Archives for Midlife

Don’t (entirely) Waste Your Summer.

When I was raising my kids, it was important to me to be intentional and aware of how our days were spent, even on summer break. That didn’t mean Sargeant Slaughter woke up the crew with a whistle at 6 a.m. on those Dog Days of Summer, but it did mean generally evaluating what we were doing with our time.

I’m a paper-list person so I kept a simple, cheap spiral notebook handy and I would make brief notes each day of what had taken place so I could scan and review and adjust if I felt we needed more balance. Nothing fancy, just for instance: June 20, 1996 boys helped me make a big breakfast – boys changed their sheets – boys wrote thank-you notes to grandparents – boys read for an hour after lunch – at the pool with the Smiths all afternoon – movie and popcorn – Daddy read Little House on the Prairie to us at bedtime etc. I’m also a save-that-memory freak, so I still have those journals. Hashtag paper tiger. 🙂

With a houseful of busy boys I wanted to be sure I wasn’t wasting our entire summer break frittering away the days zoning out on movies, video games, laziness of mind, body and spirit. I believe those blocks of ‘wasting time’ are valuable alternated with more thoughtful productive periods. Life is a constant learning process, whether the kids are watching a hummingbird for 10 minutes, building Legos, sweeping floors, chopping onions, swimming or digging tunnels out back with friends. I was never big on endless video game time; in my mind it was much more enjoyable and effective as a measured activity.

All that to say reading was always a key part of our lives. Reading all sorts of content; history, biographies, nature articles, animal stories, fiction, historical fiction, comedy stories were a constant in our boys’ growing up years and most always a habit first thing in the morning for a few minutes and after lunch so everyone could have some quiet time, thus Mom could also have some alone time.

I credit the habit of reading as a key ingredient in the building of the Mira boys and developing our family culture. Reading served us well and still does.

I recently began reading our 7 year-old granddaughter a favorite series of her father, the Exitorn Adventures, book 1 Brill and the Dragators by Peggy Downing. Once we began, she begged me to read another chapter each day and I love that! It will prove to be a pause of very special time for us throughout the summer and fall. 

Do YOU read?? What solid, valuable, real books are you reading? R-e-a-d seems to be a four-letter word that incites yaawwwwwwwwns because of either bad experiences or ignorance about what is available to the reader and HOW MUCH FREAKING ENJOYMENT IT BRINGS when you find the right book. If you’ve found reading to be a big fat bore, please don’t give up, please don’t settle for your past experience of reading. Much of what the world offers is CRAP. Yep. (And, P.S., audio books are changing my life by the way!)

This one (pictured at the top) The Wright Brothers,  the story of two American brothers, Orville and Wilbur, inventors and aviation pioneers who are generally credited with inventing, building, and flying the world’s first successful airplane (on a dime btw), is my current fav. It’s blowing my mind, changing my life, lifting me higher, fixing my gaze, teaching me more than I can comprehend, entertaining me to the point of outrageous LOUD laughter, carrying me on my bicycle rides throughout the city with joviality and, yes, tears all at the same time – the neighbors could be calling the cops as I fly by bahahahaha…David McCullough is a history author with no equal and I only wish he could live to be 1000 so that we could continue to expect his brilliant volumes to be released, for he is what I consider an expert and epic ‘documentor of history’ rather than a re-writer with a slanted view of history. He happens to be the narrator of this particular volume on the audio version of The Wright Brothers, and that makes this story even more precious! (My wholehearted secret wish would be for him to write the story of the Transcontinental Railroad that stretched from both my hometowns of Omaha, Nebraska and Sacramento, California)….happy summer reading to you and yours!

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    The Sands of Time

    Some of you reading this will be sending out birth announcements later this year. You’re only starry-eyed gazing into the future. Others of you are already in the thick of it; you’re the hovering mama with very few boundaries – and complete access – to those little people, 24/7. Your days may feel as if they have no beginning and no end because the noise and the needs roll on with very little pauseI’m here to remind you that one day, sooner than you know, you’ll be leaving little Junior a long distance voice mail on his birthday and you won’t be tripping over his toys in the middle of the night anymore. Sissy will be wearing a bra and heels and she won’t have time to bake cookies with you on the fly like she does now. How is it that I hardly had 90 seconds to put lotion on my legs for what seemed like two decades, and now I can spend an hour just sitting in a chair, thinking, if I choose to do so?! Life’s mysteries.

    It’s as if the sands of time are flying through that hourglass at lightening speed when our children are busy growing up. And sometimes in this midlife season, I feel like a crazy woman, trying furiously in vain to grab the sand and put it back in the top of the hourglass as at times I mourn the bittersweet change in seasons. Can I have a do-over on that one? Just a few more days of yesterday, please?? Rewind to _____________________________???

    Young mamas, resolve to live like you won’t see this day again, because you won’t. Someday you’re going to wish you could push that darlin’ in his swing or dig in the garden with that little one, but you just never had time for it. You’re going to wish you could read David and Goliath 20 times more to that hungry little heart, but guess what? Time’s up—door’s closed. That’s why we must live intentionally right where life has us living today! Time doesn’t wait. It runs ahead, a harsh taskmaster indeed. No one has lassoed time. It is like the grains of sand; it slips through our busy fingers.

     

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    10 Secrets to Surviving the Long Haul of Homeschooling

    I bumped into this article recently. It’s one I’d written a couple of years back, first for a home education periodical, then it made its way to a few more online sites as is often the case. As I scanned it, I was reminded of the fuel that kept me going as a homeschool mama for so many, many years as my sons were growing up. Unquestionably the most pivotal years in my season of child rearing. As a mid-life mama, I wince when I reflect on some of my parenting decisions (you, too?!), but I’ve never second-guessed my decision to home educate. Those were key years in my life and in the lives of our sons.

    Perhaps you’re a homeschooler in the middle of the school year – I hope this brings you some tangible encouragement and fuels your fire to the finish line. Or, you might have a friend who home educates and could use a boost in the arm; why not shoot it over to them…

    http://www.crosswalk.com/home-page/todays-features/10-secrets-to-surviving-the-long-haul-of-homeschooling.html

     

     

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    Here’s to 2017. Realz.

     

    Scrolling through my Facebook feed on this New Year’s weekend, glimpsing all the festive toasts with grinning people, claiming bliss, holding bubbling champagne, partying, hugging, kissing – from Mexico to Australia to South Africa to the East and West Coasts of the U.S. was a kick!
    I went to bed at 9, so I missed the champagne and fireworks. Dang. #midlife

    “Happy New Year” ad nauseam! What exactly is a ‘Happy New Year’?! Shouldn’t we know what we are proposing, wishing, longing for? Is it perfection? excitement? adventure? money? progress? pleasure? peace? joy? love? All with zero pain, loss, struggle, lack? Hmmmm. That would be ideal. That would be a fantasy.

     

    Just consider the tabloids. Everyone you thought had achieved ‘perfect’ suddenly not-so-much. Crazy. (I thought I wanted what they had, right?!?!) We all love perfection, don’t we? Glossy pics. Blinding smiles with pearly whites lined up straight. No wrinkles for goodness’ sake. Wedded bliss. Fashionable dress, coordinated – as in HauteLook.com Yep. All agree these are a definitive thumbs up? Umhuh.

    I just had a photo shoot yesterday. #awkwardsmile — Funny how we sense our desperate insecurities welling up at times. I wasn’t really looking forward to getting these pics taken as much as I love my photographer. She’s watched me age over decades…ahhh. I recently chopped off all my hair from very long, luscious looking locks to boy-cut pixie. I am fully embracing my new-do. But…I didn’t realize how much I could hide behind that hair. It took up a lot of space and could camouflage some serious crap. Goldilocks, Rapunzel, Barbie, Victoria’s Secret.

    Obviously, hair matters. I didn’t realize it, really, until it was time to present it to a REAL camera. Most of my waking hours are spent in a much less public format…prepping food, cooking, scrubbing toilets, planning, answering emails, paying bills, organizing, discoursing with hubby, babysitting, poopy diapers, arguing with Comcast, meeting wth people, writing, jogging, playing tennis, diffusing essential oils, ordering supplements, making green smoothies, feeding the lonely, serving the HOA Board, setting mouse traps in the garage. You know. The stuff of life.

    So…when I got a peek at the the first sample pics I was – UGH – squeamish. I was painfully naked without that hair. Sigh. This is real. This is me. Yep, she captured exactly who I am

    I don’t think we like the real ‘me.’ I think we prefer the airbrushed life. Botox on those wrinkles. Photoshop on that shadow….sigh. But REAL is exactly what my life is.

    My marriage, my kids, my grands, my career, my pain…not always perfect but absolutely real is what I promise you. No apologies. Some tears. Lots of self-questioning. Confession.

    It’s not always pretty, but it’s honest. Hope you’ll join me on the ride.
    2017 here we come! (Any leftover champagne?!)

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