Half the Year Gone!

Since six months have gone by I decided it was time to look at my goals for the year and see how I am doing.
It took a few days after vacation to get back into our routine but now things are going well again. I am feeling better, sleeping well and realized my extreme crabbiness was simple PMS. (Possibly exacerbated by less than great eating choices over vacation.) I still made my doctor’s appointment for my regular annual exam in mid-August. I am going to start a list of questions to take with me so I don’t forget anything.
My goals for this year:
Write every day: Rather on hold until school starts up again but I am reading blogs and writing down a game plan of different things to incorporate or try to help make me a successful writer if not a published author.

Don’t be afraid to use things: I feel like I am doing okay with this one.

Play before work at least sometimes: I am actually doing pretty well with this one now that it is summer vacation. Pool time has been trumping making dinner at our normal time and keeping the meal really simple. Often I make some sort of cold side dish in the morning (cole slaw, macaroni salad etc) and have my husband grill something when he gets home. We have also been eating a lot of carrot sticks and cucumber slices, even easier than a salad!

Take 5 minutes everyday to just sit: I have been doing very well with this one. I usually wake up early and I go outside and water the plants and then just sit for a few minutes. I also spend time floating around the pool admiring the clouds or sit under the patio during thunderstorms. (The monsoons have come early this year. Seems like thunder chases us out of the pool every afternoon for awhile though the rain so far has been spotty.)

Healthy eating: This will always be a work in progress but we have been making progress. I rather gave up on the Farmer’s Market. I am not sure why I find it so hard to go but I recognize a lost cause when I see it. Instead I signed up for a CSA and my first pick up is this week. More on that in a later post. I also just bought a Nutribullet to make smoothies. So far I love it and am excited about trying lots of different combinations of fruits and veggies. More about that when I have had more time with it.

Exercise:  I resumed my yoga and jump roping  no problem after vacation.  Plus I swim most days and try and spend 10-15 minutes swimming back and forth with minimal stops.  Hopefully I will be able to see the difference in my arms by the end of the summer.

Purging:  I am still making small advances in downsizing my possessions.  Lately I have been  working on my wardrobe.  I browsed a few blogs searching for a what an almost 50, stay at home mom should be wearing.  The prevailing theme seemed to be mix and match with just a few pieces of good quality that fit well and you are supposed to pick a basic color palette.  While I am not ready to commit to having just 6 tops and 6 bottoms like one person,  I am working on purging those items I may wear but don’t really love.  (I read a good tip that said don’t go by if you wear something but ask would you buy that article of clothing today.)  I am being cognizant of the outfits I really like and that make me feel good and those I wear that make me feel meh or that I don’t really want to leave the house in.

I am also starting to look around my office for what I love and use and what I have simply because I have it.  On deck this week for purging is the laundry room.  I did the games and puzzles earlier this year but looking around I can see more miscellaneous items that can go.

Some random bits to update:

The new bedroom closet organization has grown on me and is working very well.

Relishing reading my Agatha Christies.  Love being able to browse my own shelves to find one that suits my mood.

I am really enjoying church and signed up again to donate a dessert for the men’s shelter in July.

I got a new hairstyle and I LOVE it!




Road Trip Survival

Two of our three summer trips are now past.  The first trip was to San Diego and was marvelous.  I enjoyed everything about it.  Our second trip was to visit my in-laws.  The trip went exactly how I expected it to.

Let me back up a step.  For a few weeks I had increased my thyroid dosage but then I used up all those pills.  I was nervous about increasing it any further without visiting my doctor so I went back to my prescribed dose a few days before the in-law trip.  I was nervous about being really irritable and tired.

The drive to my in-laws is two full days.  Two long, hot boring days.  Then we would be there for four days sleeping in a hotel and spending our days at their house cleaning, cooking and doing yardwork.  Did I mention this house doesn’t have a/c and temps were in the mid-90s?  Then two full days driving home. Not much to look forward to for eight days but I love how happy it makes my son to see his Grandpa.

I am thrilled to report I survived just fine and my thyroid didn’t bother me too much.  I tried to be very aware of how I was feeling.  I snuck bits of solitude here and there (like staying at the motel to do laundry one afternoon).  I focused on one day, one task at a time.  When I found myself feeling annoyed I made myself stop and breath and focus on what was bugging me.  Should I feel annoyed?  Or could I just let it go?  And let it go I did.

I also slept surprisingly well which helped me feel better.  I wore a sleep mask which I think really helped me get through the night without waking.  I ate healthy when I could and didn’t beat myself up when I didn’t.  I recognized the limitations of the situation and sucked it up.

For the drive home we took a slightly longer and more scenic route.  It was also a bit cooler and we decided we would definitely go that way again.  As has become our custom audio books really helped the time pass while driving.  We listened to “Into Thin Air”, “The Ice Balloon” and a few Magic Treehouse books.  I realized I have a tendency to lean towards books about the cold when we are driving through the desert!   We also started “Black Beauty” which was really good and we’ll have to finish in the house this week.

Home again it is quite hot, 108 today and going to remain over 100 for awhile.  I feel tired, worn out, but hopefully a few nights of  sleeping in my own bed will perk me up.  Need to resume healthy eating and exercise and make my doctor’s appointment as well!  It is nice to be home and get back to my normal habits.

The Need for Change

Since we have decided against moving, at least for now, I have found myself looking for more ways to improve our use of space. On paper and in theory using the living room space as a play area works really well. The only problem is my son is terrible at putting things away. Right now he is into legos so you can imagine what the floor looks like. The other problem is it is a sort of small space and he frequently spills over into the walkway right in the path of the front door.

This is the play area

At this point I am pretty tired of:  a. picking up toys,  b. yelling at E to put the toys away and  c. trying to reason with a 7 year old about being a slob. So one day when I had the house to myself I sat in the living room/play area and thought about the problem and possible solutions. Then I sat in my upstairs office and thought about how I utilized that space.

I really like my office. I like having my own space filled with mementos and everything fairly neat and tidy. I liked having some storage for my art and crafts supplies. But how often did I really use the room?   Could I give up my office for a much tidier downstairs?  Could I find a way to make the play area storage work for my stuff?  Would I miss having my own private-ish space?

I looked at all the furniture and all the stuff that would need to be swapped around and physically I thought it would work. We would probably need to pare down a little but we have been doing that for the last year and I was okay with more de-cluttering.
I think the biggest obstacle is mental.  Can I give up my “girl cave”?  Where will I hide Christmas presents?  Will I be able to work downstairs?  Will I miss having all my bits and baubles displayed?  How much can I move to my bedroom?  Many questions to mull over.

My son’s bedroom is very small but I had hopes of one day fitting all of his toys and a place to do homework in there. This is not realistic. One day in the not too distant future we are going to have to create a quiet study spot for him. The dining room table works well for now, but not forever.  The number one reason the play area was created downstairs was because my son was only 2 1/2 when we moved in and he liked to be near me.  It was also easier to keep an eye on him.  Now that he is getting older that isn’t such a concern.  Is he ready to play alone upstairs?  Probably.  I noticed after school last year he spent more time in his room.

While I debated the pros and cons of giving up my office space I thought about my dream of the future.  In my imagination I always see myself in a small house with one bedroom and one big L shaped living area.  No office,  lots of built in shelves and a table to work at.  Maybe it would be good to do this as a test run.  With E in school all day the downstairs will be quiet.

E loves the idea.  He is tired of being asked to put things away all the time.  I am going to continue to cogitate on this for awhile.  After we get back from our next trip I am going to get estimates to replace the flooring  downstairs.  If we do the swap it would be logical to do it in conjunction with the floor replacement  since we have to pack everything up and move the furniture around anyway.   I also want to wait until school starts again.

Even with all the mess I like having E around.  He, in the play area building a tiny lego town and me in the dining area working on a craft project or on the computer, close enough to hear what he is doing without being on top of him.  A mother has to do this letting go stuff slowly, baby steps.  My head says the new arrangement would work well for both E and I.  My heart however seems to be feeling some growing pains.

The Great Outdoors


San Diego Bay


We spent three full days last week camping on San Diego Bay. Temps in the 60’s, clouds in the morning, sun in the afternoon; it was heavenly. I spent most of my time outdoors. I walked on the beach or stared at the water from my lounge chair and ate meals overlooking the bay.  I watched sailboats and battleships go by.  We did a harbor tour, walked around the campground and visited the ocean via a nearby state park.  I thought about how much more time I spent outdoors when I lived in New York and Montana then I do now that I live in Arizona.

In New York I had my dream front porch, wide, covered and with a wide wall for a railing you could use as seating  or put candles or flowers on.  I had a small table and chairs out there along with a rocker and a papasan chair.  It was an extra room in the summer and fall.  I frequently ate breakfast or lunch out there, read and admired my roses.

In Montana I missed my front porch but had a park like backyard.  My infant son and I spent much time in the backyard with a blanket spread under a large tree.  I loved hanging out laundry while he sat in his little tree swing.

I don’t find the weather in Arizona conducive to being outside.  Mostly it is too hot or too windy.  I do not enjoy being outside in harsh wind.  I do like to sit under the covered patio and watch monsoon storms.  We don’t have the best vantage point from there but sometimes we get good views of the clouds or lightning.

The biggest difference in getting outdoors between here in the desert and up North in Montana and New York was being able to walk to do many errands.  Up North the few days when walking around would be hazardous or very unpleasant were scattered throughout the year.  My neighborhoods had sidewalks and walking to the store, bank, library or post office took paths down picturesque residential streets.  I could admire flowers blooming in spring and summer and holiday decorations in the fall and winter.  I also liked looking at all the different houses.

Here in Arizona walking for errands doesn’t happen much for two reasons.  First, six months out of the year the sun is blazing hot.  In the summer if it has clouded up you are in danger of being caught out in a violent thunderstorm.  And while the bank, grocery stores, a few restaurants and post office outlet are just over a mile away the walk isn’t pleasant in the best of weather.  There is no sidewalk along the busy 45 mph street meaning you have to walk in the also busy bike lane.  Along some parts people have trod a dirt path through the weeds and brush and I walk there where possible.  It is not relaxing though as you have to keep a sharp eye out for snakes and pricklies.   There isn’t much in the way of scenery, mainly cinder block fences, cacti and the backs of two story houses.  The mountains are to the north and west but they don’t change much and after a few minutes I lose interest in them.

What I loved about walking to do errands in NY and MT was being able to take different routes through residential areas admiring all the different houses, yards, porches and landscaping.  Here everything is beige.  Most houses look pretty similar and the landscaping is all the same.  There are a few weeks in the spring where there are some blooms but not many along the busy road.  Each housing area is self-contained so you can’t try and detour down  side streets.

Coming back from San Diego I tried to brainstorm how to spend more time outdoors.  Of course this isn’t the best time of year to start as it is triple digit heat and the sun is broiling by 8:00 am but I thought I would give it a try.  Of course there is the pool and I do try and swim every day.  This summer I am getting into the habit of getting up about 6:30 am.  I put on my workout clothes and go out into the backyard.  It is already warm but still pleasant in the shade.  I water the plants and simply sit for a few minutes and listen to the birds.  Sometimes I plan my day, write down my to-do list.  At 7:00 am I either jump rope (M-W-F) or come inside to do yoga (T-TH).

It is easy to spend time outdoors when you have a sense of purpose and decent weather.  In New York and Montana I didn’t have to think about getting outdoors, it just happened.  Being outside here requires more planning, effort.  You have to decide to go up the road to Mt. Lemmon, packing a lunch or researching a hike.  You have to check the radar for storms.  You have to get up early to beat the heat.  (Walking after dark in not an option for me with no sidewalks or streetlights and an array of wildlife to be leery of.) Some days my son and I get out of the pool and eat 3:00p snack on the patio.  Once the monsoon season starts we will sit under the back patio and watch the rain.  It’s not much but it is a start.  In the heat of summer that is all I ask of myself.