Little things that give me comfort

During this weird time of 2020 shutdowns and lingering isolation into 2021, I discovered two products that make me feel better. They are little things my son introduced me to — self care products that bring a little highlight to my days.

Never would I have imagined that I’d be washing my hands millions of times a day. My poor hands began to look so old, worn, chaffed and red in 2020. My son surprised me with an Australian hand cleanser and rich lotion. FYI, I’m going to link to these products and NO I’m not getting anything in return.

Link to Aesop.

Aesop hand soap
This is the hand soap my son gave me for Mother’s Day during COVID shut down. I used the soap up and didn’t order more because it’s pricey. It was a really nice present, though. I did order their face cleanser and love it, too.
Aesop hand cream
I love this hand cream and still have some left. It’s soothing with all the times I wash my hands these days.

While taking care of my son, post surgery, he received a package of Turkish hand towels. I was completely unfamiliar with them. He instructed me to wash them three times to get then soft and absorbent before we put them out for use. They are beautiful and luxuriously simple made of 100 percent cotton. Something I added to my bathroom when I got home. After I wash my hands — again — I pamper them with the soft Turkish towels.

Link to Cacala.

Cacala Turkish towles
These are the wonderful Turkish hand towels that are so soft and absorbent. They are also kind to my hands.

Have you discovered any self care products or foods that made you feel better during 2020 and 20201? What little ways have your days changed? Are you washing your hands more than ever, too? Have you discovered any routines or habits during these days?

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?

Do I remember how to parent?

Young blond  boy on pony
My son loved to ride the “Snow White Pony” as he called it at our weekly street fair.

I’m talking about hands on parenting. My kids are in their 20s and I haven’t been hands on for years. My son is having shoulder surgery this week and he wants me to take care of him. I leave on Wednesday to be there prior to his Thursday morning surgery. I’ll be staying in an airbnb a few blocks from his apartment so i don’t have to drive. I don’t drive in the Bay Area, period.

He called me this morning and I told him, “I hope I’m helpful.” I haven’t had to take care of anyone since my husband last had shoulder surgery about three years ago and before that when my dad had shoulder surgery in 2014. I guess I do have experience with shoulder patients, though.

My time will mostly be filling the machine with ice that circulates coolness around his shoulder. And giving him meds on a schedule.

I’m a little nervous to travel back to California during this Delta variant thing. I fear they’ll shut down while I’m there! I know I’ll be required to wear masks again after not wearing them since my second shot here in Arizona.

The sweet thing is my son facetimed me the other day. He got his hair cut short and died it blond. He said he wanted to look just as he did when I was doing the full on parenting.

Three year old blond son
My son age three.

I’ll pack a few books, read my fellow bloggers and hang out with him. It doesn’t sound too hard, right? We will see.

Have you taken care of adult children recently? Did your parenting nurturing nature suddenly reappear?

Tips for stress and parenting during 2020

IMG_5888
Morning walks help keep me grounded.

I wrote this last July during the shutdown. I had no idea when I wrote this how hard the year would become. It’s interesting for me to look back on what I was feeling a year ago.

I found my self getting anxious a few weeks ago. It’s a weird fluttery feeling in my chest with my heart beating wildly, my breath getting short and my palms sweating. Why does it come on like that out of the blue? I think it’s all the uncertainty around us. Will my husband ever go back to his office to work? Will we ever get to go to the movies again? Will I have swim practice with my friends? When will this end? Right when we think it’s getting better, it gets worse. The number of cases are going up. We don’t know what will happen with the economy. I have three of my closest friends diagnosed with breast cancer during COVID-19. Yes, there’s lots to be anxious about.

We were fortunate to have our daughter come home to work remotely. She had just moved into a new apartment and didn’t really know her two new roommates. They had a 24-hour notice to shelter in place, so she headed home. I remember her deciding to go to the hardware store to purchase lumber for a bed frame she was making. The very first day she was with us, she was intent on getting supplies. “We could shut down here tomorrow,” she said. She was correct. The next day we were told to shelter in place.

I work in my son’s room and my husband works in our master bedroom. Our daughter took over the guest room. We were a busy bunch until she got laid off due to COVID-19. That was stressful in itself. Also, having a grown up adult in the house took time for us to get used to. We managed to get along most of the time and it’s a three-month period I’ll treasure. Without the pandemic, she wouldn’t have come home and spent time as a young adult. She’s back to building her life away from us, interviewing for jobs.

I read an interesting article called Parenting, stress and COVID-19 by Annie Keeling in The Union, a website with news for Nevada County, Calif.

Here’s an excerpt:

THE EFFECTS OF STRESS

Despite feeling close to their children during the COVID-19 pandemic, 61% of parents say they have shouted, yelled, or screamed at them at least once over the past two weeks, according to a new report from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. (https://www.psychcongress.com/article/covid-19-stress-taking-toll-parent-child-relationships)

“For a large number of parents, financial concerns, other worries, social isolation, loneliness, and sadness are getting in the way of parenting,” said lead author Shawna J. Lee, PhD, an associate professor of social work, who compiled the report with coauthor Kaitlin Ward, a doctoral student.

This uncertain experience is asking a lot of parents: full-time playmate, teacher and caregiver can take its toll. What can you do to help yourself? The first step is recognizing that this is a challenging time and that there are ways to ease the effects of uncertainty and stress.

CALMING TECHNIQUES FOR THE PARENT

Take care of yourself. Parents know that they must do this so they can be a good parent, but it’s often easier said than done. The Power of Three is essential: eat well, exercise, get sleep. Put a post-it reminder on your mirror, by the stove, by the screens in your home. Check in with yourself each evening. How did you do with your Power of Three today?

Take a breath. Or five. Research shows that it takes more than one deep breath to really affect the parasympathetic nervous system. Five deep breaths can change your state.

Reach out to others. Phone calls, Zoom, and yard dates with other adults- physically distanced on lawn chairs — are a few ways.

Take (even a tiny) break. Try splashing cold water on your face, stepping outside or planning a parenting partner hand-off. Identify what you might do to take a break before the day starts. This helps our psyche to anticipate the relief that is coming.

List healthy coping skills for yourself and your family. Avoid behaviors such as excessive alcohol drinking, online gambling or taking drugs. Negative coping mechanisms further compound your stress levels and can make your situation worse in the long run.

The article goes on to describe tips to calm the entire family with lots of fun things to do. Keeling also discusses talking about the pandemic and how that can lead to less stress as well.

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My daughter bungee swimming in our backyard. It’s hard but it does help with stress.

Have you had stress or anxiety during the pandemic and what are you doing to fight it?

Hard work never hurt anyone?

pug in mortar board with college grad
My daughter and Waffles during college graduation.

A few years ago my daughter graduated from college and was recruited by a Scottsdale, Ariz. firm. We told her we’d love to go apartment hunting with her. My husband was impressed with the area and wanted to move to Arizona someday (spoiler alert: we did during COVID). What we discovered with our daughter was very expensive housing for renters. And relatively cheap homes to purchase — especially compared to California. A mortgage payment was close to $1,000 less per month than a rental payment. Plus it made sense as an investment.

So, we decided to buy a small house. It didn’t take long for my daughter to realize she was in the wrong career and really didn’t like her job. She applied for several jobs and had a couple offers. This was all pre-COVID lockdowns when there were more jobs than people applying. She took a job in the Bay Area where she’d be living a few miles from our son, her big brother.

pug on a sofa
Waffles inside the house where my daughter lived.

After our daughter left, we decided to hang onto the house and rent it out. This weekend the current tenants moved out. We have new ones coming in a few weeks. We were shocked at how the house looked today, compared to when my daughter took such good care of it. Two of the rooms have so many holes in the walls it looked like someone was playing with a machine gun. Seriously? Who puts 50 holes in a wall? I guess three college students do and did. The yard needs a lot of work, too.

We decided we didn’t have any plans this Fourth of July weekend, so we’d be DIYers. We started by patching holes and prepping two rooms for fresh paint. After working on the house from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. yesterday, I’m feeling muscles I didn’t know I had. I can barely walk, bend over or sit in a chair. I was reminded of the saying “Hard work never hurt anyone.”

These are the holes I patched in one bedroom. Next comes primer and paint. I already finished taping the floorboards, closet doors. It’s going to be a light, light, grayish blue when done.

I am hurting. Big time. I’m also very tired. Despite us getting cranky with each other (to put it mildly!) and sore muscles — I think in the long run this is good for us. We aren’t used to doing hard physical labor. At least not since chasing around little kids, working all weekend on my feet at a swim meet, or working in the yard at our old house.

I think the toughest part for me was the painters tape. I taped up the floor boards, doorways and windows. Bending over or sitting on the floor trying to get the tedious work done was an adventure in itself. With my post surgery knee that has never been the same, just sitting on the floor in a semi comfortable position is work.

Here’s to getting the house and yard back into shape and having tenants who take better care of it.

Before picture of the back yard.
The lawn today.

What do you think about DIY projects? Do you enjoy them or would you prefer hiring someone? What projects have you done?

Thoughts on COVID Notifications

Lake Tahoe view from Zephyr Cove hike.
View from a morning hike at Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

A notification just popped up on my iphone. It was from the state of Nevada and it stated it could let me know if I’d been exposed to someone with COVID. This really creeped me out. How did they know I had visited Nevada for the weekend?

Seriously. This is scary. Are we being tracked? I wanted to look back at the notification so I could write down the verbiage, but it disappeared off my phone as quickly as it appeared.

I checked out the Nevada state’s COVID website and found what must have been it: COVID Trace.

COVID Trace is a free, easy-to-use mobile phone app that gives us the information we need to fight COVID-19, without compromising your privacy.

The app will help Nevadans protect each other and slow the spread by notifying you if you’ve likely been exposed to COVID-19. Empowering you to quarantine effectively, seek timely medical attention, and reduce risk for your loved ones.

COVID Trace is a contact tracing mobile app developed by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services that uses a technology called the Exposure Notifications System from Google and Apple. The app exchanges anonymous information with other phones in your vicinity and can notify you if you’ve come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

My question remains. Why did the state of Nevada send a message to my phone? How did they know I was there?

What are your thoughts about this app? Would you sign up for it? How do you think they traced me to being in Nevada and had my cell phone number?