I know, I’m past midlife but I’m calling it that anyway!

We had our first vacation with adult children this summer and it was amazing!  I strongly recommend it.  We went to Dauphin Island for a week, rented a house and just vegged out.   Evyn made all the desserts-cupcakes, 2 kinds of cookies, eclair dessert (her mother-in-law’s recipe), strawberry pretzel dessert, and more.  Cori did all the Sam’s club shopping-paper products, snacks (yes, we ate alot!), dry goods, etc.  Both girls cleaned the kitchen and washed towels.  This was truly a dream to be with everyone on such a special vacation. Schedules are so difficult to coordinate and getting all to the same location is a challenge. The kids probably didn’t have the same feeling we had, it takes age and time to realize how precious and special it is to have everyone together for a vacation.  The kids played tennis, biked, and of course, the beach.  We truly loved it.  Scott and I are already talking about the next one.  Writing about this reminds me that I told the boys I would pay them 25 cents for each shell they find and I still owe them! And it’s a good thing Ev made desserts because  Dauphin Island is short on restaurants!  We had the little guys to ourselves every morning before everyone got up and it was precious.  Also, our daughters did an excellent job picking husbands, that definitely helps! 

An advantage of midlife-wonderful adult children.

On another note, I think the absolute worst part of my age is aging parents.  I know many others have gone through this but there is just no easy way.  My good friend buried her dad a few weeks ago and is now dealing with a heartbroken, aging mom.  Another friend is busy packing up her mother-in-law’s home of 43 years so she can move into independent living-difficult for everyone.  My sweet stepmom is trying so hard to live life without dad, my niece has helped so much with this.  The details involved in these situations are mind-boggling! To me, this is the worst part of midlife.

Off to a much, much, lighter subject, growing older is interesting.  What should I do with my hair???? It’s a dilemma!  Do I color it dark, my “natural” color?  Which means I have to color it more frequently because my “natural” color is no longer my “natural” color.  Do I go lighter, so I don’t have to have it colored as frequently, which does not look “natural” on me?  Should I wear it short because color fades and hair looks washed out or should I let it grow because I have unrealistics visions of my hair longer??  Such decisions!  Also, have you noticed that your weight may not change but the shape of your body does?  It’s like fat shifts to new areas, interesting, thrilling.  Have you noticed how the mammograms have changed?  Used to be that it was such a painful experience as they cranked the machine to squeeze you. Now they plop it up there like a slab of meat because it looks like a melted popscicle and they crank away; you barely feel anything because they’re long now instead of plump.  Interesting.  I noticed last time that the cranking of the machine took a lot longer.  Also, have you ever accidentally caught your reflection in a car window or entering a glass door and thought “Who is that”?  It’s kinda funny really.  In rereading this it sounds so negative but I don’t mean it that way, just midlife reality for most of us.  

My favorite thing about my age is confidence.  I have such an appreciation for learning new things (been working on the smart board in my room), my relationships are true and real, and feel much more mature in my relationship with God.  I completely understand now why people my age garden (by the way, my tomatoes in my garden are awesome!), bird watch ( Why does my birdfeeder only attract sparrows and my friends post pictures of these beautiful birds?), and go out to lunch everyday with friends (okay, maybe I just do that).  

Random- Both of my daughters cook daily.  Honestly, it’s impressive to me.  I so wish I could say they got it from me, but not even close.  I had a picture album with restaurant take-out menus, actually I still do.  Anyway, I’m cooking more. My daughters make weekly menus and shop and follow the menu.  I’m copying their example, my menu for the next week it to use up all the food I buy and we never eat.  I’m fixing chicken tacos tonight, had the chicken, salsa,  corn tortillas, and seasoning.  I’m trying to use everything I have without going to the store; will let you know if I’m successful.

Random Again- People, quit asking me when I’m going to retire!  Never I hope.  I love my job and told my students I will be there in my walker and blind and they will have to show me where my class is.  Working is good for the soul ( that’s what I keep telling myself).

Really Random-Okay, I have been home for the summer and watching more TV than usual (too much if I want to be honest).  Have you noticed that no one has wrinkles?  Foreheads don’t move and upper lips are all puffy and don’t move.  The term “facial expression”  is becoming obselete.  Seriously, everyone is starting to look alike! This should get interesting.

Last of the Randoms- If you’re my age, aren’t you glad you didn’t grow up in the cell phone era?  We didn’t have someone checking on us with calls all the time.  They couldn’t find out where we were with the GPS locator on the phone.  Although I do remember my dad showing up late at night at my boyfriend’s house because I was supposed to be home.  Hmmm, maybe a phone call would have been better. 

If anyone has any recipes involving baked beans, garbanzo beans, green beans ( I know, I don’t know why I have these beans), noodles, fish, tomatoes, lots of different breads, and 1 giant can of enchilada sauce, please let me know. 

 

 

 

 

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Just read my last post and am grateful for answered prayers: Vanessa and Mike have Ari, my niece is healthy, my brother is doing well.  Thank you God!

 

These past months have been a few of growing and learning, in so many areas.  Renewed friendships from long ago have been so rewarding and fun.  A recent class reunion has spurred this on.   My plan is to continue and grow these into lasting and frequent events.  New friendships have happened at just the right time as well.   God really does work it out when I let him!   My dad’s cancer diagnosis really made me think seriously about quality lives and connections; it has been worth it.  My investment of time and energy has changed in many ways.

My daughters have grown so much.  I see them making a difference in others and learning from the experience themselves.   I see them react in mature, thoughtful ways, just when it was needed.   They will always be little girls to me, but now they’re also women.  Sometimes they say things that surprise me because it sounds like something I would say!  That part is a little scary!  I have a few friends mourning their estranged children and their situations have made me love and appreciate mine even more.  My prayer for my friends’ families  continues.

My dad’s illness and death has unearthed so many feelings, wounds, and lack of control ( which is so difficult that I can’t fix it all!).   Not everyone reacted the way I wanted them to and not everything went as I had scripted it in my head.  I’ve learned so much from what I can’t control and have hated every minute of it. My sweet stepmother is better, day by day, and I have given up on some things that just do not matter.  If felt good to visit and laugh with her yesterday instead of focusing on tasks needed.  The butterflies in my stomach have almost completely stopped and I caught myself laughing again.  Dad would be proud. 

I have always believed that most depression and worry is caused from too much self-focus; I still believe that.  It helps to put your energy into something or someone worthwhile and this has proven to be true.  We tried to teach our children that and I see it working in their lives.

Divorce seems to have hit my age big time.  I have several friends recently divorced or in the middle of the battle. Why?  Are we afraid of age, tired of commitment, worried about what we missed?  This is such a good time of life, what a shame.  I want them to have what I have. 

Students with different learning styles have been challenging for me this year and I am a better teacher because of them.   The need to adjust and readjust has caused some extra creativity and thought and I’m grateful.  I’m reading a book on disconnected kids and find the information on the brain fascinating. 

We are taking a long, overdue family vacation this year!  We are all going to Gulf Shores-not far from Evyn and Ryan’s place- for a week.  Hooray!!!  I’m taking a good book (kindle) and plan on eating seafood everyday!  Maybe a few steaks thrown in, too.  I’m looking forward to unhurried time with the kids and grandsons. 

Lastly, I’m so impressed with people who work hard to change their lives; it’s not easy.  A few I know are doing this and I’m so proud of them.  This time of disequilibrium has been so good for me, not fun, but good for growth.   I am the same on the outside but not on the inside, I’m better.  I feel hungry for God and know He has missed me. 

This has been a very different summer.  My dad’s illness and extended family complications really threw me off  my game.  I’m such a control freak that situations out of my control make me crazy.  I’m learning.  I continually turn it over to God and continually take it back.  I’m learning.   The seriousness of the situation has made me evaluate so much in my life and face some facts about myself.   God has definitely used the situation.   I have some friends I am so so grateful for and their love and their prayers continue to lift me.  I feel I’ve learned alot about my friends, I don’t think I realized how dependent upon their support I am.     I hope my daughters can learn from my bad example as well as my good example, because I’ve definitely shown both.  I want to be perfect for them but I think I’m finally learning that God is okay with just trying, and I need to be okay with that as well, not just in me but in others.  This has been a summer of too many tears, it’s time to regain some joy.   This summer has changed me, just when you think you can’t change!

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Now, on a lighter note, my little grandson is starting kindergarten, no way!!!    He will do great but I know how my daughter feels.   When she went to kindergarten I sobbed at the bus stop.  Yes, other parents ( there were only 2 because normal people don’t go stand with their child at the bus stop) were rejoicing.  I was traumatized.  I can see her little dress, shoes, and hair barrette just thinking about it.  She had an adorable backpark, of course.  Anyway, I put her on the bus, told the driver to be careful, and cried.  Then I realized what if she didn’t know what to do when she got off and no one helped her?  I immediately jumped in my car and followed the bus to school, just to make sure she could find her room.  Man, how did this girl survive without me?  I was homeroom mom for both daughters every year, because of course they needed my help.  Are you seeing a control pattern here?   Can you imagine what these teachers were saying behind my back??  So yes, I know how my daughter feels.  Hope she handles it better than I did because she, oops, I mean he, will do great.

I’ve connected with some old friends on facebook and it’s been so great.  It is so fun to see their families, especially grandchildren.  We have a class reunion  this fall and I’m excited.  They look so young!   I wish airbrushing worked in person.

I’m doing a Star Wars unit this year that I am very excited about.  Also, we are going to put on a play!  I really think it’s going to be a great school year.   School starts on Monday, at least for the teachers.  I am so ready.  My research has inspired me to try some new ideas and projects; I’m so glad teachers share their ideas because I love stealing them.  My work is such a blessing, and my boss brings me Starbucks!

This is what I want, I want my brother to be wonderful, my niece to remain healthy, my dad to live longer than my stepmom (I know this sounds bad but she needs him), and I want Kaleb to get well and I want Vanessa and Mike to get a baby.  I know I don’t always get what I want but I’m still going to want this anyway and will continue to pray these requests.

A big thank you for all the prayers for my dad, we felt them.   For those of you that don’t know, Dad had pneumonia about a 6 weeks ago.  On his chest x-ray for his recheck, the Dr. found some spots and assumed they were due to the pneumonia.  They checked again after 3 weeks and the spots were still there.  Following a biopsy, we were told they were malignant.  They proceded with an MRI and found cancer in his spine, stage 4.  It seems like Dad went from feeling healthy one day to stage 4 cancer.  We would have never known had it not been for the pneumonia.  He looks good and feels great, exercises 3 or 4 times a week and has no symptoms.   I felt like my world was turned upside down.  My expectations were that my dad would live forever, or at least to 120 or so.  I hate cancer.  My dad called and cried, wanting my brother and me to promise to take care of Pat, my stepmom.   So many thoughts, so many tears.

After I pulled myself together, I did some research and spoke to many friends dealing with aging parents.   I have been full of advice for them, until now.  There are so many things in life that can’t be explained, just experienced.  Childbirth, parenting, marriage, death of a loved one, etc.   This is one of them.  Everyone’s experiences are so different.    I went through every scenario in my mind, over and over.  Mom could live here, how boring.  She would be home alone each day while I worked  and can’t drive in Tulsa.  She could stay in her house, no, I’m afraid for her to be alone.  She could live in independent living facility or maybe with her sister.   My next step was to visit the facilities to see what my options were.   I have to admit, I was impressed.

Anyway, yesterday we had our visit with the oncologist and left there feeling so hopeful.  He confirmed that it can’t be healed but Dad’s survival could be extended.   He has a brain scan tomorrow and more tests over the next two weeks.  Dad begins chemo (either pill or IV) in two weeks.   I almost asked the Dr. about the side effects of each and decided I didn’t want to ruin the hopeful moment.  We will deal with that when we need to.  Dad was satisfied and hopeful.  He said if it buys him a few more years then he is satisfied.  Mom was relieved and felt he wasn’t  going anywhere soon.  I cried.  I was glad the Dr. didn’t say go home and enjoy the last few months of your life and sad that I was in the oncologist’s office with my dad.   My role has changed.  My hope is I can be there for him and for her in whatever capacity they need for me to be in.  I’ve seen this happen to many friends, now I understand.

My conversations with my dad during this time have so impressed me.  He told me his life with Pat has been the best 45 years anyone could ask for.  He is full of faith and has been a witness to his friends on his acceptance of this.   Mom has handled all this so well, they are so concerned for each other.   Their love and marriage have been an example for many.

Please continue to pray for strength and understanding in this part of our lives.  My high school friends called Dad “Captain Roy”.   I hadn’t heard that term in a long time and it brought a smile.  Thank you.   I still can’t seem to come to grips with the fact he isn’t going to live forever, but he also isn’t dying today or tomorrow.   I’m grateful for that.

Now for the funny part of the whole saga.  Anyway who knows my dad knows he is a big (BIG) talker.    We are at the cancer center filling out 12 pages of papers before we meet with the doctor.   Dad is saying ( in a loud voice) for mom just to put down anything on those lines, they never read that stuff.   Don’t worry about it, just fill in anything!  Many times.  Finally they finish and he takes it to the nurse at the front desk.  He tells her, “On any of those blanks I left, just fill in with whatever you want.  No one reads this stuff anyway.  Also,  if you see anything there you don’t like, just white it out.  I don’t care!” OMG, of course everyone in the waiting room is looking at us like we are from Bizzarro World !  This conversation goes on and on.  The poor nurse.  Then, after we see the doctor, we are in the waiting room again because the nurse has to schedule all these other tests, including a brain scan.  Dad starts in, “They think they’re doing a brain scan on me! Ha!!  They better have a powerful machine if they think they’re going to find my brain.  Good luck with that!!!”  Many, many times.    The nurse asks if he is claustorphobic (spelling?).   He of course isn’t but my aunt is.  Dad goes on and on and on how you have to get in this machine, you can’t move your arms or your head, you have to lie really still, etc. etc.  My aunt is freaking out.  The entire waiting room is looking at us with bewilderment.   Then my aunt hollers to the nurse ( all of these conversations are done long distance, no one ever gets up and goes to the nurse’s desk), “Be sure and do not schedule these appointments on Tuesdays.  Pat and I go shopping and lunch on Tuesdays and we don’t want his medical stuff to interfere with that!”    Of course, Mom, Dad, and my aunt are laughing their heads off.   Seriously, I thought we were going to get kicked out of the cancer center.  The first people ever kicked out of the cancer center.    It’s always an experience.

My cousins are like sisters to me.  One of them said, “It’s just an adjustment to a new reality.”   So true.  Anyway, I’m going to enjoy him while I can.
On another topic, kind of, I am so grateful for good parenting.  I absolutely love seeing parents that care more about their children than they do about themselves.  This is your legacy, this is your gift to the world to help make it better.   Please do it right, or at least try.   I honestly comment to parents I see that are giving it their best.   It is such a consuming, never ending, exhausting  job, but the reward is a fully functioning, contributing individual that passes this on.  It refreshes me to see it happen.   I’ve started looking for good parenting examples to compliment, please do the same.

“It’s not the load that brings you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

I don’t believe people when they say they have no regrets.  How can you not have regrets?  Anyway, I sort of regret not moving to a small town.  I grew up in a small community and have returned several times lately for various reasons.  When I returned I visited the small pharmacy on mainstreet and felt like I had gone back in time! Loved it.  The little lady talked to me like she has been seeing me every day. I talk to everyone so this was perfect!   The next visit to town I shopped at the local hardware store, wow!  This place is awesome.  The aisles are so crowded with everything that you have to walk sideways sometimes.  They have seeds (which is why I was there, which is another midlife thing!) for vegetables and they only sell local ones ( “None of these seeds are from China, lady!  All these seeds are harvested locally so we know they grow in this area!”)  These two stores have everything, you could do your Christmas shopping there.   The people were so friendly and everyone knew each other.  The hardware store had free popcorn!  People came in just for the popcorn!  It was so much fun.  The whole experience made me look back.  And by the way, if you have never been in an old time pharmacy and old time hardware store you really need to go.  Dewey is the place.

It’s funny, I remember all the reasons I couldn’t wait to get out of that town; those are all the reasons I long to go back!  It’s a midlife thing.  The comfort of everyone knowing everyone and their cousin is comforting now, annoying then.  The shops are all local and variety is limited, I love that now and hated it then.   Someone even recognized me, which was alittle surreal.   A  high school friend lives across the street from my aunt and helps her out some, I love that.   Another aunt and uncle are in a nursing home there and one  of the aides is a friend of my cousin.  We took a walk (ride) down memory lane and drove passed some friends’ houses and the school.   Which, by the way, an old (time not age!) friend’s husband is the assistant principal.

Anyway, the whole experience has been very touching to my heart. I think I need to live in a small house with a small garden in a small town (sounds alittle nursery rhymish).    I may have a small town in my future!  If I could only get my daughters and their families to move as well.  Also, I love my job and need to live close enough for it.  Hmmm, Skiatook, Ooolagah, Collinsville, Claremore, none sound as good as Dewey.

I’m about to embark on a new adventure.  My job now is only mornings and I love middle schoolers, which most people think is crazy.  There’s something about them- the struggle to figure out who they are, the awkwardness, the need to be accepted, this is just such a difficult and awkward age but they are so loveable.   In spite of that, I decided to try my hand at college.  I’m teaching an Interpersonal Communications class in the afternoons starting Monday at TCC-yikes!  It’s a fast track class so it’s only for one month, 4 afternoons a week.  This should be interesting, I hope.  I will write more later.

Have you seen the lady that bought $560 worth of groceries for $5.6o??!!  All with coupons!  Whatever, I don’t believe it.

A few websites people have told me  they like:  mamahatestocook.com, yardsalemapper.com, groceryiq.com, redlaser, billshrink.com, mint.com, honesty.com, pricespider.com

Last thing, the Kenny Chesney Concert was awesome!

I realize the snow has been hard on some but I have loved it.  First of all, it’s beautiful.  My snowmen turned out to look alittle rough, but overall the snow has been gorgeous.  The interesting part of this has been spending so much time alone.  Now some of you moms with young children are saying, “No wonder I thought it was so great!”  Maybe so.  Anyway, I don’t remember the last time I was so alone for so long.  It’s kind of weird not to be able to go anywhere, or have company because they can’t go anywhere.   The first day I read for hours, really.  Felt kind of guilty but not enough to do anything else.  The next day was more productive for sure.  It was uphill from there.  Aloneness was good for me, I need to purposefully do that  more often.   Forced isolation can be a good thing. 

Sunday’s sermon was so real, on Comparing, I Quit.  He said ” Comparing is the Death of Contentment.”   Isn’t that true?  I talked to my students about it and their take was so interesting.  They agreed and we talked about what they compare and what adults compare.  Their answers were grades, popularity, electronics, phones.  I told them the top two categories for adults were  possessions and looks, not too much different than theirs. They were so surprised about physical appearance  for adults.  Why would we care about that?  We’re old, already set in life, and don’t really need to impress anyone.  Interesting?  My life is pretty content, but sometimes hard not to compare.  The pastor’s answer, simplified, is to know who you are.   Good advice and a good sermon.  I have a class reunion this year and have been invited to 2 others.  Yikes!  I  needed to hear this sermon, hope they heard it, too! 

Ev and Ryan are doing well.   They are going to all the campus activities-basketball, wrestling, etc. and that’s a good thing.  Went recruiting in Florida for a few days and Ev was able to go,too.  Ev will go to California for a short time to play and train for beach.  She will work at her old job while she’s there so that’s good.  

Cori and Mike are busy with the boys.  Mike is taking Scottie skiing for the first time.  He loves the snow!  Cori is running with Bethany in a half marathon in April in Austin, they will have so much fun.  Mike and Cori are finally getting to take a break with a mini vacation with friends to Cancun.  No kids for 4 days!   Remember those days?! 

Great kids.  They have a really good father!

By the way, my daughter blogs and has great recipes. Her blog is listed below. 

Again, midlife is great.

 

I just read one of my posts about saying goodbye to my daughter, dated December, 2009.  Well, just said goodbye again.  She and her husband moved to Alabama on Saturday, a good move for them.  We expected them to be here longer than they were but things didn’t work out that way.  I miss her so much already, the phone calls or texts just letting  me know she’s okay helps but doesn’t compare to seeing her sweet face.   She and her husband will be a tremendous blessing wherever they land, that’s just who they are.   I know we raise them to be independent, but sometimes it sure is hard.   So glad we all had Christmas together.  I’m grateful that the appreciation of our time together is so valuable to them as well.  My other daughter lives close by but who knows for how long.  I love each time I walk past their house or they come here, even for a short time.  We know enough to appreciate the ease of this, things change so quickly, too quickly in midlife.   

New Year’s Resolution-Cooking Curry!  My favorite new cooking show is Arti Party.  She makes Indian cooking easy (at least she makes it look easy) and I’m on board.   My first dish is flat bread and sirloin curry ( took me 3 rewinds to figure out she was saying sirloin).  I will let you know. 

Back to School-Rough new semester.  We have had snow days and lots of sickness so it seems we can’t get caught up on anything.   The kids are wild and bored.  I even danced today and they rolled their eyes ( yes, 7th grade, it was you).  We are doing MLA formatting in 8th.  I mean, does it get any more fun than that!!!   I’m grateful my administrator has started making coffee (Starbucks!) in his office and sharing.  My 6th Graders stop by before they come to class to pick some up for me.  Come on, is that training or what!   Hmm, maybe they think I’m nicer when I have coffee.    Nay, I’m nice all the time (right kids?).   We need a field trip!  That is just what we need. The 8th Graders want me to take them to Pops.  I’m having a little trouble fitting it into English curriculum. 

On a serious note, I sure do miss my mom.  I’ve always missed my mother but sometimes it just hurts more than other times.  I have finally realized this emotion is linked to my emotions as a mother.   My daughter moved, my grandson starts school this year (No!!!),  and on and on.   Each high and low makes me long for her.  She has missed so much of my life; I still think of her when I see a mother and daughter at the mall.   I tell my students that sometimes you cannot see the results of a situation until you are on the other side-good and bad results.  Midlife really helps with that.  I’m on the other side of so many decisions and happenings in my life, good and bad.  The pain of her death is tempered by the appreciation and love I have for time with my daughters.  I know how fleeting it can be so I try to savor each visit and conversation.  It has also made me grateful for their independence.  It’s hard not to squeeze them too tightly, but I try not to. 

A big thank you to all my friends for the sweet messages on Saturday.  Ev is doing fine and Ryan has started the new job.  Life continues! 

More later.