Friday, December 19, 2008

Home for The Holidays: Take One

Close your eyes and picture the Budweiser Holiday commercial with the carriage and the Clydesdale horses and the snow-covered paths and the jiggle bells ringing. The group of the carriage are arriving for what looks like the perfect holiday break, gifts in tact and smiles on their faces. (I know your humming that song right now, aren't you..)

Now open your eyes and bring yourself to Arizona, 2008:

It's 55 degrees (a little chilly to us) and we are sitting in the airport cell lot waiting for a call from a child returning for Christmas break from college. You pick him up curbside and you notice that he has a giant bag just like that seen in the commercial, only you recognize that it's his dirty laundry bag. Ho, Ho, HO!

Immediately he starts fiddling with the car radio and the Holiday music is gone, in a blink of an eye. His eyes are blurry (finals?) and his nose is red like a cherry (it's cold in Ohio?) and talks a mile a minute about his life at school.

The minute he gets in the door he's on the floor messing around with the puppy. Wrigley loves the attention and asks for more. They run around the house, knocking beautifully set-up Christmas displays down until they collapse in the kitchen. Wrigley is lopping up water from his bowl and Jonathan is asking for a soft drink. Welcome home, JB.

He moves swiftly to Laura's room where he screams loudly to scare her. The laughter that follows rings all through the house.

Big brother Andy and girlfriend Kim arrive. The house begins to rattle. A basketball game is turned on.....every one's hungry. When is dinner, Ma? It's time for boys to tease and question Laura about her social life. I listen carefully....

Presents are scarce but they few still sparkle under the tree. Wrigley wants that fuzzy snowball placed on the biggest package and plans his strategy to get it while we aren't looking. We make a fire in the fireplace and may open the french doors if it gets the house too warm.

I am watching this scene and am filled with love and joy and wish that I could slow down time, if only for a week.

My family commercial may not work for TV but it works just fine for me. Hmmmmm, hmmmm, hmm...hmm.hmm; la,la,la,la..da.da.da.da..da.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bucking The System, Being The Problem Parent

While there are some sad parts to being an empty nest Mom, I don't miss the fundraising "opportunities" we had during their high school years at all.

My children each played three sports a year during high school. They did so because they have an abundance of energy and my house would never have survived if they had come home right after school. And they were talented and gifted in their abilities to run fast and score goals so the coaches encouraged and recruited them to join the teams. It all seemed like such a perfect set-up until I attended the first parent-student-coach meeting and learned how they must also excel in salesmanship.

The Team Mom announced that for this year the kids will be “selling coupon books for fast food restaurants that everyone truly needs, but don’t worry, going door-to-door only to the people they already know”. My son groans but we reluctantly took our minimum allotment of coupon books with the promise to the coach that we will have these sold in no time. Two weeks passed and the coupons rested comfortably on the kitchen counter. Andy came home from practice and said that he needed to bring the money from his sales in tomorrow. I don’t want him to bother the neighbors and he has no desire to be a fast food coupon salesman. I buy all ten $20 coupon books and that Christmas, the mailman, the 5 community guards and the newspaper delivery man all feasted on fast food thanks to our family.

After several sports seasons, I decided that we’re not going to take it anymore and my budget could not handle this added expense either. I practiced in the mirror my eloquent speech, hoping not to offend the Team Mom who was doing such a great job organizing the team or to anger the coach who might decide not to play my son due to his crazy mother.

The meeting began as always, they announced that this year “we are so excited about buying the kids these amazingly plush warm-ups for the kids that will only require selling 45 calendars at $30/each”. They pass around a sample of the sweatpants and I swear, they put Ralph Lauren sweatpants to shame. “Oh, I almost forgot”, the Team Mom gushes, “if they sell 50 calendars then their names will be engraved on the back pockets!” That was my cue. I politely raise my hand and suggest that perhaps a less expensive and thinner weight pant would work better seeing that we live in Arizona where it is ungodly hot most of the year. Everyone turned around and stared at me. Did I not love my athlete/son? Don’t I want my son to have this amazing sales experience and be a team player? Silence filled the room for what felt like an hour, but without skipping a beat, the Team Mom stood up and started passing out 50 calendars each, telling the kids that “they have an extra week to sell because she knows they all really want their names on the pants”.

Behind closed doors of the Team Moms and the Coaching staff, I became known as the ‘Problem Parent’ but I had gained a new level of respect from my children and their teammates who really just wanted to run, jump and score and could care less about anything else.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

College Kids Gone Wild

From Dickinson Parent ENews: "With a healthy dose of irony, Laura Stone '12 (left) and Susan Higham '09 pose with a "No Dumping" sign that was dumped in the Conodoguinet Creek."

How often are we bombarded by the media telling us horror stories about the 16-26 year olds' being selfish and self absorbed? We see the crazy drunken parties where mammallary glands are all the rage. We hear about kids quitting jobs just so they can sleep in and have no qualms about such behavior. Are these stories accurately depicting our youth or is it just more sensational reporting?

My experience with people in this age range finds them to be incredibly giving and focused on the important things of life. If they do partake in some of the type activities described above, it is only as an escape from their normal life routine, not the other way around. In many ways, I believe this generation does a great deal more kind and thoughtful acts than when I was growing up and attending college.

Take for example, on a Saturday afternoon in south central Pennsylvania, a group of college students from Dickinson cleaned up a creek that happens to be used as a dump by some people. Now, I can honestly tell you this is not how I spent my college Saturdays!

My daughter was involved but all she really told me about it over a telephone conversation was she and some friends were headed to the Creek. I thought it was for a picnic or an outdoor party. But as you can see, they worked very hard doing some nice for the community as well as for the local environment.

I would guess that many of you out there have similar stories to share and would agree with my assessment of the fate of today's youth. Why then is the media so quick to make them out as useless contributions to society? Why can't they write columns and tell about events such as the one described above. I've got a good idea. Let's all email the TV stations and newspapers and complain and make the suggestion to start giving us a more accurate depiction of our wonderful and caring children. Spoken by one very proud, empty nest Mom.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Random Post

I was tagged today by Kristy at Woman in Pink, who was tagged by Dore over at Dores Diaries.

It's such an amazing coincidence because there are exactly 7 random things about me, so this is going to be a breeze!

1) I have a birthmark in the shape of a football on my right hip;

2) I spend 4 minutes a day trying products, brushing or reading about ways to make my hair grow faster;

3) I have no good answer when someone approaches me and asks me to help support a cause they find important to the world, so I always end up saying, "yes";

4) I love buying items at a live auction and need to approach these affairs somewhat sober or I spend too much money;

5) I am married to the second man with the name of William "Bill". If this marriage doesn't work out, all Bills' are off limit!

6) I want to live in the same town as my sister and it wouldn't matter what town that is;

7) Seven has always been my lucky number.

Very interesting stuff, I must admit. Now, I demand to hear about the 7 random things about the following people:

1) Lisa at DreamcatcherLisa

2) Gigi at Read My Message in a Bottle

3) Groupietails

4) Jiggety Jigg

5) Amy at An Authentic Life

Although I have the perfect 7 number of random things to know about this empty nest Mom, I can only think of five special bloggers to tag. Time to go to bed. Tomorrow we fly out to my my baby girl at her College Parent's Weekend!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Space Where Beth Works

Is there some correlation between becoming an empty nest parent and becoming a messy, unorganized person? Because if there is, I totally would be a perfect research participant for this study! I have no idea why my last youngest child leaves for school and I become unable to find anything of importance or function in manner that I had been accustomed to my whole adult life.

Okay, the reason stated by my ex-husband when they asked him in court why he wanted to get divorced, he said "Beth has poor organizational skills". But hear me out....I used to hang all our clothes in the closet in order, by color, then prints, with matching wooden hangers, all set two fingers apart! I handled all our financial affairs and did out taxes. All gifts and holiday cards were done and sent in a timely manner. I could go on, but you get the gist. Relatively speaking, I was more organized than most people.

I digress, but that's a whole other post!

When I worked in real estate development, my desk was the envy of all my co-workers. I had neat piles for each area (contracts, marketing, sales, entitlements, etc) placed in order of importance. The plants in my office were thriving and I always had healthy snacks in the office kitchen and my gym bag in the car ready at anytime to go exercise.

For whatever reason, now, I cannot seem to get my ducks in a row.

I have items for my blog mixed up with my insurance papers, cannot find my daughter's speeding ticket that I need to mail in(what's the due date?) and I have scattered pictures of family and my kids stuck all over in random fashion behind my computer. The only area that remains organized are my shoes in the closet. (They are placed perfectly in their little cubbie holes and are in order seasonally and by degree of "fanciness"). It's no wonder my posts seem to be "all over the place". Hey, I write them as I find them.

Clearly this new empty nest status is making me off-kilter and maybe I'll just wake up someday and be just like I used to be. I hope so, because this messiness is a bit annoying. I want to hear your story. Have your organizational skills changed since the kids have left the nest? Or, if you have little ones around the house now, are you organized? Just curious.

(Here are the random shots of my family mixed together with the article and picture of Sonia Vera who's supposed to inspire me to lose weight with her sassy swimwear collection and shots of her modeling the suits. Only it's not working because she is tucked behind a picture of my hubby and I cannot see her skinny body!)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pee Fairy Delivers: Sleep Mode Distracted

So, I writing this post in the middle of the night because once again the Pee Fairy has given me a bladder full of (well, pee of course) and I was forced to get out of my comfy bed with my warm husband to relieve myself, only to discover that now I am WIDE AWAKE!

It is okay; I know that their are hundreds of women just like me out there and are probably searching for 'funny insomnia posts' online as we speak.

It is so unfair; when we are younger, we have little children who continually keep us from getting a full night's sleep. When they become teenagers and start to drive, we try to stay up until the curfew hour only to find we cannot fall asleep once they are home, safe and have gone to bed. Now that my youngest child is off to college and I am an official empty nest Mom, I now get to "experience" an extended period of pre-menopausal conditions like insomnia and an occasional hot flash.

What gives? Who created us? (Okay maybe that's not fair, but I am tired and a little fuzzy).

Here's my favorite thing about the whole sleep issue and gaining weight issue: Studies show that is it good to get a full 7 to 8 hours sleep each night if you want to lose weight. The articles say, "make sure that you get your sleep or you will have difficulty losing those unwanted pounds". Well, just how do they propose we do that? It's not like we say, "I sure could use another layer of fat around my thighs and stomach, so I think I'll set my alarm for 3:00 AM!"

Time to go. It is morning now and the puppy wants his daily walk and any minute Bill will be coming out to get the newspaper. And I am ready for another fun-filled fuzzy day!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

DreamcatcherLisa: City North

Go to: DreamcatcherLisa: City North for more information.

Lisa Eshleman has gotten me so jazzed about the newest shopping center called CityNorth being built in my area. Now I won't have to waste so much gas driving down to Scottsdale Fashion Square when I need a new outfit or gift!

Lisa is a very active real estate agent for the Desert Ridge area and she believes that this shopping center, once complete, is going to make this area an even more desirable place to live and own a home. She and her husband work together; their company is called DreamCatchers. Isn't that just the cutest name for someone who sells homes for a living?

Sometimes it is hard for me to believe that this town needs another shopping center, but I forget just how fast this area is still growing. I have new neighbors all the time.

I guess I had better start saving my pennies.......

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Men between the ages of 18-35 and Empty Nest Moms have in Common

* Both groups think about sex every minute of the day.

What Men between the ages of 18-35 and Empty Nest Moms Do NOT have in Common:

* Men gladly admit they think about sex this often but most empty nest moms will not;

* Men accept this phenomenon while the women make an appointment with their doctor or psychologist to see what's wrong;

* Depending on their individual situation (married, single, in a relationship), men strategize on how to turn their sexual thoughts into actions while the women (married, single or in a relationship), having lost the age old excuse of "not now, the children are around", practice new excuses in the mirror to themselves;

* Men know they are in prime shape and health at this time in their lives while the empty nest moms wonder whether their bodies (even when in excellent shape and health) will still be considered sexy and desirable;

Just in case you are wondering, this study is not based on any scientific research or study. If you are interested in actual recent studies about sexual health and receive tips on achieving a happy sexual life, I suggest you click over to a favorite blog of mine on this subject: Sexual Health Guide. Check out the list on why daily sex is good for you.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Top 3 Places I Want to go to for Happy Hour Tonight

Get an Old Style beer and a hot dog at Murphy's Bleachers Bar, Chicago, Illinois

Join the crowd at Murphy's Bleachers

The Yard House, Desert Ridge Marketplace, Phoenix, Arizona
So many beers, so little time!

George's at the Cove, La Jolla, California (newly remodeled!)
Happy memories spent with my friend Kim and feasting on grilled mussels.

The View at George's at the Cove. Need I say more?

It's Friday, the last day of yet another grueling week of work. It's time to unwind and begin what is supposed to be a relaxing weekend. No matter what your weekend is filled with, it is always fun to sneek in a Happy Hour (or two)before your weekend begins.

When the kids were at home, it was the break between my career work and my home work: the kids overnight sleepovers, followed by unending soccer tournaments, throw in a few birthday parties and sometimes attend Church. I enjoyed the adult time and sipped (okay, I admit it, I guzzled) a nice pinot noir and chatted with girlfriends. It made the transition from work to home smooth and easy.

Now that I blog at home with no one here but my golden retriever puppy to distract me all day, my reasoning behind going to happy hour has changed dramatically.

Happy Hour is good for me because:
* It makes me get out of my pj's and shower; and

* I can practice my language skills with people, not just, "drop it, time to get busy or do you want to go for a walk?", words I say to my pup all day long.

Assuming I could go to Happy Hour anywhere in the world tonight, my top 3 selections for this week are:

Murphy's Bleachers Bar, Chicago, Illinois
Yard House, Phoenix, Arizona
George's at the Cove, La Jolla, California

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Presidential Political Blogs Are a Big Distraction

Yesterday from 8:00 am until 3:45 pm I read political blog post after blog post from Hang Right Politics to the Huffington Post. I don't favor or prefer the stuffy conservative blogs or the angry liberal blogs, I just understand that there is a certain percentage of people in each party that can only see black or white (no pun intended). The blogs are, however, very addicting. Why just yesterday, I read the whole charter for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, discovered there is a large group called the Log Cabin Republicans and saw 400 hundred pictures of Sarah Palin. I know the statements made and the designer clothes the potential first ladies wear. I think both Michelle and Cindy have interesting style selections except for one ugly yellow dress and one flowers-around the neck dress. "Gaffe" seemed to be the word of the day and was repeated on hundreds of blogs.

For a break, I watched youtube video after video, some funny and some ridiculous. My favorite was a spoof between McCain and Palin. I watched it several times and sent to several friends.

As I pulled my bottom off the chair at 3:45 pm realizing that I had company coming for dinner and I still needed to go to the store and clean house, I determined that I shouldn't read so many blogs in one day. It is a big distraction from the other things I am supposed to be doing. Maybe I learned a thing or two or maybe I just wasted a day in my life, but its just the distraction I needed. I did not think about my new empty nest status all day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

One Pain Helps Another

Today is the day we take my daughter to school for her freshman year at college. This is a day that we have been working towards for at least two years. As I lift my sleepy head off the pillow I notice that my left hand is in pain. I must have slept on it wrong. I think my hand must have rested under the weight of my heavy heart!

I shower and dry my hair, but it's difficult as my hand is throbbing. I head to Laura's room to check if she is awake and getting ready to head to the airport and my hand is tingly so I rub it to make it feel better.

I remember 18 years back when I attended a birthing class for Moms-to-be at the hospital where Laura was born. They were teaching us techniques for bearing the pain of childbirth by displacing that pain with another kind of pain elsewhere. For those of you who are not familiar with this procedure, it goes like this: to help you not focus on the pain between your legs due to your baby passing through a channel that's too tight, the nurses had our husbands/birth partners inflict pain to another area of our body, such as pinching our feet. I used to call it the 'Sadistic Husband Pain Inflicter' game, as it seemed to me that our birthing partners were enjoying this procedure way too much. As our feet started to throb, we concentrated on our poor feet but we also stopping thinking about the delivery pain and relaxed our breathing, which will allow a better and safer delivery of the newborn child.

My constant attention on the pain of my hand was taking away my ability to focus on the fact that I am taking my youngest child to college, leaving me with an empty nest and ending a wonderful phase of my life.

It's difficult to lift her luggage into the car, close the door to her room or drive to the airport. But I do not collapse and I do not cry uncontrollably and this makes for a more pleasant separation for the both of us. I thank 'someone upstairs' for making sure I use the techniques I learned so early in her life once again.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Distraction for the Day

The Morning after the ‘Bad Dream’

Although they occur less frequently than in the past, I still have the reoccurring ‘bad dream’. Usually, my husband is engaged in some sort of activity that does not involve me or is somehow taking me for granted. Here’s the dream as I remember it from last night:

Bill and I are walking together on a sidewalk in a city that was not recognizable, following three smart-looking young women. They looked like co-workers on a lunch break or heading to a meeting. They are having a discussion when all of a sudden, Bill makes a comment directed towards the blond women speaking and immediately I know they know each other and have some sort of relationship. She does not respond to his comments and continues talking to her friends. I breakout laughing out loud, throwing my head back in a dramatic fashion only to learn that when I’m done, the three women have turned right and are heading down an escalator and Bill has also turned and is following them.

“What just happened?” I say to myself. “Where is he going and who is he following?” Then I wake up.

I apparently have moved all over the bed, because we are now both awake. Bill is frisky and is removing his clothes and wants to have sex. I’m thinking… not after what you just did to me! Wait…that was just a dream. He wouldn’t just leave me walking alone and follow some other female in real life, would he? I turn over on my stomach to regain consciousness while he proceeds on.

In my younger days, I would have told Bill what had happened in the dream; I suppose I was looking for the response, “That’s ridiculous, I would never leave you alone on the sidewalk to follow three attractive, working women, one of which I apparently know well!” I never did get that type of response, so I have since stopped asking. Instead, I talk to myself and reason with myself. At the same time, Bill starts to penetrate and I am happily distracted!