Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Funny Thing...

As I navigate this treacherous and winding road of Life, I find myself in an odd place.  It's somewhat murky, sometimes sunny, and just a titch scary at times.

I'm talking about Post-Menopausal Adulthood.

Unlike previous generations, or so it seems to me, there are more of us living this life who still have youngish children at home.  I have two teenagers, one of them a freshman at university, and trying to keep up with them is equal parts exhilarating and exhausting.  Last year, when they were both in high school, they were both in marching and concert bands, and my daughter was in choir as well as sundry honor societies.  Not only that, she was in the top performing bands and choirs, so her schedule was twice as packed as my son's.  Additionally, he was still studying martial arts at the time, so our family spent many, many nights going in opposite directions.  Family dinners were few and far between.

A few months ago, after the umpteenth time visiting my family practitioner with random aches, pains, and myriad weird symptoms over the course of 12 months, my physician looked at me and posed an interesting question.  "Do you think you might be depressed?"


"Do you live with an unusual amount of stress?" she continued.

My response was to break out into cynical laughter.  "Well, I have two teenagers...." I responded with an evil grin on my face.

The resulting action from this exchange was that I was put on a mild antidepressant, and you know what?

I now laugh from happiness rather than cynicism.
I'm not crying seemingly every other minute.
I can find joy in my life.
And I have started singing again, auditioning for and earning a part in a community, semi-professional chorale.

Wow.  What a difference.  I didn't even know I was living under a cloud until someone pointed it out to me.

Sometimes, we all need a little help.

Later daze...

Monday, August 25, 2014

I'm Still Grateful, but...

...I'm no longer going to keep a running total of my lists.  I'm going back to normal blogging.  :)

This morning, my darling daughter decided that because she didn't have a class until noon, and because there was nothing on my schedule, she wanted to hang out with me this morning and have me drive her down to campus.  Did I mention that campus is about 36 miles across town?  Yeah, but it's what a mom does, so I did.  I was just happy she wanted to hang out with me this morning.  The drive back was a bit hairy; a guy driving a delivery van through downtown decided he needed to be in my lane more than I did.  I avoided the collision, but it was a close encounter.  Whew!

Back to chorale rehearsal tomorrow night, and I'm still on the fence about it.  I can't quit, but I'm still not........fully engaged, as it were.  I'm singing the notes, but I'm not feeling it.  Tomorrow night we start rehearsing "The Messiah."  Perhaps then I will feel something...

Tomorrow is another day, filled with blessings and challenges.  I shall rise to the occasion.

Later daze...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day 13 - I Think I'm Running Out of Gas

Sunday.  Day of rest and relaxation.  I had yet another lazy day because of this STUPID headache, but I managed to cook dinner.

  1. I'm grateful that no one required anything of me today.
  2. I'm grateful that I was able to sleep late this morning.
  3. I'm grateful that what little work I did do for band database management today went smoothly and quickly.
  4. I'm grateful that I spent the day hanging out with my family, especially with my daughter whose been so busy with activities at the university.
  5. I'm grateful that my Pulmonary Hypertension seems to be at bay again today, despite not feeling my best.
Later daze...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Attitude Adjustment - Day 12

I took a lazy day today.  Higher humidity levels took a toll on my head and lungs, so I laid in bed most of the afternoon, watching mindless television.

I"m grateful for the following:

  1. having my daughter home today;
  2. having the freedom to take a lazy day;
  3. that my son is feeling better today;
  4. family movie night; and
  5. graham crackers.
Later daze...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Attitude Adjustment - Day 11

There is a wall hanging that says friends come into your life for a reason and a season.  I believe that.  Eighteen years ago, I met a group of women who became the most important women in my life at the time.  They helped me to come to grips with becoming a full-time, stay-at-home mother, and they helped me see the sacredness in motherhood even in the thankless tasks like changing dirty diapers.

After a few years, our kids grew older, our lives didn't intersect any more, and we lost touch.  A few years ago, one of them entered my orbit again, and then recently another one did as well.  Tonight, four of us came together over dinner at a restaurant to share memories, experiences, and laughs.  It was a pleasant and easy-going evening, as if we had never lost touch.

Tonight I am grateful for the following:

  1. Anne (even though she couldn't join us tonight);
  2. Lisa;
  3. Bernadette;
  4. Renee; and
  5. the chance to share food, fun, and Christ's love.
Later daze...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Attitude Adjustment - Day 10

Driving home from the high school tonight, I was able to open my windows and enjoy the breezes.  I keep bringing up the weather because it's highly unusual to have 75 degree nights in August in the desert.  Yippee!

I am grateful for these other blessings in my life today:

  1. a short class day for my daughter, so I was able to spend some time with her this afternoon;
  2. the chance to meet my son's teachers tonight at school;
  3. being greeted warmly by old acquaintances;
  4. easy-to-make dinners; and
  5. laughter, because what's the point of it all if you can't laugh?
Later daze...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Attitude Adjustment - Day 9

There are so many things for which to be thankful, but my thoughts seem to be filled with nothing but the amazing rainfalls we've been getting.  We've received so much, in fact, that we've had some pretty severe flooding.  The desert is not accustomed to receiving five inches of rain in a single storm, so the ground, dry and parched, cannot absorb it quickly.  Rescues by brave first responders around the Valley dominate the newscasts.  Still, there are other good things in my life, so I list the following blessings:

  1. a cessation from the campaign calls, at least for the day;
  2. fairly easy music to learn for my first concert (only a few weeks away!);
  3. social media, allowing me to be an introvert but still maintain important relationships;
  4. another night of not cooking (thank you, Leo's Island BBQ!); and
  5. an early night to bed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Attitude Adjustment - Day 8

Whew!  Today started out strangely.  I overslept, and then awoke to the sound of howling winds and rain pounding on the roof.  I delivered my son to school on time, but my daughter very nearly missed the shuttle to the university.  Had she done so, guess who would have had to drive across town to deliver her?  Um, yeah, that would be ME.

Today's I'm thankful for the following:

  1. that I managed to make it to the branch university campus in time to get my daughter boarded on the shuttle bus to the main campus;
  2. much cooler temperatures;
  3. refreshing, cleansing rain;
  4. my first chorus rehearsal in four years; and
  5. meeting new people, forcing me to break out of my protective shell.
Later daze...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Attitude Adjustment - Day 7

My daughter is in the thick of welcome week activities at our local state university.  There have been many late nights, but she comes home every night, so I still get to see her.

I am thankful for the following:

  1. my daughter living at home instead of in the dorm;
  2. Netflix on my tablet, allowing me to curl up in bed and watch television shows or movies at my convenience;
  3. not doing my volunteer job a the grade school any more (I really don't miss it!);
  4. having more time for myself and my family because I'm cutting loose some of my volunteer jobs; and
  5. friends who understand my mixed emotions about my older child starting university.
Later daze...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Attitude Adjustment - Day 6

I'm a cranky broad.  I'm finding it more difficult to come up with these lists, especially when I feel as if no one is reading them.  I know it's more about internal results, so I shall persevere.

I am grateful for the following:

  1. finding a Steak and Shake, even if it's across town (at least it's closer than Indiana!);
  2. much-needed rain;
  3. cooler temperatures that accompany the rain storms;
  4. a son that has finally learned to fend for himself by actually cooking; and
  5. meaningful discussions with my husband about our children, our finances, and about life in general.
Later daze...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Attitude Adjustment - Day 5

Today's blessings include the following:

  1. bags of frozen jasmine rice, cutting down dinner prep time;
  2. precooked chicken, cutting down dinner prep time;
  3. pre-packaged spice packs, cutting down dinner prep time (are we sensing a pattern here?);
  4. a husband willing to try new recipes;
  5. a son whose finicky eating habits are slowing giving way to trying new things.
Later daze...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Attitude Adjustment - Day 4

Next week, my first-born begins the next chapter in her life.  She has filled the calendar with hours and hours of "Welcome Week" activities at the university, and even though she will be a commuter student, I have recommended she attend as many events as possible, even if it means driving cross town late at night to retrieve her at the conclusion of the night's activities (because the busses are no longer running).

Today, I am grateful for the following:

  1. a mother/daughter lunch with my soon-to-be college girl, sharing food and swapping laughs and stories;
  2. a drop in the day's humidity levels;
  3. leftovers for dinner (so I didn't have to cook);
  4. an unexpected surprise from a friend, lessening my workload just a tad on an upcoming project for the band; and
  5. a schedule free from volunteer expectations today.
Later daze.......

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Attitude Adjustment - Day 3

I'm really trying to keep this up so that I truly generate a change in my attitude.  I've grown grumpy of late.

Today's blessings include the following:

  1. Hugs from my 5'11", 15-year-old son (who, it seems, is NOT too old for mommy snuggles);
  2. A night off from cooking (dinner at Pei Wei!);
  3. The excitement in my daughter's eyes as she describes all of the welcome week activities at the university, scheduled for next week;
  4. Good manners; and
  5. The imminent return of regular season, NFL football!
Later daze...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Attitude Adjustment - Day 2

Taking stock of my life, I'm grateful for the following:

  1. The beautiful, much needed rain that fell all night Tuesday and part of this morning;
  2. The laughter I hear coming from my children as they continue to grow closer as they grow older;
  3. A compassionate family practice doctor;
  4. Naps; and
  5. Sprouts Farmers Market being halfway between school and home so it's convenient for me to run in and buy milk when I run out (every other day!).
Later daze...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Attitude Adjustment - Day 1

I am blessed.  It's past time for me to acknowledge my blessings.  I am grateful for the following things:

  1. Really great medicines that treat my disease;
  2. Having the past 18 years to raise my children, showering them with love, lessons, and laughter;
  3. My "new" reliable vehicle;
  4. Air conditioning;
  5. Trusted friends.
Later daze...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Picture May be Worth a Thousand Words, But a Missive is Worth $10,000

There have been many, many times in the past when I chided myself for not selecting a college major that would net me more income.  An English degree makes me an excellent communicator, but it doesn't really pay more than a few bills.

Today, however, I am feeling a bit vindicated, not to mention considerably heavier in the wallet.

My daughter, newly accepted university freshman that she is, was required to fill out a "housing exception" application in order to commute to school from home rather than live on campus with the other 5,000 freshmen.  Now mind you, campus is a mere 25 miles across town from here, and there are free student shuttles that can take her from the branch campus near us to the main campus cross town.  Still, they like to keep all of their newbies on campus in order to "encourage their freshmen to stay in school and complete their degrees," so I guess I can understand it.  Somewhat.

Still, understanding it and being able to afford it are two entirely different animals, so we promptly filled out the exception form asking for "permission" for her to continue living at home (what's wrong with this picture???).  As one of her parents, I was required to write a letter, explaining why it would be "academically advantageous" for her to live at home rather than on campus.


Yeah, whatever.  I can bullshit with the best of them, so I penned an eloquent missive, explaining how my daughter would suffer undue stress living on campus knowing her parents COULD NOT AFFORD the $10K it cost to have her live there rather than here in her room with her books, her television, her family, a full cupboard and refrigerator, etc., etc.

Fast forward to today, when we received, after four weeks, the answer for which we have been waiting.  "Dear student: This letter is in response to your request for exception from the University Housing campus living expectation for the 2014-2015 academic year. You have been approved for an exception from the on-campus living expectation.  Please be advised that in order to maintain your approved status for exception, you must maintain the circumstances under which you were approved."

Maintain living at home?  Yeah, I don't think that's an issue for at least the coming year or two.  No worries.  I don't think my baby girl wants to give up the cushy life she's living just yet.

The moral of this story is stay in school boys and girls, and learn to write well.  It might not earn you the big paychecks, but it might just save you some money when you least expect it.

Later daze.......

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Nine Years the Conqueror

Nine years I've travelled this road.

In these nine years, I've cheered on one child as he earned three black belts in a martial arts discipline.

I've had another child earn her high school diploma with honors.

I've made countless trips to the hospital emergency room in the wee hours of the morning and endured an extended in-patient stay during a Christmas holiday break.

I've driven thousands of school carpools, chaperoned seemingly endless trips with the band, hauled musical instruments across football fields throughout the state, cheered at dozens of high school football games in the searing desert heat; attended parent-teacher conferences, band parent meetings, martial arts practices, and choir concerts.

I've trudged across soft sandy beaches, carrying bulky beach chairs and umbrellas in order to enjoy hours of relaxation seaside.

I've sung at weddings, funerals, weekly church services, and anniversary celebrations.

I've made small hikes alongs canyons and streams, stood at the top of a 9,000 foot vista, washed mountains of laundry, carried years of groceries, vacuumed floors, moved furniture, and hosted parties.

I cook, I clean, I drive, I shop, I sing, I volunteer.  I am mom, wife, friend, and sister.

I am the face of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension nine years later.

I am the Conqueror.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Meet Me in the Aisles

He's not a hearts and flowers kind of guy, so I don't expect a romantic dinner with candles and wine.  Neither of us likes to dress up, so we don't go to fancy restaurants often.  We've done the big chain fondue restaurant once (we liked it despite the price tag), and we've done the local steak house and swooned over the melt-in-your-mouth 10 oz. Delmonico.  We've gone to romantic movies, shared ice cream sundaes, and picnicked in the shadow of the Red Rocks in Sedona.

Honestly, though, our best date night is spent cruising the aisles of our local Trader Joe's without kids in tow.


Yes, really.  See, I'm somewhat of a foodie.  He is NOT; however, he is willing to try new things within reason.  So while I can't get him to eat the carrot and cilantro bulgur grain salad, he will try the chicken pesto sausage.  And with offerings like a .75 lb. package of fresh lobster ravioli for $7.99, Trader Joe's makes it easy for one to eat like a gourmand and without busting your grocery budget.

With kids in tow, my husband and I have been known to spend a mere 30 minutes in the store, dashing down the aisles and picking up two weeks' worth of essentials while trying not to put too many of the "Mom, we really want these" items in the cart.  On date night, we can peruse the aisles at a leisurely rate reading labels, creating menus in our conversations, and imaging ourselves as the next "Chopped" champion.

I'll admit, it's not your typical date night place, but it can be romantic if you are a foodie.

And if your husband sneaks back into the store and buys you your favorite sea salt chocolate covered caramels.......and a dozen yellow roses priced at $9.99.

Later daze.......

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Endings and Beginnings

This is the part when you let go of the bicycle.

Then you watch your child take off on their own.

Happy Graduation day, my beloved daughter.  I can't wait to see what's next.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Waxing Sentimental

I bought a new car.

Well, it's not new.  It's three years old, but the reason it's a big deal in my family is we're not known for buying cars on a frequent basis.  On average, I'd guess Americans buy/lease a new car every three years.  That average probably goes down to every one-to-two years if the car is used and older than, say, three years.  My husband and I, in 25 years of premarital and connubial bliss, have purchased a TOTAL of four cars, only ONE of which was brand new.  Additionally, the only brand new car I have ever purchased was just after my college graduation, so you can see that a car purchase is a fairly rare occurrence in this family.

My "new" car is three years old and had only 14k miles on it when purchased.  It was a lease turn-in by a retired couple, so it was immaculate and passed the certified used inspection with very high marks (save for needing new tires).

Given that I drove my previous car for ten years (it was a one-year old car when I purchased it), my kids (now ages 18 and 14) grew up in the car.

That's a lot of living, don't you think?

I am a pretty sentimental person, but even I had to admit I was abnormally attached to a minivan that was prone to breaking down every three months in the past year.  I couldn't help but remember all of the milestones and memories that were locked up in that vehicle.

  1. My son began kindergarten just months after I bought that van.
  2. My son spilled a vanilla milkshake in it just a few weeks after we bought it; we were on our way out-of-town for a family vacation and were only two miles from home.
  3. My great-niece puked in it just months after we purchased it.
  4. Each of my children has eaten countless meals and completed hundreds of homework assignments by the dome light of the van, waiting for the other sibling to complete dance class, basketball practice, or martial arts training.  These happened when my husband worked out-of-town (which happened several times in the past ten years), and I was having to drive back and forth between kids' activities.
  5. We've driven from here to Southern California and back for vacation once each year for the past ten years.
  6. My children have ridden home from two 8th grade graduations, and three black belt graduations in that car.
  7. My family has brought me home from far too many trips to the hospital in that car.
  8. My daughter learned to drive in that car.
The list could go on indefinitely.  I'm mindful of the fact that it was just a car, a hunk of metal with moving parts.  The real treasure was what happened as result of it:  a family lived a life of laughter and love, and THAT is what I will keep in my heart.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Seeking: One Lithe-Bodied, Free-Spirited Young Woman........

........trapped in the shell of a middle-aged, arthritic suburban mom.  Have you seen her?  You know, the one who let herself go?

Yeah.  I know.  I've seen her, too.  Often.  In my mirror multiple times a day.

You'd think I'd make the connection, make the change, but I just can't seem to do it.  First it was going to be after baby #1.  Then it was going to be after baby #2.  And now baby #1 is eighteen years old and on the verge of beginning her adult life, taking classes at the local state university, meeting new people, going on dates, and living her own life.  Away from mom.

Sigh.......I'm not ready yet.  I'm really not ready.  It took me years to think of myself as a stay-at-home, fully committed MOTHER.  Now my paradigm is I'm ONLY MOM.

What happened to that free-spirited, risk-taking woman I knew?  The one who could charm a room of strangers, especially men?

I'm seeking her.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Shadow

I know a thing or two about growing up in the shadow of achievement.  I am the youngest of five daughters, and one of them in particular was rather accomplished in school (the #3 daughter).  As a young student, I was compared favorably to this sibling:  "Oh, you're getting excellent grades just like your sister!" and "Oh, you'll be accepted to college early just like your sister!"

It was a heavy burden.  As the first-American born daughter in a family of immigrants, there were high expectations in our family.  My parents came to the United States so that their children would have better educational opportunities, so I was born knowing that much was expected of me.  It was easy at first.  I was learning to speak when my family was learning English, so learning to read at a very young age was not that extraordinary.  Throughout my early grade school years, my grades were nearly perfect, so it was only natural that my parents had me tested to see if I was "gifted."  I was summarily transferred to a "gifted" school in order to be amongst my so-called peers.

By the time high school came around, however, it was apparent I wasn't really all that extraordinary.  I struggled mightily my first semester, and I nearly failed English class, which had always been my strongest subject.  I rallied, though, and graduated with honors, but by then the luster had worn off.  My parents knew I wasn't the second coming of the Golden Child (their #3 daughter).  Sadly, my parents never lived long enough to see me graduate from university and graduate school, but they did witness my graduation from junior college.  I think they were proud.

Fast forward to present day.  My first-born is a Golden Child:  accomplished in academics and music, and a recipient of numerous character awards.  She belongs to several honor societies and is considered a leader by her some of peers.  She is well liked and has many friends.  Most people know who she is by her laugh, her singing voice, and her long, long hair.  It's difficult not to notice her when she's in a group.

My son is the second-born, the only son.  He has a sensitive heart, and a goofy sense of humor.  He earned three black belts in tae kwon do before the age of 14 and loves to play video games.  He has never had many friends, bullies picked on him throughout grade school, and girls thought he was "weird."  He is very bright, but he doesn't think he is.  He hates doing homework, isn't that motivated, and his grades have never reflected his ability - only his lack of output.

Wednesday night, it was his turn to step out of the shadow of his Golden Child sister and be in the limelight.  After a late-semester surge, my funny and amazing son pulled his grades up and earned an honor cord for academic achievement for first semester.

I always knew he could shine.  Now he knows it, too.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What a Waste

I got pulled over by the state highway patrol on Saturday.

By my standards, it was late.  I was driving to Sedona, about 1.75 hours north of me, to hear my older child, my talented daughter, sing with her high school choir at a lovely chapel located on the edge of the town's famed red rocks.  They were coming home from a choir festival in Flagstaff, and their stop at the chapel was nice side trip for them.  Because my daughter is a senior, I wanted to hear her sing one last time in this gorgeous venue.

I left home 30 minutes later than I had planned, and then traffic heading north was unbelievably heavy.  It felt like rush hour traffic in downtown Phoenix - yuck!  By the time I exited the interstate and was heading into Sedona on the two-lane highway, I was 20 minutes away from my destination, and the choir was scheduled to sing in ten minutes.  Uh oh........

Naturally, I decided to open it up a bit and try to make up some time.  The guy behind me must have been drafting me, because he started to speed up too.

Unfortunately, too late did I step on the brakes.  I spied the highway patrolman as he made a U-turn and flip on his lightbar.  The kick in my gut was jolting.

The driver behind me pulled over to let the cop come up behind me.  I eventually found a pullout, and stopped my car.  My hands shaking like an LA skyscraper during a quake, I managed to find the registration and insurance card in the glovebox and hand it to the very nice officer.

Turns out the truck behind me was also being pulled over, so he nudged his gigantic F-150 in front of my tiny Civic.

Several minutes later, the policeman returned from his car to hand me my citation.  He was very kind and sympathetic to my agony.  He told me he was "cutting me a bit of a break" and not citing me for speeding.  Instead, noting a fairly new law in our state, he was citing me with wasting of natural resources.  So, instead of being fined $140 and earning some lovely points on my driving record, I was fined $60 and received no points.  I thanked him, carefully nudged my car out onto the highway, and proceeded down the road to my destination, driving approximately 3-5 miles under the speed limit.  It wasn't until I arrived at the chapel (on time, due to the choir being delayed), that I saw the humor in the situation.

I was charged with "wasting natural resources".................while driving a hybrid vehicle.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

This is a Test of the Non-Emergency, Dazed and Confused Broadcast System

I'm back.

Did you miss me?

I missed writing.  I didn't think I would, despite my assertions that writing is in my blood.  The problem, however, is that I despise it when I must produce, such as when I was writing for a magazine.  Oh, I adored getting those checks, and I preened a bit when a total stranger admitted to reading my articles.  I do, however, loathe deadlines.

So, I set about taking a break in blogging to rejuvenate my creative spirit, and my hiatus ended up being a few years long.

Admittedly, part of the reason I took a break was for a good reason:  I was raising children after all.  And the fact that you have followed me to my new piece of cyber real estate means that you must know I vacated my previous premises because of a stalker.

So here I am.  In all my glory.  Again.  Those of you who followed me here probably already know my true identity, so I thought it ridiculous to hide my whereabouts.  Truth be told, I am a bit wary that my stalker might find me here, but I believe she is harmless.  Mostly.  If she finds me here, I will deal with that then.

Thanks again for tuning in to my broadcast.  I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.