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Posts Tagged ‘panic!’

Yesterday, I parted my hair on the opposite side. It felt and looked very weird and I do not think I will repeat that particular experiment.

 

One of the remarkable things about These Unprecedented Times is that going to the grocery store has now become such a major source of stress. I realize this is not a new topic nor a concern specific to me. But I am Right In It now and it’s so odd. I literally had stress dreams about the grocery store last night – where I discovered at the last minute that the store was open a whole hour before I thought it would be and I was able to dash in and grab some half-and-half. I mean, this is causing Major Anxiety these days which is absolutely ridiculous.

It’s been about twenty days since I last set foot in the grocery store, and a little less than two weeks since I picked up a curbside order (which did NOT contain half-and-half). I was supposed to go to the grocery store yesterday, a plan I’d been working toward for many days. Our store opens at eight and has seniors/immunocompromised shoppers hours until nine. My plan was to arrive right at nine and get in and get out quickly. But my husband actually had patients that morning (which is A Good Thing) and had to go into the office, so I couldn’t go. He has patients this morning, too (also A Good Thing). So yesterday we decided I would go later in the afternoon, once my husband got home.

I ordered a mask, which is supposed to arrive sometime later this week. So I fashioned a mask out of an old baby blanket and hair ties. And I got all dressed — in actual Real Clothes — put my hair in a bun, even put my contacts in, and drove to the grocery store. And then I chickened out. The parking lot was SO FULL. And there was a line of people outside stretching along the entire side of the building. Which I know is a good, smart innovation. And yet it made me feel all panicky and trembly so I turned around and came home.

But we obviously still need groceries. So I filled a virtual cart at the grocery store that offers curbside pickup. Curbside pickup is not ideal – for one thing, I worry that I am taking a spot from someone who has limited mobility or is immunocompromised or for whom going into an actual store is otherwise difficult/impossible. Plus, on a selfish level, it’s so much easier to be able to decide on the fly that the store doesn’t have fresh strawberries so I am going to get frozen berries or blueberries instead, rather than counting on the grocery store shopper to find an appropriate substitution. Curbside pickup is not something I am relying on, is what I’m saying. But it worked fairly well the first time I did it. And I figured it would be good to have a backup if I can’t get to the store myself, or if I do  get to the store but they are out of half-and-half.

The app for curbside pickup allows you to choose a date and time from a selection of five upcoming days. At least, that’s the idea. These days, all the spots are full. This means that the earliest possible date I could hope to pick up my order would be this coming Sunday. And that’s only if I happen to open the app at the exact right time and catch the new pickup times before they fill.

This happened last time, too. I stalked the app for three days at all hours of the day. The timeslots opened up one morning and I was able to grab one. So I tried it at midnight last night… and then woke up at five to try it… and then seven… and then kept checking all through the eight o’clock hour… At nine o’clock, the app added Sunday as an option… But all the timeslots were full.

This is not anything to be Truly Panicked about. We still have plenty of food. But we are down to our last package of ground beef. We have only one remaining can of chickpeas. We have no eggs. And we are going to run out of half-and-half ANY MINUTE NOW which makes me feel very anxious.

This is all SO RIDICULOUS. I know that I am in a very, very privileged situation. I think of the news footage of miles and miles of cars lined up at food banks across the country and I feel ashamed. We can OF COURSE survive just fine without ground beef and without half-and-half. We have PLENTY of food. Obviously, we are FINE. But it turns out that running out of half-and-half is my personal grocery store breaking point.

Can I also say that my husband and I are having… disagreements about grocery shopping? We have always been on opposite ends of the preparedness spectrum. Even in The Time Before, I have always been the type of person who prefers to have a backup ready to go before I even start to run out of something. For instance, Carla eats a lot of frozen pancakes, so I always have two boxes in the freezer. When we get down to the last two or three of the first box, I put pancakes on the list. That kind of thing. (I also grew up in a remote, cold place where it was prudent to never allow your gas tank to be under half full; even today when I have a gas station within walking distance of my house, I still get very nervous if the gas dips below the half-full point. Maybe the food thing is related.)

Yesterday when I went to mix the ingredients for chili powder, I discovered that we are nearly out of paprika (which I use A Lot), and that we are – for me – uncomfortably low on garlic powder, oregano, and cumin. My husband sees that the (admittedly giant) canisters are still about a third full and says we don’t need the spices urgently. But to ME, I don’t WANT to need them urgently. I want to have backups ready to go.

The same goes for tortillas and chickpeas and sour cream and cheddar cheese and pancakes and iceberg lettuce and carrots and ranch dressing and chicken breasts and black beans and taco shells and hot sauce and onions and all the other things that make me feel like I can put together a normal and/or comforting meal. Do we need  cheddar cheese to survive? Of course not. But does it make me feel better to have a backup in the fridge? Yes.

This is how I would feel in Normal Times, too. But I feel it even more acutely now, when a) who knows when I will be a store where I can purchase these things and b) who knows if the store will even HAVE these items when I do manage to get there.

So my husband and I are experiencing a little friction on the groceries/necessities front, I have to say.

Part of it is that he is frugal and doesn’t see the point of spending money on something that you don’t actually NEED. (To which I say, but we WILL need this thing. Or, if not need, WANT.) Part of it is that he is not the designated shopper, neither now nor in Normal Times, and so doesn’t really fully understand the current shopping situation. I would guess he hasn’t set foot in a grocery store since late February, so he just doesn’t get how different it is. And/or he is in denial about how quickly the situation is going to improve. (Possibly never, says my doomsday brain.) He was surprised when I said that our online options for ordering spices (Costco and Penzeys are the ones I checked) were experiencing delays. (Not to mention that Costco’s website reacted as though oregano is a concept I made up out of thin air.) And yet, even when I point these things out – shortages and delays – he still seems to believe that we can just get whatever we want whenever want it. When I told him I was going to order curbside pickup, he said, “Oh great. Are you going to have it ready to pick up tomorrow?” and I had to temper my incredulous tone when I responded, “Of COURSE NOT, it will be Sunday AT THE EARLIEST before I can hope to pick up the things we ordered, and even then it is HIGHLY LIKELY that we will not get all of what we wanted.”

I would think that he would defer to me in this case, WOULDN’T YOU AGREE?

Pant,  pant,  panic, panic!

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I am 99% sure that my Christmas shopping is complete. But there’s always that last-minute panic that I didn’t do enough, and so I am thumbing through all my last-minute ideas to see if there’s one final something I really need to get for someone on my list.

One of my go-tos for last-minute gifts is subscriptions. They tend to make for great last-minute gifts because you can order them at the — wait for it — last minute, print out a cute little confirmation email and stick it in a card, and voila! An instant gift. Or you can send them via email from your bed on Christmas morning.

Plus, I’ve tried a good number of gift subscriptions. It may be that I am not a creative gift giver, or that I have people who are VERY hard to buy for. It may be that most of my family lives far away, and so shipping is always a factor. It may be that I love the idea of receiving (and, therefore, giving) regular gifts that arrive in the mail. Whatever it is, I have tried a LOT of gift subscriptions. So I feel like I have a good handle on what’s a good value or a fun treat or not worth the price.

Here are some of my favorites – tried-and-true as well as new.

For (Mainly) Grown Ups:

Peanut Butter: My husband loves peanut butter more than pretty much anything. So I got him a peanut butter subscription from Amazing Clubs a few years ago… and we kept renewing it every six months because he loved it so much. Eventually we quit, but I would definitely renew the subscription again in a few years.

Books: My brother got me and my husband a joint Book of the Month Club membership that we loved so much we extended it for a few years. The selections each month are great and if none of the books speaks to you, you can defer your choice to the next month.

Coffee: My husband liked his Craft Coffee subscription so much, we extended it for several years.

Puzzles: I recommended this puzzle-of-the-month club in my gift guide last year. And I ended up getting my husband a subscription and he loved it so much I renewed his subscription for Father’s Day. You get access to SO many puzzles, and you can either accept the puzzle that the company suggests for you or choose your own.

Clothing: I have tried both Trunk Club and Stitch Fix, and I LOVE Stitch Fix. The boxes are smaller than Trunk Club (which means fewer items), but I like the variety. And I think the algorithm they use to determine what clothes you will like is better. Getting a subscription to Stitch Fix (personal link) would be amazing.

Socks: I got my husband a Sock Fancy subscription for his birthday. He is loving it so far – so many outside-the-box socks for him to try!

Cookies: We tried a couple of cookie subscriptions, but they were disappointing. However, that was a few years ago when these subscription services were brand new and hadn’t worked out all the kinks. So I am eyeing this cookie subscription from Cravory as an idea for some of the people on my list with a sweet tooth.

Bacon: My dad is a big fan of high quality bacon, so one year we got him a bacon subscription from Zingerman’s. It’s pricey, that’s for sure, but it’s GOOD bacon.

German Food: My husband LOVES German food, and I think he would get a kick out of this German Food Box, which offers 6-8 authentic German products in each box. It’s very expensive though – so I’m still just thinking about it.

Spirits: I got my father a Scotch tasting kit from Flaviar last year, which he enjoyed. And I think a gift subscription would be a really nice gift for someone you really love who particularly loves spirits. The year-long gift membership is very pricey ($300 as of this writing), but your giftee gets one tasting kit each quarter, four full-size bottles of premium liquor, and some other intangibles that might appeal to your giftee or might not.

For Kids:

DIY Science: If you have a kid on your wish list who loves science and/or putting things together/discovering how things work, I highly recommend the Kiwi Co subscription box. (I know, I know – this was on last year’s gift guide as well. But it’s really good!) Carla’s grandmother got her a subscription back when she was a wee “koala,” and we were able to switch to a “kiwi” when she needed something more challenging and she loves it. She’s now at the age where she can complete the activities herself, which is really cool. Less cool is that then we have Beloved Projects all around our house for eons until I angst myself into finally, stealthily throwing them away. There are crates for kids from age infant (how????) to age 11 – and even crates that appeal to people of all ages.

Books: While I have not tried it yet, this BookRoo chapter book subscription sounds great for Carla.

Magazines: Carla loved her High Five subscription until she outgrew it sometime during kindergarten. So I am thinking of subscribing her to Highlights – a magazine I remember with great fondness.

National Geographic Kids magazine would also be a good option – especially because she’s so interested in science and animals lately.

Stickers: Swistle did a post on Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Club awhile back, and I immediately bookmarked it as an option for Carla. I can think of many kids – and grown ups! – who would love a monthly delivery of stickers!

For Families:

Gift Memberships: Some of the very best gifts we’ve ever received have been gift memberships to local museums and zoos and botanical gardens.

Sandwich Kit: I know this is a pretty specialized gift for a specific type of person, but we got this Reuben sandwich kit for my parents when they stayed with Carla earlier this year, and they loved it. It’s a HUGE amount of food, but it’s such a treat for a Reuben sandwich lover.

Bagels & Lox: Or you could buy someone a special spread of bagels and smoked salmon. Or go REALLY fancy and get this one from Zabar’s. I haven’t tried either of these, but I think it would be so fun to send someone brunch.

Escape the Crate: I haven’t tried this, but it sounds like such a good time. Every other month, you get an escape-room style game delivered to your home to play with your family and friends.

Cooking Class: My husband and I have taken a couple of cooking classes at Sur La Table, and they are really fun. I think there are even classes that younger kids can join, too.

Digital Gifts:

The following don’t come in the mail, which makes them perhaps even more appropriate as last-minute ideas:

Storyworth: I have been reading about Storyworth for years – and this might be the year I give it to my parents and in-laws. I would love to have them start recording their memories for future posterity.

MasterClass: And, for literally everyone on my list, including me, I have been thinking about a subscription to MasterClass. There are so many options here! Lessons taught by actual experts in their fields! Because it’s pricey, I am going to hold off on this for 2019… but it’s something I am really glad to know about for future gift-giving opportunities.

Audible: My husband asks for an Audible gift membership literally every year. Will this be the year someone gets him one?

Amazon Prime: Although we are definitely cutting back on our use of Amazon – for so many reasons – Prime could be an excellent gift for a lot of people on your list. It’s not just free shipping, you also get access to tons of movies and TV shows.

Disney+:This isn’t cheap, but I am really wondering if we should give my niece a year’s membership to Disney+.

A Fantastic Book: Yes, you could totally give your friend or family member the gift of endless reading options with Kindle Unlimited. But I also want to plug my friend Kristina’s excellent first novel again. It’s called Weight of Memory, and it’s a spine-tingling but surprisingly heart-wrenching book about one woman’s quest to preserve the memory of her dead brother. She is publishing the book via InkShares, which is kind of like a Kickstarter for writers. You can read sample chapters before you buy, but a digital copy is just $10 and it will not disappoint.

Gift Cards: This is the easiest digital gift there is, which makes it seem a little boring. But I don’t really know ANYONE who doesn’t like getting a gift card to one of their favorite retailers. Etsy. Amazon. Barnes & Noble. Target. iTunes. Starbucks. Your gift recipient’s favorite restaurant or donut shop. Your local independent bookstore. Your local skating rink. There are so many options that might offer digital gift cards!

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We are in the throes of Christmas Is Only! Two! Weeks! Away! over here, trying to order presents and decorate (so far I have a wreath on my front door and that is purely because my mother sent it to me) and make chocolates and plan when we are going to finally get a tree. It really sneaks up on you, doesn’t it, this holiday that occurs at the exact same time every single year?

This is also a week with a birthday party, a holiday party, a wedding anniversary (mine), and a viewing of The Nutcracker — plus, of course, all the regular After School Activities. Just thinking of it all is enough to make me want to hide under the porch until February.  And yet my family wants, nay, DEMANDS to be fed! I would consider subsisting on slices of cheese from the fridge and maybe a few handfuls of cereal or almonds here and there, but that doesn’t sound like particularly good parenting/wife-ing. A day or two maybe. But not ALL WEEK.

So. Dinners this week. Have I thought about them at ALL? No, I am not going to lie. I have given them zero thought. Let’s do some quick thinking, and maybe rely on some Greatest Hits members of the menu hall of fame. You know. Things I can make with my eyes closed, and for which I usually have ingredients on hand.

There is that pesky anniversary in there. We tried to get a babysitter and FAILED, so I will have to come up with something festive-adjacent so we can Properly Commemorate Our Love or something.

ALSO, fortunately, this is the first week of our HelloFresh meals, so that gives me both wiggle room AND two fewer meals to plan. Woo hoo! I almost don’t care if they are edible, they have given me the gift of less planning and as we all know that is the best gift of all.

Dinners for the Week of December 10-December 16

Note: This was DELICIOUS. The sauce was so yummy, and it was fairly easy to make. I was pretty annoyed though that one of the, like, five small potatoes that were included was so rotten I had to throw it away. AND they forgot the lemon. Luckily, I had both a lemon and some extra potatoes on hand, so the meal was saved. But it wasn’t the best first impression.

Note: This was… okay. The pork was a little bit fatty. And the spice mix was a little too salty. I made some black beans and ate those as my protein instead and honestly, that was a lot better than the pork mixture. So I am going into week 2 with some trepidation.

Note: HA! We totally did NOT do this. My husband picked up Indian food instead and it was amazing. No cooking and we got to eat with our daughter. Plus my husband brought me roses, which was a huge surprise because I was SURE he wasn’t going to. He is a keeper, that guy.

Note: We did not eat these. I think we had microwave meals instead. WORTH IT. I am so over cooking lately!

  • Chili

How is there no chicken on this meal plan? That seems… odd. Oh well. There’s always the option of going off-plan and doing a game-time swap. What do that call that in football? Calling an audible? What a ridiculous term for switching the play at the last minute. Unless I am totally mangling/mixing up football terminology. In which case, carry on.

By the way, every time I log onto the HelloFresh website, it reminds me that I have FREE MEALS to give away. See? Like this:

HelloFresh

I have also been getting emails to this effect, which may be a deterrent to my next question which is: would YOU like to try HelloFresh? I obviously can’t vouch for it just yet. And I don’t know what “free boxes” means, exactly – and I am suspicious. But so far it seems to be a pretty low-risk proposition; you can cancel any time. So let me know if you want to give it a whirl and I will email you the FREE MEALS. Just kidding; email doesn’t work that way. But I will send you the email that takes to you to your free boxes sign-up.

Now tell me what YOU are eating for dinner this week, Internet. Or, alternately, how panicky or calm you feel as the days tick down to this out-of-absolutely-NOWHERE holiday.

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If you thought that we could return to fret-free normalcy now that the dinner party is over, you were WRONG.

Let’s move right along to the next fretworthy topic, shall we?

My husband and I are going on a trip. Just the two of us. We are not calling it a second honeymoon, although I suppose that’s what it is; it’s our tenth anniversary gift to one another.

We are going to Europe and we are both VERY EXCITED about it.

But.

We are leaving Carla behind.

She will remain in our house in the loving and capable hands of my parents. She will be continuing with her regular routine of school and extracurricular activities. But I am FREAKING OUT about leaving her.

Firstly, the longest I’ve ever been away from her is a week.

Secondly, the longest my husband and I have together been away from her is two days.

Thirdly, I am really worried my husband and I are going to die in a plane crash and leave her an orphan.

Fourthly, I am FREAKING OUT.

So I am hoping you have some advice for me as we prepare to leave our beloved baby behind.

We have mentioned the trip several times, with increasing frequency as we get closer to the trip. So Carla knows it’s coming. I don’t know if this is a good strategy or not; my concern is that we’re making her think/fret about it too much in advance. But I also don’t want to spring it on her. That would be awful and cruel (at least, for my particular kid), to wake up one day and say, “Bye! See you in ten days!”

I have been making a ridiculous number of lists for my parents, so they know everything from the foods she will and might eat to how to walk her into school each morning to what she needs to bring to ballet class.

I have talked things over with her teachers, who seem very unconcerned with the whole thing. (Bless Carla’s teacher: when I told her recently that I thought our being gone would be rough, she immediately said that I can email her or call her ANY TIME. When really I meant that things would be rough on Carla, not on me. She knows me to my CORE, apparently.)

What else can I do?

When my mom went to Russia for a week or two when I was… five? ten? she recorded herself reading Nancy Drew books, so I could play them on cassette tapes at bedtime. What a kind and loving thing for her to do! Maybe I need to do something similar?

When I was in California for a writing conference, and the time difference made phone calls difficult, I made little videos for Carla each morning that my mother-in-law could play for her after school. I think Carla liked those, but it seemed like they may also have made her upset and teary at bedtime? But maybe she would have been upset and teary anyway? I don’t know. I am wondering whether my husband and I should try to Facetime her every day, or if it would make her miss us more?

How else can I make Carla more comfortable about our leaving? How else can I make ME more comfortable about our leaving?

And how are we supposed to say goodbye to her, when she then has to go to school while we prance off to the airport? Do we drop her off and say goodbye in her classroom? That seems awful, but also her teachers would be Right There to distract her. Do we say goodbye at home and let my parents drop her off? DO WE CANCEL THE WHOLE TRIP?

Have you and your spouse ever left your child for a longish time? What were some things you did to prepare yourself/your child? Were there any things you wish you had/hadn’t done?

It’s going to be okay, right? RIGHT?

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