Friday, May 15, 2015

5 & 5

Blah... That's how I feel at the moment. The digitizing of life: streamlining things to make it faster and easier... is never as simple as I expect. I've gone through shock, despair and anger and settled today on blah.

I learned the hard way to BACK UP MY CRAP! About 5 years ago, when my old laptop died, I was devastated to lose all of my digital photos.  I may have even sobbed off & on for a few days. Thankfully, my brother-in-law took pity on me and worked his IT magic to restore them all. Yay!!!  Since then, I have been a huge proponent, loudly when I can (even if that's just ALL CAPS), for people to BACK UP YOUR CRAP! 

Now, I use an online cloud backup that doesn't cost an arm (let alone an arm, leg & spleen like iCloud) that backs up every night.  I also use Time Machine, though honestly, I don't quite have as much confidence in that...I'm not sure why. I also use an additional external drive for just my photo library.  You see, I've learned my lesson. 

Unfortunately somewhere along the way, I created two iPhoto libraries. I must have "pointed" iPhoto to the external library one time and started working from there. When that was disconnected, it used the library on the computer. (I wondered why I kept getting the "rebuilding library" notice.  I haven't made it a priority to go through the folders and copy over the ones that weren't duplicated. 

I use the cloud daily because it's set up automatically.  For some reason the Time Machine drive got "full" (even though it's supposed to delete the oldest one). When I made it a priority last week to get back on the ball with my external drives, I decided to just wipe the "full" Time Machine drive and start new. (cue music..."wah wahhhh"). I'm pretty sure I lost the unduplicated pictures in the iPhoto library that I forgot to copy over. 

It's just so frustrating...the irritating quirks of the maintenance of life. I'll look to see if I have those photos...later.


1. Time lost due to technology issues.

2. Photos (potentially) lost due my error.

3. I have to get up at 5am tomorrow. ugh. 

4. I re-injured my tailbone. It makes doing Stupid Yoga™ (one of the lowest rated exercise on the Suck Meter) very difficult. 

5. People who tell me to "Have a nice/good day!". Oh...I was having an awful day, but since you said so...


1. Memories and time with people are more important that photos. (repeat to self)

2. All the wonderful things technology brings: connecting with people in a click of a button is only one.

3. How many times can I list my dog? Her unconditional love, her soft fur that really is therapeutic for me to pet and her sweet temperament.

4. There are only 19 days left until summer vacation (12 school days)!

5. I know what's for dinner tonight. 

Have the day you have!

Friday, May 08, 2015

5 & 5

It's Friday!!!! 

Not that there isn't more to be done on the weekend, right? For some reason though, when Friday comes, it breaks up the daily routine. Also, it reminds me that we are one week closer to summer vacation! (27 days!) On to the 5&5, and feel free to chime in with some of your own!


1. I drank a cup of coffee late in the afternoon. Ok, two cups. It's 1:30am...

2. My tailbone is owie. I broke it long ago, but every so often it reminds me.

3.Grocery clerks who do not properly bag items.  Is this really so difficult? Especially when I pre-group them on the conveyor belt?

4. Carpeting in my house.

5. Did I mention I *chose* to drink that coffee?


1. Friends. Authentic, loyal, long time, new, but genuine.

2. Games. I love Words With Friends. I've always loved Scrabble. No one else here does. Yay internet & apps!

3. My limbs.  I know this sounds weird, or like there's a punchline, but it's real. When I had the flu and was down for so long, my limbs were weak, lethargic and rubbery. I couldn't drive, I couldn't walk much and for the first 2 weeks, I could barely even hold my phone up even to push the button to voice text. I am so very thankful that they are back to normal, and I'm thankful to have them. On a kinda related note, I saw this on Jimmy Kimmel. Ahk!?!?

4. Summer Fruit. I saw nectarines in the store yesterday. I know better than to fall for that trick. It's way too early for nectarines that aren't shipped across the Americas to be sweet and ripe. But's coming. (the Macinaw Peaches, Jerry!)

5. Mail. Personal, handwritten, in the mailbox, mail. Bonus if the stamp wasn't cancelled! 

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


There are days I have so many gripes coming off the tip of my tongue, that my list would be more of a 500 & 5 (Thankfully, there are others that are weighted the other way). I mentioned this to a friend, and she shared what she does when she's lying awake in bed.  She uses the alphabet to list things she's thankful for.  Some things are the same every time, such as "a" is always for for her aunt, but other things vary.  It was a great exercise for me and so my gratitudes are my first five:


1. Oh how my eyes are turning against me. Now, I totally understand I have had good eyesight for so long, and have never needed glasses until a couple of years ago.  So yes, I am thankful for that. However, this is still my reality and getting used to it is frustrating and annoying.

2. The crackle I hear in my knees.  (Ok, I wasn't starting out to have an age related theme here, but I see how these two make it sound like it.) Note to self: must start taking glucosamine.

3. Selfish Selfensteins who continue to turn left out of the school parking lot each morning/afternoon when it is CLEARLY marked NO LEFT TURN during those hours. (Horns are appropriate on these occasions.)

4. School vacations are over until summer vacation starts.

5. Dog fur...


a. Avocados...especially when they are affordable

b. Bible. I take it for granted, but I'm thankful for the truth, encouragement and guidance it provides.

c. Cars that work.  Before we saved up for our Yukon, we were squeaking the last of the van's life out of her.  The last couple of years were rough, and the very last one included trips to the mechanic every other month.  I am so very grateful to have a reliable, running vehicle.

d. Dale

e. Entertainment.  I love tv, movies, magazines, audiobooks, music and books.
(Oh the horrors, I'm not afraid to say, traditional books are last.)

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Why I Almost (but still kinda) Quit Facebook

I used to give a lot of my time to Social Media (facebook in particular). More than I’d like to admit, really.   I gave it my time, my attention and oddly, some of my heart.

I’ve really loved being able to check in with people throughout the day. Some are people I see regularly, and others are people I wouldn’t be able to stay in touch with as often without it. I’ve heard people denounce social media proclaiming its evils and how we need to have authentic, face-to-face encounters. I do have authentic face-to-face relationships, but I also enjoy the connections I’ve built through social media.  Some of those connections, I’ve built into “in-person” friendships. This has been the case, in varying forms, since I joined Facebook almost 8 years ago.

Recently, I’ve realized that more and more of the personal stuff I’ve always looked forward to reading has disappeared.  Now, I log in to see endless quiz results such as “What Kind of Tree Are You” (I guess Barbara Walters was really on to something), or “What Disney Character Are You?”. Of course, there are also plenty of posts allowing me to easily click a link to read political, religious or entertainment content.   Don’t let me leave out the animated (and creepy) ads for how to shrink my belly fat (are these targeted ads?) among others. 

As a fledgling blogger, I like the ease of being able to push content this way, and of course I always hope that what I say resonates with people in a way that they would want to “share”. I just wish the individual pages were a little more balanced with the personal touch that in my experience, is almost gone.

The kicker for me, came a couple of months ago when I came down with the flu.  This was no stomach bug, or respiratory ailment that I always called the flu. This was influenza of the rotten kind. The kind that gave me the “ah ha!” to finally understand why every year, caution and warning aimed towards babies & the elderly went out.  It sent me to the Urgent Care three times.  I had a fever for five days, I didn’t eat for a week and barely kept down any fluids. (bummer those 7 pounds came right back- pthhh) My limbs were weak and my arms shook so much that if I needed to text someone, I could only voice text. (which is “fun” when you can’t fix what autocorrect screws up!) I was exhausted, couldn’t sleep and I had a constant headache.

All of that to say: a) Next year I’m getting the flu shot and b) I dropped off the face of the internet and it didn’t seem to matter.

Now please hear the intent of what I’m saying.  This isn’t a victimized pity party. (ok, I did cycle through that for a couple of days, but thank God that’s all it was.)  What I realized is the relationships I called meaningful, were less so than I believed.  I was off social media for a complete week, before popping onto facebook just to offer a free week in Tahoe we couldn’t use. Other than that, I was off for 2 ½ weeks before I heard from anyone.  I received a message from a long time friend with whom I have only occasional facebook interactions. I was pretty touched that she even noticed.  After a month, I heard from a friend that I had almost daily interactions with. Five to six weeks later, a (literal) handful of others reached out.  The part that got me thinking though, was that none of them were the people I thought of as friends, who I interacted with on a daily basis.  Interacted - where I commented, they commented, we conversed, etc.  I was really surprised. 

As I thought about it more, I wondered why I should be surprised.  Facebook, in particular, is “all about <the collective>  me”: What I’m doing, what I’m looking at, where I’m going, what I have, what I rant about, etc. There are a lot of people who really are interested in engaging in those things reciprocally, like friends would.  Through my experience though, it seems they are the minority.  

I’m a good friend, a loyal friend, and I’ve realized over the years, I expect the same. Because of that, I’ve been burned, and I’m sure a lot of it is my own doing by expecting or hoping for the same (too much) from others.  But there have also been those people who seemed to want that kind of a friendship when the reality is they want it as long as I was doing the work. If I called, texted or reached out and if I set up the coffee, lunch or hike, then all was good!  If I never instigated or even followed up on the occasional “hey, we should get together” comment with “sure!” , throwing out specific dates and times, nothing would happen.  When I stopped being the one solely pursuing these people, the superfluous relationships (that mostly drained me) stopped. After a brief moment of licking my wounds, I realized I felt more freedom. This was in part due to letting go of the frustration and frenzy I felt by doing the relational heavy lifting so to speak, but it was also in the knowledge I gained of how I was putting my unrealistic expectations onto other people.   I expected them to be a friend they weren’t able to be, at least not with me.

I’m trying to find the balance of using social media day to day. I’ll probably rely heavier on my blogging account and Twitter, and use my personal account for lightly browsing here & there. After all, there are still the people (like my long time friend who first messaged me or the across-the-street neighbor who moved 2000+ miles away), that I love being able to keep in touch with more regularly and the personal account easily affords that to me. (And let’s face it, the computer has ruined our penmanship!)  

Seriously though, social media does help us to keep in touch, including my family and friends with whom I do see regularly. I’m just learning how to sort through the rest who mutually feel the same. 

Thursday, April 02, 2015

April Fool's Day 2015!!!!!

Ahhh, April 1. 

Light showers or sunny skies, who knows what Mother Nature may bring. Regardless, I know what I will bring and that's lots and lots of pranks to my family.

I have loved pranks since I was young.  I remember  going up to my mom, with my mouth full of air, and having her squeeze my checks. Sometimes I would put a small drop of water in the corner of my mouth to try and trick her into thinking it was full of water. No dice. She would still squeeze the air. One day, I filled my mouth full of water, wiped it dry and went to my mom as usual.  She squeezed! The joy! The exhilaration! It was a feeling I loved, and thankfully, she responded positively. Later, I would join friends prank calling after school. We would randomly pick people out of the phone book and ask the old standby, "is your refrigerator running?" among other silly things. We thought we sounded so official and mature, but obviously we were deluded by the mischievous fun we were having. It didn't matter. It also didn't matter what they did when they answered. While some people played along, and others got mad, we would hang up unable to stifle our laughter. I'm (only) a little embarrassed to say the prank calls continued into high school. I laughed even harder then.

I categorize an acceptable prank as anything I could do to someone, that I wouldn't mind if it were done to me. I'm not down for anything mean that causes damage, physical pain or a mess that costs more than a broom or 10 minutes will get you

I started celebrating April Fool's Day with my family in 2004. I would do little jokes here and there, but the kids were young (2-10) and it was mostly just a fun surprise for dinner. As the years went on, I started doing other fun things here and there, including in their lunches.

It's been 11 years and I'm starting to have to repeat old tricks. The kids are older now and the surprise has turned to seeing what they might be. My high school son has friends who have seen his lunches since middle school, and they gather near him to see what silliness this year's lunch will contain. 

I had a list of shenanigans and tomfoolery I was planning and started executing them the night before. There are always some I have to cut, but after all, April 1 will come again next year. I made a to-do list dividing everything according to deadlines, and then got to work.

The night before:
I covered each of their bedroom doors with caution tape. 

I stuffed newspaper into the toes of their shoes.

Last summer, I procured a collection of signs from a clearance table at a hardware store. I posted one on the back door and one on the bathroom.

Next, I got to work on lunch.

  • Sandwiches were pb&j. I bought small, plastic frogs that I cut in half and placed in the sandwiches.
  • I did a chip switch I've used before and filled the bags with a different kind of chip. I had to carefully (and partially) open the bags. After shaking out the chips, I replaced them with different chips. With a little white glue I closed them with paper clips to hold closed until they dried.
  • Dessert was a small bag of candy that looked like peas & carrots.
  • Everything was decorated with a pair of googly-eyes, including the tangelo. 
  • To finish, I wrapped everything separately in Elmo wrapping paper.

Once everyone left for the day, I started on the rest of the list.

I put electric tape over the remote and my son's computer mouse.  He checked it before he even used it, and he told me later, he hid the power cord in case I planned to mess with the computer. Later in the day, it took a couple of minutes for my oldest son to remember what was going on with the remote.

Next I copied a trick Jim often played on Dwight from the TV show "The Office". My youngest is a fan and so the night before I made the first layer in a bowl of Jell-o. In the morning, I was able to put my son's pocket knife in the center and pour the second layer of Jell-o over it. 

For dinner this year, my youngest requested the meatloaf & mashed potato cake I've made a couple of times. It's now become the dinner tradition. Along with that I planned to serve mini-watermelons, crescent roll carrots and some (regular) cranberry sauce. 

For dessert I made little mint seedlings. A Martha Stewart version of the worm in a dirt cup. (my non-Martha version included instant pudding vs. her make from scratch.

All of my kids think the Nicolas Cage memes are funny. I had a bunch of photos printed at Costco and then put them around their rooms. 

Later, I knew my daughter was attending a hockey game, so I went to her house to "decorate" her room. It included a lot of googly eyes, a rubber snake, a plastic spider and quite a few Nicolas Cage photos. The best part for me was that she left her laptop open.  I changed her facebook profile and cover photos...she still hasn't noticed.

It was a very fun day. What made me even happier was hearing about the pranks my kids pulled. 

My adult daughter and her co-worker friend had the closing shift did a few before leaving. 

  • They wrote stacks of notes that they put on top of all the ceiling fans. 
  • They set all the timers to go off at the same time.
  • They filled plastic cups of water all over the manager's office and some with fruit punch.  With the colored cups they spelled out "April FoolZ". 

My middle schooler put those "exploding" party snaps under the toilet seat at home. 

My high schooler had a few up his sleeve.
  • He drew on the photos of himself and brothers and sister we have hanging in the hallway. (on the glass)
  • The night before he made a whole post-it-note pad that he taped the troll face to. 
  • He also sacrificed a dollar bill taped troll face to the ripped off corners. He hid them and even pranked two of his teachers. They both laughed.  He got to see the whole thing play out with his favorite teacher who has a great sense of humor.  It included the light in his eyes when he discovered the corner of a dollar under papers on his desk, and the "crushing blow of despair" when he realized he was foiled. 

We all had a fun day.  I can already start my to-do list for next year with the things I had to scratch.

Click here for all of the photos with links to the recipes & instructions.

How about you?  Did you have any fun?