So, over the last few months, I’ve had a lot of people looking inside my ears. It’s not a particularly unpleasant procedure – for doctor or patient – and I didn’t really pay these exams much regard until my family doctor took a look and proclaimed – with shocking enthusiasm – You have the nicest ear canals I’ve seen…in years!
She took a step back, otoscope light still shining, to look me in the eye. Really! she continued, before taking another look to confirm her initial assessment. You have perfect ear drums, and those canals are beau-ti-ful.
Friends, it’s a bit shameful how happy this compliment made me. I mean, it’s not like I’ve done anything to deserve such excellent ear canals.
Or have I…?
Later, perhaps still dazzled by the magnificence of my ear drums/canals, she said: I bet you don’t use Q-tips, either. I smugly confirmed she was correct, quoting the old advice of Nothing bigger than your elbow. By now I was so proud of her approval, I practically levitated out of her office.
Last year I wrote about compliments and the disproportionate morale boost provided by a well-timed compliment. What I didn’t factor in is the fact the range of compliments can be extremely broad – apparently, even extending to inner-ear anatomy.
Your turn. What is the strangest (yet unmistakably positive) compliment you’ve ever received? Do you use Q-tips?
Where is January going? Overall, I feel like we’ve had a fantastic start to the new year. One of my favourite features of the One Line A Day journal? It gives me a snapshot view into what was happening exactly one year previous.
And this time last year was…really, really hard. We had entered another lockdown, the kids were in the middle of a 4-week hiatus from in-person schooling, and my physical and mental health was spiraling. It’s not like life is perfect in 2023, but every day when I read those diary entries from January 2022, I’m so happy last year’s tough days are in the rearview mirror.
Earlier in the week I had an OB-GYN appointment. It was on January 9th, to be specific, and I had to laugh when I looked at my One Line A Day entry from January 9th, 2022 which read: Decided to tell Dr. X I want to go ahead with a hysterectomy. It’s time.
Long story short? I’m not going to have a hysterectomy. I’m opting for an endometrial ablation and it’s scheduled for next month. It really is a long story (2+ decades in the making), but because of issues relating to scar tissue from my C-sections, any intervention is significantly more complicated. Since my regular OB-GYN is out on maternity leave (but I was triaged to see a replacement while she’s out), this latest doctor marks my fourth OB-GYN in the last decade. Each one seems to approach my case differently, with unique perspectives on weighing the risks and benefits of various procedures.
When I left my appointment on Tuesday, I felt absolutely exhausted. I had gone in with my eyes set on a hysterectomy and didn’t anticipate circling back around to considering any other option. But deep down I was really (really!) dreading it. Not the surgery and recovery, but the potential for long-term health issues related to the procedure.
This week I spent a lot of time on the phone with doctors, friends, and family members (including one person who had both an ablation and a hysterectomy). Someone mentioned needing to go with my gut feeling at this point – I have spent dozens of hours discussing this topic with medical professionals and I’m burned out from it all – and my gut was telling me to start with an ablation. I finalized my decision and have a date on the calendar which feels really, really good.
little moments this week
Last Friday we woke up to a world of ice. Everything was so slippery! They delayed the school day by two hours, which was actually a nice reprieve from our typical race out the door in the morning.
Walking to school every morning has been great. It feels nice to settle back into this routine and most mornings we opted to walk a portion of the way through woods trails.
On the weekend my parents were willing to babysit and John and I went to see the new Avatar movie. It was good, though I think I liked the first one better? We only go to the theatre a few times a year, so it was fun to be watching a movie in a big-screen setting.
We hung up a mirror and a painting in our entryway. While this isn’t technically one of my goals for 2023, getting this done has already made my 2023 Ta-Da list. As expected, it took some effort; DIY activities do not come naturally to either of us. But’s it done, and I have loved seeing the transformation of this space over the last few months. After 5 years of upgrades and renovations, I think this is my absolute favourite functional change. To go from a tiny, rotted, leaking entryway to a bright, open, significantly larger space has been amazing. We also installed a transition strip (taped down while the special adhesive dries) between the new entryway flooring and our kitchen.
In what will come as no surprise to anyone who has an e-reader, I am now a huge fan of this medium. In fact, I have only read e-books since Christmas and the experience has been wonderful. At my OB-GYN appointment earlier in the week, I had to wait for over an hour and spent the entire time happily reading off my Kobo (which is as light as a feather and easily fits into my purse).
The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford. This book had so much potential. It’s about Charles Dickens and the history of the writing/publication/ensuing impact on popular culture of A Christmas Carol. The first few chapters pulled me in and then the rest was a disappointing slog. I should have marked this a DNF and moved on with my life, but I stubbornly skimmed to the end. Sigh. For the record, it has great reviews elsewhere so maybe it’s me (but I don’t think it’s me).
One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle. I wanted to read a book about Italy ahead of our trip there later in the year. I saw this book recommended months ago and it was available from my library for immediate download as an e-book. It ended up being an easy read. Did I enjoy it? Yep. Did I love it? No. Portions of the storyline involve suspended realism which – especially when randomly introduced into a non-fantasy book – always unsettles me. I didn’t love the ending. I never felt like I was rooting for any of the characters. But it was enjoyable enough and it definitely made me excited to visit the Amalfi Coast! (I am still looking for any recommendations/suggestions regarding time in Rome, Pompeii vs. Herculaneum, Sorrento, Positano, Capri, etc.).
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Sigh. During the very first session of my introductory English class in university, I declared Jane Eyre to be my all-time favourite book. I was 18, so “all-time” needed to be taken with a giant grain of teenage salt. Adding it in as a re-read for my 2023 reading goal felt like a failproof choice. Sadly, this book – for me at least – has not aged well. It was tedious, with lots of quotes like: I like you more than I can say; but I’ll not sink into a bathos of sentiment: and with this needle of repartee I’ll keep you from the edge of the gulph too; and, moreover, maintain by its pungent aid that distance between you and myself most conducive to our real mutual advantage. It was depressing on so many levels (physical and mental abuse). And the men. I understand cultural contexts, but Mr. Rochester’s treatment of Jane irritated me to no end (to Jane’s credit, she has a lot of spunk). But the worst of it was John Rivers who made me want to scream. Literally. That latter section of the book made me feel icky, especially since Jane still seemed to glorify him to the bitter end. Needless to say, this is no longer my all-time favourite book. Am I glad I re-read it? Yes. Do I think I’ll ever read it again? Probably not.
The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin. I noticed a friend had rated this book highly on Goodreads and, once again, it was available for immediate download as an e-book. Set in London during World War II, it traces the experiences of a book shop assistant during the Blitz. It was a good book. Sad, but inspirational. I did find the writing and character development lacked depth and things felt a bit stilted in places. But it was a solid read and definitely my favourite from this latest batch of books. I think this could be adapted for the big screen and would make a fantastic movie!
Hmmm. What else happened this week?
Work. It was actually a great week for work. I finally managed to schedule in and start prepping for an important meeting. I had some really great calls that left me feeling motivated in my various roles. Corporate taxes are coming and I dread this season…but ended up having a long – but productive – meeting with our accountant and I feel clear on next steps.
One of my aunts is visiting from the US (staying with my parents at their rental). It was nice to see her and we fit in various little fun adventures, including games with the kids; today is to involve coffee out at my favourite cafe and everyone coming to our house for supper (though none of the food is prepped, so guess what I’m doing this afternoon!).
Abby was tasked with bringing a sweet snack to a weekly youth activity; we made these Supernatural Brownies from Once Upon A Chef and they were delicious! Though, how could anything with that much butter and sugar and eggs not be delicious?
I’m tracking my time as part of Laura Vanderkam’s most recent time-tracking study. It has been a lot of fun. I wouldn’t want to do it long-term (and already track a lot of things in my daily planner), but I have really enjoyed seeing where my time goes in 15-minute increments. Turns out: work, some mindless scrolling, lunchbox prep, grocery shopping, time with family, blogging, post-school “chaos”, bedtime routines and, thankfully, a lot of sleep.
Your turn. How was your week? Have you read any good books – or watched any good movies – lately? Are you adept at DIY projects?Tell me how you feel about brownies!
On 1 January 2022, I went for a walk. Between 8:57 – 9:44 am, I walked 2.41 km. We were out together as a family, meandering through our downtown, stopping to appreciate the remnants of holiday decor. Later, from 11:57 am – 12:38 pm, I walked another 3.27 km.
On 2 January 2022, I went for another walk. Judging by the time (41 minutes) and distance (2.04 km), this was another leisurely family walk.
And then I walked on January 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th. At some point I thought: I could do this every day in January. So I did. And then I did it every day in February and March until, somewhere along the way, I decided to do it every day for the whole year.
I completed my final 1 km a little after 10:00 am on 31 December 2022. It was fitting Abby was with me for both the first – and final – walks of the year.
I did it! I walked a minimum of 1 km for 365 days! It’s true that on two of those days, I didn’t tick off the outside box – travel days going to/from South Carolina. On those occasions, I completed my walks inside airports instead.
I don’t think I have ever done an activity (other than brushing my teeth or things of that ilk; even with my One Line A Day Journal, I sometimes miss a day or two and then record things retroactively) for 365 days in a row, and I have a few thoughts:
I am so glad to be finished. A year is a long time, and while I thrive on routine and structure, it can also feel cumbersome after a while. December was the hardest month for me – with Levi home sick, a daily outside walk often felt like an annoying box to check off. When we’re all healthy and walk to school five days a week, it’s easy to fit in daily walks; not so much when we’re convalescing at home or shuttling a child to doctor appointments.
I should have implemented more flexibility from the start. Aside from my two indoor airport walks, I did my walks outside every single day. When Levi was sick, it would have been SO much easier to fit in 1 km (or 5!) on the treadmill. By this point in the year, I really wanted to stick with the outside “requirement” but I wish I hadn’t arbitrarily included this parameter. I also didn’t count outdoor runs; it had to be a walk. These nuances were part of what made the experience feel special and unique so I appreciate what they added to the experience, but these “rules” were a nuisance/burden sometimes.
A daily walk outside…is a great way to get outside. The biggest hurdle to getting outside in inclement weather is the simple act of getting dressed. Once I was bundled up, it no longer felt onerous and I often went much further than my 1 km minimum.
While there were plenty of short walks and other stints of exercise (skiing, swimming, to/from the bus stop) that I don’t track on my Apple Watch, here is what I officially recorded as workouts for 2022:
Total mileage (combined) = 1,781 km (1,107 miles)
Averagedaily mileage = 4.88 km/day (3 miles)
Total workouts = 531
Average workout distance = 3.35 km (2.1 miles)
Total walks = 484
Total runs = 46
Some memorable walks
A “freezing rain/ice pellet” snow day where the kids and I bundled up, grabbed umbrellas and spent hours (SLOWLY) trekking through the woods. But, hey, I got my 1 km.
Another snow day when we packed up a bookbag with a thermos of hot chocolate (I remembered marshmallows!) and hiked through deep snow.
Our March Break trip to the lake (including many walks through the woods to collect maple sap).
Walks on PEI, especially the ones completed at the Haunted Woods at Green Gables and Greenwich Dunes.
The Ravenell Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina.
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.
25 km+ of walking in a single (very hot) day in Toronto.
Hiking out to the Medford Beach formations.
The day I was scheduled to have a hysterectomy I wanted to fit in my 1 km walk before heading to the hospital; it was 5:30 am, and Levi asked to come with me. We went the minimum 1 km and the experience was charged with so much emotion for me (I assumed this would be the end of outside walks for a few days/weeks, and was walking with my youngest mere hours before waving goodbye to my uterus = lots of feelings). Long-time readers know the punch-line to this story: I tested positive for Covid while gowned and waiting to head into the operating room. But my walk with Levi early in the day definitely stands out as both memorable and bittersweet.
My daily walks in 2022 involved a lot of fun adventures and I’ll treasure this experience for years to come. I can see myself repeating a similar daily activity challenge another time – but not in 2023. It’s nice to reach the finish line of something and feel 100% satisfied + ready to be finished.
Your turn. Have you ever done something 365 (or more!) days in a row? Do you like the structure of a daily activity, or do you find it overwhelming and restrictive?
If you thought music tested our friendship, let’s see how we fare after today’s version of Top Five/Bottom Five. I’ll warn you in advance, there is a lot of sugar!
MY TOP FIVE CHRISTMAS FOODS
Unbaked Cherry Cheesecake. While I’m not technically ranking things 1-5, Unbaked Cherry Cheesecake is – without a doubt! – my #1. Maybe this has stayed so high on my list because it’s a rare treat? I only have this recipe a handful of times each year – on my birthday and at Christmas. This is the Christmas dessert of my childhood, my adolescence, my teenage years, my young-married-life years, my mothering years. You get the picture: this is my Christmas dessert. When my oldest sister got married over the holidays (I was 8 – such an exciting Christmas), I remember watching my grandmother stand at our kitchen counter with electric beaters for hours as we mass-produced cheesecakes for wedding guests to enjoy after the ceremony. To make sure there is no Christmas catastrophe (read: no Unbaked Cherry Cheesecake), I’ve already purchased cherry preserves and stocked up on butter and graham cracker crumbs for my 2022 version.
Peanut Butter Balls. This is a Christmas-only treat and oh how I love them. This is pure melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness and there is PEANUT BUTTER involved (doesn’t PB form the bottom of the Canada Food Guide pyramid these days?). They freeze well, so I make a batch in early December and bring out a few at a time as needed (and they are “needed” frequently).
Cinnamon Coffee Cake. Yes, more sugar. While I make this recipe every few months throughout the year, when I was growing up it was typically only prepared at Christmas. My Mom would make up the dough on Christmas Eve and bake it in the morning while we opened our gifts. So the background scent to Christmas morning will forever be Cinnamon Coffee Cake (which in our family is just monkey bread; balls of biscuit dough, rolled in cinnamon sugar and topped with a butter/brown sugar sauce – so basically sugar on sugar on sugar).
Turkey + most* of the fixings. I love turkey dinner, though it is a lot of work (I “cheat” at Thanksgiving and buy rotisserie chickens; so easy and almost as delicious). I always make baked potatoes, turkey, gravy, and stuffing (StoveTop; I grew up with homemade and my Mom still offers to make it but, shhhhh, don’t tell: I prefer the boxed variety). I also want my plate to include Mom’s homemade pickled beets, bread-and-butter pickles, squash, and corn.
Twizzlers. Not only am I circling back to sugar, why don’t we go ahead and throw in copious amounts of red dye for good measure? Every year for Christmas my Dad used to get licorice. Usually the black kind, which he loves. I tolerated a piece or two, but red licorice won my confectionary affection. Like Unbaked Cherry Cheesecake, I only consume Twizzlers twice a year – my birthday and Christmas. It has to be Twizzlers brand and it has to be Strawberry. It cannot be Nibs. It cannot be rope. It must be regular, red, Strawberry Twizzlers. No, it cannot be cherry. And help us all if you try to give me the cream-filled variety (the ultimate insult to Twizzler-lovers everywhere). I eat an entire bag over the course of 24 hours with limited sharing. Even before I made the switch to intuitive eating, I felt zero guilt over this. Once it’s gone…it’s 6 months until I have it again and that’s fine. I don’t crave it or stop to stare at store displays. I’m perfectly content to wait until Christmas morning.
*see Cranberry Sauce below
MY BOTTOM FIVE CHRISTMAS Foods
Eggnog. I’ve enjoyed putting Oat Nog in my tea/coffee this season, but regular eggnog? It’s a hard pass from me.
Warm apple cider. Cold apple cider is fine, but once you heat it up (and, worse yet, add things like whole cloves or citrus zest) – you lose me completely. I have distinct memories of going to an Old-Fashioned Christmas event at a historical museum as a kid and they served warm, spiced apple cider; I was in a terrible mood that night, so maybe that’s where my dislike of this drink was formed – guilt by association with tween angst? Regardless, I am not a fan.
Fruitcake/Plum pudding/mincemeat. Sorry, all my European friends. Anything dense, filled with preserved fruit/candied citrus, or strong spicing gets a “No thanks!” from me. I used to get a small homemade fruitcake from friends each year and would immediately turn around and give it to my Dad. One year they didn’t make them, and my Dad was so conditioned to getting a fruitcake he was devastated when I showed up empty-handed. I have never forgotten a comedy sketch on the Red Green Show (a little Canadian TV program from ~20 years ago) all about the many non-edible uses for fruitcake – a pillow, a brick, a boat anchor. These all sound like great ideas to me…
Cranberry sauce*. To be fair, I don’t enjoy cranberries in any context. A few people in my family want cranberry sauce, but one can lasts approximately forever. I really wish Ocean Spray produced mini cans! Every few years I try a nibble but then I remember that I do not enjoy cranberry sauce.
Anything with maraschino cherries. When I was a kid my mother used to make cherry balls. An icing sugar paste was formed around a maraschino cherry center, and there was a coating that involved graham crackers and coconut. Shudder. I always disliked this recipe and she never makes it now – but they were always a hit at holiday potlucks. Why? How? Chocolate-covered cherries? A HARD pass. Yet I love fresh cherries and Unbaked CHERRY Cheesecake is my favourite holiday food. Go figure.
Okay. Your turn. Tell me everything – likes/dislikes, undying love/deep disgust for various holiday foods. I have a strong suspicion Strawberry Twizzlers won’t be topping anyone else’s list? And I’m assuming eggnog and fruitcake will be the most divisive love/hate items here?Surprise me! Or, try to convince me to change my stance on maraschino cherries…
Update: Here is the Peanut Butter Ball Recipe we’ve been making for decades in our family. Nothing crunchy. No coconut. Just lots of butter and sugar…
While I list a specific ratio of butter, PB, and icing sugar in the recipe below, I always ad-lib the final quantities. I like mine extra peanut-buttery, and this requires adding an extra heaping spoonful (or two) of PB. I taste the dough frequently – a hard job but someone’s gotta do it – and make micro-adjustments until I’m satisfied.
Peanut Butter BallsIngredients:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup peanut butter (I use Kraft Smooth Light, because that's what my mother always used)
2-2.5 cups of icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla*
1/4 teaspoon salt*
*I always measure vanilla (and salt) with "my heart" so use more vanilla and less salt than the recipe calls for. I use salted butter, so only add a sprinkle of salt; if you used unsalted butter, you'd likely want to add more salt.Directions:
Cream butter and peanut butter together until smooth with electric beaters. Add powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments. Add vanilla and salt to taste.
In terms of the final texture, I like it to be quite smooth and soft; adding more icing sugar will make the dough sweeter AND will result in a denser consistency.
I use the smallest Pampered Chef cookie scoop to measure out the balls and place them on a Silpat-covered baking sheet. Once all the dough has been rolled into balls, place in the freezer to chill.
My mother never did any chocolate coating, so I ad-lib that part as well. I melt 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (not milk chocolate as they tend to seize and I am on Team Semisweet forever) + 2 tsp coconut oil (I use organic refined so there is no coconut flavour; you can also use vegetable oil). The oil helps keep the chocolate smooth and thins it down for the coating process. I spoon a little dollop over the top, put the pan back in the freezer until the chocolate is set.
Ask Abby what her favourite meal is and everyone in our family will accurately predict the answer: Grammie’s homemade Mac n’ Cheese.
She loves this meal enough to make a Halloween costume dedicated to our favourite boxed variety. So you could say we take Mac n’ Cheese very seriously in the Frost household.
Years ago I met an acquaintance at the grocery store. She did frequent, long stints of solo parenting, so whenever we bumped into each other we traded notes on the rigors of getting food into bellies and laundry done and school bags packed and work responsibilities juggled when our husbands were on the road.
She told me one of her go-to suppers was Annie’s Mac n’ Cheese, then leaned in and whispered: Here’s my secret – I always add frozen peas to the cooking water. You know, to get veggies into the kids.
This is a fine idea in principle and I’ve done similar things myself – I have a child who loathes bell peppers and mushrooms, but eats both of them quite happily in every batch of chili I make (they are finely diced).
I happen to love peas. And I aim to incorporate a broad range of foods into my life, including plenty of veggies. But it can be nice to enjoy a bowl of creamy, cheesy Mac n’ Cheese without the peas.
Maybe my kids would tolerate – even enjoy – peas in their macaroni. But I doubt it. I like peas and I like Mac n’ Cheese, but I’m perfectly content that never the twain shall meet.
Your turn. What’s your favourite way to incorporate veggies into daily life? Have you ever had a perfectly delicious recipe turn out…less delicious…by trying to make it more “virtuous” or “healthy?”
Several times over the years a friend has told me: Every day is better if it includes a banana. We both happen to like bananas (for me, especially when topped with a liberal smear of peanut butter), but I certainly don’t eat a banana every day.
But, when I do, I almost always think of her words. I’m not entirely convinced every day is better if I eat a banana – I’ve had some pretty crummy days and I’m sure a good portion of them included eating a banana at some point – but it doesn’t hurt. Bananas are delicious. So, how would you finish the sentence: Every day is better if it includes…
This feels like such a little thing – almost too small to mention without it sounding ridiculous. But it’s a conscious decision I’ve made regularly for the last six months or so that I’ve found to be helpful – so I’ll share it here today for what it’s worth.
As part of keeping myself active and energized throughout the day, I aim to fit in regular movement. It’s easy to get stuck with my butt in the chair working on a screen for hours at a time (especially since I still haven’t gotten back into a routine of using my treadmill desk – demerit alert).
One of my favourite ways to break up the sitting? Taking a trip up and down our stairs. (I rarely do this expressly for exercise; though, occasionally, if I’m feeling particularly sluggish, I might run up and down the stairs a few times. Unfortunately, I tend to have weird spatial perception after a few flights of stairs and I’m actually terrified I will fall head-over-heels and knock out my teeth. And we all know that would be an expensive fix.)
When I finish a Zoom call, I’ll make a trek downstairs to empty out the plastic recyclables. Then I’ll run back upstairs and do another trip with the paper recycling. I could combine both jobs in one trip, but it’s easier – and keeps me active for a while longer – to spread it over two trips.
An hour later I might run some paperwork down to the office, or shuttle laundry.
The main key, for me, is to stop thinking in terms of efficiency. The more trips the better! In addition to the mental energy I used to expend trying to be efficient with my trips up and down the stairs (leaving items in a pile at the top so I could take everything at once)…I now appreciate that each trip is a low-impact way to incorporate movement into my day while also functioning as a great “break”.
Also, this way, I never have a towering stack of items to trip over at the foot/head of the stairs.
ask me (almost*) Anything
As part of NaBloPoMo a variety of bloggers have been doing entertaining – and downright fascinating – Q&A posts. Time for me to join the party! Feel free to leave questions in the comments below…or you can (no promises it will work; my fingers and toes are crossed) use the following link to access a nifty little Google Forms doc (on this I am shamelessly following the lead of San and Suzanne, two NaBloPoMo rockstars).
*I refuse to answer questions about how often I change sheets. There have to be some limits here…(Sarah does it weekly; I am in awe).
Your turn. Do you have any simple solutions for easy ways to incorporate more movement into your day?Any questions you want me to answer in an AM(A)A post?
A few months ago I had to take a child to the dentist. The visit went smoothly, though there was a gentle suggestion that parents might need to take over flossing duties. Ahem. Duly noted…and subsequently ignored.
We were talking about an orthodontist consult we’d had and the costs associated with these procedures; the dentist mentioned several studies recently that have found people with straight, white teeth are more likely to end up in a higher wage-earning bracket as an adult. He said something along the lines of: It’s too bad society works this way…but it does.
During this same visit we talked about the wonderful provincial healthcare plan that covers most of the cost of dental work for children until they turn 15! (This is not standard across all provinces, strangely enough.) The dentist mentioned how, even though it’s free, many parents who don’t have the financial wherewithal to pay for their own dental work – out of a position of shame and/or concern about expensive procedures being recommended that wouldn’t be covered – don’t bring in their eligible children. It hadn’t crossed my mind that this free resource would be disproportionately accessed by people with more financial independence.
From having the flexibility to cart your children to appointments in the middle of the day, to being able to cover the bill to correct issues, in so many ways, the cascade effect of privilege can impact what the world sees when we smile.
I had never really thought about well-aligned, white teeth as being yet another form of socioeconomic privilege but, of course, they are. And that realization took me by (sad) surprise.
Your turn. How do you feel about the dentist? Did you have braces as a child – I, along with several other family members, have a slight gap in my front teeth and, through no virtue of my own, evaded orthodontic treatments. That’s fortunate because there is no way my parents would have been able to afford braces. Once, when my siblings were younger, a dental bill for our family totaled more than my father’s net salary for a MONTH.