Yikes. Maybe this was written for me?

view of saguaro against the sky
A majestic saguaro I stopped to admire during a hike on Sunday.

I saw a headline in the Wall Street Journal: “Six Exercises to Help Seniors Build Strength, Improve Balance and Prevent Falls” by Jen Murphy. My first thought was my 89-year-old dad. He’s active and does physical therapy to improve balance and strength. He’s always working on getting stronger — especially post shoulder and ankle surgery. He’s worked hard to be where he is today, golfing several days a week, remote yacht racing, and taking ukulele lessons.

I clicked on the headline with the plan to forward him the article, without reading it myself. The photo of a fit woman who was approaching middle age stopped me. Wait a minute! I might benefit from this, too! In fact, maybe I’m considered a senior now? Maybe I’m the intended audience. YIKES. Hold that thought.

It turns out the photo of the woman was of the fitness instructor who works with seniors, not a “senior” herself. Here’s the opening of the article:

Exercises that help us perform everyday activities become increasingly important as we get older.

Our balance declines and we lose muscle, making ordinary activities like climbing stairs more difficult, and increasing the risk of injury and falls, says Rachael Holden, a fitness educator who specializes in older people. She recommends “functional exercises,” which replicate the movements people make in daily activities.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/six-exercises-to-help-seniors-build-strength-improve-balance-and-prevent-falls-11634378400?mod=hp_listc_pos4

I read the article and realized I can incorporate these six exercises into my daily routine. The first one was “Sit to Stand.”

Why: As we age, weak legs, poor balance and stiffness in the back and ankles can make sitting down into a chair and standing up again challenging, says Ms. Holden. The sit-to-stand exercise is a beginner-friendly alternative to a squat and will build lower-body strength and stability.

How: Sit in a chair or on a couch. Keep your spine tall and arms long by your sides. Push down through your feet to stand tall. Slowly lower back down to a seated position. Perform 10 repetitions. “You can do these during commercial breaks when you watch TV,” says Ms. Holden.

Okay. I can do that. Another exercise was “Step Ups.” That was something I did in PT after my knee surgery. The six exercises were simple but should help with functionality. I am not as fit as I was pre ski accident. My balance isn’t great and I could benefit from these “senior” exercises. I’ll admit it. I was believing that because I walk at least 10,000 steps a day, hike on weekends, do my stretches and crunches that I didn’t need “senior” exercises. But they sure can’t hurt. After I’m done, I’ll forward the article to my dad.

What do you do for your balance and strength? Or is it something you’re concerned with? What age do you think is considered a senior?

hiking trail at McDowell Sonoran Preserve
The Stagecoach Trail at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

It’s a Game Changer…

Lentil recipe with veggies.
Red lentils with veggies that I cooked Sunday.

Saturday evening, after watching a show on Netflix called The Game Changers, my husband announced he wanted to go on a plant-based diet. He said the show talked about the health benefits and that we should try it several days a week. Not go full vegan, but cut out meat three to four days per week. The movie featured professional athletes and Olympians who went plant-based and got stronger and gained more endurance. It argued against theories we’ve grown up with that to be strong you need to eat animal protein. The movie explained that plants also offer complete proteins.

When our kids were young, my husband told them that if they wanted to grow up big and strong they needed to eat something “with a face.”

At the exact time my husband said he wanted to cut out meat, I was charring a giant tri-tip on the barbecue that I found half price at the store. I also sauteed shishito peppers in sesame oil, cooked green beans from the farmer’s market and heated up mashed potatoes. It was a delicious meal. Yes, we eat a lot of meat. Would I be able to give it up? Or cut back? I crave protein and eat beef, chicken, pork and fish.

Charred rare tri-tip, green beans and mashed potatoes.
Last night’s dinner. Tri-tip charred on the outside, rare inside and veggies.

I watched the show on Sunday and thought I could try it a few days a week and see how it goes. We’re both feeling aches and pains we didn’t a year or two ago — and if a plant-based diet makes us feel better and healthier, why not? So, I cooked a batch of lentils. My son introduced me to lentils a few years ago and they are a staple in his diet. He’s not a vegan, but he definitely doesn’t eat meat every day.

I tried a different type that that I haven’t used before, fast cooking red lentils, and I simmered them in vegetable broth for 15 minutes. The package said one cup lentils to three cups liquid. They need to be rinsed before you cook them. Then I prepped garlic, onion, peppers, carrots, celery and cherry tomatoes.

Red Mill red lentils
The lentils simmering on the stove.
lentils draining after simmering
Red lentils draining after 15 minutes of simmering.
onions, peppers, celery, carrots and cherry tomoatoes
The best tasting and most beautiful part of this dish.

I sauteed garlic and onion and spices in avocado oil. I’m an avocado oil fan because it cooks at a higher temperature than olive oil. It cooks faster and hotter.

garlic and onions sauteed in avocado oil
Sauteed onions, garlic and spices of cumin, ginger, ancho chile powder, turmeric, salt and pepper.

The secret is to come up with a blend of spices that you love and season it well. The lentils pick up the flavors of their surroundings.

It was filling and delicious. I sent my husband to a friend’s house with a big slab of the tri-tip roast. I’ll enjoy the leftover tri-tip on a non-vegan day, but if I’m going to try going meatless three days a week, I don’t want it sitting in the fridge staring at me.

Should I try going plant-based three days in a row? Or, mix it up?

Have you tried a plant-based diet? How did it make you feel? I’m not known for a lot of will power. Do you have any tips or recipes I should try? Is it cheating to eat cheese or use butter? Would you give up meat? Why or why not?

Here are some plant-based recipes from the The Game Changers website: CLICK HERE.

Let the Games Begin!

Kettler Cabo ping pong table on the patio
Our new ping pong table with a view.

We had a ping pong table gathering dust at our old home. We went back and forth on whether we wanted to move it or not. Our movers showed up with too small of a truck, they had to find a Uhaul to complete the move — so that set the nail in our ping pong table’s coffin. We donated it to Angel View Crippled Children’s Thrift Shop.

It had some good years of use. We raised our kids playing ping pong. We had relatives and friends over to play. The swim team played at our house. But lately, it had sat folded up in a corner in our garage.

Once we moved, I didn’t think about ping pong until our August beach vacation. At the park above the beach there were two concrete ping pong tables. My husband and played several games a day. We’d laugh so hard and it kept our heart rates going.

Summerland ping pong tables in a park
Beach ping pong at the park on concrete tables.

Then we went to Berkeley for a long weekend to visit the kids. My son found as an amazing airbnb that had a ping pong table in the living room. We played with the kids every evening. My son who had shoulder surgery had to play left handed and he was still beating us. It turns out that at his former job, they had a ping pong table at work. He played hours with someone he said was very good. It will be interesting to see how he does when his shoulder is healed and he plays us right handed.

airbnb with a ping pong table in the living room
Ping pong at the airbnb.

After the beach and Berkeley trips, I decided to order a new ping pong table. It would have been so much easier if we had kept the old one, but that’s like crying over spilt milk. We researched tables and decided we wanted one that was outdoor and could stand up to weather. I was so disappointed when it was delivered!

ping pong table in a box

The ping pong table arrived. Now about that “some assembly required.”

I’m usually pretty good at assembly required projects, but this one had me spooked. My husband cut open the box and there were multiple plastic packages of bolts, screws, nuts, etc. numbered starting at 40 going through the 50s, jumping over a hundred and ending at 128. My first step in assembly is making sure all the parts are there. I got out the instructions and they listed all the parts — but the numbers started at one and were consecutive — contrary to the contents in the box. I noticed the same type of screws in multiple bags. It completely overwhelmed me how to start.

My husband said, “Let’s send it back.”

I googled our area and ping pong tables. I found a game room guy. I called and asked if he’d assemble the table.

He said “Yes, next Wednesday for $450.”

My husband said, “Like I said. Send it back.”

I texted our realtor and asked if he knew anyone to assemble ping pong tables. He told me to use a website called Thumbtack.com. Good advice. They have service professionals at reasonable prices to do whatever you need. We found an affordable person who turned out to be a nice young man in his early 20s who assembled our ping pong table just like that for a fraction of the cost of my first quote.

So now I can say “Let the games begin!”

What fun activities do you like to do on vacation and at your house? Do you play ping pong or pool? What else do you do to stay active?

Do you like assembly required projects? How do you approach them?

Free from the tyranny of my step counter

fitbit charge 3 won't charge.
My fitbit “Charge 3” won’t charge.

Last night my fitbit was low on juice so I charged it all night long. It’s completely dead this morning. Rather than going out (or to their website) to buy a new one, I wonder if I really need a fitbit? I always get between 10,000 and 20,000 steps per day. Do I really need to know the exact count?

I have a love hate relationship with my Fitbit. I’ve written about it HERE.

I know if I had a good night’s sleep or not.

Sometimes I’ll wake up feeling refreshed and then look at my night’s sleep on the fitbit and discover I didn’t sleep well. Then I’m cranky and tired all day.

Should I free myself from the tyranny of the tracker? What is it doing to benefit me? The only downside I can see of not wearing one anymore is the bragging rights to my husband when I get more steps than him. We are quite competitive when it comes to our steps.

That reminds me of when we were visiting my husband’s best friend from childhood. They were big football stars in high school. They were busy comparing who was walking more by looking at their apps on their phones. My daughter interrupted and said, “Did you ever think you’d see the day when you’d be bragging about how many steps you’re taking?”

That stopped them. They both looked kind of sheepish and put their phones away.

The question is do you use a fitness tracker of some kind? Why or why not? Do you think it’s helpful? What benefits do you get from it?

Feeling out of sorts

A view from our beach vacation.

The last few days of our beach vacation, ringing began in my right ear. Then vertigo. I’m a mess. Some days it’s worse than others. Some days it goes away completely. Other days, it’s hard to function.

After two weeks I went to an ENT. I’m worried because a friend’s daughter had a side effect to the COVID vaccine of tinnitus. It’s really bad and they don’t know if it will ever go away. I googled it and it is a rare side effect to the shot, although they aren’t entirely sure that it’s related or due to something else.

In any case, the ENT PA told me my ears are fine, but my right sinus is not — and that might be causing the problems of vertigo and ringing in the ear.

They put me on prednisone. This is my first time taking it and to be honest — it’s not great. My poor son, who suffers from severe asthma has been on it every few years. I remember the first time his allergy doctor prescribed it — I didn’t fill the Rx. When I returned with my son, who was still sick, I got scolded from the doctor who said, “Doctor Mom, WHERE did you receive your medical degree?”


I had heard so many horror stories about kids and prednisone but the doctor assured me he wasn’t prescribing anything that would put my child in danger. Right. Ten years after my son was put on an inhaler for his asthma, they discovered it stunted growth. He was on it from fourth grade until a year ago. But on the bright side, he is alive

I’m alive too although feeling out of sorts. The ringing in the ear isn’t bad today and I don’t have vertigo. In a month I’ll go back to the ENT and hopefully I’ll be AOK. If not, the next step is an MRI and perhaps sinus surgery.

Have you ever not taken an Rx that a doctor prescribed for you? Have you second guessed your children’s doctor? Have you had tinnitus or vertigo and how did you get over it?

Why are kids taking longer to grow up?

My husband and I were talking about where our kids are in their lives, some of their friends, and it seems like back in our day — kids grew up faster.

Have you noticed that our adult children are taking longer to fly the nest than previous generations? When I was young, it was common for kids to leave home after high school graduation. In my hometown, many got married after high school or college and started their families by their early 20s. Today, it seems kids aren’t grown up without our support until mid to late 20s. Add the pandemic to the mix, and I’ve read that more adult children than ever have moved back in with mom and dad.

high school students prom picture
Senior prom–the kids got together in person.

Several articles published reference a study by San Diego State University professor of psychology Jean M. Twenge. She studied millions of kids to come up with the fact that millennials are taking longer to grow up than previous generations. Twenge doesn’t make a judgment on whether that’s good or bad, she just states it as a fact.

In a talk I attended a few years ago for my daughter’s college, in one of the sessions led by an Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, Psychologist Kari Ellingson said the same thing. She said when we were young, kids matured into adults at age 19, 20 and 21. Today, those numbers are delayed to 26, 27 and 28.

In an article from the New York Times, called “The curse of the helicopter parent” Twenge and her study are cited:

New York – Parents may still marvel at how fast their children grow up, but a new study finds that US teenagers are maturing more slowly than past generations.

In some ways, the trend appears positive: high school children today are less likely to be drinking or having sex compared with their counterparts in the 1980s and 1990s.

But they are also less likely to go on dates, have a part-time job or drive – traditional milestones along the path to adulthood.

So is that slower development “good” or “bad”? It may depend on how you look at it, the researchers say.

The findings, published online in the journal Child Development this week, are based on surveys done between 1976 and 2016.

Together, they involved more than 8 million US children in the 13-19 age group.

Over those years, the study found, teenagers gradually became less likely to try “adult” activities – including drinking, having sex, working, driving, dating and simply going out (with or without their parents).

By the 2010s, only 55% of high school seniors had ever worked for pay – versus roughly three-quarters of their counterparts in the late 1970s to the 1990s.

Similarly, only 63% had ever been on a date. That compared with 81% to 87% of high school seniors in the 1970s through 1990s.

In the San Diego Tribune, contact reporter Bradley J. Fikes wrote: “Teens are growing up more slowly — and they seem OK with it.”

Mid- to -late teens are delaying the classic milestones of adulthood, namely working, going out without their parents, driving, dating, having sex, and drinking alcohol, according to four decades of surveys reviewed for the study, led by San Diego State University professor of psychology Jean M. Twenge.

Today’s 18-year-olds exhibit similar milestone behaviors as did 15-year-olds in the late 1970s, Twenge said. Moreover, they’re mostly doing this voluntarily — parents aren’t imposing this delayed independence.

The spread of smartphones, which allow teens to socialize from the safety of their homes, is part of the explanation, said Twenge. The author of “Generation Me,” she has released a new book on the generation born after 1995 called “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.”

When I look back on my teenage years compared to my kids, we had a whole lot more freedom. We were out all the time and our parents didn’t seem to care where we were. In fact, my parents were enjoying weekends on our boat or at the cabin and would leave my brother and me alone when we were teens. The same was true for a lot of my friends’ parents, as well. They didn’t keep track of us on a minute by minute basis. They also didn’t track us on “find my iPhone” or other tracking apps. There weren’t any cell phones to call home and they told us to be home by a certain time.

I wonder how much influence our technology has today over our kids not growing up so fast? They aren’t getting together with friends to interact in person. They can do that from the comfort of their own bedrooms. Plus, they have all the entertainment they can consume, right on their iPhones. We helicopter parents keep a close eye on our kids and we know where they are at all times. By contrast, our parents told us to get outside and not come back until dinner. Between us and iPhones, our kids aren’t getting real-world experiences.

Everyone I knew growing up had some sort of part-time job in high school–even if it was working for their family’s business. I worked in my dad’s dental office and my brother bagged groceries at the local Safeway. Today, I know of very few kids with part-time jobs. My own son worked several jobs, but he was one of the few. He was an assistant lifeguard, then a coach for our team. He tutored in math and was paid to maintain a website. Very few of my kids’ friends had jobs after school. Teens today must not need to earn money because we are providing for all their needs and wants.

On the bright side, it’s good our kids aren’t running around at night unsupervised, drinking and having sex as teens. Also, they actually like hanging out with their parents!

mother and daughter sailing
Hanging out together in the summer.

Here’s a story I wrote that included psychologist Jean M. Twenge.

What are your thoughts about why kids are not growing up as fast as we did? What difference do you see between your life as a teen or 20 year old and your kids?

Troubles in paradise

husband and wife
Back when we were young — pre kid days.

Have you ever been around a couple who isn’t getting along? We have close friends who are going through a difficult time. When the four of us are together, you’d never know anything is wrong. We laugh, enjoy each other’s company and reminisce when we became friends before kids.

But when I’m alone with my friend, she confides to me that things are not all rainbows and sunshine. It’s been this way more than a year at least and seems to be getting worse.

I brought it up to my husband and he said he’s hearing similar things from the husband.

He wants to ignore it and enjoy our friendship. Compartmentalize it. Somehow it seems fraudulent, but I’m going along. I’m not a making waves type.

I feel like if my girlfriend is complaining to me and it’s that bad, why doesn’t she do something? Get counseling or stand her ground? Or, are they stuck in ugly relationship patterns? I do complain a bit about my husband, too. It’s something many wives do. I’m going to stop that because I see how it looks from the receiving end. But this feels different to me.

We’ve had two or three couples we’ve hung out with who got divorced. One divorce ended a relationship with one of my husband’s childhood friends, because after coming to my husband for advice, my husband confided that the wife made a pass at me! She did. Then my husband’s friend made up with his wife and they blamed US for their problems. Eventually they got divorced.

The other couple wasn’t as close to us and I realized that when we talked to the husband, he’d use whatever we said to attack his wife. So I kept my distance and my mouth shut.

I guess our single friends are easier to be around.

How involved do you get with your friends’ relationships? Have you ever offered advice that has come back to bite? Do you give relationships advice or avoid it? Have you been around friends who aren’t getting along?