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Stops and Starts

I have recently come to the realization that it has been nearly TWO MONTHS since my last blog post.

I didn't mean for it to be that long. I have started at least two blog posts but I had so much to say that they took so long to write that I would do it in parts and then I would just think fuck it and start over with a new one and we are, nearly two months later.

I had to go back and read my last post just to remember what we last talked about.

Counseling is going well for us. All parties agree that Rob and I have no problems communicating with one another. I still struggle with not providing unsolicited advice. Sure, it comes from a place of love, and I definitely wait longer before jumping in, but I also definitely have work to do.

Rob is still struggling a bit with the firmer hand with Duncan. Though we did come up with a great plan with the help of our counselor. She had sort of a breakthrough idea. Instead of framing it as you need to start paying your own way or you will be punished, Rob framed it as this is an exercise to help him build credit and gain independence.

He finally had the talk with Duncan last night and according to Rob it went well. He started with asking Duncan how much he thinks Rob spends on him a month (he was off by a few hundred dollars). They then went over each expense and made a plan for Duncan to take on a new one each month, starting with the least expensive.

I think re-framing this as a positive action (building better credit and gaining independence) rather than a negative action (stop being a freeloader or else) is key. For both of them. I know this isn't easy for Rob but he understands that he hasn't really been helping Duncan by letting it go this long.

And in other news, Duncan has now had a second interview with a prospective employer. Its looking very promising so all good vibes appreciated. Unfortunately it does not pay very well (like there is no way he will be able to meet expenses with the one job) but it is a step in the right direction.

And I think talking about all of this to Andie (our counselor) has helped Rob see that I've been pushing for this from a place of love. Yes, I want to free up some of Rob's income but more importantly I want Duncan to be able to take care of himself.

We are going on vacation next week and Duncan will be staying here to house and pet sit. It's going to be hard on Mister Manfred since he's used to sleeping with us and having us around pretty much 24/7. I know Duncan is kind of coming around on liking Manfred but he can still be a handful...he still requires a bit of supervision.

We finally got the dog door installed...and Manfred is afraid of it. We are working on fixing that but he is super reluctant. It was going pretty well until I let go of the door and it bonked him in the nose. Its hard plastic so it probably did hurt a little.

Manfred is still not 100% accident free in the house. If he can't immediately get outside, he just pees wherever he is. So we still aren't watching movies in the theatre because that is carpeted and I have to be on hyper high alert when he is in there. Hard to relax and watch a movie when the dog is sniffing around possibly looking for a place to pee.

And he doesn't tell us when he needs to go - if he can't get outside, and we aren't paying attention, he just goes. And sometimes he could get outside but its just too far away.

I don't know. Anyone have any tips? Because leaving the windows open during the summer is not the most eco friendly idea.

Also I am tired of all the FUCKING FLIES. And the mosquitos have joined in too. I have so many bites I look like I have Chicken Pox!

So yeah, I'm a little concerned about Duncan dealing with all that. But once we leave, he doesn't really have a choice.

I just hope I don't come home to destroyed furniture or floors.

Vacation time is finally here! I'm still not super psyched about Maine...I know, I'm a spoiled brat...but I am VERY EXCITED to go on vacation again. It's been far too long. And Rob is so excited about it that it is hard for me to not be excited too. He's completely in charge of the itinerary too.

I have made only one request really - I want to go to the Salem Witch Museum. Even though both he and Duncan have said it is really awful and cheesy I still want to see it for myself. I have very low expectations (which Duncan said I should lower even more) but it just feels like something you kind of have to do, right?

Besides, I went to the horrible cheesy pirate museum in Jamaica and now this feels like maybe a thing I can just do. A tour of terrible museums everywhere we go.

And if all else fails, we will still have fun because we are together, right?

I just looked up the weather for next week in Maine and Massachusetts. It's going to be in the 70s all week. The 70s! While I understand that sounds like heaven to a lot of you its a bit chilly for me...I like my summer to be hot.

Because it is summer.

I mean sure, while we are walking around all over Boston or Salem or wherever I'm sure I will be quite grateful the temp is in the 70s but that is not the point right now.

I'm still craving that tropical beach vacation. And I'm trying to figure out a way to make that happen this year. It's challenging since Rob has called dibs on BOTH vacations this year. But I have so many points saved up on my Venture card I'm still hoping I can make something happen, possibly over Labor Day Weekend. Stay tuned for that.

And if all else fails, we still plan to go back to Dominican Republic for Presidents Day Weekend. NEXT year.

Safe to say Germany is off the books again this year. Even if I had the vacation time available I don't know if Germany will be open yet. Maybe 2022 will be the year?

I love that we are fully vaxxed and returning to some semblance of normalcy. It still feels a bit odd to be going places without a mask. But its been great seeing people and hugging people again.

This past weekend my niece Berlin and her girlfriend Sarah came for a visit. Sarah is great - and Manfred LOVES her - and they are really sweet together.

BTW CeCe - I heard you pitched a fit and demanded you get to meet Sarah before me and I would just like to state for the record that was not cool. You got to meet Savreet before I did! You couldn't let me have this one? ;)

We spent a lot of time in the pool this weekend.

Guys. The backyard is looking so nice!

Full disclosure - I'm about to nerd out over my backyard.

This is the before of a previously unused space.

Let me point out all the bad here...the space is overrun with lemon balm which is evidently the only plant that could really grow here. Don't worry - I transplanted a lot of that to pots around the yard. The lamp. Ugh. While functional had definitely seen better days. The raised garden which I had loved last year was literally falling apart. The ground was mostly mud/dry dirt depending on how much rain we got. In the back left corner we have the mystery (probably raspberry) plant. Sadly it did not make the transition.

There's so much space for activities!

So here you see nothing but green artificial turf! the two planters hiding the AC unit have raspberry plants waiting to be planted. (note to self: plant the raspberry plants asap). The lamp post was spray painted but could have used a wipe down before the photo was taken and the light fixture replaced. This is probably my favorite part of the yard now because this space was completely unusable before.

Before and after side by side

Here's the murder tree of death . In this spot we added an outlet, removed the tree which died from the freeze anyway, and just rocked the entire area. This is where we intend to put the grill (coming soon). We have since decided we should have just had pavers put down here... honestly the rock they used is much larger than originally anticipated. It looks nice, but is not easy on the feet. Rob will have that as a small DIY. At least the tree is gone.

Why so many spiky plants in a back yard with a pool?

The firepit area. Where to start? I guess I'll start with the 3 extremely large yuccas taking up a ton of valuable space (thanks again to Randy and Kara for taking them off our hands!). You can see a hint of the larger two in the bottom right corner. Also before Snovid21, Rob had started a little DIY - he was going to level out the space right in front of the firepit and put pavers so when you sit in chairs they didn't immediately sink to the ground. He never got back to finishing that project so we just rolled it into the turf cost. You will also see an abundance of weeds poking through the rocks. I was not happy about this.

And AFTER! Its so much nicer!

So this is a to be continued...although it is already a huge improvement. We made an adjustment prior to work beginning (move turf all the way over to the boulders on the left and then just pave all the rest, no rocks) but that did not get communicated from our sales person to the actual work crew. So they are going to redo this area at no additional cost to the increase in pavers but we had to wait for them to come in. The pavers are here and now we are just waiting on the crew...But it already looks better and there is so much more space!

Another view of the back - notice the light fixture holding up the pool net...

...the light fixture has been replaced to match the other new one and the net permanently moved to the pool equipment area.

And this is what it looks like now. We love it!

The table and chairs will likely be moved over by the firepit once that's all done because it is a bit bigger than we thought (thanks again Davide and Al!). I think once the grill is there, that corner will be too crowded with the table. Also remember the outlet we added? That's partly so we could hang up bistro lights around the yard - it looks so pretty at night! And who remembers my pretty patio that my apartment made me dismantle? I've added those pots to the fence (many of which have transplanted lemon balm in them - like the large pot under the Texas flag).

So that's the backyard makeover so far. We've already hosted 3 Sunday Fundays...when are you coming? PS it is open invitation so don't wait for a personal invite. Every Sunday starting at 2:00. Except this Sunday because we won't be here.

And finally I'd like to talk about a personal project I am working on. It will probably always be a work in progress.

"Treat yourself like someone you love."

I saw that on a billboard recently. I don't think it was selling anything - just a message on an unsold billboard (if it was selling something then oops, guess it wasn't very good at it). At any rate, that message really hit home with me.

I feel pretty good about the person I am. I love my friends and family and I try to treat others the way I want to be treated. I try to be kind, even if I fail at it sometimes. Above all though, I want everyone to know that I love and appreciate and value them and their friendship. I see my friends for the beauty within.

Why don't I see that in me?

I always fixate on my physical flaws. I very much hate the way my body looks now (in addition to the multitude of mosquito bites and puppy scratches/bruises). But also, this body has seen some shit. Covid has not been kind. I was already fairly sedentary to begin with and Covid definitely brought me closer to Wall-E status.

The human, not the robot.

And I know age is a factor as well. My already slow metabolism feels like it has come to a grinding halt.

I know what I need to do. I need to exercise. And I sincerely want's just that I enjoy sleeping in the morning and in the evening I'm just too tired.

But facts is facts. Maybe this is just my body now. I'm trying to be more accepting. I'm honestly trying to stop making fat comments about myself. It isn't easy and I fail most days but I am trying.

And I even bought another bikini! I actually bought two but the second one was too big the first time and the underwire was poking out on the replacement and just didn't fit quite right so I reluctantly returned it last night (it was a retro style with a bright pink top and I loved it). I even wore a bikini for Sunday Funday this past weekend.

Remember last year when I wore one in DR? That was HUGE for me since I think the last time I had worn a bikini was quite possibly on my first honeymoon in 1996.

But I had the added comfort of being around no one I knew except Rob and he still thought I was sexy. I also hadn't added the extra Covid weight. So wearing a bikini in front of everyone this past weekend - especially people much smaller than me - was a really big step for me. I was definitely still self conscious but fake it 'til you make it, right?

Bottom line is, I think we should all treat ourselves like someone we love. Let's just be kinder to ourselves. If I wouldn't let you make snarky comments about your weight, why should I let myself do it?

OK - so that's going to be all for today. I will probably be blowing up the blog next week with daily vacation posts because I do enjoy looking back on those. See you in Maine!

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