Lessons Learned from Buying a Used Elliptical

We’ve all done stupid things. Buying a used elliptical sounded so smart at the time. I was saving money, ensuring my wintertime happiness, and also giving my kiddos another outlet to burn off extra energy. Then reality bit me in the butt.

Let’s back up a minute. Last week I talked about the importance of taking walks to help clear my head and deal with anxiety. While walking is indeed the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to do this, the winter months are coming and the idea of walking outside during a blizzard or dreary freezing wind is not appealing in the least.

So, I had a brilliant idea – find a cheap elliptical that I could use on days when the weather is nasty and get in my exercise that way. As an added bonus, I could totally watch Netflix while working out – win.

Bad elliptical, go sit in time out and think about what you did. If you’re lucky, you won’t be a coat rack in the future.

For those of you who are experienced fitness machine users, yeah, feel free to laugh at me from this point forward. So many mistakes…

I found what looked like a great deal on a solid looking elliptical – $30 dollars and everything worked fine. We took it home at set it in the center of our family room to let the kiddos goof off on it. If anything was going to break, I’d rather it happen sooner than later and kids make excellent testing subjects. They hung on it, tried it two at a time, adjusted the built in fan, and made sure the heart rate monitor was accurate.

Even better, they didn’t break it.

What they did reveal is that it was a bit squeaky and thumpy. My goal, remember, was to be able to use it while watching TV. Being the uber-handy person I am, I decided it would be a great idea to lube the thing up and get rid of the excess noise. I looked up a Youtube tutorial, hubby bought some plastic-safe grease, and we went to town.

I’m one of those people who love taking things apart and putting them back together. It is very gratifying to fix stuff so it works better. Even better, hubby feels the same way. Usually. We lubed literally every joint and friction point just to be sure this new addition to our family could be as good as it be. If we’re going to do it, might as well do it as good as we can.

And it worked and ran as smooth as butter. For 30 glorious seconds.

Funny thing about moving parts, some don’t like to be slippery. In our haste to finish the job, we used a spray lubricant to reach a few places not thinking much about the drips. Those drips made their way under the tensioning belt and made the whole thing slip off.

Using and elliptical without a tensioning belt is WAY more exciting that I’m up for. There’s no friction at all and if you work hard enough you can cut a portal into another dimension. I think one of my kids summoned a minor demon as they cranked their way to infinity – and beyond! His name is Floyd and he now lives under my 7-year-old’s bed.

Did I mention that not only was this elliptical a great deal, but it is quite possibly the cheapest home elliptical known to man? We stripped screws, snapped plastic bits, and (possibly) swore more times than normally allowed in a home with younger kids. To fix the tensioning belt, we took that whole thing back apart and degreased all those essential frictiony bits to the best of our ability.

And put it all back together again…

And enjoyed another 30 glorious seconds of smooth silent operation…

Before the #(@&)#ing belt slipped off again.

Guess who gets to learn the finer points of how to properly retension an elliptical belt this weekend?

This gal, right here.

Yay.

The moral of this story is to research before you buy, don’t be too cheap, and for heaven’s sake, be careful where you spray lube!

Arrrg, Matey! When in doubt, use the white stuff. Smells like an old amusement park.

The real life lesson is never give up. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Stuff takes longer than expected. A great deal turns out not so great. Getting mad doesn’t fix anything. Whatever you do, keep trying. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Does anyone want to adopt Floyd? He keeps the youngest up at night with his cute demon snores.


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5 Favorite Mother’s Day Memes

In honor of Mother’s Day (and because it’s easy and my kids are still off track on the year-round schedule) here are a collection of humorous and amusing Mother’s Day memes.

Enjoy!

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o-FUNNIEST-SOMEECARDS-570

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MEME-MD-5g3w4uxv9

Have a favorite? Share in the comments below!

Want to brighten a Mom’s day? Send this their way!

Good Morning Oatmeal

Most mornings for normal people consist of a few basic elements.  The alarm goes off and there is that moment of decision whether to get up or sleep a few more minutes. There is some sort of dressing and breakfast routine.  Depending on preference, the morning may take place in a few hectic minutes or may take a few leisurely hours.  I’m all for the leisurely mornings, anyone know how I can get one?

This morning at precisely 6am I was woken by a cannister of oatmeal.

It wasn’t the oatmeal’s fault either.  It had been removed from the kitchen by my two year old who decided it was time for breakfast.  This kid must have been a ninja in a past life. He managed to escape his room, descend the stairs, loot the kitchen, and appear at my bedside, all without arousing the suspicion of either sleeping parent’s well tuned ears.

Being silently presented with oatmeal is a far better way of waking up than finding someone standing at my bedside staring at me as it’s far less likely to cause a heart attack. I’ve had plenty of the latter at all times of the night.  Apparently when my son sleep walks I’m the first person he visits, which is as freaky as it is flattering.

I did end up making him oatmeal, it’s healthy and easy and thankfully cheap. I’m told Anne Hathaway used it to help her lose weight to achieve that starved look in Les Miserables.

He didn’t end up eating it.  While trying to scoot in his stool at the counter he ended up falling off and scaring himself. We cuddled with his sippy of milk instead.  The days are numbered where he is small enough and will still let me scoop him into my arms and just hold him. I will take all that I can get until then.

Even if it means being woken up by a cannister of oatmeal.

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He likes it dry if you let him!

 

 

The Untold Perils of Driving with Children

The other day we were out doing errands and heading to IFA, one of my kids favorite stores. They love looking at the baby chicks, duckies, and rabbits and all the different hutches and chicken coops. I like it be cause they have great prices on lawn fertilizer and stuff that you can’t get anywhere else. Props for being awesome parents and getting stuff checked off the to do list at the same time, right?

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Squee!

Well, almost.  Two minutes into the drive Baby D starts screaming.  We passed a McDonalds and he wants to go play.  It doesn’t matter that we just ate lunch, he stretches his pudgy fingers toward the window and throws himself against the five point harness and screams, “‘Donoulds! Donoulds!” as loud as he can.  This continues until the golden arches are well out of sight. I’m pretty sure there isn’t another on the way there and I make a mental note not to come back the same way to avoid another bout of screams.

The older two no longer scream for McDonalds, thankfully.  Their protests come in the form of whining, manipulating, and flat out being obnoxious – usually because they are getting on each others nerves for offences such as breathing and existing, or their batteries on their devices have died. When I saw the rides and balloons of the county fair ahead in the distance I knew I was in for it.  No amount of cute chicks or duckies would beat anything they would see as we passed.

Had I the presence of mind to trick them into looking the other way I would have. “Hey kids, I think I see a giant creeper climbing over the mountain out this window!” It sounds lame, and it works and I couldn’t get the words out in time.  Dang it.

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The excited shrieks filled the backseat as we all watched the ferris wheel make is rounds next to the road.   The whole fairground is filled with rides and stands selling funnel cake and hot dogs.  And we say no.  We aren’t going.

Worst parents ever.

As predicted, the car erupts into screaming and wailing. It’s not that we don’t want to go, if the prices for the rides were reasonable and there wasn’t much of a wait to get on then we might find a way to go for an hour or two, but they aren’t.  When each ride is anywhere from one to three dollars to ride and a parent has to come along and you have several kids, one of which is too little to ride, and it takes anywhere from thirty minutes to well over an hour to wait in line for each one, and waiting in line is one of those things that your kids can’t handle for any amount of time – just thinking about it makes me break out in an anxious sweat.

One day we will go, when everyone is old enough to handle standing in lines and understand that waiting isn’t mom and dad’s way of inflicting torture.  Until then, we endure the bouts of anger and – heaven forbid – the whining, and simply drive on.

 

Potential, Check.

Yesterday, my family had a discussion about potential.  Strike that, yesterday I attempted to teach my kids about potential. Instead, I learned a lesson that I won’t soon forget. Never underestimate kids, they see things in different and unexpected ways.  They have the unique perspective of innocence and open-mindedness that an adult can’t match.

This isn’t saying that everything that flows from their mouths in that constant river of sound consists of rubies and emeralds.  It’s more like panning for gold.  Most of the dirt and sand is just dirt and sand, but every once in a while there will be a nugget of truth and enlightenment.

You see, I’ve created a new responsibility chart that will hopefully help my little ones take a more active role in caring for themselves and their surroundings.  There is a lot of work to do in this house and although I can do all of it, I don’t see why I shouldn’t share the load. They need to learn about the importance of work and the joy of having helped.   I also reason that if they help more with the clean up they will possibly think before leaving little messes everywhere.

IMG_2382I introduced the chart by talking about the word potential and asking if they knew what it meant. My eight year old son replied with the definition for potential energy (he’s the family physicist) and talked about how things at the tops of hills and those with more mass had greater potential or they could do more.

I asked him if he knew what it meant for a person to have potential and it confused him. Why would we be rolling people down hills?  He imagined that larger people would have greater potential energy than smaller ones.  By this reasoning Grandpa has more potential than anyone in the family.

My daughter added that Jesus has more potential than anyone, even Grandpa.  I’m still not sure how to reply to that one.  Yes, He has done great things and will continue to do great things and for that he has extraordinary potential. I admire her for thinking of it. Now I’m hoping she didn’t think of Him because we were talking about things being higher having greater potential than things that were lower. He is in heaven, that would be considered really high up.

I did my best to teach them about how when people have potential they have within them the ability to do great things.  By being better helpers and being more responsible with their time it would increase their potential and help them be even more awesome kids than they already are. While they aren’t thrilled about having daily chores, they aren’t putting up as big of a fight as they could have either.

As for you dear reader – remember that you too have great potential, especially if you are higher up, like at the top of a flight of stairs.  Oh, and you have it in you to do great things as well!

 

Everything is Awesome

We all love Mondays, right? No? Why are you all looking at me that way? Put down the pitchforks and hear me out.  

For most, Monday mean a return to the drudgery of work and school and the unending cycle of stuff that must be done.  It symbolizes the end of the weekend, a time we have psychologically set aside to recharge our batteries. It means schedules, to-do lists, and responsibility.  

When forced to look at it that way, I want to go back to bed. 

Then I remember, I’m a mom AND a writer, two occupations that don’t get weekends or holidays off.  Monday isn’t a return to anything because I haven’t left anything.  The only change is that hubby dearest must go back to work and the kids have to go to school. The process of getting everyone up and fed and dressed is more urgent on Monday morning but it also means that when I finish I have fewer people here to mother when I finish.

For that reason I kinda like Mondays.  

For me Mondays are a fresh start to a new week where I can, at least in the first few hours, pretend that I am a responsible go-getter and feel like I’m on top of what needs to be done.  It’s a brand new start to a brand new week where goals can still be reached and dreams are still possible.  I get more done on Monday than on any other day of the week.

Today I feel like I can conquer my to-do list.  I’ve already done the initial getting to school scramble, and even with a 15 minute “Ooops, it was Daylight Savings wasn’t it?” moment of panic delay – one child is already out the door, dressed and fed. So far, so good.  Now for the rest of the day!

For a happy dose of good attitude, here’s a feel good song to get your Monday back on track.

Everything really is Awesome!

 

 

Wuthering Heights – the Board Book

Happy Presidents’ Day everyone!  If you are state side I’m hoping you are all enjoying the holiday, if not I hope you having a marvelous day anyway.

I visited my local library the other day and saw something that made my jaw drop, a board book of Wuthering Heights.  Generally, I consider the sole purpose of a board book is to give teething infants something new and colorful to chew on, not to introduce classic literature; so when I saw this I had to laugh.

photo (5)Had I seen it a few months ago I still would have found it amusing, but as I am currently reading the original unabridged edition for the first time, it’s hilarious.  First of all, babies aren’t going to care about the complex (and utterly dysfunctional) nature of the relationship between the rogue Heathcliff and the barely civil Catherine.  Secondly, I’m not sure how much I care either.  It’s the attempt that’s funny.

Turns out they didn’t even bother.  The book is a study on the different weather conditions found out on the moors, randomly using Bronte’s prose to emphasize conditions such as sunny, cloudy, and windy.

For all it’s worth I’d get it just because it makes me smile.

 

 

Funny Sign – Watch Out!

Look closely at this sign, see if you notice anything strange or out of the ordinary.
IMG_1629There, you see it? Yes, that’s a T-rex on the sign, which is apparently yet another traffic hazard here in the Western US along with traffic cones and rattlesnakes.  I have yet to spot one in my travels, I hear they are shy, and tend to only come out to feed. Some say they are more afraid of us than we are of them, although with the size difference it’s hard to say. I’d personally avoid them, too many teeth and man eating tendencies for me.

I found this sign outside of the new Natural History Museum of Utah, nestled up in the foothills of the Wasatch range of the Rocky Mountains.  The museum is located right next to the Bonneville Shoreline trail, which contrary to its name doesn’t actually run along a body of water, but refers to the ancient and long gone Lake Bonneville which used to cover a good part of the state of Utah.  Instead, the trail offers terrific views of the valley floor and is a favorite among trail walkers and bikers alike.

The museum itself is a must see with huge dynamic exhibits that cover the full spectrum of life on earth from the dinosaurs all the way up to modern biology.  My kids love the hands on exhibits and the onsite paleontology lab where they can watch real scientists work on real dinosaur bones.  I love the ease and accessibility of the different exhibits and how they flow from one to the next, bringing the visitor from the darkest recesses of prehistory all the way to the present day.  That, and the dinosaur exhibit is pretty awesome.

If you plan on coming, prepare to spend several hours – there’s plenty to see and do for everyone.  Just watch out for those pesky T- Rexes, they tend to take a bite out of your day!

An Exercise in Video Game Patience

As with most my generation, I grew up with gaming systems.  They came into maturity around the same time I did.  Growing up, my brother and I would spend countless hours trying to work through different levels of various games.  Even in college I had one semester where I spent more time playing Chrono Cross than on my school work. Sometimes my hubby and I will play video games together to unwind.

With that in mind it’s no surprise that my kids have loved video games from an early age.  I think it’s great, in moderation of course.  They get to do something they love, I get to work on my projects undisturbed.

LegoIndyThere’s only one downside – when older brother isn’t around to help figure out things that duty falls on me. My darling daughter loves Lego Harry Potter and Lego Indiana Jones.  In these games a series of puzzles need to be solved in a 3D environment to move to the next stage. Sometimes the puzzles are tricky, sometimes moving around the board is hard. Watching the process is enough to make any adult scream, “Give me the remote!”

When she gets stuck she wants me to tell her what to do, which is fine when I know what to do.  Most of the time I don’t.  I try to give her some directions but it always ends up sounding like this: “Go that way. . . No – the other way. . . No, where you were before, by that shiny thingy.  Now, be the bazooka guy and shoot it . . . The shiny thing, yea, shoot that.  . . . Ok, now pull the lever. . . That lever. . . The only lever on the screen. . .  Now you’re headed the wrong way, you have to go through the door. . . That door . . The red door in the middle of the screen, see it? . . . Ok, want me to get you through to the next level yet? . . . Please?”

Kids think different things are funny as well.  I watched my daughter throw her character off a cliff over and over all the while laughing and rolling on the floor at the goofy scream he made.  Each time the little Lego man dies he looses some of the coins he’s collected.   When you collect enough coins you earn a badge for that level, get enough badges and you unlock all sorts of goodies.  I have to bite my tongue to keep from stopping her from wrecking her chances of earning that badge. She doesn’t care; but after a lifetime of trying to avoid killing my little video people, I sure do.

Then, there’s the racing games.  I’ll admit, I’m pretty proud of my little speed demons, they are getting to the point where they can maneuver their cars better than I can.  In these games there is a clear winner and loser, and my kids hate to lose. When they get too frustrated they ask me to help them win.  I don’t mind, I like playing.  However, I’m no miracle worker.  I can’t pull out a win when there is only half of the last lap left and all the other video people have crossed the finish line. It’s impossible even for the Game Master. Losing their game makes me the bad guy, and I hate being the bad guy.

In the end, I love that my kids love video gaming as much as I did growing up. I hope they’re memories are as good as mine and when they have kids of their own they can enjoy gaming together as well.