1.21.2018

the winter blues



There are two Michelles that live in one body: West Coast Michelle and Midwestern Michelle. For those not familiar with my story, I'm originally from California, as is my entire family, and almost all of them still live there. Growing up, we went back frequently. California will always be my homeland. Starting at age 5, I lived in Nevada until middle school when we packed up and moved to Ohio. It doesn't matter that The Best Coast hasn't been my home in 16 years; for the rest of my life I will say soda instead of pop and vacuum instead of sweeper. I live and die on these principles.

I hated the Midwest for years. Flat cornfields as far as the eye can see. No beaches, no mountains. Even the traffic lights look different. It took nearly a decade, but I changed my tune. It wasn't the fourth of July unless the corn was knee-high. People don't have sprinkler systems in their yards, they have riding lawn mowers. It feels more like small town America now than flyover country. I still clench my fists at the Midwestern colloquialisms that butcher my beloved english grammar, but I no longer take it as a personal offense. Instead, I get mildly offended when someone complains about the midwest. I've made it my home and I'm defensive if someone attacks it.

For most of the year, I'm good with the midwest. The cost of living isn't bad, we get all four seasons, our big cities are fantastic, and I finally got used to tornado drills instead of earthquake drills, though my knee jerk reaction during a tornado siren is to always head under a table or the nearest doorframe. All the farms and agriculture and slower way of life give the sense that maybe we're all going to be alright. Maybe North Korea won't nuke us all.

Then January hits. I like winter, I do. I love the snow. I like cold temperatures as long as they're not cold enough to cause a weather alert on my weather app. I love all things cozy. But it's a different story when you have a rambunctious child who needs some stimulation to help her nap. The walls start to cave in. You plan to run an errand in a desperate attempt to get out--Walmart? The post office? You're desperate. Then it snows again and it's just not worth the hassle of driving in the snow when they haven't salted the roads yet. And the driveway needs to be shoveled, and it's a scientific fact that the driveway grows ten more feet every time it snows, like Pinocchio's lying nose. So you sit at home again. And you call your grandma. And she tells you it's 75 degrees and sunny at her house, and she's gong to prune the rosebushes after lunch. Your eyes survey the room, wondering what you can sell for a couple plane tickets to California, never mind the fact that the highway to her house is possibly still closed due to the mudslides.

This is when West Coast Michelle takes over. Winter in the midwest is a long affair, much like the endless summers in the south. People post pictures and videos of beaches and walking around outside without a coat. Meanwhile, I'm bundled up in my robe and slippers for the 4th day in a row, my bedroom window is iced over, and all I do is think of the house projects we need/want to do and wonder if we should bother with them or use that money to just move where frozen pipes aren't in the vocabulary.

On the flip side, I am insufferable in the fall and at Christmas time. My family talks about 80 degree Christmases. People online complain about pumpkin picking in 90 degree heat. I look outside at our orange and golden trees and think "you poor dears. You're missing out on so much joy in your lives" while flouncing my cable-knit scarf. No chance of a white Christmas? That is depression itself. And then a few months into winter, I start to think that maybe the boiling hot autumns and Christmas in shorts is worth it after all. At the end of the day, do I want to live somewhere that doesn't experience all four seasons? Absolutely not. But in January and February, while I'm cooped up for another day, LET ME PRETEND THAT I DO.

We drove to church last week after a snow and ice storm. The trees were covered in ice. The post-harvest cornstalks were covered in snow. The sun was glittering on the snow drifts. It was magical. I couldn't get over the beauty of it. Winter scenery is like chocolate cake. It looks so tempting, so beautiful. Then you partake of it, and you have a stomach ache and hips that don't fit in pants. Or rather, your extremities are numb and you slipped and fell on the ice. So tantalizing, so deadly.

Every outing requires a cost-benefit analysis. How important is this errand? How close are we to perishing from cabin fever? We might be ripping our hair out at home, but how likely are we to catch a virus in the worst flu season ever? How many Facebook posts did I see yesterday on the number of pediatric flu deaths in Ohio? Too many. If we're going to the library, a virus is guaranteed. The grocery store? Possible. Ok, we'll do Clicklist. We get out of the house but the toddler doesn't get any energy out, so that's a bummer. How long will we be there? Is it worth the hassle of unbuckling and rebuckling the carseat and wrestling a screaming toddler who has staged a protest on outerwear for religious reasons into and out of a coat in 5 degrees?

These are the things I think about all day long, every day, from December-March. This is coming from the person who once wrote a post entitled In Defense of Winter. It is hilarious how obvious it is that I hadn't given birth yet, because I would not be writing a post like that today. I still stand by my preference of cold weather to hot weather and my love of winter clothes. But there is no such thing as a lazy winter day when you're a mom.

All that to say, we're all losing our sanity. We went to Lowe's last night for a refrigerator. We didn't buy one, but we bought curtains and an ironing board. Two random drawers in our kitchen have been painted white. Nothing else. I've changed my longstanding stance on houseplants and now I want them all. I spend every night shivering under the electric blanket in bed until I slowly warm up, then have to wrestle myself out of it at 2am when I wake up drenched in sweat. Gracie has memorized way too much Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We've spent so much time in our pajamas that she insists on putting her Mickey and Minnie in her pajamas. I signed up for a gym membership, but I'm too scared to go. That has nothing to do with anything, I just wanted to throw that out there.

So now you probably understand why I dyed my hair blue and purple and why I almost ordered plastic flamingoes for our yard yesterday.

1.18.2018

recent reads

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan--3.75 stars: Before this charming little jaunt into the Scottish Highlands even begins, Colgan writes an intro talking about all the best places to read her book. It's been a bit since I read it so I'm forgetting the specifics, but she talked about the pros and cons of reading in the bathtub and other good places to read, and it was delightfully hilarious and endeared me to her immediately. The book begins with a nearly out-of-work librarian in some city in England. She gets her jollies by recommending books to other people, and her house is almost falling apart under the weight of her books, so I like to think she's the UK version of me. Life events send her to Scotland, and she opens up a bookshop on wheels, toodling around little villages in the Highlands selling her books to people. IT IS SO CHARMING I COULD BARF. My one beef comes later in the book, when this delightful little diddy about books suddenly turns into a mild version of 50 Shades of Gray (Grey? I refuse to Google). It's not really graphic, but the extra steamy story line just takes a weird turn that does not fit the rest of the book, as if her editor said "Ok, this book about books is cute and all, but what will really put it over the top is some raunchy sex." No thanks.

For fans of: reading about reading, books about books, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (but definitely not as good), The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend



The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe by Mary Simses--2 stars: Admittedly, in November and December I walked out of the library with arms full of chick lit. With the move from hades going on and sick everyone, I just wanted a happy mental escape from the chaos of reality. This book is 100% a Hallmark Christmas movie minus the Christmas. So yeah, just basically a cheesy Hallmark movie. And here's the thing...those come across a lot better in movie form than they do in book form. I don't know why that is, I just stomach it better in a movie sometimes than in a book. This book is basically about a Real (unmarried) Housewife of NYC who travels to a tiny town in Maine to complete an unfinished task for her dead grandmother. She's engaged to a rich, successful lawyer, but then meets the rugged carpenter who saves her from certain death and continues to follow her around even though she's completely insufferable. She spends her time in Maine trying to unearth her grandmother's secrets while slowly falling in love with small town life. I bet you'll NEVER guess how it ends.

For fans of: Hallmark Christmas movies, lots of descriptions of expensive outfits, eccentric New Englanders 



Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson--4 stars: Woof. This book
was heavy and has given me a lot to think about. Stevenson is a lawyer who created a nonprofit to give free legal aid to the wrongfully convicted on death row, and he shares many stories in this book. It was a hard book to read; the stories were gut-wrenching. The book mainly focused on the affects of race in the criminal justice system in the deep south. Most if not all of the stories took place in the 80s when he was first practicing, and I hope and pray things are better today than they were then. It definitely opened my eyes even more to how broken our justice system is and the real life implications of racism. It's been a couple months since I've read this and I still can't put my finger on what exactly made me uneasy, but I think it had something to do with the fact that he seems to paint the picture that prisons are inhumane and unnecessary. That is DEFINITELY the case in some instances, but not always. He also seemed to claim racism for every single injustice, and while he had clear evidence to back much of that, it often seemed more complicated than that to me. This book prompted me to have a lot of discussions with other people and gave me a very different point of view than what I'm used to. Definitely worth reading, but a few things that I'm still processing.

For fans of: social justice, Dateline, The People v. OJ, legal dramas




Natural Disaster: I cover them. I am one. by Ginger Zee--5 stars: I am not one to usually enjoy celebrity memoirs, anything written by Mindy Kaling or Tina Fey aside. But for anyone new around here, I am OBSESSED with weather and meteorology. It was what I planned to study in college until I got into more difficult math classes in school and went NOPE. I cannot do this to myself. If I had more of a math/science brain, I'd like to think I would've been a meteorologist. I'm not a fan of morning shows, so I rarely catch Ginger Zee on TV, but I remember her appearing on the show Storm Chasers, and I fell in love with her on DWTS when she talked about being a breastfeeding mom. I was in the throes of that at the time and loved anyone who talked about it. ANYWAY. I've been on pins and needles waiting for this book to come out, and it did not disappoint. She talks about how she got started in her career and how her depression derailed her along the way. She literally checked herself into a mental health hospital days before starting her job at GMA. Respect. She compared things in her life to weather phenomenons, and I just ate that right up with a spoon. It won't be a 5 star read for everyone, and while Ginger and I are polar opposite people, I related to some of the struggles she had and I LOVED her passion for the weather. I may not have her degree or knowledge, but I feel the passion just the same. She also talks a lot about her husband, Ben Aaron, who I've followed on Instagram for years because he is HILARIOUS.

For fans of: THE WEATHER, behind the scenes of broadcast tv, depression success stories, celebrity memoirs, lots of name-dropping 


The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen--4.5 stars:  This is the sequel to the Innkeeper of Ivy Hill and I have to say, I liked it so much more. It's a bit more plot-driven and there's much less talk of dead husbands which is always nice. Reading it transports you to a little English village in the early 1800s, where class and gender are still very big deals and determine your lot in life. The book follows three single women of various life circumstances trying to make a go of it on their own. There's very much an upstairs/downstairs element, and it reads like a PBS Masterpiece Theater show. It's slow, sweet, heartwarming, and wholesome. Also, this book focuses a lot on the formation of libraries and mentions Jane Austen as a current author, and obviously I lived for that. The ending is left open for another book which I am not sad about.

For fans of: Downton Abbey, a little bit of cheesiness, historical fiction, Pride and Prejudice






The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson--1.75 stars: Let it be known that I am NOT a quitter of books. I'm too stubborn. I can't live with myself if I don't finish a book. I hold out hope that something will change, something will pull me in and I'll change my mind. But this book? I quit it. Left it. Broke up with it. We're done. Two thirds of the way through, I realized this is not how I want to live my life, stuck in a book that reads like a chemistry textbook and that's making me dread my reading time. Then I realized I'm the boss of me, and I slammed it shut (without the bookmark in it! such recklessness!) and breathed a sigh of relief. I read around 250 pages and could not tell you what happened. Probably because nothing did. I don't know who any of the characters are or how they related to each other. Something about a teacher with a minuscule inheritance she can't access and a doctor about to be sent to the front lines of WWI. It SHOULD have been charming and sweet, like Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, which I loved. It was so boring. So dry. So dull. I have no regrets. There are too many good books out there to waste time on books like this.

For fans of: boredom, insomnia cures


My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past by Jennifer Teege--4 stars: Holy cow, this book. After reading Schindler's List a few months ago, I found myself manic Googling the people mentioned, and I saw this book recommended. Jennifer Teege was adopted but grew up knowing her mom and grandmother a little. She knew nothing else of her family until she stumbled across a book in the library about her mother. Can you imagine that?  Just seeing a book about your mom in the library? She read it and discovered that she's the granddaughter of Amon Goeth--her mother is Amon's daughter. THE Amon Goeth--the serial killer Nazi/pseudo-friend of Oskar Schindler who brutally murdered people for absolutely no reason. Amon Goeth, who believed in the Aryan race and was a racist himself. He has a black granddaughter. A granddaughter who happened to live and study in Israel for years before finding out her family's true past. I mean, is that poetic justice or what? The whole thing just blew my mind. She writes about her adoption, finding out about her family and how she dealt with the guilt of what her grandfather had done, visiting Holocaust sites with that new knowledge, etc. It gave a very interesting perspective on how descendants of Nazis have been coping with the actions of their parents and grandparents. The reviews on this book seems to be mixed with people loving it or hating it, and I loved it. If you google her, it shows a picture of her next to a picture of Amon Goeth. The resemblance is chilling.

For fans of: the Holocaust (well, not fans OF the Holocau--nevermind. You know what I mean), adoption, Schindler's List, nonfiction crazier than any fiction could be


And those are the books I've had my nose in recently! Yesterday I picked up 7 Women by Eric Metaxas. I haven't read much, but I'm already loving it. He's a great nonficiton writer, right up there with Erik Larsen. Must be an Eric/k thing. I'm in a couple online book clubs, so I have three books I need to get busy on once the library relinquishes them to me. I set a lower reading goal for myself of 50 books this year, but I'm starting to think I may need to change it since we're not 3 weeks into the year and I'm already on my 5th book. Don't be too impressed--there's been a lot of snow and cold temperatures and not much else to do.

What are you reading?

1.16.2018

coffee date



I see people write these coffee date posts all the time, and they're always some of my favorites. Mostly because the word coffee is involved and usually it's just about how life is going, and those are the best kinds of posts. I don't care about the 5 shirts you bought at the Nordstrom sale and why I need to buy them too...TELL ME HOW YOUR KIDS ARE SLEEPING AT NIGHT.

Just kidding. That's a sore spot for me right now.

I love listening in on people's coffee orders. What do you order at a coffee shop? I never actually order straight coffee. I do at restaurants all the time (with a dash of half and half but no sugar), but at a Starbucks or coffee shop, I get an iced coffee in the summer and a latte or flat white any other time of the year. Sometimes a cappuccino if I'm feeling extra fancy. I like my coffee bold and strong. I hate most flavored coffee, and I can't stand any kind of sweetener. I am woman, hear me roar.

Ok, so what's up with you? How's your work/kids/marriage/school/friendships/etc going? What are you reading? And watching? Actually tell me! In the comments! This is a 2 way street, you know. I babble enough as it is. We're all friends here.

I heard a lot of people start talking about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime, so we started it the other night. Let me put in a disclosure that I DO NOT condone the language and nudity of this show and because of those things I don't even want to say I'm recommending it. It bothered me. I probably shouldn't have watched the show. I almost turned it off because 10 minutes into the first episode there were two nudity scenes and I wondered if I had deeply misunderstood the premise of the show. I pushed on, which I normally wouldn't recommend, and it paid off greatly.

If you haven't seen it, it's about a rich family on the Upper West Side of NYC during the 1950s and a female who tries to become a comedian. It's written by the writers of Gilmore Girls, and the dialogue is every bit as fast-paced and quick-witted as you hope it is. What got me the most were the costumes and set. GORGEOUS. My jaw was on the floor at the dresses and furniture and interiors. I may have been born in the 80s, but my soul was born in the 50s. Or 40s. Possible 20s. Okay, the point is, I felt like I had actually been transported to 1956 and I didn't want to leave.

Here's what I didn't expect: it helped me fall in love with my house again. I have struggled since we moved in for various reasons, but so many parts of the show reminded me why I love that time period, and our house is a time capsule from that era. My brain was suddenly full of ideas of how I want to continue renovating while keeping everything true to its mid century roots. It was a lightbulb moment for me.

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Last week they told us we were supposed to get an ice storm plus 1-2 feet of snow. The entire state was in a frenzy. For the first time, I got nervous. A storm like that is just asking for power outages, and we have no secondary heat source yet, and our house is already not great at holding in heat. The grocery store was nearly bare four days before the storm. The morning the storm was supposed to hit, they suddenly went from 1-2 feet to 1-2 INCHES. I mean of course. We wound up with some ice and 5ish inches. It was a legitimate blizzard with crazy winds and snow so heavy I couldn't see across the street. I loved it. The lights flickered a few times, but we never lost power. We got another storm yesterday. This time they were predicting one inch and we got at least four. I shoveled our entire huge, circular driveway all by myself so James could get his car in. I was so proud. Our neighbor has a plow on his riding lawn mower (welcome to the country) and helped me clear the areas around the garage so I could get my car out. I was so grateful. Winter with a long driveway is basically free Crossfit.

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My mom made it through surgery yesterday. I was a wreck and trying to distract myself as much as possible. I wound up calling my grandma, because I needed a comforting voice. I do not talk to her enough. I share her with my cousins and all our kids, but I always forget that because she makes me feel like her only grandchild. We talked about house stuff, which was fun because our kitchens are practically identical. We have the EXACT same cabinets and hardware. They're ugly, but the fact that my grandma has the same kitchen is half the reason I bought this house. She told me she used to ROUTINELY take the hardware off the cabinets and clean it. I'm talking about unscrewing every handle and cleaning it thoroughly. It never would have crossed my mind to do something like that. Now I feel like I live in filth. Talking to her made my day so much better. If you have a living grandparent--go call them. They will love it and so will you. Any future grandchildren of mine who are reading this 50 years from now---CALL ME.

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I'm still in love with my hair. I accidentally put a little too much heat on it with my curling iron the other day, so it's fading a little faster than I expected. I woke up this morning feeling anxious and down, so I showered and did my hair and makeup. It did wonders for my mood. Then I ran to the post office and ran into my high school math teacher. Thankfully it was the one I liked and NOT the one who made me cry in class at least once a week. He gave me a wide-eyed stare. I returned it. He's older and possibly even retired now, and I feel like all the older people look at my hair, lamenting about the kids these days and their wild ways.



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I've been really trying to talk to Gracie more about God lately. We sing hymns, we pray together, and James reads her the Jesus Storybook Bible most days. All of a sudden she's had lots of questions. I told her about how God made the sun, moon, and all the stars in the sky. "Did God buy them?" "Nope, He made them." "But did He buy them in a store?" I love how her little brain tries to figure it all out. She's been asking a lot if Jesus is at home. I tell her yes, He's at home in heaven. "Oh, we're going to go have soup with him in two days." That's fine by me, though it sounds a little like a death prophecy.

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This isn't that interesting, but for the people who know me it might be. I HAVE BEEN VERY SOCIAL LATELY. Like really social. We're talking multiple play dates/social activities a week. I think I've been using socializing as a bit of a distraction/coping mechanism lately, but I'm not complaining because it's been really good for me. That's probably why I've had some headaches and have felt extra exhausted lately, but it's helping me beat the winter blues. The winter blues are REAL this year, and that's coming from a lover of winter.

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I wrote this while drinking a cup of coffee, because I am nothing if not ~authentic~ and so genuine. My cup is now empty and my daughter sounds like she's up to no good in her room. And I have a raging headache and dinner to make, so I'm signing off for now. Let's do this again. Preferably with a bigger cup of coffee next time.


1.08.2018

currently, vol. 35



reading: Natural Disaster by Ginger Zee. I started it Saturday night and I'm almost finished with it. I love it!

watching: we've been watching Cheers lately. It's a family favorite but somehow I've never seen it. IT IS SO FUNNY. Plus there's a ton of hilarious 80s hair and fashion and Boston accents. 5 thumbs up.

laughing at: Our realtor's name is Toby. Gracie had a strange obsession with him that makes sense to no one. Every day when I put her down for a nap or bedtime, she starts calling me Toby. "Goodnight, Toby! Sweet dreams, Toby! Are you going to go to bed too, Toby?" She's been doing it for a MONTH. It's so weird but makes me laugh every time. But so weird!

listening to: This playlist. It's the one I listened to on my evening walks. It's changed a little since then, but it's full of happy, catchy music, and that's what I need when it's January, my tree is down, and it's ten below zero.



annoyed by: I just realized we never took our overflowing trash can out, and I just watched the garbage truck go by. I'm still getting the hang of this trash day thing.

relieved that: THE DEEP FREEZE IS OVER! You guys, it didn't really get above zero for TWO ENTIRE WEEKS. The windchill was hovering around -25 every night. I never felt warm. We had SNOW on the insides of some of our windows. Even though I had to drive to the car dealership this morning in a snow and ice storm, it's currently above freezing and everything is melting. I opened the front door earlier and momentarily thought about leaving the screen door open to let the warm air in. That's how warm 34 degrees feels right now. Praise Jesus.

loving:  MY HAIR! For YEARS I have wanted to dye part of my hair blue or something crazy like that. I mentioned it as my New Year's goal last year, but it never happened for several reasons. I have a friend who's a hair stylist, and now that we live closer to each other we've been hanging out more, I finally felt comfortable telling her what I wanted to do, and she lit up. Her hair always looks amazing, and she was even a hair stylist for the top ten on American Idol. So I made an appointment with her, she chopped seven inches off which is the shortest my hair has been since I was in 5th or 6th grade, and she put in purple, teal, and magenta on both sides. I FEEL LIKE A MAGICAL LISA FRANK UNICORN. I have never colored or highlighted my hair in my life. I was so nervous to do it that I almost cancelled multiple times. I had to stifle a scream when she put the bleach in. But it was so worth it and I feel 743% better about life now. Getting my hair done with a stylist I'm actually friends with is so much more fun when I'm not trying to think of awkward small talk. It was the most fun hair appointment ever.

The lighting isn't great so it's hard to see. It's much more vibrant in person. And yes, I'm as tired as I look.



I know it's going to fade and maybe look like swamp water hair and I'll have to pay to get it redone or let it grow out, but I am so happy. I just needed to do this. I call it a coping mechanism. I even ordered a new big barrel curling iron to hopefully mimic those waves. I will probably look like I was electrocuted, but a girl can dream. NEW YEAR NEW ME.

cooking: I have yet to really make a full meal other than some crockpot soup since we moved in because I still feel so out of sorts. But James made tacos last night, and that's as close as we've gotten.

exhausted by: the fact that Gracie still isn't sleeping. The last week has honestly been like the newborn days all over again. I have no explanation for it. Something is in the air, because multiple fellow mom friends said their kids are doing the exact same thing this week and we can't figure it out. On Saturday I spent 6 hours at Ikea with a friend, then Gracie was up 4 or 5 times screaming about a plastic hot dog from her toy kitchen, then we were up early for church, and then Gracie actually slept well but I'm so used to being up all night that...I was up just about all night.

confused: by the fact that it took me A MONTH to fully unpack the kitchen and get the excess boxes out of there so we could use our kitchen/dining area like normal humans. And yet, by 9am Saturday morning, James had already ripped up the carpet in the hallway and cleaned the hardwoods underneath and finished painting the kitchen. How does he do that? He always gets so much more done than I do and in such a small amount of time. When I got home from Ikea, I found two random kitchen drawers sanded and primed for us to paint. But at least we have a place to sit and eat! My Luke's Diner poster my mom gave me for Christmas is going to hang right there on the wall just as soon as I find the frame. And all God's people said Amen.


praying for: my mama. She's having her thyroid removed on Monday as recent scans are showing signs of possible cancer. They've been watching the tumors on it for over a year, and there was new growth all of a sudden, so it's the best choice, but we are understandably nervous. If you could pray for healing and good test results and an easy recovery, I would be so grateful. It's killing me that I can't be there to help, because if it is cancer, the treatments would start immediately after and won't allow her to be near Gracie. Thankfully the odds are in her favor and even if it is cancer, she should be fine. But the C word is the last word any of us want to hear, no matter the odds.

1.04.2018

I have 99 problems and frozen pipes are about half of them

Well, it happened.

I've been living in fear of frozen pipes. Frozen anything, really. I've already told you this about 76 times. My parents have had nightmares with a frozen pipe over the past few weeks, and the person who tried to thaw it wound up setting the house on fire. It was a small fire and quickly extinguished, but it was enough of a horror story to make me extra vigilant. The faucets have been dripping, the cabinet doors left open, and we've prayed. I've done everything but rebuke the spirit of frozen water in the name of Jesus.

Thankfully we haven't had any issues. But as I was unloading groceries this morning, I figured it wouldn't hurt to walk around the house and check the faucets. I know about winterizing, but we've had so much chaos going on that things fell through the cracks. DO NOT JUDGE ME. I'm just a girl trying to do her best. Everything looked fine until I found the one out front. The sellers left the hose screwed into the faucet, which is bad in the winter. I made a mental note when we were in contract to take care of it, but then we moved in, had 207 other issues to deal with, and since the faucet is behind a bush, I didn't see it and completely forgot.

The hose was encased in ice. James is of course working much later than usual and couldn't talk when I called him. Gracie had cried for no reason from 2-5am so we were both cranky zombies, and I was starving. But I couldn't rest until I knew how bad this was. I called my dad and told him what happened. We didn't have any of the tools needed to wrench the frozen hose off, so I did the unthinkable. I walked across the street and knocked on the neighbor's door. It's the only neighbor I've met--they're an older couple who have only ever seen me in crisis mode. It's the same man who came across the street when he heard me scream because I knocked things over trying to take care of the laundry room flood. That man is guaranteed to think that I'm anything but a capable adult, and honestly he's half right. He's also only ever seen me in sweats with bedhead. I have some things to work on.

My dad told me to ask for something called channel locks. All I could picture are those massive water locks in rivers and whatnot, but I went and asked anyway, and a minute later I had them in my hand. I was mortified when I explained why I needed them, and he had that "you poor ignorant youth" look on his face even though he was very kind. It didn't help that when I turned to walk back to my house, I realized the back of my pants were soaking wet. My butt was numb from sitting in the snow so I hadn't even noticed. I hooked the blow dryer up to an extension cord to help thaw the faucet, and once it seemed a little less frozen, I used the wrench and it worked like a charm. The hose came right off. I could feel ice still in the faucet which is no bueno, so if you drove past my house around 1:15, you would've seen me sitting in a pile of snow holding a blow dryer up the faucet, desperately trying to melt the ice. You also would've seen me crying. There was a lot of crying.

I kind of feel like I earned a badge for all of that. According to my dad, there's a chance there's ice further back in the pipe, but it's basically impossible to know and hard to thaw, so hopefully all is well, but it's also possible it's not. And don't lecture me on winterizing and turning water off, because our house is strange and has a well that's used purely for the outdoor faucets and there's no shut off and I KNOW NOTHING BUT I'M TRYING HERE. James did not grow up in a cold climate, so this is new for him. This is one house area where I'm a little more experienced, but only barely. So that's what my dad is for, but since he lives so far away, that's what Facetime is for. And I'm just really thankful I happened to discover that before anything worse happened and it flooded Gracie's room. I CANNOT HANDLE ANOTHER FLOOD.

I came inside and tried to thaw myself out. A FedEx truck pulled up. 10 minutes later, a man walked up to the door with two packages. I was frazzled and freezing and just wanted a hot shower, but I opened the door and smiled and greeted him.

"I couldn't find your house. And then I couldn't find your packages."

I apologized, grabbed the boxes, and thanked him. I was just closing the door when he said something about the belt on his truck breaking, having to do something by hand and staying at work till 10pm last night, he can't find packages in the truck, had over 200 deliveries to make etc. He was CLEARLY upset. I don't know why he dumped all that on me. He seemed both like he needed to get it off his chest and also like he was blaming me for being part of the problem. He was yelling about it so loudly he woke Gracie from her nap. I felt bad for him but also wanted to yell GUESS WHAT I JUST DID ISN'T LIFE SO HARD SOMETIMES? But I didn't, and he left.

Come to think of it, that's probably how my neighbor across the street feels every time he sees me.