And So it Goes

We are at the end of our second full week of being home. If I had to pick one word I would pick miserable. How can staying home make one so unhappy? Part of the problem is the time of the month, or more accurately the phase of the moon. In another week the moon will be on the wane and my coping skills returning. But in the meantime…

Home schooling is a nightmare. Screen time has been a battle for years and now to have to deal with my son being on the computer ALL DAY? Just shoot me now. The first day I set him up at the dining room table. He strategically chose a seat where I couldn’t easily see the screen. He put his headphones on. I assumed he was goofing off some but at the end of the week when I checked google classroom he had done nothing except History. And you know why he did History? Because one day I sat at the table with him to finish our taxes so he knew he needed to do real work. Apparently he spent most of the week researching a new gaming mouse and mousepad and watching youtube videos (and not the one’s from his math teacher).

So for week two I had him sitting in a different chair, banished the headphones and we went over google classroom before and after school each day. I sat at the table with him for at least part of each day and made sure I frequently checked his screen. I hated it. He hated it. I just want him to be responsible, show some integrity and give a shit about his own future. He’s only 12 so I am not sure if I am allowed to just let him fail or do I have to wait until he is older and has a better grasp of the consequences?

I am taking an on-line class on the science of well-being taught at Yale. (Auditing so it is free.) My son and I both took a test showing us our 24 strengths, from greatest to weakest. My number one: honesty. His number twenty-four: honesty. I think I see the problem. What I don’t see is how week three is going to unfold. Moving on…

I watched Collection 6 of The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. Not my favorite, too many weird challenges and way too much crying. And what was up with all the handshakes? Once Dave and Jon left I found myself wondering why I was still watching.

Frustrated with my lack of Census work. I was supposed to be done mid-April. I am afraid that by the time we resume it will be screaming hot. Please, just go on-line and do the darn thing!

Why am I the only person in the house who can refill the water pitcher?

Every day I get up around the same time, do my yoga, shower and get dressed. I have a small whiteboard where I list my tasks for the day. On Friday (today) I walked down to the ATM to get money and then ducked in the grocery store for some fresh produce. A little over two miles roundtrip. I came home and paid bills and mopped the kitchen floor. At 3:00p I found myself wondering if I could go back to bed. Well of course I could, but should I? It was tempting. But I have decided to try and hold out until dark (say 7:00p). I’ll finish this post, work on a needlepoint project or color. Watch something maybe.

I miss baseball.

Take care and stay safe!

Flash Fiction: Open Road

I loved this week’s prompt of the open road from Carrot Ranch. I have to confess this is a bit of a real life fantasy, though I know I would never abandon my son. But I have thought about writing a story about a mother who simply disappears one morning. I always imagine more sinister reasons than simply taking off though!

I found myself asking a series of questions that might trigger a sudden road trip and then wondered if I could write a whole 99 word flash fiction in questions. And then I did it, except for the very deliberate last line. No answers here though.

Monday Morning

As I pulled out of the school parking lot I wondered what would happen if I turned left at the light instead of right?  If I hopped on the interstate and just kept going north?  How far away would I be before anyone realized I was gone?  Would my family really miss me? Where would I go? Who would I be if I started my life over?  What could I do if I lived my life only for myself? As I approached the light I dithered, right lane…or left lane?  I smiled to myself as I made the turn.

Flash Fiction: Sugar Report

When I write my Carrot Ranch 99 word flash fiction entries my first draft is usually a little over on word count. I have found it is typically easier to edit down then to try and add. But this week I ended spot on 99 words and decided not to mess with it!

Valentine’s Day at School

“So, how was school today?” I ask as my son bounces around in the back seat.  “Good,” he says, which is his typical response.

“Did you do anything special for Valentine’s Day?”  “Well, in advisory we got Hershey Kisses and in Latin Mr. C gave us donuts. Oh and Mrs. P handed out Smarties.”  “Oh, really? “What about lunch, anything special?” “We got ice cream sandwiches, the Neapolitan kind.”  “Great,” I replied with a sigh, regretting the chocolate cake I had baked for dessert. 

“So what’s for snack?” my son asked, oblivious to the impact of his sugar report.

My son did get a few treats at school on Valentine’s Day, a brownie and two mini candy bars are the ones he told me about. I suppose it is best if I don’t know if there was more.

Flash Fiction: Key Lime Pie

This week’s prompt from Carrot Ranch is key lime pie.

True story: I had the idea for my flash fiction in my head, if not written down on Thursday night. On Friday we celebrated St. Nicholas Day and I bought a mint Oreo ice cream pie as a special dessert. When my son went to get it out of the freezer he was all excited because he thought it was key lime! Now mint chocolate chip is his favorite ice cream and I was rather surprised that he wanted key lime. Of course he still enjoyed the mint pie but I marveled at the coincidence.

I thought about changing my story but decided I am happy with my fictional version. Plus, who has time to do things twice this time of year! And I confess to plagiarizing the end of the last sentence from Dr. Seuss. I do love me some “Grinch”.

“Just One Yes”

“Can I go to Johnney’s house?”  “No, I don’t have time to take you.”

“Can I have computer time?” “No, you have math homework.”

“Can I have a snack?” “No, dinner is in less than an hour.”

“Can we have key lime pie on Christmas Eve?”  “What? No, we always have pecan pie.  It’s tradition.”

 All the nos of the day echoed in my head.

“Wait!  Yes.  Yes we can have key lime pie on Christmas Eve.  I love that idea.”

I looked at my son’s beaming smile and just like that my heart didn’t feel quite so tight.

Modern Love

“Is it possible for it to be the right decision and still be a mistake?”

I have been watching and enjoying the Amazon Prime series called “Modern Love” though I am a bit disappointed that some of it is fictionalized. I feel bad for the people whose stories were changed. I always wonder what exact part of their story wasn’t good enough or interesting enough or didn’t translate to thirty minutes of television.

I suppose I am living my own version of “Modern Love”. I may have mentioned a time or two how much I dislike where I am living. Have you ever wondered why I don’t move? Well, let me tell you…

The father (K) of my son (E) and I are married and we live in the same house, but we are not a couple anymore. We function as a family but we have separate bedrooms and do not do any couple activities. If not for our son there is no doubt we would have divorced long ago. But I want to do what is in my son’s best interest and I won’t lie, it is really hard to know what that is.

I feel like I should write a little bit of background but I don’t want to turn this into a rant about all the things wrong with K. First, K is not abusive or an alcoholic or hiding a gambling problem. He has a good job. He doesn’t like drama, to the extent that he acts like nothing is ever wrong. He simply ignores anything he doesn’t want to deal with. Nothing is his fault or his responsibility. He has never apologized for anything in the 14 years I have known him.

On the parenting side he has two grown children he hasn’t seen in more than ten years. One avoids him and the other is an alcoholic with mental health issues that he avoids. He also has three grandchildren he has never met. (Neither of his kids have ever married.) Enough said.

And yet I still feel like my son deserves to have both his parents in his life full time. In theory we could do that several different ways but I think this is the best situation, at least for now. (I won’t go into specifics but lets just say K is a very lazy, or maybe indifferent is more accurate, parent and I wouldn’t be comfortable leaving E with him for more than a day or two.) I know the situation isn’t ideal and worry about the messages E is getting about marriage. But we don’t fight and seldom even argue. At worst sometimes days go by without much interaction between us.

So yes, I worry all the time that I am making the right decision. If we split up would there be a big custody battle? Maybe. Maybe not, as my husband avoids confrontation at all costs. Arizona is big on paternal rights though and would I be able to take E out of state? How would my son feel if his father couldn’t be bothered to fight for him? It is a lose-lose situation for sure.

So I have decided the best option is for me to come out the loser, at least until E graduates from high school. We have had a few conversations about our somewhat unconventional family situation and as E gets older we will talk more. I don’t want him thinking this is what marriage is supposed to be like and while I wish I could be living a good example for him that just can’t happen right now.

I love my son more than anything and at the end of the day his father being around on a full-time basis seems to be the most important thing. So that is what I am going with. Modern Love.

“Is it possible for it to be the right decision and still be a mistake?” *

This is the thought I live with.

* I heard this line on the Australian television show “Heart Guy” and thought, yup, this is what I keep thinking.

Flash Fiction: Interlude

Seriously, I am not really thinking about Christmas yet, other than with the shock of seeing items creep into stores. But I am thinking about my son turning 12 next month. How did that happen? So that is where I went with this week’s prompt from Carrot Ranch.

“St. Nicholas”

I studied my son and wondered if he still believed in Santa.  He was almost twelve now.  I had the story ready.  How Saint Nicholas was a real person who did good works and when he died people wanted to continue his kind deeds.  How everyone gets a chance to be Santa for others.

Was my son ready to be Santa? Was I ready?  Maybe this was an interlude where he didn’t quite believe but had a year to grow into the idea of Saint Nicholas.  Or maybe this interlude was for me to adjust to him growing up.

Old-Fashioned Family Outings

For the first week after my surgery I was housebound. Between the weather (triple digit heat and humidity), not being able to drive and how tired I felt, not leaving the house wasn’t a big deal. By the end of the week though I was bored and antsy and decided it was time to make a plan.

For my hospital stay I had picked up a couple of magazines. One was “Art Journaling” mostly because it had lots of pictures to look at. And one of the articles was about art made after a trip to the Postal History Museum here in Tucson! What! She had bought fish of the world stamps. Located near the University of Arizona I thought this would make a nice, short outing.

So off we went on Friday to view an 1800’s post office and learn all about stamps. It was actually rather interesting and I learned a lot about their education program and got some information to pass on to my son’s school. They also sold stamps and had big bags of stamps from specific countries or envelopes of stamps based on themes. You could buy just clock stamps or bicycles etc. I bought an envelope of mixed stamps of the world.

The page I created for my sketchbook project.

After the post office we went to lunch at Lindy’s, a decent burger place nearby. And then we went commissary shopping as I wasn’t supposed to carry heavy bags yet and was trying to limit my twisting and bending.

On Saturday I let the family recover from the first outing and then sprang Sunday’s outing on them: a picnic up at Mt. Lemmon. While the weather was still triple digits at the base of the mountain, up at 8000′ it was a pleasant 80°. We don’t go up the mountain much during the summer because it is crazy crowded, especially on weekends, but we decided to chance it anyway.

We lucked out and found a table and parking at Inspiration Rock. The weather was luscious and we enjoyed a simple picnic lunch and played two games of ‘Sorry’. I lost both but didn’t care, I was so happy to be outside and not melting!

Hoo-doo’s!

Then we decided to see how crowded the town of Summerhaven was. Again we lucked out and found a parking spot first try. We walked down to the Cookie Cabin to get plate sized cookies. The line was out the door and after 10 minutes of not really moving we decided our luck had run out and moseyed over to the Rainbow Gift shop for a browse and then to the General Store for fudge.

We sat on a bench outside the store eating the fudge and watching all the jockeying for parking spaces and admiring the flowers before starting our descent for home.

Hoo-doo’s from above!

At home we made popcorn and watched “Harriet the Spy” (because she was a 6th grader and that is what grade my son is starting). I declared the weekend a success despite not getting a cookie the size of my head.

On Monday when I woke up to rainy looking clouds I realized it was perfect baking weather. (Okay, maybe not perfect because it was still hot but at least it looked like baking weather.) I made my own cookie the size of my head. Bigger even! A sugar cookie with mini chocolate chips and orange (in color and flavor) frosting. And sprinkles. The perfect ending.

The ‘plate’ is actually the lid to my Tupperware cupcake container, so 12″ in diameter! I was thinking this would be cool to do at Christmas.

Good Things Thursday

Just a quick post today, we have a few errands to run and then the triple digit heat will send us into the pool!

I am learning to let go of expectations (especially in regards to my son) and so many things are making me happy this week! I am, for a change, living in the moment.

I am enjoying the return of “The Good Witch” in addition to watching “Poirot” and the last few episodes of “A Place to Call Home” (but why is Olivia letting Matthew push her around?).

My son and I have just about finished re-doing his room. We painted a wall, ordered cool outlet covers and light switch plates and put up a spacious wall of cubbies. We took everything out and cleaned the carpet. His new bed is delivered and the under storage is plentiful and works great. Now we just have to clear out the closet.

A few weeks ago I got a call about the Census Bureau job but the training date was only 4 days after my surgery so I didn’t think I could go. They said they would put my name back in the pool for the second wave of hiring and I got a call this week, this time with a training date in August so I said yes!

Thanksgiving in June. I figure if you can have Christmas in July that would translate to Thanksgiving in June. I made turkey tenderloins, cranberry sauce (I always freeze a bag or two of cranberries) and a sweet potato pie that turned out quite tasty. (I tried a new recipe that had maple syrup in it and whipped egg whites to make it light.)

To help add a feeling of cool to the post!

I am a bit of a weather geek and one of my sorrows is how boring the weather tends to be here. Aside from the occasional large monsoon thunderstorm (mostly in August) there isn’t much that happens here weatherwise. But this year we had snow in February and an actual spring!

Typically we are swimming by mid-May on a regular basis and June is hot, dry, cloudless and still. This year we had vast temperature swings, wind and bits of rain, enough with all the pollen to turn our pool green. My husband spent a week trying to clear it up and we finally gave up and called in the pros. Three days later the pool was clear, just in time for the triple digit heat.

We had a thunderstorm one night, very odd this time of year, but exhilarating. And we seem to get clouds and overcast skies for part of each day, very atypical. The forecast is for a late monsoon season this year. I don’t believe it.

My local library branch has bookcases in the front of the library that display new books and recently returned books, staff picks and then some sort of themed display. (Right now it is kid’s books designed to get them to read over the summer.) I love browsing these displays and stumbling on a happy surprise. Last trip I found “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” by Kate Morton. I love books that show different periods in time and at the end find out how everyone connects! Looks like that is Morton’s theme and I am looking forward to reading more of her works.

Realizing that the only way to keep my son off the computer is to get him out of the house in the afternoons. I have several adventures planned for the next two weeks, most involving lunch and a visit to various places. Today we are going to Target to get a few items for his room, the library and finally Trader Joe’s for those tiny ice cream cones.

Happy Almost Summer!

And don’t forget Flag Day tomorrow!

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: 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…