Happy to be Sending my Senior Back to School

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— 1 —

It was a difficult decision John agonized over for months, but it ended up being easy for him to not march his Senior Year.  He’s been able to hold down a part-time job easily while still having plenty of time to boost his GPA. He goes out to dinner with friends, goes bowling, sees movies, hangs out at home on a regular basis, and sleeps eight hours a week. He’ll be able to actually watch entire ballgames, attend school plays and choral concerts, go to school dances, etc.  It’s going to be a great year!
john ksparks

— 2 —

We were slackers over the summer and didn’t get any college visits done, so I think we may pair up with his friends who have similar interests and go together. More fun, and someone may have a question that is not on my three-page list. (Not likely, but possible.)

— 3 —

And here’s the happiest news: When John graduates in May he will be an uncle! That’s right, Catherine and Aaron are expecting!! I’m so excited about becoming a grandmother, just wish we lived closer together. Next door would be good. So depending on how long Catherine keeps her baby boards secret you may well see designs for a Star Trek nursery evolve. We’re calling the baby Little Worf for now, and we can use all the prayers and positive thoughts you have to spare to get this little one to term!! I’m going to be “Nonna” (Italian for grandmother) and Michael will be “Mokey”, a family nickname he’s had since birth.
work paci

— 4 —

I have babies on the brain, and am so thankful I get to help my friend Lisa Tapp (yes, the writer) babysit her grandsons one night a week. I don’t know if it’s the age, the experience, or just the fact that I’m leaving at some point. But something makes the miserable crying of teething or the rain of tears during a tantrum soothing instead of frustrating. It’s so much easier to see the big picture of the little people they are becoming, and to savor the joy of each little milestone!

— 5 —

I have friends who have sent kids and grandkids off to college during the past couple of weeks, and I remember Aaron’s move-in day like it was yesterday. Moving John into a dorm next year will be hard, but I’ve decided to savor the joy. And I’m going to start preparing early so that I can enjoy that time with no distractions. Please send “empty nester” suggestions. I still leave the hall bathroom light on all night.

— 6 —

I love my new moccasins! I had a pair just like this in high school, and I either wore these, my Dr. Scholl’s wooden sandals, or my leather Tretorns. Best Dressed I wasn’t, but always VERY comfy!
mocs

— 7 —

I haven’t hit a lick at a snake the past couple of weeks writing-wise, but I’ve had some new health issues come up. It’s all way too boring to share, but it has kept me from attending my last two chronic pain support group meetings, which I really could have used. They just tend to run long (two hours!) which is an hour and a half longer than I can sit on a good day. And I missed an awesome Nerium regional because I knew for sure that even with breaks I couldn’t make it through that. I’d like to think my pain doesn’t control my life, but in some ways it does 🙁 But I’m starting back writing ASAP, because it’s probably leaking out my ears my brain is so full of plot!

— 8 —

Adding an eighth because I’m also linking up to one of Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop prompts, specifically “8 things I’m dreading / looking forward to about sending the kids back to school”

Gerard the Sock Monkey is a coveted prize in this region of the country. He resides for a year with the winner of each year’s Writing Challenge at Louisville Romance Writers. And no, we don’t all write Romance – at least not entirely. I’m sure he’s disappointed in me because I’ve been slacking off the last week or so. So I adorned him with Olympic literary medals to motivate me. Tonight I shall write!!
gerard

Olympics, Doctor Visits, and College Sympathy Pains

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— 1 —

I love the Olympics, but I find them terribly stressful. I remember watching Nadia Comeneci score the first perfect 10 in the Montreal games in 1976. She was awe-inspiring. I remember the “Thomas Flair” changing men’s gymnastics forever. I remember Michael Phelps as a gawky kid, wide-eyed at winning his first gold medal. But it all comes down to two or three minutes with the whole world watching. What if, God forbid, you have to sneeze? One sneeze could literally ruin a career. It could send a young athlete who has trained since they could walk into a life-threatening depression. Watching Aly Raisman’s parents while she was competing literally made my stomach hurt.

— 2 —

I watched them live when that was the only option, but as soon as I could record them and then fast-forward through the commercials and the parts that didn’t interest me that’s what I did. Yes, I was a day behind, but when I was working I figured out a way around that.
olympic results
Now that I can’t work I’m pretty isolated, so I don’t have to worry about people telling me results I don’t want to know.

— 3 —

I have to say I’m not crazy about the newer scoring methods on gymnastics. Difficulty was part of the calculation for the ten-point system, and we got to see how each judge had voted. I miss that. And is the women’s vault built differently now? What was wrong with the old way? And I always enjoy the men’s gymnastics, but I was distracted this year by Sam Mikulak. I can’t even tell you what the young man’s face looked like because I couldn’t take my eyes off his arms. He had a single, massive vein running down each arm. I haven’t stuck anyone for an IV in decades and I could have gotten a 16-gauge into each arm on the first try and hooked him up to an IV line the size of a garden hose. This is called “nurse porn” and we can’t help it. So if you have large, easy-to-see veins don’t freak out in the grocery checkout line if someone stares. They are just wishing everyone was more like you.

— 4 —

Since according to my husband and son I have no filter anymore (I think I just used it up), I over-react to minor issues, and am demanding and refuse to let go of issues until they are resolved to my satisfaction (I kinda thought the last two were points in my favor, but I was out-voted) I moved up all my doctors’ visits to “first available”. I started with my primary care doc, laid out the list of new symptoms (which also included high blood pressure everyone has ignored for a year, Left hip pain with a numb left leg, NEW moderate lumbar scoliosis, and worsening muscle spasms in my neck, shoulders, and upper back). He tossed me a bone by adding an additional blood pressure med. Gee, that was worth my co-pay (not).

— 5 —

I’d already seen my pain management nurse practitioner. If she were any more bored with her job she’d be comatose. I’d filled out a long form about my pain since my last visit and put it face-down on the desk. She never turned it over. I told her about the hip pain and the scoliosis, even pulled up the image on my phone. She said, “Hmmph.” Then she wrote me a scrip for pain pills and said she’d see me in a month. That co-pay was an extra $10. The next time I didn’t fill out a form, she didn’t ask for it, and I was out another $35 just to get a prescription written. I see her again this afternoon and she’s going to earn her $35. I need a new muscle relaxer. Taking half of the one I take at bedtime won’t work. I tried that one day – took it with my 6 a.m. pain pill in preparation for getting out of bed and walking to the bathroom at 8 a.m. No shower, just a potty break. But the next thing I knew both dogs were barking in my face because it was 11 a.m. – doggie lunch time.

— 6 —

I saw my psychiatrist this week, too. He wanted to blow me off with “Have you experienced any new stressors recently?” and “How long has this been going on?” I told him there were no new stressors, just the same ones I’ve been dealing with for five years now, and that the new behaviors had been going on for two months and he really needed to work out a system for patients with sudden changes, since if he hadn’t had a cancellation it would have been another two months until I’d seen him. Anyway, I got a new med he’s very optimistic about, and a new diagnosis I’m not very comfortable with. But if the med works I’ll take the diagnosis. We’ll see in 3-4 weeks.

— 7 —

SOOO many pics of friends moving their kids into Freshman dorms. I feel for them. I remember Aaron’s move-in day like it was yesterday. I was so happy for him, excited that he was where he wanted to be, doing what he wanted to do, and making new friends and learning life lessons.
dormbed
But I loved having him at home so much, and knew I would miss him terribly. The transition was tough in so many ways, and John’s next year will be even more difficult since he’s my youngest. I’m going to savor every moment of his senior year!

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum!

Staying Cool

I know there are places more uncomfortable than the Ohio Valley in the summertime, but most of them are tourist destinations in the spring and fall and everyone goes somewhere else for August. The heat, humidity, and allergens would make a saint grumpy.

I started having hot flashes many years ago, but my OB/GYN insisted it was just stress. She worked at the same hospital I did and heard my name paged overhead 24/7. Once the hot flashes finally ended I had gastric sleeve surgery, and the rapid weight loss put my hormones into a tizzy and I ended up with teenage acne and hot flashes at the same time. SO unfair!

A woman having a hot flash using a fan to cool off.

I will be fifty later this year, so I didn’t have air-conditioning at home until I got married. I had air conditioning in middle school and high school, but only in about 2/3 of my college classrooms and none of my dorms.

I have multiple chronic spinal issues, and chronic inflammation should always be treated with COLD, not heat, no matter the time of year. So I’m a bit of an expert. Here are my tips on keeping cool:

Evaporation. Don’t dry off after your shower (unless there is a teen in the house who would need therapy after seeing his mother naked). And for the love of God don’t blow-dry or heat-style your hair. Put in some leave-in product and let it go.

Layers of cotton or “wicking” fabric. All loose, and in light colors. You may hate your upper arms when you start yard-saleing at 8 a.m., but you really won’t care by 10, and your bra will be in the back seat by noon.

Box fans. There’s a reason they still sell these – they work! In fact, they work much better than the high-tech, expensive fans. Buy several.
box fan
Alcohol-based cold packs. I like to combine rubbing alcohol and floral gel beads for an eight-hour cold-pack (no kidding). No matter how many ziplocks or other bags you put it in it’s going to leak eventually, though.

Gel-packs. These don’t stay cold as long, but they freeze back faster, remain flexible, and don’t leak. Great for errands with no AC in the car.

Hair away from the face, neck, and back. You can wear it down and styled when it gets cooler. Right now sweaty hair stuck to your face just makes you look more like a hot mess.
Messy-Bun
No makeup. Waterproof mascara if you feel the need, but anything else is just going to get sweated off. But wear some sunscreen, even if it’s overcast.

Cold food. Frozen grapes and bananas, chilled watermelon and cantaloupe, iced coffee, and gazpacho or other cold soups. Stick with plain water unless you’re really sweating like a pig. Then, alternate water with Gatorade or something else with electrolytes. Drink like it’s your job.
gazpacho
Ice water and hand towel. Not in the office or on your way to a job interview, obviously. But if you are working outside fill a small cooler with ice, add water, and soak a hand-towel in it. Wrap it around your neck, wipe your face, wet down your hair. Rinse, repeat. Once the ice has melted take a break and start over.

Take breaks. Make the timer on your phone your friend. I can’t sit, stand, or walk for more than 15 minutes on the best of days without expecting to pay a large price the next couple of days, so my timer is always set for 15 minutes. When it goes off, I go lie down (with water, in front of a box fan) until I feel like getting up again. It may be 15 minutes later, or it may be a couple of hours later. Listen to your body.

There were a lot of great prompts over at Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop this week. Go check them out (Tue post) and link up (Thur post)!

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Anything worth doing can be done in jammies!