January 17, 2020

What is one thing I would change about myself?

First, I am so sorry that FOUR posts published yesterday. I have no idea how that happened. I was revamping some recipes and had them set to publish in the future, but somehow they all published at once. The only post I meant to publish yesterday was the tutorial for the pet feeding station!

Anyway, today is another writing prompt. And I've had a bad day, so I truly am going to keep this short...

What is one thing that I would change about myself?

I thought hard about this, because the obvious answer would be that I wouldn't have anxiety. Having anxiety is the worst! But I wanted to come up with something deeper than that, and I thought more and more about what actually causes my anxiety.

Surprisingly, the one thing I would change about myself (and what gives me so much anxiety) is the fact that I am hyperempathetic. An "empath", I guess it's called. I am extremely aware of what people are feeling and I somehow pull just the negative vibes from them and feel them myself. I found this quote on Pinterest that sums it up perfectly. This is exactly how I feel:

I did not cut off the bottom attribute, but it's jennifersoldner.com

Being empathetic is generally a good thing, but when it causes you to feel this way, it's not. I can remember when I was a child, ALWAYS feeling guilty for everything. Especially for things that happened to other people. Even if nothing "bad" really happened, I felt the guilt for no reason at all.

Sometimes being empathetic is helpful, however. Here is an example that happened to me:

I always noticed a kindergarten mom who would pick her son up from school at the same time I picked up Eli. Even though she smiled and conversed with others, I could feel her emotional pain. She seemed totally normal on the outside, but I knew that something wasn't right. I decided to do something about it, because I was worried about suicide. I gave her a card with something empathetic written on it.

A few years later, she told me that she had been planning her suicide and the card meant the world to her at the time. Someone cared and someone noticed she'd been feeling that way.

This empathy is a gift, in a way, but it's a huge burden as well. I feel responsible for everybody's problems and everybody's pain, even if I have nothing to do with them or it at all. When my family is hurting, I will do anything that I can to make them stop hurting, even if it's not good for myself. If I feel like I've hurt another person's feelings for any reason at all, I'll carry that inside of me until the day I day, unless I can somehow fix it. And I spent WAY too much time worrying about how to fix it.

When I started psychotherapy, my therapist and I talked about all of this and how I need to do things that are best for ME and to start doing what I enjoy and to stop trying to fix things that I know I can't change.

This is why I've been putting so much work into doing things I enjoy--like the DIY house stuff and woodwork. When I'm alone, listening to a podcast and working on a project, I don't have to feel what others are feeling. Carrying the burden of others' feelings along with my own is exhausting! I think this is what causes me to be more introverted, as well. Being around a lot of people is a lot to carry.

Anyway, I really am trying to keep this short today, so I'll end it with this:

In general, I am a good person. I am kind, generous, caring, a good listener, and (for the most part) determined and goal-oriented. I am also extremely empathetic. So, I feel and understand your feelings much more than is comfortable for either of us, but it's important to know that I care. I care more than anything that everybody is okay.

January 16, 2020

How to Make a Pet Feeding Station (a tutorial)

The post with the photo of my "pet feeding station" was so popular that I decided to do a quick tutorial on how I made it so that it has a post all of its own. It's very simple, really, so there isn't a lot to share. But here goes...


  • Book shelf (make sure it's a very sturdy one made with real wood and not particle board--I bought mine for $10 from a secondhand store. It seemed to be handmade, and it's VERY heavy)
  • jigsaw
  • oil-based primer
  • oil-based paint (I used Sherwin Williams in "Carnival" and "Aviary Blue")
  • paint brushes
  • metal dog/cat bowls, whatever size you'd like
  • contact paper to decorate the back if you'd like
  • silicone caulk
  • Kreg pockethole jig, if you have one (here it is on Amazon- affiliate link)

This is the bookshelf I used. I found it super cheap at a secondhand store. It's extremely solid and heavy, which is what you need for a project like this.

First, decide where you want your pet bowls to be. I wanted two on the bottom for my dog's bowls and two on the top--one for the cat food and the other for the cats to climb through (so they could jump to the lower shelf and then climb through to the top--it didn't work out that way, so I'd just cut one on top.) The water for the cats is elsewhere.

After realizing the cats weren't going to use the second hole, I filled it in and covered it over with a piece of carpet that I nailed in place. Sometimes I sprinkle catnip on the carpet, and they like to scratch it with their claws. Bonus!

(I should probably paint it, but you can't see it unless you're on the floor.)

When you make the cuts for the bowls to fit in, you want to make SURE that the holes are smaller than the lip of the bowls (you don't want the bowls to fall right through). To do this, you can turn the bowl over and draw a pencil line around the lip of the bowl (tracing it) and then find a round container that is slightly smaller than that diameter (I'd allow about 3/4" to 1" space between the outer circle and inner circle).

Trace the smaller circle inside of the larger one. You will ignore the larger circle, and the smaller one is the pencil diameter you will follow to cut. (I did mine backwards, tracing a smaller circle and then cutting a bigger one--but that is more difficult, so don't do that!) Using a large drill bit, drill a pilot hole near the edge of the inner circle (on the inside of the circle, careful not to cut outside the line).

Then, using the jigsaw, place the blade through the pilot hole and carefully cut along the circumference of the inner circle you traced.

One you cut the circumference, the circular piece will come out easily, and you'll have a perfect hole. Set the cat bowl in it to make sure that it goes down as far as you want. (You'll notice my dog bowls go all the way down, but the cat bowl sticks up a little to make more room on the shelf underneath. I used a slightly smaller hole for the cat bowl.) Repeat for a second hole on the top, if you want one.

Now it's time to remove the shelf that you want to lower. Just look where it's attached and unscrew it to take it out (mine had a few thin piece of wood underneath it holding it in place, so I removed those).

Do the same process to cut holes in the bottom shelf--although this time, you'll want to cut two--one for food and one for water for the dog. (You could probably do that for the cats on top, too, but there wasn't much space on mine to do that.)

To replace the shelf in a lower position, I just lowered it to where I wanted it to be, using a level to make sure it was level all the way across, and traced lines where it needed to be. Then I put a few screws into it from the outside (I didn't have my Kreg pockethole jig at the time, or I would have used that!)

Now you'll have a shelf with two holes that should allow the dog dishes to sit inside them with a lip over the top. And the top shelf will have one (or two) holes for the cats. It'll look like the photo above.

Next, prepare to paint--set down some plastic sheeting so you don't get paint on the floor. Use primer to paint over the entire shelf. The primer should dry fairly quickly. After that, paint it whatever color you wish (I used the blue on the outside and orange on the inside.) The paint will take 24 hours to dry--minimum. I'd put on a second coat then, and give it another day or two.

When the paint is dry, measure the back areas of the book shelf between the shelves to see what sizes of contact paper you need. Cut the contact paper to size, and carefully peel off the backing and put it into place. (This is tricky! I had to peel it off several times and reposition it.)

Once the contact paper is in place, you'll want to seal all of the inside edges with clear silicone caulk. The reason for this is because dogs are sloppy and get water everywhere. You don't want the water to seep into the cracks and rot the wood. The oil-based paint works well for keeping water from damaging the wood, but I would still use the caulk.

I later added a little shelf about halfway up the side of the bookshelf for my cats to jump onto in order to get to the top without having to jump so high (they're pretty lazy!).

To do this, take a rectangular piece of wood about the width of the bookshelf. Find something round to trace, where the diameter is roughly the width of the rectangular piece of wood. You'll lay the round piece over the rectangle at the end and trace just half of it with pencil (the purpose of this is just to round the edge of the ledge instead of having sharp rectangular corners. I used the jigsaw to do this. You could always freehand it to round the corners as well.

To attach the ledge to the side of the bookcase, I screwed two scrap pieces of wood onto the side, a little lower than where I wanted the ledge (I used these for support). I added the ledge on top and screwed it into the scrap wood as well as into the bookshelf to be extra sturdy. Here is a picture from underneath:

 As you can see, I used a Kreg pockethole jig to make pocket holes for the screws. You could also place screws from the inside of the shelf into the wood on the outside for the ledge.

Once the ledge is secure, then either paint it or cover it with contact paper. I chose to use contact paper.

If you have room, you could add a couple of hooks for dog leashes or whatnot; I had a hook at the top of mine, but I removed it when I added the ledge for the cats.

Overall, I love how this turned out! It's kind of quirky (which is totally my style) and it's super convenient for the pets. Now the dog can't get into the cat food (the cats have water elsewhere) and I have a shelf for their treats, catnip, food, etc.

It was super easy (and cheap!) to make :)

January 16, 2020

RECIPE: Pasta e Fagioli Soup

This soup is amazing! It takes on the flavor of the smoked sausage, and it's very hearty. My husband and kids are crazy for this soup (as am I). It's fast to throw together, so it's a go-to when I don't have much time to cook. And your house will smell amazing while you're cooking it ;)

Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe!

Pasta e Fagioli

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 carrots, chopped (or several baby carrots, sliced)
14 oz. turkey sausage, sliced and quartered
1 (15 oz) can diced or crushed tomatoes
4 cups beef broth
4 oz. ditalini pasta
1 (15 oz.) can of red beans, drained
parmesan cheese for topping


Sauté the onion, garlic, and carrots in olive oil on medium heat until carrots are almost tender. Add turkey sausage and cook for a minute or two until it starts to form a light brown crust on the edges. (Reduce heat if needed, so as not to burn the garlic/onions.)

Add tomatoes and broth, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, and reduce heat to a simmer. Drain and add the beans. Raise heat to medium high, and cook until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.

Serve topped with parmesan cheese. Makes about 4 servings.

January 16, 2020

RECIPE: Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

This is very hearty and a great soup for a cold day! It's pretty thick, and could almost pass for chili or stew.  It's LOADED with fiber. The refried beans make the soup really thick and velvety. And this honestly couldn't be any easier to throw together in the morning!

Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe!

Chicken Taco Soup  (in a slow cooker)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken (raw)

1 pkg. ranch dressing mix

1 pkg. taco seasoning

1 can diced or crushed tomatoes (14 oz)

1 can black beans
 (15 oz) - don't drain
1 can red beans
 (15 oz) - don't drain
1 can vegetarian baked beans
 (15 oz) - don't drain
1 can fat-free refried beans
 (15 oz)
1 can yellow corn
, drained (15 oz)
1 onion, chopped (or about 2 Tbsp. dehydrated onions, if you don't feel like chopping veggies—I usually use the dried ones)


This is super easy to just throw together in the morning. Combine everything in the slow cooker (don't drain any of the beans). Cook on low for 8 hours, or high for about 5 or 6 hours.  Using two forks, shred the chicken and stir before serving.  6-8 servings.

January 16, 2020

RECIPE: Lentil Chili

Lentil Chili

My family and I like to eat meatless a few times a week to save money (and because we enjoy it). I've developed a love for lentils because of this, and this lentil recipe is a GREAT way to convert meat lovers to eating meatless for at least one meal ;)  Jerry is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, but he requests this all the time.  The way I make this, it technically isn't vegetarian--I use beef broth--but you could easily make this vegan by using vegetable broth.

It's also very high in fiber and low in calories, which is a bonus!

Here is a printer-friendly version of this recipe!

Lentil Chili

1 lb. brown lentils (sort and rinse to check for pebbles)
6 cups beef broth (or veg broth to make this vegan)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. black pepper


Combine everything in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to med-low (simmer) and cook until the lentils are soft, about 45 minutes. If it gets too thick, you can add some water to it while it's cooking. Serve with cheese, onions, and sour cream (if making vegan, obviously skip the dairy). Yum! Yields 9 cups.

lentil chili

January 15, 2020

From Couch Potato to Runner: My 10 Proudest Moments in Running

In finding the motivation to run again, and to accomplish my big running goal next year, I decided to take a look back at my proudest moments in running over the last 10 years!

Again, I don't like to choose to put things in order, because it's too hard to pick! So, these are in order by date, from way back when until the most current. 

July 2, 2010

Running my first 5K distance under 30 minutes. I'm not talking about a race; I just mean running the 3.1 miles on my own. It was a hot summer day, and I went incredibly slow, but I managed to make it all the way through 3.1 miles in under 30 minutes--I was beaming with pride! This was just a few months after I started running.

August 5, 2010

My first eight-mile run. It took me three attempts to be able to do this! The first attempt, it was so hot outside--I actually got up to 7.46 miles before I just had to call it quits. I was so close! But I felt like I was going to pass out. 

My second attempt was when I was visiting my brother in Minnesota. He showed me a nice path along the river, and I thought for sure it was going to be the day I hit my eight mile mark. But perhaps it was because I was on vacation, eating foods I wasn't used to, who knows...? I just didn't make it. I only went 5.93 miles.

I was frustrated! I'd hit my other goals with running, but this eight-miler was killer for some reason. So, I decided (quite literally) to dangle a carrot to get this run finished. I bought a piece of carrot cake and I told myself that I couldn't eat it until I finished my eight mile run. And guess what? It worked! I finished eight miles a sweaty mess (that was before I discovered moisture wicking clothing). And the cake was delicious!

May 7, 2011

Running my first half-marathon race. I was still a fairly new runner, and knew nothing about training for a half-marathon. But I followed my schedule (I used Hal Higdon's half-marathon plan for novices). I had a HORRIBLE final long run, and I was sure my race was going to be miserable. 

I ran the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon (13.1 miles) with some friends and family. I'd walked the race in 2008, 2009, and 2010--so 2011 was my year to RUN it! I felt like it would make me part of the "elite" crowd of people who can call themselves runners ;) 

I didn't try to hit a specific time--I just ran and enjoyed all the people, reading shirts and signs, listening to the bands play along the way, and it was fantastic. I was so proud when I crossed that finish line--a RUNNER. 

(My goal for 2021 is to run it again--on the 10 year anniversary--and to beat my first time of 2:10:40. I plan to start training for it now, so that I can really work up a good base before starting an actual schedule.)

April 27, 2012

Running 20 miles with Jessica. I'd done a 20-miler once before, but I'd done it by myself in the rain. I had SO much fun training with Jessica for our first marathon. Our marathon ended up being one of the most miserable experiences of my life, but the training was fun. And we were SO proud to hit 20 miles! We told everybody we saw that day while we were running. And we planned a big group dinner that night at a restaurant to celebrate.

November 15, 2012

This run involved TWO awesome things to be proud of:

1) I ran a 5K under 26:00 minutes. This is significant because way back in 2010, Renee and Dave predicted I'd run my first 5K race under 26:00. Haha! I always strived for that goal, and I thought it'd be awesome if I was able to hit it someday. So I was thrilled. 

2) I ran my first sub-8:00 mile! I was SO excited to see that I ran a mile under 8:00 minutes. That was a huge rush and I felt on top of the world.

February 7, 2013

Running an impromptu sub-2:00 half-marathon! Way back in 2010, I remember hearing my brother talk about "going sub-2:00" next year, and I had no idea what that meant. I was curious, and learned that it's a big goal for middle of the pack runners--to run a half-marathon under two hours.

Somehow, I was getting faster and faster as I trained (I'd built up my aerobic system by running slowly for training for the Detroit Marathon in the fall of 2012, and I think that helped me to really speed up afterwards.

I reached my first sub-2:00 half-marathon on my own, doing a tempo run. When I noticed that my pace was in the 8:00's, I wondered if I could do the whole run like that. And I did! I didn't just hit sub-2:00. I crushed it!

March 17, 2013

That time I accidentally ran a sub-50:00 10K race! This was the most crazy race for me, and definitely most surprising. I was expecting to run about 53:00, or maybe, if I was having a good day, 52:00.

The story was actually kind of funny, because I had no idea how good I was doing until probably the last mile and a half or so when I could see a pacer ahead of me--I had NO IDEA it was the 50:00 pacer, and when I saw that it was, I nearly freaked out. I made it a mission to catch up. I was SO SO SO shocked when I crossed the finish line in under 50:00! (Official finish time was 49:23)

August 30, 2013

Running in just my sports bra! (For the first and only time.) It's something I'd always dreamed of doing but never had the confidence to do. One day, I thought I would face my fear and just DO it--fuck what people think of me running down a busy road! (I actually did go down a well-trafficked road so that it would "count"). 

I was super self-conscious, and I KNOW my loose skin (even after having skin removal surgery) was bouncing around, but I felt so free. I was super proud of myself for doing it, even if it was only one time!

October 13, 2013

Running the Chicago Marathon and feeling like a million bucks afterward. I had run two marathons before (Cleveland and Detroit), and while I think Detroit had the best and most scenic race course by FAR, I was the most prepared for Chicago. I loved that I traveled there alone and didn't have to worry about anyone else. I had a panic attack when I arrived at the train station, and I almost turned around and left. However, Caitlin saved me.

You'll have to read my whole race report to see how it went, but I felt SO proud to finish that race and feel as good as I did. I ran more than ever that summer (200 miles per month!) to prepare (doing the Hansons Marathon Method) and I felt more prepared than ever. I also had a lot of fun during the race! That hadn't happened for Cleveland and Detroit--I felt so grumpy for those.

I trained for this race as if I was going to run sub-4:00, but I never planned to actually do that. I wanted to enjoy the race and not worry about my time. My legs felt fantastic and I loved it! I even had a Jello shot in the last few miles ;) 

April 10, 2016

I did have to save the best for last. I worked my ASS off for this one, and I couldn't be more proud of what I accomplished. I started September at 160-ish pounds and running an 11:00/mi pace for a 10K. I made a bold declaration (that I didn't really believe) to my friend Thomas--who lives in Oregon--that I was going to be back at my goal weight of 133 and run a 10K PR at a race out there in the spring. (He later said he totally didn't believe me, either, hahaha).

Lo and behold, I got down to 121-ish pounds and ran a 7:55/mi pace at our 10K in April! I hit my goal of a PR. You can read all about it on the linked race report post. That whole experience was definitely the proudest I've ever been as a runner. 

The common denominator of all these is that they happened at least four years ago! Haha, I really would love to have some proud moments like these again. And I'm willing to work for them! 

(If this post has all sorts of grammatical/spelling errors, I apologize. I've been working on it for hours, and I'd like to get it posted by 9:00, so I don't have time to read through it. Hopefully it makes sense!)

January 14, 2020

Something I Miss (A Writing Prompt)

First, to the anonymous reader who emailed me something to "brighten my day", HOLY COW--I am in shock, and I really wish I could send you a personal thank you. That was SO generous of you! Thank you so so much!

I spent ALL DAY yesterday going through photos and videos on my computer trying to tidy them up. I've done this before, but somehow it still gets messy. One day several months ago, I decided to start my "Photos" app on my Macbook all over, so I saved all the photos and videos onto an external hard drive, then deleted everything from Photos.

Well, when I uploaded them back onto my computer, I lost ALL of the tags, faces, names, etc. I was so upset--it took forever for me to get it how it was in the first place, and then to have to start all over?! I've been working on that a little at a time, but yesterday, I really did spend almost all day on it other than when I wrote my blog post.

[Before I get into this post, I just have to share a deal that I saw on Amazon yesterday... you know how I RAVE about my Kindle Paperwhite (it's one of my most favorite items I own!). Well, it's on sale right now for $45 off! You won't get a better deal on it, so if you're thinking of getting one, now is the time to do it. I promise you won't regret it! (And Amazon has a 30-day return policy, so if you don't like it, you can always return it.) You can read more about my thoughts on the Paperwhite here.

By the way, when it gives you the options for "special offers" or "no special offers", there is a price difference of $20. Go with the "special offers"--it's cheaper and you won't even notice the difference. It just means that the screen saver (which you won't see much of) has some ads on it. I got that one for my kids, and I wish I'd gone with the same for mine instead of paying the extra $20. Per usual, any Amazon link that I post is an affiliate link, which means I might get a small commission for referring you to it. But I paid with my own money, and I can't recommend it enough!]

Now, since I don't have anything to write about today, I picked a topic from my list of random topics: "Something I Miss".

I wanted this to be meaningful, so I really gave it some thought. And the answer I came up with is quite ironic, actually...

I miss growing up in the 80's, before the internet and social media were a "thing".

Yes, I am a blogger, and I earn money from my blog (hence the irony). However, I do miss life before the web.

Do you remember when people had to use paper maps to plan a road trip (or even just find their way around a city)? I can remember my parents using a highlighter on an atlas when we planned road trips. I rely so much on Google Maps now that I'd be totally lost without it. Yet, there was something fun about reading a map.

Remember when people wrote letters to each other and then had to drop it in the mailbox, which then took days to arrive to the recipient. And remember how exciting it was to get a letter in the mail?!

When I was in the second grade, my teacher and a teach in North Carolina agreed to give their classes penpals (if you're younger than about 30, you probably have no idea what that is). Each kid in my class was given the name and address of a boy or girl in a North Carolina classroom. Then, we would write letters to our "penpals" and learn about them via "snail mail".

My penpal was Elaina, and we actually became great friends. In middle school, she came to Michigan to visit, and then I went to NC to visit her. We visited a few more times, and she even came out here for my wedding! But it all started with being penpals, sending each other letters and packages in the mail.

I miss when people had patience. Now, everybody wants everything instantly. Even waiting two days for Amazon shipping feels like forever! My kids just don't understand the concept of waiting for things. I remember waiting a week between TV shows, having to endure commercials (which we so enticing for kids, too!), send away for things in the mail, and put items in "lay-away".

I have a lot of videos from when my kids were little, and at the end of the video, they would say something like, "Let me see it!" or "I want to see it!", meaning they wanted to watch the video I just took. Before smart phones, I had a camcorder. I don't have a ton of videos from that, but I am glad I used it.

I miss when it was simple to pick out a movie to watch. We'd go to a video store like Blockbuster and browse the genre we were in the mood for and then just rent it. Now, with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, and a trillion other streaming apps, picking a video is SO overwhelming. Sometimes I just give up.

Do you remember playing cards/solitaire with a real deck of cards instead of on a computer screen? I still do play with a real deck sometimes, and I love the sound and feel of the cards. While I've converted to books on my Kindle Paperwhite, I simply cannot beat the feel of real playing cards in my hands. (I posted a video tutorial of my favorite solitaire card game on this post)

Do you remember when people looked at each other and talked for hours without looking at cell phones (because cell phones didn't exist)? Do you even remember talking to people on the phone instead of texting? I used to spend hours on the phone when I was a teenager (to the point where my parents gave me my own phone line to my bedroom).

Do you remember taking photos with rolls of film and having to wait for them to get developed, hoping that they were flattering? There weren't any filters or apps to make people appear "fake" from all the photo editing.

And speaking of photo editing... I miss the days before Instagram turned so many people into "celebrities" and then people became obsessed with how many "likes" they got on photos. I miss the days when celebrities were household names and there were few of them. Now, it seems that there are thousands of them because of social media.

I miss going outside and playing sandlot baseball with the boys in my neighborhood. I miss riding my bike for hours with friends, pretending like they were cars and even stopping to "fill up" from an old gas tank thing my dad had (I have no idea why he had it).

Remember Big Wheels? And when the front tire got worn out, the seam would crack? Hahaha. Those things were great! And parents didn't even have to watch us, because the Big Wheels were so loud, they could hear us all the way down the block.

I miss swimming in my next door neighbor's huge in-ground pool with a slide and a diving board. I used to pretend I was a mermaid like Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Mike, who lived next door to me, actually bought his old house and that's where he lives now. He hosted our annual get together a couple of weeks ago, and seeing the house brought back so many memories! (He is going to host a pool party for us "neighborhood kids" there this summer!)

I miss making Kool-Aid with an entire cup of straight-up sugar and not thinking (or even knowing) how horrible it was for us.

I miss playing in the sprinkler in the yard.

I miss looking through catalogues at Christmas time (or a couple of few months before) and circling the things I wanted. And when choosing something to order, we had to fill out a form and mail it in. Then we had to wait 6-8 weeks for delivery. No COD's.

Believe me, I love that Amazon has same day delivery on some items, but I do miss the good ol' days where patience was a virtue.

I miss the TV Guide Channel where it listed everything that was going to be on every half-hour, and it would scroll through all the channels. You'd have to watch it forever before you'd see the channel you were looking for; but you could see what was playing currently or what would be playing soon.

I miss having to share a bedroom with my sister because our house only had three bedrooms--my parents had one, Brian and Nathan shared one, and Jeanie and I shared one. I miss watching shows with the whole family, too (MacGyver was a family favorite)--not because we wanted to watch the same thing, but because we only had one TV.

I miss walking around the neighborhood and playing in the woods with friends without having to worry about pedophiles or kidnappers, because the whole neighborhood looked after each other and each other's children.

I miss playing on the swing sets and pretending I was in the circus. Lance and I were young in this photo, but as I got older, I would do flips and things to try to be like the acrobats in the circus. My grandma took us to the circus every year, and I liked the trapeze artists the best.

I miss going to the party store with my dad (I think they are called liquor stores in most parts of the country!) and him letting my little brother and I pick out a treat. We used to ride in the back of his pick-up truck, and nobody batted an eye.

I have no idea where we were going in this photo with my sister's dogs...

I miss my grandma's Christmas party, where all six of her children and all the grandchildren would gather. Eventually we started holding the party at the city's firehall--I lived in such a small town that 80% of the firemen were my relatives (including my dad), haha. I can still hear the CB radio in the middle of the night: "Station 45 to 45 home monitors...". My dad was a volunteer fireman and an EMT.

The firehall had a pinball machine with a Playboy theme and there were naked women on it. I don't remember ever thinking that was odd; I just liked to play pinball.

I really miss the smell of the firehall. There is nothing else like it.

We used to have our birthday parties there sometimes, too.

I miss going to my grandma's house in the evenings (she lived right behind us) and watching Wheel of Fortune followed by Jeopardy. She would also let us pick a treat--she had fruit snacks (there were only a couple of kinds back then, and they were SO good!) and Kudos bars (which coincidentally ended up being my first binge food).

I miss living in a neighborhood where I had lots of friends my age. We had sidewalks and all our parents were friends and we lived within a couple of small blocks of each other. I love that we are still friends today and that we get together every Christmas.

I miss Halloween, when my dad would dress in his fireman's gear and Nathan and I would wear our costumes. My mom and Gobby (my grandma) would stay at home to pass out candy while watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. My mom would always tell us to ask at a particular house for homemade popcorn balls--apparently, there was a neighbor who always made them on Halloween and was happy to give us a couple for my mom.

All things said, I feel pretty lucky having grown up in the 80's and early 90's. I got to experience life before the internet, and after the internet. The internet is the biggest thing to ever have happened to humanity, in my opinion.

As I was going through pictures for this post, I came across this one of my friend Adam at the airport... I have no idea what the ad was about, but it looks like it was something "futuristic" (this was in 1998):

Speaking of the airport, one of the things I miss the most is being able to go to the gate to drop people off and pick people up. It was always so much fun watching people come off the plane and looking for your loved one!

Anyway, there are lots of things that make life easier now that we have the internet (I really don't think I could live without Google Maps), but sometimes I really do wish the world could go back in time, just for a little while!

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