March 24, 2023

Friday Night Photos #109

Yay for Friday! I'm in a great mood today; I think that the weather finally starting to warm up a touch is helping. (It's only been warm for a couple of days, but it's starting to feel like spring.) 

Eli is now officially on spring break for the next nine days. He's not going anywhere, but I think he's going to have a good time. Jerry and I are going to Jeanie's house to take care of her dogs for an entire week--the longest I've been away since we went to Punta Cana in 2014!--and the boys will run the show at home. Eli didn't want to go with us, so I told him he could have a friend stay here with him.

I'm definitely nervous, but my parents are less than a mile away and they are going to check up on the boys. I jokingly (but not really) reminded the kids that we have security cameras so Jerry and I will know what kind of shenanigans go on around here ;)  Honestly, though, they're really good kids--I'm sure things will be fine.

I'm more worried about the cats than I am the kids! We're taking Joey with us because he loves Remy (Jeanie's basset hound), but the boys will be in charge of taking care of the cats. Cats are generally easy to take care of, but Duck is a different kind of cat, haha. He's very codependent and he's attached to my hip every possible moment he can be, so I'm worried he's going to have separation anxiety. I've been drilling it into the kids that they have to play with him--the other cats are pretty lazy, but Duck needs stimulation (usually playing fetch with wadded up paper balls).

Actually, that leads me to my one of my Friday night photos...

I was looking up creative ways to keep cats occupied when home alone (they won't be alone, but I know the kids won't be as attentive as I am) and rather than buying toys, I started making a few. The first was this cardboard box, haha. 

My mom bought something like it on Amazon several years ago when she had a cat and it was just a simple cardboard box with holes cut out in it. We have a ton of empty Amazon boxes in our garage, so I found one that seemed a good size and cut a bunch of holes in it. I put some treats in there and Duck spent a good 45 minutes making sure he got every last treat out (he's VERY food-motivated). Chick was interested long enough to get the easy-to-grab treats and then he decided a nap was more fun.

I still haven't been training for the 10K like I should be, and I'm really starting to get anxious about it. I ran a couple of times recently and it just hasn't been enjoyable. Aside from my stomach being upset (thanks to my iron supplements), the weather was not ideal:

A RealFeel of NINE. It was super windy and I felt like I was running backwards when I had a headwind. Why does it seem like there is a headwind in every direction?! The snow started coming down hard toward the end and I could barely keep my eyes open. I really need to get in a few more longish runs before the race, so I'll have to do them at Jeanie's. I know that I've had lots of excuses, and I never would have let those things keep me from running in the past; I just wish I felt motivated to do it!

On one of the warmer days (temps in the 50's) I removed the sliding patio door and cleaned the bottom track really well. Then I replaced the pile weatherproofing strips and cleaned the guides on the bottom of the door. They were full of crud and they worked so much better after cleaning and oiling them! It felt great to get this done. And it was much easier than I thought it would be.

One of my friends and I do the Wordle every morning and share our results (yes, we are total nerds!). One day last week, the word was YACHT. I could faintly remember that we talked about that word before. I couldn't find it, but my friend sent me this screenshot from June of last year when I had texted this...

Interestingly enough, I ended up guessing it in three! Now I'm just waiting for the word QUEUE to be the Wordle, haha.

I finally figured out the problem I was having with my serger when trying to hem my jeans last week. I watched some YouTube videos and on one of them, someone had a little trick for threading the serger--I tried it and I was so happy that it worked! I was getting so frustrated with it. I was able to hem the jeans with the ladder-like stitch and I love it--it's so much easier than the other way I was hemming (at 5'4", I have to hem almost every pair of pants I buy). The stitches aren't completely even, but it was hard going over the seams. 

Jerry and I were lying in bed a few days ago and I can't remember why this came up, but we were laughing about how when he pulls his head back, his neck is the same size as his head--and that it looked like a thumb (I literally laughed out loud as I wrote this). So I'm holding my thumb up to compare to Jerry's head, haha. 

Meanwhile, on my lap...

Phoebe, Estelle, and Joey found me irresistible, apparently. Chick and Duck like to sleep in the beds on the wall in the evening, but these three try to get as close to me as possible.

And last but not least, Jerry surprised me with this hoodie as a "just because" gift today...

I love it! And it matches really well with the comfy yellow pants I bought at Goodwill recently.

Well, that's all I have. I think I may do another "wordless week" while I'm at Jeanie's, so I can just prep the posts ahead of time and then not even open my computer for the entire week. If not, I'm sure next Friday will be full of dog photos ;)

Have a great weekend! xo

March 23, 2023

Three Things Thursday: Pride

This post is going to be far from humble--just a forewarning ;)

I'm not sure why this topic popped into my head today. I was making seitan and then I thought, "Three Things Thursday--I could write three things I'm proud of." Completely random. Then it was kind of hard to come up with three things, haha. But when I mentioned it to Jerry, he said I sell myself short and he started naming some things that I should be proud of.

I'm not going to count the most obvious one, which is losing more than half my body weight through diet and exercise. I'm certainly proud of that and I have no qualms about saying so! But since I've written about that all over my blog, it feels redundant. Instead, here are three things that may not be so obvious.

1. Remodeling my house.

I knew absolutely NOTHING about building, tools, plumbing, electrical, drywall, flooring, and a million other things when I started. I had no plans of completely redoing everything! I just wanted to remove the textured ceiling... which led to drywalling... which led to painting... which led to molding... which led to flooring... and so on. I didn't have any real tools to speak of--just the token hammer, drill, circular saw, and probably a couple of other small things I didn't know the names of.

I didn't have a miter saw until after I'd cut (by hand) all of the casing and molding in the dining room, living room, and kitchen. When I bought a miter saw from Facebook Marketplace, I was STUNNED. I couldn't believe how easy it was to cut boards! I had been doing it by hand and it took such a long time. When I learned the power of a miter saw, I got really interested in other tools.

There were a lot of back and forth texts and phone calls to Brian (my older brother) asking him questions about each things I decided to DIY. The first really big thing I took on was the drywalling. I didn't have to hang drywall at that point; I just had to tape and mud (I didn't even know what that meant) where the ceiling and walls meet. And honestly, that's the thing that I am most proud of--even though nobody coming into our house would notice--because it made the biggest difference to me. 

Removing the crown molding and taping those seams was a pivotal project for me--I learned that I am capable of doing SO many things that I never would have dreamed. And I was excited to do more more more! I started watching YouTube videos each time I moved onto something else, and I taught myself so much.

It's kind of funny to go through the house now, because I can tell which rooms I did first and which I did later--because I learned from each project what NOT to do, haha. There are certain things that I kind of cringe at, but every single one of them was a learning experience.

Looking at the before and after photos, though, makes me feel proud. I did 95% of the work myself. I went from someone who had never even used a saw to making my own laminate countertops and building a closet and building an island... I didn't even know it was possible to do those things!

(You can find all of the posts and photos and stuff like that on this page.)

2. Paying off credit card debt.

In early 2017, we were $14,000 in debt--and that didn't include car payments or mortgage or anything like that. It was solely credit card debt. We lived paycheck to paycheck and we were always worried about money. It wasn't until I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and started medication that I was able to come up with a plan to pay off the debt.

I read about zero-sum budgeting and I wanted to try it. I wrote a budget and I stuck to it meticulously. And over the next 14 months, I paid down our debt. When I made the final payment, I felt SO FREE. It was amazing! 

After that, I continued the budgeting. The money that I'd been paying onto the credit card then went to materials for working on the house. And when the house was done (is it ever really done?) I continued the budget to build a savings account. We had never had a "real" savings account!

We still do zero-sum budgeting and I love it because I know that we already have the money for the following month; I don't worry about whether we'll be able to pay our bills by living paycheck to paycheck. Last year kind of wiped out our savings--we had so many unexpected expenses like the new roof and water damage in the bathroom and bedroom, stuff for our cars... I'm disappointed that we had to use our savings for it. BUT--if we didn't have that money saved up, we would have added another $20,000 of debt.

Right now, I'm working on building our savings account again. I'm really hoping that we can get though this year without big (but necessary) expenses so that we'll have savings to fall back on in the future. The zero-sum budgeting was a huge game changer for us--we are still able to buy some (unnecessary/fun) things we want while putting some money in savings. And I'm proud of that!

(I wrote a post about zero-sum budgeting and how we paid off the debt, which you can find here.)

3. Riding the Breezy.

This one is completely odd and most people would think it's ridiculous that I'm proud of it... but this was HUGE for me. I was always absolutely terrified of flying. Brian became a pilot when I was about 12 or 13 and my first flight was in a tiny four-seater airplane with my brother as the pilot. (That had nothing to do with my fear--I was scared long before he got his pilot license.) I cried the entire 10-minute flight.

I did fly a few times after that--I had a penpal (remember those?!) in North Carolina and I visited her a couple of times. I went to visit my friend Adam at Harvard when I was about 18. I went to Florida with my family when I was about 19. I went to Vegas with my mom and best friend when I was 21. I was still terrified and hated every second of it--even with Xanax and alcohol (which you're not supposed to mix, I know, so don't do that)--and after the Vegas flight, I just couldn't bring myself to fly.

In 2010, I felt great about myself. I had lost about 100 pounds at that point and we drove to Minnesota to visit Brian. Brian's friend Steve owned a few airplanes and he invited us to the airplane hanger for a cookout. When we got there, Steve asked if we wanted to take a ride on the Breezy. When he showed us the Breezy, I thought he was joking--it looked like a half-finished airplane!

I didn't let the kids ride it, but Steve took them on a different "finished" plane. It was their first flight and they loved it!

Just the very thought of riding on that made me feel nauseous. I declined, of course, but Jerry was excited to go. When he came back and I saw the pictures he took from the air, I thought they looked so cool! And I started to get this nagging voice in my head that I should do it. Because back then, a Facebook profile picture was everything, haha. And NOBODY would believe that I rode on not just a little airplane that my brother's friend was flying--but the BREEZY.

When I started considering it, I felt extremely sick. I had a panic attack. I went in the bathroom and was literally dry heaving. I wanted to do it so badly because it was so unlike me. I had overcome a lot over the past year and it almost felt like it was meant to be--a new beginning, a new leaf, whatever you want to call it. I felt like it was a moment that would change my life.

I made up my mind, and I told Steve that I was going to do it. I said, "When you take off, I'm going to be crying. And I'm going to cry horribly until you get back on the ground. But I need to do this. So please don't do anything crazy and don't let me freak you out. Just fly." I knew with 100% certainty that he wouldn't do the crazy stuff he and Brian did for "fun"--he knew if he did that, I'd never get on a plane again. I was practically choking with panic when we started to taxi. We started picking up speed as my panic grew.

The plane gently lifted off the ground. And then? Peace.

I immediately stopped panicking and I felt AMAZING. The view from that little plane was astounding. Steve turned to look at me and grinned when he saw a huge smile across my face. I was trying to take a selfie (with a regular camera) when he motioned for me to give him the camera--while he was flying the plane--and he took a few pictures.

We only flew for about 10 minutes, but I loved every second of it. When we landed, I felt the biggest adrenaline rush I'd ever felt. I called a few people from my cell phone to tell them what I'd done. Brian is very hard to impress, and even he was clearly proud that I did it.

If given the chance to do it again, I would hop on the plane in a heartbeat. I felt so good about it that I even flew to Minnesota two weeks later and ran my first Ragnar Relay with Brian! I still hate flying, and a lot of times I white-knuckle the entire flight to my destination, so that hasn't changed. But the fact that I pushed myself to get on the most terrifying-looking contraption I'd ever seen remains with me. I am really damn proud of myself for facing that fear!

I didn't know Brian was recording while I was on the Breezy, but he put together this video for me. The music he chose is highly appropriate, considering I was diagnosed crazy seven years later, hahaha.

And there we have it--three things I am proud of :)

March 22, 2023

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 95

Nothing reminds me to clean the mirrors quite like Wednesday Weigh-In!

Once again, I had another good week--I feel like it's safe to say I am back in control and I feel much better now that I'm not worried about that. It was still a tough week emotionally, with Becky and the kids moving to Minnesota, but I was aware of how my emotions affect my eating habits and I tried not to eat (or not to eat) for emotional reasons.

I actually had a pretty good appointment with my psychiatrist today. Since the psychiatrist that I started seeing in 2017 retired in December, I was really disappointed--I liked him so much and I am super grateful for all he did for me. When I started seeing a new one in January, I wasn't crazy about him. Before today's appointment, I was even thinking I may look for a new one. He gave me some good insight today, though--I'll write about that more on another post.

When I feel stressed out or anxious, I tend to eat a lot more; but when I feel extremely overwhelmed, I lose my appetite completely. There were several days this week where I just didn't want to eat, despite being physically hungry, but I stuck with my routine of breakfast, lunch, a semi-late dinner, and a small snack later.

I say "semi-late" dinner because I used to eat at 4:00, but then I would snack all evening. I found that when I eat dinner closer to 7:30 or so, it's much easier to keep from snacking. Lately, I've been into having an ounce of peanut butter a few hours after dinner--it's not sweetened, but it tastes rich and satisfying.

Someone mentioned last week that maybe Jerry and I should start counting calories again because that has always worked for me. It's true--counting calories definitely works. Since becoming vegan, though, I have been making a ton of new recipes; and because they aren't already in my calorie counting app (Cronometer), I've just been lazy about entering them. Also, I really like not having to measure out portions.

So, as long as this continues to work for me, I'd like to do this without calorie counting. If I need to go back to measuring things, though, I can do that. It's been a year since I quit counting calories and it certainly hasn't been perfect--but then, it never was when I was counting, either. 

My stomach has not been feeling good this week and I'm sure it's because of my iron supplement. My ferritin level (stored iron) has been very low for probably 20 years and I never knew it until last fall when I requested the ferritin test. Since then, I've tried probably five different iron supplements and they all bother my stomach. Because of that, I wasn't taking it regularly.

I really want to get my levels up, though, so this week I started taking it at night with my dinner; that way, the majority of the nausea happens when I'm sleeping. I'm hoping that if I continue to take it regularly, the stomach issues will go away eventually. It's interesting that I'm so sensitive to iron because I have always had a stomach like a rock. I'm not sure how long it will take to get used to, but please let it be soon! ;)

Anyway, my weigh-in... 

I was at 141.8 today, which I am very happy with! Last week, I was at 143.2, so I am down 1.4 pounds--and very close to being back in the 130s. The top of my "happy range" is 135, and if I continue doing what I'm doing, it's definitely possible for me to get there in a month or two. Barring 2023 throwing any more things to overwhelm or stress me out, of course ;)

March 21, 2023

Jerry Loses His Dad Bod: Week 10

I told Jerry to let me know when he wanted me to take his picture for this post, but then while I was on my computer, I got an airdrop from him--apparently he used the timer on his phone to take his own, hahaha. 

We didn't end up having a bonfire last night after all. The time flew by yesterday and we were exhausted. Today is another nice day, though, and I spent the late morning and early afternoon working on the sliding patio door. I had no idea how easy it was to remove the door--you don't even have to unscrew anything! You just lift it up an inch or so (from inside the house) and pull the bottom slightly inside. Then lower it so the bottom touches the floor and voila--door removed.

I laid it on the floor and then removed all of the old pile weather stripping, cleaned it really well and put new stripping on it. Then I removed the wheels on the bottom and cleaned them very well (it took a long time!), then oiled them and put them back on. I'm so glad to have gotten that done. I *never knew* that the door could be removed like that, so I've only ever cleaned the track at the bottom by cleaning what I could reach. This is definitely something I can do every spring and fall.

Anyway, I'm writing this before Jerry wakes up, so I'm not sure yet how his weigh-in will go. I wanted to write this first because it doesn't matter what his weight his--from what I could see, Jerry did really great this week! True to what he said last week, he didn't try to deliberately eat less for the last couple of days to try to make up for overeating early in the week. He was consistent all week long.

I'm curious if what he has to say reflects what I noticed. I don't know how he did at work, but I'm sure he'll probably write about it below. Here's Jerry...

Welcome back, friends! 

This past week was extremely challenging. Care to take a shot at what the hardest part was? Listening to my body. It wasn't about anything else. I drank my water. I felt like I was eating slower. But, it took me until Saturday to really, really think about it while I was kind of reflecting on my week.

Katie had made some vegan shawarma and I was packing some up to take to work. Normally I look at my food that I take to work and think 'Is this going to be enough food for 12 hours?' That popped into my head a couple years ago when Katie always used to ask me that. She would look at the food I was about to bring to work and always worried that I was going to be 'starving' at work. So, she used that question a lot and it just got stuck in my head.

Then I would bring something extra just in case it wasn't enough and I would eat it just because. Fast forward to now, looking down into my lunchbox I realized... that's totally enough. The tough part was yet to come.

When I got to work I performed my inspections on the two areas I cover (where the temp is hot) and went back into the control room to cool off and down some water. I looked at my lunch box and just wanted to eat. I had the urge. That's when I realized that I'm not even hungry. Why am I trying to eat right now? Because it's a habit. It's routine. It's what I do.

A couple weeks ago I think I mentioned that it was easier to stay on track with food at work as opposed to home because of the availability. Obviously I have more access to food here at home and I only have access to what I bring with me at work. But, combined with bringing 'enough food for 12 hours' to work, eating at the start of the shift, and then snacking a couple times I can keep the weight on fairly easily and then throw my hands up in the air saying 'I don't know what I'm doing wrong'.

So, all that realization came on Saturday. Sunday was fine and Monday was surprising. Monday was surprising because I snacked, then I stopped because I was satisfied. But it wasn't just any snack. It was the new Lays Wavy Funyon flavor. F**king delicious. And, normally I can house a whole bag of chips like it's nothing.

But I stopped, closed them up, and put them away. That's some discipline. That's willpower. And this is what I've been trying to do this whole time. Katie asked me if I remember what my starting weight was before I had started this post and I was thinking 196 or something like that. When she went back in the blog and looked it up, she told me it was 193.6 I was a little shocked. A little dejected.

However, it occurred to me that I don't care about that. I'm learning so many little things here and there. When I don't get the result I want on the scale I reflect on what I could've done differently. I have little epiphanies here and there that I share on here. I'm sure I'm not the only one who struggles. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who has little epiphanies like that.

But, maybe I'm a rare breed when it comes to admitting my faults, type them out, and have my wife publish them on a blog. "The greatest teacher, failure is." -- Yoda to Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi. 

That quote couldn't be more true. How much easier would life be if we failed, admitted it, learned from it, and moved on with that knowledge? And what good is knowledge if you don't pass it on? So while I might fail it feels good to admit it and pass on what I'm learning to everyone else so that they might benefit if they are in the same boat.

Even though Jerry's weight is going down slowly, it's been consistent since he started; so, that's working well for him. And he broke into the 180s today! I think if he stays consistent and keeps making small changes like he has been, the weight loss will pick up; even if it doesn't, he'll continue to lose slowly.

I like that he's making small changes like this because in the past, he usually gets very gung-ho about weight loss and makes changes that aren't sustainable for the long haul. From what I've seen, everything he's done so far are habits he can keep forever.

I've had a really good week and I'm hoping that the scale reflects that tomorrow!

March 20, 2023

Bonfire Time!

This post started as something else entirely, and then when I started looking for a couple of photos to include, well--it turned into a very photo-heavy post.

I didn't realize it was going to be 50 degrees today! I just wrote yesterday how I can't wait for it to be nice outside so I can start doing some of the spring cleaning I'm looking forward to. Tomorrow it's supposed to be even warmer.

Jerry is off work today, so we are doing some impromptu cleaning in the garage. And possibly a small bonfire tonight to burn all the excess Amazon boxes and wood scraps. So, I'm going to take full advantage of this nice day and instead of writing a full post, I'll just share a few photos. I started looking through old bonfire photos; living in a rural area, bonfires are pretty much how we socialize in the summer. We used to have friends over for bonfires several times a year until the pandemic ruined everything.

Going through the photos was actually kind of bitter-sweet! There are pictures of Mark when we would have small fires in my parents' driveway during trick-or-treating; a picture of my friend Sarah who passed away from melanoma shortly after Mark died; there are several couples who have since divorced; and a couple of people that I used to be close with but lost touch through the years. And a couple of people I've gotten even closer with since then. Not to mention seeing my kids go from toddlers to adults!

If nothing else, it REALLY makes me want to host a bonfire this spring when it warms up. The last few years have been a trial in friendships for sure; keeping in touch during the pandemic was hard, even with video chatting. There is nothing like being around actual people, face-to-face!

Eli--making s'mores is his favorite part of a fire ;)

Fourth of July sparklers--naturally, the boys had to pretend they were light sabers.

This was at a Winer's meeting at Renee's house for Halloween in 2012. I was Superwoman--I needed a costume, so I borrowed from a friend!

My friends Sarah--I think of her at least once a day--and Shannon (I actually got together with her last month for the first time since pre-pandemic)

My friend Stacie, who I've lost touch with.

Several of Noah's birthday parties have included bonfires (he was born in July)

A fire on the beach at my parents' house

The kids playing with Joey--he loves the water!

This was not our fire, but the neighbors' behind us. I really thought they were going to catch the trees on fire!

This picture made me laugh--Noah stoking the fire, Eli playing with Joey in the background, and Joey deciding it was a good time to poop mid-play.

This was Mark's birthday in 2011. He's sitting by the fire drinking his beloved coffee.

For Mark's birthdays, my dad used to put a piece of copper pipe in the fire to make pretty colors.

What is a fire without s'mores?! This was at Jeanie and Shawn's property in the U.P.

Probably the first fire of the year, when we burn boxes and wood scraps

Joey looks so young! He's getting gray on his face now :(

I LOVE this picture of Eli and me! We both remember the taste of those plums like it was yesterday. We ate a ton of them--they were so juicy and sweet.

Jerry face ;)

Me, taking a picture of Dave who was taking a selfie of him, Jerry, and Jason--while Jerry took a picture of me taking a picture of them. 🤣

This was my point-of-view.

Renee and me--I love that glow on our faces where you can't even see the fire but you can tell it's there.

I have no idea what was happening here! Definitely not our typical bonfire weather.

And Jeanie and Shawn's property. Joey loved hanging out by the fire.

This was when OUR fire seemed out of control. Jerry always underestimates how big it can get.

Just Shawn, adding a log to the fire, haha

My parent's 50th wedding anniversary (which we celebrated at Jeanie and Shawn's)

Finally, this was from last fall. We downgraded our enormous fire pit to a smaller ring, and I like it much better. It's cozier and easier to chat with everyone. It'll be interesting to see how we manage to burn boxes though!

This was a fun stroll down memory lane. I can't wait for bonfire season!

March 19, 2023

Spring Cleaning

I think I write a post like this every year, but this is the time of year where I get very antsy waiting for the weather to break--so that I can start spring cleaning! So fun, right? ;)  There are so many things I want to work on but it's too cold to be washing windows outside or cleaning the garage with all the doors wide open.

Today in particular, I really wanted to finish weather proofing the windows (I did half of them when we had a few nice days outside). To do that, though, I have to remove the bottom half of the window--and with temps in the SINGLE DIGITS over the past few days, there is no way that I'm going to be opening the windows.

Instead, I walked around the house and made a list of all of the things I want to do this spring. Housework things. Aside from cleaning, I also want to touch up paint, hang pictures, and stuff like that. I'm sure my excitement to spring clean will wane after a couple of days of actually doing it, but I figured I might as well make a list while I feel motived. I'll be so glad to get things done.

So, for what is quite possibly the most boring post of the year, I'm going to list the tasks that I hope to get done before summer. It's a long list, and I likely surely won't get everything done, but here goes...


*Vacuum all of the air vents.

*Clean the living room sofa.

*Clean the kitchen cabinets, inside and out. Touch up paint where it was chipped from moving furniture and things.

*Wipe down all of the walls from floor to ceiling. Today I noticed the dust up by the ceiling and wow--I really need to keep up with it.

*Clean the appliances--stove, refrigerator, dishwasher--really well.

*Wipe down all of the floor molding. I didn't realize just how much dust that would collect over the winter!

*Clean the blinds. Worse than grocery shopping! ;)

*Clean and organize the garage. It's never ending--every time I do a project, it's a disaster again.

*Power wash the exterior of the house. Someone egged our house in the fall and threw the eggs really high (near the top of the rise of the roof). Spraying it with the hose did nothing. We like to power wash the house every year before the "bug guy" comes to spray in the spring (to prevent spiders!).

*Go through closets and donate, sell, or throw away what we don't want or need.

*Clean the things that get ignored most of the time--the top lip of the casing around doors and windows, light switches, washing machine (the exterior), behind the TV console, things like that.

This is 100% how I do things, haha


*Replace a small section of floor molding in the dining room. I removed it when I thought I wanted to put a cabinet there, so there is no molding in the corner.

*Fix or replace some of the interior doors. That was the first thing that Jerry and I did when we started remodeling and we had no clue what we were doing. We didn't do it correctly, and I really want to fix it.

*Replace the bottom sill of one of the windows in the living room. It's gotten a little warped over the last year so I want to fix it before it becomes a big problem.

*Rent a carpet cleaner to clean the carpet in the boys' bedrooms.

*Adjust the towel holder in the bathroom (to make it smaller).

*Replace the thermostat in the hallway. It hasn't been very consistent and I think it's just old.

*Replace the felt pads on the chair legs in the dining room. They tend to collect pet hair over time and the adhesive wears off.


*Re-caulk the boys' bathroom.

*Level and weatherproof the patio door. I really don't want to have to replace this anytime soon, so I basically want to give it a tune-up.

*Stain the back deck and the stoops. (Jerry and I have been wanting to do this but we're so intimidated! We even bought the stain last summer but we never started.)

*Flush the tankless water heater with vinegar. (We do this once a year)

*Landscaping! My nemesis. Now that I have a blank canvas after the work I did last year, it's time to plant some stuff. Low maintenance stuff.

Okay, that list is long! I would say that it's overwhelming, but I'm actually looking forward to tackling it. (I say that now, but we'll see how I feel when I've been working on it for a while, haha.) Some of the stuff I can obviously do now; today, I replaced the door knob/lock set of the garage. Our key kept getting stuck in the lock and I didn't even want to lock it because it was hard to get back in! So I went to the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store and bought a nice replacement knob. (I love that store for when we need things around the house! Whenever I have to replace something, I like to check there first.)

My favorite part of spring cleaning is going through closets and choosing what to keep, sell, donate, or throw away. And then organizing what's left! I'll probably work on that this week while the weather is still cold. And as soon as we have some nice days outside, I plan to start doing the outdoor stuff.

Does anyone else look forward to spring cleaning like this? No?

I saw these "Monica clean" spring cleaning tips and I thought it very appropriate--as you know, Jerry and I are huge Friends fans. And as much as I hate to admit it, I am very much like Monica!

March 18, 2023

Irony On a Thursday Morning

This is just the story about my morning on Thursday. I want to write about it because it was kind of unbelievable! (I thought this would be a very short story, but I think I like to set the scene... hahaha)

As I've mentioned a million times, I despise grocery shopping. It's not so much the actual shopping part--walking up and down the aisles--but planning a menu, looking through the pantry and fridge to see what we need, making a list, going to the store and winding my way through people, scanning my groceries, bagging them in reusable bags, loading the car, then unloading the car, carrying the bags into the house while simultaneously trying to keep all of the pets from going outside when my hands are full, and then putting the groceries away.

There are just so many other things I'd rather be doing; I think the only "chore" I hate more than grocery shopping is cleaning the bathroom. (Also true is that I don't like others to shop for me! I have a whole system and it works; it's just not my favorite thing.)

Because of this, I put it off as long as I can. It would probably be much easier if I would go every week, but I tend to wait until we really don't have much of anything left. For fresh produce or a couple of ingredients we may need between trips, Jerry or one of the kids can stop on the way home and pick it up.

On Thursday morning, I couldn't procrastinate any more. Out of nowhere, I decided to go to a different grocery store to change things up and hopefully make it a little more interesting. We have a store called Meijer (I think it's only in the midwest) which is enormous and carries billions of groceries in addition to all of the other stuff that superstores have.

I really don't like going grocery shopping there because it's way too big, usually very crowded, and just kind of overwhelming. However, they remodeled the store last year and I hadn't been there since the remodel; I thought I'd give it a chance. So, after finishing up my list, I headed to Meijer.

When I walked in, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn't crowded for once. Since I hadn't been there in so long, I figured I would really take my time; they have a bigger selection of stuff than my local Kroger, and it's always fun to find new items.

Jerry and I were talking about plantains last week for some reason, and how we'd never tried one. So I even picked up a plantain for us to try. I was SO EXCITED when I saw a sign for passion fruit in the produce section! I *love* passion fruit but I have never seen it at a grocery store. The only time I had it was when we were in Punta Cana in 2014 and it was pretty much all I ate once I realized it doesn't taste like snot with ants in it (hahaha, that's how I described how it looks).

Unfortunately, even though the sign was there, there was no passion fruit. I was bummed, but I knew that I may find it there sometime, which was enough. I also was surprised to see super firm tofu--which is firmer than extra firm tofu--because I've not see that before, either. I have a few recipes I've been wanting to try that call for super firm tofu, so I grabbed a couple packages of that.

I kept finding cool items that we don't have at Kroger--especially things that I thought the boys would like--and I started to change my mind about Meijer. It was quiet, the atmosphere was calm, I was finding items I was excited to bring home... I even thought to myself, "I could totally get on board with grocery shopping more often if I do it here. This is nice!"

My cart was fully loaded. I still dreaded the checkout process and putting groceries away, but I knew the kids would be happy to have a fridge and pantry full of food, especially new things we hadn't had before. I even texted Eli a picture of a couple of things and said, "Look what Meijer has! Want me to get these for you?"

I started making my way to the front of the store to check out when an announcement came over the speaker: "We apologize for the inconvenience, but our computer systems are down so we aren't able to take credit cards or debit cards. We can still take cash at register 13 and at the service desk. We are working as quickly as we can to fix the problem. It could be 10 minutes or it could be all day--we don't know."

Instantly, my heart just sank and I could feel my face and ears get hot. The noises around me got muffled and sounded like I was under water. I was so stunned I just stood there, probably with my mouth gaping open, unsure of what to do. I knew I definitely didn't have the cash to buy all the groceries but I figured I could just walk very slowly, take my time, and of course the registers would be working again soon.

When I got to the front of the store, all of the people I thought weren't there suddenly appeared--in a single file line in aisle 13.

I dug through my purse to see if I had cash and I found $18--no idea where it came from, because I never have cash--so I looked at my groceries to contemplate buying just a few things that I couldn't get at Kroger. The line, growing longer by the minute, was probably about 40-50 people deep.

My head was spinning and I stared at my cart for probably five full minutes, trying to figure out a plan. Leave the cart and go to an ATM? By the time I got back, the line would be even longer. Even if the computers came back online, it would take FOREVER for all of those people to check out. I had already been at the store for two hours, an hour longer than I'd planned, and I was supposed to go help Becky load the moving trailer in a few hours.

I decided to ask if I could put my whole cart in a cooler and come back later. I used to work there (like 100 years ago) and I remember doing that a few times for people who had forgotten their wallet or something like that. There were exactly zero employees around, probably because they were all working on the computer situation. I walked around for a few minutes and finally found an employee.

When I asked if I could put my groceries in a cooler, she said that she didn't think they could do that, but I could go to the back of the store and ask in the dairy department. I really didn't want to go looking for employees (like I said, the store is huge) while pushing a full cart. By this time, it had been probably 30 minutes and they still weren't taking credit cards.

Ultimately, I left the store with nothing. NOTHING.

I was fuming when I got into the car. For someone who hates grocery shopping, it was a nightmare come true. I know, the store can't help that their computers were down--stuff like that happens with modern technology--but I just felt so stunned.

On the way home, my anger kind of subsided and I either totally lost my mind or I simply found humor in a situation I never wanted to be in.

I started laughing. Out loud. Maniacally. By myself.

By the time I got home, I was almost giddy. I couldn't wait to tell Jerry because I knew he would understand the irony of this happening to ME of all people. He knows how much I hate grocery shopping.

He couldn't believe it either, and he felt so bad for me. I didn't know it at the time, but when I was busy doing something (I don't even remember what) he grabbed my list and went to Kroger. The cart wasn't nearly as full, as it was lacking the impulse buys, but he got what we needed. I was SO grateful!

I think I'll be sticking to my small, crowded cozy Kroger from now on. And I'll remember this incident every time I complain about grocery shopping! ;)

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