August 31, 2023

Three Things Thursday: Habit Changes

I feel like I'm finally starting to get out of the funk I've been in for a VERY long time. Even though our luck still sucks, my anxiety isn't as bad and my mood has been more pleasant. The weather definitely helps; we've had what feels like fall weather several days in a row. Ordinarily, the issue with the car would have sent me over the edge, but I've been taking it in stride and haven't panicked about it.

I finished listening to the Atomic Habits audiobook and it gave me some ideas for habits I'd like to change. So, for Three Things Thursday, I thought I'd write out three habits I want to work into my daily routine. I'm going to follow the guidance in the book about how to structure them, but my plan is to make these three things habits:

1. Stretch my back.

When I was in chronic pain from 2018 to 2022, my body got so stiff. I had such a hard time getting comfortable and I lost any sort of flexibility that I may have had. (I've never been a very flexible person, but it got really bad when I was in so much pain.)

This is from 2012, and aside from the super cringy sweatpants, I can't believe I could actually do this. Just looking at it hurts my back!

Eli has been really into golf lately, and I told him I'd never swung a golf club in my life. I've played putt-putt, of course, but never hit from a tee or anything. I asked him to show me how to swing, and we were trying to figure out if I was right- or left-handed. Yes, this sounds odd; I am right-handed for everything except for holding a hockey stick or mini-golf. Or closing one eye--my left eye is dominant? Or something.

Anyway, he showed me how to swing and GOOD LORD my back would not let me twist. As much as I tried (both right- and left-handed), I couldn't get my body to make the motion. I tried out some stretches on the floor and I realized that my back has no flexibility whatsoever.

I looked up some stretches for the spots that are particularly bad and I tried those out. I still have a chronic issue with my T10-T11 vertebrae (it's been a problem since I was kid), which makes twisting movements painful, but I want more flexibility altogether. It felt really good to stretch.

Atomic Habits is super helpful in the sense that I don't feel like I have to do *everything* right now. Ideally, yes--I would have a whole routine of full-body stretches. But I also know that I would never stick with it. I've tried that numerous times in the past. So, I picked three stretches for my back that I felt would make the biggest difference, and I'm going to do those every night before I get in bed. I'll do them for 30 seconds each. I've been doing them for the past week and I've found that I don't dread it or put it off because it's literally just 90 seconds and then done.

2. Running.

I know I'm forever saying I want to get back to running, and I'll do it for a few weeks before I just stop. After listening to the book, I realize that I always stop because I feel like I have to do enough to make it worth my while--three miles or so. And I "just don't wanna".

This was in 2014--I looked so happy, considering I'd just run 13 miles and was finishing up the half-marathon.

To get into the habit of running, I'm going to put my running clothes on immediately after I wake up. Rather than procrastinating, I will run one lap around the block; I think the distance is about one-third of a mile. That sounds like nothing, compared to what I'm used to, but the whole point is to make it automatic--something that I don't even think about. I'll add more eventually, but I don't want to think ahead yet. Knowing that it's just one loop around the block will definitely make me likely to do it.

It'll only take me about four minutes, so even on super busy days, I won't have an excuse not to do it right when I wake up. I'll take Joey with me and I think he'll like looking forward to the routine as well. Now, we walk him at sporadic times throughout the day, so he doesn't know when it's time. By having a routine, I'm sure he'll look forward to it. And that would make me feel too guilty to skip it!

3. Cleaning the kitchen counters every night before bed.

Yes, this is very simple as well, but I tend to wait until the following day to wipe down the counters after dinner. If there is one thing that makes my house feel messy to me, it's when the counters have crumbs and clutter. I already have the routine of scooping the litter box and bringing in the peanuts from the squirrel lunch box each night (raccoons get into the peanuts if I don't bring them in); so I will add wiping down the counters to that as well. It'll take all of two minutes at most, and it will boost my mood when I wake up. I know that sounds odd; I just feel happier when my house is clean, and the counters are what makes the biggest difference to me.

This was right after I finished the remodel. My kitchen will never be this clean again, but I can at least make sure the counters are ;)

Okay, this is it! Three things that will take a grand total of less than 10 minutes a day. The whole goal is to make these things as automatic as possible so that I don't even think about them. Once they are pretty mindless, I can work on adding to them (adding stretches, running longer, adding another quick cleaning task to do in the evenings).

I know I've said this several times now, but I cannot recommend Atomic Habits enough! (That's not an affiliate link.) I bought the Kindle book because I'd like to read it (I only listened to the audiobook) and I think it's a book I'll read at least once a year. It was recommended to me by several readers, so THANK YOU--I wish I'd listened/read it a long time ago.

August 30, 2023

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 118


We have the BEST weather today--it feels like a perfect fall day. I really hope that we have lots of days like this over the next few months. 

I don't have a lot to say about my Wednesday Weigh-In, but I first have to write about my hoodie (in the above photo). I LOVE IT.

I sorted through my clothes while the power was out, because there was nothing else to do, pulling aside clothes that were either too big or that I just didn't want anymore. I liked this orange hoodie, but I didn't like the Under Armour logo on the chest.

This pic was from December, when we were still remodeling the bathroom.

The logo was sewn on, so I removed the stitching--but you could still see the little square where it used to be.

I also came across some pajama bottoms that I really loved, but they didn't fit well--the waist was too big and the calves were tight. I decided to hold onto them and see if I could use the fabric on something else.

I thought the legs would make cool sleeves for another shirt. Then I remembered the orange hoodie and the two looked like they belonged together!

You can see where I removed the Under Armour logo--so I knew I'd have to cover it.

I got to work ripping the seams--I removed the sleeves from the hoodie, then used those as a pattern to cut the new sleeves out of the pajama legs. Then I sewed the new sleeves on.

I still had the problem of the spot where the logo was, and I wasn't sure how to cover it. After toying with ideas, I chose to cut out a heart from the remainder of the pajama pants and sew it on using a blanket stitch (which I've gotten much better at).

When I tried it on, I decided it must have thumb holes--I love thumb holes! So I removed the cuffs, added thumb holes (I hate making cuffs with thumbholes--those take longer than sewing the sleeves on). When I was done reattaching the cuffs, I was so excited with how it looked:

Here is a before and after:

It is my most favorite item of clothing I've ever altered! And it's probably the most comfy hoodie I own.

Okay, enough about that. As for my weigh-in:

I was at 129.4, which is down from 129.8 last week. The week was all kinds of screwed up because of not having any electricity for four days. It's hard to remember what I ate--I had a lot of watermelon, grapes, and toast (toasted on the stove). I'd just made some seitan the night before the power went out, so I ate that (knowing it would go bad). I had some vegan "buffalo wings" in the freezer that I hated to throw away, so  I ate those one night for dinner. I didn't run at all, but with all of the storms and flooding, it was the last thing on my mind. 

While going though my clothes, I got really anxious about my weight. I don't know whether to keep my clothes that are too big. Judging by my history, I'll likely gain weight and then wish I still had them. But if I manage to keep my weight around 130, I can finally have a wardrobe that I don't have to replace over and over. If I hold onto the clothes, I feel like it's just planning to fail.

I think I'll put them in the garage for now, and hold onto them for a a year or so. I really hope I won't have to pull them back out, but I've altered so many of them to fit me well (at the size I was 10-15 pounds ago). My weight goes up and down so much. When I was over 200 pounds, gaining or losing 10 pounds didn't make any difference in my clothes. At this weight, however, even five pounds makes a big difference.

There is a line somewhere between 125 and 132-ish that makes me go up a size in clothes. And then at 140, I'll go up another size. Right now, my clothes are comfy--I have room to breathe and I don't feel like I can't bend over, haha. I like my clothes, and there aren't any in my closet that are too small. It would be really nice if it could stay this way!

August 29, 2023


Where do I even start?

Our power is back, thankfully. There are still a lot of people without power, so I am very grateful ours was restored.

On Thursday, after Jerry got in the accident with the Jeep, we were at a loss for what to do next. Going from three cars to one car in a matter of three months is a big challenge! We're still dealing with the insurance company. Because of the water damage, we can't keep (or buy back) the car with a salvage title--a Michigan law--so I'm assuming that we'll get a check from the insurance company.

Jerry had made plans a long time ago for a "guys' weekend" with friends that he went to high school with. He hadn't seen them in YEARS (at least a decade, probably more) and he was really looking forward to it. It wasn't just the weekend--it was actually Thursday through Monday--and after the accident, he said he wasn't going to go.

I really wanted him to go, because he's been wanting to catch up with these guys for a long time. And since the power was out, all he'd be doing here is twiddling his thumbs all weekend anyway. He was super worried about the car situation, but I said that his going on the guys' trip (they rented a cabin and played disc golf mostly) wouldn't change the fact that we need to get a car. Anyway, after I kept pushing him to go, he did.

At the time, I assumed the power would come back on the next day at the latest. As horrible as it sounds, after a couple of days with no power--sweating from not having air conditioning, living on watermelon, grapes, and toast that I made on the gas stove top(!), only being able to do anything during light hours when we could see, listening to the loud generators from our neighbors, and not having any form of entertainment--I started to feel resentful. I was miserable and I wanted everyone to be miserable with me! ;)

Jerry rode with his friends to the cabin, so we did have a car--however, Eli needed it for work. After a couple of days, it started to hit me that not having power wasn't just boredom from no internet, making sure to keep the refrigerator and freezer closed, and having to use flashlights.

The dishes and laundry started piling up; the rug definitely needed to be vacuumed, and I had already used up the battery in the cordless one; we had to take cold showers because we have a tankless water heater that runs on electricity; and other things that we don't think about when the power is only out for a matter of hours.

On the second night, I was lying in bed at 9:00 (much earlier than I usually go to bed). I checked my sunrise/sunset app to see what time sunrise was, so I could get up. I thought it was hilarious that they have a countdown until night was over. I figured I'd just be refreshing it all night, watching it get closer to morning. And even funnier that it was only 1% complete when I happened to check, haha. 

Being vegan was convenient, because I didn't have to worry about meat and dairy spoiling. I had blocks of tofu in the freezer, which I knew would stay frozen solid (they are basically a big chunk of ice). I ended up having to throw away only a few things--soy milk, tofu that was marinating in the fridge, and couple of days' worth of leftovers from dinner.

I didn't want our fruit to go bad, so Noah and I ate an entire watermelon in probably 24 hours and a ton of green and red grapes. I've been really into eating sourdough toast with coconut oil for the last month or so, and I was bummed I couldn't make it in the toaster oven. Since all we could cook with was the gas stove, I lit the burner as low as I could and then sat the bread on there to toast. 

I wish I could say it was delicious, but it was very unevenly toasted. I could have cooked other things on the stove top, but I didn't want to keep opening the fridge, so I made do with what I had. It actually wasn't that bad, though--I was so full of fruit that it didn't matter much, hahaha.

I definitely don't recommend

The house was pitch-black at night, especially in my bedroom with the blackout curtains--I bumped into things so many times. I discovered a really large, nasty bruise on my arm a couple of days ago and for the life of me, I cannot remember how I got it!

A bruise that big, you'd think I would remember how I got it.

During the day, I spent a lot of time hand-sewing while listening to podcasts on my phone. I had one portable battery (which I hid from the kids, haha) to charge my phone, so I used that in order to listen to podcasts--the battery went a long way, actually. When it was too dark, I used my Kindle Paperwhite to read (with the backlight).

Meanwhile, Jerry was having a blast with his friends. He sent me a selfie of him playing disc golf; and I sent him this, claiming it was a selfie of me--hahaha.

After a few days, I finally decided that I really needed to charge our stuff, get a good night's sleep in the air conditioning, and just watch TV or play around on my phone or something to keep from losing my mind; so, I booked a hotel room for the kids and I to stay the following night. I thought it would actually be really fun to hang out with them (bribing them with air conditioning and hot showers and TV and charging ports, it was no question whether they wanted to, haha). 

The following morning, the power came back on! I immediately called the hotel to cancel, hoping they would waive their 24 hours cancellation rule--which they did--and then I took a relaxing shower. It was so funny--each time one of the kids or I would step in the shower while the power was out, you could hear a big gasp follow by a few expletives all through the house. I actually prefer showers on the lukewarm side rather than hot most of the time, because I don't like sweating right when I get out of the shower; but stepping into an ice cold shower will definitely take your breath away!

Jerry came home when the power was already back, so he was lucky. (And I really am glad that he went.) Then last night, we were making dinner and talking about his trip--food in the oven--and suddenly the power went out. Again.

I nearly lost it just then. I was stunned. About five minutes later, however, it came back on--a big relief. Yesterday was super busy--I cleaned the house, caught up on laundry, cleaned out the fridge to get rid of whatever may have spoiled (leftovers, mostly), and I just didn't want to write a blog post after that. But now I'm all caught up on housework, and we're dealing with the car insurance. I just want it to be done!

Anyway, after the very long five days I've had--they felt extra long because I was always either waiting for it to be bedtime or waiting for sunrise in order to get up--I am eternally grateful to Benjamin Franklin for discovering electricity ;)

August 25, 2023


My computer battery is still dead, and I don’t want to use what little battery I have on my phone to write out a post, so I’m going to have to write later. I’ll share a couple of pics, though.

We are still without electricity (it went out on Wednesday night) and this is the update I got from the electric company today:

SUNDAY. This will be the longest we’ve ever gone without power.

Last night, we had more storms—including a tornado that touched down in a mobile home park about eight miles away. This isn’t my photo, but I was stunned when I saw it. I feel horrible for all of those people who live there!

I’ve never seen anything like it. The airport was apparently total chaos, too. Below is a photo of a tunnel that you have to drive through to get to the airport. As you can imagine, lots of people didn’t make their flights yesterday.

Well, the formatting on this post is getting really screwed up (I think) so I’ll leave it at that for now. I’ll likely wait until we get our power back before posting again!

August 24, 2023

When It Rains, It Pours (literally)

I can't tell you how many times I've said over the last year, "What else could possibly happen? Things can't get any worse." (Yes, I'm aware that's dramatic and certainly not true, but each minor catastrophe we've had feels enormous.) 

Just 36 hours after I wrote about how things are looking up and how we're making the final payment on the Jeep, well... I learned that things can, in fact, get worse.

I hoped to put more photos on this post, but my computer battery died—I’m posting this from my phone! Ugh. So if the formatting is weird, that’s why.

Last night, we had the worst storm I've ever experienced. And that includes the 2010 tornado! The lightening was like a strobe light for about five hours and the thunder was SO LOUD. The power went out at 12:30 am, and the storm just kept getting worse.

At about 2:00 am, Noah came rushing into my room and said there was something wrong with Chick. He thought Chick was choking or something because his meow was very loud and strangled sounding. He is deathly afraid of storms, and he only meows like that during thunderstorms (he wasn't choking, just scared). I felt terrible for him, but I couldn't calm him--he just kept pacing around. (Meanwhile, his scared-of-his-own-shadow brother Duck was just chillin' in his cat bed by the window, watching the storm.)

At around 3:00 am, I went out in the living room because Chick was wailing. Eli heard me and came out as well. We grabbed flashlights and looked at the storm outside. I was shocked that there weren't any fallen trees or anything--there really wasn't even any wind! I was relieved about that, thinking, “At least we won’t need a new roof!”

I couldn't sleep (it's so hot when the air conditioner won't work), so I read my book until around 5:00 am, and finally fell asleep. At 7:15, I woke up and saw that Jerry had called on his way home from work. When I called him back, he was clearly having a panic attack. He said someone had run him off the road and the Jeep was completely ruined. It doesn’t look bad, but the tow truck driver said he was sure there is no salvaging it. It didn’t even try to start after pulling it out. (Jerry was physically okay—just angry and panicked.)

I was stunned after talking to Jerry (who was waiting on the police report). I looked outside and I could not believe my eyes. I yelled, "HOLY MOTHER!!", drawing the kids to the window as well, and took some photos while I checked out the damage. We have not had a flood for the entire time we've lived here--20 years. It was unbelievable.

So, I guess I jinxed us when I said things couldn't get worse. Someone is trying to prove to me that they can. Funnily enough, I didn't even get upset. I laughed! I think I might be losing my mind, actually. I've gotten used to all of these things happening to us and today really didn't faze me.

The street was totally flooded as well:

I have no idea what will happen with the insurance on the Jeep (it's fully covered, but insurance hasn't done shit for us in the past, so I'm expecting NOTHING at this point). Our house sits up high, which we always found kind of annoying (but now I'm very thankful for that) so we didn't get damage in the house.

A lot of our neighbors, however, weren't so lucky. Next door, my neighbor who has the most amazing garden you've ever seen, was totally flooded. She works SO HARD on that garden (and she shares her veggies with me!); I feel terrible for her. Some of the houses had water completely submerging the foundation. Our house was on an island, basically.

I felt bad for the squirrels, so I laid some boards for them to get from the tree to the grass. (I love them as much as my pets.)

They were so funny--they'd come grab a nut and then there was no place for them to bury it since the entire backyard was flooded, so they just buried it a few feet away from where they got it. Noah couldn't go to his second day of classes because the street was flooded.

I asked Eli if he'd want to take the kayaks out with me--how often is that a possibility? I thought it would be fun, but he was too embarrassed. A couple hours later, I could see that one of the neighbors had the same idea--they had a paddleboat!

Anyway, I'm not going to even think about what disaster could happen next. I'm super disappointed about the Jeep. Now, we're down to one car between Jerry, Eli, and me. (Noah's car is a stick shift and none of us knows how to drive it.) I'm ridiculously tired now, after being up most of the night, so I'm going to try to take a nap. Maybe this is all just a nightmare? ;)

August 23, 2023

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 117 (and other stats)

Holy smokes! My heart feels so full of love and kindness from the comments on yesterday's post, and I can't tell you how grateful I am to have connected with so many of you. I've had a lot of amazing opportunities come my way since I started Runs for Cookies, but nothing compares to all of the friends I've made (whether online or in person). I don't just mean that in regards to yesterday's post, either. It's kind of mind-blowing to me how one little portion of my life (losing weight in 2009-2010) led to making friends all over the world.

I have some exciting numbers to post today, and I'm not referring to my weight (although I'm happy with that). I had my annual lipid profile done a couple of days ago! First, though, my weigh-in:

I was at 131.0 last time (two weeks ago), and my weight was at 129.8 today. So, I'm down 1.2 pounds and this time, I know it wasn't due to feeling overwhelmed. During my week away from the computer, I ate regular, healthy meals and it felt great to get back to a good routine.

I still haven't had any sweets--I think it's been about a month now?--which is totally unlike me. However, I *know* that if I do eat something sweet, I'm going to start craving more big time. I even made some peanut butter brownies today for my mom's birthday and I asked Noah and Eli to taste test them for me.

In the past, if I decided to forgo dessert, it was because I was trying to save on calories. Now, it's entirely based on the fact that it makes me crave sugar so much that I end up giving in--over and over. I don't think there is anything wrong with eating dessert now and then if I can control it, but I hate dealing with the cravings that follow.

Anyway, I was very nervous to get my lipid panel done; I have to get it checked every year for health insurance purposes. Last year, I'd been eating vegan for about nine months and my numbers improved. But this year, I've continued eating vegan and I felt like the bloodwork would be an accurate gauge of how my diet has improved my health (or not).

Background: Several of my family members have high cholesterol. And for the 20 years I've been having my cholesterol checked yearly, my total number has been high. My doctor has always said it's fine because I have an abnormally high amount of HDL ("good") cholesterol--it's always hovered between 90-100-ish. Every year, my doctor would write a note for the health insurance company stating that my risk of heart disease was negligible, and that the total is high because the HDL is high. (The insurance company charges a premium if your total cholesterol is high.)

When my total cholesterol hit a high of 285 a couple of years ago, I started looking more closely at the individual HDL and LDL ("bad" cholesterol) numbers. And when I saw how high the LDL was (173), I knew that the HDL wasn't going to out-benefit that number. It was scary-high.

I started a vegan diet January of 2022--and that was solely due to ethical and environmental reasons. I hoped my health would benefit, but that didn't play a part in my decision (if it had, I would have started eating vegan a long time ago). I know that my diet isn't "the norm"--especially in my family.

I never say anything about my diet unless someone asks, and I always hope that no one mentions it when I decline food at a get-together. I certainly don't expect people to cater to my diet. I don't want to feel like I have to explain my choices to people who have their minds set on what they perceive is the ideal diet. (It's kind of like when people ask why I don't drink. I'm usually the oddball for not drinking and if I explain why, they usually say something like "I could never do that". I don't ask people why they drink or why they eat meat--it's a personal decision for everybody.

When I get the questions/statements about "Where do you get your protein?" and "I could never eat that many carbs and lose weight", I don't bother to explain because they've already made up their minds that my diet is not healthy. (I actually eat more protein now than I ever did when eating meat and dairy. And I eat a LOT of carbs--rice, pasta, beans, bread--I love them.)

Even though I'm vegan for reasons other than health, I still want to be healthy. So, I was nervous about my lipid numbers. If they hadn't improved, I would maybe start to wonder if my diet isn't as healthy as I think it is. I want *proof* that I could, in fact, lower my cholesterol with diet alone.

I've always wanted to get my total number under 200. It has NEVER--not once--been under 200. Even in 2016, when I was at my lowest weight and running the best I've ever run, my total cholesterol was 226.

Since I became vegan, I stopped counting calories and focused on eating more fiber and more nutrient-rich foods. I haven't been running (which isn't a good thing, I know, but I only mention it because it won't have affected the numbers). Basically, I was hoping that getting my test results would give me proof that my diet is working well for me.

Finally, the numbers (compared with my numbers from before eating vegan)...

Total cholesterol (ideal is less than 200): 196! ("normal" for the first time ever). Down from 285.
HDL ("good"; ideal is more than 40): 95 (up from 92)
LDL ("bad"; ideal is less than 130): 92 (down from 173; the ideal is less than 130)

It's crazy to me that my LDL went down SO drastically. My doctor also ordered a test for my iron and ferritin, a CBC, and a basic metabolic profile. Last year, when I learned that the symptoms that had been bothering me for YEARS were likely from iron deficiency without anemia (low ferritin, borderline-low iron), I was desperate to get my ferritin level up. I was so tired of being freezing cold all the time and my ice chewing habit was out of control (I was eating the equivalent of a gallon of water a day in ice). Yes, it's ironic--freezing cold, but craving ice.

A few months ago, I started taking a high-dose iron supplement (vegan *and* easy on my stomach!) and I really hoped it would work to get my ferritin up. Last year, it was at an 8... and the normal range is 11-307 (ideally being over 100). My symptoms went away really quickly, so I was sure it was working. When I had it checked a couple of days ago, it was at 39. Still on the low side, but definitely an improvement from 8! I'm going to continue taking supplements and hopefully I'll get it up higher.

All of that aside, all of my numbers were in the "normal" range. I was actually kind of giddy when I got my results, haha--it was very validating to see that my choices are working well for me.

Thank you again for being so supportive and nice and understanding and just... wonderful. xo

August 22, 2023

A Break From Social Media

First, I am sorry for not saying that I was going to take a break--I had no idea I was going to do that, actually. I realized on Tuesday that I was burnt out--I really needed a break from my computer, from social media, from all of the negativity online. I'd read a few not-so-nice comments, and after a super rough year, I closed my computer and chose not to write that day. (Which turned into a week.) It makes me sad that people are so mean to each other on social media.

Jerry's and my 20-year wedding anniversary was on Wednesday, and while we didn't have plans, I didn't want to even look at my computer. I wanted to have a great day with him. He actually had an entire week off after getting home from Texas, so it was a good time for me to take a break. 

Maybe I've just gotten more sensitive over the years, but if there is one thing that I have learned, it's that a lot people definitely don't follow the "Golden Rule": Treat others as you would like to be treated. On social media, I think of it as: If you don't have something nice to say, just move on. It's so simple!

Ain't that the truth.

I will never understand people that choose to spend their time arguing in comment threads, writing nasty comments, hate-following, etc. Over the years, I have used social media less and less. I turned off ALL Facebook notifications several years ago, and it was the best social media decision I've ever made. I only look at Facebook about once every couple of weeks, mainly to reply to any messages I may have.

I like Instagram, but mostly for looking at memes. I don't use Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube (unless I'm looking up instructions for something), or any other form of social media. I use Pinterest, but not for the social aspect of it--I just use it when looking for ideas (usually recipes and crafts).

The worst is on Facebook, where a lot of people look for things to be offended by or to argue about. Even something like a news article from my local newspaper about opening a new restaurant nearby causes a big argument in the comments. I just don't get it! If I'm going to spend time on my computer or my phone, I want to spend it looking at or reading things I enjoy.

On Jerry's and my anniversary, we pulled out our "memory box" and sifted through 24 years of memories  (we started dating in 1999, married in 2003). We have a few newspapers in there; our wedding was the weekend of the big blackout that spanned across several states, which was obviously huge news. We also have newspapers from the kids' birth announcements, and from a few times when someone from our family was in the paper.

And you know what's kind of funny? When we came across a newspaper that had a photo of my kids and Joey (they'd asked for readers to submit local photos), I found myself reaching my hand over to enlarge the photo with my fingers! Hahaha, I was so used to looking at photos on my phone, it was a habit. It hit me then--reading an actual newspaper means you can avoid comments altogether. I told Jerry: "Look how awesome this is! There aren't any comments to make people feel bad. I miss the days when people just read the newspaper; maybe they felt the same hate back then, but they couldn't share it with thousands of other people."

(At that moment, I remembered the newspaper had also posted those reader-photos on Instagram--and someone commented on this picture that it was cruel to let Joey play with the kids when the water was obviously so cold. BAHAHA! Yes, I forced him to play with the kids out there and pose for a photo.)

Anyway, Jerry and I had a lot of fun going through all of the stuff we had in our memory box: movie ticket stubs (from as far back as 1999!), cards and notes we've given each other, advice cards from our wedding guests (instead of a guestbook, I set up a table with note cards on them and asked guests to give us their best marriage advice). Sorting through those was bittersweet; there are several people that have passed away since then, and reading their advice, written in their own handwriting was kind of hard. But nice.

After that, I just decided to take time away from social media (including my blog) for the week with Jerry. We didn't have special plans, but it was a relaxing, stress-free week. And it was exactly what I needed! I was able to eat regularly--breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack. Sitting at the table. Enjoying my food. Cooking new recipes. I even went for a run! (Not a long one, but a run nonetheless.)

I realize it may seem confusing that I am relating those things to social media. They aren't, but the negativity affects my mood, and my mood affects my actions.

Early on in the week, I made an impulse decision to disassemble my denim quilt--the one that I made with my jeans as they got too big when I was losing weight. (Nothing to do with social media--just something I thought would be fun.) I am going to put it back together, but in a different way. I had no idea just how long it would take to disassemble the quilt! There are 289 squares, if I remember correctly. I'm waiting on a 4-inch square template to use my rotary cutter to trim all of the squares the same size. (When I made the quilt in 2010, I used scissors--how I didn't get carpal tunnel back then is beyond me!)

Other news: I am about to pay the final payment on the Jeep--two years early. When we bought it, I set up the payments to be automatic, with extra money added to the payments, to get it paid off as quickly as possible. Now, we're able to roll those payments seamlessly toward the house payments. And barring any sort of unexpected expenses (ha!), we should have the house paid off in October of next year.

We also canceled our Amazon Prime membership! We had Prime since the very early days (I think 2006 ish). Recently, I had a big issue when trying to return something to a third party seller (the dimensions on the listing were incorrect, so it was too big; and it arrived damaged), and Amazon refused to honor their A-to-Z guarantee. I was charged $44(!) for return shipping, after I'd already sent it back. So, I canceled our Prime membership.

It turned out to be a GREAT decision. We used to spend way too much money on Amazon because it was so easy to just make a few taps on our phones and 30 seconds later, it was on the way. Now we can't order something so quickly and easily. We have to have a minimum order of $25 to get free shipping, so if there is something we need, I just add it to the cart and wait until we have a minimum order that is over $25. The balance on our Amazon credit card? NEGATIVE $75! After I'd paid the balance, a refund went through and now we have a negative balance.

The shipping without Prime also takes a LOT longer, so impulse buying things that we want *right now* has lost is allure. I've been waiting nearly a week for the template that I ordered for my quilt. I actually should have just gone to Hobby Lobby or JoAnn's to buy one, but I thought that maybe the shipping estimate was longer than reality (I was wrong).

I had planned to write a post yesterday, but I completely forgot that Jerry and Eli had a softball game (I like to go to the games) so I decided to wait until today--giving me a full week off. And it was exactly what I needed! I feel happier, I've gotten back into a good routine, and I am working on creating better habits.

A very well-known blogger that I used to follow just stopped writing one day nearly two years ago. There was no post saying that she was quitting blogging, and she hasn't updated any social media (that I know of). I think of her often, and I really hope that she and her family are okay. Of course, she doesn't owe anyone an explanation, regardless of her reasons for quitting blogging, but it's hard not knowing whether she's okay (I'm sure it is for her other readers, too).

So, unless something tragic happens, I'm going to be sure to write a final post before quitting. I will definitely take some more breaks when I feel like I need them (hopefully with a notice), but right now I am happy to be back and in a better headspace :)

August 14, 2023

Two-Week Habits

What a weekend! The whole time that Jerry was in Texas, I felt like everything was just non-stop here. The two weeks went by so slowly, but each day seemed to fly by. I had all sorts of plans for stuff I thought I'd get done around the house, but I didn't account for all of the changes in routine I'd have to make.

When I picked up Jerry from the airport, I swear he looked so different! (I'm sure he didn't in reality--it was only two weeks--but it seemed like so much time had passed.) We had only ever been apart for about five days or so in the last 20 years (our 20th anniversary is actually this Wednesday). It was very hard to get used to him being gone, and then when he came home, it was kind of hard getting used to him being home, haha.

For example, he was the one who would always let Joey outside in the mornings and feed him breakfast; it sounds like no big deal, but I had to remember to do that first thing when I woke up. When everything is so habitual, it's like being on autopilot and you just do them without thinking. Having to change all sorts of little routine habits (even something as simple as feeding Joey) was surprisingly difficult.

While I was waiting in the cell phone lot at the airport (naturally, his flight was delayed), I listened to some more of the Atomic Habits audiobook by James Clear. I'm only about two-thirds of the way through it, but I *really* like it. It was very interesting timing because, while Jerry was away, it brought to mind all of the tiny habits that I never really realized were habits until I had to switch things up.

It's like flipping the light switch on or off when you enter or leave a room. When the electricity goes out during a storm or something, I find myself flipping the light switch on every time I walk into a room--even though I know it's not going to work. It's so automatic!

Jerry being in Texas was kind of like the electricity going out. The things that were so routine that I didn't even think about on a day-to-day basis were suddenly switched around. I finally started to get used to it and then when he got home, I found myself continuing the routine I'd started to get into while he was gone.

Then we were both kind of confused: "Did you just feed Joey breakfast?" "Yeah, why?" "I already gave him breakfast!" "Oh. Did you already let him outside?" "No, I thought you did." And so on. 

Over the weekend, I found myself thinking of how good it felt to have switched things up. And after listing to Atomic Habits, I started to notice all of those little things that have become so routine and automatic over the last 20 years. Having changed things up, as well as listening to the audiobook, made me want to change other habits as well.

I told Jerry a lot about the book (I want him to listen to it--I'd been meaning to read or listen to it for years and I wish I had a long time ago) and we talked about the habits we'd each like to change. So, I've kept up a lot of the new routine I'd gotten into while he was away. Sure, it's only been a few days, but I found I liked doing things differently and I want to continue.

An example would be eating at the dining room table instead of standing in the kitchen or on the couch or even in bed. We used to eat at the table all the time, without thinking. And as the kids got older and more independent, things changed. It started to feel weird to eat at the table by myself, so I got out of that habit. Now I've been making a conscious decision to eat at the table again so that I'll stop associating food with sitting on the couch or watching TV in the evenings. It's interesting how something so seemingly insignificant can throw you for a loop when you try to change it.

Anyway, I'll probably write more about habits once I finish the audiobook. I highly recommend it, even though I haven't finished it; it's super interesting and it really makes you take a step back and see the impact of the habits we don't even consciously think about. I already feel like it makes me notice those things and question how I can make a small change here or there that will push me in the right direction. 

Today has been a long (but fun) day. Luke and Riley are in Michigan this week, so Jerry and I took them to Barnes & Noble and then for a picnic in the park for Riley's birthday. It's crazy to me that she'll be five and starting kindergarten soon!

August 11, 2023

Friday Night Photos #126

Finally! By the time this post goes live, I'll be getting ready to pick Jerry up from the airport. I haven't said anything about his being away because I didn't think it would be a good idea to announce on the internet that I'd be alone for two weeks. Well, not totally alone--I guess I can't say my 17- and 19-year old boys are kids anymore!

Jerry has only ever traveled for work once before, but he's been wanting to for a long time. He was all set to go to Mexico in 2020, but that was right when the pandemic started and he opted not to go. For the past two weeks, he's actually been in Texas--why they chose August to send him to Texas is beyond me, but the first thing he texted me was how hot it was, haha.

Maybe I'm just very codependent, but the past two weeks have been SO hard--emotionally, physically, mentally--because I've never spent more than about five days days away from Jerry in the last 20 years. It was very hard to get used to doing everything myself; I hadn't realized just how routine our marriage roles were. I had to write a list of things to remember to do!

The timing of this trip was bad for both of us--we've been having a hard time lately with all of the stuff we've been dealing with this year--but I really wanted him to enjoy himself (neither of us had ever been to Texas). Yes, he was there for work, but the days were short and he had long weekends to do what he wanted. (Also, he was very interested in actually learning from this other plant.) He was there with a co-worker/friend, so they had fun in their free time.

I haven't posted Friday Night Photos for a couple of weeks, so some of these are going way back. Some of them are also pictures that Jerry sent me. The first? He was expecting it to be hot, but he was still taken aback by just how hot it was when he got there.

Meanwhile at home, when I went to bed I felt something tickling my arm. If I even suspect a spider touching me or anywhere near me, I completely freak out--I am deathly afraid of spiders! So when I felt that tickle on my arm, I sat leaped up in bed, slapping my arm blindly over and over while fumbling to turn on the light and see if there was, in fact, a spider. Nope--it was worse. 

A tick!!! That thing was crawling on my arm. I had taken Joey for a walk and let him sleep on the bed, so I'm thinking one of us picked it up on our walk. Thankfully, it hadn't attached itself, but I was horrified at the thought of it being in bed with me. So, I actually used a piece of packing tape to pick it up--you can see all of the pet hairs I picked up as well, haha--because I wanted to make sure it was good and dead and could not come near me ever again.

Then I spent the next hour stripping my bed and changing the bedding, searching every square inch of Joey for ticks, taking a shower, and searching my own body as well. I didn't find any more. But now I'm meticulous about checking both Joey and myself when we are done walking.

In the morning, I got this text from Jerry:

He was curious about how easy or hard it was going to be trying to eat plant-based in Texas. I sent him this meme:

He said that they were really great about accommodating his diet, though. He certainly ate better than I did!

I've actually been on a big cherry kick ever since we went with Dave and Renee to Brian's party. Renee brought a bowl of sweet cherries that she'd pitted and sliced, and they were SO good. I bought some the next day and ate them for an evening snack for a few days. If they weren't so expensive, I would probably eat those as much as I used to eat grapes ;) 

This was from before Jerry left... I saw him take a photo of a photo and I told him he was doing it totally wrong. There was a glare from the window and you could see his phone's reflection (not super noticeable, but to me it was blindingly obvious of course). So then I walked around trying to get a good photo for him. He was amused, and took about 50 pictures of me doing this from every which angle, haha.

Luke and Riley were at Brian's again (I love that I've been able to see them several times since they moved to Minnesota) and my parents were going to take the kids to a party. My mom asked if I could braid Riley's hair, so I did two french braids. When I was leaving, I saw these flowers and tucked one behind her ear. She looked so sweet! I asked her if her dad knows how to do a french braid (knowing full well that he doesn't) and she said, "Dad doesn't even know how to do a REGULAR braid!"

I went into the mall for the first time in probably three years and this is what it looked like. So much empty space and zero people. (Noah had recently told me about a particular type of photography he likes, where everything is lined up a certain way. I forget what it's called. But basically, I tried to take the picture how he'd described and he said it was exactly what he was talking about.)

There was a very interesting store that *was* open. And I don't even think that "interesting" is the right word. Just have a look...

I chatted with the owner and learned that ALL of those bags on the wall (these pictures show only about half of them) were toys from kids' meals at various fast food restaurants. She said her mom started collecting them (I want to say in 1986?) all the way through 2006. It was SO nostalgic--I saw toys that I'd gotten on the rare occasion we went to McDonald's when I was kid.

Noah is super into Shrek, so I asked her if she had any Shrek toys. We both dug through boxes and boxes and only came up with a Fiona toy (which I bought for $1). But seriously, that store is like stepping into a time warp. I want to go back there with Jerry; he used to work at McDonald's when he was a teenager and I know he'd remember a lot of the toys.

Meanwhile in Texas, Jerry was getting ready to go to a Rangers baseball game. He asked what I was going to do that day and I said maybe I'd go to the Tigers game. I thought it would actually be kind of fun to go to a game by myself! But I knew I wasn't actually going to.

Still, Jerry kept bugging me about going, and wanted me to promise that I was going to go (or at least do something fun). I said I would. A little while later, he sent me this picture of himself at the Rangers game.

I was still at home, of course, but I had an idea. I quickly changed into a Detroit shirt (I don't have any Tigers shirts anymore, so this was the best I could do), put on a Tigers hat and sunglasses. Then I took some selfies with a Jerry face...

...and I used the iPhone feature where you can tap and hold a subject in a photo and it cuts them out instantly (soooo much faster and easier than photoshop). I pasted a selfie onto a screenshot of the Tigers game and sent him this picture. Hahaha!

In reality, though, whenever I had some time, I worked on refinishing this cabinet in the garage. It ended up being a huge pain--I was running VERY low on paint (the doors and shelves are removed, so there was a lot more surface area to cover than what you see in the photo--so I thinned out the paint with mineral spirits. I was still very unsure whether I'd have enough, and I thinned it too much; the thin paint caused drip spots while it dried. I ordered some more from Sherwin Williams, but it took four days before it was ready and I wanted to get it done.

Anyway, the cabinet is done and in my bedroom, and now it houses all of most of some of my craft stuff.

This picture was from Wednesday, when the boys and I went to see Meg 2 at the theater. Naturally, we had to take a Jerry-face selfie and send it to him. I have a lot of pictures of Jerry with the boys like this at the movies (they always go to the Marvel movies together) but I think this might be the first of just the kids and me.

I get a lot of VERY random thoughts that just pop into my head for no reason at all, and one day I thought, "I miss TiVo." That was the first DVR we owned and it makes me think of our very early marriage days. I still remember the "bloop!" noise that it made when fast forwarding. So I just sent "I miss TiVo" to Jerry. Poor Jerry thought it was a typo... BAHAHA. 

I'll end with that, because I really do miss him (if it's not obvious) and I'm excited to go pick him up from the airport and hear about his trip!

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