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. ūüôÉ

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…

Summer Bucket List

It is here, the last full week of school. We will have two hormonally challenged individuals spending the entire summer together. I can hardly bear the thought of it.

Keeping small child entertained all summer is no picnic. Left on his own he would spend all his time in front of a screen. Even though he is eleven it is not enough to simply tell him to turn the computer/tv off and go find something else to do. Believe me, I have tried that. Mostly he just lounges around complaining that he is bored, ignoring any suggestions I make.

I want him to do things he enjoys besides video games and cartoons. I want him to explore his creative side and get some exercise. I want him to have a good summer.

All year I have been jotting down ideas. The hard part is most of these things will have to be done together which could be good or bad. Kind of depends on how hormonally challenged we are feeling on any given day. The hope is we each get an hour or so for ourselves in the morning and a second hour in the afternoon.

The big goals are not to let one or two bad days derail the whole idea, be flexible, and once in awhile shake things up and go have an unplanned adventure. (Every summer I plan all these get out of the house ideas and every summer the heat or monsoons press us back indoors. So adventures this summer will be spontaneous because if we think about it we won’t go!)

I have decided the first day of summer vacation we will go to lunch at our favorite ice cream place (they serve food too) and discuss plans. And then we can head over to the new Hobby Lobby (conveniently located in the same plaza) and maybe find a project or two.

Here are some ideas of hopefully fun things to do:

  • Swimming. We have a pool and once I get him in the pool he loves it. Last year he made a lot of excuses to not go in which was really annoying. This year he won’t have a choice. For Easter I bought a bunch of pool toys to help tempt him into the water.
  • Book Club. We do make it to the library on a regular basis and we can easily find YA books we both enjoy. I thought it would be fun to read a book at the same time and then discuss it. Maybe have a themed lunch that day to go along with the book.
  • Cooking. My son has shown an interest in cooking and baking. Every once in awhile I’ll let him plan a meal/dessert, shop for it, and prepare it. A great way to practice so many skills.
  • Christmas. I am going to get a craft kit or two and we can have craft time for a few weeks. He can make Christmas presents for relatives. So much easier to do it now than when he is juggling school and sports.
  • Take an on-line class together. The local community college participates in ed2go. ‘Drawing for Absolute Beginners’ seems perfect for us.
  • Movie nights. It is getting harder to find movies we all enjoy (and haven’t already seen), but not impossible. Popcorn helps.
  • Skee ball. Skee ball is hands down our favorite arcade game and we got a small version for Christmas. Playing tournaments with innovative prizes will be fun for all.
  • Board games. We have a ton of games and go in spurts playing them. I have a secret goal of playing each one at least once!
  • Sketchbooks. I like the idea of doing something creative together, but not too structured. The Sketchbook Project seems like a good idea and it is pretty cool to think of our work going on a tour and then being kept in an art library. I ordered a book for each of us and splurged on the digital addition. There was a 20% off code when I ordered which made the price a little easier. This should pair well with our on-line drawing class. Hopefully after the class he will be more confident in his skills and it will be cool to have before and after sketches for both of us.

This year our vacation is near the middle of the summer break which is nice. We are going to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon which we are very excited about. This will help divide the summer into two halves, the first being what I think of as swim season. Very hot and dry and then the second half which may be the rainy season. (Monsoons are pretty unpredictable.) But it will be good to have inside plans because rain or heat are both unpleasant to be out in.

Also, right after vacation I am having my hysterectomy. They do it robotically so it is not the big deal it used to be. But I will still have one to two weeks with limited lifting, bending and twisting. And no swimming for four to six weeks, a killer!

I am hoping small child will be helpful those first few recovery days. I suspect I am kidding myself. A more realistic prediction is that while Mom is knocked out on pain killers he will be grabbing all the computer time he can!

I can make all the plans in the world but really, I have no idea how the summer is going to go. Fond memories? Or a nightmare best forgotten? I am assuming no matter what we will both survive. No one has ever actually died from hormonal teenagers or menopausal moms, right? RIGHT?

May Madness: Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

I got a wonderful surprise gift from Mother Nature today, rain! Last night we had a lovely thunder storm and this morning it is cool and cloudy and we’ve had more rain fall. Pretty rare this time of year and I love it! Thank you Mother Nature.

Every year what I truly want for Mother’s Day is to not have to think about dinner. I am responsible for dinner 364 days a year. This doesn’t necessarily mean I cook dinner every night, yet somehow I am responsible for the fact of dinner.

It is 100% up to me to plan dinner be it cooking, leftovers, eating out or throwing a frozen pizza in the oven. If we go out 90% of the time I have to pick the restaurant.

I want one night where I don’t have to think about dinner at all except to eat it. I want to be told we are going to such and such place at whatever time. Period. No thinking involved on my part.

It won’t happen of course. And yes I have articulated this desire loudly in years past. Last year there was no plan made by child or spouse and we ended up eating leftovers or sandwiches or something. One year they wanted to go out and I told them to pick a place and they couldn’t manage that and they dithered until it was too late to go out.

Now I will admit they usually make breakfast and clean it up. I get the impression that they think that is enough and maybe they are right. Maybe I am just being greedy. A whole day without meal responsibility? Blasphemy!

This year I am picking up the no dinner plan vibe as well (maybe I am wrong) so I have Plan B ready. The Cubs game is on at 4:00p and I’ll make popcorn and drink the pink fizzy lemonade I got at Trader Joe’s and pretend I am at Wrigley Field.

Small child will make himself mac and cheese and spouse will sulk that there is no dinner (he did all that work on breakfast!) and ostentatiously eat a bowl of cereal. And thus another Mother’s Day will end.

Til tomorrow…

The Rock is Still Hard

When last we left our intrepid peri-menopausal heroine she was agonizing over whether to try HRT (hormone replacement therapy) or not. After further on-line research she decided to give it a try for six months, just to get through the summer…

And so I picked up my prescription took it one time and then got a call from the doctor’s office saying my blood work came back and the dosage was all wrong. Jeez. In June 2017 my FSH was 22.0. This time it was 6.7 which doesn’t make any sense at all. (FSH should be going up the closer you get to menopause.)

So a new appointment was made for the 2nd week of April (because the Doc has a medical conference to go to in March so that is the earliest available appointment). But I feel better because I know this appointment is really going to focus on HRT and all my concerns. I have all my notes about crazy periods and different symptoms and will remember to tell her that I am only looking for short term relief. I thought I would wait and write a follow up post after that visit.

Funny how the one thing you don’t worry about is always the thing that bites you in the ass. At my last appointment I got my pap smear and promptly forgot about it. (I suspect when I made the appointment the receptionist heard pap smear and didn’t hear the part about HRT and that is one reason the appointment went the way it did.) Anyway, last week I got a call saying there were endometrial cells in my pap test and they need to do a biopsy. Wait. What? What does this mean? Probably nothing good.

After the first flash of panic subsided I did some reading. It wasn’t overly helpful but it could explain some of my symptoms.

So now I wait. All thoughts of HRT are on hold while I see if I have endometrial cancer. And if the cells are benign could they still be causing some of my miseries?

I am worried that I am going to feel miserable all summer. That I won’t get to be the parent I want to be. I have all these fun ideas of things to do but if I am exhausted and crabby and impatient it ain’t going to happen. I am scared that during this horrible phase of my life I am going to permanently ruin the relationship between my son and I.

Right now I am scared of all the unknowns. All the uncertainty. I tell myself this is normal and to get back to my life as it is for now. The kitchen floor isn’t going to mop itself. This is a known fact so I might as well deal with that.

And so it goes, the see-sawing between panic and it’s probably no big deal. The hope that in two weeks I will have answers and hopefully solutions and get to have a decent summer after all. I can hope. ūüĆą

The Good, the Bad and the Not Too Ugly

The Good

I decided my son really needed to start helping more around the house. We have tried out different chores, all met with complaining and avoidance. Because I am struggling to get through the evenings these days I decided he needed to do the dinner dishes. Period. No arguing allowed. And guess what? He actually likes doing the dinner dishes! And he does a really good job. Go figure.

The Bad

Because the moving gracefully into menopause thing isn’t happening I have decided I want to try hormone replacement. Since before Christmas it has been very hard to get a lot done. Even things I want to do I find it hard to find the energy and interest for. I went and saw my primary doctor but she wants me to see a GYN and I couldn’t get an appointment until the first week of March. I tell myself it’s just four weeks, but it sort of feels like forever.

Before

The Not Too Ugly

My wonderful dog Sherlock is 14 1/2 years old and pretty spry and rather deaf. I decided last year that spending all those hours at the groomer’s was getting to be a bit much for him. So I tried a mobile pet groomer and it seemed to go okay. But when she came back before Christmas he wouldn’t go with her. He actually growled at her, something I have never seen him do before. So he didn’t get bathed or clipped.

And now it is February and he is crazy stinky and shaggy. It didn’t help that he fell in the pool two weeks ago.

I am pretty sure the problem is with that one groomer and I thought about trying a different mobile groomer but felt uneasy. So I decided to try and do the job myself. Now we have given him numerous baths but I had never clipped him myself. So I did what every person does who wants to learn something these days: I watched a few YouTube videos.

And then I took him to Dirty Dawgz, a great self-service dog washing place. The owner was crazy helpful. She helped me figure out what blade to use, made sure I knew how to do it and when she wasn’t busy came over and helped me do the more difficult areas.

My dog behaved wonderfully but it was still a very long process. After two hours we both had had enough. I forgot to do his tail and he wouldn’t let me do his feet but he is a lot less furry and he can see again. (I am going to try and trim him up a bit more with scissors this weekend).

I would totally do this again but I would take my spouse next time. It was too hard trying to keep Sherlock standing with one hand under his belly and only having one hand to do the clipping. And hopefully he would be less furry next time, he has a very thick coat that took multiple passes with the clippers. Because he has to be completely dry to clip I would also think about bathing him one day and clipping him the next. It took forever to dry him because of all that thick fur and I had to get him dry all the way through.

Both Sherlock and I are pretty happy, he was all frisky when I brought him home, obviously happy to be able to see again. (Though he completely crashed out the next day!) And I was thrilled that I wanted to pet and cuddle him again. That was some good bonding time with the grooming too, lots of chatting and nose kisses.

After

So there you have it, the good, the bad and the cutie pie!

The 12 Days of Christmas

We celebrate the whole 12 days of Christmas in our house.  I usually do some sort of theme.  Last year we did activities which I wrote about here, here and here.  In the past I have done books, candy , and once I tried to match the gift to the song (pineapple rings for dessert for 5 Golden Rings, a DVD of the Rockettes for 9 Ladies Dancing etc). 

This year I decided to skip the theme in an attempt to make things easier for my hormonally demented self.  So I am doing a mix of candy, activities and gifts. I have decided to reuse my Harry and David 12 Days container from two years ago.  For the items that won’t fit in a drawer I will leave a note instead with a clue as to where the gift is hidden.  My son loves hide and seek! Some of the gifts are just for him (attempts to keep him entertained the long two week break from school) and some are for the whole family.

A Partridge in a Pear Tree: ¬†The Hogwart’s version of “Clue”. ¬†I am going to hide it in the laundry room with the other board games, which include a traditional version of “Clue” and the clue is going to be ‘Clue’. ¬†Fiendishly clever I know!

Two Turtle Doves:  Two turtle candies.

Three French Hens:  Three Hershey Kiss bath bombs.

Four Calling Birds:  A humming bird feeder (you know, to ‘call the birds’ to us).

Five Golden Rings:  I confess this gift may be a bit skewed towards something I wanted –

Six Geese-a-laying:  A ten dollar gift certificate for each of us to Bookman’s (used bookstore) and a note saying we are also going out to lunch.

Seven Swans-a-Swimming:  Since this is New Years’ Eve I thought it would be a good night to do our mother-son sleepover by the Christmas tree.

Eight Maids-a-Milking:  Eight caramel candies for us to share.  I like that we have a Brach pick-a-mix at the commissary so I can get the exact number I need and not have extra candy in the house.  (The low carb start is looming!) And calendars to celebrate the start of 2019.

Nine Ladies Dancing:  My son and I will do an art project together.  I bought some small canvases at the dollar store and I think we will go through the house and scrounge items to make collages.

Ten Lords-a-Leaping:  A make your own chewing gum lab kit. (I found it at World Market.)  Perhaps not the best choice for a day when we also have dentist appointments scheduled but c’est la vie. 

Eleven Pipers Piping:  Plan A is to go up the mountain and find some snow.  If the weather doesn’t cooperate than I will take him to a park with a good playground.  Hopefully one of his friends will be available to go with us.

It is possible to find snow nearby once in awhile! Rose Canyon Lake – Jan 2017.

Twelve Drummers Drumming:¬† I was a stumped for one last idea for a long while and kept my eyes open hoping something would grab me. ¬†I spied “Bean Boozled” and thought this was just silly enough to be a perfect ending to the holidays.

So there you have it, twelve full days of holiday.  And for Epiphany?  Three last gifts with a Platypus theme.  Socks, a stuffed platypus and an adoption certificate for the World Wildlife Fund.  And then it is back to school, which I am sure I will be more than ready for by then!

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!