Monthly Archives: April 2012

My Bipolar Vacuum

Last year, before the dreaded Budge slithered out from under its rock and took over our lives, we bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner on sale at  We bought a refurbished one and I’m always a little leery about buying used equipment, but we decided it was such a good deal, we could live with it.

The first time I fired it up I was amazed and dismayed within a span of 10 minutes.  I started in the bedroom and managed to suck up my phone charger within 30 seconds of starting it.  Wow, I wasn’t even that close, but it wrapped itself around the vacuum before it registered in my brain that I should probably turn it off.

I was amazed!  No crumb or fallen gray hair had a chance in the homestead now.  I thought the floors would be clean enough to eat off of.  I won’t, but it would be nice if I could.  I went around to the other side of the bed and sucked up a sock I had thrown on the floor (don’t you wish you lived with a slob like me?).  Wow!  This thing was powerful!

When I made it to the dining room (okay, we live in an apartment, more of a dining niche) I noticed a bright red string on the ground and ran over it.  It was still there when I pulled the Dyson back.  What the…?!?  Let me try that again.  Still there!  For the life of me, I couldn’t get the Dyson to vacuum up that little red string, and I tried for about 30 seconds.

I turned it off and picked up the string, tossing it in the trash.  No, it wasn’t glued down to the carpet.  I turned the vacuum back on and stuck my fingers near the hole to check out the sucking power of the Dyson.  I can honestly say: DON’T EVER DO THAT!  I can’t remember how many layers of dermis we have, but I’m pretty sure I lost 3 or 4.  Just one more thing I can put on my “The top 100 stupid things I have done in my life” list, my ever evolving originally titled “Top Ten List”.

So, I went to the trash, pulled the red string out, and threw it back on the floor.  Did the Dyson finally pick it up?  Not at all.  I’m just glad my Mom wasn’t in the room because I said a bunch of things that were neither intelligent nor nice.  Seriously.  How could my Dyson pick up my thick jogging sock and not a little piece of string?  Was I the only person who owned a bipolar vacuum?

I’m beginning to think this Dyson wasn’t actually refurbished at all.  Someone probably bought it, couldn’t handle the bipolar aspects of it and sent it back.  The techs, I’m sure, tried to figure out what was wrong, couldn’t and resold it to some poor soul who doesn’t know any better.  That would be me.

But I’m not just any person.  I don’t give up that easily.  My head isn’t this big because I have an abnormally large brain; my skull is just incredibly thick.  I won’t back down from a challenge thrown down by an inanimate object.  I’m here to tell you: it won’t get the better of me.  I refuse to be told to hit the showers by yet another “thing”.  (Curse you, Budge!)

So I will spend my vacuuming time trying to figure out the nuances of my relatively new Dyson.  I’ll use it, play with it, and curse at it until we come to an understanding: If my Dyson could find it in its motor to work properly for me, I could find it in my heart to not destroy it with my hammer.  Unless you are in the market for a Dyson, and then, boy!, do I have a deal for you!

Budget Update: Speaking of the cursed Budge, Janet and I have completed three full months on our budget and we (barely) came under Budge only once, the shortest month of the year: February.  January can be blamed on the Prius and travel.  February we actually did a pretty good job of controlling our spending.  March was a totally different story.

We were out of control in March, going 25% over our budget.  It’s hard to determine what went wrong; besides the fact we spent money like crazy.  We weren’t over in just one or two categories; we were over in every category with a variable.  March just seems like such a long month.

April looks pretty good so far.  I would like to say it’s because we have more control, but I’m thinking it’s really because we aren’t buying anything since we’re moving at the end of April and we don’t want to carry anything else.  We have a lot of stuff.  It’s still early, we could veer off into the spending abyss, but I have high hopes we’ll come under budget.

I’ll be spending May with Janet in California, so it will be interesting to see how often we yell, “Curse you, Budge!”  I honestly don’t think we’ll be close to Budge.  I think we’ll either be way under or way over.  Travel expenses could be a killer for us but I’ll let you know how it ends.

Book Update: We just got the preliminary work back from the graphic designer on the first book and we love it!  It’s perfect for the vision we had for the cover.  I don’t know what we would do without…we’ll call her “Devan”.  Just another month and I think JJ Wallingford will be a (self-) published author!


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Challenge 2.0 Winner

Six (long) weeks ago Janet, “Karen”, several other poor souls, and I started the second round of our 2012 challenges.  Janet chose grains, cardio, strength training, and food journaling.  I chose fruits/veggies, steps, strength training, and grains.  I think everyone agreed taking two weeks off before the third round was a great idea; I think a couple of us almost perished from the grain challenge.

I think the hardest one for Janet was the five servings a day of whole grains, especially when she realized that one serving equaled 16 grams of whole grains.  Yes, you did the math correctly, that’s 80 grams per day.  The hardest part was eating whole grains when she was at work in California.  Not many restaurants stock up on whole grain items. 

I don’t think Janet could have done it without Subway.  She would order her usual ham and turkey on 9 grain bread, have it loaded up with fruits and veggies, and order a side of Sun Chips; lots of whole grains in that meal.  Cereal was also a big helper; Frosted Mini Wheats have 46 grams per 21 biscuits.  That’s almost three servings!

I have to say, I found the grains easy.  I just ate cereal and Dave’s Killer Bread and I was good to go.  I’m still having issues with the fruits and veggies.  Those are still hard for me.  I did discover how good asparagus was sautéed with garlic in olive oil.  Yum!  Asparagus is now one of my favorite veggies.

Janet and I battled, while supporting each other, the whole 6 weeks and neither of us missed a day.  Can you believe that?  Janet can do it easily, but I actually made it 6 weeks without wimping out.  I was sick a little bit during week 2 or 3, but managed to slowly walk my way to 11k steps every day.  I’m glad it wasn’t week 6.  13k is an awful lot of steps when you are sick…or healthy for that matter.

So, I can honestly say I (co-)won Challenge 2.0 for 2012.  Even though a lot of the time the challenges drove me crazy, I must admit I can’t wait for the next round.  The challenges…well, challenged me to eat better, move better, and think about what I was doing on a daily basis.

I’ve lost 12 pounds since I first started “Karen’s” challenges and I feel and look a lot better.  I’ve been paying attention to my vitamin/mineral intake and that has helped with my energy level.  It’s amazing the difference losing only 12 pounds made to my health, but I’m glad I lost them rather than gaining 12 more.  I would’ve had to have traded in my jeans for a muumuu. 

Sunday April 8 was the last day of the challenge and the following day I had 4k steps and ate squishy white bread and poptarts.  When “Kreig”, who’s an amazing personal trainer, sent me my daily workout reminder, I conveniently forgot to reply.  I didn’t move much on Monday.  It was heavenly!  Apparently, I only do what’s good for my body if people are watching me and paying attention.  Good thing I have Janet on the weekends.

Book update:  MaryEd sent the manuscript back and said as far as she was concerned it was done.  I don’t know what to say; I’m nervous, excited, scared, and exhilarated just at the thought of putting my name on a book.  JJ Wallingford’s first book.  How does that sound?  Sounds good to me.

Now keep in mind we did pay MaryEd for her work, but she really liked it and thought it would make a great first book.  I hope she’s right.  I like it but I’m horrifically biased and I know it.  I had planned on getting it out the 28th of April, and I just might make it.  I know it will be out within the month.  Oh, here come the butterflies in my stomach again!


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Where Does The Time Go?

I can’t believe its April.  I’m not sure where the time goes.  I had a job in Texas I did not like and that slowed time down a bit.  Now I don’t have that restriction, so time is just flying by.  April is our last month in Vancouver.  I’ll spend May with Janet in California and then all three of us will spend the summer in Central Oregon.  Time will really fly by then.

I envision a summer full of kayaking, swimming, tennis, hiking, and flying kites. I’ll probably end up buying a nice hammock and sleeping most of the summer, but I like to dream big.  Preferably from a hammock.  I have to run our daughter, Jessie, around just to wear her out or else she will be bored silly all summer.  So, I’ll at least drag her out to one of the lakes or rivers and throw her in.  She loves that.

The last couple of days, I was in Walla Walla Washington.  Why might you ask?  Why not?  A friend of Janet’s, we’ll call her Micki, is a TV producer who was going to Walla Walla to shoot some footage.  Micki and Janet were on the phone yacking away when Micki casually told Janet, “Why don’t you ask Jenn if she wants to go to Walla Walla with me?

I’m thinking the idea just popped into Micki’s head and she verbalized it but wasn’t expecting me to say yes.  Of course I said yes!  Who wouldn’t say yes to a driving trip through the gorge to see Walla Walla Washington?  That sure is fun to say.  I must admit, I had a great time.

Micki and Janet have been friends for a long time…way before the Jenn era.   I’d met Micki a few times but couldn’t really say I knew her very well.  I figured an eight-hour round trip drive, with Micki trapped in the car, was the perfect way to get to know her better.  Plus, there’s Walla Walla!

Micki’s job is to get people to open up about their lives and feel comfortable doing it.  She had me talking about things I didn’t even know about myself.  Damn, she’s good at her job.  We talked the whole way through the gorge about life’s challenges and joys, about animals and friends, and about how we feel about different things.  We talked about Janet a lot too (tee-hee).

Downtown Walla Walla is pretty cute with shops, restaurants and numerous wine tasting rooms.  If you are partial to wine, I suggest you head on over to Walla Walla and have at it.  There are so many wineries around that the local bookstore has a coffee table book about various dogs living at the numerous wineries.  Our hotel had it on their coffee table.

Micki and I had dinner, Monday night, at a restaurant called Olives that was pretty good and I had pizza for lunch the next day at a pizzeria called Sweet Basil Pizzeria which was dee-licious.  It helped they had a big screen TV showing the NY Mets and NY Yankees pre-season game.  And the Mets were up 5-1.  I had to leave when those Damn Yankees tied the game.

I was sad when our trip ended.  It was a nice excursion that pulled me out of my ordinary life and plopped me down in Walla Walla Washington.  I was sad it had to end because Micki travels a lot and we don’t get to see my new friend very much.  I hope we can see her soon, but I’m afraid we’ll be gone before it happens.  Where does the time go?


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