May Madness: Memories

I did it! I wrote a post every day in May. Now this challenge is just a memory. Will I do this challenge again? Probably not. I am a been there, done that kind of girl ready to move on.

Honestly? I am ready for a break from so much screen time. I find computer use is one of those tasks that snowballs. I jump on-line to renew my library book and an hour later I log-off and then realize I never did renew the book!

For June I have set myself the task to work on my languishing novel when I am not knee deep in parenting. I’ll still be around of course, just not every day. I am already thinking ahead though, perhaps a daily “One Word October”? That could be fun. What about photos? Hmm, one word, one photo a day? I’ll think about it.

Til next time…

May Madness: Mothering

My post is late today because I spent the whole day being an involved parent. I am exhausted. Not even through the first full week of summer vacation and I am ready to chuck the computer out the door.

Yesterday my son spent 6 hours, NON-STOP on the computer. (I was testing for any glimpse of sensible self-regulating.) He didn’t even get a drink of water. And then I had to badger him to get off. So no computer time today. And so I have been busy keeping him busy. Some errands, lunch out and I whooped him in skee ball! Tonight he will be making grilled cheeses for dinner for him and his father.

I am currently reading “How to be a Happier Parent” by KJ Dell’Antonia and I am getting a lot out of it. I am realizing my son is a much more capable person than I give him credit for. It is time for me to adjust my expectations and give myself the badly needed break I need. I need to let go. I need to accept good enough when he does an assigned task.

I have been gradually making changes and setting expectations since school got out. We have set up our shared calendar and reminder list. We have set up a few tasks for him. He is going to meditate every morning. (Insight App has meditations just for kids!) We have spent a few minutes each day trying to reduce his room to disaster level DefCon 3.

He is going to do his own laundry every Monday from now on. (I thought it best to pick a day to help him remember and so I know not to plan on doing laundry that day. I let him pick the day. Since we discussed this on Tuesday he picked Monday to put it off as long as possible. Little does he realize he probably has three full loads to do already.)

We discussed his summer math work and he set himself up with a schedule and we designated one end of the dining room table as the math spot. We put the packet of work, his math notebook full of notes, a sharpened pencil and a big pink eraser there. No excuses or delays hunting for items!

Tomorrow I am dropping ‘chore of the month’ on him. Actually ‘life skill of the month’. For 30 days I will have to listen to him seriously complain about doing the dishes every night. I will have to remind him probably every single day to do the chore. I will have to stand firm with myself and not swoop in to do things right (ie my way). But by golly at the end of the 30 days he will have it down! And then he can move on to something new and create a whole new list of complaints.

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Money

My personal definition of financial success is being able to pay all my bills, save a decent amount, take a nice vacation once a year and buy whatever I want at the grocery store.

I have to confess I have never thought too much about money. I joined the Air Force at seventeen so I had a steady paycheck at a young age. I have always been excellent at living within my means. Every payday I sat down and paid all my bills, put money into savings and then could spend whatever was left.

Despite retiring, getting married and having a child I have been able to stick to my financial mantra. We save for things and then buy them. We pay off our credit cards in full every month. We never had student loans as the military paid for most of our college degrees. I handle all the finances in our house because my husband sucks with money. He literally brought none into our marriage and I kept all my pre-marriage accounts in my name only.

Looking ahead to my real retirement years (seven years from now) I decided to hire a financial planner. And for the first time I find myself really having to think about money.

On the first run through my Financial Planner made an error and had me broke before I was 80! Luckily I caught the error and pointed it out and after the correction found I am in good shape.

My retirement scenario is not typical. I am trying to figure out exactly where I am going to retire to and from there I will be able to make a more concrete budget. My biggest concern is buying a home. I already know my husband and I will be going our separate ways so all my planning is being done on my own savings and income alone.

Now that everything is set up with my financial planner I hope I can go back to not thinking about money for a few more years. I doubt I can go wrong with sticking to the plan that has worked so far.

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Muse

Muse: a source of inspiration

When I set this May challenge I had this image of myself sitting down each day and writing, “like a real writer”. I would compose thought provoking posts that people would find themselves mulling over all day. Or I would write something so funny they would snort with laughter and chuckle over it throughout the day.

I knew the reality would be much different. I knew there would be days I would sit in front of my computer with an empty mind. Good for meditation, not so good for writing. Most days I am doubtful that I am a “real writer”.

But I have surprised myself this month and the ideas have flowed. Okay, some were not the greatest ideas but I was able to write something. Perhaps not the great literary achievements I dream of but I have written. Today my muse seems to have deserted me. I guess I am lucky she stuck around as long as she did.

So is this enough for a blog post? I hope so because I really want to listen to the Cubs game that starts in a few minutes.

Oh the irony of the desert cactus being today’s picture! Not planned as I set up the pictures back in April.

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Mystery

I loved reading Nancy Drew when I was a kid and my son and I read a few together a few years ago. Now there are several different Nancy Drew series with her at different ages. I just picked up a “Nancy Drew’s Diaries” one from the library. I am curious to see what is going on with her these days. Did she go to college? I digress.

If this post were a Nancy Drew novel it would be titled “The Mystery of the Oregon House”. There is a most mysterious house in our neighborhood. Everything I am going to write is pure speculation, fiction if you will. I have never spoken to the people who live there. All I have is my own observations and imagination.

For the last few years three cars, all with Oregon plates have come and gone from this house. All three cars show up and leave together at no regularly discernible intervals. Snowbirds* without a regular migratory pattern I thought.

Then there was the year when they would show up and move lots of boxes and furniture in and out of the house. I decided they were trafficking in stolen goods.

Next we have the remodeling phase when there was a whole bunch of work done on the house. Bathrooms for sure, paint, maybe flooring. I thought for sure the house was going up for sale. But no. A few months later the people seemed to move in for good.

I deduced there were two couples, siblings and their spouses I decided. I overheard one couple discussing if they still needed two cars. I gathered they weren’t happy about having to park one vehicle in the driveway (as opposed to inside the garage). Shortly thereafter there was no longer a car in the driveway.

I didn’t see much of the people but there were signs they were still there. And then a small moving truck showed up. Once again the garage was full of stuff. Boxes and small pieces of furniture. There was only one vehicle there and they loaded up the truck and were gone. I don’t know when the second vehicle left.

Once again it looks like the house is empty. No activity, no garbage cans by the curb. Have they just retreated north for the summer? Will a ‘for sale’ sign appear? Is all of this moving of stuff normal for a snowbird?

I find the whole thing a puzzle. All the moving of things in and out, all the coming and going. How all three (now two?) cars show up and leave at the exact same time. If I was Nancy Drew I would have found a way to search the garage and identify stolen goods and break up some renowned art thievery ring. Or now that the house looks empty I would peer in the windows and spy a kidnapped heiress. (I don’t think Nancy Drew ever found a dead body!)

But, alas I will just continue to walk the dog and speculate wildly and wait to see what happens next.

snowbird* : a northerner who moves to a southern state in the winter

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Minimalism

Recently I did some deep cleaning around the house. You know, actually taking all the books off the shelves and getting all the dust, cleaning the carpets, purging and rearranging just a little in my office.

I have read a lot of articles and books about minimalism, I have Kon-Mari’d some and there are aspects of minimalism that I like. I believe every object should have a home to reside in when not in use. I put things away when I am done with them. I try to get rid of things I don’t love or find to be useful. But I do like having stuff. I have no interest in owning only x number of clothes or getting rid of certain books because I have already read them. I still love them and want to keep them.

My shelves and closets are full but organized. Not crammed with clutter. (Okay maybe a little clutter but I am making an effort.)

In the midst of this bout of cleaning I have realized I wish spouse and small child were minimalists though. To put it bluntly they are both slobs. If they see a flat surface they think it should be filled with stuff. They are both allergic to throwing things away.

I try and compromise. I leave their own rooms alone and in the shared spaces I try to be fair and open minded. There are a few spots where I have allowed stuff to pile up. (Mostly because I have been too busy battling my hormones to engage in another battle.) But here I am trying to clean. I have discovered I don’t mind dusting and doing the floors, the actual cleaning part. But I feel ill used looking at the piles of stuff on the desks. I am tempted to simply throw it all in a garbage bag and be done with it.

Am I the only one like this? What do tidy people do when forced to co-exist with untidy people? Do they spend all their time cleaning? The thing is, while I like a clean house I don’t actually like to clean all that much. It is enough work to put my own stuff away. And don’t tell me to ignore their stuff. Not possible, though I wish it was.

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Meditation

Last August (I think, I don’t really keep track) I started meditating. In the beginning I used the Insight App all the time. It helped me remember to do it and establish the habit. I set up the timer, sometimes changing the background sounds. Sometimes I follow a guided meditation and have some favorites bookmarked. I also do walking meditation on the treadmill which I really like and should do more often. (Note to self, remember this!)

Now I still use the app often but I don’t worry if I skip a day or meditate ‘au natural’. No not naked, I meant by just sitting quietly and focusing on my breathing.

The big question is, does it do anything for me? I think it does. While I am actually doing the meditation it just feels like hard work to quiet my mind over and over again. Some days are more successful than others. At the very least it gives me a pause before jumping into the to-do list for the day.

But over time I have noticed I seem to be able to control that initial negative reaction to certain situations better. I am able to take a breath, think, and then respond. Very helpful during the absence of estrogen. Crazy helpful with parenting.

Today is the first day of summer vacation. Unfortunately I woke up only ten minutes later than normal. But then I decided this might be a good thing. I did my yoga stretches and then sat and meditated in the quiet morning. It was lovely to be able to just sit and not worry about the clock. I listened to the birds outside the window (what were they talking about?). I breathed in kindness towards myself and breathed out peace towards the world. Hopefully I will embrace the day gracefully, no matter what the universe sends my way!

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Middle School

Today is the last day of elementary school for my son. For the most part I am looking forward to summer and the break in routine. No alarms, no clock watching just scads of unstructured time. No doubt a week or two from now I will be looking forward to the start of school again. 🙃

And I am not in the least bit worried about my son starting middle school next year. Moving him to a private school was the best decision and I have no regrets, despite the cost!

If my son was still attending public school I would be worried big time about next year. When did 6th grade get moved to middle school? Somehow I missed this big change. His assigned middle school is over crowded and they do some sort of split schedule. Middle school years are difficult for everyone and I would be very uneasy sending him into an environment with over- sized 13 and 14 year olds that may or may not be monitored very well.

Too many horror stories of bullying circulate. The fear of school shootings can’t be ignored. My son is an introvert. He is quiet and non-aggressive. Yelling at him is always a mistake. He gets upset and shuts down. I can totally see him being a target for older/bigger kids.

But with his current school the class sizes are small. The teachers and administrators KNOW the kids. In middle school the kids are well supervised. The teachers are present and visible during changing classes and before and after school.

Honestly, I have worried about the school environment since he started first grade. I had never even considered a private school until I got a look at the public schools here in Arizona. I grew up in Baltimore and went to public schools. My standards aren’t that high.

When he started at the private school this school year I had a good feeling. I got to know the teachers and felt comfortable leaving my child in their care. I have watched him grow and thrive in this school environment.

Today I feel a great relief knowing that I don’t have to worry about him going back to school in August. And that relief will help us to enjoy the summer.

Til tomorrow…