(continued from today’s Thing-a-Day post entitled Gate Breach…)
It felt a little cruel and wicked witch-like after literally locking Christopher in his own bedroom earlier for naptime, so after taking a few hours to regroup, here’s my new defense scheme that I’ve planned to hold out the night:
- The primary gate at his bedroom door – the one he can climb over – is slightly elevated off the floor, but now not enough for him to be able slip under. I’m not sure if it’s too tall for him to climb and he can still just pop it out of place with a good blow, but that’s ok…
- All other doors in the adjacent hallway have been closed off and locked, so if he does escape from his room, there’s really nowhere else for him to go. Note that the laundry room is apparently the one door that isn’t lockable, so in theory he could slip in and gain access to brooms and other weaponry, but I did lock the outer door leading out to the garage, so any attempts to sneak out to his getaway vehicle should ultimately prove to be futile.
- And lastly, the outer gate that normally keeps him out of the hallway and isolated in the kitchen / living room / playroom area of the house has now been secured to instead keep him in the hallway should he ever get this far. This he will not like because unlike the other gate at his door, this wooden gate is still taller than he is, offering maximum security at admittedly a premium price. That said, if it ends up getting put to the task, we may need to look into picking up another one to replace the inferior gate at his bedroom door…
As of now, he’s been under lock and key for approx. 25 minutes and despite much crying and protest, this upgraded security system seems to be keeping the toddler at bay. Now it’s just a matter of time to see if we make it through the whole night.
This is my house – I have to defend it!
…from my wandering, bedtime-resistant two year-old son… 😛
I don’t know what it is about this time of year because in fact I had the same sort of notion last year and then promptly didn’t act on it in the slightest for the rest of the year, but I think I kind of want to give hiking a try … maybe?
Of course, I say this when it’s barely 60 degrees outside and I hardly even got out of bed because my toes were much more comfy nestled in bed where they belong! 😉
Still, I’ve been following more and more nature photography folks online and a few random hiking blogs, too, and in theory it seems like it could be a lot of fun. At one point I had even tracked down a couple of local trails that probably wouldn’t be considered “trails” by anyone who takes hiking seriously because they’re totally paved and whatnot, yet they would be a good starter for someone like me who traditionally only takes on suburban hikes and also has to account for both a stroller and a dog … sometimes both at the same time.
I think some of the reluctance might come from being leery about diving back into that whole outdoor world again because I’m not so much crazy about the camping aspect anymore, not to mention I can certainly vouch that the weather can often times be a fickle beast when one decides to venture bravely away from his hard-earned air conditioning and solid roof overhead and whatnot…
So maybe that means I give a couple of short, day hikes a try – something I can throw a sandwich and some water in a bag for and be back in time to not get eaten by wolves the same night! I know that I’m certainly in no shape to go adventuring for days on end, carrying all of my stuff on my back right now anyways, plus admittedly that kind of sounds miserable so if there’s another option to see nature for a few hours and then escape back to modern times, maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.
I really think that I need to just pick a date and give it a shot, so let’s do this – next Saturday the wife works, so I’m going to throw the kid in his stroller, the dog in her cage, and go for an afternoon hike.
…as long as the weather holds out… 😛
I was actually going to write about this a week ago. I didn’t really write publicly about our first go at IVF during the process itself because it was a stress-filled rollercoaster and I just didn’t feel like airing it at the time. I thought this time would be different, but then we got into the mix of it and it turned out to be just as stressful as before though admittedly in different ways than before…
So this is our second time doing IVF – our first resulted in Christopher after two cycles.
Contrary to the beliefs of many armchair fertility doctors, no, everything didn’t just loosen right up after that first baby and make things smooth as silk for baby #2.
Not to nitpick your credentials or anything, but ovulation or a lack thereof doesn’t work that way.
Anyways, last Saturday morning we went in to harvest eggs out of my wife, as you do, and things seemed to be going smoothly right up until they weren’t. It’s scary how much of a numbers game this really is because we rapidly went from 23 eggs total to 18 eggs harvested to only 12 of those eggs actually being mature, and that was before my little guys jumped into the game, too!
…which apparently came with their own set of issues that I don’t really want to get into, but I will say that we almost couldn’t fertilize any to a day later finding that all twelve eggs had fertilized successfully, so again … rollercoaster much?!
And yet here we are a week later, and now we’re down to THREE viable, growing embyros at day 5. 😯
Honestly, this is almost exactly what happened last time, which is a little frustrating because we’re obviously hoping for more to help control costs. But it is what it is, as much as I’m so sick of hearing the phrase, “It only takes one!” because out of millions of sperm and dozens of eggs, we’re already at a disadvantage numbers-wise!
So now we’re kind of in a holding pattern until next year – our three contestants will be frozen as they are today and a cellular-sized chunk of each sent off for genetic testing to identify the best of the best, but they won’t go back inside until after the new year … sort of a different strategy with this go around. Basically all I have left to do is write a $2,000 check for the genetic testing and then we’re on break until after the holidays… 😕
A bit anti-climatic, I know – welcome to my world.
In other related news, though, I’m somewhat considering writing an actual book about the process with Sara because she approached me with some interest earlier in the year and I’m coming around on the idea that we might be able to have a little fun with it and help some other people cope with the horrible process to boot. When we were going through our last cycle to have Christopher, writing about it was honestly the furthest thing from my mind because it was so stressful and topsy-turvy, but even though this cycle is still somewhat crazy I think having another already under our belts does make it a bit easier.
Really, it’s such a rough, unrelatable process for anyone who hasn’t or isn’t going through it, if I can write a few jokey thingys to help lighten the mood for others based on our own experiences, then that might help bring some positive to the process … besides my child/children that came/are coming out of it, mind you!
So look for that … I don’t really know when. I’d like to start working on it next year, but I’ve go so much lined up it’s hard to say at this point. I guess like the other thing, we’ll see. 😐
I haven’t written about this in a while, but I really need to because it’s been too long.
I’m not at all happy about my body right now. In fact, the last couple of weeks it’s been kind of depressing. I feel super lethargic all of the time, walking not that far makes me winded and tired … even moreso when I’ve got a toddler in tow, and I haven’t really been sleeping well and wake up most of the time with aches and just generally feeling terrible.
And it admittedly scares me a little because if I look back over the years, I can see myself progressively getting worse and worse, past points that I never pictured myself getting. Like when I first moved down here in 2003, I weighed about 215 and wanted to lose 20 pounds … even something like 225 seemed so far away that it really wasn’t that bad, and yet eventually over the years I passed 225, and 235, and 250, and so on…
It’s kind of embarrassing – I don’t even want to say how bad it’s gotten.
Ok, fuck it – today I weighed in at 270 pounds.
Which is scary both for the number itself, not to mention that 300 pounds doesn’t seem all that far away, even though previously I would’ve thought about it like some sort of ridiculous weight that really fat people weigh, but not me…
…just like I once felt about 250 pounds, too. 😛
So I’m writing here both a little bit to vent and also to work through the plan I’ve been devising in my head to get myself on a better track. Even though I know that I need to exercise eventually, too, I’m not gaining weight due to a lack of exercise, but to all of the horrible food that I’ve been eating, and so even though I’m generally not a fan of diets, per se, in favor of lifestyle changes longterm, since I haven’t actually been able to do that myself, we’re going to try things a little different this time!
For the next two weeks, instead of trying little changes over time, I want to try holding myself to a very strict diet in hopes of shocking myself into realizing that this is something that I can actually do if I put my mind to it because frankly, otherwise I just haven’t been taking the little changes seriously and eating a healthy breakfast followed by a box of Tastykakes for lunch kind of defeats the purpose altogether!
Anyways, here’s the challenge:
- The Nos…
- No carbs (or at least no doughy carbs … fruit and whatever is fine)
- No junk food … cookies, cakes, chips, candy, ice cream – basically, everything that I love
- No fast food
- No sugar cereal
- No eating after midnight
- The Yeses…
- Lots of protein – chicken, shrimp, turkey, fish, maybe even steak
- Lots of fruit & vegetables
- Experimenting with new kinds of salads
- Gorging myself on tea
It’s going to be especially tough because it’s pumpkin season and I’m currently surrounded by donuts and cakes and other junk to review, but that’s all going to have to take a backseat for now … maybe I can review the healthier stuff or something, I don’t know.
I do know that I’m committing myself to hitting the grocery store more often because we have a habit of buying lots of diet food and then pitching it all in the trash after it spoils two weeks later, so maybe if I go with a single meal or two in mind (and spend less), it’ll be a bit easier.
We’ll see how this goes … of course I’m motivated today, but that’s how diets always go. Talk to me six hours from now when all I’ve had to eat was lettuce, tea, and a protein shake and see if I’m still on the wagon then!
Focus. Focus. Focus.
So I’ve spent a good part of this weekend going through our finances, planning for the future – both near and frighteningly far (retirement?!)…
The good news is, our retirement savings are actually in pretty good shape! They could be better – as is always the case – but I’m feeling ok with the balances as I’m about to turn 35 here in another month and they’re on a good track to be ahead of schedule another five years from now.
Our emergency fund isn’t bad, either, namely because it actually exists considering that apparently 1 in 4 don’t have anything for savings at all.
Debt-wise we could also be doing better, but by estimate we’ve managed to pay down about 20% of our debts in the last year and we’re now looking at a plan to pay off the rest in the next 2.5 years if we can stick to it. I think we can.
One thing I unexpectedly found myself circling back to today as I was reviewing everything and making some tweaks to our plan, though, was this giant tirade that I made last year about having lousy options for personal banking, and like a lot of other things that I’ve found myself more so just shrugging off that used to give me oodles of frustration in years past, I’m honestly not sure how much I really care about it anymore.
Maybe that’s what getting older and gaining wisdom is really all about – figuring out what to not give a shit about so that you can worry about the things that really matter! 😉
A year ago I talked about considering a plan where I would eventually move some of my accounts over to a credit union that offered better interest rates and whatnot … because “what’s the point of having everything in one place if the bank treats you like crap?!”
And don’t get me wrong – Wells Fargo still pisses me off from time to time because I just got a notice that they’re going to start charging fees for my business account because it doesn’t carry a high enough balance…
But still, having six accounts under their roof for the last year and another seven all at separate other banking institutions, there’s something quantifiable about being able to manage a good share of my banking from one login, and frankly the difference between 0.01% and 0.10% APY in interest earnings doesn’t even come close to comparing to how much time I can save.
Sure, the example still stands – $5,000 in savings makes me $1.50 a year at Wells Fargo and $17.50 a year at the credit union – but that $16 difference equals $1.33/month vs. a little bit of my sanity preserved for not having to juggle so many accounts in different places, and not for nothing but at 34 years old, I think my sanity is worth at least a buck and a half each month!!! 😛
So my long-term banking plan – which mind you won’t be fully in effect for another couple of years – looks something more like this…
- Personal & Business Banking – Primary Bank
- Personal Checking
- Savings – Emergency Fund
- Savings – Reserve Fund
- Home Mortgage
- Credit Card #1
- Credit Card #2 (one of these may disappear or go HELOC … not sure yet)
- Business Checking (if I can find a way to make the fees go away)
- Personal Banking – Secondary Bank
- Credit Card #3 (rewards card – we currently route regular purchases through here)
- Personal Investments – Primary Institution
- My 401k
- College Fund for Christopher
- Brokerage Account
- Personal Investments – Secondary Institution
- Sara’s 401k
I’d love to find a better rewards program under Wells Fargo to eventually ditch CC #3 just because there’s an annual fee and admittedly it’s not that great of a card. Plus, the addition of a Reserve Fund Savings will eliminate a lot of the benefits of this card anyways, as it’s our Disney Rewards Visa from Chase which we currently use to help fund our Disney World Annual Passes.
The idea of the Reserve Fund is something I came up with last night because I’d like to start pre-saving for larger, regular purchases so that they don’t have an impact on our normal budget anymore. It would pretty much work just like the escrow with our mortgage works – we’d identify a monthly payment for our Disney passes, average vet fees, car repair expenses, or whatever, and then as those came due we’d have a big pot to pull them from rather than diverting money from our regular budget and throwing it off for that particular month.
I’m also trying to organize things in Mint a bit better so that maybe we can start using that again to better judge how much we’re spending on groceries, gas, and whatnot to try and stabilize that part of the budget to maximize the larger things we’re trying to do.
Overall, I think we’ve got a good set of goals for the next five years…
- Finish paying off debts in 2 1/2 years (not counting mortgage)
- Save enough to buy a new house in 5 years
- Continue funding retirement and emergency savings
- Increase funding for Christopher’s college fund
- Stabilize budget to maximize focus on previous four items
And unlike the last year which previously focused mostly on paying down debts (and figuring out how to be a new parent!), the next twelve months hold lots of potential for making big headway with all of these, so it’ll be interesting to follow-up again next summer to see where things stand and if I’m still more or less content with settling for a big bank vs. a credit union! 🙂
I’ve always felt kind of bad that I’m a writer who doesn’t really read nearly as much as he probably should.
I mean, I read articles and posts online, but I don’t think I could even tell you the last time I read an actual book from cover to cover.
At least not one that has more than 32 pages and isn’t mostly pictures! 😉
So I’m trying to change that a little bit here in 2015, first inspired by the post I wrote a couple of weeks ago about hiking the Appalachian Trail because it reminded me of A Walk in the Woods by the great humorist Bill Bryson. That was a fun book and I remember really enjoying it when it was first given to me, circa 2002-ish, so for $6 I picked up a quick copy for my Kindle and the last couple of nights I’ve been trying to get a chapter or two in during times when I’d normally be vegging out in front of the TV in the evenings or before bed.
I don’t really want to set any goals for myself with this new mission, per se, because I really just want it to be fun and relaxing the way reading should be in my mind, but it’d be neat to look back on this a year from now and see what all I managed to go through. I’ve been out of the game for so long, the list of stuff I’d like to read is admittedly pretty big if I really stop and jot them all down, but just as a quick glance for the sake of this post, here’s a few that I’m considering for when I’m done with A Walk in the Woods…
- Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson
- Live Right and Find Happiness – Dave Barry (brand new – this just came out today!)
- The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien (I’ve been saying I wanted to re-read this since the new movies came out…)
- Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut (I’ve never read anything by him and I know that’s pretty horrible)
- Ghost in the Wires – Kevin Mitnick
Once I get done with these, maybe I’ll start to solicit some suggestions, but this ought to keep me busy for a while! 🙂
I have a problem on Facebook that I’m consciously trying to do better about.
Like most of us, I have a handful of ultra-conservative friends and relatives who have opinions that are the polar opposite of what I believe in. Sometimes it’s not too bad, but there are certainly days when you can tell that they’ve been watching more Fox News than others.
Trying to bridge that digital gap of not wanting to offend people who I actually have to come in contact with every once in a while, I keep them as friends but unfollow their posts so that they won’t actually appear in my News Feed. I feel like that’s a relatively safe approach because it keeps their drivel out of my face and the unfollow is transparent to them…
…and it would be a great plan if on more days than not I would actually follow it!
You see, despite not following these individuals, I often find this bizarre, masochistic urge to know what kinds of drivel they’re ranting anyways, even though I know it’s just going to piss me off when I read whatever talking points they’re regurgitating from O’Reilly or Limbaugh or the Tea Party on any given day.
I know that I shouldn’t do it, but I pull up their profiles specifically anyways, and I read their posts, and sometimes I comment, and I get mad.
And it’s really stupid because here I’ve taken this extra step to prevent myself from getting all riled up and in return I probably see their posts even more than usual because I’ll randomly poke around to see if they’re up to any mischief today.
My turning point finally came today when one of my uncles reposted a couple of links that I had shared yesterday and I honestly couldn’t tell if he was serious or if he was just trolling me with them, but I unfollowed him and then I had to stop and tell myself that enough was enough.
It’s a double-edged sword, really, because politics are important and whether you want to engage in them or not, they affect the world around us in significant ways every single day, yet there comes a point where at least for a few of the battles I think maybe you have to push away from the table and just admit that you’re never going to see eye to eye with certain people, and that somehow you have to find a way for that to be ok.
And sometimes that’s hard – I’ve written about that before, but if anything else it also frankly just gets exhausting after a while when I spend so much of my time arguing with the wall. I can feel it afterwards – I’m grumpier, I have a harder time being creative … it makes me just want to sit and stew about how wrong the other person is, which is unproductive to say the least…
So I want to do better about this, and I started today by pledging to not renege on my decisions to unfollow certain people’s posts on Facebook. There’s still the opportunity for conflict if they see fit to comment on something of mine, which unfortunately sometimes they do, but I can at least try to control it from my side by not searching out the things that I know are just going to get me all riled up if/when I find them.
This is honestly a place where I kind of wish that Facebook had a shadow ban feature like Reddit does where they could post and comment all they want and it would just be invisible to me, but I guess that unfollow is better than nothing, and it saves the additional drama that unfriending or all out blocking would no doubt result in.
The onus is just on me to actually abide by that unfollowing and forget about them… 😕
It’s easy for me to start new things, unfortunately to a fault when I’ll have a to-do list filled to the brim with no plan in sight of how to actually finish any of them.
This goes for pretty much everything in my life – writing, work, personal stuff … my life is more or less run by to-do lists, to the point where I often find myself spending more time managing said lists than I do actually completing and getting things off of them.
And that’s a problem! But it’s a problem that I’m aware of, and I’m trying to do better at it.
It’s especially painful when I look at some of my lists now and can single out a dozen or so tasks that might take less than five minutes a piece … reason asks why in the world I didn’t just do the task when I was putting it on the list! Of course, there are some valid excuses – like maybe it’s a writing idea that I literally got at 3:30am and noted down from the comforts of my pillow, or maybe I was in the middle of working on a much larger task at the time and didn’t want to interrupt myself.
Either way, now it’s going to take me an hour to blow through all twelve of them in one shot, which is a much grander feat than simply knocking out a few simple things here and there.
I think a bigger part of doing this better in 2015, though, is simply in identifying one or more of the larger tasks in a given list and saying, “I’m going to get one or two of those done today – no matter what.” so that in theory at the end of the day I can always look back and say that at least I did that as opposed to a few random things here or there, but nothing really of any substance that’ll make me feel good about circling back to the list to begin again tomorrow.
There have been far too many days in the past couple of weeks when I go to bed feeling that I was completely and utterly unproductive with the time that I was given, so maybe instead of just incessantly making lists and getting a little done on a few of them, my time might be better spent just honing in one less things and following them through all of the way ’til the very end.
So I’ve been thinking about weight loss stuff again over the past couple of days…
Yeah, it’s been a while! 😯
I don’t know … maybe it’s the 5 pounds less that I weighed in on the scale yesterday – mostly on account of being sick for the past week and a half, but this topic has been on my mind yet again and I think I want to talk about it. And this is going to seem odd because despite this big, old blog just recently passing 800,000 words, in the last couple of years I’ve kind of steered clear of talking about weight loss and dieting efforts – frankly, I think, because I did so much of it early on and it feels a little embarrassing to keep writing the same stuff over and over again.
It’s true that a lot of what I’m going to write is probably stuff I’ve said already, but who knows – maybe I’m finally in a better place to actually be able to do something about it.
In a way, there’s a lot to be learned in looking back at those failed attempts. One high level thing that I noticed just now is that for each time that I fell off the wagon, it was easy to cite some big thing that had just happened that threw us all for a loop – got married, got a puppy, got a house, dealing with pregnancy stuff – and the funny thing is, despite having the mother of all excuses to be thrown just down the hall from me, thankfully sleeping soundly at this very moment, I guess that almost-34-year-old Scott has learned that … there’s always going to be something to throw you off your game…
For the next few years it will be baby, or maybe even another baby, and then school, then teenagers, then high school … holy cow, how did this turn into a post that whipped through the next twenty years of my life in the better part of a sentence?! 😯
I think the takeaway from it all is just what I’ve said before – I need to find a way to maintain a healthy diet that fits with my day-to-day life because if big chunks of time were only sporadically available in my 20’s, I can tell already midway through that my 30’s aren’t looking any better and I don’t even want to think about the decades after that!
The funny thing is, despite my existence feeling kind of topsy-turvy right now with the introduction of a new human to care for, at the same time this is kind of perfect timing to start making some changes like this in my life for the better. My current work arrangements after the baby was born have had me working from home almost exclusively, which means that in both a bad way and a good way, the refrigerator is only a 15-second walk away from me at any point during my day.
What this should mean in the positive way is that instead of eating whatever I can scarf down in the car on the drive in for breakfast, there’s really no reason I shouldn’t be eating something simple and delicious like a quick omelette or some scrambled eggs and juice every single morning.
And for lunch, not having questionable cafeteria food within walking distance (and super good, 400-calorie cookies…) and tons more fast food options a quick drive away, there’s really no reason I shouldn’t be throwing together the types of lunches that I always avoided taking to work – sandwiches that would get soggy sitting in the fridge, pretty much anything not frozen for simplicity’s sake.
Snacks can be healthy stuff like fruits and vegetables that I don’t have to carefully portion out in the morning when I’m already running late.
My tea can … well, there’s really not much different about the tea because that’s where I actually started drinking it in the first place, but I can start that again, too!
And that’s all just food!!!
I’m not going to ramble here incessantly because just like the changes I want to make, I’ve been reading a lot of posts that remind me that it’s small, consistent changes over time that will really make the difference in the long haul, so that’s what I want to do. Long term, I’d love to see a slightly more photogenic me by Christmastime so that I don’t have to be as crop-happy when choosing which family photos to post as I have been lately; in the short term, while I’m still trying to get over this sick stuff, I think I’m going to start making some small tweaks here and there and we’ll see what happens.
I’m sure we’ll talk again soon! 😉
I think I’m going in the wrong direction. Sort of.
I’ve gotten into a couple of big discussions/arguments on Facebook recently, and when I look back at them, not only are they eating up chunks of time that I could be using for anything else, but I don’t really think that they’re helping to move the needle in either direction, either.
This post is an elaboration of a tweet I posted earlier:
I liked it better when I had more funny stuff and less ranty stuff to post about. How do I get back to that place???
— Scott Sevener (@ssevener) July 8, 2014
The problem I have is, I do feel like politics in general has become more relevant and important to me as I’ve gotten older … and yet whenever I try to have a discussion about it with anyone who doesn’t agree with me, I get very angsty and angry and regretful afterwards, usually wishing that I hadn’t even brought the thing up in the first place. And don’t get me wrong – I still think that both issues are very important in today’s world (#1 was the Hobby Lobby/contraceptive ruling, #2 was climate change denial in the media), but when I look back at the end of my day, I want to be content about what I did that day and spending hours upon hours arguing with my conservative relatives over things they’ve been arguing about their entire lives somehow doesn’t seem nearly as rewarding as hey, that thing you shared last night was pretty funny!
I originally posted that tweet above as kind of a joke, but the more I think about it, the more this is something that I think I need to work on. Because as much as I’d like to change the world through social issues and science comprehension, I think I’ve personally got a better chance at doing it with funny jokes. That’s just me. 😉
So with that said, here’s some random stuff that I’ve recent found funny from around the Internet…
- Man Creates a Kickstarter to Make Delicious Potato Salad
- ClickHole (yes, the whole site)
- Independence Day Letter to America From the British
- Steve Hofstetter Gets a Heckler’s Girlfriend to Ditch Him
- Chainsawsuit – The Slope and How to Slip It
Hey, we almost made it through the list! I suppose when politics and humor clash, we’re just going to have to err on the side of humor and take it one step at a time… 😛