Travel day

kids on a rock
Laguna Beach picture of my kids from around 2001.

After wandering around my house in shock for a couple days because of my mom’s sudden death, I headed to Berkeley to be with my kids. This was a preplanned trip which I think came at a remarkable time. My son is having foot surgery and he asked me to come up and take care of him for a few days.

I think this will help keep me busy and distracted. I think being with both my kids will be more helpful to me than I will be to them!

Of course the weather is supposed to be absolutely miserable with pouring down rain every day. I’m sitting at the airport in Phoenix with the blue skies surrounding me. I was worried about flying Southwest, but they seem to be back on schedule.

Here’s to my children and getting through my waves of grief. Here’s a link to my story about my mom.

If you lost someone in your life recently, what was most helpful for you to handle greiving?

It’s a nice place to visit…

gorgeous blue eyed cat on a walk

This gorgeous blue-eyed Siamese-mix was on leash in my old park.

We’re back home in Arizona for a bit. Christmas in my old life and Movie Colony of Palm Springs neighborhood was not as stressful as I worried about in advance. We spent two nights at my 90-year-old dad’s house and then met part of the extended family at a VRBO the kids selected — five blocks from our family home of 28 plus years.

I had mixed emotions about the entire trip. Then I saw my favorite checker from Ralphs’ grocery store my first night there. I saw a fellow swim parent in the parking lot. It made me cry and smile.

We (me, my daughter and son’s fiancee) got pedicures at the place we used to go to. We got hugs and a huge welcome. They wondered where we’ve been for two years — while they were closed for COVID and we moved. Thank goodness they are still in business!

As for getting all the food we missed from our favorite restaurants? That was one of my goals. We cooked most meals with people taking turns. Every meal was delicious. I never ate out.

My daughter went to one of our old favorites with a friend and said it was an insult to Italian food.

We took turns with cooking and cleaning. I think this was a very good family time! Loved every second. Although they didn’t want me to replay “Funky Town” too many times…Or dance~!

How was your Christmas and holidays? What are our plans for the New Year?

A few random thoughts

sunrise in the desert
Sunrise view from our backyard.

I turned off the ads.

Did you notice the difference? I turned off the ads on my blog. At one time, years ago, I thought I could make money blogging. So far that is not the case. Blogging is a creative release to express my personal thoughts and feelings. When I first turned on the ads, a blogger told me it interfered with her loading my blog. She said she enjoyed my writing but was no longer going to follow me because of ads.

That should have been my first clue to end the ads.

WordPress help is helpful! I entered a chat box because I couldn’t figure out where or how to control the ads. Within a minute I was given a link to make the change.

I get really upset when my kids get in a fight with me or my husband.

We’ve had a few unpleasant conversations with our kids lately. One was yesterday and it really tears me apart. I feel like a failure as a parent and everything I tried to instill in my kids is for naught. I was surprised to get a phone call this morning with an apology. I’m grateful for that.

It’s hard to go to the pool when the weather is cold.

I’m making myself go at least two days a week. But when it’s dropping to the low 40s it’s hard! I don’t want to get in my bathing suit let alone get in the pool. I do feel better when it’s over. I reward myself with a long hot shower!

I swam yesterday and I never warmed up. I was chilled. Usually the hardest part is getting in or out of the pool than after a few laps you feel warm. My face and arms felt cold the entire time I swam.

Do you have ads on your blog? Why or why not? Would you stop following a blog because of ads?

Needing some downtime

Pink flower
The simple beauty of nature.

It’s been a few weeks since our vacation to Utah and I’m already feeling the need to get away. There’s something about the heat of the desert, being stuck inside because of 100-plus degree temperatures that gets to people.

I remember in my former life in Palm Springs that controversy always bubbled up mid-July to early August. Especially with our swim team. You take a bunch of over-involved parents who are competitive about their kids — put them on a hot pool deck — and you have a recipe for a few outbursts.

Once the former president of our swim team told me “Take this team and shove it up your A**!”

Then he walked off the pool deck with his kids and started his own team, taking about 30 or 40 swimmers with him. I stood in shock. As a board member, I had been in the middle of a power struggle between our coach and him. He wanted to be the coach and was actively trying to discredit our current coach.

It was an ugly episode in my parenting years. We noticed every summer around the same time things began to boil.

I don’t thrive with conflict. I try to avoid unpleasantness in my life.

Last week, a club meeting rivaled the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

A woman who I consider a friend acted horribly out of anger. I don’t know where the anger came from. But what should have been a nice night of having dinner and friendship turned into a battleground. I feel especially bad for the woman who opened up her home, prepared dinner and dessert for the club.

Now I feel caught in the middle. It’s a bad place to be. I want to get along. I am willing to give people a second chance and the benefit of the doubt. Even when they lose their temper and act badly. We are all human and make mistakes.

I’m going to distance myself from all these clubs for awhile until my emotions settle down. I can’t wait to get out of the heat and out of town, which is in a couple weeks.

How do you handle conflict? Do you forgive people for bad behavior or write them off?

Letting go — or losing control?

my son with swim teammates hanging on the lane line
My son in front hanging on the lane line with his teammates.

Six years ago, I debated the question if there was a difference between letting go and losing control. If you’re a parent of kids who have flown the nest — or are getting ready to — you’ll recognize these feelings.

Take a look at what I wrote about this. At that point in my parenting life, I wanted what was best for my children and felt like I had all the answers. However, looking back, my kids needed to make their own decisions and find their own paths. It was time for me to let go.

As an empty nester, there are times I wish I had more control over my kids’ lives. I don’t have much anymore. I remember the days when they’d actually do what I asked. They believed the same way I did about everything including religion, politics and entertainment.

They watched the movies I’d check out from the library, and because I picked them out, they loved them. One day my son asked, “Mom, do they make movies without singing and dancing?” Yikes. I guess I was a little too into musicals. I am happy, though, that my kids got to experience that slice of Americana. Many millennials never learned the words to “On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe” from “The Harvey Girls.” My aunt was surprised when my son invited her to watch a movie. She was expecting Disney or Barney. She was thrilled to watch “Meet Me in St. Louis” with him.

brother and sister at the beach
Back when I got to pick out the movies.

Somewhere along the line of those perfect days, I lost control. Today, my kids have their own opinions about religion, politics, and life in general that are decidedly different than mine.

For example, I wanted to tell my son to pursue a career in business or law. My husband and I sent him job openings in the Bay area where he lives. (FYI, We don’t want him to live that far away. We don’t like how expensive it is. It’s all wrong to us.)

Did he listen? He’s polite. Every time I texted a job opening, he thanked me and said, “that’s a good idea.” Then he did what he wanted. He applied to teach at one of the worst school districts where the standardized test scores were 2 in Math and 7 in English. (Those numbers are not out of 10, but out of 100.) He decided to teach — instead of what I want him to do — and in one of the most difficult situations possible. He thought it would be a challenge.

My son giving the valedictorian speech.
High school graduation speech.

I couldn’t stop him. He had to live his own life and learn his own life lessons. There’s absolutely nothing I could say about it. I needed to learn to let go since I had lost control anyway. I am proud that he’s an adult with his own dreams and goals.

kids andmoms at the beach.
The gang in Laguna Beach. Me and my good friend Elaine with our kids and a few more we took along with us for a beach day.

UPDATE: The teaching job proved to be more difficult than my son could handle. Issues included students who had no support in learning from their families. A counselor entered my son’s classroom and told the students they didn’t have to listen to my son. The final straw was when he reported a student for truancy and he learned the student was deported. He felt beyond guilty.

He’s been working for a tech startup for several years. He’s able to use his Math and English skills. The company has a good work/life balance and he likes the people he works with.

So much for mom and dad telling him what to do and what path to take. On the bright side, I’ve learned to step back and let my kids be who they are.

When have you questioned if you’re losing control or letting go? What difference do you see between the two? What situations in your own life made you realize it was time to let go?

And now they’re gone

kids on a rock
Laguna Beach picture of my kids from around 2001.

I’ve been fortunate to have two quick visits by my kids. They called my husband and asked what he wanted for Father’s Day. He said he wanted to see them.

My daughter’s visit was fun because she had a few days off and we got to spend a lot of time together. It’s been great to have my son here, too, but he works remotely so we only had evenings free to talk and hang out.

Both kids wanted my home cooking rather than going out. That made me smile. It made me mom proud.

I enjoyed watching my son work remotely. He wears a headset and stands while working on his computer. He’s either typing away furiously or conducting meetings, laughing, talking and smiling. He works nonstop from 8 a,m. until the evening when he finishes up with his last meeting.

I’m very proud of the adult he’s become and how hard working he is. Also, it seems this is a job he really enjoys.

Now that they’re gone I’m a bit sad, but happy that they are living their lives.

It’s back to me, my husband and Olive the cat.

What are you doing for Father’s Day?

Olive cat
Olive giving me that look before she jumps in my lap.

Parents against smartphones

boogie boarding in Laguna
My daughter and friends boogie boarding before any had smart phones.

Fifty-three percent of American children have a smartphone of their own by age 11, according to a 2019 report by Common Sense Media. By the time they’re 16, 89 percent of kids have one. An earlier report by Common Sense Media found that 50 percent of teenagers felt addicted to their smartphones and that 59 percent of their parents thought that was the case. All of this has coincided with a startling increase in mental health challenges among adolescents, which some psychologists believe might be tied to the adverse effects of social media use.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2022/05/09/parents-kids-smartphones/

That quote came from an article in the Washington Post called “Meet the parents who refuse to give their kids smartphones” by Ellen McCarthy.

It was an interesting read to see how the children felt about not being allowed to have a smartphone. In some instances they were the only person in their school without one. The parents gave them a phone that didn’t have internet access but they could use to text and call. One child was so embarrassed with that type of phone, they never got it out at school.

One mother who refused to let her children have smartphones was a psychiatrist who treats high school and college students. She said her patients were on their smartphones nine hours a day or more — more than they sleep.

I agree with WHY the parents didn’t want their kids to have smartphones, but I’m not sure in today’s world if I could do it. My kids had childhoods without cell phones. My son didn’t get his iphone until high school graduation. My daughter got hers earlier and there was a lot of bullying going on. Also, I remember this thing on Instagram my daughter showed me where young girls were posting pictures of their thigh “gaps.” It was a body image competition that probably boosted anorexia.

By the end of eighth grade, Annalise Stacey was the only one in her class without a smartphone. And her mom’s spiels about how bad the devices are for kids’ brains didn’t make that much easier.

If her friends decided to hang out after school or on a weekend, they would make plans via group text. When she went to sleepovers, she often ended up watching other girls scroll on their phones. Annalise, who is now 15, sometimes didn’t know what her classmates were talking about because gossip had been exchanged over text or social media.

“I was frustrated just because I’m more of a shy person, so I felt like I was definitely getting left out of things and I didn’t really know how to get included.”

What are your thoughts? Would you be a parent against smartphones, even if your child felt left out? At what age did your kids get smartphones?