Mid-Week Ramblings

The mac and cheese incident

I don’t want my son to be one of those kids who gets to college and has no idea how to feed himself so I am slowly helping him to learn his way around the kitchen.  We have started small (he’s only 10 so we have time) and he can now make scrambled eggs.  The rule is I have to be in the kitchen when he does this.

And I also supervised him making single serve mac and cheese.  The one that comes in a cup and you add water and microwave, not too difficult (or so I thought).  The first few times I supervised but last week-end I was in my office upstairs and he yelled up asking if he could make some.  So I said go ahead and kept on working,  with one ear open but not really expecting any problems.

“Mom, there is smoke coming out of the microwave!” I hear a small panicked voice yell.  The spouse goes down first and I follow expecting to find a dying microwave (it came with the house and I am guessing it is at least 15 years old).  Instead it smells like burnt popcorn and my husband holds up a melted plastic cup.  Turns out small child forgot to add the water.  He will not be appearing on “Kid’s Baking Championship” anytime soon.

 

Halloween

Frankly the grocery store being full of Halloween candy already really irritates me.  Who needs to buy candy two months early?  Especially here where it will be all melted by the end of October.  Do people fear a dearth of candy?  That there won’t be enough for everyone?  Seems to me there is plenty of candy in the stores year round.

I was sharing these thoughts with a fellow blogger and had an epiphany.  For Halloween this year I can dress up as Mrs. Claus or an Elf and hand out Christmas candy, which I am sure will be quite plentiful in October.  Maybe we should put up our Christmas decorations along with Halloween? NOOOOOOOOOOO!

I feel like “The Nightmare Before Christmas” now occurs every year.  I want to enjoy each season, each holiday in it’s own time.  It is August, still triple digit heat, still swimming, popsicle and shorts weather.  I don’t want Halloween being shoved in my face until October.

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Dying zinnias do a look a bit autumnal. (no…bad tracey, still summer, at least wait until after Labor Day to start thinking fall thoughts!)

Have a good week (if you want to, no pressure)!

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

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 3/14/18

Waiting -Dr’s appointment:  My left shoulder has been bothering me for a few weeks now and I finally went to see my doctor.  She is thinking rotator cuff and I went to get x-rays the same day.  (She wanted to do an MRI but insurance dictates that I get an x-ray first.) Should get word in a day or two what the x-rays show and she already gave me a referral to orthopedics. So now I just wait. And try not to use my left arm in ways that cause pain!

The wait is over – about school:  Last year we started to be very unhappy with my son’s school and this year the feeling has increased.  We have been looking for different options for quite some time now and in January we finally found a private school we really liked and applied. I have no experience with private schools.  When I was growing up you went to the school you were assigned to. Period. This school has a hard cap of 28 kids total to be admitted for fifth grade (two classes of only 14 each!). Fifth grade is where the school starts so all the slots are available.  I don’t know how many applicants they have but a committee makes the decision sometime in March. No specific date and the wait is starting to wear on me a bit.   I feel like I am holding my breath and getting ready to pass out but I can’t take that breath yet.  Two more weeks.  You guys need to write some distracting posts for me.  And maybe say a little prayer?  Thank you!

UPDATE:  My son got in!  Found out late Tuesday night.  Whew, so happy to take a deep breath.

Something I changed:  I decided to jump the gun a bit with spring because frankly my front door “winter” wreath looks pretty silly when it is 80° outside and having a snowman on the mantle was comical. So I swapped out my seasonal decorations a little early.  I constantly have to look for a happy medium to live by as the weather doesn’t match the calendar as far as the seasons go, at least what I think of as “normal” seasons.

 

Paint Chip Poetry:  In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I picked out five green paint chips (words in italics).

Everyone has their own version of the Garden of Eden:

For my Grandmother a trip to the Emerald Isle                                                                                                                 sipping a pint in a low ceilinged pub in front of a peat fire.

My Uncle- sitting behind left field in Fenway Park                                                                                 glove at the ready for a long, high fly ball.

For my sister trapped in the wrong era                                                                                                            a ring of vintage turquoise large enough to choke a baby.

For myself an alpine forest backing up to a mountain cabin                                                                    near a crystal clear snow melt lake.

 

Something I noticed:  My lemon blossoms smell just like honeysuckle, delightful!

 

 

So how was your week?

Estate Piovoso Continues

We are finishing up the last full week of summer vacation from school.  Woo-Hoo! (That would be the introvert in me woo-hooing, the parenting side is of course not looking forward to the battles about to be embarked on.)  And of course vacation may be over but summer will continue for many weeks.

Further analysis revealed four hours of computer time was three hours too many so we revised the Computer Use Guidelines. And now I am responsible for more entertainment of small child. So I have been doing exciting things like:

  • Visiting the Legoland Discovery Center in Tempe, Az
    • Not nearly as bad as I feared.  Two large groups were there but really not nearly as crowded as I had imagined.  I had about an hour where E was playing in the climbing gym and I got to read my book.  We had lunch at the Rain Forest Cafe beforehand and just missed the worst of a monsoon storm on the drive home.
  • Golf ‘n Stuff
    • A Groupon deal helped make this more affordable.  We played 18 holes of Putt Putt Golf ( hole in one’s:  son – 3,  mom-0, sad) and then spent some time in the arcade.  I am a sucker for skeeball and played (really badly)  some pinball as well.
  • Apple Annie’s in Willcox
    • Apple and peach picking which led to making peach jam.  Again, avoided the rain and enjoyed the cooler temperatures.
Peach jam with the ever present afternoon clouds in the background.
  • Sabino Canyon (not)
    • On Sunday night we were all feeling rather blah from the humidity.  We knew there had been a lot of rain in the mountains and thought we’d walk over and check out the creek.  But the park was closed.  We found out the next day there were 35 people stranded on the other side of the creek and shortly after we were turned away they started rescuing them by helicopter.  In my defense I never had any intention of crossing the creek. We came home and went swimming in our pool.

Photo courtesy of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department  Normally there is no water running across the road, there is a tram that uses this road multiple times a day, except when it rains like crazy!

  • The Carpet Store
    • Yes, that really is the name.  We have the brand and type selected, now we have to pick a color. We had it narrowed down to two but the sun was shining for a few moments one day and we could actually see the colors so now it is narrowed down to three.  They are coming to measure on Friday afternoon and I swear I will have a color picked by then.  Getting new carpet for the upstairs is one of my 2017 Ambitions.
  • “Captain Underpants” – the movie
    • This is on deck for later this week. I am looking forward to popcorn and hearing my son laugh.
  • Bug Spring Trail
    • Hoping to do this hike in the Santa Catalina Mountains Saturday morning, weather permitting. About 4 1/2 miles long we will take two vehicles so we only have to hike one way.  Hoping to get an early start and beat the heat/rain.  Planning on taking a breakfast picnic:  deviled eggs, muffins and fruit.
Rain drenched oranges.

It is official, wettest July in Tucson ever.  This after the hottest June in Tucson ever. Sigh.

The Epic Computer Build of 2017

I love it when a good idea turns out to be… a good idea.

Since the beginning of the year my 9 year old son and I have been talking about building a gaming pc. My son is into all things computer and I thought it would be a really good experience to learn more about the hardware side of things. I told him we could build one over summer vacation. I said this despite having no idea how to build a computer. NOT A CLUE.

I spent a few days earlier in the year researching parts and found a great website where you pick your price range and you are provided a list of parts. Easy-peasy. No doubts about things being compatible or missing cables or fitting inside the tower.  I bookmarked the website and moved on with my life.

My son kept talking this and that about different requirements and I smiled and nodded and life was good.  And then the end of school neared.  Luckily we were going on vacation the day after school let out.  I assured my son we would order the parts after we returned home and had a few days to get sorted out.

And the day came when I could no longer put off “The Epic Computer Build”.  I showed my son the website and heard the shriek of “that is not building your own computer!”  Really?  Don’t we have to actually assemble all these pieces?  Isn’t that building your own computer? Apparently not.

So he made me a list of parts and I made a list from the website and we went through it item by item.  And we made choices from both lists. We looked at cost and capabilities and looks.  We discussed pros and cons and tried to figure out if things were compatible the best we could. We worked together.  And we placed our order.

And then somehow I managed to not think about the computer assembling process AT ALL. And before I knew it I had a big box of computer parts and one very excited child.  The parts came on a Saturday afternoon and my son was going to a baseball game with his father bringing me another day’s reprieve.

And darned if I didn’t climb into bed that night and realize I still had no idea how to even begin assembling a computer! So I climbed out of bed and looked at a few websites and watched a couple of YouTube videos and came up with a plan.

Honestly I expected “The Epic Computer Build” to take at least a week.  The start of Day 2 had us putting in the final component (the Optical Drive) and checking the cabling one last time.  We plugged it in…and nothing. And we were not surprised.  Two people who have no clue as to what they are doing do not expect success on the first try.  There was no clear directions about connecting everything together so I had let my son do most of it.  Now what?

So we unplugged and opened the tower and thought about it.  One of the videos I watched talked about the cables for the power switch and LED lights and how it was easy to screw them up. So I unplugged them and started over.  I examined the diagram in the motherboard manual closely and re-connected. And it seemed different than the first time.

Once again we plugged it in…and the sweet joy of success!  Until we realized we had no wifi.  What? I thought all motherboards had built in wifi but apparently most don’t. So day 3 we went to the computer store and bought a PCI-E wifi card and installed it with nary a cuss word. And while we were in there we also figured out why we didn’t have any sound and fixed that too.

Yup, less than 3 days to build a computer from the ground up.  My son and I keep looking at each other with big we did it grins.  We have really bonded over this achievement and I think we have each developed a bit more respect for the other’s capabilities.  And I have been reminded that I can do anything I really want to do, especially if I want to do it with someone I love.

So today the computer usage limits have been suspended and we are having ice cream to celebrate.

One happy computer user!  When will I get to use it?  Apparently not until school starts 🙂

P.S.  Want to know the hardest thing about assembling a computer?  Teeny tiny screws in teeny tiny places.  Seriously.

 

The Summer of ‘Yes’

We are back from our two week vacation to California. The remaining weeks of unencumbered summer stretch before us. I love not having to set the alarm, love the idea of stay at home and hide from the heat days. Lovin’ the 90° pool water.

But I am sick to death of parenting. I can not say “please brush your teeth” one more time.  Six plus years of saying it multiple times a day is enough.

 

My favorite peak name at Yosemite is “Cloud’s Rest”.  The peak just to the left of Half Dome.

 

So I am taking the summer off from parenting (except in the event of true danger of course). No more teeth brushing reminders (the cost of any cavities will come out of his college fund).  Snack away my son because I am not doing much for dinner these days anyway. Okay, don’t shower or comb your hair, the only place we are going is in the pool anyway.  Yes you need to be in bed by 9:00p at the latest but you can stay up and read as long as you want.

And while I know the answer will not always be yes at least now I am offering alternatives: “No”, we cannot go to the park at 11:00a.m when it is already 100°, how about going in the pool instead?

My favorite photo from our trip to Yosemite.

Because my son would happily play on the computer 12 hours a day we sat down together and wrote some agreed upon guidelines which I printed out and placed next to the computer.

GUIDELINES FOR COMPUTER USE

  1. No more than 4 hours per day. (Be honest!)
  2. Only use the computer when time is available. Don’t forget to:
  • Play with friends
  • Go swimming
  • Eat
  • Play with your other toys. (Legos, cars etc)
  • Do chores and errands
  • Go places and do fun things
  • READ!
  1. No computer use after 6:00p.m.
  2. Stop using the computer when you feel cranky or frustrated. (Or when Mom says enough!)
  3. Do different things on the computer. Don’t play Roblox or Minecraft for 4 straight hours!
  4. Remember that using the computer is a WANT not a NEED.

 

***NOT FOLLOWING COMPUTER GUIDELINES WILL RESULT IN A 24 HOUR LOSS OF COMPUTER PRIVILEGES!!***

 

Personally I would prefer a 2 hour limit per day but I am trying to be flexible and open minded. (I am also secretly hoping that after a week or two he will get kind of sick of the computer and move on to other things.) The great thing about this list is there is no arguing or discussion. I merely say a number and he gets it. Yesterday for the first time I did not remind him of rule #3.  At 6:30p.m. his father reminded him because he needed to use the computer. At first my son tried to argue about the consequences and I simply  said if you don’t want to follow the agreed upon rules then we eliminate any computer use for the rest of the summer.  Hardcore and Easy-Peasy at the same time.  Guess who spent three hours in the pool today, read a book and finished building the Lego set he got for a good report card?  Guess which mother and son are both perfectly happy?

My second favorite photo from Yosemite.

Welcome to Summer!

 

Epiphany

Today is the last day of Christmas for my family. Tomorrow the tree comes down and we start packing up all the decorations. I thought I would feel sad but instead I feel a great contentment.  I spent time this morning sitting on the couch drinking a mug of tea while looking at the Christmas tree and nativity scene.  One last respite before the hustle and bustle of real life returns tomorrow.

My son’s second full week of winter break has been busy and satisfying.  I relished all the time we spent together even if it has left me feeling exhausted.  While I will not mind when peace and quiet descends on Monday that doesn’t stop me from embracing our one last outing today.

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Cool wisps of clouds!

In honor of the Wisemen’s journey to Bethlehem my son and I took our own hike.  We  went across the street to Sabino Canyon Recreation Area and meandered around for two hours.  The weather: absolutely perfect.  I think the pictures say it all.

 

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Our own “forest” of cacti.

 

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Sabino Creek really flowing with snow melt.

 

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Sabino Dam

Cheers to the end of a Delightful holiday season!

 

Quiet Time

I have been thinking of this week end as the calm before the holiday storm begins.  Even with all my planning and lists and trying to keep social outings to a minimum things will get hectic.  Tis the season after all.

Having embraced my introvertedness I realized I wanted to do something to carve out a little pocket of quiet time each day.  A few moments to breath and sit in peaceful solitude are essential to my happiness.  And to ensure this happens I devised a project.

Each day I will sit down and color one picture for my son.  A Christmas countdown.  Starting on December 1st he will get a picture colored by me counting down the days to Christmas.  He might get it in his lunch or find it in the bathroom when he gets up or in his room after school. I selected 24 pictures from a couple of old holiday coloring books we have.  Some will be easy to color, others may take a bit more time. I’ll add the date and remaining number of days until Christmas.

I have to confess I have already colored a few.  For all my good intentions I know there will be some days when activities and travel won’t permit me to sit down and color. But they will be the minority.  And riding the Polar Express?  Totally worth missing a day of coloring!

I find this project very soothing and akin to meditation.  I don’t find it a chore, one more thing on my to do list but rather a chance to pause my day. I find my mind slows down and empties out.  My focus is on what shade of green to use, or finding what colors I can use besides red and green.  Afterwards I am relaxed and recharged, ready to tackle the next item on my to-do list.

Take time to enjoy the peace of this holiday season.  Remember, it is a whole season, not just one day.

 

Oh, Santa

My almost nine year old son is pretty mature for his age. But every once in awhile I will be reminded of just how young he really is.

This time of year he starts making the Birthday/Christmas list. And this year everything on it was a bit pricey. An IPad, IPod, a computer and several large lego sets. I pointed out that he had a lot of big ticket items on the list. “Don’t worry mom” he said, “it won’t cost you anything, I’m going to ask Santa for this stuff.”

Oh, Santa, right.

A few weeks later…

During the Olympics my son decided he would root for Canada as well as the USA. (Because he was born in Montana and considers Canada a neighbor. Cute!) Then he decided to add combined USA/Canadian bedding to his Christmas list.  He described what he wanted in great detail.  Um, I’m not sure that exists I tell him.  “That’s okay mom, if you can’t make it I”ll ask Santa to.”

Oh, Santa.

Oh brother.   I have already figured out what I am going to say when he starts asking if Santa is real. I am going to tell him that everyone is Santa.  That we all give gifts to each other.  Point out the toys we donate every year.  We already celebrate St. Nicholas’  birthday so I will start with the real person who started the gift giving tradition and go from there. But I have nothing to say if Santa doesn’t bring him anything he really wants. (Maybe you should have made your bed once in awhile doesn’t seem an appropriate message for Christmas morning.)

He is eight and he still believes in Santa.  I want to him to feel that wonderful joy when you unwrap an item you really really  wanted (but didn’t expect to get) on Christmas morning.  I want to give him that this December.  But how?

Usually his list changes over the months.  They get lost or I hide them to see what items he repeats on the new list.   As he gets older it is harder to find that one gift that really makes his eyes light up when he unwraps it.  His current interest is all things computer.  But I am still fighting the screen time battle and am not ready to give him more machines.  (I believe a Kindle and a Chromebook are more than enough for an almost nine year old.)  So for now I have to wait and have faith.  Faith that a subsequent list will reveal some sort of inspiration.  Faith that my son will get the message that Christmas isn’t just about the gifts, and most especially not just the gifts you receive.  But still…Faith that under the tree this Christmas there will be that one gift that makes his eyes light up with happiness.

Afterall, Christmas is the season of miracles.