The Week in Review: Summer Plan

We are now one week into summer vacation and “The Plan” is working out quite well which is a huge relief.

THE PLAN: I spent time really thinking about how to make this summer a good one.  Left to his own devices my son would spend every available moment on the computer.  I lean towards a more balanced use of time.  So I made THE PLAN.  No computer use until after lunch.  And no he cannot eat lunch at 10:00am.  And yes, he will try and push lunch earlier and earlier.

Instead we will spend the morning doing chores and errands, going on adventures, playing board games and three specific tasks:  the 15 min room project, schoolwork and summer journaling.

It has to be done: I want my son to help with cleaning.  I don’t want him growing up thinking things happen by magic or with no idea of the time and energy it takes to maintain a house.  A few months ago I started with him doing one or two small tasks after school each day (dusting, emptying the dishwasher, picking up etc) and will build on those this summer.  The truth is my son is a slob and I do not want any future partner hating me for not “raising him right”.  I know I won’t change him but I hope to at least make him aware of his own messes.

Three tasks:  Our three tasks will take less than an hour each day but I hope we accomplish a lot by the end of summer.  One: The room project is simply giving his room a good clearing out 15 minutes at a time.  He has a small room and a lot of stuff.  A good purge is needed and a semblance of order brought to the current chaos.  Two: Schoolwork will be focused mainly on practicing his math skills and work on his writing skills.  Three:  We are each going to keep a journal of the summer.  It is a sneaky way to practice writing skills and creativity.  We each bought a little journal and some stickers and some new gel pens to share.  This is a task he is actually excited about now that he knows it won’t be just writing but drawing and stickers and whatever we want to use to document the summer.

I made a habit tracker for our three tasks. Working on thinking up some small rewards for meeting our goals.  Any ideas?  

Not all work:  We also have two vacations planned, one to Toronto Canada and a camping trip up in the mountains.

Bucket List:  I made a summer bucket list so when the heat or being housebound has fried my brain I can pluck something off the list. I mainly have activities that we can do at home because I have learned that most likely we will not want to go places in the heat or during torrential monsoon rains.  That is just the way it is here.  Our July is like other places February.

Not fancy but it works for us.

No post next week, we will be off on our big summer vacation trip!

 

Here’s to everyone having a great summer!

 

Photo Friday

In honor of Memorial Day today’s theme is “red, white and blue”.   Just a gentle reminder, Memorial Day is to honor those service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in defending the freedom we enjoy today.


My attempt at a cupcake flag.

One of my many patriotic decorations I display from Memorial Day through 4th of July.
Even at Christmas I like to display my patriotism.
Don’t forget to fly your flag and have a safe holiday weekend.

Keep Your Focus!

The Week in Review 5/23/2018

Something making me happy:  Summer is here! Today is the last day of school. No more alarm clock or lunch making first thing in the morning.  I think I have a good plan for the summer, I just hope I have the energy and patience to make it happen. In anticipation I put away the Spring decorations and put out our red, white and blue theme which will take us through Memorial Day, Flag Day (June 14th) and 4th of July.

What I read: “Absent in the Spring” by Mary Westmacott aka Agatha Christie. This is actually a re-read, I love this story about finding out about yourself.

What I watched: Finished watching “The Terror” and that show scared the pants off me!  Not the creature but watching the military order disintegrate and how one evil man could ruin an entire expedition.  And I may have watched a few hours of Royal Wedding stuff 🙂 .

My latest coloring project. I would have worn the one on the left (with a shrug to be appropriately modest)  to the royal wedding, if I had been invited.

Family movie night: I know this is hard to believe but my son and I are just getting around to reading the Harry Potter series. We finished book one and got the first movie from the library.  We spent Saturday morning making a few floating candles, chocolate frogs and cauldron cupcakes.  My son made a little banner with the four different Hogwart’s houses and some wizard cards to go with our frogs.  Pizza and popcorn rounded out dinner.  The movie was longer than I expected so we had a rather late night but worth it.

I am so doing this for Halloween in our front yard!

Crazy toenails: I seldom wear sandals so I paint my toenails just for myself.  I call this “rainbow sherbet”:

It was surprisingly hard to take a close up picture of my own toes.

A happy surprise:  When I went to my bowling tournament in Laughlin, NV a few weeks ago I had only signed up for singles.  When I checked in I was asked if I wanted to bowl doubles, someone was in need of a partner.  I said okay, introduced myself to some guy I didn’t know and then went off to bowl on my own lanes at the other end of the bowling alley.  I never saw him again and had no idea what he bowled.  I got the results in the mail and we took 7th place out of 41 winning some prize money! A nice surprise since I finished 19th out of 50 in singles.

 

I hope you had a good week!

Photo Friday

The elementary school art show.

I thought it was really cool the way they used the lunch tables as easels.

My son’s cityscape is the top row middle one (I think).

The 4th grade class recycling project.  The cut milk cartons into strips, colored them with sharpies and weaved them through chicken wire. I want one of these to conceal the a/c unit outside!

Keep your focus!

The Week in Review: Book Edition

I thought I would change things up a bit and write about books this week.  As much as I love to read I am surprised I don’t write about books more. Hmm.


Random Pick: A few weeks ago at the library I chose a shelf on a whim and counted over 33 books. I got “Wedding Girl”. Totally not what I was in the mood for. I looked up and…ta-da “Cooking for Picasso” called my name. Loved it!  One of those novels based on a bit of historical fact and jumped back and forth in time, in a good way.

Serendipity:  The day after I started reading “Cooking for Picasso”  I got my National Geographic magazine in the mail and it had an article on Picasso and let me know that there is a mini-series about the life of Picasso on the National Geographic channel starting in April. How coincidentally wonderful is that?  It is a 10 part series I am recording to watch during the summer.

Something Crazy:  Remember “chiaroscuro”?  Yes, again!  This time in “The Golden Hour” by T. Greenwood. And also in the book a character wears a pair of red flannel pajamas with black scottie dogs on them.  I have those pajamas!  I am so reading some more Greenwood, she gets me. 🙂

Mystery Series:  My favorite genre is the mystery.  For quite a few years I really liked getting into a series but lately I have found that all the newer series seem pretty repetitive.  After 3 or 4 books the series grows stale not to mention how similar they all feel. Woman loses job, breaks up with long time boyfriend and moves back home.  She has a quirky but endearing family, lands some sort of interesting job or joins the family business  and promptly gets involved with a readily available handsome member of the law enforcement. Add in an unbelievable number of murders in a small town.  Sheesh.

But here are a few series that have managed to stay believable and keep things fresh:

The Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny– It helps that the main character is a homicide investigator, making his proximity to murder believable.  There is so much depth to these stories though and so many other characters.  Never boring, never predictable.

The Faith Fairchild series by Katherine Hall Page – Enough travel keeps things interesting as well as the details of the rest of her life as her children grow up.  Good recipes too!

The Sadie Hoffmiller series by Josi Kilpack – I have only finished the first three books (there are 12) but this series feels much more realistic than most.  Yes, there is a boyfriend detective but she still gets sentenced to community service for interfering in a police investigation. Pretty real!  And there is a lot of travel so no scary small town full of homicides.

Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton –  There is a mystery in each book but not necessarily a murder.  Set in England it appeals to the Anglophile in me and while there is a little of the woo-woo communication from the dead it doesn’t override the rest of the story.

The Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen – I love learning about the early 1900’s in New York City where this series is set.  It is interesting seeing how much harder it was to track down information in those days, how people lived in general and all the obstacles to being a lady detective.  Yes, there is a police love interest but I can live with it.

The Jane Austen series by Stephanie Barron – I have only read the first two books (of thirteen I believe) but seriously why wouldn’t I love Jane Austen as a sleuth?  England, historical time period and a writer, all right up my alley.

What book I just finished: “Euphoria” by Lily King, not my usual fare but lately I have been choosing more books randomly, either off the ‘recently returned shelf’ or the staff picks or just walking down an aisle seeing what catches my eye.  This book did not disappoint and suited my mood which has been rather up and down thanks to MHC (menopausal hormonal craziness). {I am hoping if I use MHC enough times it will catch on.}  A Margaret Mead inspired story that really held my attention.

What I am reading right now:  “Into the Magic Shop” by James R. Doty, MD, again not something that would normally grab me but I am surprised at how much I am loving this book.  I am not quite 1/2 way yet but already I want to be a better person and really learn how to meditate.  I have chosen “rose rain” as my focus word.

An easy way to track your reading: I had never thought about tracking what I read until I stumbled across the clever idea of using a five year journal and promptly adopted it.  For those of us not interested in digital tracking I have found a small five year diary works perfectly.  I jot down the title, author and a sentence or two about what I thought of the book or how it made me feel. I list the book under the date I started it.  Super easy, not overly time consuming and this diary is going to last more than five years, even with all I read. I started last July and could not be happier. And my diary is so cute!

 

Did you have a good book week?

Photo Friday

I am hiding out indoors these days due to really bad allergies so I was a bit stumped as to what to do for this week’s Photo post. Since I am in the process of organizing all my digital photos I thought I would see what I could find from the past. How about some zoo photos from 2013?

The elephant is our favorite and a baby elephant?  Score!

Usually the rhino is lying camouflaged in the mud so it was nice to get a shot with a green background.

Yup my son was hatched from an egg 🙂  (I have always let him pick out his own clothes despite his lack of fashion sense.)

Keep your Focus!

 

2018 Aspirations Summary: April

April was rather crazy.  I felt like I was failing at everything and then I realized what I am actually doing is learning. Finding out what doesn’t work for my eating habits can be just as helpful and valuable as finding out what does work.

Be Healthier

This month I am going to focus on what I am doing well at or at least better. I started visiting the farmer’s market on Sunday mornings and buying lovely fruits and vegetables. And eating them! They also have wild caught fish from Alaska that is hand processed, frozen and sent down to Tucson, very yummy.  Excited about my CSA starting in May.  We still get our Butcher Box every other month and that helps cut down on trips to the grocery store too. And I did really well with eating at local restaurants.

Focused eating is something I think is very important and that I am still struggling with.  I can’t seem to break the reading while eating habit.  I am trying to start with small changes and work my way up.  Focusing on at least a few bites and periodically tuning in through out the meal.   Hopefully in time I will reach my goal of eating with total attention.  I truly believe how I eat will make a big difference in what I eat.  I did finish reading “Food Rules” and am still flipping through it a few times a week mulling over all the advice.

I have been doing a great job of eating only when I am hungry. I feel best when I eat a hearty breakfast mid to late morning and then a late lunch and no dinner.  I sleep better and feel better in general.  It can be a tough schedule though with the family but I am finding ways to make it work.

Feet to the fire:  Weight on April 2 – 144lbs.  Weight on May 2 – 145.4.  I am not stressing because I can feel the water weight bloating thing going on. I figure if I can keep close to 145 then once I am done with the MHC phase of life I will only have to lose five pounds to be comfortable with my weight. I did yoga 17 days which I am happy with since I went on two trips this month. I am also doing PT for my shoulder at home once a day.  Still keeping up with the food log.  Still eating too many sweets. Sigh.

Random photo from my trip to Mt. Lemmon during the teacher walkout.  More dry than wet stream, sad.

Be Happier

It was a bad month for MHC (Menopausal Hormonal Craziness).  I had three periods during the month.  Yes, three. separate. periods. It was ugly.  Emotionally I was a wreck. I kept telling myself this must mean the start of full blown menopause is near and then I would laugh/cry and remember thinking that same thing this time last year.  So now I warily wait to see what happens next with my body.

On the positive side I did get away for a weekend.  I went by myself to Laughlin, NV for a bowling tournament and rather enjoyed myself.  It was a nice change of pace and scenery.

On the nagging task front I have started a new 10 minutes a day project: organizing my digital photos.  I was inspired by this post and then I watched a few youtube videos for more tips.  It is actually easier and going quicker than I thought.

 

Food Rules #83  Break the rules once in awhile.  “Obsessing over food rules is bad for your happiness and probably for your health too.  Our experience over the past few decades suggests that dieting and and worrying about nutrition have made us no healthier or slimmer; cultivating a relaxed attitude toward food is important.”   -Michael Pollan

I feel like I know what I need to do to be healthy and I just need to act on it, at least as much as the MHC allows.  I know I can do it because there are days when I am in complete control and have no desire for junk food or feel the need to eat when I am not hungry.  When the hormones take over all I can do is minimize the damage and move on.  This phase of life will not last forever. Right?  Right? Please someone tell me I am right!  🙂

 

The Week in Review 5/9/2018

Something I accomplished: I cleaned up my office.  I started with just wanting to declutter the shelves a bit and ended up doing a lot more. I threw away two bags of garbage, 2 bags of recycle and have one box of donate/sell stuff. Now when I walk into the room I smile.

Something I changed:  So maybe this is a little weird but I changed my deodorant and I love my new one so much.  It is not supposed to leave those yellow stains on white shirts plus it seems to just work better.  Kind of a big deal here in the desert heat. Speaking of which…

Summer is here: The heat seemed to roar in overnight, poof 100° days.  The good news is I had my first swim of the season over the weekend.  The water felt wonderful.  The bad news is allergy season is still at its peak and I woke the next day with bloodshot, weepy crusty eyes.  Not good.

A fun project: The end of school is fast approaching so I wanted to make some little notes for my son’s lunch to count down the last 10 days. Found some cute numbers to print out and color and put them on summer scrapbooking paper.

 

Paint Chip Poetry: I felt like writing a bad poem this week so here it is. (I am re-reading “If You Want to Write” by Brenda Ueland so blame her.)  I chose three yellow and one orange (for the heat) and one green (because it is still spring).  Paint chip words are in italics.

My zest for life was wilting

under the

habanero hot blazing sun

at 8:00 a.m. no less.

Summer had settled in for good,

startling me with its ferocity.

I pick a spring of mint

for my morning iced tea

and retreat indoors

not emerging again until the

lightning and thunder

of the afternoon monsoons arrive –

three months hence.

And how was your week?

 

Photo Friday

(Above photo, ooh sparkly rock with fern.)

This week I actually went out on an expedition to take pictures. And to keep small child busy since he was out of school for six days with the Arizona teacher walkout. Yikes!  It is always lovely to go up to 8000′ and feel the crisp air and smell the pine.  Added bonus was getting away from the pollen which my sinuses really appreciated.

We didn’t walk far but it was a scenic, if rocky, stroll.

One of the reasons we didn’t stay very long was there was a lot of tree cutting going on by the Forest Service.  We kinda felt like we shouldn’t be in the area though there were no signs or anything forbidding it.

Bridge photos are always good.

Looking up is good too. It was such a beautiful day.

There is a stream here (this is the view off the bridge), not much water which is bad, there should still be some snow melt flowing this time of year. This is more how it looks in early July before the monsoons start.  Hope we get some rain this year.

Keep your focus!

The Week in Review 5/2/2018

What I am reading: I just finished “The Fire by Night” by Teresa Messineo. My favorite WWII historical fiction genre. I wanted to just keep reading and at the same time I wanted the book to last a long time. It is about two nurses, one in the Pacific and one on the Western Front. Captivating reading. And now I am reading Donna Ball’s Ladybug Farm series. Love it!

“Snow Days”:  In case you hadn’t heard the Arizona school teachers went on strike.  The first two days were fun, a nice break from the routine.  But once we hit day 3 I started some home schooling for my son.  It is frustrating not knowing when school is going to resume.

What I am watching/watched: “The Bletchley Circle”, set in a time period I find fascinating (1940’s – 50’s) and a mystery.  Plus it was only three episodes so not a huge commitment. I stumbled on season one on Ovation TV and am thrilled to see there is a season two. And I have the first episode of the new season of “The Good Witch” on my DVR, saving it for when I can sit and really savor it (see snow day above).

Something we did: We went to the Pima County Fair. We have only gone once before in the 8 years we have lived here.  It is just not my favorite thing to do.  Too hot and too pricey as I remembered it.  It was still the same.  It was a good family outing but I doubt we’ll go again  because of the cost.

A sky high view of the fair.

Three Potlucks: I have had to make something for three different potlucks in the last two weeks.  For my end of season bowling potluck I made brownie crusted cheesecake with a strawberry topping and for our annual Guild salad luncheon I made lemon squares.  But my favorite was the chocolate chip kitty cat cookies I made for my son’s end of season bowling potluck.

I have made these before and forgot how cute they are.

And how was your week?