The Life and Adventures of Raquel

Sometimes I think  my life would make a good Youtube show. Not a full TV show, or even a Netflix show, with its instantly bingeable seasons. Just some short episodes  like the old radio soap operas, but without the break-ups, and more of a dramedy.

Take last weekend. As part of a one car household, I order a lot of essentials delivered to the house, so that I don’t often have to get the car to go pick one thing, and only have to make grocery store trips once every week or two. Often, I order my thyroid medication shipped to the house.

So, last Friday I take my last thyroid pill in the bottle and check the tracking number. It’s scheduled to be delivered Saturday. This isn’t really optimal, because our mail won’t be delivered until mid-morning, and circadian rhythms interacting with thyroid meds mean that taking the pill the same time of day is a big deal. (Think about that next time you say that daylight savings time isn’t a big deal because you can just go to bed an hour earlier…)

The complication is that I’m out of refills on my thyroid meds, and so even if I tried to put in a new refill to pick up at the store that evening, there’s no way the doctor’s office would respond to the refill request before they closed down for the weekend anyway. (Believe me, I’ve tried before. If you have to send in a refill request on a Friday for an urgent refill you’re in trouble.) Getting my thyroid pill just a few hours late on Saturday is acceptable.

Saturday morning I wake up and check the tracking number. (cue dramatic music) The package was delayed. It reads that my package was in town and then left again, for no discernible reason.  Monday is now the soonest I can get my thyroid medication. (Remember, I still have no refills, and the doctor’s office is now closed for the weekend.)

I muddle through my day, feeling only slightly zombieish, which means my overall health is doing a lot better than a few years ago, when I missed a thyroid pill and felt like death warmed over. I take essential oils. I fix some decaf coffee and add every thyroid boosting substance I  have in the house, starting with coconut oil.

Now, this is where we pick up one of those slow sub-plot threads that’s been building for many episodes. On this Saturday, I walk down to the library, despite feeling slightly zombieish, because I have my first ever inter-library loan waiting for me.

I’ve put books on hold from other libraries in the system many times, but this book came from outside the local system, and required a librarian to fill in a paper card for me instead of me just clicking a button on the website. The rules are unclear to me, and I’m not sure how long they’ll hold an inter-library loan before sending it back, and it doesn’t even show up in my account as a hold when I check the website. I can’t risk it being sent back and having to go through that whole paper system again. (I do occasionally act my generation… “What do you mean I can’t do this on a website? And what is this paper stuff you speak of?”)

At the library, when the clerk hands me the book without a receipt (okay, I guess I do like paper sometimes) OR a comment about when it’s due back (I normally get both when I check out a book), my T3 lacking brain isn’t sure how to handle the situation. I take the book, walk off a few steps and have a sudden fear that I’m not actually supposed to leave yet, and stop and stare at the front of the book as though examining it for information for a good ten seconds before I slowly risk actually walking off with it. No one tries to stop me, so apparently inter-library loans are just weird like that.

As I walk up the driveway holding my not-actually-stolen library book I notice the corner of a package sticking up out of the mailbox by our front door. Huh. That looks a lot like the packaging my thyroid meds get mailed in. I walk up to the mailbox. The return address matches the one on the tracking number and the package definitely feels like it contains my thyroid meds.

The package does, in fact, contain my thyroid meds.

Tracking numbers are often helpful and occasionally the stupidest things ever.

So, it turns out that providentially I didn’t have to go an entire weekend without sufficient supply of vital energy supplying hormones, and that the timing of my first inter-library loan was surprisingly important to my timely discovery of  said hormones being available in my mail box. (Did I mention that tracking numbers are occasionally stupid?) Basically, my life would make a good YouTube show  because God writes better plots than I do.

Plot Twist


Moving Out

Today we move out of our ‘almost first apartment’. For the first six months of our marriage we lived in an apartment across town. In retrospect, we were hardly there long enough for it to count as our first apartment–it was almost more of an extended honeymoon. At the time however, it was very  much our first home.

I was sick with a very bad cough and cold for the first month after moving into our current apartment, and perhaps the fact that this delayed unpacking contributed to it not feeling like home at first. Whatever the reason, I remember running errands near our first apartment a couple of months after moving, and starting to cry because I just wanted to turn down that lane and go to what still felt like home.

Our current apartment had some perks, however, and once we finally settled in, I really loved living next door to where Colton worked. He came home for lunch nearly every day, which was by far my favorite thing about the arrangement. Him walking to work, and me getting access to our one car most of the time wasn’t a bad bonus to the situation either.

After about three years of living here, I started to get very tired of apartment life. The tiny kitchen was frustrating, and I so loved the idea of having a washer and dryer IN MY HOUSE instead of having to carry my laundry down the steps and sidewalk every week, no matter the weather.

The perks I mentioned above broke through my grumpiness though, and I started to appreciate the reasons we chose this apartment in the first place even more.

And now we’re moving.

We found a house with a very decently sized kitchen, and a washer and dryer right in the kitchen (not even basement steps to deal with!), in addition to having a nice deck on the back and a little more space in the living and dining areas for having people over. I’m finally getting to test out my dream of having black kitchen cupboards that are red on the inside (just the inside of the door, but still, red). We’re putting up better quality curtain rods than the cheap, flimsy ones that seemed like such a good idea on a newlywed budget.

And yet…

I cried when I packed our wedding monkeys. I took down most of our wall art several days ago, but I couldn’t bring myself to take down the dragon pictures until today. Most of our first six years of marriage happened here. We went from thrift store furniture (okay, consignment stores) to actually having color schemes for most of our rooms. I ran a food blog and youtube channel from that tiny kitchen for about a year. We had over more people at a time than could reasonably fit in our apartment.

And it’s time to move on.

I suspect that I’m really going to love living in our new house, and that the adjustment will happen quickly. Once I’ve left this apartment for the last time, it only be empty walls, and it won’t be so hard to say goodbye. It’s the in between of being here, but not really here, with everything that made it ours already packed up in boxes that seems hard.

I’m looking forward to unpacking tomorrow.

Best Birthday Freebies in the Peoria, IL area

Before my birthday last week I signed up for a bunch of birthday clubs and such for restaurants in the Peoria area. A lot of the coupons you get with these are BOGO, which is nice if it’s for a place you frequent anyway, but not really worth for places you only go on occasion. I did collect a few nice completely free freebies (most of which I still need to use as my original plans were derailed by have having so much fun shopping with friends that I lost track of time), and I promised a couple different people to post about them here so they’d know which birthday clubs are worth signing up for.

(There are a lot of lists of birthday freebies on the internet, but I got tired of having to wade through a bunch of chains that don’t have locations near me in order to find the pertinent deals, which is why I figured this list would be useful to others in the area.)

Pro tip: you’re going to get a LOT of promotional e-mails if you start signing up for a bunch of clubs like this. Gmail now has a separate tab for promotional e-mails, which helps, but if you’re an obsessive notification checker, or just really like to cut down on e-mail clutter, I highly recommend getting a secondary e-mail address someplace (I use Yahoo) to use when signing up for offers like this. I also use that e-mail address when registering at most store websites, when signing up for freebies, etc.

Baskin Robbins: free 2.5 oz scoop of ice cream OR 3 oz soft serve swirl

Format: printable only

Fine print: free + applicable sales tax

Expires: mine expired 5 days after my birthday

I got my offer over e-mail. I don’t know if the text club offer gives you anything additional or different for your birthday or not.

UPDATE: I have now used the Baskin Robbins free scoop coupon. We presented the coupon after ordering and were informed that the coupon is for a kid’s sized scoop, but he did go ahead and take off the $2.09 value of a kid’s sized scoop, so we got my scoop of ice cream for $0.40. It was still a very pleasant experience and a good deal, but I’d suggest showing the coupon before you order, or specifically ordering a kid’s size scoop to make sure you get your ice cream free.

Caribou Coffee: free medium drink

Format: present Perks card (or account linked phone number)

Expires: valid only on your birthday

I’ve used this one without any problem on previous years, though this year I had a little problem with remembering which phone number was linked to the account, so I was sadly not able to use my free drink reward.

Culver’s: Free one scoop sundae

Format: printable only

Fine print says: Sundae includes two toppings, Additional charges may apply for nuts.

Expires: two weeks from when they send your coupon (they sent mine on the day of my birthday)

I joined the e-club so I got my offer over e-mail. I don’t know if the text club offer gives you anything additional or different for your birthday or not. I haven’t used this coupon yet, but I’ll try to come back and update the post if and when I do, and tell you if there were any additional restrictions or hassle with using my coupon.

Denny’s (click join now in the Rewards box): Free Grand Slam breakfast (the picture shows two eggs, two small sausage links, two strips of bacon and two pancakes)

Format: printable only

Fine Print says: Present ID upon ordering to redeem coupon.

Expires: Valid ONLY on your birthday

FYI, there are no Peoria locations for Denny’s, so you have to go to East Peoria to use this one. I haven’t used this coupon yet, but I’ll try to come back and update the post if and when I do, and tell you if there were any additional restrictions or hassle with using my coupon.

IHOP: Free order of Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity pancakes OR of World Famous Pancakes (second option listed in fine print)

Format: printable only

Fine print says: Valid ID required to redeem. Dine-in only. Limit one coupon per table.

Expires: two weeks from when they send your coupon (they sent mine the day before my birthday)

I was a little disappointed to see they have a limit of one coupon per table, because we also got a coupon for free pancakes for signing up for the e-mail list, and I was hoping we could use both in the same visit. Though, realistically, my husband I would probably both be fine doing a light Saturday breakfast of splitting the order of pancakes and just do lunch a little earlier… I’ll try to come back and update the post if and when I do use this coupon, and tell you if there were any additional restrictions or hassle with using my coupon.

Logan’s Roadhouse: Free Dessert OR Appetizer

Format: printable (not sure if you could show the coupon on a smart device or not)

Fine print says: Good on any menu item $7.99 or under OR one full size dessert. Not valid on alcoholic beverages.

Expires: thirty days from when they send your coupon (they sent mine one week before my birthday)

I haven’t used this coupon yet, but I’ll try to come back and update the post if and when I do, and tell you if there were any additional restrictions or hassle with using my coupon.

Panera BreadFree pastry

Format: present Rewards card (or account number)

Fine print:Cannot be redeemed for bulk pastries, souffles or bagels.

Expires: mine expires nearly three months after my birthday

I haven’t used this coupon yet, but I’ll try to come back and update the post if and when I do, and tell you if there were any additional restrictions or hassle with using my coupon.

Red Robin: Free Burger

I didn’t complete my sign up (which requires getting a call or text with a verification code) in time to get this coupon so I don’t have any details on it. Do note that there are no Red Robin locations in Peoria, so you have to go to East Peoria for this one.

Ruby Tuesday’sFree Burger

Format: printable, or show code on smart device

Fine print says: Recieve a free burger (up to $9). Not valid on limited time offers or daily specials.

Expires: mine was valid from the day before my birthday until two weeks later

FYI, there are no Peoria locations for Ruby Tuesday’s, so you’ll have to go to Morton to use this one. I haven’t used this coupon yet, but I’ll try to come back and update the post if and when I do, and tell you if there were any additional restrictions or hassle with using my coupon.

In case you’re interested, here are additional birthday clubs in the area that give you a discount (usually something free with purchase):

Applebee’s: BOGO entree

Auntie Anne’s: BOGO pretzel product (Auntie Anne’s also has a perks app which offers a free birthday pretzel. I don’t know if that’s also a BOGO offer or not.)

Dairy Queen: BOGO medium blizzard

Einstein Bros Bagels: free breakfast sandwich with drink purchase (We used this coupon because Einstein Bros is a favorite breakfast spot for us anyway. On the same visit we also used the free bagel and schmear (with other purchase) coupon we got for signing up for the e-mail club, and between the two coupons we ended up paying about $12 for two breakfast sandwiches, a latte and a bagel with schmear. No hassle whatsoever about using the coupons, and they didn’t even make me show my ID to prove my recent birthday, though the fine print said they would.)

Famous Daves: Buy one entree get one 1/2 off

Flat Top Grill: Free ‘birthday bowl’ with purchase of equal or greater value

Hometown Buffet: BOGO dinner buffet

Longhorn Steakhouse: free dessert with purchase of entree

Red Lobster: $5 off purchase of two dinner entrees

Sonic: Free medium tater tots with purchase (I also got a coupon with the option of free creamslushie or tater tots, but I think that one was for the anniversary of my signing up for their e-mails. It’s a little confusing though, because both used the word ‘birthday’ in the coupon.)

Here are a couple more non restaurant coupons and freebies that seemed worth mentioning:

Driscoll’s Berries: .50 coupon off your next purchase of Driscoll’s Berries. I’m a fan of coupons on fruit, but this would would be more awesome if my birthday happened while berries were in season…

Famous Footwear: $5 off $5 or more shoe purchase coupon (Officially only ‘Gold’ members get a birthday offer, but I haven’t spent enough there to possibly be a Gold member, and they still sent me this coupon. It’s not valid on accessories, slippers or a few select shoe brands. Oh, and limit 21 pairs of shoes, in case that was going to be a concern with a $5 coupon…)

Redbox: free movie rental (near your birthday they’ll email you a code that’s valid for two weeks)

I’d love it if you would comment below and let me know of any good birthday freebies in the Peoria, IL area, or of any experience you’ve had redeeming the above birthday coupons (restrictions, etc). I’d especially like to hear of any local restaurants or coffee shops that have some kind of birthday reward, because I’d often rather get a small discount at a favorite local place than drive out of my way for a minor freebie at a chain restaurant I never ordinarily go to.

Daily Thanks #21: Chiropractic Adjustments

Another perk of my husband’s job is that twice a week they have a chiropractor come in and do adjustments on the staff and any immediate family members of the staff who come in. Some weeks I start to take this for granted, but on the weeks I miss the scheduled time, I *really* start to appreciate my normal easy access to chiropractic adjustments.

And not only does it make the rest of my week go more smoothly, but it’s often a fun social event where I happen to meet up with other staff member families that I normally wouldn’t get to see during the week or at all.

I’m very thankful for this particular job perk!

Daily Thanks #10: Communion

At one point in my life my favorite part of the liturgy on Sunday was the forgiveness of sin. The confession of sin resonated a lot, but that was what made the forgiveness of sin so mindblowingly amazing. The confession part was still true, but it was okay now, because God said so.

Somewhere along the line my favorite part of the service changed to communion. For just a few moments out of this world we think of as real life, I’m aware of being someplace where everything really is okay, and always will be. Somehow those few moments make it a little more okay when I come back to a world that’s broken and not always okay the rest of the time.

Daily Thanks #4: Stories

I like a good romance. Let’s face it, I even like a dumb cheesy romance. As long as the guy gets the girl I don’t care if they’re epic heroes or cartoon umbrellas, I’m sold. (Seriously, I shed tears over the cartoon umbrella romance. It’s a little embarrassing.)

I like buddy stories, where a couple of guys survive an impossible number of explosions together while killing a ridiculous number of bad guys, and I like stories with so many twists and turns that I can’t figure out where the story will end up.

I like historical stories, futuristic stories, post apocalyptic stories and time travel stories. Alternate dimensions can be fun too.

For the first few months of marriage I couldn’t really get into any fiction. Living my own personal fairy tale somehow overrode any other stories for a while. But stories are so built into me that it didn’t take so very long before I decided that even fairy tales endings are better with extra stories piled into them. 🙂

Today I’m thankful for the stories that make life seem simpler, the ones that leave me chewing on questions, the ones that look at the world sideways and give me a glimpse of what might be, the ones with brave heroes and epic battles, the ones with tiny victories  and (I guess) even the dumb ones that make me cry.