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Thursday, May 31, 2018

May Recap




Well, I didn't set any goals for May because I knew the first half of it would be stuffing ourselves with seafood and whoopie pies...Maine's bounty in our bellies.  And on our thighs...butts...spare tires...calves.  If there's a body part, it's carryin' extra for May.

But the good thing is we basically got right back to it.  We eased in last week making sure not to overdo it on the strength as we've been known to do.  I am lucky enough to have a huge glob of scar tissue on my left elbow area now from a fall I took at a lighthouse so weights have been super fun with both messed up.  I said how I'd hoped to make walking during the day (during the week) a goal because I know not moving has been a big problem for a decade.   I only missed Monday and that was because it was already hot and 90% humidity and I just wasn't having it.  Sadly the next day was the same so we got out and walked.  It was horrible.  So Wednesday, I did 3 Walk and Talk workouts from Jessica Smith and in the same time I walked my steps that my 'hood laps usually warrant.  (According to her it was three miles but it's not because the steps don't line up stride wise as they do outside if that makes sense.)  I'm trying hard to make it a habit especially after seeing that I overestimated how many steps I typically get in a day.  Probably 300-500.  Not a typo.  So you can see how that would impede any weight loss regardless of what kind of workouts we do in the evening. 

So here are June's goals:

Food:  Just getting back to normal portions (almost there) and take advantage of all of the fresh fruits and veggies by making a few meatless meals during the week.

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Exercise:  My thought was maybe 2 HIITs and 1 longer workout  (Turbo Fire, Power 90, etc) and the usual 3 strengths.  June will, unfortunately, be about rebuilding stamina lost from our time off in May from aerobic exercise.

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Water:  Need to get back to my two bottles a day.

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Sleep:  I need to look into blackout curtains.  The streetlight is, of course, right in front of our place and it's bothering me more and more.  Then you couple that with it getting light in the room around 6am and it wakes me up and I spend an hour being restless.  It's not how I want to start my day.

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Mental Health:  My yoga mat should be here today so I would like to start the mornings by stretching on the patio.  I checked and we have a path that would work.  It always put me in a good frame of mind when we did it on vacation last year and like the one or two days I did it last month in Maine, so why not make it an every day thing and not just a vacation thing?  I'll do it when we get back from our morning walk and maybe have a nice cup of iced mango tea waiting while I do it.  (I had that after Tuesday's walk that was so hot and humid and it was instantly refreshing and cooled down my core temp fast.)

What are your goals for June? 

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Listening on the Road

Since our vacations have been road trips for the past few years where it's about 10-14 hours to our destination, we're big on having audiobooks available to us and this year was no exception.  We heard that Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under) was going to be reading the unabridged version of Pet Sematary and it would be released right before our trip.  We figured since we were going to be in Maine where it is set and love us some MCH, this was a perfect choice.  The Mr had Kim Russo's book The Happy Medium on his wishlist and this seemed like a good choice too.  I got him hooked after finding her show The Haunting Of... and got to see all kinds of celebs go back to where they had otherworldly encounters.  Man, I ate that show up with a spoon, so I was into listening too.

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Pet Sematary

(Church!  Source)
The Mr is a huge Stephen King fan.  All through our dating and early marriage, gifts for him were simple if SK had a new book out.  So even though he'd already read it eons ago, he was down for another listen, and I was looking forward to hearing MCH read it and I'd be hearing the original story for the first time though I've seen the movie a zillion times.   (Which I hear they're rebooting.  Massive eye roll)

Let me tell you this...just get it.  Michael had better win a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album.  He is RIDICULOUSLY talented.  He has the Maine accent down right to the "ay-yuht" (which is Mainer for yes) and I suspect borrowed heavily from Jud's character played by the late Fred Gwynne.  His voices for every character from Ellie to Gage and even Pascow were on point and done with such enthusiasm and attention to detail, it would be a travesty for him not to be recognized for it.  It was super cool for us because I made sure to start it on the day we were driving back to Freeport to Acadia National Park.   So as we were driving and he was mentioning Bangor, Orrington, and other Maine cities, we were practically driving through them at the same time getting us even more immersed into the story.  Did I ever tell y'all I wanted to buy the house SK wrote this book in?  It was on the market last year I think, and I had zero interest in it because of that, but it was friggin' gorgeous and totally affordable.  I literally cried over it because we couldn't just pick up and move which would've happened if the Mr could've transferred close.  This pic does it zero justice since it was the inside I fell in love with but you can see how gorgeous it is.  I digress.

The only downside to the book is because it's unabridged, it's looooong.  You know how wordy Stephen King can be and he was at a time in his career where he was into over-describing everything. We did have to briefly fast forward from time to time after screaming in frustration to STFU a few times.  I have to believe even Michael was like "seriously dude, if I have to read one more description about the wind "whining" through the trees again, I'm going to call it a day."  But seriously, Pet Sematary is a great, long way to pass the time which is totally entertaining because of Michael and his fabulous interpretation of these characters.


The Happy Medium: Life Lessons from the Other Side by Kim Russo

(Source)

The Mr was always interested in the show The Haunting Of.. after I introduced him to it, but he was more interested in how Kim came to discover her abilities.  This book gave a detailed look into that and is read by Kim herself so it's got that Long Island flavor.  It was very interesting to see how she struggled with how to use her gift and how it related to her religion.  It was a spin I didn't expect but could understand how that could happen.  It was fascinating to hear how she used her husband in past life regression sessions and there are some revelations that came out of those sessions.  One thing I didn't expect was the comfort it would bring me in my healing process over my Grandma.  Some of those lessons I really needed when we got the final kick in the teeth with what her headstone said but basically, her whole family was cut out of it, and that's all I'll say about it.  There was a specific mention of dementia patients that kind of confirmed some things for me that happened after she passed.  She shared knowledge of things that were recurring themes that she felt could bring comfort and understanding to those of us still on Earth.   She does some tests and exercises to see how you can use your own intuitive senses that we tend to suppress.  You guys know I have always identified as an empath, and she talks about how those people tend to be more open to all energy including from the other side.  She talks about how you can identify if your child is an empath and how your responses can help keep their heart and mind open as they get older.  The sensitive child does really need to be nurtured differently.  I know many people think mediums are scam artists and yes, there are unfortunately people who do just that, but there are scam artists in every field.

I think anyone who has ever had an experience with the other side knows that when we die, that's not it and The Happy Medium confirms it.  The Mr and I had one just before the trip.  We make it a habit to visit all of our loved ones at the cemetery before a trip to ask for their protection as we travel.  I said a silent prayer to all of my relatives and I said something very specific to all of them.  I never told the Mr what I prayed.  The next morning, he said he dreamed about my great grandma, whom we visited said a few things and one of them was the particular phrase I said to her silently.  When he told me, I burst into tears and told him my prayer, and he couldn't believe it.

Both of these books are highly recommended and here are some other audiobooks we enjoyed on previous trips.

A Little Thing Called Life: On Loving Elvis Presley, Bruce Jenner, and Songs in Between by Linda Thompson

Very interesting and candid but respectful recollections of her time with Elvis, Bruce Jenner, and David Foster.  You would be surprised how many songs this former Hee Haw girl has written that you sing all the time!   (I will tell you, her poems starting each chapter will grate on your nerves about halfway through, but this was a fantastic book.)

Born Standing Up:  A Comic's Life by Steve Martin

This was a charming, funny memoir.  The Mr has been a fan longer than I have since I really came to love him more after Father of the Bride, but he didn't disappoint.  We both agree that this may be a boring read.  It really needed Steve's inflection and impressions to pull out some details that might've made you glaze a bit if you were just reading it.

Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys by Billy Crystal 

This was hilarious and also a little sad at times.  It detailed his early start as well as some great celebrity stories and situations.

Kathy Griffin's Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index 

I know, you either love her or hate her, but I'm obviously in the love camp.  I was going to review this book after a trip, and then that picturegate happened, and I decided against it.  But honestly, if you like her juicy celeb stories, then this book is right up your alley.  While reading it is probably funny enough, listening to her inflection and laughing is the best way to truly appreciate it.

So That Happened: A Memoir by Jon Cryer

If you're an 80's person, this will likely be up your alley.  He does give some very surprising takes on his time with John Hughes and Molly Ringwald.  You'll be shocked what roles he passed on and ones he was overlooked for.  He talks about his time on Two and a Half Men and of course, the whole Charlie Sheen thing.  It's more than just stories about that stuff, he talks very candidly about himself that makes him pretty endearing if you didn't already have one for cheering for Duckie.

Dancing with Myself by Billy Idol

We actually got this audiobook even after I'd already read the hard copy!  After reading all of his stories and laughing imagining how he would've sounded telling that story, I knew we had to get it so the Mr could hear it too.  I must say his voice can still make your loins swell you weak in the knees.  That British accent coupled with a bad boy tone could make him reading a manual on replacing a toilet erotic.  But seriously, it was awesome to read about his childhood and how he was actually basically American at one point in his childhood with zero English accent.  Then, of course, going through the punk era of Generation X and beyond including his almost life ending motorbike accident.  Definitely, a must listen for an Idol fan.

As you can see, I'm obviously a big memoir gal.  That can either be very enlightening or in the cases of Rick Springfield and Rod Stewart, put a little tarnish on the shine.  Audiobooks help make a long drive more bearable or maybe that long commute.

If you haven't had an audible membership, you can actually try it for free.  All of the audiobooks at the add to cart say "Get this audiobook plus a second, free.  1 audiobook credit per month.  Audible is $14.95/mo after 30 days. Cancel anytime"  So if you want to try it for free to see if you like audiobooks, you totally should, it's how we got hooked.  (Just don't forget to set up a reminder to cancel if you don't want it long term.)

Do you listen to audiobooks?  What's your favorite?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Memorial Day weekend recap

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Happy Tuesday all.

What a freakin' weekend.  Last Thursday was really good.  A friend of mine came over for lunch.  I tried to keep it somewhat healthy.  I dug up our out of control hosta and divided half of one into two, and she's going to plant them at their house.  It's kind of nice to know it'll live on with my friend and her new husband.  We had such a good time and I jokingly (but kind of seriously) told her I didn't trust anyone in our family to follow through with our final wishes, so we're counting on her.  To my surprise, she was all over it and said she would do whatever we wanted, wherever we wanted and would say whatever we wanted if we wanted something specific read.  I've got to say it kind of gave us a little peace of mind.  I know even if we lost touch right now, she would still do it. 

Friday we got this new patio umbrella.  It's an 11' beast that I wanted to get in a temporary position to see if we could gain back some space on the patio before getting it redone.  I've gotta say we're super happy with how much it covers from nosy neighbors and that can tilt to give a total "yeah, we're blocking you" tilt to it that is almost comical.  As far as the patio, at this point, we're in a holding pattern because despite the fact we were approved 18 years ago, apparently, the new HOA feels that replacing the same area needs to be approved again and it could take up to 30 days.  *facepalm*  I was getting frustrated the later it got and said we'd pick it up again in the morning.

Saturday came, and despite being up since 7am, I wanted the Mr to sleep because he did a lot of hard work the day before.  So we didn't get up until 9am and got back to it.  We moved it and were getting the rest of the patio into some kind of shape to use at least temporarily until we heard back.  I was ready to start our day before it got too gross hot and the Mr asked to play devil's advocate.  I told him I was not in a mental place to play "what if's" and hoped he'd understand.  Well, 5 minutes later, he's talking about what if the A/C went out.  *twitch*  It's 22 years old, and we've had to have it refilled with freon twice in the past few years.  Last year the dude said we could probably squeeze out 2 more years or so and the price he quoted was more than I cared to think about and I thought last year we agreed to wait the two years and take our chances since it's running just fine.  So this was really the last thing on my mind, and if we're dropping almost $5000 on a patio that already puts a major lump in my throat, you're proposing we drop close to $10K potentially on a new HVAC system?  I had a meltdown, twas not a great day for either of us and let's just say by the end of the day, he learned that "playing devil's advocate" will cost him $7000.  In two weeks, a new HVAC for us. 

Sunday, we had brunch then made a few returns and started our 4-hour grocery trek.  Four. Hours.  We both have no idea why it took that long.  Well, me trying to find a Father's Day card that fits my situation took 20 minutes and the check out was a 20-minute wait as well so 40 minutes in Target for just those two things.  By the time we got home, it was like 7:15pm, and we still had to work out.  Neither of us wanted to do it, but we did.  So we didn't eat until 9:00pm and were starving.

Yesterday, I ended up having to work due to new internet crap, and the Mr had to help me, so I was not pleased.  Then we did our HIIT workout, had a big ol' cookout and caught up on the DVR a bit, took a nap (well, he did) and then it was dinner time so we did that and that brought us to the end of the day.

How was your weekend?

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Monday, May 28, 2018

It's Memorial Day...




I hope that everyone is able to have today off for a nice long weekend.  Don't forget the reason we get to grill out and celebrate the unofficial beginning of summer. 

Taking the day off myself!

Thank you for your service or the service of your family or friends if you or someone you love served.


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Friday, May 25, 2018

What I'm Reading This Week #21

Happy Friday everyone!  Are you as ready for the weekend as I am?  (Rhetorical obviously!)

Let's peruse...


7 Low-Back-Friendly Glute Exercises  (No pain for booty gains!)

Should You Exercise When You Are Sore?   (Good to know.)

Americans waste about a quarter of the food they buy, and the environmental consequences are staggering  (WOW.   This is kinda scary)

12 Foods That Help You Fall (and Stay) Asleep!  (I love a lot of foods on this li....zzzzzz...)

Not seeing results? 5 Common weight loss methods that might be sabotaging your progress  (Excellent points and good for those wanting to stop with the numbers obsessing)

The "Burn Fat Faster" Workout  (Love this workout!  It's a butt kicker for sure!)

What to Do When You Weigh 352 Pounds and Everything Else Has Failed  (Very interesting perspective from 50 years ago)

10 years of following an Alzheimer's patient  (*sobbing*  Please, you MUST watch this.  Don't read the article, watch the video.)

"I've Had All My Fillers Dissolved": Courteney Cox Admits to Getting Tons of Facial Work  (I am SO proud of her!  I'm so sick of women falling into this snowball effect of trying to maintain a "youthful" appearance that looks anything but.  She looks SO much better without all of that sh*t in her face!  Let's hope others follow suit...Hollywood is sending the wrong message to our youth and I'm hoping she starts a revolution!)

Fleetwood Mac Detail New Tour and Talk Life After Lindsey Buckingham   (Sorry but it's not Fleetwood Mac without Lindsey.  I understand the reason they gave for his firing but still.  So glad I saw them in 1997 when they reunited the first time and were on good terms.)

We're gearing up for Memorial Day weekend like most of you.  I don't know that we have specific plans but just enjoying getting back into the groove.

What are your plans this weekend?  Any grilling on tap?

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

When He's Not There

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The Mr and I will usually walk the neighborhood for a workout here and there, maybe 2-3x week depending on where my leg is in its screwed-uppedness.  (Totally a word.)   It's usually around 4-5pm, and we see our usual doggie friends and their owners.  (Are we the only ones who remember the dog's name but not the parents?  "Oh, I wonder how Roscoe's mom is?"  "Or Barnaby's mom looks sad.")  We walk three laps which is almost the equivalent of 3 miles, and I've never really given it a second thought.

I made a goal to walk in the mornings (hoping to make that a habit), I did my first one Monday.  Given we're starting when I call "armpit of Hell" season  (aka-summer), I know even early afternoon walks aren't going to keep me on track because I will take one step out into a wall of humidity and say "nope" and shut the door.  (Kind of like I wanted to do yesterday.)  So earlyish mornings it will be because I also needed to get out of the habit of being up until 2am, sleep until 7:30 am, be exhausted and try to sleep until I got up at 9-10 am.  This seemed like a good way to kick that bad habit too.   I got on my insect essential oil, sunscreen, grabbed my sunglasses and locked up the house and started on my way.  As I started my walk, a lady jogger trotted past me as I approached the truck with gardening tools and bushes in the back.  It was lawn maintenance day in our hood, and when I'm in the house, it's nothing more than a bit of a nuisance.  I can't do any audio work I may need to do, and I keep the blinds open to signal to them I could be watching so don't even think about blowing that mulch onto my car.  But without the security of the Mr walking beside me, my first solo walk was much different.  I suddenly remembered what it can be like to be a woman doing nothing more than walking even in her own neighborhood.  When the Mr and I walk, there is an abundance of cars and people, at 8:30 am, not so much.  People have headed off to work, are still sleeping if they work the night shift or are lingering over their morning coffee and scrolling their phones.   So it was just me and the gardener dudes.  Some perfectly nice, offering a smile and others seem not to notice me even though I know they are aware of me until I catch them looking as I walk by.  It puts a bit of unease and reminds me that they don't know I have a husband that is usually walking by my side.  It's brushed off as being paranoid, and I continued.

On my second lap, I heard a car with a squeaky suspension coming up behind me.  The black Honda passes but then stops about 4 car lengths ahead of me in the wrong lane.  I got a little anxious, and then I saw the passenger side window roll down.

"Oh hell no." I thought.
"It could be someone lost and needs directions, just stay opposite of them and don't approach the car.  Stop being an idiot.  But remember the license plate number, just in case.  GMC _ _ _ 2" I kept repeating to myself.

I sped up my pace slightly as I walked past the car and didn't even look over.  I heard nothing, was relieved and felt silly for being so paranoid.  There is suddenly a low-level traffic surge of about five cars out of nowhere behind me, and as each one passed, it's not the black Honda I was concerned over.  Then a minute or two later, I heard the squeaky suspension coming up behind me, and they slowed down as they were beside me.  I repeated their license plate number in my head and note that I'm in a secluded part of the neighborhood.  I realized I didn't have my phone on me which is really only good for emergency calls but still if I have an emergency, I'd have to wait for one of the gardeners to almost run over me in the grass if I'm somehow out of commission.   I refused to look over and as they passed, and I saw it was three college-aged guys.  All tall and separately I could take, together, not likely.  I have no idea why they felt the need to slow down to a crawl next to me and am honestly surprised I didn't get fat insults hurled at me (I refuse to use the phrase "fat shamed"...so irritating.)  I'd be lying if I didn't say I was relieved when they turned out of sight.  For the last quarter mile, there was someone walking behind me, but I didn't turn around to see who it was because I didn't want to seem like a dork, but I could tell by the stride and sound it was likely a man.  A guy crossed my path heading toward my house who looked over and saw me.  When I made it to the point where I turned to head the same direction, he'd slowed his pace quite a bit, and I slowed mine too because, between our paces, I would've caught up to him close to our house or at least close enough for him to see where I lived.   It woke me up a little bit.  When you've been married for over 20 years, and you're used to doing all of your physical activity or being out in the world with your husband, you forget what it's like to just be a woman in the world.  We've had a few incidents of creepers that had escaped my mind until I was out there without my 'bodyguard.'

Wednesday's solo walk was much smoother.  There weren't 25 men all along my walk blasting their weed whackers and mowers.  No cars stopping near me or anything like that.  I had my phone with me, and I installed a pedometer app so I could track as I walked and have it for emergencies



Of course, I was a dork and forgot to put my sunscreen on before I left so as soon as I got home, I put on my rosehip oil to combat any potential damage.  I definitely need to make sure I leave no later than 9am because that's just getting too hot for my liking on sunny days.  But I'm hoping this is a habit that will stick, but I'm glad I had that bit of a wake-up call on the first day.

There doesn't have to be a "threat" to be reminded that you're a potential target just because you're female, that's, unfortunately, a fact.  If I'm going to make this a new habit, then I need to remember to be smart, and that means keeping my phone on me and being aware of not only my surroundings but whose in them.  Sure, it may sound paranoid to women who jog/run daily without giving a second thought or overestimate their ability to "take" someone if approached or noticed but it's always better to be too careful than not careful enough.

Do you go on daily walks?  Have you ever had an experience exercising outside that made you feel uncomfortable?

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Back to the drawing board



Just like any vacation, we go in with the best of intentions on all fronts and...fail.  At least where exercise, drinking water, not eating like they're banning food upon our return and keeping up with PT are concerned.

We always seem to adopt the rule "all meals are to be followed by dessert" and pay for it dearly.   (The worst part is when a meal or treat isn't worth it.  I actually did throw away a good amount of stuff that was just plain bleh so I suppose it's better than eating it just because I've paid for it.)

We rarely drink water because with not knowing where we'll be when the bladder kicks in (Maine doesn't have an abundance of rest stops) we kept water to every meal.

We take our bands with us so we can do strength training...never saw the light of day.

I bring a PT office with me in the carry on...that stuff got used maybe 3-4x total and PT was done once or twice.

I did do some morning stretching on the balcony on our anniversary and I wanted to do it every day but didn't.

We bring workouts with us and that was done once and that was because my "dough timer" popped on my gut a week in.  (Aka- nothing fit right anymore and I felt like crap about myself.)

I was thankful I brought at least one dinner with us in the cooler because our anniversary dinner this year was meatloaf, mac and cheese and sweet potato casserole since I had such a bad headache that night that I didn't feel like going out.   It was nice to be able to heat that stuff up but they had the world's worst microwave so it didn't feel exactly gourmet.  A horrible lunch the same day at a restaurant we didn't know was a dive until we sat down was not what I would've called a stellar anniversary this year on the food front.  I kind of feel like we need a do-over on that one.

About the only upside is almost every day we walked a minimum of 3 miles, a few 5 miles and even two 8 mile days in there.  I got a salad once...no twice!  Build me a float in a parade...stat.

Needless to say, we have a LOT of work ahead of us.  Nothing fits right, the first workout back is always humbling, though eating better seems to always come pretty easy because after eating out so much when you're not used to it, your body craves all the fruits and veggies.  Water is getting there but certainly better than when we were gone so I'll take it.  I'm trying to get some new habits in...ones that I've needed to do for years and hopefully, it'll help what I've put on come off faster and beyond.

What's the biggest thing that helps you get back on track after vacation?

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Vacation Rewind

Why do some vacations seem to go by so fast?  We spent most of our time in Maine with stops in New York (Sleepy Hollow and Saratoga Springs respectively to and fro), Portsmouth NH, Mystic, CT, and Niagara on the Lake, Ontario.  We tried to do a stop in Brimfield MA for their big antique show but the day we were passing through it was raining and I didn't see anything we were passing that said I had to stop.  I'm wondering if that phase of my life is over.  (The Mr skips the length of the living room with glee.)  I did my first kind of non-structured vacation and I confirmed I don't like having a general outline of things to do.  I had like 3 days where we had planned activities but they weren't set in stone because the weather was unpredictable so they had to be interchangeable.

On our way out, we spent a night in Mystic, CT.  It was good to have the whole day to explore when we only got to see it for an hour or so before everything was really open last year.



We are suckers for Maine's craggy coastlines, tall pines and firs and the sound of a loon in the distance.  (The bird, not a figurative lunatic.)  We went to Bangor and Bar Harbor to Acadia National Park for a road trip.  We left at 5am and had a big fog alert that day that never really lifted much but it made for beautiful scenery.



We walked the trail around Jordan Pond that if you take the right fork seems like it's going to be a piece of cake...until you get to the end where you see boulder hopping and a boardwalk as wide as your hips through a bog with no place to jump off when you pass others for a solid mile.



Somehow we did it and what was 3 1/2 miles easily felt like 5 miles.  While I was a hangry wench with no facilities to fill my gullet, I was glad we did it.  We always seem to do something to challenge ourselves on each trip and that was it for this one.  Though we both agreed if we'd started the trail from the left fork and started with that boardwalk and got detoured into a bog, we would've called it a day with 1/2 mile of walking under our belts.

Obviously, we saw our share of lighthouses:


Oh yeah and I fell at the small one on solid granite and it could've been much worse but tell that to my elbow that is going to have a big, gross scar for the rest of my days.  What a time to find out the band-aids in your first aid kit are so effing old the adhesive gave up!

Our house had some issues, most I won't go into but for the love of God, if you're going to rent a house that is 25 feet from another house on both sides then put up blinds.  If people want to be stared at, fine but give them the option for privacy.  Can't count how many times we looked up to see neighbors looking at us.  Thank you Shaw's for having plastic tablecloths we could put up over some of them.

Mornings were beautiful and when I say mornings, I mean the top pic is what it looked like every day at 4:45 am and by 6am, you were blinded it was so bright WITH cloth blinds, so sleeping in never happened.



But we did enjoy s'mores a few times so there's that.

Maine does everything big from their statues to their boots to their whoopie pies.



We ended our trip in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario where we enjoyed poking around the shops and staying locally a few nights.  We had afternoon tea and took a carriage ride which was a lovely way to end it all.



The highlights for us were:

Acadia National Park
Exploring towns as we came across them
Listening to the birds and quiet in the morning
Turning the kids room into our own personal PT room
A day poking around Portland and pampering ourselves at a spa
Walking around Portsmouth, New Hampshire (gorgeous town!)
The hotel and full day spent in Niagara on the Lake

It was a much-needed vacation after a crappy 2018 and of course, we came back to parts of the bathroom that were like "hey, you didn't replace us when you remodeled last year.  We're gonna break now if that's cool" and other irritants so as usual, the mellow doesn't last long but I'll take what I can get.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Whoops!

Life got in the way this weekend so no post today.  Forced DIY will do that to you but a big shout out to the Mr for spending his Sunday in our sweat box of a garage.  Here's hoping all of that hard work wasn't for nothing.

Life always has a "fun" way of saying "vacation is over, y'all!!"

Have a great Monday! 

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Tell Me Somethin' Good!

There's no What I'm Reading This Week because we've been on a much needed vacation so I haven't had the chance to read anything.

So I thought I'd open up the mic to you guys.



Share something good that happened to you this week or that you did to make someone else's life good! 

It can be as simple as you got the front row space without having to land shark people out of the grocery store (don't do that) to you took time out to enjoy a bubble bath or a book you've been putting off reading and indulged in a little self-care.  "Good" looks like different things to different people and we should share more of that more often!  Even if it didn't happen in the past week, you can share anything good that's made you smile recently.

Obviously, my "good" was a vacation.  I will write about it next week but after the past few months, it was much needed!

Your turn!

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Maple Sea Salt RX Bar Review


I'm sure if you're in the grocery store or read any health articles, you've seen the popularity of these protein bars blowing up over the past year.  RX Bars list all of the ingredients on the front and in this age of people tired of being marketed to, they seem to be responding to this transparency thing.  It's probably the "no BS" that reels them in. 


I won't tell them it's still marketing because I'm not a total bubble bursting troll...all of the time.  

When I saw the grocery store was giving out samples, I thought this would be my chance to try them because while I appreciated straight talk where health products are concerned, I'm also still cheap.  Maple Sea Salt sounded like a winner to me.

Here's a peek at the nutritional info.


Given the size of the package it came in, I was a little irritated with the size which probably only took up a little over half of the wrapper.


I split it in half so the Mr and I could try it.  He's been curious about them too.  It gave me a chance to check out the goodness awaiting inside.



So how did it taste?


As a person who has made her own energy balls and such in the past, it tasted similar to every date bar you've ever made.  But if you know darn well you're never going to sit down and make your own date balls and need the convenience of grab and go, this is the bar.  I do like the little hit of maple-ish taste balanced with the hit of salt.

I had to really reach to make that half into 4 bites but I eat like I haven't seen food in a year half the time.  So this is an 8 biter for a dainty lady and a 4 biter for someone like me.  I think it would make a perfect post-workout snack (or snack of any kind) but I would probably starve and/or punch someone two hours later if I tried to make it my breakfast substitute.   The Mr said he'd get them again and I thought they were good, especially for the price.  ;-)  But Amazon sells this 12 pack (affiliate link) and at publishing, it comes out to $1.75 per bar which is right on par with other protein bars.

We give them four thumbs up.

Have you ever tried RX Bars?  If so, what's your favorite flavor?

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Don't Forget the Grandkids

**This blog post is part of a series on death after a long illness.  This was written while going through the experience.  Just as I shared the journey of losing my Grandma to dementia, I am sharing our journey to healing as well as any tips or lessons learned that helped us cope with the loss.  Your experience may be different.**



As we adjusted to life without Grandma here, it was harder than anticipated.  When you are dealing with dementia and go through the stripping away of the person's personality, you begin to ask for peace.  You want them here desperately but when there is no quality of life, you know they are merely existing.  All of the nurses in the world can tell you they're not suffering but the truth is, as someone who loves them, you never fully buy that.  You get they are trying to comfort you but they don't know that for sure and for me, it always just made me a little annoyed even if well-intentioned.

Fast forward to losing her and the grandkids and great-grandkids sobbing in each other's arms.  While it was difficult, there was also something beautiful about being bound together in that grief we were all experiencing.  Differences that may not allow us to be as close any other time, allowed us to cry on each other's shoulders, share stories about her that made us laugh including her doling out some wooden spoon justice to some of them.  Old school represent, yo!

It is fitting and right that the children and spouse of the deceased are given the greatest comfort with hugs, cards and well wishes from their friends and family.  To have food brought over so that they don't have to think about preparing a meal for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on how much stuff is brought and then divided.  As anyone knows who has been through a funeral, you spend days to weeks with time stopped and your brain has come out of protection mode of numbing you and may not adjust well to "getting back to it."

But there are those that tend to be the forgotten ones...the grandchildren.  While we may not have spent as much time with our grandparent as a spouse or child, in many cases there was a bond there that is greater than that of a parent/child.  A grandparent does not impose their wants or dreams for your life on you.  They don't want anything more than for you to be a good person and even if you're not such a good person, they love you anyway.  They love you unconditionally and even though a parent technically does, there are always some emotional strings attached in one form or another.  A grandparent's job is usually to spoil you, give you advice you may not listen to from your parent (even if they say the exact same thing!), smile when they see you in that way that lets you know they are happy for any moment you give to them or some combination of those things.

When you are one of the lucky ones to have a grandparent who loves you so unconditionally, the pain and grief can be unbearable at first.  My grandma was one of two people who understood how stress physically affects me and my shame surrounding it.  I would lament over why I was so weak and couldn't just "suck it up" but she told me I wasn't weak and sucking it up was overrated and just not possible for some people.  She reassured me when I couldn't take care of my mom after a surgery by doing something as simple as holding a barf bucket for her that I wasn't the bad daughter I kept saying I was.  I will never forget crying on her shoulder telling her what a failure I was and it was one of the few times she cried with me telling me I wasn't and I was breaking her heart that I thought that about myself.  When you've had someone like that in your life for as long as most of us grandkids were blessed to have her, the loss of having someone who loved you so fiercely can be devastating.  Even when one of her grandkids who was going through a rather rough patch in their teens and told Grandma to "eff off" (to which I was surprised she didn't belt her back into 1989), she still told her how pretty she was.

A grandma's love can be a special thing.  While it's wonderful that people check in to see how the spouse or kids are doing...don't forget the grandkids.  Those that had a special relationship with them need support too.  They're mourning a relationship that neither spouse nor child had with her and it's hard for them too.

Happy birthday Grandma.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The End of a Dream

*It should be noted, this post was written months before any of the current lava activity began.  Our hearts go out to the would-be neighbors and residents who are affected by this natural disaster.  As any of us who live(d) on the Big Island know, Pele takes what she wants, when she wants and we all, unfortunately, know the risks living there.  It doesn't make the loss of home, land, and livelihood any less traumatic for all who love our island home whether we physically or spiritually live there.*



A few weeks before our family was thrust into the grieving process of my Grandma, I was going through a different grieving processs.  Many of you know we love Hawaii.  We've been there 14 times, and somewhere around the halfway mark, we decided to buy land on the Big Island.  We didn't love Hawaii for the beaches or warm weather.  We loved it for its culture and the healing abilities it held.  When we were in the process of losing my father-in-law, we were going to cancel our trip.  It was at his insistence after going through his relapse and a daily roller coaster over the previous five months of hope and despair that he said it was where we needed to be and said if he could be anywhere at that time, it would be there.  We did not have a "good time" while we were there.  We were not sipping mai tais and going parasailing.  Instead, we drove upcountry on Maui to a spot that shared the road with downhill bikers off Haleakala volcano and smiled because Dad did that and it was the happiest he'd ever been.  We pulled over on the side of an old country road that overlooked the whole central and part of the southern regions, and we were just below the cloud line.  There was no music on the rental car radio, no talking, just listening to the sound of nothingness.  The breeze blowing through the pines, the distant sound of a plane on its descent and an occasional bird flying overhead.  We had several experiences on that trip that brought us closer to God and nature, our church.  The Big Island was when we found out we had to go home and it was in the area we decided to buy that we got the news.  When we were going through the worst thing imaginable in our lives, this place sustained our souls, and we wanted that sanctuary for always.

(The property that inspired us to buy our land)

We were fortunate enough to get a large parcel, and I remember the first time we saw it in person.  Tall ohia trees with beautiful spiky red lehua blossoms and large and small hapu'u ferns.  We couldn't really get onto the land because it would require a machete and we didn't want to clear a path that could lead to squatters thinking it was okay to take up residence.  (A problem we were reading about more and more.)  Our chef friend, who is Hawaii born and raised and well known to all locals, was excited when we told him we were thinking of buying there.  He said: "it's good when people move here who "get it" and are moving here with the right intentions.  You are full of the aloha spirit in your hearts and actions."  That always stuck with me.  He knew our hearts and that our intentions were pure.  We picked out what home we wanted to build and thought about what landscaping we wanted.  We looked at nurseries a few times and researched what fruit trees grew best in the area.  It seemed as though the Mr's work was leaning toward teleworking and we had faith that within five years we might be able to move out there and start the dream.  Property taxes were surprisingly low because it was land and no structure was on it, and people always seemed to be impressed that we had property there which made us feel legit.  Like we were working toward making our dream come true instead of talking about it.

As time passed, as the value kept going down because we bought on the bubble and it burst the following year.  It's not a fun feeling to watch your future home value half in five years but the value of the land wasn't our focus.  The value of what it could bring to our lives when we built our dream, became a part of and contributed to the community was what was important to us.  We already make sure to contribute to the local economy directly when we vacation there.  We donate to humane societies and food banks.  We buy the leis from the auntie who is selling them roadside over picking one up in Walmart.  We support local art and craft fairs and buy as much from farmers markets as possible.  But it was that hope for our potential future that kept our aloha alive.  The thought of going into one of the two stores in the area and having the owner know us by name.  Dropping off and picking up mail at the post office and talking to the workers who are like family now.  Making a loaf of banana mac nut bread for the tutu down the street who is always so sweet to us.  Waving hello to neighbors up the street walking their dogs as we walked our hood.  Stopping by the Hilo Farmers market and having vendors ask us how we've been since we saw them last.  Then having the guy who grows flowers save the last anthurium I asked about the week before because he knew I was coming for it that day.



I couldn't wait to landscape with all of the native plants and fruit trees and build up a little paradise like others had when we stayed in the area.



As it became clear the Mr's work was not going to full-time telework like they kept dangling for years (despite him NOT needing to be on-site for his job) we were looking at retirement there.  Even that was fine with us for a long time because Hawaii hadn't changed much...until it did.  At the time we purchased, it had not changed regarding development, mainland attitudes and the aloha spirit in the ten years we went there.  After our purchase, there was a slow change on Maui where one of our friends (local girl) lives that is speeding up, and is frankly a little scary.  Our last two visits to the Big Island have shown an acceleration in development and some places feel like they are going to be completely unrecognizable the next time we go.  A shift in attitude and aloha spirit made us feel like this may not be the dream anymore.  We wanted to leave the mainland to escape the irritations and pettiness that has run rampant in our society.  In Hawaii, PC wasn't a thing for a long time.  People of other ethnicities would kid with each other about stereotypes and they knew it wasn't some personal attack.  They didn't get offended at every little thing.  Everyone was just laid back.  Now road rage is becoming more common because mainlanders come in with their impatience, tailgating and I think locals are just plain sick of it.  Don't get me wrong, Hawaii has its share of jerks like everywhere else but in much less proportion to those who didn't hesitate to give a smile or let you into traffic with a thank you shaka.  People don't smile or wave at each other as much and crime is going up as police funding and government resources go down. Locals are getting gentrified out of their neighborhoods while more and more condos and housing built for the rich or vacation rentals for tourists become the priority.  It was enough to make us start wondering if dealing with the same things we deal with here but paying a TON more for everything because of being on an island was what we still wanted.  It felt like it didn't matter if we had the best of intentions and aloha in our hearts because development and an influx of people on shows like those house hunting shows are giving people ideas to just pick up and move with unrealistic expectations.  (I think a more interesting show would be to see how many of the people who moved from the mainland on the show are still there.  We think 70% have moved back to the mainland.)  We had to soul search a bit.

Our apprehension was further solidified in 2016 when a visit to our place showed some people had been kind enough to start dumping on our land.  We called around and were able to get in on the last day at a green recycle place being open to dispose of the tire and laptop we found ditched there.  We know that when people see they can start dumping and nothing gets done then they will continue to do so.  We felt like this at least sent the message that someone was watching/taking care of the place but would it be enough or would they just start chucking things further back off the lot?  To say it put a knife in the dream is about accurate.  I said I wanted to make it a priority to sell when we got back.  You wouldn't believe how hard it is to get a return call or email.  (Well, those of you familiar with the concept of "Hawaiian time" might believe it.  LOL)  They have no problem spamming you with their listings but getting an actual response even from people who sent out a batch of postcards to landowners asking for their business...nothing.  Out of frustration, we didn't pursue it in 2017, and the Mr never brought it up again.  Toward the end of that year, I got our tax bill, and our property taxes for land in our zone were now double.  That was it for me.  When we were ready to move forward, I looked at a bookmark I had on Yelp for a realtor that got excellent ratings for working with people who buy and sell from the mainland.

He got back to us the same day, and within a week our property was listed!  We both felt so relieved because this dream we were so passionate about was beginning to feel like a noose around our necks.  So much has been stacking up in the con column for us that it felt like the right time to close that chapter.  We knew we could easily have over a year or more wait on our hands.  Land in that area was not moving, and I'd been keeping my eye on it for two years.  We knew we'd need just to be patient.  But in a very short period of time, we were signing papers and in the escrow process.  We were blessed that they gave a good offer not far below asking price and after consulting with our realtor and looking at comps and what recently sold for what price, we accepted their offer.  It was immense pressure and relief off of the Mr, and I felt the same to a degree...until I didn't.

I didn't regret the decision to sell.  My logical self knew the area was not right for us, and the community had not established itself in the way we'd hoped for the decade we owned it but selling it meant the dream was dead.  I know, there are other dreams, but this one meant something because it was our first dream.  We owned that dream more than half of our marriage.  I remember printing out an artist rendering of one of the houses we were considering building and coloring in the siding to the color I wanted and the flowers on the outside.

(This is the picture I printed and colored from Honsadors website.)
I don't know where the physical copy is right now but I know if I ever do some deep cleaning, I'm going to come across it, and it's going to hurt like hell.  I have an email folder in the name of the home and emails from contractors, home builders, land clearers and the whole process with our realtor who we became friends with for a few years after.  Looking at the folder brings tears to my eyes, and I think of that process and the hopes and dreams we had.  What hurt more was going through the folder and seeing how half of the bookmarks were now dead links due to going out of business.  I guess other people's dreams die too.  Yes, we can always buy a place in the same area or close to it that is already built, and that's fine if that's the route we choose to go.  But that's a different dream.  That was someone else's dream that we're inheriting and possibly having to fix.  It's this one I am mourning.

It feels like failure.  I don't expect anyone to understand that, but it does.  We were halfway there having the land to build on and a good amount of the cost of the house available to us.  But with the Mr's work being a-holes about teleworking (to a man who is ALWAYS there on time, stays late when needed and is never unavailable to anyone) it became apparent it was not our ideal situation.  On the same token, I am also proud that we took the step at all.  So many people say "one day, we're going to build in (insert dream location here)" and they talk about it until the day they die.  We at least secured and owned the land to do that whenever it was feasible for us.  I'm proud of us for that.  I'm proud that we believed in that dream enough to move ahead with one of the biggest things needed to make that dream a reality.  As we all know, sometimes dreams change or the change is forced upon us by situations...but it doesn't make it hurt any less for the ones that didn't come true.

‘A‘ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka hālau ho‘okahi.
(All knowledge is not learned in just one school.)

Waiting for the lesson.

What dreams changed in your life whether emotionally or forced upon you?

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Monday, May 14, 2018

My experience with Charcoal Teeth Whitener

There's a blogger that I follow that seems like she has her stuff together and I've taken her recommendations on other products that I loved.  When she said she was going to start using a particular brand of all natural charcoal teeth whitener after her research, I hopped on Amazon to check it out too.  It got rave reviews at 4 1/2 stars so I figured why not.  I drink a ton of tea and while my teeth aren't dark, my smile is my best feature so I like it to look I'm a non-tea drinker but not fake white.  I can usually buy one box of Crest White Strips and have it last me through the expiration date because I use 6 strips every other day to avoid sensitivity one time then I only have to use two every six to eight months.

The before and after pics with the charcoal powder were pretty impressive with, of course, a few saying it did nothing for them.  I figured I'd give it a go.



I brushed for 2 minutes prior to my regular brushing routine of two minutes with my Phillips Sonicare toothbrush. (affiliate link) You absolutely have to brush afterward, you can't use it in place of regular tooth brushing because even if you've rinsed your mouth, there is still enough crap left in there to make your toothpaste gray after you brush.



After about day three, I noticed the bottom gums of my front teeth felt a little inflamed.  I thought maybe it was just getting used to it so I would brush manually so the charcoal wasn't being ground into everything.

After day five, a spot in my top molars was getting very sensitive and not in the way whitening strips make your teeth feel.  This felt like a big throbbing cavity would probably feel.  I did it one more day and I just couldn't take it anymore.  I knew the only thing I changed was using that stuff so I discontinued use due to the inflamed gums and soreness like the package said to do.  I was lucky that I was able to return it without an issue so I wasn't out any money for it.  I got online and started doing some actual research.  Yeah...should've done that first.  All kinds of articles talking about how bad that is for your teeth and how it can strip away enamel because of the abrasion of the activated charcoal and the more enamel that comes off, the more porous it gets and can then absorb the color of the charcoal which would look like a horror show.

Within four days of not using it, my teeth felt totally fine so I know I made the right decision for me.

The irritating part (other than the actual irritation it caused) is I feel like it made my teeth very slightly darker!



So yeah, even if you trust a blogger and buy something based off of their suggestion (even moi!) make sure you do actual research because as nice as reviews are to read, that isn't research.  You know what they say about opinions and rumpholes...everybody has one.

If you choose to go that route, more power to ya, just know the potential risks involved so you don't ruin those pearly whites!

What recommended products have you used that flopped for you?  

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Friday, May 11, 2018

What I'm Reading This Week #19

Happy Friday all!  

It's time to jump into the dork off material to get you through your slide into the weekend and help you tune out that annoying co-worker!  (Unless you work from home and you are your co-worker and are still annoyed...I can't help you there!)

Now let's get to...




12 "Healthy" Hygiene Habits That Are Actually Bad For You  (Alrighty then)

8 Mini Meditations to Banish Stress from Your Brain  (Get your ohm on)

How to Stay Healthy While Traveling Without Ruining Your Vacation  (Novel idea)

4 Reasons You Should Drop the F Bomb During a Workout  (I could actually coach others how to do this properly)

A New Diet Isn’t The Solution To An Old Diet Not Working  (Interesting perspective to try to get rid of old thinking.)

19 Small Actions That Will Put You in a Better Mood Instantly  (Good stuff to lift your spirits!)

7 Vintage-Chic Trailer Park Resorts for Your Next Getaway  (Hmm, this could be cool.  As long as I don't have to empty the crapper, I'm good.)

11 Expert Secrets to Stress-Free Flying  (I don't see mini bottles of booze on here.  They're under 3 ounces, right?)

Why everyone should pack a tennis ball in their carry on before a flight  (I can vouch for this but it can be dangerous because you may also be tempted to whip it at someone's head when they're acting a fool.)

26 Under-the-Radar Southern Towns for Girlfriend Getaways  (Cool.  Never knew Kentucky was considered "southern" though.  :-\ )

We've got a road trip coming up so we're gearing up on that front.  Other than that, not much else going on. 

What's on your weekend to-do list?

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

How to Get Through the Funeral of a Loved One

**This blog post is part of a series on death after a long illness.  This was written while going through the experience.  Just as I shared the journey of losing my Grandma to dementia, I am sharing our journey to healing as well as any tips or lessons learned that helped us cope with the loss.  Your experience may be different.**



No one likes funerals or calling hours.  I have not lost many people in my immediate family for 14 years.  In 2001, I lost my favorite grandpa and in 2004 we lost my father-in-law.  You learn a lot when you are thrust into that situation especially if you've only attended calling hours to pay your respects to others.  We all process grief differently.  Some are quiet, others simply cannot take the public grieving process and forego it, some make it their mission to comfort others to deflect their own pain,  some maintain high spirits telling stories and trying to make people laugh as a coping mechanism and others just get mean or irritated.  One isn't right or wrong and everyone needs to respect the individual process.  The viewing process is a hard one to navigate because you go into it thinking you don't have it in you to put on this brave face for a lot of people you may not know.  The thought of it all can be overwhelming.  Here are some things that helped me while I was in that limbo time between Grandma's death and the viewing/funeral.

Picking out and preparing your clothes-  I did this the day after she passed.  We had 3 full days in between and I didn't want to leave it to last minute because I just wanted something to check off the list.  Black has always been the traditional go to for funerals but more modern ways say a nice outfit in general is just as good.  I chose a long formal black maxi dress with a black and white flowy top over it and a black 3/4 sleeve jacket for the viewing.  For the funeral, I had long black linen pants, a black cardigan over a fuschia cowl neck top.  There was something about just the act of picking out the clothes that was oddly soothing to me.  I wanted to look my best for her.  My biggest tip?  Wear comfortable shoes!!!  All of us cousins were lamenting over our aching feet only two hours into the first go round and still had the second one to get through.  I ended up hobbling into a store up the street, stripped off my shoes and went to their shoe department to thankfully find something I wouldn't have normally chosen but it had to be function over fashion and the next day my feet thanked me for it!  (My cousin and his girlfriend actually saw us checking out because she needed new shoes after that too!)  Also bring blister blockers, band aids and even a pair or two of cheap ball of foot insoles you can get at the dollar store.  You may be a God send to others!

Prepare meals ahead to freeze-  I wish I would've done this earlier in the week but the night before the showing, I made a big lasagna.  I used ground turkey, low sodium sauce, skim ricotta and whole wheat noodles with lighter cheese sparingly.  I baked it and put it in the fridge overnight.  Before we went to the showing, I popped it in my Hot Logic (aff.link) and it was hot and ready for us for dinner between showings.  It was relatively healthy but still the comfort food we craved.  I kept it in the Hot Logic in case we were hungry after and we were starving!  I had two big pieces left so I froze them and then broke it out a few days later to reheat after a workout when my brain was unable to compute the idea of making dinner.  As the Mr said, it was the gift that kept on giving.  While it was nice that people dropped off food for the family, none of it was healthy and this was just my way of making sure I didn't go off the rails more than I'd already given myself permission to.  So make a few meals if you're trying to stay on track because trust me, the post-funeral you will be SO glad you did!  This is where the Food Saver (aff.link) I've been raving about for years comes in real handy.   Those two items are true God sends in that situation especially.  It's also good to make some stuff to drop off to other grieving family members a few weeks after, you know, when everyone assumes you should be "getting back to normal" and stops checking in.  Only do this if you have it in you.  I find baking/cooking comforting but the first few days after the funeral, I forgot how to use to microwave.  Some days you are just a zombie and cannot deal.  These meals help.

Eulogy-  I have done the eulogy's for both of my mom's parents.  For his final birthday, I gave my grandpa a letter talking about all of my favorite memories with him and what he meant to me.  He loved it so much that he asked his wife to ask me if I would read that for his eulogy.  What an honor that someone felt something I wrote summed up his life so perfectly!  I tweaked it only slightly and read it in front of 250 people in a standing room only service (he was a public servant) and had people came up to me after saying how they'd never heard anything so beautiful and funny.  I knew I wanted to do the same for my grandma and had her eulogy written for four years before her passing and tweaked slightly as needed when she passed.  Please don't skip a eulogy for someone.  This became even more important after a friend of her husband did the service and completely screwed it up.  You get ONE SHOT to honor your loved one and if the minister screws it up, you make sure you have a copy of what you wanted read on you, even if that means you ask the funeral director to do it.  You never get that moment back and especially after a long fought illness, they deserve to be honored for their fight.   Even if you don't have the ability to keep it together while reading it, give it to the funeral director to read.  They can say "this is something written by X's spouse/ grandchild/ friend, etc"   It breaks my heart that my FIL didn't have a eulogy and that man was so amazing and deserved one.  We all do.  We are so much more than just what relation we are than the "enter three hobbies here" you get with an obituary.  Every life deserves a personalized rememberance because we did a lot during that dash that separates our year of birth to the year of death.

Preparedness- You've gotta be ready for anything for this marathon of emotions.  You go in there an hour before calling hours to be with your loved one for the last few times and even if the funeral home has tissues and mints and that's usually about it other than maybe a coffee/tea bar.

I, however,  was a walking drug store.


Tissues, eyeglass cleaner, sewing kit with safety pins, cough drops and Dayquil in case someone was sick, floss, bandaids, bobby pins, gum. Gas-X and melatonin powder for the few people saying they were having sleeping issues to try the night after the funeral.  I added some Excedrin in there too.  I also bought a few boxes of protein bars and gave 2 each to the daughters to have on hand.  I watched my mother in law almost go down from low blood sugar because she refused to eat the morning of the showing and we had to ply her with hard candies until we could get her to a restaurant.  Don't do that please.  It just makes a bad situation worse for all involved.  The gum and tissues got the most use but I was glad I had it all on hand in case someone needed something.  Trust me, in that situation, emotions are high and the slightest thing can send someone over the edge.  Don't let it be a button that popped off or a blister forming.  You can save the day for someone else on the edge even if you don't personally need these things.

Don't forget to silence your phone-  You have no idea how annoying it was to have people calling my family members repeatedly until I had to give side eye.  Most people will know what you are doing that day but some people don't and others may be calling to check in on you.  It's disrespectful to keep your phone blaring.  Silence it before the calling hours and funeral.  There is literally nothing more important in that moment.  Catch up later.

Don't shy away from strangers-  Yes, it's weird that you have to stand there with a smile on your face while you're introduced to the 50th person you don't know.  But my grandpa had 1500 people over the course of the two calling hours (they ran over) because he was a public servant and the current ones stop by and honor the fallen.  My father in law had a couple hundred people, many from his former job where he was loved by all because of his ability to treat the janitor just as well as he treated a big wig.  We didn't know any of those people at all because they lived in another state but those strangers made sure we knew how he had impacted their lives and how much they respected him.  The same at grandpa's.  When I was reading the eulogy, I kept focusing on this girl I didn't know but she smiled as I'd look at her.  Afterward, I saw her and apologized if I weirded her out but I just felt comfortable looking at her.  She said that was fine because when I told the story about my first car buying experience with him, she laughed because she had the exact same experience almost to the tee!  So don't shy away from those strangers.  They have stories to tell about a side of your loved ones you didn't know.

Be prepared for rude questions/stupid situations you shouldn't have to deal with-  Nowhere in my Grandma's obituary did it say she passed from complications from dementia and I'm glad it didn't.  That disease didn't define who she was, it's what she happened to pass from.  But you will still have people who either weren't close to the person or didn't know ask you what the person passed from.  It is, of course, a natural curiosity to want to know how someone died but it is not appropriate to ask the family members who are grieving.  It's obviously up to you whether you choose to disclose that information if asked.  You can reply "they battled a long illness but we're here to celebrate their life, not focus on their death."  That should be enough to politely tell them all they need to know.  There's also this Golden Girls episode where Sophia thinks she's dying and she says "don't invite Aunt So and So, she'll try to make my death her moment."  It's true.  Some people think that the bereaved should remember them even if they only met them once 20 years ago and get a knot in their undies when they don't.  Everyone is going through enough to have to placate someone's inflated ego about themselves, if you witness this and feel the person needs an out, walk over and ask if they need a break, give them water or even saying "just checking on you."  This can usually be enough to disrupt the person and they may get the hint it's time to move on.  If that doesn't work and you don't care if you ever see the person again in their miserable life, just say "STFU" and be done with them.  Obviously, we have no personal experience to draw from on that example.  {Dripping with sarcasm}

Be there for each other-  Look, family trees all have their branches that can test you.  On showing and funeral day...drop it.  This is not the time for penis measuring about who has helped more or talking about each other behind their backs.  It's disrespectful and takes away from the reason you're there.  The common thing that bonds us as family is the love for that person we are there to mourn.  Hugging and comforting the offending family members doesn't mean there won't still be the same issues once all is said and done but it shows respect to the deceased that you can get over yourself for a few days.  I have never felt closer to some of my family members I don't see as much as when I was hugging them or their children.  I don't have to agree with how someone conducts their life to offer a shoulder to cry on and share memories or laughs to get us through.  You are all suffering.  Put your differences aside for the sake of everyone.  If you're lucky, maybe it could mean a better chapter in your family's story out of respect for the person you lost.


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