#3-Wherein I learn how easy (and deliciously dirty!) it is to change the oil in my car.

Right when I decided on the year that goes beyond DIY I knew I wanted to learn how to change the oil in my car. I drive a 2012 Honda Odyssey and because we live a pretty good distance from my work (gym) and Zach’s main Y we burn through oil pretty quickly. I figured if it can be done in 10 minutes (as various establishments promote) it was something I could do in an hour.

My good friend Dan offered to lead me through the process so my first recommendation is to find a friend like him. 🙂

Dan took me to Autozone to get all the necessary supplies. If you’re as new to the oil change business as I was just find the nearest Autozone employee. I told the guy my make, model and year of the car and he was able to tell me the kind I needed. It included 4 cans of oil, a filter and a washer.

Being a novice, I had none of the other accruements needed for the changing of the oil. So we threw these in the cart as well.

3 funnel towel


You got your stuff so pop that hood, baby! Figure out where the oil will go once you’ve drained the old stuff and take off the cap.

Next, lift the car. Our Honda Pilot can probably be done without this added step because it sits high enough for me to wiggle myself underneath but the Odyssey rides dirty so that wasn’t an option. Thankfully Dan is a bit of a gear head and had a hydraulic jack just lying around so the front of my ride was prepared in minutes. If you don’t have something similar ask the Autozone person for ramps or find them online.


Then locate the spot underneath your car where the filter and the oil drum are located. Mine is just behind the front passenger tire. Check it, this is the moment I told Dan (and his adorable son, Banks) that it was located and I needed a bigger ratchet to get the screw off the oil drum.



(oil drum that rides beneath a car that lives on a dirt road)




Position your oil drain under and a little forward of the screw on the oil drum. When the oil first starts to drain the force will project it out a bit so make sure the drain is under the projectile but also right under the screw as when there’s very little left it just kind of drips. Once it’s empty put the new washer on the screw and replace the screw as tightly as possible. Use your shop towels to clean the area around the screw and the drum then turn your attention to the filter.


Take the filter off and turn it upside down in the oil drain. Prep your new filter by dipping your finger in one of the new cans of oil and then run it along the rim of the new filter (never realized how sexy talking about changing your oil can be. Holla!) Your new filter is ready to be tightly placed back where the old one was. (Dan showing Banks and me where the filter is on the Odyssey).



It’s go time! Bring your car back down to earth and open up those clean, shiny oil containers. I bought 5 containers but mine ended up needing only about 4.5. After 4 I checked with the dipstick to see if it was enough-it wasn’t. (Wanna know where your dipstick is? Check your car manual to see where it is and how to use it to check the status of your oil. Nifty little stick!) How much do you love Dailah and Dan’s daughter, Cates watching this go down?


Make sure you dispose of your oil in an environmentally friendly way! Just take it back to Autozone and they’ll take care of it for you.

Also, if you’re feeding a group of 12 maybe pick up $5 pizzas at Little Ceasars for after the oil change party. Did you guys know about those things? I had no idea. Perhaps more than learning to change my own oil-this has changed the life of my family. I mean pizza party for $15? Fuggetaboutit.

Next up I’m changing our Honda Pilot’s oil. I have no idea if I’ll continue to do it on my own for the long term but I was shocked to find it was so easy. Trust me when I tell you that if you have any interest whatsoever-you can totally do it. Sure, it will save us money in the long run but more than that I was so proud of myself for learning something I would’ve never tried a few months ago.

All this to say-I’m kinda killin’ it right now. One area I’ve been killin’ since birth? Finding good friends who “offer” to help me in any way humanly possible. Dan and his wife, Becky are proof of that I do believe.


Let me know if you try it for yourselves! If you have specific questions email or comment and I’ll try to answer them!

*I am not getting paid by Autozone-that is just where I happened to go and they were super nice and patient with me!

#2-She who knows how to safely maneuver a boat-wins

#2-She who knows how to safely maneuver a boat-wins

I actually have a really big project I want to do right now (rip up carpet and put down laminate flooring. Perhaps demolish a wall.) but someone-cough, Zach, cough-is doubting my ability to finish such a task. It seems I’ll have to convince him I’m serious about this whole year of Tesi thing before I start on major home improvement makeovers. Lame. 😉

I’ve mentioned it before here but I was basically raised on a boat. My parents have pictures of me as a wee infant riding in the footwell of my parent’s ski boat. Some of my earliest memories are eating cold meat sandwiches in the blazing heat of summer after we convinced my dad to finally stop skiing long enough to allow his 3 children to eat and/or jump in and out of the boat as much as we wanted. I also gained the nickname “chipmeisty” on the boat due to my love of and allegiance to anything fried and salty (that still exists, by the way. I have no control when it comes to trans fats and fried potatoes. Bless.)

Anyone who knows Zach, particularly in the professional arena, can attest to his strict adherence to the “safety first” policy. For those who know him best in the private arena, it can get kind of annoying. 🙂 That said, he had asked me to take the Michigan boater safety course and subsequent exam before driving the boat. Though I reminded him I was basically raised on a boat, he was unwavering in his allegiance to safety. For months I’ve felt a little put off by it, also a little lazy about it. 3 hours of online work? Plus it’s always just been easier to let him drive the boat while I tanned dutifully next to him. Recently he’s reminded me that, had I passed the exam, I could’ve taken the boat out with the kids while he was working. It’s the year of Tesi so it was time.

I just sent this picture to Zach with the caption, “Safety first bitches!!!!”


So if you need me for the remainder of the summer/early fall I will be here. Because even though the theme for this year could be “taking the bull by the horns” in this case I’m doing that by taking the wheel with an approved PFD.


#1-Learn to hang frames

As I said in my original post-this one I’m a little embarrassed about. There has been a small pile of picture frames, thread portraits and even a random piece of wood that fell off our wall left for Zach for far longer than I care to admit. It’s summer which means Zach works extra long hours, often not getting home for good until I’m deep into my REM cycle. It has always just felt wrong (though I admit it’s been done) to leave a list for him on the fridge of things that need fixed and hung for when he gets home at night.

Let me just say had I known I’d be able to accomplish this first small task of mine barefoot, in a swimsuit cover up and while drinking beer I maybe wouldn’t have waited so long to give it a go. Full disclosure, it was all the measuring and the math that got me nervous. And Zach’s OCD. He tells me everyone wants their stuff perfectly hung so that each room the items are hung at the same height and feature the same width between them. (He’s lying, right?!?!? That can’t be true.) Either way, I totally nailed it.



I’ve gotten some really great ideas so far from you all. Stuff you are doing in your life or stuff you want to do. I’m going to definitely take on some of them! Keep me posted if you have any more ideas.

I sent my friend this picture with the caption, “Well into my year of Tesi.”

Her response, “Only you would start the year of Tesi in July.”

And it’s true. But the reality is I’m not promised January. I might only have a few days or weeks to teach all of my kids (with special thought of Dailah) that you’re never too young or old to learn new tricks. And to quit running from things that scare you. Of course the kids were all curious to see their mom with a hammer when dad was standing right there so I explained my year or learning new things.

Yesterday Dailah was invited to her friend’s house across the lake. Normally she would ask one of her brothers to row her over but yesterday she said good bye and I looked out to see her rowing herself.

A year that goes beyond DIY

Last week the tire on my minivan that had been slowly leaking for a week or so finally got tired of my constant refilling and popped. Fortunately, just off the interstate was a tire shop. Unfortunately, the tire shop was chock full of the single reason we women hate going to auto shops-garden variety male chauvinists who earn an A+ for patronizing.

After a good 10 minutes of him lying to me (we don’t have air to fill your tire, it will be 1.5 hours for us to change into your spare, etc) I stormed walked off and, with the help of my 5 children, put my spare on. I left with a quick, “Just so you know, I go through about 6 tires a year, big mistake-big. Thanks for nothing asshole.” In my head it came out like a stronger version of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman but the way my face was distorted in anger and my breath constricted it probably came out a little less mentally stable.


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about other areas in my life that I’ve willingly given away my own agency. There are many perks to our culture’s specialization. We outsource everything from getting our oil changed to meal prep-we’ve talked ourselves into allowing “the experts” in each field to do for us what just the generation (or maybe 2 generations) ahead of us did themselves. In a lot of ways this is great-it allows people more time to work on their areas of expertise as well. But I can’t help but wonder if it’s not at least a bit detrimental to our health as a society as well. Simply put, for those of us who love The Walking Dead, most of us will die in hours should the zombie apocalypse happen. 😉

For me though, it was hard to coalesce the feminist in me who wanted to throw the man in the auto place on his back and tell him to go to hell (namaste as well, obviously) and the woman whose first instinct was to call her husband as if he-being 2 hours away-could make this all go away. How am I the woman who has no problem taking her 5 kids on solo road trips all of the time and also the woman who cried one dark, dark night after Zach had been gone for a week because I couldn’t get the wine bottle open?

I’ve decided that for the next year I’m going to start taking back a bit of my own agency. This isn’t about DIY-though I love the idea of that movement as well. This isn’t about craft projects or hobbies, I want this to be more about survival, home ownership-adulthood. It’s also not about things typically categorized as “male” or categorized as “female”. I have ideas on my list that could fall on both sides of that.

I have small things on my list (hang picture frames-don’t judge, I just always have Zach do it) but I also have big things (change the oil in my car, spend a full day/night on my own outside). I don’t know if you are like me at all but my nature is that if it scares me-don’t do it. If I won’t be immediately great at it-perhaps I just wasn’t meant to do it in the first place. My heart knows none of that is true but my head often easily wins and I’m just kind of tired of allowing it so quickly.

Here’s what I want from you-what are your ideas? Male or female what are the things that you wish you knew how to do or maybe are embarrassed that you always have someone do for you? While in Iowa this week I told a few of my good friends about this idea of mine and each one (male and female) was excited about it. They gave me some really great ideas as well. It helped me in numerous ways but perhaps most of all in knowing I’m not alone. Not alone in being a smart woman who is left befuddled at the mere sight of tangled TV cords but also not alone in wanting it all to change.

Obviously I will bring you along with me. If I know myself at all I know there will be loads of foul ups but also little and small victories-both celebrated equally and unnecessarily I’m sure.

So tell me, what should be on my list? What would be on your list? Email me tesileagh@gmail.com, no ideas are bad ideas. I’m excited and nervous but mostly excited. Also scared.

Let’s do it.