge, but I reasoned that if anything was amiss they’d have called back or left messages. If anything, it was probably Jake calling on a friend’s phone, preemptively offering up an excuse for his breaking curfew, reminding me that he needed a new phone as his battery didn’t last very long anymore.

At an hour past curfew I started to panic. I started texting his friends. They didn’t know where he was; they’d been trying to get hold of him themselves. They checked in with other friends, friends I didn’t know.

90 minutes past curfew and I had officially lost my mind with worry.

At 12:45, nearly a full two hours past curfew, I answered a phone call letting me know Jake had been taken to the ER and was put me on hold so that the hospital could officially take my permission for treatment.

Those minutes— it was probably only two or three, but it felt like a lifetime, as I ran to wake my husband up, the fear in my voice jolting him awake and scaring myself even more. Those minutes were the hinge my life swung upon.

Jake prom

Jake is OK. He was in a head on collision going 40mph; his organic chemistry textbook clocked him on the back of the head as the airbag opened. Aside from some bruising, some staples to the back of his head, a car that didn’t make it and a total blank where memories of the accident should be, he is fine.

As we arrived at the hospital, though, we didn’t know that. We didn’t know anything. They had wheeled him away for a CAT scan and again, we waited for what seemed like forever. Plenty of time for worst case scenarios. Lots of time to worry about the state of the other driver, to think about their spouse or child or mother waiting, willing their phone to ring. Too much time to think about our bank account, already shot to hell from months of unemployment and the cost of buying the car in the first place.

I’d already been fighting the slow slide into depression, and the week before this happened was particularly bad. I’d felt like I was waiting for something terrible to happen. I felt like I had somehow willed this into happening.

I cannot explain in words what it felt like to see my baby boy wheeled in, his head wrapped in gauze, a cone around his neck, his ridiculous ripped up sneakers he insists on wearing sticking out from underneath a sheet.

Jeff kept trying to talk to me, and all I could do was stare at him. I don’t deal well with the sounds of the ER anymore, and he was asking me to stop putting my head between my knees, where I could block out the sound; to stop rocking, to stop pacing. I didn’t know how to tell him if I stopped moving I’d start shaking. I didn’t know how to let him know that if I spoke, I’d start crying, and if I started crying, I might start screaming.

I knew how this works, when the panic fully takes hold. I’ve been there before.

But then we got to take my boy, my baby boy, home, at 5am. I wanted him to sleep on the couch on the living room, where I could keep an eye on him. I didn’t want him out of my sight ever again. I couldn’t sleep. I mentally checked out for days, broken by the idea that we could have lost him, and thanked the gods for my husband who took care of our other kids, of all the calls and questions I couldn’t deal with.

And all I can do now is be grateful. Grateful that there hadn’t been another car on the crossroads, that the airbag on a 98 Civic had been in good condition, that the other driver was unhurt, grateful that my son will be home again in a few hours, embarrassed by having to take the bus but oh well.

And my heart goes out to all the parents that don’t receive such an outcome in just a few hours. That have to spend days, weeks, months listening to the beeps of a hospital room, that await diagnoses, that live with uncertainty and anxiety, that struggle to keep their child’s (and their own) spirits optimistic.


This is the part where I ask you a favor

My CrossFit box has been my anchor the last few years whenever the overwhelming sadness and anxiety closes in. Not only as a place where I get those endorphins pumping, but as a place that I feel secure and welcome in, and that has introduced me to many new friends. They are good people.


CrossFit Riverfront is hosting a fundraiser this Saturday to benefit A.I. DuPont Children’s Hospital, in the name of the Esmond family. If you’re local, you’ve heard this story: while on vacation in the Virgin Islands, the Esmonds were exposed to a neurotoxin via pesticide spray. Mr. Esmond was an official at Tatnall, the Esmond boys promising lacrosse players.  They were— are— members of our CrossFit family, but Mr. Esmond and the boys are no longer capable of even simple physical functions. Mrs. Esmond received the least exposure and has recovered most fully, and of course spends her days and nights with her boys at A.I.

I’ve spent my fair share of time at A.I. DuPont; again, with Jake, when he was younger. He’s had his time in intensive care, as an inpatient, as an outpatient. He’s had tests and appointments with specialists.

My father-in-law works there, helping to give voices to the deaf. (That’s a huge understatement.)

The staff there is wonderful. So much thought has gone into making the experience bearable, comfortable, less frightening. Every attempt is made to make sure the parents understand what is happening, what their options are. Children are spoken to, not around. We are hugely fortunate to have it nearby.


Oh. Right. That favor

I’d love for you to donate to our #EsmondStrong fundraiser and support A.I. DuPont Hospital, which does so much to support children and their families, and research like my FIL does. If you’ve ever experienced the heartache of seeing your child in a hospital bed, I’d really appreciate if you’d also share the link to the fundraiser with others.

In the name of the Esmonds, with me and Jake in mind.

For the kids, and for the parents sitting by their bedside, ready to hear some good news.

And please, love on your loved ones today and every day; hug them tight. You never know when your life will turn on a hinge.

me and jake


You can donate directly on the fundraiser page (every dollar counts! No donation too small), or you can come check out the event on Saturday from 10-2 at the box. WODs will begin in multiple heats soon after the 10:00 mark so that everyone can get a workout in. Raffle tickets will be sold for $5 a pop for awesome prize baskets sponsored by Hylete, Reebok, Caveman Coffee and lots more; Kettlebell Kitchen will be there cooking up food for everyone.

It’s a opportunity to see what CrossFit is all about: community, and accomplishing so much more than you ever expected.


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**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on those links.**

They’re here! They’re here! The Nano 5.0s drop today!

This new shoe enhances Reebok’s already successful Nano line, which I will tell anyone who asks is the best choice for CrossFit. I just wish they came in a wide size so Maverick could wear them too.

I’ve been in a very serious longterm relationship with my Nano 4.0s, which were a huge improvement on the 3.0s, so I’m excited to see how the next generation performs.


The Nano 5.0 features:

Enhanced Durability
Built with a Kevlar® DuraCage upper for lightweight strength so you can take on the toughest of workouts again and again.

Improved Fit &Natural Flexibility
Natural Last construction with an all-new molded heel and a fully contoured sockliner allows for an improved anatomical fit that keeps feet locked-in.

RopePro® +
Equipped with stronger composite materials, the re-engineered RopePro® Wrap provides bite and support against shoe shredding rope climbs.

And you can custom design your own, too.

Reebok 5.0


Have you tried on the Nano 5.0 yet? What’s the fit like?


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I am very very picky about my CrossFit gear. I actually own a TON of fitness clothing and shoes at this point, but I recycle the same dozen outfits over and over and over again. Let me save you some time and money by telling you my favorites that I’m seeing on sale this Black Friday.

(Note: some of these are affiliate links, meaning I will make a % of purchases if you click through. Not comfortable with that? It’s cool. Just open a new window to shop.)




40% off site-wide at with code HOLIDAY


40% off the online Reebok Outlet with code HOLIDAY


Free shipping and returns for risk-free shopping.


Reebok makes up more than half of my CrossFit wardrobe; it’s also my clothing of choice for most obstacle races. It’s comfortable, super sweat wicking and the board shorts are the best for repelling mud/water (I’ve also worn them canoeing and in a pinch, as a bathing suit bottom).


I love my Nano 4.0s with a white hot passion. They’re specially made for CrossFit and I swear they make burpees easier. They have a nice wide toebox and work great for running shorter distances; I wore them for my Spartan Sprint with no problems.

Before I had the 4s I had the Nano Speed, which I loved for its dual WOD/running ability too. They don’t make the Speeds anymore but you can get the Reebok CrossFit Sprint TR for $49.99 with code BLACKFRIDAY. It looks to be very similar.

If you’re more into the idea of lifting shoes for lifting, running shoes for running, you’ll want to investigate the Reebok CrossFit Lifter and Lifter 2.0 for $89.99 with code BLACKFRIDAY. (FWIW, my preferred dedicated running shoes are Mizuno.)


Other special deals you can pick up with the BLACKFRIDAY code:


Reebok Skyscape for $29.99: these shoes use the same tech as the soft padding on bras. They are soooooo comfy and are very low-profile, I replaced my Converse with black Syscapes for wearing as everyday kicks. Seriously, at this price you won’t regret getting a pair in black and another in a fun color or print.


Reebok Women’s Electrify for $39.99: running shoes inspired by Z tire technology; they’re like sports cars for your feet. Again, comfy; more geared toward running, although I wouldn’t go with them for putting in serious mileage.


The kids wear tons of Reebok too


Deals with code SAVEBIG:

And if you’ve got a hard-to-shop-for person on your list… I always suggest custom shoes.




Hylete (hybrid athlete) is the 1st runner up for my fave CrossFit gear. It’s comfortable, it’s flattering, it breathes well. The items I have (V neck tees, capris, shorts and sweatshirt, all in grey or black) aren’t flashy, but I keep them in very heavy rotation. Which means that they’re washed and worn constantly, and after a year are still in great shape.

At this point, I’m excited about clearing my phone of pics, so you get all the Hylete photos whether they’re flattering or not.


Left: Hylete tee & socks; middle are tees; right is capris

Hylete is doing all sorts of deals in its gift guide and UPS ground shipping is free until December 1st.


Lorna Jane

Lorna Jane is for when I need to be out & about before or after the gym and want to look nice. Or, when I am really racing the clock and reach for an all-in-one tank + bra.

I also love their standalone sports bras. They are pretty much my go-to when I’m not at the box. I talk more about my love of LJ in this post.

LJCollage Lorna Jane blue top and compression tights; hooded black tank on right.

Lorna Jane is doing 30% off when you buy 3 or more items with code BLACKFRIDAY30 or 20% off when you buy 2 items with code BLACKFRIDAY20. It looks like you also get free shipping when you spend over $80.

Have fun shopping 🙂

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I signed up for a 30 day paleo challenge at our CrossFit box. My normal diet is, overall, pretty good, but I figured I could stand to be disciplined for a month and see how it changed my energy levels and strength/endurance during workouts.

It was also a nudge to limit drinking to the weekends, and even then I’m sticking with wine.


Food rules for our paleo challenge:

YES: all lean meat, fish, seafood & eggs; all non-starchy seasonal vegetables; seasonal fruit

In moderation: healthy fats, nuts and seeds

NO: grains or cereals at all; legumes; dairy; processed foods; sugars or artificial sweeteners

Alcohol is allowed but at a minimum amount.



  • Clean week: 5 points per week. One unauthorized cheat meal: 3 points. More than one unauthorized cheat meal: 0 points for the week.
  • We completed a test WOD which we will do again at the end; ostensibly to illustrate a proper diet improves overall performance. If we do better the second time around, 5 points. I’m actually a little concerned because I don’t think I could have done this any faster than I did (5:29).


  • Bringing a friend to “Bring a Friend Fridays” earns 3 more points (wanna go?)
  • If we post a pic on social media in Riverfront gear and hashtag #TheRiv #CfRiverfront we earn 3 easy points.

CrossFit Riverfront Paleo Challenge

I pretty much live in Riv gear.

  • Participating in Crossfit Riverfront get togethers or events earns 5 points and a coach-approved cheat meal.

At the end of the day, the scoring isn’t such a big deal; I have no idea where we stand compared to other teams. But you betcha I’ve been going and doing the challenge WODs to earn my cheat meals. They’ve been doozies, too. (The workouts, not the meals.)

CrossFit Riverfront Paleo Challenge

One guy did the humans vs. zombies Halloween WOD in acid washed tight ass jeans. Respect. I haz it.

So far, I really miss cheese. Like, a lot. But I’m vaguely lactose intolerant, and frankly, I can feel the difference, not eating the cheese. I don’t get that icky-full feeling after meals. Depending on who you read, some iterations of the paleo diet allow some dairy, and I’ll probably add it back in after the challenge is over, but not at the quantities I used to eat it.

The first day of the paleo challenge was hard, simply because I didn’t prepare. Egg breakfast, OK, but no cheese on top? I had to make some ketchup from scratch because I can’t just eat eggs plain. And then, I had like no time for lunch but nothing quick to grab. I spent the night boiling eggs and chopping veggies and the rest of the week went much more easily.

The family is eating normally for the most part; what we’ve primarily done is simplified our meals, forego the very cheesy dishes and quick processed foods (we never ate a lot of those anyway), and some easy substitutions (coconut oil for butter or olive oil when sautéeing, coconut flour for regular flour, etc). Sauces and cheese is available for them on the side. I eat eggs and fruit for breakfast and leftovers or salad for lunch, for snacks I have hard boiled eggs, raw vegetables, honeycrisp apples or bananas.

CrossFit Riverfront Paleo Challenge

Sample lunch. Salad, honeycrisp sliced thin, egg salad made with avocado rather than mayo.


One of our skill sessions this week was a 2K row. I took it nice and easy and didn’t have to stop at all— that’s unheard of for me— finishing in 9:06. In June, I was pretty proud of my 9:49.

CrossFit Riverfront Paleo Challenge

Maverick and I came in first by a solid 30 seconds for this week’s paleo challenge (partner) WOD, at least for our timeslot (those 5:15 am people are a different breed and their scores were like a full minute faster). Given that I spent the early part of the week sidelined by a stomach bug, I’m feeling pretty smug about it.

The warmup was 50 burpees for time; I did it in 3:42 but can’t find my time from the last time I did it. I’m pretty sure it was a little over 4 minutes; the time before that was just under 5 minutes, pretty soon after we had started taking classes. I only mention it so I know for next time 😛

The workout was 50 kettlebell swings (we used 25s), 50 goblet squats (dropped to 20 and even so am feeling those today), 50 box jumps (I have to do mostly stepups because of my knees), 50 situps and 50 one-arm thrusters (we held on to the 25s for these).

The “partner” element was just that I had to wait for Mav to finish his 50 of any move before we could move on to the next one. He was only a few seconds behind each time, and I gave him some grief about a water break (“c’mon! You can’t drink water and jump on the box at the same time?!”) but I was pretty damn proud of the kid.

CrossFit Riverfront Paleo Challenge

How’s that for an awkward photo?
I was trying to save Heather from having to touch my sweaty back.


Anyway, I’m curious to see how I’ll feel when I add dairy and grains back in at the end of 30 days; maybe I’ll decide it’s in my best interests to limit them.

But not pumpkin pie. I plan to eat my weight in pumpkin pie in two weeks’ time.

Paleo challenge eats so far:

  • Paleo pumpkin bread
  • Pot roast and baked potatoes (sweet potatoes for me). Simplest meal ever, lots of leftovers.
  • Steak kabobs with peppers, onion and grape tomatoes.
  • Roasted chicken: basted in coconut oil, rosemary, garlic and lime juice.
  • Fire roasted bacon meatloaf with roasted asparagus
  • Pan fried steaks. They had rice, I had leftover sweet potato.
  • Pork tenderloin with sautéed spinach
  • Slow cooker BBQ chicken breasts and thighs (we made this BBQ sauce; it tasted like a great pulled pork sauce. It needed something to make it more BBQ. Like something to make it smoky?) with roasted garlic broccoli. I ate a whole tray of broccoli and I felt no shame.
  • Stuffed peppers. We doubled the recipe, using both ground bison and venison sausage. It was pretty fantastic.
  • Breakfast for dinner. Eggs, bacon, whatever fruit and veg we had sitting around. We did this once each week.
  • and a couple of nights of “there’s a fridge full of leftovers, go eat something.”
  • I made ketchup, mustard and Worchestershire from this post’s paleo condiment recipes.
  • Most of those nights had some sort of salad involved.

My earned Halloween cheat was broccoli bites; this week we went to IHOP for Jake’s birthday and I had some crepes and a cheesesteak. And then I slept for 13 hours. That’s not related but it’s such a rarity I just want it on record.

I feel good. I’m sleeping better. I’ve had to miss a fair number of workouts since we started thanks to my work schedule, illness and having to shuttle Jake around to doctor’s appointments for his dislocated shoulder, but I feel like I’ve given my full effort each time— no having to take breaks because I was too tired, too fast. I think ahead about snacks and have healthy ones, rather than grabbing something to eat in the car on the way to class. And I’m definitely eating more than I used to, which is a good thing. I’m very guilty of being a meal skipper and then eating anything in my way.

So, two weeks in, paleo challenge verdict: not too hard, feeling good. Down 11 pounds, but take that with a grain of salt since I was sick for a couple of days.

Let’s see how I feel at the end of the month 🙂


Ever done a paleo/ Whole 30 challenge?


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As part of my decision to LEAP this year, I’ve been trying new things. Things that scare me.

It started with overcoming a fear of the water and learning to swim. And then almost immediately deciding on doing a sprint triathlon in 2014, to make sure I don’t stop or give up— giving myself the out of “good enough.”

The next seemingly obvious step was to commit to the idea of a half marathon. Unfortunately, the one I wanted to run (Delaware Half) sold out before I had my $ together, so that’s on hold for the fall.

Then I roped Kelly into signing up for kickboxing classes with me. Those were tough for the first couple of classes, but by the end we had figured out the choreography and were actually looking forward to it.

Our next fitness adventure was 10 RivFit classes at CrossFit Riverfront, bought through Groupon. These are described as “perfect for the non-athlete or beginner athlete looking shed weight and body fat,” and although I was nervous about going, I figured I was beyond beginner athlete. I run. I swim. I hit the gym. I do pushups and pullups at home. I’d been kicking box.

Holy hell.

I want to get my thoughts on these first classes down before I get in too deep, so we can all see the progress. Or lack thereof. 🙂

SO, to start, I was late to the first class. I checked in and was pointed to where the RivFit class happens. The area was empty— everyone had already just started on the first bit of the warmup, which was a 200 meter run. I put my water bottle down and tried to follow what everyone else was doing.


CrossFit Riverfront


First class.

Warmup. 3 rounds:

200meter run
10 pushups
10 air squats
10 situps

Not too bad. Not sure how many pushups I’d be doing within the hour, I wussed and did girly pushups.

Guess what? No girly pushups in RivFit. F*ck.

The workout, as best as I can remember with Kelly’s help, was:

400 meter run
30 pushups
40 turkish twists
50 squats w/ medicine ball
60 burpees
50 lunges w/ medicine ball
40 kettle bell swings
30 situps
200 meter run
30min limit.

When it was revealed Kelly looked over at me and said, “What did you get us into?” and all I could do was shake my head. As I was still winded from the warmup.

I pretty much felt like dying, but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t going to keep up with the 20-somethings in the class (I came in 6th or 7th, I think). Afterwards I sat outside with Kelly, in theory to wait out rush hour traffic, but actually having a sort of out-of-body experience where I talked her ear off about who knows what. I don’t remember anything about that conversation.

I also had a ridic allergy attack from sucking wind, I guess, and was sneezing every 15 seconds or so. It was a fun ride home.

The next day I was walking all bowlegged. I was fine if sitting or standing, but getting up was an ordeal. At one point Cass knocked something off the bathroom counter, and I told her in all seriousness that there was no possible way I was getting down there to pick it up.

Ohmigod I did not want to go to my second class. I didn’t dread giving birth to Cass anywhere near as much (and that’s after two natural births, the first involving tearing and the second involving a 9.5lb baby with notably broad shoulders. TMI? Perhaps, but now you have perspective.)

Luckily I had Kelly meeting me and the implied guilt if failing to do so; I really don’t know if I would have gone without her.


Second class.

Warmup involved some running, squats and kettlebell swings, I don’t recall exactly. Thankfully no running in the workout as it was hot as hades.

Workout, give or take (I really suck at remembering these, I blame short term memory loss due to oxygen deprivation):

10 jumping jacks
20 mountain climbers
30 burpees
40 box jumps
50 air squats
40 pushups
30 kettlebell swings
20 tricep dips
10 lunges
200x single unders (or 100 double unders)
Time limit 25minutes.

The sad thing is, I looked at that board and thought, that’s doable. Only 30 burpees. 40 pushups = 2 sets of 20, I can do that.

I hadn’t really considered how much it sucks to do pushups after burpees. I got into a groove jumping the rope along to the beat of the Katy Perry song playing, even managing the occasional double under, but once the song was over I lost focus and coordination and could only do maybe 5 jumps at a time for the 35 or so I had left.

Also? The counting is in some ways the hardest part, when all you want to do is stop.

This one took me 18:45 and knocked me flat on my back for a couple of minutes once I was done.




Third class.

Warm up was as a seemingly random series of moves: front and back lunges, crab walk, squat walk, sit ups, and so forth, not horribly taxing.


25 burpees
10 wall balls
10 kettle bell swings

You had 4 minutes to do the burpees and as many sets of the wall balls and kettlebell swings as possible; each completed set counted as 1 point. 1 min rest in between and then you started again with the burpees. 5 rounds.

I basically looked at that and said shiiiiiiittttt. That’s 125 burpees before you even get into scoring.

My score was pretty pathetic (4 + 4, or four completed rounds and 4 half completed) but I did every one of those 125 burpees, dammit. There is no way on god’s green earth that would have been possible two weeks ago.

Not only that, but I didn’t feel too bad the next day, either. Which, as I told Kelly, made me feel like I should have pushed harder. Which in turn made me want to punch myself in the face.


So, verdict so far as a relative newbie:

People will tell you that you don’t have to have a solid athletic base to do CrossFit, as it is scalable to your fitness level. Either these people are liars, or it will vary from box to box. Keep in mind that I am reasonably fit and this isn’t even proper CrossFit, but more a bootcamp-type class. See if you can sneak in for a preview.

There is a definite sense of camaraderie among the class attendees. We’re all in this hell together.

I really like our teacher, Szabi, who is a peculiar blend of inappropriate humor, soft-spokenness, and ass kicking.

I have pushed harder than I ever have, in these classes. Partially because I am competitive, partially because it’s only 30 minutes or less and I’m acutely aware of that. Would I ever do 125 burpees at home? NOT ON YOUR LIFE.

I’ve also voluntarily pushed harder at home. Rather than doing smaller sets of pushups, I’ve been trying to keep it up until absolute failure. (I know what that feels like now. There have been times when I’ve had 2 pushups left and thought I wasn’t capable of doing them.)

I have wanted to vomit at least a dozen times, but not badly enough that Szabi has kindly stood nearby with the bucket.

I am way stronger already, 3 classes in. The DOMS have seriously lessened. This works, and that’s why I’m going to keep going.

We’ll see how I feel about it once I’ve finished the 10 classes, but right now I’m inclined to think I’m going to want to try and talk Jeff into a family membership to CrossFit. I think he and Jake (my 15yo) would LOVE the non-traditional gym feel and competitiveness of it.

CrossFit Riverfront also offers rowing, yoga and CrossFit Kids classes; Maverick would enjoy the badassery and individual sport, Cass loves everything athletic. And compared to other boxes CrossFit Riverfront is a good deal for the money.

And that’s my foray into CrossFit thus far. Hope my abject humiliation was enjoyable 🙂





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