family

A different kind of hard.

Age 46 is literally around the corner.  Like, a 15 day corner.

I’m just not feeling it though.  Not “I can’t handle turning 46.”  I’m truly not feeling 46.

Ok, ok, let’s be honest here.  Physically, I’m there at 46 if not and some.  I had to ask my husband to borrow his grocery store reading glasses yesterday to read because I couldn’t hold the book at an appropriate distance to see the words correctly, and I couldn’t find my grocery store reading glasses.  My hands feel like there is fire in my knuckles at times when my arthritis flares up.  And one of my kids told me my butt is flat two days ago.  Um, no it’s not.  That one I can’t handle.  I’m not going down like that.

Mentally and emotionally though?  I don’t feel old.  I know I’m not O-L-D, but I’m certainly old in younger circles opinions.  I was at work the other day at one of my care homes, and on the TV was on an old black and white movie.  The men were commenting on how a woman had gone down hill, and just let herself go, ‘but she was 45′ was the explanation the men gave.  Sigh.

Not feeling the 46 years in ways such as going to more concerts this summer than I have in the last 10 years combined.  I feel young and free at concerts.  I LOVE the loud music.  Grant it, one of the concerts will be Huey Lewis and the News, I won’t be rocking out, but I will be singing every word.  I’m balancing that show out with others where I will clearly be in the top 2% of the oldest people there by far.  Don’t care.  Don’t throw off my groove man.

I just signed up for a teaching credential 2 year college degree program last week.  My family witnessed me running around the house, laughing and happy singing “I’m going to college!”  I’m definitely not feeling my oncoming 46th year when I’m returning to college.  This is when I don’t feel old, because I feel like I still have a lot to give.  I’m not done yet.

Two years ago, I wrote The older I get…the more free I feel.  I vowed to make the rest of my life the best of my life.  I’ve been thrown some serious curve balls, and things haven’t gone quite as smoothly as planned since then, but always working on it.

My friends and I, while in the trenches of babies and toddlers, used to comment on how hard things were.  At that time, we also recognized that as hard as baby and toddler mom life was, teenager mom life would be a different kind of hard and tired.  Turned out to be a true story.  Rewarding and loving, but a different kind of hard.

A friend posted this article on her FB page today, it’s a long read, but I loved it.  Take the time and read it if you’re in the 40 somethings and in a not feeling it yet place like me!  Appreciate the things that the 40’s have brought.  There are many.  The post was touching and also super funny.  The fact that I have yet to step foot on our trampoline that has been in the backyard for the past couple of months directly related to the author stating getting on the trampoline would result in 3 chiropractor visits the following week!

Here is the article, make sure to check it out:  Her View From Home, This Stage of Life?  It’s Hard Too.  It’s good!

Bring it on 46!

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Accused of being born with a silver spoon in my mouth…

Born with a silver spoon in your mouth = to have a high social position and be rich from birth. (Cambridge Dictionaries Online)

I have told this story to my kids multiple times, each time the outcome is still surprisingly amazing to me…

One summer as a young teenager, my mom and I went on a float trip down the Truckee River from Tahoe City.  We’d all done this trip as a family many times.  This particular time, it was just my mom and I, and we were using a raft that we had brought for the 3 hour trip, rather than rent one from the two companies that pump people into the river on rafts for a nice chuck of change.

We had just recently gone back to school shopping for the upcoming school year.  I was able to pick out one new outfit and one new pair of shoes.  I remember this very clearly.  It was a big deal, this one new outfit and one pair of shoes.  Years prior, and again in future years, there were additional items added to the one outfit, one pair of shoes, but during this period in life, it was one of each, and I knew it was important and to be appreciated.

I brought my new pair of white Keds back to school tennis shoes with me on that float trip with my mom.  About 1/2 hour into our trip, one of my brand new pair of shoes went over the side of the raft, and got carried away with the current below instantly.  I was already a kid that worried in general.  Now, this float trip, I sat in a silent worried agony.  The guilt of losing a new shoe that I knew was worked hard for by my parents was disabling to say the least.  I was old enough to know, that at this time in our lives, replacing those shoes wasn’t something that would just necessarily happen.  I was old enough to know not to suggest ‘just write a check for new ones’ as I had believed in my younger years that as long as we had the paper checks, we could buy things.

Two hours of trying to enjoy myself with my mom on such an awesome float trip with beautiful sights and fun stops to swim, while secretly suffering in guilt and worry was taking a toll.  Forget ‘how do I get from the river through the parking lot with one shoe’.  It was more ‘how do I go to school with one shoe’.  I don’t remember talking about my worry to my mom, I just dealt with, ‘you get one outfit and one pair of shoes’ in my mind repeatedly.

With about 20 minutes left in the raft trip, I was enjoying myself.  I sat on the edge of the raft, feet in the water looking around.  I looked down into the water, and I kid you not, my overboard white Keds shoe was tossing and turning with the current along the bottom of the river, directly under our raft.  I jumped in, got the shoe, and carefully placed it with it’s pair for the duration of the ride.

When I tell this story to my kids, they just can’t believe I found my shoe, what a cool surprise.  For me, when I tell this story, all the feelings of worry and guilt from that day come to surface, along with the sense of relief that I felt in not having to burden my parents with an additional purchase.

When I was in my young 20’s, I worked in medical billing for a large clinical laboratory.  A conversation with another co worker ended with her saying in a snide voice ‘Well, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth.’  Maybe she had this impression of me because I was a carefree young 20 something that spent her money on rent and beer while counting down the days until a trip to Cabo with my roommates that we saved for, rather than using my paycheck for real life things like kids and medical expenses.  Maybe I had talked about my family back at home, my parents and two brothers that go on cool trips like Hawaii and dude ranches now, and that is why she had this impression of me.  Not sure what exactly gave her the impression that I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but I was offended as hell.

I called my dad that night.  I thanked him for working so hard all his life for us.  For picking things up and making a better life than it even had been before.  When I was a young teenager, my dad’s partner in business literally ran away in the middle of the night with all that the business had, leaving my dad in a situation forced to make very hard financial decisions for our family.  As an adult and as a parent, I can now realize that those years for my parents must have been extremely stressful.  As a kid back then, I was happy.  My brothers were happy.  My dad worked his ass off and was able to enjoy the result of the stock market boom.  A bit of irony that I of course had already moved out of the house when Hawaii, dude ranches, and a Corvette were part of our family’s  picture, but it’s all good.  I’m not too sure what my dad thought about that thank you call, but I’ve always remembered it.

I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth.  And I didn’t like being accused of it.  I think I was so offended by the comment because it took away from how hard my dad, and my mom worked to allow for our family to enjoy, and not to struggle.  And for that woman to just see the end result rather than the work behind it, was offensive and disrespectful. It felt like a slap in the face to the struggles, and hard work that was done in order to enjoy some pretty cool experiences.   A great life, whether in Hawaii, or diving in the Truckee river to retrieve my miracle lost white Keds.

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Taking a lesson from my husband.

It was about 7:00 pm on a Thursday. Dishes were on the table, dishes were in the sink.

Kids were getting their showers done, finishing homework, reading.

I cleaned up, did all the dishes, washed down the table and counters, mopped…ha ha, who am I kidding, I hate mopping, I swiped a wet towel across the kitchen floor under the sink area and called it a day.

It had been a while since I had seen my husband.  He had disappeared into the backyard somewhere.  Not unusual.  He often goes outside to make work phone calls, and evening time is not out of the ordinary.

Dishes done, house picked up, children clean, hanging out, ready for bed. It’s 8:30 now, and I’m folding a load of laundry.  I asked my husband if he could bring in the next load for me.

After he did, I asked ‘Hey, where did you disappear to earlier after dinner?’ He said ‘I was throwing the ball to Mara for about 20 minutes.’

This is Mara: IMG_5066 I had to laugh.

Amazingly, I wasn’t annoyed or anything.  Just laughed.  I thought ‘man…this guy…not bad.’

Then I thought, I need to disappear for 20 minutes and just go and throw the ball to Mara sometimes.  Stupid that I never think to just disappear.  I always seem to have something to do. Although, I think that if I disappeared for 20 minutes unannounced, all I would hear is this, real loud:

My husband gets away with his buddy at least once or twice a month to go fishing.  Down time.

For some reason it takes an act of Congress for me to get away with my friends.  We all mean well, and we talk about getting away.  Hell, we practically dream of getting away for a weekend.  We talk about where we want to go, what we want to eat, and the spa treatments we’d get.  But too often, our grandiose dreams end up just being that.

There have been times in my mothering life, that I have gotten away.  Vegas with my friends, drinking at the craps table at 11:00 am, so awesome!  Spa treatments and excellent food along the coast.  And hotel movie jammie days (the husbands just don’t get those ones, they think it’s a waste of getting away.  Whatever, they are heavenly.)

Few and far between though.  Way too few and far between.

For now though, if you can’t find me, I’ll be in the backyard throwing the ball to Mara.  With earphones on though.

Squeaky Wheel

I have found that I have no problem being the squeaky wheel when it comes to the safety and protection of my children and family. Other times, I often sit back, and let others be the squeaky wheel in circumstances where it is more of a matter of opinion or personal preference.

I have learned to make sure the situation is one of which I want to be tied to as stepping up for, and then I’ll go for it.

Knowing I don’t have to voice everything that can be voiced is a learned comfort that allows me to really choose to when to speak up.

The situations that matter most to me, where I feel I would regret not speaking up, is when I have no problem at all being the squeaky wheel.

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It’s Groundhog Day!

Cook, clean, wash, repeat.  Throw in some work here and there, and an incredible amount of kids’ sports and activities.  Wake up, repeat.

A good friend and I were talking yesterday and laughed at how sometimes life can seem like Bill Murray’s ‘Groundhog Day’.

I wouldn’t trade my life for anything.  I love being a stay at home mom, who is also able to do my work at times that either my kids are in school or my husband is home.

But, let’s just say there’s never too much to report when catching up with old friends who you don’t see on a regular basis.  What’s new?  Nothing much.  And that’s ok.  I think that is where it’s supposed to be at this time in life with 3 kids, a husband, 2 dogs, 3 cats, and 4 chickens.  Very busy, but nothing extraordinary to report.

I think that’s why I always need a vacation to look forward to.  If something is on the books, I keep my eye on that ball until it arrives.  It is the reward for the routine.  The routine I love, but the reward I love more.

The magic cat litter box.

Disclaimer:  I know my blog was made to be primarily about migraines, but this fits within the ‘and other tidbits of my life’ for sure.  It has been a focus around our house lately!  And maybe my cats and my migraines aren’t that unrelated after all.  They know how to make me a bit calmer and more comfy when a migraine is in full effect.  

And now, on to the cat party:

We have 3 cats.

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Three indoor cats is not what we aimed out to do, but it’s where we’re at!

This is Kiki:

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I love her to death.  She is my favorite.  I know you aren’t supposed to have favorites, but I do. Everyone knows that.  The other two are my kids’ cats, and I love them very much too, but Kiki takes the cake.  My youngest doesn’t have her own cat, so she has claimed Kiki as her own.  I have said that I don’t know what I’ll do when Kiki dies one day, and that I may want to get her stuffed and still place her around the house in her favorite spots.  Tears from my kids and being yelled at by all after I voiced that will result in that not happening.

More of Kiki:

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She’s spoiled rotten, and she knows it.  We sing to Kiki all the time.  Basically, every song can be made into a song about Kiki.  Try Flo Rida, ‘Kiki got low, low, low, low, low, low, low.’  At one point, we were going to make a video with our phones to the tune of American Authors’ ‘this is going to be the best day of Kiki’s life’ as we shot her running to her food bowl.

She likes her food:

IMG_4489  Sneaking into the food bag.

IMG_2841  Result of liking her food a lot.

 

This is my middle daughter’s cat Shamu:

IMG_3764 IMG_7422 Quite skiddish.

You can quietly walk into a room, and wham, he’s gone, out of there like you just set off a firecracker.  But possibly the most loving, suffocating cats ever to be once he gets wrapped around my middle daughter’s neck.  And, he snores.  Loud.  I hear him from other rooms.  It’s crazy.

 

And, without further ado, here is Shadow, my son’s cat:

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Notice you will not get a clear shot of him.  He’s not one to pose for pictures, ever.  My youngest daughter says that Shadow has a ‘musical meow’.  And he does!  He also has the longest tail I have seen on a cat.  We joke that he lets my son have his room when he goes to bed at night, other than that, the room is Shadow’s.

 

IMG_4100  All 3 on my bed when I wake up in the morning.

So, with three cats in a house (only Kiki goes outside sometimes when she feels like it), the cat litter box is always a lovely topic of conversation.  Over the past year, my son agreed to cleaning out the litter box daily for a month straight in order to earn money towards a video game.  My middle daughter has somehow never really had to deal with it, and my youngest loves the job of cleaning out the cat box (weird?)  I am a bit OCD, and therefore I clean it out daily because I need it done very well so it’s not more disgusting than it has to be.

And I bring you to a phone conversation from a few months ago…

My mother in law called me, and she told me her friend has 5 cats, and has the Litter Robot.  Had I heard of it?  No.  She explained that it’s an automatic cleaning litter box, and that she was going to order me one.  I told her she didn’t have to do that, very nice, but didn’t have to.  I asked her how much they were and then said ‘no way, you can’t buy me that, it’s way too expensive!’  She insisted, and said that she wanted me to try it out first, if it didn’t work for my cats, I could send it back, and if it did work, she would order one for her one cat.

I got off the phone feeling silly that this was coming my way, but also hopeful and excited!  What if…

So I had to check it out on Youtube.  This Litter Robot has a sensor, and 7 minutes after a cat is inside it, it cycles around and empties out any waste into a garbage bag lined drawer, then cycles back the clean litter?  It’s crazy.

(I love how the description says ‘warning: cat poop visible’!)

So, it shows up and I put it together in a few minutes:

IMG_4914  My youngest called it a spaceship.

It’s more like Mork from Ork’s spaceship egg in my opinion.  I initially set it up in a different bathroom than where their litter box was, because it’s the only place with a plug.  A cat or two came by and looked at it, that was all they did.  Ok, time to move this along.  I set it up next to their old litter box as it was suggested:

IMG_4923  Are you kidding me that this is my life?

Problem was, the cats used the old one, hands down over the new one.  Even though I left it dirty, that was the one they wanted.  I finally said ‘no more, we’re going cold turkey.’  The Litter Robot was now at a make it or break it crossroads.

IMG_5039  Lovely.

Extension cord because there’s no outlet, Mork from Ork egg in my bathroom, and cats that were holding it better than a chick in the front row of a Van Halen concert.  I gave it one week, then it was going back.

IMG_4951 IMG_4948 IMG_4946 IMG_4943 IMG_4938 Shadow is not so sure…

Then, amazingly, they began to use it.  Although, not gracefully.  There is a window in the back of the spaceship, and one night when my husband was in the bathroom, he looked over to see Kiki staring at him through the window as she was using the cat box.  Is this really where we are in our life?  Wow.

The week turned out to be a make it not break it week.  Cats were using it, birds were singing, all was good.  Except, when I walked in and found the culprit, Shadow, front feet in the box, back feet on the step, poop dropping on the floor.  SERIOUSLY?  Like, you’re almost there buddy, come on!  Although there were a few of these ‘mishaps’, overall, I felt like the Litter Robot was going to be a success.

Therefore, we did what any other normal cat person would do, and install an electric outlet in our bathroom in order to plug in our cat litter box.  (The amount of times I want to write ‘are you kidding me‘ is overwhelming).

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Ya, didn’t remember that there was a vent pipe the first place that was cut out.  Sigh.

The big test was when we went out of town for 2 days.  I was so hoping that it would be a success, although truly worried that the floor pooper would strike again.  As I ran into the house when we returned from our trip, I slowly peered onto the floor in the bathroom….SERIOUSLY!!!  Poop on the floor.  A let down, but since I saw the event take place in the past, I knew that the cat was at least trying.

It’s been a few weeks since there has been any poop on the floor mishaps, and I think it’s safe to say we are successfully using this.  To this day, when it cycles, I stop and watch it.  It’s a trip!  Sometimes the cats will come and watch it also.  The first couple of times it went off in the middle of the night, I woke up freaked out, like a hair dryer had been turned on, or some power tool in the dark.  But now I hear it and smile that it’s working!

If this keeps on as it has been, it may go down in history as the best present I’ve ever gotten.  Thank you to my mother in law for my cat box!  (And there it is, I just wrote thank you for a cat box.)

Image 2 The magic cat litter box.

 

 

Reinvented Gift

If I had a dollar for every time we were told we should have a pool in our backyard, it would add up to a lot of dollars.  Unfortunately, not the 40,000ish dollars necessary to put a pool in our backyard.

A few summers ago, Costco had this super cool, big above ground pool, with a salt solar chlorinating filtration system that allowed you not to have to use harsh chemicals.  The cost of this pool was more equal to the dollars that could have been earned from the comments regarding our need for a pool.

Well, don’t let me go to Costco unless you expect something to come home with me.  I was so excited to get this for the kids!  The pool was purchased, put up and enjoyed thoroughly for about 3 weeks.  Then the dumb filtration system went all crazy.  I was told to take it apart, scrape the copper plates of the build up, among other tasks that would take about 20 minutes every other day.  It would then work for about a day and a half before the alarm on the unit would go off in the middle of the night, somehow its’ sound making its way through my window and waking me up.  Between the green water, waking up in the middle of the night to address this pool like I was caring for a newborn, and the water bugs that I still have no idea where they came from started swimming in the pool, I was done.  Our good friends had bought the pool at the same time, and were a bit smarter than me for throwing in the towel a few weeks earlier and lugging the dripping mess back to Costco.

My husband took the entire thing back to Costco, dripping tubes and all.  They were awesome, took it back and gave us a full refund.

Then there was this whole large round dead grass area to deal with in our backyard where the pool had sat for a couple of months.

Operation fire pit was launched.

My husband built this awesome large fire pit, and we surrounded it with the plastic chairs we have had for years that we get out during parties.  When I told him about some adriondack chairs that I had seen for X amount of dollars, he really went into action.  He bought a pallet of wood, and built 10 chairs for about the price that 2 of the ones that I had seen would have cost.

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Our pool that I purchased as a gift for our children one hot summer, has become a memory making fire pit which I think will be much more enjoyed for years to come.

One of my favorite memories with our pool turned fire pit was about a year and a half ago, we were going to have friends and neighbors over, and it started pouring rain.  Everyone still came.  I don’t remember what we ate (very odd for me, I always remember food), I just remember all of us standing around the fire pit, rain coming down, and us drinking and laughing together as our kids ran like crazy playing in a yard full of rain.  We have all talked about that since.  Such a simple but fun memory.  Thanks to a pool that didn’t work out!

Merry Christmas!  You never know what your gifts may lead to.