And the beat goes on . . .

a2ee6-hpmomandboysA friend sent me a message about how to make the transition from mom to mom of grown-up kids. She’s a fellow homeschooler and I think maybe we homeschoolers feel the loss in weird ways. (Though, when I talk to my friends who have kids who went to traditional school and are now in college, on their own, or getting ready to leave they seem to be reacting the same way.) The biggest difference is that my friends of traditional school kids have not spent their adult lives scanning every landscape for a field trip. I’ve got three adults and one left at home. (Actually, one adult is living home and going to UCF. He’s doing well but he’s living here and  that is a whole different post.)

Andy will be taking four classes at the local community college come January and we’ll finish up Pre-Calc and some reading here. Pre-Calc is with an online tutor. Reading? We talk about books all the time here so that’s not work. Talk about having NOTHING to do. It’s such a weird feeling from being constantly bombarded with things to get done and people to take care of to one easy kid and Mike.  We’re still making this transition.

The best I can manage for now is a list of things I wish I had started/done/considered when the kids were younger. But, the list was/is wishful thinking  for me given Mike’s schedule and all the car juggling. If you’re not facing these constraints, you will not regret taking steps now to ward of the weird, detached feeling you’ll have when the kids actually move out.

  • Cut yourself some slack. It’s okay to just hang out and read. You’ve been dying to do that for years and years. Do it. Use the good couch/chair and the fluffy blanket you’ve been hiding from the kids.
  • Rearrange things. Most homeschoolers (myself included) arrange their houses around all the supplies and space needed. Well, it’s mostly over. Reclaim spaces in your house! Pass on no longer used or loved books. Clear it out. Decluttering takes time but is incredibly rejuvenating.
  • Paint. I know, you expect me to say that because I’m always painting something. But, while you declutter and move the house around think about paint. There is not a cheaper way to transform a room and change your mood.
  • Learn to say “No.” Say “No.” to your adult-ish kids, the remaining teenager, your husband and even friends. The way I figure is you have a brief window where it can be all you – well, mostly you.
    • Let your adult kids make mistakes, miss deadlines, etc. Do not waste this time scrambling to dig them out of self-imposed crises.
    • If you still have kids at home, trust that they have learned (from their siblings) what makes you insane. I’m not saying to ignore them but, they (usually) will need far less “hands-on” time than their older brothers/sisters. Give them some freedom and some credit that you, perhaps, did not afford the older kids.
    • If you’ve been home 15+ years, go ahead now and sign up for a yoga class or pottery lessons. Don’t worry about dinner for whoever is at home. Let them work it out. If the thought of this stresses you out, make a list to keep on the fridge of what is in the freezer. Honestly, though, just go to yoga, stop for whatever YOU want for dinner and know that those who are home will figure it out.
  • Go figure. The fewer kids at home you have, the less you will want to punch your husband/partner in the face. Yes, that sounds extreme but, at least for me, this is the case. I think many of us fall in a rut and yes, you’re married  but, the kids take over EVERY single thing.  You don’t mean for it to happen but, it happens.
    • Go ahead and get dinner on the spur of the moment. In a restaurant.
    • Give projects a try. Mike and I do not work well together (as in being in the same room working on the same task). But, if we each have a job with a common goal, we actually have fun (he cuts the crown molding, I paint it, we put it up together.)
    • Give each other space. Kids leaving does not mean you have to cling to each other. Explore new interests independently. It’s the first chance you’ve had in  how many years?

I enjoy having grown up kids. Things that I used to worry about are no longer my problem. It’s fun to spend time with them and see what they’re doing. From a homeschooling perspective, the boys’ college experiences have validated my efforts. They all  got into school and they all excelled (are excelling). I didn’t ruin them.

What happens when the last kid leaves? I’m not sure. I read an article the other day about this very thing.  I love my boys. I suck at sending care packages or letters. They know this, I hope. They are starting their lives.  Mike and I are “getting back” to ours.

So, yeah, no conclusion here. I’m sure I’ll come back to it eventually.


Yikes! It’s almost Halloween!

caillou-mummyOctober has been flying by so quickly. I thought I had all kinds of time to decorate for Halloween and then we had a couple of rowing events, a hurricane and a visit from my sister this weekend. The month is gone. I have tried.

I do love pulling out holiday decorations. But, this year, Halloween decorations seemed a bit lame. I found this little guy at the Dollar Tree. (Guess what he cost?) There was something about his face that made me want to spend that dollar. I just couldn’t figure out what it was.

And, then it hit me. (I’m not up to date on little kid television so I might be dating myself.) This dumb little mummy makes me think that Caillou’s mommy finally snapped and duct-taped him. Color me bitter but this little mummy (aka a silent Caillou) makes me unreasonably happy.

Nothing else really. Just sharing the weird things that make me happy. I have more weird pictures but this will have to do for now. Now, I must go find a song to put into my head before I sleep that is not the Caillou song. Any song. (Gah! He’s still whining/singing in my head.)



I Should Know Better . . .

9265c-boredomIn my entire adult life, the minute I articulate the fact that I am bored my world changes. I did this (again!) and poof! life is busy in unanticipated ways. Last week we had the hurricane, soap lessons, a pizza party and then into school, practice and general life.

Mike and I have committed to the “food team” for rowing this year. Neither of us is good at sitting staring at a lake or river for 8+ hours waiting for the 2-3 minutes we get to see Andy flash by.  Friday, I went to the team leader’s house and peeled exactly 7,211 mandarin oranges, put 40 lbs of mozzarella into tiny cubes and diced pepperoni for hours. And, then we loaded the food trailer.  There is a lot that goes into feeding 200 kids for a day.

I came home and made bread and sausage balls. I’m an idiot, I put the sausage balls (all 150 of them) into a tupperware container that reeked of laundry detergent – I just didn’t smell it because of my allergies. Those were a toss. The bread was a hit, though. Andy’s boat placed 4th out of 21. The fall long distance races are weird. Even when you watch, you can’t tell who’s winning or not. Spring racing is much more fun to watch. Andy was happy so I’m happy.

Between rowing stuff, I’ve had a chance to spend time with my homeschool “homie” Jo who was visiting from Hawaii. Took Andy to our new, awesome dentist (we tried another local dentist – gah! DO NOT be afraid to get a second opinion. We did and we still saved $600.) Feeding people, soaping, visiting an awesome local farm for butter, marrow bones and some seriously delicious yogurt filled in the downtime.

This week is just as busy. I’ve spent Sunday, Monday and part of Tuesday sleeping and dealing with my stupid stomach. All is good now. Christi (the original girl-that-is-a-friend and daughter-in-law) turned 25 on Monday!!!!! How is that possible? Tomorrow, I get to see Kate! Andy is off to Valencia College to take tests to allow him to start classes in January. He’s so excited though, I might be more excited. I am ALL done with homeschooling all day everyday.

Thursday and Friday will be spent on revising writing assignments and making food for the rowing picnic on Saturday. I’m also excited because my sister is coming to town and it feels like forever since I’ve seen her.

Ugh … too much in one post. This is why I need to post everyday. I can break things into digestible bites. If you’ve read this far, thanks.  Now that I’m back up to speed I’ll send shorter, more entertaining updates.


I love when it all works out . . .

skull-of-matthewFor a hurricane weekend, we definitely ended up having WAY more fun than is probably appropriate.  And, I’m here to write about it.

Bing and Gigi (her Boston Terrier/Chihuahua new-to-her dog) came to sit out the storm. Gigi, a rescue dog who spent some time on the streets alone, is slowly coming around. She and Cally (our dog) may never be best friends but they at least learned to ignore each other pretty well. For the people in the house, there was cake, pie, chips, soda, wine and beer. Really, what else do you need?  While I had Bing trapped in the house, I made her make soap. We made some pretty ones!

The next morning, we learned the storm had pretty much skipped us. Mike was antsy because it was too windy to be out doing yard work and he’s not much for sitting around – especially with no Netflix or ESPN. So we opted for more cake, pie and snacks. When those ran out, Mike started cooking real food and Bing helped me with a fall wreath and some weird cobwebs I’ve been working on (pictures tomorrow). Andy set up my mom’s new phone (delivery just happened to work out pre-storm) and showed her all kinds of stuff the new phone can do. I dunno – it was just a really nice couple of days.

Saturday was beautiful and sunny and a little cooler (85-ish – nearly sweater weather). We were invited to a pizza challenge that evening. The hosts provided pizza dough and each couple had to bring their topping. I left Mike to think about that and went and got my hair cut and then stopped into Goodwill simply because I could. Andy had been using my car lately and on Saturday he was occupied AND had a ride home. (If anyone knows how to get the “boy smell” out of a car, please share. I love Andy.  I used to love my car.)

BAM!!!!! Walked into Goodwill and there were two giant boxes containing a  12′ Christmas tree.  It was like they were waiting for me. (The very first time I walked into this house I loved it because of the idea of having a GIANT tree in the entry. I soon found out how expensive those suckers are. But, I have never given up hope.) $40!!!!!!

28295But, and there’s always a but . . . I didn’t really think through how wide around a tree that tall is. Mike and Andy set it up for me this afternoon (because I was acting like a 3 year old and wouldn’t stop talking about it). Behold the Griswold family Christmas tree.  It will fit in the hall but some rearranging will have to be done to accommodate the tree and it’s … wait for it… 2500 lights (that all work)!!!!!!  Rest assured, you will be hearing more about this behemoth.  Isn’t it a scream!?!

And it doesn’t end! Pizza night was a hoot! It’s nice to find a group of people where things are easy – and funny. When you are all cooking together you learn an awful lot about people as well. There was no agreement on which pie won. I liked the one with peppers, onions, anchovies and really good mozzarella. (Don’t tell Mike – that wasn’t his. He did a muffalata (sp?) pizza – no thanks.)  Fun night. I always love seeing other people’s houses. The hosting couple is originally from Venezuela but have lived all over the world. They had so much beautiful art from everywhere – oil paintings from Venezuela, icons from Bulgaria, Disney stuff and so much more. I loved hearing the stories behind some of them and hope to hear more.

20161010_014706Today, more soap lessons for a friend. It was lesson #3 and we were ambitious. We’ll see how things come out of the mold tomorrow. I was confident we could do things quickly. My friend was less confident. I think she has a better understanding of how much talking goes on during and between soap batches. These are three we did. She went home with six more! Anyway, I’m so glad she showed up with frozen soup. We finished up the soap around 6:30. It was awesome to have soup, garlic bread and a salad to finish things off.  It’s killing me now to see these soaps. We’ll see in the morning.

Anyway … for a hurricane weekend it worked out pretty well. I needed some time like this – I’ve been gloomy lately for no particular reason just blah. It’s nice to reach the other side of the abyss.  ;)



Here we go . . .

skull-of-matthewI just turned on my computer after doing school with Andy and running a bunch of errands. It opened to the Drudge Report and this picture. Not encouraging. The “Deadly Skull of Matthew.” Ominous, isn’t it? There are about 8000 different models that track hurricanes so it’s hard to know what to expect. But, Florida is due for a hurricane so we’re going to take this one seriously.

20161005_153213Apparently, so is everyone else. Sam’s, Walmart, Winn Dixie and Walgreen’s are all out of water. We’re fine – we have water here but, that’s a bit scary. Scarier still was the low supply of wine, beer and M&M’s.  It’s okay, though. I threw a can in front of some lady’s scooter and snagged these for myself.

Now we just wait. It’s likely we’ll lose power for a bit but I don’t anticipate much more this far inland. But, you never know. The last time we had hurricanes, Mike was in the hospital in the ICU. During that time we were hit by four hurricanes in a row. And, I really didn’t pay that much attention. Our roof was ruined, the tree house was irreparably damaged and the  basketball hoop fell on top of Mike’s car. The kids and I listened to a LOT of Harry Potter during our nine or so days of no power. In August. In Florida. In the end, it all worked out and Mike came home. So, whatever happens this time around, it will never be that bad.

Still, if you’re so inclined say a prayer for everyone in this storm’s path and especially for those poor people who have already been hit by the storm.

A Night Out?

8e6c9-prom1950We rarely “do” date nights and yesterday was no exception. Instead, yesterday’s plan was to meet friends for dinner after their kids’ swim meet. So, it was me, Mike, another couple and two teenagers. (On our end, Tim was working and Andy had plans for Halloween Horror Nights.) We had a great time but there’s no denying our “going out” days are mostly done. Here’s a timeline:

  1. Waiting for friends to text that they are done. I send a series of texts with restaurant options. Mike starts shouting from another room “Have you heard anything yet?” I shout that I will text him as soon as I know anything.
  2. Fifteen minutes later . . . Mike come lumbering into my “office.”   He announces that he left his phone on my desk. “Have you heard anything yet? I was out in the yard doing a few things.” (He is absolutely drenched in sweat and he’s wearing his crazy homeless guy hair.)
  3. I suggest a shower with promises to keep him up to date. I hear thumping and water running upstairs. Looking good so far.
  4. Mike appears again. “Is my phone working? Did you text?” I just stare.  The man I love is clean but he looks like an overgrown 8-year-old in plaid shorts and a gigantic Gator polo shirt. My head tells me to be kind and diplomatic. My mouth stomps that thought right the hell out. “Is THAT what you’re wearing?” Much discussion and negotiation. Kept the shorts, toned down the shirt.
  5. Now, Mike is not the only insane one. I have it in my head that it is October. No mind that at 6 pm it is still 93 degreess and full humidity. I opt for jeans and a blouse I have been dying to wear since I found it back in May. I’m full in on fall so I add my favorite red loafers. If I only knew how to keep myself  from sweating.
  6. We’re in the truck driving toward downtown Orlando debating restaurants via text. The sky looks like the end of the world. Both of our phones have been shrieking randomly. We turn up the radio. I test the truck’s a/c to see if I can unwilt my stupid self.
  7. Arrive and meet up with our friends. The restaurant is awesome. If you’re ever in Orlando, The White Wolf Cafe is a fun spot for drinks, brunch, lunch and/or dinner. I don’t know about you but the last time I had Lobster Grilled Cheese for dinner was never! They offered a lot of local craft beer so Mike was in heaven.
  8. At some point, thank heavens we had the teenagers with us, the world began ending in, even for Orlando, a torrential rain. Suddenly phones all over the restaurant were going off, lights were flickering and we realized we probably should have checked our phones on the way over to the restaurant. Flooding, plagues and general unhappiness abounded. We kept eating and talking. For another hour!
  9. Mike insists our friends come with us to our car (street parking) because it’s close and he had brought some of the beer he’s been making to give to our friends. Umm…we were not parked close. The sidewalks were flooded. The teenagers rolled their eyes and opted to stay with their parents car which was just steps from the restaurant door. We made it and drove our soaked selves and friends back to the waiting teens.
  10. Driving home. Mike notes the late hour – it was 9:00. He worries that his wet clothes will cause a rash on the 20 minute drive home. I stare at him and wonder how this has happened. Seriously, HOW does this happen? I missed the transition.  And then we turn down the radio and talk about how much fun we had.  Going out, despite my night owl tendencies, has definitely changed. When we first started going out with our friends, it was 9:00 before we even decided to go somewhere.

And, there it is. What happens when “older” people go out.



cropped-a3de5-typewriter-bmp.jpgOkay – this is my 18th post for September and the month will be over in 23 minutes. I don’t think I can hit 30 posts. In another world this would bother me a lot more than it does in this world. I really do like to accomplish what I say I’m going to do even if it means inconveniencing me and those around me. But, not quite as much as I used to like it. And, to think, I arrived at that conclusion without a single yoga class! 8)

Still, September ended up being a good month. Andy is off to a very solid start with school with little if any snark. Going back to making soap has been awesome. I even got a chance to teach a friend how to make soap over the weekend. I am so thrilled that she loved it almost as much as I do. We have plans to try a couple of projects together in the future. It’s not often you meet someone who has great enthusiasm for lye and things like super-fatting.

Bing, aka my mom, adopted a dog.  Gigi is a Boston Terrier/Chihuahua mix who was found by a rescue group on the streets. She is ridiculously cute – a Boston Terrier with a nose and a tail – it’s funny stuff. She’s about seven years old.  Clearly someone took very good care of her as she can follow many commands and is a polite little thing. She did pick up some bad habits during her stint in the ‘hood but, I think with time and love she’ll get even better. Bing loves the company. For some reason, I really want to dress Gigi up. I am seriously THAT girl-deprived I guess.  You know the lady who made the calendar of her sleeping baby (who messes with a sleeping baby?) where she arranged the baby in scenes from books and familiar songs? Next time Bing leaves town and I get Gigi – I have BIG plans!

Tim and Ian are thoroughly immersed in all things school and work.  I see Tim about as much as I see Ian despite the fact that Tim lives here – I mean right here in the house – and Ian is living in Tallahassee.  I miss them both but am very proud of them. Dan and Christi are doing great in Ann Arbor. Christi will finish graduate school in December and is all-school-all-the-time right now. Dan is accepting the fact that he’s married to a musician and that television gets boring. He still enjoys his full-time job with an engineering firm but has resumed tutoring math and science as a way to fill the evenings when Christi has gigs and to pad their bank account.

Mike is still methodically working on his plan to get the yard back in shape. The parts he’s done already look amazing. There is still a lot to do. Every weekend he discovers a new statue or plant or mini-garden. It’s kind of crazy. Fun too. I think it’s more fun for me because I’m not out there in the 95-degree heat “discovering” stuff. Left to my own devices, I’d pave it all.

An open letter to HGTV . . .

2175 cs 1Yeah, it’s been on my mind long enough that I need to type this out. I think I’ll just make a little list.

  • Hi, HGTV. Let’s start off by saying I love your channel and I watch way too much of it. And, I watched WAY too much of it while we were getting our house ready to sell (and I think I owe the Property Brothers about $20,000 for help with staging) so I get the value of your channel.
  • We’re in a new house now. I would like some answers.
    • Who are the people who are getting loans that include money for “Your guysez all in budget?” What is the vetting process for getting a loan that includes bazillions of dollars in remodeling? I’m sure if I had Chip/Joanna Gaines or the other folks on your channel my bank might agree. But, just me saying “Oh yeah, we’re going to take out some walls and move all the duct work and plumbing . . .” I actually asked about this when we were house-hunting and the nice bank lady just smiled and said it was a difficult process.
    • A nurse and a firefighter in a HUGE city decided to buy a house. What am I missing? Two people (maybe in their late 20’s/early 30’s) qualify for an $800,000 mortgage? Same question for Flip or Flop.  What the heck is going on in California where an 1100 sq. ft. house sells for over $500K?  How is that ever a good deal? I realize there are regional differences but these seem extreme yet also seem to be the norm on HGTV.
  • Yer killing me with the open concept. Yes, it’s pretty on television. It’s probably nice when your kids are wee. But, the kids grow and most people I know reach a point where they want to be AWAY from their kids at certain points of the day. It’s nice to have a separate space (on the same floor) where mom can do her own thing.  (We don’t all have basements.) And, while the concept of a teen space is nice – they’re teenagers. They WILL be in the kitchen. Period. ALWAYS. I can just picture in ten years people putting up walls again.
  • Cords? Where are the cords? I love the finished spaces and I get the “staged” thing but I would love to see a real life working version of some of these houses. Phones, computers, speakers, televisions, camera . . . I would love to see a 6-Months-Later show for just about all of your shows – no touch up, nothing. Just show up with cameras and see how things are going.
  • Finally, what is the deal with master bathrooms? Do two normal-sized people really need a spa in which to get ready every morning? What the heck are they doing in there? It’s great if you can afford it but, to make it seem like the norm is a little crazy.

Okay, that’s a start. I have not even touched on House Hunters, People Buying Islands and People Buying Cabins/Beach Houses. I’ll just say that if I could buy a house on the beach (a second house, no less) I’d be happy without a gourmet kitchen, master spa or walk in closet.  The walk-in closet at the beach kills me. Who brings clothes to the beach?

No point to this other than to get it out of my head. I’ll keep watching and bitching.

A Debate Without M&M’s or Alcohol …

c843e-boredomYep. Monday night was focus group night. Me and 59 total strangers squashed into a room watching a debate. There was Diet Coke. No M&M’s though. That was disappointing.

While I didn’t find the debate all that interesting, the experience was. We ranged in age from 18-80+ and it appeared that our group represented just about any category you can imagine. The whole thing was a “first-name” only deal. Being “Amy” I was first on the list, thank you very much. (I don’t know why that actually matters just a residual of growing up with a “T” last name, I guess.)

There were about 20 minutes where we were just hanging out eating (not M&M’s) snacks and making polite conversation. I got to meet an “Ian” who was about my own Ian’s age. Funny, funny guy. We had a conversation about this video. If I was a betting person, I’d bet Ian is going to vote third party.

They put us all in a room with two huge screens and a mirrored wall. I comforted myself throughout the evening thinking that if I thought the debate was boring I cannot imagine what the people behind the mirror watching us watch the debate were suffering through. All 60 of us were squashed into space designed for 35-40 people. You’d think that would warm things up but no.  So glad I took Mike’s advice to grab a sweater before I left. It was fuh-reezing in the room.

We were given little controllers with a dial. All the way to left, the dial read 1. In the middle it was 50 to the far right it was 100.  We were not allowed to have food or drinks in the room. We were to be touching our controllers the entire time. To the right was a favorable reaction to the speaker, to the left was unfavorable. We were also not allowed to talk to each other or ourselves throughout the debate. So glad I had the armpit whispering plan in place ahead of time.

When the debate was over, we turned over our controllers and the people in charge selected 20 people to stay to answer further questions.  Near as I could tell it was every third person on the first-name only list. I was glad I wasn’t picked even though I think it would have meant extra money. Once in the hallway, again single file to sign the paper and get our cash, the guy I think of as “great-big-cowboy” (I know, it’s so original) let out a whistle and then, in a huge Texan accent, announced “Well, if that weren’t 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag, I don’t know what is.”

That cracked us all up and then there was all kinds of chattering. It didn’t seem to matter which candidate you like/tolerated – everyone was disappointed with scripted answers and more of the same. There was more conversation in the parking lot. I don’t know that anything was solved but, I left feeling like people are all frustrated but they are not as full of vitriol as the media would lead us to believe. In fact, people were respectful of those with differing views. I didn’t see any eye-rolling, heard no nasty name-calling and got into my car listening to people wishing each other good luck and good night.

I don’t know that there will be a “real win” no matter who is elected but, I felt much more at peace than I have in a while knowing that most people are sane and civil. I have no reason to believe it’s any different around the country. Most of us just want to live our lives the best we can and we want the same for others. I hope I’m right.

Soaprogress has been made . . .

Almond In Wonderland

Sorry. Once it was in my head, I couldn’t stop typing that headline. Anyway, I’ve added soap pages to my blog. I have to figure out the best way to set up buy buttons that give you choices. That’s not going to happen this weekend. However, now you all know what I have and what’s available. You can comment on the blog or on FB and let me know what you want or if you have questions. I will get back to you quickly. In the meantime, I hope you get a kick out of the pictures. I sure did.

Okay – let’s make this easier here are links to the soap pages:

General Information

Soap Descriptions