Here it is, the longest day of the year. I like to celebrate the solstice because it means now the days will start to get shorter, a good thing for me as I am not a fan of the desert sun. Let the slow creep to autumn begin!
But I still find small ways to enjoy summer:
The soft evening sunlight on and through the trees during my end of day swim.
Tangy Lemon Italian Ice. Hits the spot in the heat (and during a hot flash).
Listening to Cubs baseball on the radio.
Finding a glue pen which works great. So much better than the glue sticks which dry out crazy fast here or gummed up Elmer’s glue bottles.
Two really good random picks from the library in a row. The first was “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” by Kate Morton and then I read the “Long Drive Home” by Will Allison. A short, intense, thought provoking read with a great last sentence.
Painting my toenails hot pink.
Finally fixing my bedside lamp. The switch has been wonky for months. The lamp is more than 20 years old and I think the switch was getting stripped. I finally took it apart, bought a new socket and swapped it out….all by myself. Didn’t need a Youtube video or any help finding the right socket at Ace. The hardest part was getting the socket in and out, wiring was easy-peasy!
Working on getting caught up organizing my digital photos, a lovely trip down memory lane.
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?
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!
“You don’t need to have the life you want to enjoy the life you have.” *
This has been my motto the last few months. I am still missing my four seasons life terribly but I am learning to make the best of the life I have now. As one can imagine summers in the desert southwest feel incredibly long but as the monsoon rains started I had an epiphany. We actually have two summers here.
Summer Part One I like to think of as “normal” summer. It lasts from sometime in May until sometime in July. The weather is hot and dry and sunny. The pool is warm and it is too hot to do much outdoors other than swim. So we spend a lot of time in the pool. We usually have at least one camping trip and/or our big vacation during this time. It feels like a normal summer.
Then sometime in July the weather changes. The monsoon part of summer starts. More clouds, less heat. It usually takes a few weeks after the initial appearance of clouds until we get rain at my house (except for this year) but late afternoon and evening thunder still keep us out of the pool. The temperature drops but the humidity rises. It feels like it has been summer forever, because it has. Summer Part One, “normal” summer is over. This is the start of Summer Part Two.
I actually pulled over to take this photo. How cool it is to see rain falling.
In addition to monsoon weather Summer Part Two includes getting ready to go back to school. My son resumes school the second week of August so the end of July has us buying supplies and new clothes. It always felt weird doing this in the middle of summer but this year we are doing it in Part II of summer. A completely different season from Part I of summer!
Amazing how the mind can adapt. If it takes me creating a whole new season to survive desert life so be it. I do think I need to come up with a more creative name for Summer Part II, keeping Summer Part I as just “Summer”. Any suggestions?
* The quote is from “Julia Child Rules, Lessons on Savoring Life” by Karen Karbo.
With all the rain and tropical systems and storms you may not realize it but we are having weather in the southwest too.
It is no secret that I am not a fan of living in the southwest but I have been trying to make the best of things. This week I was a bit dubious of the crazy hot temperatures forecasted but it turns out crazy hot was the correct forecast. And then I had one of my mini-epiphanies: this is extreme weather. This is my blizzard or hurricane!
So I acted accordingly. I made sure we were well supplied with toilet paper and popsicles. I made a rough plan for my son and I. We would each have the morning to do our own things. Computer time for him, laundry, housework and blogging for me. After lunch we would do some sort of cleaning project, work on a puzzle, play games, watch movies. We would hunker down and wait out the storm, er hot air.
Whadda you know, the forecasters were right! We topped out at 114° between 3:30 and 5:00pm
On Monday I swam from 8:00am to 8:45am taking advantage of the still shaded pool. I had all the laundry on the line by 9:00am and in the house by 11:15am. At 11:15 it was already over 100°! It was time to hunker down.
After lunch my son and I completed our project for the day, sorting out his bookshelf. We came up with 3 bags to take to Bookman’s next week after this spell of ferocious weather passes. Then we worked on this puzzle:
Followed by watching what has to be one of the worst sea creature movies ever, “The Creature From the Haunted Sea“. The creature had ping pong balls for eyes and regular swim flippers for feet. The plot line suited such a bad creature. The movies most redeeming feature was the fact that it was just over an hour long. Whew. Maybe it would have helped if I knew it was supposed to be both a comedy and a thriller? (Probably not.)
Then we put together dinner. I decided that in the event of extreme weather (as long as one has power) comfort food is called for. We went with meatloaf, mashed potatoes and broccoli.
And then the pool beckoned for my son and his neighbor friends. And after the neighbor kids left I got in the pool and paddled around watching the day end.
Day 2: The Summer Solstice
Pretty much a repeat of Day 1 but with clouds. Odd clouds. It never felt like rain and it is unusual to have clouds in the morning. During the summer you may see a few puffy white clouds floating around in the morning but monsoon rain clouds don’t roll in until late afternoon or evening.
But today we had flat whitish gray clouds pretty much covering the whole sky most of the day. But it didn’t affect the heat, still 102° at 11:00am when I brought in the laundry. We topped out again at 114°, but by 4:00pm it felt like storms might be edging in. The air went from dead calm to breezy and the temperature plummeted to 110°!
I am probably one of few people in North America who is celebrating that the days will now be getting shorter. Less sunshine, yeah! To celebrate I decided ice cream sundaes for dinner and to make them extra special I baked a pan of brownies. For dessert we had leftover pizza.
Then we waited for the winds to die down a bit, peering anxiously out the windows to evaluate the clouds and look for rain or lightening. We didn’t see either so then we took our traditional Summer Solstice night swim. When we exited the pool at 8:45pm (full dark here, no gloaming time in the southwest) it was 100° and we could see stars.
Day 3: Officially Summer
9:00am: pool temperature 92°, air temperature 98°
Found in the bottom of the pool:
Seen above the pool: seven F-16’s from the Air National Guard unit. Obviously trying to get the day’s training sorties in early. (Sorry I didn’t get a picture but I was, you know, in the pool.)
Noon: Air temperature, 109.5°. Despite the morning and evening excursions outside to the pool I was starting to feel a bit cabin feverish. And I really wanted a bagel. Did I dare make a run to the grocery store down the street? I dared.
Hey, what were all these people doing out and about? Didn’t they know they were supposed to be hunkered down? I hoped they all weren’t craving bagels too! Whew, scored one sesame seed and one blueberry bagel. Home safe again.
2:00pm: Movie of the day: “The Karate Kid”. How awesome and totally 80’s! My son, “This is just like ‘Rocky’ “. Good catch son!
5:00pm: Games played: Kerplunk and three months of Payday.
6:00pm: For dinner I decided on brats and corn on the cob cooked on the grill. Air temperature had dropped to 104° with monsoon looking clouds and wind. That is okay because my husband does all the grilling. I stayed inside and set the table.
Day Four: The Last Day
Sure there are three more days of pretty darn hot still ahead but who am I kidding? That is how the whole summer is. But this is the last day of our heat wave saga.
8:00am: air temperature 91°, water temperature 92°. I drag myself into the pool and do a few low energy laps. I need a break.
listening to the cicadas play their ode to heat
birds exchanging morning gossip.
High above F-16’s roar west
eager to escape the rising sun.
2:00pm: Movie of the day: “Young Frankenstein” . I laughed a lot and small child frequently looked puzzled, especially at the end. You’ll get it when you’re older kid.
4:30pm: Looks like we are topping out at a windy (but no clouds) 108° today. The Heat Wave is over! To show solidarity with my southeast rain soaked brethren I have decided to make coconut shrimp (Trader Joe’s), oven fries and cole slaw for dinner. We really need key lime pie for dessert. Do I dare venture out? Nah, I’ll enjoy my last hours of hunkering down!
There you have it, how I survived ‘The Great Heat Wave of 2017″!!!
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.
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?
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
No more than 4 hours per day. (Be honest!)
Only use the computer when time is available. Don’t forget to:
Play with friends
Play with your other toys. (Legos, cars etc)
Do chores and errands
Go places and do fun things
No computer use after 6:00p.m.
Stop using the computer when you feel cranky or frustrated. (Or when Mom says enough!)
Do different things on the computer. Don’t play Roblox or Minecraft for 4 straight hours!
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?
Because of the looong holiday weekend I missed Wednesday HodgePodge. I will try again next week. And yes, I still have two Chicago posts to write. But not today. It is July and I am on vacation, sort of.
So instead, here is a list of what is bringing me joy these days:
Swimming – Like when I was kid. I leisurely swim up and down the length of the pool luxuriating in the feel of the water and the movement of my body. I don’t count laps or minutes, I just swim.
“Rogue Wave” – This is a game my son and I invented. He floats around the pool in an inner tube pretending to take notes and make marine observations. And then I, the “rogue wave”, “sneak up” and flip him over. He loves this and making him happy makes me happy. Plus it is a good arm workout.
Tuna fish sandwiches – Yup, when I meal planned for the week I actually put sandwiches on the list for dinner. No guilt because I bought a loaf of the good rye bread.
“The Hours Count” – By Jillian Cantor is the novel I am currently reading. I love books that are fact based fiction. I get to learn something and be entertained at the same time.
Sleeping – I have been sleeping great lately. I think it is all the swimming plus getting in my 10k steps most some days. (Well, I was doing really good before the holiday weekend and I am walking as I write this.)
Mother’s Day Swing – I have been wanting a swing like this for a few years and this year I got one. I LOVE this swing and even with the summer heat I use it most days. I like to sit outside around sunset. It is still hot, but bearable without the sun and if there is a breeze it can be quite pleasant. My son and I often sit there and read a chapter or two from our bedtime book. I am finding this swing is a suitable substitute for a front porch (for now).
Since six months have gone by I decided it was time to look at my goals for the year and see how I am doing.
It took a few days after vacation to get back into our routine but now things are going well again. I am feeling better, sleeping well and realized my extreme crabbiness was simple PMS. (Possibly exacerbated by less than great eating choices over vacation.) I still made my doctor’s appointment for my regular annual exam in mid-August. I am going to start a list of questions to take with me so I don’t forget anything. My goals for this year: Write every day: Rather on hold until school starts up again but I am reading blogs and writing down a game plan of different things to incorporate or try to help make me a successful writer if not a published author.
Don’t be afraid to use things: I feel like I am doing okay with this one.
Play before work at least sometimes: I am actually doing pretty well with this one now that it is summer vacation. Pool time has been trumping making dinner at our normal time and keeping the meal really simple. Often I make some sort of cold side dish in the morning (cole slaw, macaroni salad etc) and have my husband grill something when he gets home. We have also been eating a lot of carrot sticks and cucumber slices, even easier than a salad!
Take 5 minutes everyday to just sit: I have been doing very well with this one. I usually wake up early and I go outside and water the plants and then just sit for a few minutes. I also spend time floating around the pool admiring the clouds or sit under the patio during thunderstorms. (The monsoons have come early this year. Seems like thunder chases us out of the pool every afternoon for awhile though the rain so far has been spotty.)
Healthy eating: This will always be a work in progress but we have been making progress. I rather gave up on the Farmer’s Market. I am not sure why I find it so hard to go but I recognize a lost cause when I see it. Instead I signed up for a CSA and my first pick up is this week. More on that in a later post. I also just bought a Nutribullet to make smoothies. So far I love it and am excited about trying lots of different combinations of fruits and veggies. More about that when I have had more time with it.
Exercise: I resumed my yoga and jump roping no problem after vacation. Plus I swim most days and try and spend 10-15 minutes swimming back and forth with minimal stops. Hopefully I will be able to see the difference in my arms by the end of the summer.
Purging: I am still making small advances in downsizing my possessions. Lately I have been working on my wardrobe. I browsed a few blogs searching for a what an almost 50, stay at home mom should be wearing. The prevailing theme seemed to be mix and match with just a few pieces of good quality that fit well and you are supposed to pick a basic color palette. While I am not ready to commit to having just 6 tops and 6 bottoms like one person, I am working on purging those items I may wear but don’t really love. (I read a good tip that said don’t go by if you wear something but ask would you buy that article of clothing today.) I am being cognizant of the outfits I really like and that make me feel good and those I wear that make me feel meh or that I don’t really want to leave the house in.
I am also starting to look around my office for what I love and use and what I have simply because I have it. On deck this week for purging is the laundry room. I did the games and puzzles earlier this year but looking around I can see more miscellaneous items that can go.
Some random bits to update:
The new bedroom closet organization has grown on me and is working very well.
Relishing reading my Agatha Christies. Love being able to browse my own shelves to find one that suits my mood.
I am really enjoying church and signed up again to donate a dessert for the men’s shelter in July.
We spent three full days last week camping on San Diego Bay. Temps in the 60’s, clouds in the morning, sun in the afternoon; it was heavenly. I spent most of my time outdoors. I walked on the beach or stared at the water from my lounge chair and ate meals overlooking the bay. I watched sailboats and battleships go by. We did a harbor tour, walked around the campground and visited the ocean via a nearby state park. I thought about how much more time I spent outdoors when I lived in New York and Montana then I do now that I live in Arizona.
In New York I had my dream front porch, wide, covered and with a wide wall for a railing you could use as seating or put candles or flowers on. I had a small table and chairs out there along with a rocker and a papasan chair. It was an extra room in the summer and fall. I frequently ate breakfast or lunch out there, read and admired my roses.
In Montana I missed my front porch but had a park like backyard. My infant son and I spent much time in the backyard with a blanket spread under a large tree. I loved hanging out laundry while he sat in his little tree swing.
I don’t find the weather in Arizona conducive to being outside. Mostly it is too hot or too windy. I do not enjoy being outside in harsh wind. I do like to sit under the covered patio and watch monsoon storms. We don’t have the best vantage point from there but sometimes we get good views of the clouds or lightning.
The biggest difference in getting outdoors between here in the desert and up North in Montana and New York was being able to walk to do many errands. Up North the few days when walking around would be hazardous or very unpleasant were scattered throughout the year. My neighborhoods had sidewalks and walking to the store, bank, library or post office took paths down picturesque residential streets. I could admire flowers blooming in spring and summer and holiday decorations in the fall and winter. I also liked looking at all the different houses.
Here in Arizona walking for errands doesn’t happen much for two reasons. First, six months out of the year the sun is blazing hot. In the summer if it has clouded up you are in danger of being caught out in a violent thunderstorm. And while the bank, grocery stores, a few restaurants and post office outlet are just over a mile away the walk isn’t pleasant in the best of weather. There is no sidewalk along the busy 45 mph street meaning you have to walk in the also busy bike lane. Along some parts people have trod a dirt path through the weeds and brush and I walk there where possible. It is not relaxing though as you have to keep a sharp eye out for snakes and pricklies. There isn’t much in the way of scenery, mainly cinder block fences, cacti and the backs of two story houses. The mountains are to the north and west but they don’t change much and after a few minutes I lose interest in them.
What I loved about walking to do errands in NY and MT was being able to take different routes through residential areas admiring all the different houses, yards, porches and landscaping. Here everything is beige. Most houses look pretty similar and the landscaping is all the same. There are a few weeks in the spring where there are some blooms but not many along the busy road. Each housing area is self-contained so you can’t try and detour down side streets.
Coming back from San Diego I tried to brainstorm how to spend more time outdoors. Of course this isn’t the best time of year to start as it is triple digit heat and the sun is broiling by 8:00 am but I thought I would give it a try. Of course there is the pool and I do try and swim every day. This summer I am getting into the habit of getting up about 6:30 am. I put on my workout clothes and go out into the backyard. It is already warm but still pleasant in the shade. I water the plants and simply sit for a few minutes and listen to the birds. Sometimes I plan my day, write down my to-do list. At 7:00 am I either jump rope (M-W-F) or come inside to do yoga (T-TH).
It is easy to spend time outdoors when you have a sense of purpose and decent weather. In New York and Montana I didn’t have to think about getting outdoors, it just happened. Being outside here requires more planning, effort. You have to decide to go up the road to Mt. Lemmon, packing a lunch or researching a hike. You have to check the radar for storms. You have to get up early to beat the heat. (Walking after dark in not an option for me with no sidewalks or streetlights and an array of wildlife to be leery of.) Some days my son and I get out of the pool and eat 3:00p snack on the patio. Once the monsoon season starts we will sit under the back patio and watch the rain. It’s not much but it is a start. In the heat of summer that is all I ask of myself.