The Pinnacle

So I am not a runner….not really anyway. I am a leisurely jogger. I have always been that way and I will tell you right now, I probably always will be. But there is also something I can’t resist…and that is peer pressure from my sister-in-law. In the past it has been me pushing her to sign up for runs and yoga classes, etc. But this year she takes the peer pressure cake.

There’s a run in Colorado that’s pretty well been a part of my life since childhood: the Bolder Boulder. My Mom and Dad’s band played at the festival following the run a few times, and when I was in school up in Boulder I dropped friends off at the start and stood on the sidelines to cheer.

To call it a serious 10K would be a misrepresentation. I recall one year a group of guys ran past me carrying a tiki bar, then there was the 80-year-old woman dressed like a 4th of July fairy….you get the idea. Now that’s not to say it isn’t a serious race for some. After the public runs, they send the actual runners…you know the people who do it for a living and use the race as a qualifier for things like the olympics and what not.

I remember the first year I saw them. This huge herd of women rushed by in the blink of an eye and you couldn’t hear a thing. It was so silent, like their feet barely touched the ground as they ran. It was crazy.

Anyway, I had very little desire to ever take part in the race myself. In my opinion, if you’re going to go further than 4 miles, its time to get on a bicycle. Being a slow runner, it takes me almost an hour to go 5 miles…..that is a long time to be running.

But my SIL’s fiance….oh wait. Hey guess what? My SIL just got engaged! Woohoo! That is a very exciting story in and of itself, but I will have to tell it another time when I can add pictures and what not. Anyway her fiance ran it last year, and she – being a good girlfriend – dropped him off at the race and watched. For some harebrained reason she isn’t satisfied just watching others run it like I am, she wanted to participate this year…..which is hilarious as well…one sec.

So she sat there and  successfully convinced me that we could do it. We had run almost 4.5 miles during the Turkey Trot, so 6.2 really wasn’t that much further. I gave in after a couple of weeks and registered….Then do you know what that little butthead did? I say butthead in an endearing way.

She got a new job! That’s right. She changed jobs and then told me she wasn’t sure she’d have the day off yet…..I told her she was running it or I was going to murder her. There was no way someone was going to talk me into running that far and then back out on me. No way Jose!

Anyway obviously I am very scary and threatening…and also she is still in training, so she doesn’t actually have to work on Memorial Day. So she is back in.

The other hilarious part about her being the one to pressure me into it, is that while I have been training a lot for it, running about 4 miles 2x a week, she hasn’t trained at all…..not since our last 5K, which was a month ago!

What am I going to do with her?….I dunno, but since she forced me into this, I am determined to run it….so I might have to be all survival-of-the-fittest and ditch her if she needs to walk. That little punk will probably show up and run the whole damn thing though and be completely fine……that’s how tiny skinny bitches are :).

Anyway, so if you don’t hear from me again, it is probably because I died…FYI.

The Thing About Installing a Toilet….

You might not know this, but I am handy……okay well actually….I guess not handy per se. I am just ambitious. Yes that is more accurate. I don’t believe there is much around the house that I can’t do with proper time spent in a hardware store. That being said, sometimes this involves 3 trips to the hardware store and a stack of items to return once the project is complete. But, in the end, it all boils down to me being handy! So YAY!

We actually got a shit ton of stuff done this weekend. First up was a much-needed and wonderful date day with the doodalood. We pretty much have a date day every Friday between noon and Jack-retrieval time, but this last one was especially fun. This is what happens when we have a “man-themed” date:

Andy's voyageterrifying

herb

I am sure you all have experiences consisting of “an afternoon doing activities my husband picks out”. Well that was it. Good times. And I am not saying that sarcastically. It actually was fun and hilarious.

So our home improvement-related projects last weekend consisted of:

  • finally installing the rest of the DVD racks we bought 2 months ago
  • finally installing the clothes-drying rack I bought 3 months ago
  • re-hanging a door on our utility room cabinet that Andy ripped off with his huge man muscles
  • putting up one of those broom/mop rack thingies to hang your brooms and mops from the wall
  • making some toilet adjustments

When you look at it all together, basically we sound like super-homeowners. Of course when you consider we could have done this stuff right when we bought the parts….we look like lazy-ass homeowners.

So the toilet – I have decided that it would be almost comical if I wrote an article for like Better Homes and Gardens on how to fix toilet problems yourself. But I am feeling like it would be wildly inappropriate to populate the pages of the magazine with pictures of what your toilet really looks like in the areas you can’t clean next to the images of “Fun Fall Cookies!” or “Savory Winter Casseroles”.

Working on your toilet is probably up there on the list of most disgusting things you could do with your hands. And I am a pretty cleanly person. I clean that bitch often and with plenty of bleach. But there is still grossness. Especially when you have to reset your toilet, which is one of the things we did.

When you are standing in the plumbing aisle, looking at a box labeled “wax ring” you are looking at a brand new clean item. It doesn’t really give you an idea of what your eyes will see when they discover the “old wax ring”. But let me just say…you will need gloves. And it is probably best if you have spent the last 22 months of your life changing a child’s diaper, because then, and only then, will you be able to do what you need to do to complete the job.

Basically the toilet issues we had included a slow drip of water constantly running into the bowl from the tank (culprit – worn out pump componentry) and when the plumber came out last time to check our sewer line (which we have done about every two years – YAY for 50+ year old houses!) he didn’t change the wax ring, so the toilet wobbled when you sat down. Both of these things, in my mind, were super-easy-squeezy do-it-yourselfer type things. Which technically they were….but they were also gross.

We removed the toilet….wait! am I writing a do-it-yourself post? in that case:

1) turn off water and flush

2) scoop water in bowl that doesn’t flush using a red dixie cup into a bucket..remember when those red dixie cups were for beer pong? Yeah well now they are for scooping toilet water into a bucket. Welcome to adult-hood

3) go get every old towel you own…hopefully you have like 4 of those…don’t use the nice ones

4)unscrew toilet base and get your husband to help you lift it up and off the screw posts.

Awesome! Now you get to see the grossness! That wax ring is there for a purpose. It basically acts as a moldable washer between the floor flange and the hole in the bottom of your toilet. So basically poop and pee touch that sucker….eeewww!!!!! Basically it doesn’t look like the brand new one you just pulled out of the box. Oh and it is wax and squished down, so you have to not only touch it, but tediously scrape it off the floor flange.

Here’s where those gloves come in handy! Put them suckers on.

5)find a wax scraping tool. In our case, Andy came back down with a NY motorcycle license plate (add that to your list of tools that you need). Also get some of those plastic grocery bags that you shoved in a box under your kitchen sink. You wonder why you save those things? This is why.

The funny part is, that you would think that the thing making this process extra gross is the potential smell. Turns out – it doesn’t smell. Thank the heavens…..well at least our open sewer line didn’t smell….it is probably because our shit doesn’t actually stink. So you can never yell at me “don’t act like your shit don’t stink!” because mine actually doesn’t.

Alright so after you have scraped all that wax crap out using your trusty license plate, seal off the plastic bag of atrocities, and now it is time to install the new one! YAY!

So you kind of have to tip your toilet to the side and stick the new one to the bottom of the bowl and then set it onto the flange…we decided this would be better to do if we removed the tank.

6) remove your tank (you will need your towels for this part too!). Realize the bolts and washers that connect the tank to the bowl are super rusty and it might be worth $4 to replace that hardware and not have to do this type of toilet reconstruction again anytime soon.

7) go back to the hardware store….WASH YOUR HANDS FIRST!!! Even though you were wearing gloves. Still wash the thoughts off your hands.

8) Stop for a small malt. This project burns major calories and you need to replenish and maintain your strength.

9) After and ONLY AFTER you finish your malt, go back to the project.

10) Reset your toilet with the new wax seal. This is easiest to do if your partner holds the bowl up, with you in a “duck and cover” position on the floor between his legs, and you guide it down onto the screw posts…I am just trying to save you guys time by telling you exactly what works.

11) Now the fun part, squish that sucker onto the wax ring! This is accomplished by both you and your “master plumbing” partner leaning, sitting, and wiggling the bowl downward to get that wax sucker to mold into the perfect seal position. Again it is best if you are still kneeling on the floor between his legs…don’t ask me why this is best, just take my word for it.

12) Screw the base back in. I don’t know why the screw posts are 4 inches long when all you need is 1/2″ probably so your toddler can stab themselves in the eye with them later, but putting the nuts (hahah nuts) back on will take you a good 20 minutes. Once they are hand tightened, carefully tighten them down using a wrench (look real tools!). Not too tight, as the directions warrant….also WTF does “not too tight” mean? Who knows? You just need to use those years of plumbing know-how to tell you when you’ve reached that point.

Woohooo!!! You’re half-way done! Not to mention all the way done with the gross part.

The tank pump.

13) Have a short argument/discussion with your master plumbing partner as to whether it is better to install the new pump while the tank is still detached or after it has been reattached to the bowl. Then go with his suggestion of reattaching it and let him realize how wrong he was when he is crouched down trying to screw the plastic nut (hahah nut) in on the bottom of the tank later. Note to self – you are always right.

14) Uninstall the old pump parts and reconnect the tank to the bowl with your new bolts and rubber washers. Ahhh shiny and new!

15) Let your master plumbing partner install the new pump parts and crouch under and behind the tank to screw on the plastic nut (hahah nut). Go upstairs and get a drink of water and smile at yourself knowing that he made it harder.

16) Come back downstairs to oversee the reattachment of the water line and turn on the water.

VOILA!!! you have now fixed your toilet! Hope you’ve enjoyed this how-to-pretend-you-are-actually-a-plumber guide to fixing a few toilet problems! Happy plumbing everyone!

(Pictures not taken because that would be fucking disgusting!)

Happy Spirit Transformation Journey Anniversary

My Big Butter is weird. He does weird things, says weird things and often times looks weird to….example – we know several people with the same name, so when I will talk about him Andy will ask “my Bob? or Jesus Bob?”…Big Butter looked like Jesus for a while…also his name is not Bob, protection for the innocent or some shit. On my birthday he posted on my facebook “Congratulations on your Spirit Transformation Journey Anniversary!”….because he is weird. And I love it.

My Spirit Transformation Journey Anniversary, aka my 30th Birthday was pretty laid back and epic at the same time….confused? Me too. I am one of those peeps who likes to drag celebrations out…for as long as possible. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like doing that. In fact I will probably be celebrating my 30th birthday up until next September 8th. That is just how I roll.

The celebrations began on Friday 9/7 and just kept going…in fact they are not technically over. I still have the impending arrival of my iphone (what what) and a pedicure…and probably some shopping because shopping is funsies. Also I have a promise of a family get together at this amazing dessert restaurant….desserterie? Is that a word?

First festivity – renewing my license plate registrations…wha wha whaaaaa. No seriously that is what we did. Eh whatever. It was necessary and Andy and I went together, so the Jack-assery was truly a gift. Andy has decided he wants to get the “advancing green energy” specialty plate for his ’72 Bronco. I won’t tell you the gas mileage he gets….it is just better if we don’t say it out loud. No one really believed us that the H3 was a fuel efficient vehicle. Just take our word for it now.

Second festivity – sushi! YAY! In fact Friday night sort of turned into the “stuff you can’t do while pregnant” adventure. We ate sushi, drank cocktails, then went to a family fun center and rode go-carts, played putt-putt, bowled, played ski ball, and drank more beer.

It was awesome. We crashed into bed at about 2am and found ourselves pleasantly well-rested when Jack called out at 11:30a. That kid is awesome and yes he stayed up until 2am with us with little fuss. Jack and I played in the living room…okay Jack played in the living room, I drank an angry orchard because it was almost noon and it was my birthday…. I am a grown-up bitches!

Then it was off to a massage with my SIL – Aaaaammmmaaazzziinnggg -stop for chocolate malts, a fun-filled naptime for the parents (brown chicken brown cow), then dinner with friends and a sleep-over….yes a sleep-over. Like in 5th grade…only with booze.

Emmicakes made me an amazing cake:

Which not to nerd out on you, but it has something to do with this guy.

We had intentions of sitting around the firepit and making s’mores, but after birthday cake, who has room for s’mores? But give us 12 hours and we will rally. The next morning I turned to emmicakes and declared ‘let’s make s’more pancakes!’. You can probably guess they were amazing.

Andy stopped by on his way home from work and we all hung out and chatted for a bit. Then it was home again time. I spent the rest of the day hanging out around the house. Doing regular stuff like laundry and watching movies. It was a great weekend.

Things took a bit of a freeze during the week, but Thursday night it was back to celebrating. My dad came down to take me out to dinner and to pass on a pretty amazing heirloom. More on that coming soon.

Friday we took Pickles (emmicakes hubster) out for his birthday….which I choose to believe is actually about me….because duh, it is all about me. My in-laws watched Jack and brought me some delicious cookies, which lasted me three days…so in my book the celebration went on for another three days based on cookie consumption alone.

Just a great, great Spirit Transformation Journey Anniversary.

Windy

Andy’s family has this hilarious story of when his sister was little. Andy came home from school with a joke to tell everyone. Picture mom, dad, Andy and sister sitting around the dinner table one weekday evening.

Andy: What did the tree say to the wind?

SIL yells: BLOW MEEEEeeee

*the actual punchline was “Leaf me alone”.

People should be more careful when they think up jokes, because I have to hand it to her, it makes perfect sense and is Waaaaayyy more hilarious.

Friday SIL and I are headed to the Windy City. Which is what has me thinking of this family story. Chicagoland – it is like the promised land for architects….well maybe tied for first with NYC, but some of the greats have come out of Chicago. I can’t believe it is my first pilgrimage. I feel a little ashamed for not having been at least once in the previous 30 years.

I mean I have a fucking architecture nerdy ass tattoo….which has been ruined by stretch marks and no one will ever see…unless you happen to get me drunk and ask me to see it…then you will probably win. It is based off a stained glass window by Frank Lloyd Wright so the fact that I haven’t stepped foot in Oak Park is pretty much like yelling the F word out in church or something.

I have had multiple layovers at both Midway and O’Hare, but somehow I can’t bring myself to claim I have been to Chicago. Technically I have been in Chicago, physically, and I have seen it from the air, but really is that so different than just looking at a picture of Chicago? I think not. So I am going to the architectural holy land. I hope I am not disappointed, but I feel like that can’t possibly happen.

And I am pretty sure that since this trip is happening the weekend before my 30th birthday I can just claim I went to Chicago in my 20s….no one needs to know it was the very very veeerrry end….and I know you won’t tell them….my one secret friend on the interwebz.

All this to say: I am excited. SIL is excited. Apparently she needs a real vacation and hasn’t had one in four years, so we are going to tear this shit up! I will be certain to take a ridunkulous amount of pictures and then only post a few so you don’t die of boredom from looking at all the amazing buildings I took pictures of.

Also I might mention that we are meeting up with my First- Step-MIL….in otherwords my ex-SMIL. She was married to Andy’s dad when we were dating up through when we first got married. She is pretty kick-ass…and loud….and hilarious….and loves drinking. So it should be an awesome long weekend.

Eating Like Oak

I am officially on a detox from the delicious carefree eating after my long weekend in the Great White North. For those of you who read her (and if you don’t…um start duh) you might have figured out that I went to “help” Oak while her husband went golfing with a group of buddies. Jack and I to the rescue!!!! da da daaaaa.

She just had LPD (more on that in a minute) and although we all know she is a rockstar, I figured even rockstars sometimes need a break. Plus I wanted to see her duh. Basically it all worked out for me to come in that same time frame. I actually arrived a day and a half before her husband left so was able to actually meet and hang out with him. What a darling, let me tell you.

Don’t worry ladies I told Oak she could suck a dick. – or was it eat a dick…who can recall? – when she admitted ‘I really have nothing to complain about when it comes to him’. What a bitch right? No complaints really? Not even ‘he leaves toothpaste in the sink’ or ‘he makes weird noises when he comes’. Nothing like that.

But believe me dudes, it is a good thing she has the most awesome husband because LPD, or as I dubbed her Le Petite Diablo is quite a handful all on her own. Bridget (LPD) is just….well she is like a tiny dictator who decrees ‘if I am not happy, then no one shall be! and I certainly won’t be giving you any clues as to why I am not happy, you will just fucking know I am not happy’.

There were a couple of times I could see the frustration mounting in Oak’s eyes and I felt it a few times too. I mean, first of all LPD was obviously supposed to be like my little partner-in-crime. I was supposed to stroll onto the scene and she was supposed to be like ‘fuck! there you are Natalie, I kept asking for you, but apparently mom and dad can’t understand my words yet’. Then she was supposed to become like the most amazing and well-behaved baby there ever was. I was literally shocked when she screamed in my face too for no reason and seemed to be like ‘no one survives the wrath of LPD biiiotch!’.

Don’t get me wrong, LPD is sometimes a sweet smiley happy girl. The first 45 minutes of the morning she is just so content and observant, then it is like someone forced her to go work as a child laborer or something because she will be happy as can be and then BAM, she is not. And no, it has no correlation to whether she is hungry, poopy, being held 5 degrees off of how she wants to be held, she is just mad and she just wants to feel her feelings….I think Oak and E just wish she could feel her feelings more silently and I don’t blame them.

My midwife told me her second baby was just so uncontent to be a baby. It was like he just wanted to be up and moving around and was so frustrated to just be laying there. Maybe LPD wishes she could just stand up and go for a jog or something? I am not sure. She does flail her arms around a LOT and then gets mad when her hand gets caught in your hair or something, or when she unexpectedly loses control of her head and smashes it into yours. She definitely blames you when that happens. So my deduction is, she just wants better control of her own life. You’ll get there little lady, you’ll get there.

Two kid parenting though? Man what a crazy idea. It isn’t that LPD is mad all the time, it is more a matter of her knowing exactly when her mom has a moment to take a breath and rest from tackling/wrestling/feeding/changing/playing with Mac and is like ‘now is my window!!!!!’. I swear to you the second Oak would grab a beer and sit back and take a breath LPD would decide she is pissed off. Trying to get them asleep at the same time is literally like trying to find a unicorn or a 4 leaf clover. I didn’t see it happen.

Of course the brilliant idea of bringing a 3rd child into the mix maybe wasn’t as helpful as I had anticipated. It was Oak and me against 3. Granted Jack is kind of a laid back quiet dude, so it was really like he almost didn’t exist….except of course when Mac and LPD were sleeping and Jack was screaming….my kid apparently HATES to sleep. I thought I was just a wimp when we started the Cry it Out thing, but turns out my kid does just cry a lot longer than most other kids. I think that has to do with, after observing Mac, he doesn’t get quite as exhausted from running/tumbling/moving furniture/doing laps around the house as other kids might. I can see why Mac would just lay his sweet little head down and pass out. Oh the cherub curls! They are ridunk you guys!

Anyway, the point of this post was sort of to review the kids, but mostly it was to make you dudes even more jealous of skinny ass Oak. Okay, ready? The bitch can eat whatever she wants and obviously that works out for her because she is teeny tiny. Oh did I mention she just popped out a baby? Yeah and she is way thinner and hotter than me. Even whilst wearing a nursing top and yoga pants covered in grass clippings (long story).

So despite hearing her time and again tell me she was running out for a donut or baking a batch of cookies, I figured once I stumbled into her world that I would actually see that donuts and cookies are a rarity…..um apparently I am just fucked. Because we ate so many delicious things and I am leaning towards the reality that she actually gets to eat this way all the time. Mother effer right? I know, I am with you. We ate chocolate chip cookies (in dough form and cookie form, obviously), double chocolate chunk muffins breakfast cupcakes, cheesy poofs, pizza, hot sub sandwiches, burritos,….I mean, that chick is just weight maintenance blessed that is for sure. I came home and turned back to my 90 calorie snacks and said ‘I wish I had a fucking cookie right now’.

Eh whatever a buddy recommended an awesome new book and I am stoked to try out the theory for myself. But basically eating like Oak is fucking awesome and I recommend everyone do it for 4 days a year at least. I would say you should all go visit her and hang out, but she is fucking MINE so don’t even think about it……kidding….or am I?