The Quarantine 15

Can you believe Mark didn’t even know what the “freshman 15” was? He had never hear that expression before. Is it a just a girl thing? Or does he just not pay attention to slang?

Anyone else spend the first month of this quarantine not worrying about calories or fat or eating treats? I think we’ve gone through 3 packages of Oreos, had oil popped popcorn overnight but about 5, eaten more ‘real’ pasta than we have in 3 years and snacked as though we were 6 year old soccer players. It’s the mentality that “I may get ‘it’ and do I really want to deprive myself if this is my last meal….. well it’s time for that to end or the results will be like that barbie meme that’s going around… You can ask me if you don’t know what I mean, I just don’t want to publish it. Either because it’s rude, or it’s true… not sure which.

I do put on jean 3 or 4 days a week to make sure all is still fitting, but I can tell by how I feel that all of that is catching up. So it’s back to tracking macros. This is a fairly new concept for me, I started after Christmas, after seeing a friend post often about it on Instagram. So I did some FBI level research and decided this was the way I wanted to go. I do love the Whole30 program, and try to refrain from eating some of the things on their ‘don’t eat’ list. My body and my brain feel the best when I am off of sugar and simple carbs (bread, candy, pasta) and there are so many alternatives now that it’s really east to make the same recipe but with just a few substitutions….. except for sugar… But I didn’t want the restrictions of a full on Whole30 diet, so I tried this.

I use a free app “My Fitness Pal” from Underarmor (not sponsored here) and basically just track everything I eat. There are no restrictions, but it balances the protein, fat and carbs. Because I know that my blood sugar stabilizes best with more protein, I change my percentages just a little with a little more protein and a little less carbs. It not only gives me all that data, but it gives me accountability. There is something about having to document that you ate or are about to eat 6 Oreo cookies that makes you stop and think.

This app has you enter your beginning weight and what your goal weight is, and a time to accomplish that. Using that it establishes the daily calories needed to achieve that goal. It also adds calories to your daily total if you exercise and log that. Talk about motivation to exercise! Shoveling snow this winter was a big calorie burner!

Everyone is cooking dinner these days, you can’t go out to eat and most don’t want to do takeout, so everyone is cooking. I’ve had a couple of emails asking for a ‘receipt chain’, what a good idea! I know I’m bored with the usual Brejcha family fare. Last night we had some bbq pulled chicken that was FANTASTIC, combining flavors I would never think to combine. Here are just a few that I’ve been sent and tried:

Puppies during Pandemic

You all remember Hank? Hank the Tank, the yellow lab puppy. A little backstory and then I’ll give you the update and skinny on how much Hank loves the pandemic.

Hank is a now 16 month old yellow Labrador Retriever. We hadn’t planned on getting a dog, in 2019 we lost our black lab, Ebony at 14 years old. She adopted her as a 6 month old puppy and we were heartbroken when we lost her. Our dog Chief, a yellow lab mix (we’re pretty sure husky was in that mix as he was an excellent singer…if you have huskies, you know what I mean), was 10 years old. We had not even planned on getting another dog or a puppy, but then some friends from my hometown in Illinois got a puppy from another high school pal of ours….. Tugged on my heartstrings, but no, we didn’t need one. It was spring time, we always go on spring break, we travel in the summer…. nope, not gonna get one. A few weeks later she still had one puppy left, Mark caved, he brought it up, I contacted her, she still had him and so off to Illinois we went to pick him up.

We forgot how much WORK a puppy is, it’s like having a newborn baby. Up nights, midnight feedings, crying, piddle spots all over. But we embraced it and he actually was a very good puppy. He was house trained within 2 weeks. We realized that if we let him sleep on the bed, he wouldn’t cry all night long (THAT has come back to bite us), and he was such a good companion for our older dog, Chief.

At 3 months old we noticed a spot on his gums, we thought it was just irritated gums from baby teeth, in fact at first, so did the vet. But after a second look and then a biopsy, he was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma…… cancer. Absolutely unheard of in a 3 month old dog. The lab at Michigan State University where it was being tested called my vet to double check that they birth date was correct, they had never seen anything like it at that age. We had two option: take him to the specialist in Grand Rapids (Blue Pearl Veterinary Medicine ) or put him down. WELL you KNOW what we chose…. My husband, for all his military stature, for all of his high standards and expectations, has a heart the size of Texas! If this dog were to have a fighting chance at life, he came to the right household. When I wail and lament about our dogs over the years and the surgeries and costs of those surgeries, Mark always says “That’s why God gave them to us, he knew we’d do whatever it took to save them”.

So at 3 months old, Hank had a surgery where the front part of his bottom jaw was removed, they bring the skin up and luckily with him, he has those big lab flappy top lip jowls and you can’t even tell until he opens his mouth. He came through the surgery with flying colors, and has healed beautifully. He is a picture of health, and the only time you can see any difference in his actions is when he eats, we put water in his dry food so that he can lap it up as he doesn’t have bottom teeth in the front, so picking up anything small is a challenge for him. The other thing you notice is when he brings you a ball, or tries to drop anything, he has to thrust it out with his tongue.

When he was 11 months old, we lost our old reliable, lovable dog Chief. He had a liver disease diagnosed and treated at 3 years old, so after that he had 8 good years with us. A little arthritis his last few years, but other than that, he was in great health and lived a great life. But our poor pup, in the first year of his life he moved to a new state, had a new family, had major life altering surgery and lost his best friend.

Hank is a little spoiled, who doesn’t need spoiling after that first year? He still sleeps on the bed with us, he is now 95.3 pounds, weighed at the vets yesterday as he had to go get his shots. And I must brag a bit, because his training and discipline was delayed due to the surgery, as a 8/9 month old, 80 pound pup, he failed puppy obedience school. Mark actually dropped out after 4 session, he couldn’t take it any more. So when the vet called me out in my car yesterday (social distancing) to complement Hank’s behavior, discipline and training, I was an absolutely proud mama! We did have to buy a king size bed this year….. I joke that none of our kids have ever slept in our bed, none of the other dogs did, not even the cat… but Hank is right up there between us, loving every moment of his life.

So back to why puppies/dogs love pandemics? Because we are under a stay-at-home orders and both Mark and my schools are closed, we are home all day, every day working from home. For a dog who is more tactile than any animal I have ever owned, this is heaven. he gets to touch one of his humans 24 hours a day, every day, all night long. This puppy LOVES the pandemic.

So that bears the question, now that we are home until August probably (school online for the rest of the year), do we get him a companion? Do we invest in a new dog. We have the time, we have the room and Hank needs a friend other than one of us. Time will tell, we’re praying on this one!

Rosemary Beach Florida

This past weekend was the weekend I was to be in Rosemary Beach Florida with my Rodan and Fields team. I literally have looked forward to it for a year. I’ve done a lot of soul searching about how I’m feeling about missing this and about missing our annual spring break trek to Destin, Florida.

I shared this with my team on Friday (we meet on zoom calls every weekday at 1:00 pm). What I shared was the amount of guilt that I feel for various reasons, and really it could just be the catholic in me, so maybe I need to change the word guilt for grateful……

I am healthy, my family is healthy, my extended family (including my 80+ year old aunts and my brother & sister with diabetes) are healthy. I have a job (actually I have two jobs as I earn an income with Rodan and Fields as well) that still pays me and allows me to work from home. My husband has a job that allows him to work from home and still be paid, as well as his military retirement. I have a wonderful, warm solid house over my head, all the bills are paid and the refrigerator is full. I have plenty of toilet paper (if you’re reading this years from now, THE item that was scarce during this time was toilet paper). I have neighbors I can talk with over the fence, I have friends I FaceTime with and Zoom with. I have health insurance. My children are safe, although my son just went back to work full time last week in a retail job so that causes me a little worry and need for more prayers. I have time to get exercise, work on some home projects, catch up on Netflix, play card games and do puzzles with my family. I have all of this to be thankful for (plus so much more I am sure).

But there is also mourning going on in our house, I think that is an apt word for it, and this is where my guilt comes in…. the mourning for things that the world considers “first world problems”.

My daughter is a college senior, she is missing out on all of those last semester memories, she is missing out on commencement, she is missing out on lasts with her dear friends and roommates, she is struggling with job searching right now, as everyone is “on hold”. Her future that looked so bright just 2 months ago has been darkened with uncertainty. Her spring break immersion trip was cancelled, her final trip with her best friends was cancelled.

My son plays college baseball, they had the ‘best team’ in the history of the school, probably their opinion, but the talent was there along with good leadership and great team dynamics. They were looking forward to a solid run to the World Series, as well as their first year playing on their brand new field….cancelled. He’s shifted his whole perspective and life plan because of this.

We missed out on our annual spring break trip to Destin with about 60 of our dear friends, the only other time we missed was the year Mark’s dad passed away. This is something we look forward to all school year long. Michigan winters are tough, not always the coldest, and not always with the most snow, but with a lack of sunshine and ability to go outside. We need that massive dose of vitamin D to get us to the end of the school year, it is truly what gets us through those gray days of January, February and March. Cancelled.

My Rodan + Fields team lives all over North America, literally! Juneau, Alaska; Ontario, Canada; Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, Alabama, New York, Oregon, Texas, North Carolina, Missouri, and more! We meet twice a year, once in Rosemary Beach for a retreat and once at Convention, wherever that is. This year ~ cancelled… and I would be very surprised if convention wasn’t cancelled as well, at least in person convention.

My husband is a proud member of the American Legion (he did 30 years of active duty Air Force) and he truly has a servant’s heart. He initiated and installed a strong (one of the 2 strongest in Michigan) Boys’ and Girls’ State contingent. He works on that all year long and then goes with them the 3rd week in June…. cancelled.

All these are obviously necessary cancellations, but they sting nonetheless. There are all kinds of emotions attached to those cancellations; disappointment, sadness, anger, fear, resignation… all of the ‘grief’ emotions. And I guess my whole objective today was first, to say it’s okay to feel these, even if it appears that you “have it good” (because there are some people who are really, really in dire straights out there), it’s still okay to have YOUR feelings. and secondly to have hope! This too shall pass, we will get back to our daily lives, hopefully better, kinder and more grateful than we were before. Destin will be there, I learned that the last time we missed. Your friends will still be there, your team is still there, your family is still here……So I ask that you be kind, be patient, show compassion and show grace.

And PS…. GRACE is one of my very favorite words…. maybe a subject for tomorrow’s blog!

Packing Lists

Winter is ending and springtime is coming, that means it is TRAVEL TIME! In our family we take two type of vacations. One is the road trip in the mini van where we can bring everything we will possibly need, sometimes we include some small cooking appliances if we are in a hotel room for a long time (air fryer, crockpot, insta pot). The other list is for when we fly, and have to stay under 50 pounds.

Over the years I’ve perfected these lists so I don’t forget anything and then have to run to the store and buy things. Because I haven’t traveled with babies in 20 years, my lists do not include all those things that infants and toddlers would need.

Next week I leave on a 10 day, baseball spring training trip to watch my son Jackson in the RussMatt tourney in the Orlando area. This is like a beautiful dream for this snow bound Michigander! I’ll be flying, so I’ll try to pack light and take just a few things. There may be one or 2 things I stop and but, but they’ll be nominal, under $20 for sure! We are staying in a house with another baseball family for the first part of this trip and I’m not sure what the pillow situation will be. As dumb as that may sound, I really do need a body pillow to get the best nights sleep, and I can pick one of those up at the local Wal Mart for about $9 and just leave it there when I go home! The other thing I don’t want to pack is a beach towel, they’re heavy. So again, I’m sure I will either find one at the house or pick one up cheap and donate it to the cause!

When we go to Destin the end of March for spring break, we are back to driving this year. Several reasons, cost (we’re buying a new car and this really is the most economical way) plus we’re traveling with friends, so this makes us able to caravan!

Driving means I will bring everything we need, including food, some frozen, so that I don’t have to go to the grocery store when I first get there. Now, I can do SHIPT now when I get down there and just have it delivered to the hotel. But because of where we are staying, I can also go to a grocery store in the next town over and not have to face the empty, picked over shelves and 10 grocery carts in each line! Although when the kids were young, that’s was one of their favorite things, because they always met other young people there while waiting for us! The only thing that rivals the Destin Wal Mart during spring break is any grocery store or hardware store just before a hurricane!

Don’t forget to go back and look at some of my previous travel posts for ideas and suggestions. Destin, Orlando, etc!

If you’re driving to a beach vacation, this is a pretty all encompassing list:

If you are flying to a beach vacation, check this list out:

If you’d like either of these lists in a pdf, or Excel document just comment below and I will get them to you in that format!

Tuxedo Pants and Ruffles

I’ve been busy the past couple of nights booking hotels, airlines and rental cars for a couple of different trips in March. The first one, Jackson and his college baseball team play at a tournament in Winter Haven, Florida over their spring break. Winter Haven is between Orlando and Tampa. Last year we stayed at a wonderful Holiday Inn resort, where I would definitely stay again, but because I’m going by myself for most of the trip this year, when another baseball mom offered to share a house I jumped on it! We’re staying in a community called Championsgate. Lots of pools, palm trees and maybe a lazy river! There are usually 2 off days during the week, spent at beach, Disney or having down time.

I’ve been looking into an app called Turo. It’s similar to Airbnb for lodging but it’s for cars. If Mark were with me or if I had used it before I wouldn’t be so hesitant, but because I’m unfamiliar with how it all works, and unfamiliar with the liability part of it I went with the traditional car rental agency. Sometimes I feel like it’s all such a game. You have to check all these different sites and put in all these different promo codes and hopefully you’ll get a decent price. Airlines are the same way. I am usually able to find a decent price by either changing airports we’re flying into or shifting days one day forward or back. The rental cars are a little trickier, you need to find corporate rates to get them lower, like USAA or Amazon.

I ended up choosing a rental from Thrifty Car rental. Did you know they’re owned by Hertz. I imagine the price levels are based on services and amenities. I usually go with one of the “big 5”, Avis, Hertz, Budget, Enterprise or National. They offer “go straight to your car, don’t go to counter, and check in on the app”. Ya gotta love that. But for literally half the price, Thrifty had the same car available. So because we’re doing so much traveling, I went with the lower price.

I’ll share more about my trip as I finalize some plans.

For now I’m still in Michigan and loving these tuxedo leggings I found at JC Penney at a very reasonable price, on sale for less than $10. The shirt with the ruffle bottom comes from LOGO from QVC. LOGO usually fits spot on. Just a longer black cardigan to cover the bum and out the door I go!

Denim and Polka Dots

It’s Taco Tuesday today. As often as possible we try to have have Taco Tuesday with our neighbors. Literally Tacos on Tuesdays!

I hope you are as blessed with neighbors as we are. To the south are our neighbors who have lived there for 20+ years. We have great history, Mark and Mr. neighbor went to high school together, they often share memories at the dinner table. Mrs. Neighbor has one of the kindest, biggest hearts of anyone I know. She’s always willing to come and let the dog out or bring in a package and we do the same. To the north are our neighbors who have lived there for about 2 years, but Mr. neighbor to the north also went to high school with Mark, Mrs neighbor is a beautiful soul who always sees the good in the people! When they all come for dinner, there are stories, singing (yes singing), and laughter. It is such a blessing to live next to good people.

Mrs. South neighbor and my son Jackson always go first. And now that Jackson is at college, she’ll yell down the hallway towards Jackson’s bedroom “I’m going first Jackson”, even though Jackson’s not there. And then she starts! She also makes the desserts, and we always have dessert. She’s an amazing baker, and very creative. It’s funny too we all have our favorite part of the dessert pan, Katie likes the middle pieces, Mrs south like outside pieces and sometimes Mark doesn’t have dessert.

I love polka dots and I love denim. So when I found this shirt at Kohl’s, I HAD to have it! The pants are my usual JC Penney black staple pull on skinny leg. The sweater is a Talbots and these low calf boots are Chaps Brand, also from Kohl’s. A mid calf boot, somethings a little different.

I bought this shirt in my usual size and it’s actually way too big. I would suggest sizing down with this one. Everything else is spot on size wise.

Grey and Pearls

Does anyone else leave notes for their family and on the bathroom mirror? I’m not sure how we came up with that system, but it’s very effective because they all need to use the restroom and there is the mirror, so big you can’t miss it!

A little scotch tape, a dry erase marker and it’s like command central. And when there’s money taped to the mirror, they really pay attention.

I can’t believe I don’t have whole body pictures of this fabulous poncho. I found it online at ZuLily, have you ever shopped there? It’s a giant online market, I’m not sure how it was founded or how long it’s been around, but it’s fabulous!

I think it works similar to TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. The way I understand it, when department stores close out a season, they sell off their stock to a aftermarket seller. ZuLily is an aftermarket seller , they have clothing, shoes, housewares, accessories and several other categories. They sell by brand and they compile orders for a specific amount of time. They ship all at once, so you may wait a few weeks for your order if you choose something just released. If you choose something that’s ending soon, it ships much quicker.

They have quite an assortment of unique items and brands. And the prices are fantastic!

Click here for the link

Ladies, if you are looking for amazing skincare or lashes that just go on and on, check out my Rodan and Fields page. The quality of these products are what makes it the number 1 skincare in North America, the results speak for themselves. Just look at this closeup picture above of this 53 year old skin. Look, even the Hollywood types love it!

Click here for my site

Suede Leggings

Anyone else just love a lazy day at home? Today is Sunday, we went to 11:00 Mass, heard an amazing homily, as always, thank you Father Jegar! Came home to shovel the drive, back patio and flat part of the roof. After that, other than laundry, I really didn’t have anything I HAD to do, so I decided to take the rest of the day off. I’ve been catching upon a few television shows, going through and deleting pictures off of my phone… 7000 is just too many… and cuddling with my 100 pound lap dog. It’s just now starting to get dark and I’m very, very relaxed and very, very content.

I feel like we don’t do enough of that these days. I know I’m guilty of filling every hour of every day either with our kids’ activities or with work or errands or housework. And I think we’re missing out on rejuvenating and keeping our minds as healthy as we keep our bodies.

A lot of times on our vacations Mark will choose to put together a puzzle rather than sit on the beach. Sitting on the beach is not his favorite thing, so this is how he rejuvenates.

Take a day, relax doing whatever your relaxing thing is. Your mind will thank you!

Now look at these fabulous brown suede pull on leggings. They are super soft and very cozy with the yoga band waist. I found them at Marshall’s Click here , but they also have them at Kohl’s and J.Jill.

The cowl neck long black light weight sweater is the perfect length to cover your tush. Cuddle Duds, found at Kohl’s for this versatile staple. Kohl’s

Now this jacket is not the one I wanted, but the one I wanted was $268 from a company called Cabi. It’s a beautiful coat, but I couldn’t justify the cost for something I would only occasionally wear. So this was the second best from Meijer at $24.

Continue reading “Suede Leggings”

#baseballbreak

I am blessed, I get to take 2 Florida vacations again this year! (and possibly 3…. Shhh don’t tell my husband!!). One is our annual trek to the emerald coast during our school’s spring break and the other is a trip to the Orlando area to watch Jackson and his college baseball team play in a big spring training tournament.

Which means I need to start making lists, and boy am I good at lists! Packing lists, itinerary lists, to do lists, don’t forget lists…I do a lot of lists!

I’ll share those with you when I get them completed, I keep them pretty generic so I can share. It’s always good to go on vacation without that “what am I forgetting” feeling.

Today I wore something to work completely out of my norm! For one thing I almost never wear pink. It looks so pretty on some people, but I feel like I’m wearing pajamas when I wear light pink. So I actually found this beautiful skirt that makes me feel very feminine , like a dancer feminine, and it’s more of a dusty pink, so It falls in my color wheel a little better. It’s from a store called Torrid, which is not one I usually shop in, but whenI walked by, this skirt called my name! The pink and white striped shirt came from our local Meijer store (like a super Target or Super WalMart but here in the Great Lakes region). And this little denim jacket is from Christopher & Banks, remember I talked about this one the other day, the teacher store.

These boots are from one of those online boot clubs called Justfab. The quality is not great, so if I buy from here, I tend to go for really trendy stuff because I’m pretty sure it won’t last too long (unlike my husbands 30 year old, still perfect, Soren boots). The grey was just fun though! Check them out if you get the chance, it’s usually something like $24.99 for 2 pair.