Helpful Tips for an Extreme Time.

So our lives have come to this.

All that we care about, all day, every day, is not catching The Flu.

Am I right?

So I’ve compiled a list of helpful tips for all of us to keep fighting the good fight.

  • Wear a Camelbak filled with Purell at all times. Perfect for squeezing onto hands – or into mouths – and noses and eyeballs and earholes – at the sight of other humans.


  • Place plastic grocery sacks over your children’s heads before going in public. Make sure to tie each sack snugly at the nape of the neck. Double bag the babies and the elderly.

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  • When heading out to lunch with a friend, be sure to pack a vial of Truth Serum to force a confession as to whether they have any traces of oncoming illness and/or have laid eyes on anyone under siege of the flu.
  • Flu germs are killed by heat. Therefore, the best way to defeat the flu is to locate Fezzik and borrow his Holocaust Cloak for the rest of the season.


  • Stuff five peeled elderberries into each nostril before going to sleep each night. For babies under the age of one, two elderberries per nostril will suffice. Remember that your noses and ears never quit growing, so for anyone over the age of 55, consider doubling the elderberry-to-nostril count.
  • Infants and the elderly are at the highest risk. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you immediately disassociate with all infants and elderly.
  • Serve everyone in the family an after-dinner cocktail of Clorox to process the day’s germs. Garnish with a Tide Pod.



  • If you’ve been potentially exposed to the flu, have a bonfire for all clothes and any children or pets that came into direct contact with the infected party.
  • Take daily doses of Tamiflu until June. Yes, it will cost $4,500 per person and will burn your intestines into a nice turgid jerky. But could that be worse than the flu? We all know it is not.
  • When checking out at the grocery store, spritz the cashier with a spray hand sanitizer with the same passion that you would douse an attacker in pepper spray. Make sure you target their face, mouth, and hands. Only after this spritz do you allow them to scan your items.


If we can all do these things on a daily basis, then maybe we can survive as a people group.

Remember – you’re not just doing it for yourself – you’re doing it for the herd.

Rage against the Feline.

Thomas The Porch Cat.
photo 8 s

I despise him with all of my physical and metaphysical being.

When he first started hanging around full-time, he (our assumed pronoun – we’ve never checked) was shy, thoughtful, and timid. He was grateful for the food we gave him and was never demanding or rude in any way.

That was over a year ago.

In the last four months, he has…

….peed on (and ruined) my porch furniture cushions. (I needed new ones anyway, so used this as an excuse to upgrade said porch cushions.)

….peed on the new (thankfully watertight) porch box I now store my new furniture cushions in to prevent feline urination.

….puked on the porch stairs.

….pooped on the porch.

….left half-eaten chipmunks on the porch.

(Like literally half a chipmunk.)

(The front half.)

(With the guts dangling out.)

…left just the intestines of an unidentified animal on the welcome mat.

IMG_7039You go ahead and eat your food nonchalantly as if there’s not poop chute sprawled out behind you.

(Nothing says welcome like disembodied bowels.)

…left bird crumbs on my new welcome mat (after I couldn’t handle the bowel-ey welcome mat.)


But Thomas’ ultimate horror show was more subtle…

During the holiday season, my dear husband’s yearly display of Christmas lights weren’t working one evening when the children and I returned home. At first I feared the power was out.

But it wasn’t…puzzling.

I didn’t touch the light display – I am not qualified. So I left the situation for Chris to figure out after returning from a hard day’s work.

Chris investigated. Chris called me outside. Chris methodically walked me through the situation, with an eery calmness in his voice.

The Stupid Porch Cat had…

a.) Crawled over a piece of furniture and under another,

b.) Wedged his devil self into a very precarious position,

c.) Vomited INTO the surge protector from which all lights originated,

d.) Shorted out the entire display.

The cat clearly upgraded himself to the level of Deranged-Aunt-Bethany’s-Christmas-Vacation-Cat. Next year Thomas is most definitely going to find a way to make our Christmas Tree explode.

We desperately wanted to wrap him in a box and re-gift him to a large-hearted relative. We even begged said large-hearted relatives to take him with them when they left town.

Puzzlingly, they refused.

But seriously, y’all. What does one do with an emotionally abusive stray cat?

Do we quit feeding him (yes we still feed him 1-2 times a day, depending on the quantity and loudness of his meows)?

And if we do quit feeding him, how much physical and emotional damage will he do to us as a family before he goes and finds another family to haunt?

Can we pay someone to drive him to another county? Or state? Or Mexico?

Can we seek out a stray guard dog, which will then turn our porch woes into a sequel of “There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly”?

I seriously need to know the proper procedure here. And I might’ve offered a babysitter a buck a mile to drive him away.

But Thomas could sense I was getting irritated with him.

Maybe the new welcome mat was a tip-off – I don’t know.

And so I came home from a rather stressful day to find that he finally left me something at least halfway useful.

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A perfectly preserved chipmunk. How thoughtful.

I began scouring the house for the accessories that spoke to me with regards to this gift.

I first decided he was a reader – the stick still left in his paws when Thomas delivered him gave the appearance that he was also a smoker.

You Call This Tragedy IMG_1988You kids call this tragedy? Let me tell you about tragedy.

Then it struck me that he was definitely a Pokemon. Perhaps a Chipachu.

Chipachu the Chipmunk IMG_2029Gotta catch ‘em all!

Then I went through a drawer of kid’s prize trinkets and found the destined items to gift to my new friend. It took a little work to get them into his tiny claws (the main part of which I did wear rubber gloves to do),

besides the fact that I then had to pour coffee into the miniscule mug,

Behind the Scenes Roadkill IMG_7417

But my careful work paid off. With Thomas’ help, I had created the munk, the myth, the legend.

Monday the Chipmunk.

Coffee The Chipmunk IMG_2068Some days are just made for coffee and ice cream. Simultaneously.

He summed up my day and made my day. Simultaneously.

And, because I can already think of a dozen people I need to send Monday to, the note cards are already on order.

Screen Shot 2018-01-22 at 4.12.17 PM

So, Thomas The Porch Cat gets a temporary reprieve.

VERY temporary.

photo 9 sGood night, Thomas. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely call an Uber for you in the morning.

The Prodigal Fitbit Daughter.

I had been a happy FitBit wearer for three years. It motivated me, gave me beautifully geeky tracking tools, created new friendships, and fed my obsession with statistics.

Yet, at the beginning of October, I replaced my FitBit with an Apple Watch.

And then, on December 22, I found myself 126% overjoyed because I convinced Apple to give me a full refund for my Piece-Of-Crapple Watch (even though it was way out of its return period), and I bought myself a new FitBit.

Here is the story of that massive life turning point, if you happen to care.

I am an Apple person. I have a MacBook Pro, Chris has bought me every new iPhone since the 4 (except this year because what was the stupid deal with the 8 and X? And what if I wanted a 9??), and we have a couple iPads in the house. I love Apple products. So this year, instead of getting a new iPhone (8 or X, 8 or X, how can I make that decision?), I decided to try the watch. It was the first year that the watch had cellular, and I dreamed of being able to run, and track my runs, and answer texts and calls, without my giant iPhone 7 Plus strapped to my arm.

And after all – it’s Apple, so it has to work even better than a FitBit, right?

I almost changed my mind due to the heart rate monitoring. Although Apple said they gave this watch the feature of being able to let you know if you had heart issues (sounds like it’d have to be pretty accurate to do that), it also said it only checked your heart rate every ten minutes (how is that helpful.) For someone who had become accustomed to her FitBit checking her heart rate continuously (and for someone who has an illness that can be partially managed by tracking the heart rate and adjusting life to “fix” it when needed), this every ten minutes bit seemed stingy.

But surely Apple was better than FitBit. How could it not be? IT’S APPLE.

I’m sure the Apple watch is just lovely for people who use it for other things. Or for people who are not used to the supremacy of FitBit. But if you’re a FitBit loyalist and think you can get the same brilliantly simplistic tools out of Apple, you will be disappointed.

The first weekend I had mine, I could not get anything I wanted.

…It was checking my heart rate even less than it advertised – sometimes going 45 minutes between checks.
…The cellular didn’t work most of the time.
…The app I used to track runs (MapMyRun) didn’t get along with the Apple Cellular, and the app Apple preferred you to use (Nike+) didn’t get along with my app, which had all my historical data in it.
…The heart rate monitor would be wildly inaccurate, giving a reading of 220, immediately followed by 53. How are they supposed to be able to let you know if you have unusual spikes in heart rate if a.) they hardly ever measure it, and b.) when they do, it’s insanely wrong? FitBit figured my calorie burn based on my heart rate, whether accurate or not, and I loved that. How possibly could Apple even think they were doing that?
…The information the watch offered was both way too detailed to be useful and not giving the easy details I was used to, and therefore was not in the least bit motivating.
…The apps I use while I run, such as Spotify and Audible, did not have watch apps. So no music or books on tape while running.
…I had to charge the watch every…dang…day.

The only benefit I’d seen from the watch was the ability to text from the watch. And that was not worth what I’d paid for it and what I’d given up for it.

But I had made this decision, and I wanted it to work. I spent at least eight hours on the phone and on chat with Apple support that first weekend, methodically walking them through all of the problems with the watch interface. I had thrilling conversations such as when they told me to change a privacy setting so they could do a test…




For some reason I believed them when they told me that it would get better, and that the heart rate data was accurate, and that the data was saving even if it didn’t show on my watch that it was.

I spent money on at least eight apps just trying to get the simple interface that FitBit had always given me so effortlessly.


Most of the apps were wildly information-overload with little actually useful information. I’m not a car. I don’t need five odometers. I want graphs.


One App even had a man who got fatter and skinnier throughout the day based on your activity – not the feeling I was going for.


The app called Healthview nearly gave me what I wanted,

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But not a single app in the world could take the ugly Apple Watch heart rate data and give me the nice, simple, daily graphs that FitBit gave me.


I adored those graphs. I loved seeing those periods of red and knowing that I had run, and run well. I loved seeing every day stacked on top of the ones before it.

This was Apple’s idea of a weekly heart rate graph:


HOW is that helpful??

And the weird daily bar graph just wasn’t the same.


It did nothing to satisfy the desires of my over-analytical needs. And it just made my heart cry out for its old companion.

But I had paid a lot of money for that watch and I had missed the return window trying to give it the benefit of the doubt, so I tried my best to have a good attitude about it, and to convince myself that I liked it, that it was useful, and that I did not miss FitBit as if it were my soldier husband who was gone on a twenty-year deployment.

It was grocery shopping for Christmas that finally did me in. Noah and I had a lot to buy, and we were in the grocery store for a record long (for me) 45 minutes. As we walked up to the checkout line, I glanced at my watch. It hadn’t taken my heart rate the entire time.

Which meant I got no calorie burning credit for ALL THAT SHOPPING.

And if you can’t have an app tell you that you burned calories, did you even burn calories at all?

I quickly went into the raw data in the health kit of the phone (as the techs had taught me to do, when they were proving my data was there all along), and “AHA”’ed with malice.



My data was not there. The watch was useless.

I threw the groceries in the car in angry passion and immediately called Apple support. I told them their watch didn’t do what it was advertised to do and I just wanted to go back to FitBit SOOOOOO bad and please please please give me my money back.

The very kind and understanding Apple Senior Support Specialist put me on hold to confirm what the advertising said. She came back and said “Well they’ve changed the advertising to no longer say that it checks your heart rate every ten minutes. Now it says that it checks it regularly while you’re sitting, and occasionally while you’re active.”

(What even is the use of that?!)

She put me on hold again.

By the time that I had driven home, unloaded the groceries, cleaned out the Thanksgiving leftovers from the fridge to make room for the Christmas groceries, she returned with The Best News.

“The sales department has agreed to let you return the watch as a one-time courtesy since it doesn’t do as it was advertised at this time. You will get a full refund.”

I had tried not to allow myself to dream of this moment. But I had, and in my dream, I imagined that I would feel some sadness toward losing the Apple Watch.

But that imagining was wrong.

I whooped with joy and immediately got online, ordered myself the top of the line FitBit Ionic watch (I had given my former Altra HR Chris), set it to be picked up at the local Target, went to Target on the Friday before Christmas, and had my new FitBit Watch on as I drove to FedEx to ship my worthless Apple Watch back to whence it had come.

And I had $130 left over.

I am overjoyed to be reunited with my pleasing graphs and charts and my FitBit friends and challenges. The Ionic can do nearly everything I used my Apple Watch for, except better. AND now my FitBit system is significantly upgraded to be able to GPS track my exercise. The only two things I lost were the ability to talk to Siri (I can do that on my phone) and my ability to text from the watch (which I rarely used.)

And I am SO happy.

So, FitBit, I am sorry for ever leaving you, and for ever doubting that Apple could do it better. It was wrong. You are my Fitness Father. It won’t happen again.