Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Luda's Dumplings


It's great to know people who make good stuff. I happen to know the family that makes Luda's Dumplings. It's Eugene and Masha Tulman- they're E's friend's parents. Luda was Eugene's mom, who passed away. After doing other jobs to support her children, she started making dumplings in her apartment when they moved to Sheepshead Bay, NY, from Russia. Word of mouth spread and she made it into a small business. Eugene helped make them as a kid and he wanted to keep the culture of food he grew up with alive, especially for his kids. From that, Luda's Dumplings was born into the current state it exists. 

I was really excited to try their offerings of pork, chicken, and potato dumplings they just started delivering locally.  Although, I did just watch a video on their Facebook page that mentioned "sweet cheese" that was super intriguing to me. Maybe those will come in time. The current dumpling offerings are: 

100% Organic dumplings made of ingredients you know and love ❤️
🚫Artificial flavors
I feel like as busy parents, we all struggle to feed our families quickly yet still healthy. You can feel good about serving these. 

These are a must have, especially if you're a quick meal kind of family. We all know I don't cook. I have no desire to cook, nor do I have the time. I tend to buy a lot of premade meals from the supermarket. Well, right now, I'm eating Factor meals but B and E do need to eat also. I was stoked when I received my dumplings because they seemed easy and fast enough to make. B makes his own dinner and really, E could make these too. 

The first ones I made was the chicken. I think it took like five minutes after getting the water to a boil. Can't beat that. I was immediately impressed, as they're REALLY flavorful. I don't know why I was surprised but I don't know- I eat a lot of frozen food. I don't typically find frozen food to be so full of flavor. 

They actually didn't need anything on them, but I followed the directions on the side of the bag and it said you could put some butter on them. I think they would've been good with some kind of pasta sauce on them too because they don't seem much different than raviolis. In their video Eugene said something about sour cream. I assume that would be the Russian way to eat them. I feel like they're pretty versatile. There are a lot of ways you can enjoy them.

We didn't get to try the others yet because we've been on a crazy schedule. However, I look forward to trying the rest. B is most excited about the potato, and I'm looking forward to pork. I love that there are a variety of flavors, they're easy to make, and we love to support friends and friends who have local businesses. 

They ship frozen and stay in the freezer until you're ready to make them. 

This is their website- Luda's Dumplings where you can order.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Little Softies


It's no secret that I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I read a lot of the questions, comments, and complaints in the Bergen County Moms group. Right now, the major topic of complaint is the NJSLA, a standardized test given to middle and high school kids. 

When we were kids, we had the CAT test, some other standardized test. I remember it, I think I probably liked it because it changed up the regular school schedule, but that's all I remember. I wasn't a good student. I was okay. I had an undiagnosed learning disability. Math was impossible. But I didn't have any test anxiety to take the CAT test. It was just something you did. My parents didn't talk about it, talk to me about it, and if anyone opted their kid out, I didn't know about it. Parents didn't "opt out" in the 80's. It never even came up. I don't think parents even knew they had options. It was- this is when the test are... and no one questioned it. 

Now? Oh. My. God. You'd think the schools were asking kids to parade down the halls naked with their grades tattooed on them. Every other post is about how to opt a kid out, whether you can opt them out, the kid has test anxiety, kid is a mess worrying about the test. Today I saw someone, anonymous of course, because no one can seem to admit that they're coddling the living shit out of their kid, she wanted to know if other schools besides the one her kids attend, were still giving tests, quizzes, and homework during testing week. Why, because her sixth grader doesn't have extra work and her seventh grader does, and it doesn't seem fair. 

Are you kidding me? It isn't fair? Life isn't fair! 

I'm not saying the 80s or my parents were the bastion of perfect parenting, for sure. It was just different though. School was...trusted. If there was a standardized test, there was a test. No one was questioning the anxiety the test might provoke in a kid. There was no internet to do their own research. There were no groups thinking they know more than teachers. I also don't think kids had as much anxiety. Parents didn't discuss this stuff like they do now. They didn't crowd source whether kids should be opted out. Anxiety wasn't discussed to the level it is discussed. If I had to guess, I'd say my mom didn't know when the test was, nor would there ever be any instance she'd even consider opting me out.

Is anxiety and school/test anxiety real? Sure. Are there a lot of kids with anxiety? Yes. I've seen it. I know it exists. I just wonder in some cases, it is a chicken or egg situation. People are worried that hearing a lot of talk about LGBTQIA issues and stories will turn a kid gay (it won't), but don't think twice about talking about anxiety in front of kids. To me, it's like if you talk about the symptoms of any disease or syndrome long enough in front of a person with a certain way of thinking, they start feeling like they have it. Parents don't seem to be careful at all about what they talk about in front of children- I've definitely seen that. I've been in circles at school or on a playground, hearing them talk about their kid having anxiety about this or that, fully within earshot. I wonder sometimes if the kid really has all this anxiety or if they just have been led to believe they do. I definitely think it can be self-fulfilling prophecy.

Even if kids do have anxiety, they don't have to be coddled and bubble wrapped from gaining any coping skills. Our kids have very little adversity these days, because parents are SO involved. Overly involved. In the wrong things. In things that actually keep their kids from growing as humans. These kids have no life experiences. Opting them out of a test? A test that doesn't mean anything? These standardized test scores mean NOTHING for the kids. They aren't the SAT or ACT. They don't count individually toward getting into any class or college. They're basically to test the teachers, to see if the teachers are doing their job teaching whatever material is on the test.

Personally, if people are so worried about anxiety, I don't know why they don't just tell their kids that the test doesn't mean anything, they should do their best, but if they don't know the material, it's not a big deal and to move on. I'm sure there are parents that do that and the kid still feels nervous, but it's the parents job to teach them how to handle the anxiety. If the anxiety is extreme then it's time to see a professional and/or talk about some kind of medication. Those are not the cases I'm talking about.

My son has Tourette's. He has a 504 because of that diagnoses. He likes the test. Well, he doesn't like the TEST itself, but he likes the disruption of the day. It changes the regular schedule and it either eliminates classes that day or makes them shorter. We've never put any emphasis on the test in our home. We never told him he needs to do well on it or even that he should try hard. We never really talked about it at all because it's such a non-issue. He's never seen his scores either. He's never asked and we never thought it was important to tell him.

I also never thought about whether he should or shouldn't have other homework, tests, or quizzes in his regular classes. His other classes have nothing to do with the standarized test. The test is based on what they already know. He hasn't been studying for it. There was nothing to study. To me, it's totally irrelevant to the rest of school. It's mid-May. The teachers have material that needs to be completed by the end of the year. I can't imagine there is time for them to have no tests, quizzes, or homework just because of a standardized test. 

The amount of bellyaching from moms about this test is baffling. Everyone has to do what's best or what they think is best for their kid. I just don't get the constant crowdsourcing. The amount of moms talking about opting out and having kids with anxiety is way over the top. This behavior shouldn't be the norm. To me, school is my son's job. He has to do whatever they want him to do. Do I think Algebra is necessary? No! Not for him. But he still has to try his best and do the work. School is his job. Getting through Algebra, which is really hard for him, the ONLY class that is really hard for him, is adversity. Getting through it, is going to give him confidence, even subconsciously, because he didn't think he'd be able to do it. You can't opt them out of life and getting thrown curve balls on the regular.

If you're that adamant that the NJSLA is just too stress inducing for little Amy, then opt her out, feel good about it, and own it. I just question how much you're going to try to opt out little Amy, who becomes big Amy, for the rest of her academic career. Are you going to call the teachers or the Dean at college to try to opt Amy out of her college tests? Is Amy going to be able to take any tests without anxiety because she never had to take them before? What happens when Amy tries to get a job? What if she has to take some kind of test for her job? Is Amy going to be able to do it? 

I guess you could say I'm being dramatic, but I don't think I am. I've seen, with my own eyes, freshman in college who couldn't pick out an outfit or what to eat for dinner without calling mom on their cell. I've seen kids woefully unprepared for the rigors of college and just daily living because they have no life experience, no adversity, to draw on where they gained any coping skills. I'm not even talking about not knowing how to do laundry or other chores. I'm talking about the emotional wherewithal to get through difficult situations. If you let a kid opt out or quit everything, how do you think they're going to handle things as an adult? 

A standardized test, to me, seems like a cakewalk compared to actual adversity. How about teaching your kid how to deal with anxiety- breathing techniques, journaling, therapy, exercise, and whatever, instead of just pulling them out of the situation. Get them a therapist to deal with anxiety. Find YouTubers or TikTokers who talk about coping with anxiety. Just don't pull any and/or all adversity from their lives without trying to cope first. If they can't get through a standardized test that doesn't mean anything, how are they going to deal with the things that come down the pike that DO actually mean something?? 

No one wants to see their kids upset or anxiety ridden. There just seems to be a really high number of kids with anxiety these days and I just have to wonder where that comes from. It can't be that we're all so incredibly enlightened that we are hyper tuned in to every case. I think anxiety has also become a bit of a buzzword that parents use to describe run of the mill nervousness. Is it possible that anxiety come from never being able to solve their own problems? Parents need to start thinking that maybe the anxiety comes from not having the confidence that they can solve their own problems because they never get the chance. Kids need the opportunity to work THROUGH their feelings, through their problems, not just ignore them because mom can erase them. Otherwise, we're going to have a world full of twenty-somethings that are paralyzed by fear of messing up, doing nothing, because they don't know what they'll do if stuff goes sideways. 

Our kids are often much more capable than we give them credit for.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Early Wegovy Report and Thoughts


I've started this entry at a little after midnight on Thursday night, but I'm going to keep it going a little bit before posting. I just want to update, after a little bit of time, about the first few days on Wegovy. 

When I got up on Thursday, around 6:30a, I didn't feel any significant difference. I felt normal, and even a little hungry, which I didn't think I would. I went through my normal routine, getting E some breakfast before school, etc. I had to take him to school, which B usually does, and came home around 7:45a. I felt tired but I'm usually tired in the morning. My friend was coming over to walk with me at 10a, so I did some work on my laptop, I wrote the first entry about all this, and then it was time for her to come over. 

She got to me at around 10:15 and we walked about three and a quarter miles. I was up to a little over ten thousand steps by the time we were done at about 11:40a. I did work until about 12:15p and then I was hungry. I was a little disappointed because I usually don't get hungry until around 1p. I had this idea that I wasn't going to think about food as much. Instead I was still obsessing. I made two scrambled eggs. 

You'd have to know my food habits to understand that this wasn't any kind of limited meal. I have a thing where I don't really know what to eat during the day. Sometimes I have a small bowl of Raisin Bran, but other times, I just have a Zone Bar because I don't want to make anything, I'm not really hungry during the day, and everything seems like a hassle. Sometimes, because food is her love language, my friend Alex makes food for me that I call walking or car food. Food on the go, basically. Stuff I can eat while walking or driving. I'm like her other child even though I'm older. For me to make eggs, and just eat that- well, that was like a gourmet event. 

After that, at around 12:45p, I actually wasn't really hungry. I had to do work, go to walk to the post office and back, and I knew I had to pick E and his friend up from school at about 2:30p, so I had to really hop to it. By the time I got the boys home it was 3:10p. I did some stuff, but I was REALLY tired. This happens to me sometimes though normally, so I didn't know if it was the Wegovy or just the weather. It was gray and kind of gross. At 3:36p I went to lay on the couch and I fell asleep until about 4:30p. I woke up with a wicked headache. Again though, I'm not sure if that was Wegovy or my normal migraine. 

Once I was awake, I was just watching TV for awhile, until I heard the tutor was leaving. I went to say hello and make sure he got his money. We talked for a little bit, he left, then E's friend left and that left E and I to eat dinner around 5:45p. 

I'm eating Factor meals- which are a step up from Lean Cuisine or Jenny Craig. It's still portion control though. One side of the container is the entree and the other side is the vegetable. This was grilled chicken Parmesan and broccoli with something on it (I don't know what was on it). This is where it got interesting. 

I normally eat the whole thing, like scarf it all down because I'm starving. I also normally would eat a roll and butter with it if I have rolls. E and I watch General Hospital while we eat. I guess I was paying attention more to the show and didn't see all the broccoli, but I didn't finish it. Then when I realized I didn't finish it, I didn't really want it. I didn't get a roll, even though they were there. I didn't miss it either. I just was kind of ambivalent. Whatever I ate felt like enough. 

At 6:30p, E went downstairs to do homework and I went to the sunroom to sit and watch TV. B wasn't around because he had stuff to do for work down by Rutgers. I didn't know when he was coming home. I had a Skinny Cow ice cream cone. I usually don't feel like that's enough. B didn't come home until nine o'clock. Normally by that time, I would've been looking for something else to eat. Maybe out of hunger, maybe out of habit. The urge to forage for food wasn't as strong as the laziness to continue to sit on the couch. 

We went up to the bedroom around 10:30p. I have candy here. I did want the candy, I thought. I just got an Amazon Subscribe and Save delivery with blue raspberry licorice. Usually I have to slap my own hand away after eating like six of them, which are decent sized twists. Thicker than a Twizzler. I had three and truthfully, I feel a little grossed out. I went and brushed my teeth right after thinking that would stop me even if I didn't have willpower, but it's now 12:30a and I don't even want them. 

I now know two people who have been on Wegovy and I spoke to both tonight. One said she lost twelve pounds right away, was on it about a year, and lost a total of twenty-five. Then it stopped working. I didn't read about that happening, so I will have to do more research on that. I need to know what you do if it just stops working at the highest dosage. She also said she was tired all the time. I'm also taking Provitalize, an over the counter vitamin/supplement to help combat the effects of pre/menopause. I can't get a good read online whether it's a scam or not, but maybe that will help with fatigue. I don't know. 

I'm going to sleep now and will continue this on Friday at some point. 

Friday: I felt fine, a little less hungry in the morning. But I did NOT sleep well. I don't know if it had to do with Wegovy or not. I was hot. I also had something irrelevant to this conversation on my mind so I don't know if that contributed to my lack of sleep. I only slept four hours and twelve minutes and I think Fitbit told me I only had eighteen minutes of deep or restorative sleep. 

I went back to sleep at 8a until around 9:30a. I had to get up because I had stuff to do. Around 1p, my stomach was bothering me a little. I had some Raisin Bran but it didn't sit right. I walked to the post office, and didn't feel great but it went away before 2:30p, when I went to pick E up from school. I felt fine after that for the rest of the day and evening. 

I had to take E somewhere from about 4p until 8p. I had one Zone bar and it was fine. I wasn't starving when we left the event at around 7:45p. I told E we could stop at Wendy's. It's the only fast food he's ever eaten because B and I don't eat fast food. But, when in need or craving, a Wendy's grilled chicken sandwich will hit the spot. It's my go-to. EXCEPT, that who knew, about twenty days ago or so, WENDY'S DISCONTINUED THE GRILLED CHICKEN SANDWICH. Don't they know you're supposed to ADD to the menu, not subtract the stuff people LIKE. They traded it out for a chicken ranch wrap. Nobody wants that!

Anyway, I opted out of getting anything. I think if I wasn't on Wegovy, I would've caved and just got a burger. I was more annoyed than hungry at that point and figured I'd eat a Factor meal when I got home. Which, I did, put a Factor meal in the microwave, only to pull it out and see that all the shrimp was missing from my shrimp meal. WTF. I made another meal at that point but I didn't even finish it. 

I had gotten a really small cupcake at a bakery near the event I was at with E. I ate that for dessert. I got a cookie too but I tasted it, it wasn't good, I threw it out and didn't care. I'm in bed now, at 11:46p. I did eat three licorice twists since I got in bed at around 10p. But now I feel really full and wouldn't eat another one. 

All in all, it's been a fine full forty-eight hours. I do have a bit of dull headache, that I've had since Thursday, which I took Excedrin Extra Strength for at around 4p. It's not bad enough now to do anything about but it's there. 

Saturday, around 2:30p. I feel fine. I don't feel hungry but just had two scrambled eggs because I know I'm supposed to eat during the day whether I'm hungry or not. B had a bowl of cheerios with banana and when I walked into the room he'd eaten it, it smelled really potent and kind of grossed me out. Normally I might smell it, but I wouldn't have noticed the way I did today. 

Saturday evening- dinner with friends. Ordered Italian. I ordered lobster ravioli in vodka sauce and garlic knots. They didn't really have any healthy options. We didn't order until 7p and the food didn't get there until maybe 8:15p. I didn't care. Normally, I'd have been ready to eat my own arm by that time. I had some Tostitos that my friend put out, but not many. I ate half my ravioli- let's say- three out of six. I had two garlic knots out of five. Granted, these were much bigger garlic knots than standard, but I still would've had more if I wasn't on Wegovy. I couldn't eat another bite. I also would've probably had some kind of salad or appetizer but I didn't order one. 

My friend had brownies, strawberries, and whipped cream for dessert. Normally, I would've had one brownie but wanted another- I might have even had a half of a second one. It took me way longer to eat the one and there was no way I could've eaten another one. I had a few strawberries but definitely less than I would have had. 

Sunday: I got up late, at about 9:40a. I had a headache. That is not unusual at all as I just finished the blue pills of Lo Loestrin, laying in bed too long hurts my back and can give me a headache, and it's been raining for almost forty-eight hours. I felt a little nauseous since I got up, but that could also be taking Excedrin on an empty stomach. It's 2:20p and I just ate about a cup of Raisin Bran. I actually threw some of it away. I don't like when there are no raisins left on any day, but I don't know, I was kind of grossed out by the remainder so I just threw it away. 

My takeaway from this week is that food is just....less enjoyable. It doesn't taste bad. It just isn't as appetizing. I asked one of the women I know who were on it but are on a break right now, if she still enjoyed food. She said yes. My feeling is that I want the food when I'm ordering it, or heating it up, it's just when I'm eating it, I'm not thinking, oh yeah, this is hitting the spot!, as I'm eating it. I'm eating it, and it tastes good, but I just don't care about it, and if I get distracted, as I often do, I just stop eating. That's never happened before. With my Factor meals, because it's supposed to help with portion control, obviously, because it's a portioned meal made for you that way, I was scraping the sides to get every bit. Now, it's just not like that. I eat the main meal, eat some of the vegetables, and throw it away. 

I've been tired. I think a little more than usual. But again, I don't know because it's also been raining, I hadn't been sleeping well, and the weather has SUCKED. Most people feel tired when it's rainy and cold. My one friend said she had a lot of fatigue on Wegovy so that might be the culprit. 

That's about it. I'm going to stop here because no one needs a play by play. I'll update again when I have something to tell!

Thursday, April 27, 2023

No Spring Chicken


No one I knew was really talking about aging seriously, but then again, who do I really talk to that much where I'd be having any serious conversation about that? B and I get up every day with our aches and pains and just kind of joke through it. Stuff was getting real though when I got these beautiful new comforters for the bed - two separate because while B and I sleep in the same bed, we don't share our blanket. I spent a little more this time because our comforters were almost sixteen years old and from sending them to the cleaners, they weren't holding up well anymore. 

Well. I'm inching closer to fifty and I was starting to feel like it was Africa hot in the bed every night. I started opening windows, with the fan on, and I started waking up in the middle of the night, sweating. One night, I grabbed one of E's old bed-in-a-bag cheap $25 comforters that he used for his first year of camp. It was light as a feather and felt like heaven. 

As far as exercise- I don't go to a gym but I walk every single day. I barely even drive. I don't go on the treadmill like I used to for an hour or hour and a half a day, but I do get up to anywhere from twelve thousand to twenty-something steps a day. It's not like I'm sedentary. I also barely eat during the day. Yeah, yeah, I know that you still have to eat. I'm busy and it takes awhile to jumpstart my eating during the day. I'm not trying to starve- I just don't think about it first thing.

I started getting Factor meal delivery to manage my dinner portions and not have to deal with dinner for myself. I can get out of control if left to my own devices. Had Jenny Craig not closed my closest center, and then continuously discontinued my favorite meals, I probably would've stuck with it forever. It was SO easy. I get Factor meals for dinner and maybe eat some Raisin Bran at some point during the day and/or a Zone Bar. I don't really snack during the day. I do, often, have brown bread (The Cheesecake Factory rolls) and butter with my Factor meal and I do have dessert every night. Usually a big cookie and milk. Then, I do eat candy in bed. Like, sugar candy- gummies of some kind. Gummy bears, blue raspberry licorice. or whatever. 

It's not like I'm sitting around on my ass eating bon bons all day. I'm active. I feel like I have to be able to live a little and enjoy some cookies or some candy. I didn't even gain weight during the pandemic. I lost weight. I wasn't having to get up so early, pack a bag of food for work, so I was just naturally eating less. Something about the past year inching toward forty-nine though, I am just gaining weight. I thought it must be pre-menopause kind of stuff. 

I saw a post on my local moms group the other night about this. So many women I know were coming out of the woodwork with the same issues, complaints, aches, pains and weight gain. I was like, okay, it isn't just me. There were so many books, life coaches, websites, webinars, that were recommended, that while I know people meant well, it was too overwhelming. Honestly, I also have the attention span of a fruit fly and I don't want to read a book or watch a webinar. I know myself, what I'm willing to do and my level of participation.

Of course I've seen all the chatter on TV and online about OzempicMounjaro and Wegovy. Who wouldn't be curious. I didn't know if I'd be able to get it because of insurance. Last time I went to the doctor, in November 2022, which I wrote about, she told me my BMI was higher than she'd like but I didn't have diabetes or anything. I'm one of those people who fall into the zone of holding on to extra weight but not enough to qualify me for anything, or so I assumed.

I did a little research on the three wonder drugs that all the Real Housewives seem to be on. I messaged my doctor and asked if I could have a scrip for Mounjaro. She said she'd put it in but it would be likely my insurance would deny. They did. There is no rhyme or reason to what they approve and deny. She then put in a scrip for Wegovy, which is Ozempic for people who don't have diabetes and just want it for weight loss. Surprise of all surprises, it was approved!

It was approved, but of course CVS was out of it on Tuesday. I was on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. I wanted to do it it but there was definitely a bit of nerves. Now I had to psych myself up to do self-injections? What, now? 

CVS texted me yesterday, Wednesday, and said my Wegovy was in. Alrighty. I messaged someone I know who has been on it and she gave me some tips. She told me she takes it at night in case there is nausea, she'd sleep through it. I figured I'd try the same thing. 

I went to CVS and picked up my box of four needle pens. I read the directions. I waited until midnight - not for any reason except for that being a normal time I go to sleep. I went into the bathroom, wiped an area on my belly with an alcohol swab and followed the directions for injection. 

It wasn't hard and it didn't hurt- just a small pinch. Of course I was like, omg, I think I might feel nauseous. I don't think I really did though. I just went to sleep. I was really tired. 

This morning, it's almost nine o'clock and I feel fine. I don't feel hungry but I never do in the morning. I'm a little afraid to drink my Crystal Light because it has fake sugar in it. The person I spoke to who is also on Wegovy said I'd probably feel crappy and maybe have gastrointestinal issues if I had too much. I guess that's how you make better food and drink decisions while on this to aid the weight loss - out of fear. Good, old fashioned fear of throwing up or worse. 

I'm going to chronicle my use here for anyone interested. I want to lose about twenty five pounds in total. I see people online in my Bergen County Moms group who get crazy when someone asks about going on any of these three drugs. There is so much judgement- I don't know if it's out of jealousy, fear of doing it themselves, not being able to do it because of pre-existing conditions, being in the MLM diet biz- I have no idea. But there are definitely haters. There's a lot of the following when it gets brought up:

You'll have to be on it for the rest of your life, if you go off it you'll gain it all back, do it with diet and exercise, talk to this MLM bullshit coach and do xyz expensive program instead, you don't know what could happen, do intermittent fasting instead, you don't know what the side effects will be down the road, etc etc etc. I saw someone I know say something negative and my first thought was - Bitch, you're maybe a size 4 and you've never had an extra pound in your life. You're the same size now you were in high school. YOU. DON'T. KNOW.

Some of us are willing to try stuff and see what happens. I'm one of those people. For those of us that weight has always been an issue- we're in a club we don't want to be in. Some of us ruined our metabolism in the 80's/90's/00's with over the counter weight loss drugs - like Kelly Taylor on 90210. Stackers, Hydroxycut, and I can't remember the other big one when I was in college or just after. And then with Phentermine and other prescriptions, yo-yo dieting, starving, and worse. Some of us need some extra help now, especially in the pre-menopause stage of life. 

I'm always game to try something. I told the good, bad, and ugly all about my mommy makeover sessions about five or so years ago. I'll do the same here. Hopefully there won't be too much bad or ugly. I'll let you know.... 

Friday, February 10, 2023

Updated Referral List


I haven't done this in awhile- put all my referrals for you to get coupons. Some sites have changed- for instance, Tradsey has become Vestiaire Collective, and I don't think they even have a referral program. Ebates became Rakuten, so on and so forth.

If you sign up for things with a referral, generally you get some kind of discount. So I'm putting all mine in one place in case you like discounts and coupons. 

Fetch - You have to put this app on your phone, it's like Ibotta - where you get money just for letting them be in your business and knowing what you purchase. I don't care if anyone knows what kind of cereal or laundry detergent I buy. Just like with Rakuten (see below), it really is free money. It can take awhile to build up, but it does. I never shop without using these kind of apps and any kind of cash back is nice. They're all legit. With Fetch, you just snap a pic of your receipt after any shop and you get points. The points turn into money. And they take old receipts too. I found a bunch of Shop Rite and Stop and Shop receipts in my car and they took them. 

Cord Blood Registry - Before E was born, we were inundated with information about storing his umbilical cord blood with stem cells. We did it, just in case. It's expensive though. If you use my referral you get $100-$200 off. Now, I don't know many people having babies these days, but it was a lot cheaper when I first started with it, so any money off is going to be helpful.

From the CBR website: Your baby's umbilical cord is made up of tissue and contains blood. Both cord blood and cord tissue are rich sources of powerful stem cells being researched for their ability to act like our body’s own personal repair kit and may be able to help our bodies heal in new ways. Plus, cord blood stem cells are currently used in transplant medicine to regenerate healthy blood and immune systems. Your baby isn't the only one who may benefit from having access to preserved newborn stem cells. The cells can potentially be used by siblings and parents, too. In many cord blood treatments, stem cells from a matched family member are preferred.

Mercari - Especially good for holiday shopping or trying to find that needle in a haystack thing you've been looking for. You get up to $30 in savings when you sign up with a referral. 

Poshmark - Great for buying and selling. I believe you get a free $10 when you sign up with a referral. You have to sign up in the app and use my closet name - AVENUEPOSH. Just go to your app store or whatever you buy apps on with an android device and get the app. 

Posher VA  - if you sell on Poshmark and want a Virtual Assistant, this is the best service I've found. Get money off with my link.

Rakuten - This one, I don't know why everyone isn't already using this, but it's literally free money- both in-store and out. Sometimes, I get a notification that I got money back and I didn't even know I was using Rakuten. For example, in-store, or with food delivery or something. You put all your credit cards numbers in any time it detects you've used one of those cards in-store, you get money back. But, I check it before I make any purchase online. You have to make sure you've clicked it before you make the purchase, but I have it as an add-on extension on my laptop, so if I go on a site they are connected to, the pop up will come up to click on it. Even my little eBay purchases- it's usually only 1% back, but it adds up. I just bought from Nike and it was 8% cash back. Totally worth it. It's also how I gauge if a website is legit. If they're doing cashback on Rakuten, I feel like they're legit. 

Honey  - Another free money site for when you shop online. Some places use Rakuten, some use Honey (which is now partnered with PayPal). Sometimes they use both. Rakuten won't let you use another cash back service when using theirs so I hit Rakuten first, then if Honey comes up with coupon codes I let it run, Rakuten says it's disconnected, and after Honey puts in the coupon codes, I'll hit the Rakuten button again. Sometimes Honey has coupon codes that Rakuten doesn't. That's my way around using both. But now, Honey will ask you if you want to apply your points to a PayPal purchase, which is great.

Coach Outlet - You get $10 if you sign up with my referral on their site. 

RueLaLa - Discount fashion and home goods site. Great deals. You get $10 for signing up with my link.

Name Bubbles - For all your label needs. I use these for camp, school, everything. I just ordered extra small labels for shoes. 

Noom - It's a weight loss app to help you with the whole mind/body/spirit thing.

Factor Food - I just started this food delivery service. I'll update more but this is a big coupon from them if you're interested in healthy food delivery. See my entry about Factor to read all about my meals.

Mixbook - I made the nicest Bar Mitzvah photo album from this company. I can't rave enough about it. I even made a mini-book of it for E to bring to camp to show his friends. I love all the choices for sizes and it was easy to make. I had to use Shutterfly to make a book recently or lose 14 years worth of photos - they are now making you buy something every eighteen months or lose your account. What a mess. It wasn't user friendly and it cost SO MUCH MORE than Mixbook. I should just see if I can download all my photos from Shutterfly and put them on an external hard drive. However, I already had one huge external hard drive get corrupted so I don't trust them.

Evidation - It's a health site where you earn points that turn into money or gift cards by answering health questions. Getting points is slow but I've earned many $10 over time. I go to it when I remember. I just earned like 800 points this morning for answering some demographic questions. It's not fast, but it's still free money and I'll take it. It's nice getting a little $10 gift every now and again.

ThredUp - it's another secondhand clothing site. Use my link to sign up, you get $10 to shop. Some things are really inexpensive- like I'm looking for a certain kind of Gap tank top they don't make anymore. Right now, cropped is in, and I'm not 15 yrs old or a hundred pounds. So I'd like a tank that covers a little more skin. That's what a site like ThredUp is for. Or, of course, name brand designer stuff, but I'm not looking for that kind of thing to go on my treadmill in the house. 

Swim Outlet - you get 20% off your first order with my link instead of the usual 10% for signing up for emails. They have really good prices so it's worth it. I joined their membership which is only $4.99 a year- totally worth it for me because E loses at least one pair of goggles a season and those Speedo Vanquishers are not cheap.

That's all I can think of at the moment, but if I come up with more, I will update.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

What Are We Watching on the Telly


We've been watching A LOT of TV over here. I've been watching stuff on my own, B and I are watching stuff, E and I are watching. It's a digital love fest of streaming and cable. I thought I should bring some of what we're watching in here and do some recommending. Now, we never like what everyone else likes, so maybe you haven't seen some of these because we're not watching Yellowstone, Yellowjackets, anything with dragons, or whatever everyone else is talking about. We also tried Severance but didn't get more than episode or two in. It's REALLY slow. I also tried The Office for the first time recently and I didn't get past episode two.

I don't even know how I found As We See It but I think I was googling new series to watch and it came up that the creator was Jason Katims of Friday Night Lights, so I was all about watching whatever he was doing. What a fantastic show. It's already not renewed for a second season, which I think is pretty messed up, seeing it's one of the very few, if not only scripted series currently about Quarterlifers on the spectrum. It follows their day to day lives with their life coach, from trying to just pass as typical, have relationships, work at jobs, deal with their family, etc. It's funny, sweet, sad, thought provoking, and endearing. You can find it on Amazon Prime. 

Another one we both thought was great is  Fleishman is in Trouble. Jesse Eisenberg, Lizzy Caplan, Adam Brody, Claire Danes. That's some cast. This limited series is based on a book so apparently it follows said book. I didn't read the book or even know about it. It's about marriage, affairs, divorce, losing who you were before marriage. It's about dating after divorce, dating in a tech world, careers, keeping up with the Jones', and materialism. It's also about enduring friendship and hearing both sides of the story. If you're Jewish, it's very comforting to identify with the main characters for once, but it's for anyone. You can find it on Hulu. 

If you're looking for lighter viewing fare and want some comedy, please check out two Mindy Kaling created delights, The Sex Lives of College Girls and Never Have I Ever. I'm not sure which one is funnier, as they're both hysterical. Both feature a diverse cast, lots of sexual innuendo or situations, and lots of funny women. Never Have I Ever takes place in high school and obviously, Sex Lives of College Girls takes place in college. We started with Never Have I Ever when we ran out of stuff to watch some time in the summer. We just picked it out of the blue. So glad we didn't miss it. When we were done with that, we went to the college girls and then we started The Mindy Project, because - why not? You can find Never Have I Ever on Netflix and The Sex Lives of College Girls on HBO Max.  

We also watched Hacks over the summer which was fantastic. Jean Smart and Hannah Ainbender are amazing as an almost washed up comedian and a young impulsive messy comedy writer. They were paired by their mutual agent to revive the flailing career of Jean Smart's character. I would be remiss if I did not mention Megan Stalter as the kooky nepo-baby assistant to the agent. Laughs, tears, it's all in there.

Emily in Paris I'm giving it a mention in case you haven't given it a whirl. It's cute, it give off Sex and the City fashion vibes and moves quickly. Do you have to suspend some disbelief that Emily is pretty much the only ad executive in the entire Paris area with any genius ideas in her head, but it's mindless and fun. 

We are in the second season of Loudermilk, which is not for the easily offended. I found it from seeing a Reel on Facebook with a hysterical clip of Ron Livingston and a barista with vocal fry. I posted the clip to my Facebook page and someone mentioned it being from a show. Of course that piqued my interest so I went looking and we started watching. It's super funny but also, like I said, for a certain audience that enjoys a different kind of humor. It follows Ron Livingston as Loudermilk, a guy in recovery after getting in a terrible car wreck with his now ex-wife, where he drunk driving. He leads a recovery group like an AA type of thing and it's about all the people involved in the group. 

One show we just started watching is Will Trent. E and I kept seeing commercials for it during General Hospital or something so I thought we'd try it out. It's pretty good so far. It's about a special agent who knows his way around a crime scene like none other. I can't say much more about it because we're only three episodes in, but we like it so far. You can find it Tuesday nights on ABC or on Hulu. 

The White Lotus was good but, unlike seemingly everyone else, we thought season one was better than season two. I mean, Connie Britton. The characters in season one were hateful, but there was just more humor in it. Murray Bartlett who played Armond in the first season was great. He was just funnier than the woman who basically took his spot in the second season. Also, it's really hard with subtitles, of which the second season had a lot. I think another major difference between season one and two was that you knew the intentions of the season one characters. I felt like there were a lot more of did they/didn't they going on with the second season group. It was confusing and left more to the imagination. I don't want to imagine. I want to know. It was still good, just slower too than the first.

I have also been accused of being a huge Marshmallow, as rabid fans of Veronica Mars are called. Imagine my surprise at finding a FOURTH season that I didn't know existed. Veronica Mars started in 2004 and concluded with a third season that finished in 2007. There was a crowd funded movie in 2014 and I thought that was it. Then, I found, what I call, the lost season. A fourth season was released in 2019 and I found that little eight episode gem about a month ago. I watched it in two days. It was chock full of old references, cameos of old faces, and that familiar Veronica/Logan banter. I'd say it was great except the last episode...I don't want to say any more, if you're a Marshmallow who hasn't seen that last season.  

People in the mom groups on Facebook and other message boards I'm on are always asking for stuff to watch with their tweens and teens. I can't say the ones we watch here are particularly age appropriate, but I'll say this- Felicity is free on Amazon Prime. The OC is also free on Prime. B and I watched two seasons of Outer Banks on Netflix and B would've liked to watch the third season but I really did not like that show at all. Too much on the run, misunderstandings like likes of Three's Company, and too much suspending disbelief.

B and I are watching Ginny & Georgia right now. We're about six episodes in, and it's good. There's humor with a dark underbelly. It's hard to watch as a parent though, kind of like Euphoria, which we also stopped mid first season. I'm going to stick out Ginny & Georgia, which is about a single mom with a dark past who had her daughter, Ginny, when she was fifteen. Ginny is insecure, biracial, and is finding friends and popularity, and mom has some sinister secrets she's keeping while trying to give Ginny and her little brother a nice life. It's hard to watch the teens drinking, doing drugs, taking and sending sexy selfies, doing things out of teen insecurity. You know, secondary embarrassment when the fifteen year old girl is sending the selfie in her bra because her friend told her she looks hot and too hot not to send. 

Next on tap, totally an opposite of G&G, is season two of Hunters. Al Pacino, Logan Lerman, and the rest of that cast is excellent. It's WWII Nazi stuff but in a totally different way. You think it would be a downer, all that antisemitism, murder, etc. But it's such a crazy, compelling story. After the last episode in the first season, I'm really interested to see where it goes for this new and final season. 

Ok, so that's it I think. Just wanted to put those out there in case anyone is at a loss for something to watch. E and I are caught up on General Hospital for the first time in years so that leaves me with a lot more TV time to discover new things or rewatch an old fave...

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Factor Food Plan

Everyone that has been reading my stuff for years or just knows me in real life, knows that cooking isn't my jam. I've talked about Jenny Craig, which I did for like, I don't know- eight years or something. I just don't like having to go there. Also, as has also been firmly established, I'm a creature of habit and if I like something, I could eat it daily. I had maybe three favorite frozen meals from there- I think it was the meatloaf, the pot stickers, and one other thing. All I can remember is that two out of the three meals were discontinued. A variety of three is not too much to ask for, in my book, but one is just not worth the cost. 

I wrote recently that I was trying BistroMD. While I found it, okay, for some meals, I wasn't blown away, and honestly, there were a couple I had to choke down. I also didn't realize they were going to be frozen. I was looking for something fresh this time. 

BistroMD had interesting choices but you are also supposed to remember to take out what you want to eat the next day and move it from the freezer to the refrigerator. You can put it in the microwave right out of the freezer, but the directions are, for best results, thaw in refrigerator overnight. I forgot almost every time. I don't know if not defrosting it beforehand and heating it from frozen made a difference or not but I can't say I loved any of the food enough to get a second delivery.

On the positive side though, BistroMD has breakfast meals included in your weekly number of orders. I was looking for a meal delivery service that offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While lunch and dinner food is one and the same for a lot of people, I also wanted a plan where there was some lighter fare for lunch that feels more like lunch food. For example, Jenny Craig has a macaroni and cheese with vegetables on the side, a loaded baked potato, a baguette with ham and cheese, a panini. I don't want a full chicken marsala meal mid-day. Even though it seems like a Lean Cuisine or whatever, I have a thing about what is breakfast food, lunch food and dinner food. 

I decided that since BistroMD is no obligation, I wanted to try another service instead. I chose Factor home delivery meals next. They are highly rated when I looked up reviews online- not reviews on their site, but I looked up: Best meal delivery service 2022. I got BistroMD and Factor over and over on different review sites.

 Factor's meals come fresh and are kept refrigerated, not frozen. They have a different menu every week so hopefully you like enough on the menu to order however many meals you're getting. I did a Black Friday deal where I got eighteen meals for approximately ninety dollars. However- most of these services, including this one, you have to pay before you pick your meals. I didn't really understand that while they do have some breakfast food, it's not included in your meal order. If you order eighteen meals, that's eighteen meals off the regular menu- which does not include the breakfasts or these add-ons they have. I paid for eighteen meals before I realized this so I was stuck and not sure how I was going to eat eighteen meals in a week. Since BistroMD is frozen, whatever I didn't eat is still in my freezer. 

It was fine though because I figured B and/or E could eat some of the overflow. I got my first delivery about a week after ordering. Each meal comes individually packaged, labeled with what it is, and heats in the microwave in two or three minutes each. The directions say on almost all of them I've had so far is to microwave for two minutes, then add thirty second increments if it isn't hot enough. Personally, I just start at two minutes and thirty seconds because I know my microwave.

I do like more of the food from Factor than I did from BistroMD. I really like their cranberry pecan chicken, sundried tomato chicken fusilli, rosemary pepper pork chop, butternut squash and sage chicken pasta, and a couple of others. I've gotten two boxes so far- the eighteen box and then I switched to six boxes, because I know I'm only going to eat them for dinner. I picked the eighteen for the deal on Black Friday because it was such a good deal and I wanted to be able to try as many meals as I could. OR, if one was horrible, I wanted to be able to swap it out for something else.

If I had to grade BistroMD, I'd give it C. If I had to grade Factor, I'd give it a B. And it's only a B because I personally, have the palate of a first grader. Other people who eat more grown-up food in general might like some of the more interesting choices. I'm looking for more plain food. However, with, Factor, out of all the meals I've tried, I've only thrown one away that, to me, was totally unappetizing. I've gotten twenty-four boxes total, and had to throw two away because they were over the time given to eat them- I never got to them in time. Those two were fish- a shrimp scampi and past dish and a pesto salmon. I'm not eating old fish.

Factor isn't overly exotic but there are definitely meals that try too hard. There is a balsamic chicken with butternut squash risotto that seemed like it had a lot of potential. Then I opened it and see Brussels sprouts under the chicken. They've been soaked in balsamic for however long under the chicken like they're eggs being laid. I don't eat Brussels sprouts to begin with but if I did, I wouldn't want them microwaved under chicken. There are directions for a conventional oven but the whole idea of meals like this is quick and convenient and using a conventional oven is not quick OR convenient. A meal like that could've had green beans, carrots, corn- something that isn't ruined in a microwave. I took the sprouts out, threw them away and just heated the chicken and risotto. 

Risotto is difficult for the average person to make. It takes a little skill. I LOVE the idea of having it as a side with these meals but they need to do some perfecting. I'm no foodie, but no one wants mushy risotto. That's not how it's supposed to taste. It was edible, but I wouldn't say it was one of their better attempts. 

I've never eaten any kind of riced cauliflower in place of potato or rice or whatever. But the cauliflower and red pepper mash under the pork chop was great. I had no idea what it was until right now when I just looked up that meal to write about it. Riced cauliflower is one of those things that also takes skill because I've seen it in other brands of packaged meals and it was disgusting. Factor hit the mark with this one. 

When the menu comes out for the next week, you can choose Chef's Choice, which is where they just send you their selections for however many meals are supposed to be in your box. Or, you can choose your own. You always have the choice to pick from any of the meals but they are labeled into categories: Calorie Smart, Keto, Vegan/Vegetarian, Non-Spicy, Non-Dairy, etc. I choose mostly from the Calorie Smart menu but if there isn't enough I'd eat from there, I'll chose a Keto. 

Eighteen meals for ninety dollars was a super deal. I couldn't eat them all - even including B and E, so some went to waste. Now I moved to six meals and my next box is going to cost seventy-one dollars. It's not much far off from price I paid for the eighteen meals that I got on the deal. I think my I'm still getting some kind of discount. I haven't really investigated their pricing system. There is some kind of reward at four boxes and I'm not sure what that means yet. 

There is no obligation, which I like. I can keep going, stop now, skip weeks. I skipped the next week's meals because I didn't like six meals on that menu enough to bother. You can double or triple up on meals- or even order six of the same meal but I didn't want to do that. I don't remember if there was any favorite I had previously that I loved enough to have six days worth. You have until Wednesday of the week to change, skip, or cancel your next week's order. I suggest putting Wednesdays in the calendar to remember whether to keep your order going or not. 

It's just like any meal planning- you have to know what you're doing that week and how to fit the meals into your life. I'm not generally a meal planner. I decide what I want to eat on a daily basis because I don't cook. Most people I know meal plan though, as I see posts in my social media groups or message boards, where people have all their family meals planned out for the whole week. I'm not that person. 

I'm going to keep doing the Factor meals for awhile. If I don't love the vegetable, I can always supplement with my own. If you want a big discount off a box to try it, use my referral code. 

*The photo of the Factor meal at the top of this entry is showing refrigerated on the left and heated up on the right side.

Factor Meals Referral


BistroMD Frozen Meal



Thursday, December 8, 2022

Goodbye Old Friends

 Social media is always a double edged sword. Always. I've discussed it before, I'm sure. My memory isn't so great now that I'm pushing fifty (did I really just type that??), but I'm sure I have discussed my feelings on social media. 

When I joined Facebook, it was probably in 2008, whenever it opened from just college students to the general public. It was fun; a novelty. Seeing all the people I wondered about from any and every weird walk of life I've had, was cool. Instead of just wondering, whatever happened to so and so, you could just look them up and get reacquainted.

No one warns you about the gut-punch moments though. You know, when it's someone's birthday and you go to their page to send a wish for another great trip around the sun. Or when a mutual friend posts a photo captioned, HOW AM I JUST FINDING OUT ABOUT THIS NOW??? That's when I'm hit with the nausea-inducing realization that the person in question has passed away. I didn't know.

This JUST happened to me, this week. I'm still reeling from the news. It wasn't the first time and sadly, it probably won't be the last. It's just that this time, it was a tougher pill to swallow for some reason. Probably because it just seems so impossible, so unlikely.

The first person, where I didn't find out until well after her death, was someone I worked with in my early twenties. I hadn't seen any comments from her in awhile so I went to her page and I saw all the condolences. I was sad, but I wasn't surprised. In all the time I'd known her, she had never been in good health. She was so fun and funny but I'd left the area we lived, pre-Facebook, so keeping in touch, especially when my life was super messy and I had a flip phone, wasn't easy. By the time we became Facebook friends, it had been years of being disconnected. 

Another death was someone from college. That one stung, not only because he was only a year older than I am, but we'd had some really great, deep discussions on my Facebook page. I had gotten to know him more through social media, in the years since college, than I'd known him when we were there together. I remember something happening in the news, posting about it, and I wanted to know what he thought. That's when I went to his page and saw that he'd died months prior.

One person was someone I only really connected with for a short time through my Jenny Craig membership. She was someone I hadn't had any contact with, in awhile, but I went to her page and it turned out she'd died, SO young, I think in her early thirties, in her sleep. She was a big help to me when I was on the Jenny Craig program and we'd forged a quick friendship.

Two deaths, where I found out about their passing, months after, have really rocked me. One, passed away in the fall of 2019. He always wished me a happy birthday, sometimes on Facebook, but often on LinkedIn. I always shake my head at those on LinkedIn because I don't know how no one realizes that I barely look at that boring site. He did it, always, somewhere, regardless of where. I just looked and he last sent a birthday wish only a couple of months before he died. 

He was one of my first mentors in the tanning industry. He stayed up with me, like all night, at my first symposium, in York, Pennsylvania, where I was going to be speaking for hundreds of people. I was freaking out, dragged about forty-five sku's with me, that I set up in my room, like it was the stage, and did a version of my talk that I was going to do the next day. All I remember from that night and that talk is "Vitamins A, B, D & botanicals". He listened to me, just talk-talk-talking, probably babbling incoherently, about my extreme fear of public speaking. 

To explain a little backstory- he and I worked for different companies. In other companies, I assume they each had territories. They had relationships with the distributors hosting these giant symposiums, so they went to the same symposiums every year. I was the new kid on the block at the company I worked for, AND I worked remote from NJ. The company I worked for was in Arizona, where I went maybe once a year. I didn't have a specific territory, I didn't even have a specific job. I wasn't a salesperson in a way where I wrote orders. I think I was just sent to visit and speak wherever no one else wanted to go, like wherever it was really cold. I remember trying to pump gas into a rental car, for the first time, in negative eleven degrees, in Wisconsin. I never did get to go to the Cabo event, but that's neither here nor there. 

Anyway, back to my friend. He and I were on the same travel schedule, a lot. Sometimes, I'd get somewhere, not see him, and immediately call to ask, "Where ARE you??". Every now and again, it was someone else from his company, and he was definitely missed. 

I was also one of the few females, most of the time, out of the speakers at the places I ended up. I ended up with a little group of, basically, surrogate brothers, who really took me under their wing and helped me out. With this particular friend, we had something in common, that weirdly, a lot of relatively young people we traveled with didn't. We were single. So we had a lot of dating stories and drama to discuss between us. At one point, I'd thought he'd met his person and I was so happy for him. It didn't end up working out though. He, like me, really wanted that stability and I'd always hoped he'd find happiness. He deserved it. Unfortunately, he was taken way too soon. I miss his smile and his, "lets yak". 

The most recent example though, I can't really explain why this one really gutted me. It was just really shocking. He was another mentor from those tanning days. He was only five years older than I am, but he just gave off the old soul vibe. He was actually the first person I met from the company by which I eventually became employed. 

I was twenty-five, at the big Vegas trade show, with my boss at the time, which was also a fluke. I'd had been having a rough time both personally and professionally. I was working at a local tanning salon as the manager, just as a transition, while I figured out my new life. My boss had a fight with his daughter who used to have my position. She would've gone with him, to this Vegas Expo, but he took me instead.

I saw this guy, thought he was cute, and we struck up a quick conversation. I think he invited me inside to a party. I quickly realized we were super different. He introduced me to another guy, and that was that. Cut to about a year and a half later, 9/11, ended up being the strange event that became my entry to working with him, working as sort of a protégé.

In hindsight, I think he would say that he thought of me as an annoying, argumentative, little sister. I was the loud-mouth, super liberal Jewish girl with blue fingernails and he was the conservative, polished, Italian Catholic guy who I felt like just wanted to be contrary. He traveled with me, to get me ready to fly on my own. He also lived in the NY metro area so we both went to events on this side of the country while our counterparts took on the West. 

In later years, after both being out of the industry, we kept in touch on Facebook. One day, I saw a photo of his daughter wearing a camp t-shirt from the same camp E was going to also. I messaged him, confused, asking him whether she somehow goes there. I knew he lived somewhere in NY. He told me his girlfriend was living in NJ and his daughter was going to camp with her children. He called it a "serendipitous coincidence". I told him that if he was ever in Bergen to come visit my store so we could catch up. He said he would. He never did. We both had busy lives and time just passes.

What he did, often, was pose some very controversial questions or statements, on his Facebook page, and I'd thoughtfully but highly spiritedly, respond. The last thing he emailed me was thanking me for taking the time to write. That he realizes my values and opinions are important to me and not just another flippant face booker with no real valid opinions, just insults and insinuations. He said he'd take the time to write back when he could. He never did. 

I'd look at his page from time to time. I liked seeing him happy, seeing photos of his daughter. Also having a child by then, close in age to his, I'd think back to our times in that crazy business and sometimes, it was hard to believe any of it was real. It was a real, strange, trip. We'd discussed religion and politics, deeply. That was the thing though, and I don't know know how we would've faired through the Trump years, as our last email conversation was in 2015, but he was always willing to listen to another side. He might not have agreed, but it never got ugly, which is definitely a rarity these days.

You just always feel like there's more time. You'll reach out when you get a minute. A break. Some extra free time. That time never comes. You put it off and put it off. Then you see someone post an obituary or a tribute, and you feel your stomach drop. Why didn't I just get in touch sooner. Why didn't I say something about a photo they posted. Something...anything?? 

When you find out someone died, months later, via social media, it feels really weird. You scour social media and the internet at large for any explanation because you just can't believe what you're seeing. You're just starting to grieve and the people that knew are already well on their grief journey. You wonder if it's appropriate to reach out to their loved ones to share your condolences and maybe a nice  story or funny memory. It's really hard to process. It's especially hard when the person was young, vibrant, positive. When you just would never expect it to be them in that obituary. 

 I know it can be really hard for families to keep a loved one's social media up after they pass. For some, it's too difficult a reminder. I've had two friends pass, (who I was close to in real life and knew they passed), whose families deactivated their Facebook accounts out of self-preservation. I'll just say that I totally understand, but it's still hard to never be able to see old photos or old conversations etched into history via social media. To me, being able to look back in time like that is priceless. I would give anything to look through those pages and memories.

So, I just want to say some kind of farewell, a Goodbye old friends, to L, C, A, S, and A. You all left a mark on my life that meant something to me. Rest in peace. 

Sunday, December 4, 2022

The Female Dr Now and Diet Food


I'm a Howard Stern listener - I feel like I have to preface that for those that aren't aware. I've been listening since I was kid because my parents were avid listeners. I stopped here and there when I didn't get a good radio signal in the 90's or my lifestyle didn't mesh with getting up early. Or when I had to had to get up at a ridiculous hour to get into NYC and all I had was an iPod. Since the Covid lock down though, I've become a listen-to-the-whole-show-in-order kind of person. I'm perpetually behind but I'm pretty OCD about listening to the whole show. I listen from my phone and I just pick up where I left off.

Howard loves to talk about the TV show My 600 lb Life and the doctor on the show- Dr Nowzaradan - who is just known to all as Dr Now. One of the Stern staffers, Chris Wilding does an impression of Dr Now- I'd never actually seen the show until last week, but the main idea of the impression is that Dr Now tells the people how they're not doing the work. He tells them very matter of fact how they gained weight, they shouldn't have gained weight, and they're not following directions. 

I just wanted to give a little explanation so you can really imagine my experience with a new doctor recently. I hadn't been going to a regular internist for years because it seemed redundant. I had been going to my gynocologist for everything. He did blood work, meds, sent me for tests. Even for just a regular cold, he'd deal with that too. He would do my yearly physical, order the blood work, go over it, etc, so it seemed weird to go to an internist for essentially the same thing. Plus, we had criminally high insurance premiums for self-employed people, yet, we had a ton of rules as to what doctors were in-network and high co-pays. It was a fifty dollar co-pay to go to the doctor! I didn't want to go to any extra doctors. I have a relationship with my Gynocologist so I didn't want to go anywhere else. 

All these years though, people kept recommending this local female doctor. She hadn't been in-network for me though. Then, B took a new job and we got brandy-new really great health insurance. All of a sudden, this woman doctor was in my network. I was thrilled. Copay cost is like ten or fifteen dollars to go see someone. I started making appointments. I made an appointment with this woman. 

I can say this- she was thorough. I think I was there for over an hour. They did blood work in the office instead of me having to find a Labcorp and make an appointment at a later date. However, I felt like I was talking to Dr Now. She told me that I could lose twenty pounds and I'd still be overweight, but it's okay because I have big bones. I wasn't sure I heard her correctly. 

Have I gained weight? Sure. Oddly, I lost weight in the Covid lockdown. When everyone was baking breads and eating them, or drinking alcohol or whatever they were doing to gain weight, I wasn't eating. I don't know why. I just wasn't. I was no longer in my same routine so it changed my eating habits. Plus, I guess not going to the supermarket helped. If we didn't have it, we just didn't have it in the house. I would've had to prepare food and I don't like to prepare food. 

Somehow though, in the time since we've been let out, I don't know what's happened. I was one of those people who yo-yo dieted, took the Kelly Taylor over-the-counter diet pills in the 80's and 90's, and took prescription diet pills. I probably ruined my metabolism that way, plus it's the mix of my predisposed body and nearing the age of fifty. I was never one of those people who had a fast metabolism, just losing weight easily. I know people like that. People who DO eat but they eat to live, not live to eat, and they are just naturally thin no matter what. 

I also used to go on the treadmill every single morning for anywhere from sixty to ninety minutes. Sometimes I did more. I wasn't always running but by the end of any given day I'd have eighteen thousand to twenty-one thousand steps. 

During the Covid lock down, B and I started walking every night. Our main route is about three and a quarter miles that we finish in about an hour and twenty minutes. I started going on the treadmill less and less because I had work to do and I felt like I was going to be getting the steps in anyway. 

I think I probably started gaining little by little as we were let out back into the wild. We were going back out to restaurants.  I also love sweets. Cake, candy, you name it. I can't say I haven't been eating cake or candy. I just don't think I was eating more of it than usual. I don't know. I wasn't stress eating. It just happens. I seem to have different mirrors than other people. A lot of people look in the mirror and think they look terrible. I look and think I look fine. Then I see a photo and I'm like, wow, what's going on there?? 

I left Female Dr. Now's office in a panic. I literally got in my car and looked up Noom. I have had friends who have used it that they've said it worked for them. It was the first thing that came to mind. Well, actually Jenny Craig came to mind, because I did it for like ten years and was successful. I really liked the food. They moved their location though, where I had to pick up the food, and now it's just REALLY inconvenient. So I joined Noom in the parking lot and then went home to look up food delivery services. 

I can't be responsible for preparing healthy meals. I need someone to do it for me. Jenny Craig worked for me because it was quick and easy. I'm on the go all the time. I need to just throw something in the toaster oven or microwave and move on. I started reading reviews and looking at prices of meals that are delivered to your home. I remembered a million years ago that stars like Jennifer Aniston and such were having meals brought to them and there have been all kinds of services that have come out since. 

What I found with most of the plans is that you have to pay before you pick your food. You can see a sample of the menu if you poke around, but you have to pay, then you put the meals in your cart. I found BistroMD and it was fine. I really liked the breakfasts, but I didn't love everything else. I also didn't realize it would be frozen instead of fresh. There's nothing wrong with frozen but I wanted to see if I could find one that wasn't frozen. 

I found Factor which says the food is refrigerated. I got the eighteen meal plan because it was a really good deal for the first order. The only thing I didn't understand is that breakfast in their plan is considered an add on. So I paid for eighteen meals and none are breakfast. They have a different menu each week so there's always different items. I did have to order doubles of a lot of stuff because I am extremely picky and have the palate of a first grader. A lot of diet food is spicy because I think that's supposed to suppress your appetite or something but I really loathe spicy food. It's not even the taste, but it hurts. I don't want my food to hurt. Also, I like simple. Companies are always trying to make diet food more interesting and I guess more like regular food. So they try to get all exotic. I don't want exotic. 

I didn't get the Factor food yet so I can't say how it tastes. I'm optimistic. It should be here this week sometime, so I'll update once I've eaten a few of the meals. If you use my link for Factor, you get $150 off the cost. My first box with the eighteen meals cost me less than one hundred dollars. I thought that was pretty good. It cost me way more plus membership for Jenny Craig. Neither BistroMD or Factor require any kind of membership and you can cancel at any time. I already skipped my second delivery of Factor because I haven't even gotten the first one.

Of course B got a foot injury, pretty much around the same time I went to the doctor. We haven't been able to walk at all so I am back on the treadmill. It's definitely harder than walking the three miles around town. 


Thursday, December 1, 2022

Rock Your Socks


 Shameless ask time! E's 8th grade class is raising funds for their class trip. As we're trying to get back some semblance of normalcy since Covid, they're getting their 8th grade trip. Since I'm pretty much never getting over all they lost in fifth grade - that was their "end of elementary school" year- which was supposed to be the dessert to the dinner food of the earlier years of elementary school. 

I know I know- people love to say, "at least...." about the fifth graders. As in- at least they weren't eighth graders. At least they weren't seniors. At least they weren't in college. 

 Well, guess what? Those fifth graders lost a lot. Not only did they lose all their fun activities, they lost the last bit of time with their innocence. They lost the ability to socialize on the cusp of puberty. As families, we lost our time to get to celebrate them WITH them. Does it sound dramatic? Maybe. Not to me.

Fifth grade "graduation" is where they're at that age where they're still cool with parents being around. They expect you to be around. By the time they're in eighth grade or seniors, any work you do to celebrate their graduation is about them being with their friends. You work together with other parents for the kids to be with their friends, which is fine, and how it should be, but it's different than the sweetness of celebrating with your fifth grader who has no idea what tornado is going to hit them in middle school. And boy, has it been a tornado. 

Middle school, especially navigating Covid, has been interesting. And hard. Middle school on it's own is difficult. Add in the extra weirdness of Covid and I don't know what to call it. 

As we try to get back to whatever our new normal is, school is trying to give them back their traditions. One is an eighth grade trip. This is their fundraiser- Rock Your Socks (click the link) - One pair will be donated for every pack purchased. Can't beat that- who doesn't need socks?

So please help E's grade reach their goal! It would be much appreciated!!