My 3TV Segment: Reading Glasses Styles & More, Empty Nest & Online Meal Planning

Love that my morning show invites me to share what is trending on my blog and this segment from last month covers three great topics.  me-3tvTopics that are relevant along with some money saving and helpful tips, too. 

The ABCs of reading glasses.  Where to get stylish ones for less, a quick way to determine the power needed, good looking readers sunglasses from readers.com and more.  We also look at how some celebrities wear their stylish readers.  Plus a couple of good tips for moms adjusting to kids leaving the nest.  And a terrific healthy online meal planning tool called MealGarden.  The recipes are the real deal with clean whole foods and easy recipes.  Check it all out here in my short but thorough morning show segment.  I love sharing tips that I learn from other women, and some that I discover on my own, to make our manic lives are a little bit more managed and a lot more fun!

First Homecoming Memories

My daughter attended her first Homecoming and I used the awesome Animoto online video site to put the pictures into a fun 1 minute video. Creating this video reminds me just how fast she and her pals are growing up…just like my now college aged son did! I am a proud mom who is holding on to these last 4 years with my girl!  proud-mom-homecomingHere is the short and sweet video…

College Parent Weekend Happy Lessons Learned

Thank you to my readers who have told me that you are enjoying my posts about my journey of becoming a half empty nest mom, as I call it.  The journey does indeed continue with today’s post about how awesome and a little tricky my son’s college parent weekend was for our family.  asu-parentsIt was mostly awesome, I am happy to report.  The tricky part came with the scheduling and the communicating between my boy and me, but I learned some good lessons from the experience and came home with a joyful and full heart.

We are in the season where colleges everywhere are hosting busy family weekends when happy parents reunite with their, hopefully, happy college kids.  And if the child is not so happy, then attending the college family weekend can be very beneficial as you check in on how your kid is adjusting.

My kid is doing so well that I really don’t hear from him that much.  Since he moved out on August 12th, which means six (sometimes very slow weeks for this adjusting Mama) have passed.  That has taking some getting used to on my part.  Although he stayed in town, he hasn’t come home to do laundry and for only one home cooked meal.  Just goes to show that one truly can’t predict the future, especially when it comes to our offspring!

So multiple emails were sent out to me from the university with invitations to all kinds of cool events.  I tried not to “hound” my college freshman.  I avoid “nagging” and “hassling” him about all kinds of topics now that he is supposed to be on his own and I am supposed to be letting go.

So I only “nudged” him a few times about which events he wanted us to RSVP to that we would attend. He told me several times that we would look at it later and that he would get back to me.

Here is where this gets tricky for this rookie college mom.  I was torn between continued hounding or letting it go and letting him take the lead.  I really was torn because I was SO excited to see him on this family weekend.

I decided to let it go.  Until the week of anyway.  And for those of you that know me, that takes me out of my comfort zone.  I like to get things scheduled, confirmed and listed on the calendar.

The calendar I used when my kids were younger.

The calendar I used when my kids were younger.

So finally the week arrived.  I contacted him again asking about a finalized plan.  Before I could blink, he answered.  But not by texting me.  He instead registered our family!  Wow!  I was surprised when I received the confirmation email.  Although I was a bit worried that we would be unable to attend every event as he had checked off the main RSVP box.

So again I had to consciously take a step back and let it be.  I so wanted to call him and sort through every detail one event by one.  My husband told me that would be tedious and not welcomed by our boy who is now doing a lot of things (like RSVPing our family) on his own.  As it should be.

So the weekend arrived and my college boy told me not to worry myself that we would not be attending the Friday morning festivities due to scheduling conflicts.  I was disappointed (only because any time at all I get with my son is SO cherished) but I said OK.

I disliked the “we missed you” email that I received from the college upon our absence.  Both my son and my hubs told me to let that one go and not to worry about it.

So I resisted my urge to write back with a giant apology.  I did send my short and sweet post-event regrets (couldn’t help it…proud to say that I was raised that way)!

Late that night, we received a text from our son to come an hour later to the Saturday morning events.  I felt annoyed but again let it go as I am adjusting to this parenting a young adult stage where micro-managing is no longer welcomed and resisted.  As it should be at this stage.

So that morning, I looked at the schedule again and noticed that coming later meant missing the meat of the event with only photo opps left with the college mascot.  Neither my son or husband had any interest in that!

So I made the mistake of texting (I should have called to clarify) my son to tell him (trying to hide my disappointment) that we weren’t coming at all that day since we missed the good stuff.  That we would meet him later for dinner and for the big football game.

He texted back asking me why.

That should have flagged me that he had some interest in discussing this.

Again I should have called, but I simply texted back the reason and that I knew he didn’t want to pose with Sparky the mascot.  I got a short “OK” reply.

Ugh….if only I would have called him to discuss!  In fact, later at dinner, my boy asked us again why we didn’t come later in the day.  It was then he let us know that we missed some super cool parts of family weekend.  What?!  The agenda I received showed that pictures with Sparky concluded the day! I was SO disappointed upon the realization that we missed some events.  Events that were interesting to my son. Events that would have given us MORE time with this guy that we miss so much.

So this balancing act of leaving them alone versus communicating in this text/social media driven new world got me!  Had I listened to my gut and instead balanced my instinct to call and really plan this family weekend thing, the confusion would have been avoided. And we would have spent more time with him at some of the cool offerings with Sparky pictures remaining optional.

Of course hindsight is 20/20.

But the happy ending is that we had a PERFECT night with our son and his girlfriend!  First a delish pregame dinner.  Here I am with a yummy Sangria flight with my son’s cutie pie girlfriend.  So fun! cpkThen we cheered at the very exciting game that saw a tie multiple times and ended up with us victorious, plus with a 4-0 beginning season record that the university hasn’t seen in quite some time.  2016-asu-gameWe truly had a perfect night!  In our ASU swag, stadium fireworks and all.  So much fun! asu-fireworks

And part of the reason that the evening stayed perfect is because I resisted the urge to further discuss why we missed the boat on our family college weekend planning and I didn’t let him know how disappointed I felt.  Because it really didn’t matter.  That was in the past.

He continuing to be away from our nest continues on in the future.  The present was now and we were having a wonderful time together. So no “I told you so” came out of my mouth, no disappointed expression appeared on my face.  I took my husband’s advice and just enjoyed the now.

The moments together that made last night the perfect night at our own personal version of family college weekend.  The five of us.  Our night.  Our unique college welcoming experience.

Because part of this new journey is letting my young adult plan his college events, make his decisions, choose his timeline.

But I did learn that next year I will call him to discuss the events so that we are on the same page and I don’t end up disappointed because we miss stuff.  He doesn’t end up scratching his head wondering why we decided not to show.

Communication is key, but so is letting go and letting him lead us in this new college student/parent world.  Texting is so awesome because most kids will actually text back.  But a call is also good and can be scheduled to be sure that all understand the plan.

Bottom line, go with your gut Mamas.  But do think it through as you continue through this new transition of parenting your young adult.

Also, if you can swing attending your college student’s family weekend (I realize that the outrageous tuition costs may prohibit yet another trip for long distance parents) I do recommend attending.  It was incredible to see our son.  To see him in person.  To hug him and to get a good feel that he is doing fine. To hear that he is meeting with his honors professor to further research a project (good move), enjoying the unlimited meal plan (oh good, worth the money), truly fitting in with roommate (so awesome) and considering a Europe study abroad summer program (this was news to us).

All good.  So good.  Our boy is adjusting, maturing and thriving.  And even sporting somewhat of a beard, which is also a new development.

This Mama loved feeling his scruffy face as he gave me a tight and loving hug upon our departure.
me-and-jack-asu-fam-weekend-2016Lessons learned as I am also adjusting and maturing in my new role as a college mom.  A happy college mom with a full heart.

 

 

 

 

Massage Deal, Food & Other Items Seen in my 3TV Segment

If you caught my lifestyle segment that aired on the KTVK “Your Life A to Z” show today and you want to see more of what I discussed, it is all here.  The fantastic massage deal that is being offered, how to determine which power of reading glasses you need in just 3 seconds, the healthy online recipe tool for family meal planning that I love and more.  It is here, so take a look…

Segment Topic #1 – Readers:  Styles, Strength & Shopping

When I first bought a pair of readers, I mistakenly didn’t do the research first.  Our show host, Suzanne suggested that I research a bit about reading glasses for my segment and I am glad that I did.  I purchased a pair that was too strong and my eyes started playing focus tricks on me and I would get headaches.  So this research is important.  The good news is that it is quite simple, too.

Check out a great website called Readers.com because this site has a simple one sheet guide that helps you discover what strength is needed.  With the strength range going from +1.00 to +3.25 with lots of numbers in between, it is very useful to know which exact strength is needed before readers are purchased.  I showed the chart in my segment.

Go to my link below to see this chart on the readers.com website. Then you can take the quick quiz to find your reading glasses strength.

Go here to get this chart that you can print out.  Then you can take the quick quiz to find your reading glasses power.

You can read more about what I learned about reading glasses here in my blog article that also shares where to buy them in bulk for less.

Segment Topic #2 – Empty Nest Syndrome Adjusting

Dorm room move-in day ant this picture says it all. Happy kid and happy mom, but the sadness shows a little on my face, doesn't it?!

Dorm room move-in day and this picture says it all. Happy kid and happy mom, but the sadness shows a little on my face, doesn’t it?!

Since my first born went away to college, I found my heart took over the keyboard and several honest posts published in my blog became very popular…and I am told helpful with a lot of my readers.  The first one I blogged was a 1 minute video that shows the dorm move-in day.

Then I wrote a piece about how it felt 7 days after he went away to college.

And I chimed in again at the one month mark, which is when it truly sank in and I had a bit of a half empty nest syndrome (still have one left at home hence the word, half) breakdown.  Well it wasn’t really a breakdown, but it was a good hard cry.  And I needed to have that.  That article called Half Empty Nest Syndrome Harder & Happier Than I Expected is here.

The best thing about writing these articles is the love and support I received both in the comments section, with private emails and some social media comments, too.  Thank you to all of my readers who gave me support, who shared their own empty nest experiences and who have cheered me on…and my son, too.

I can say that the gal pal support is HUGE.  The family support is so helpful (I am blessed with an incredible mom and mom-in-law).  My husband has also been good to go through this with and we are working on reconnecting with date nights.  When one leaves the busy nest, many couples do have to work to reconnect.

I also found that exercising has been a big help, too.  Please share your thoughts with this empty nest experience.  We love to hear from other mothers going through the similar stages that parenthood serves up!

Segment Topic #3 – Stress Relief Deal on my Blog – 35% off of a very good massage!!

And speaking of needing help dealing with life changes, one of my favorite and very helpful stress relief practices is to get a massage.  Movement Restoration, located in Scottsdale, is offering a 35% discount for a 60 minute massage to my readers!  So be sure to take advantage of that before it expires at the end of October. A lot of pro athletes get their massage treatments there.  I used my blog’s discount code and had a great experience…twice now!  And yes, that has helped me with my transition as I adjust to one of my kiddos leaving the nest!

The awesome discounted price that we receive through my blog is only $49.99 for 60 minutes!

The regular price for the massages that are being discounted for my readers is normally $85 each, so this is a great savings!  The awesome peeps at Movement Restoration are offering a special introductory rate to my blog readers of only $49.99!  Just call Movement Restoration at 480-612-5090 or visit their website link hereto book using the discount code, managedmoms  to receive the introductory rate of only $49.99 for one of several fantastic services.  And this offer is good through the end of October, for those of us who may want to pamper ourselves with a healthy massage over the upcoming Fall Break, too.

Segment Topic #4 – Online Meal Planning Tool- Mealgarden.com

Healthy treat recipes are also offered on Meal Garden like these dark chocolate covered strawberries that are made with coconut oil. They were yummy!

Healthy treat recipes are also offered on Meal Garden like these dark chocolate covered strawberries that are made with coconut oil. They were yummy!

I do still have one kid left at home, but trust me I am still feeling the half empty nest syndrome!  But with one child still at home, I am not off the hook having to plan larger meals yet.  So I recently found a very cool online meal planning tool called Meal Garden and it works great.  Meal Garden gives readers a free 30 day trial, which is what I am doing now.  I have found this site to be super easy to use with healthy meal ideas that are easy to prepare.  Plus this site organizes my own personal meal calendar and then helps me to create a grocery list that checks off items that I already have on hand.  So far, I love this site.  I have used it for a crockpot chicken dinner, a yummy oatmeal breakfast recipe and snacks, too.  I will probably purchase the membership after my 30 days expire.  At that time it will cost me $5.95 a month and I think that is worth it since I get a ton of nutritious recipes to choose from, an organized calendar and grocery shopping lists.  I recommend Mealgarden.com!

 

Wonderful Surprise A Day After My Emotional Empty Nest Post

Well…as they say in the south…I’ll be!  The day after I wrote my emotional Half Empty Nest Article, I was pleasantly surprised with a SURPRISE visit from my college boy!

Joyful!

Joyful!

Woo hoo…what good timing as the mini mourning and adjustment phase was starting to take hold of this perplexed mama and just in time, I got my Jackie boy fix!

It did not go down as you would expect and the actual surprise element of the visit is sweet and I mean sweet about my husband.

He told me that he had some news that would cheer me up since I was a bit down this past weekend. Partly due to this half empty nest adjustment period and I’m quite certain that my wacky hormonal changes are also to blame.  At 49, I have not yet tested perimenopausal, but I’m quite certain that my hormones are revving up and anxiously awaiting that dreaded starting line to race me to that different kind of change in life.

Combine that with the empty nest changes and boom…I am really starting to get why this stage is difficult on the moms!

But back to the guys now, specifically my hubs.  I expected the news to be work related as he has been working hard and we are anxiously awaiting our year-end financial results, this year more than ever before, now that college tuition has become a BIG part of our vocabulary.  That word and giant expense will stick around for the next 8 years since we have two kiddos!

I truly did NOT expect a visit from our son until October or even Thanksgiving.  We get to see him in two weeks for family weekend at the university so I was counting down to that.

Our son hasn’t seemed to have that urge of missing home yet. I don’t blame him as life is so exciting now, he has made a bunch of new pals from all over the country and he is adjusting very well and doing great in his classes, including the honors curriculum.  Bravo son!

So when my husband swore me to secrecy and told me that our boy and his cutie pie girlfriend are coming for dinner, I was truly SO surprised.  Tears welled up in my eyes and I remembered that they were already puffy from the weekend’s big emotional cry that I had finally let myself fully release.  After all, we are now nearing the one month mark since our son left for college.  It is now very real.

He is in our same city but I really want him to have the experience of going away to college so I have left him alone.  Believe it or not.  It is true.

My husband always tells me to let them come to us.  He is right.

Minutes after hearing about this big surprise, I was scrambling to find my phone so I could get ready for our unexpected fun night (I had planned on a very unexciting day of cleaning out a closet)…and then…my girl calls and wants to hang out, too!

Two in one!  Really!  From a quiet and almost lonely weekend as hubs and I adjust to this new world…to all of a sudden crazy chaos again.  I wanted to have my time with our teen daughter (who 99% of the time finds us suddenly uninteresting) to getting back to the house in time for quality time with our son and his girlfriend.

When it rains it pours…and this is one storm I happily looked forward to!

So again for you moms going through this….it does help when you get that visit.  I got my son fix!  And it is helpful to let them come to you as my husband wisely and gently said to me more than once during these last few weeks.

What a brand new world we have entered with our young adult.

Our visit went well.  I played the surprised mom and may have gotten away with it because my gentle tears were real.

Our son is happy and well.  Although he is fighting a cold (cue worried mama frown).

Instantly my mama bear tendencies came out and I wanted to put him to bed, serve him soup and see that he takes it easy.  I didn’t go that far but I did get him to take some extra vitamins while he was here. And I was touched when I observed my husband doing the same thing when he offered to make our boy some hot tea.  At first our young man declined, but then with a little nudge from his well meaning parents, he took and drank the tea.  I was very happy to see that.

When it was time for them to leave, they commented that they were stopping at Walgreens.  “What do you need?” I asked, ready to comb my home to find stuff they could take.  “No we are good,” my boy tells me.  They let us know that they had planned to go to the drug store anyway.

Oh that’s right.  These two are pretty independent now and are enjoying that independence.  Oh I do remember what an exciting time that is when you learn to take care of yourself.

After grabbing his mail and also his credit card statement (everything is different now), we received big loving hugs.  We watched them ride off back to collegeland and a peaceful joy came over me.  Such a nice warm and fuzzy feeling.  My heart felt full.

I just wish that he didn’t have that pesky cold.

Once a mama, always a mama.  No matter how old they get.

What a wonderful Labor Day….my wonderful surprise.  And yes I feel much better today.  So empty nest syndrome stuff, pesky hormonal changes and all of the above, take that!  My boy came home to surprise me and I am feeling fine…just counting down the days until family weekend arrives.  But until then I will leave him be.  I am just crossing my fingers that he will keep his promise and go to the doctor if he feels worse.

It is all about adjusting.  Happy, sad, anxious and peaceful adjusting.  I wish this for all of my Mama pals going through this stage.

I wish you peaceful adjusting…and a surprise visit 🙂

Half Empty Nest Syndrome Harder & Happier Than I Expected

How come the term half or partial empty nest syndrome doesn’t exist?  Because my heart is telling me that it is a thing.  A real thing.  My mind is constantly shushing my heart.  Be still my restless heart, please!  It is harder than I expected.  It also has happy moments that have surprised me, too.  It is both. But right now at this new and raw stage, it is a bit harder than happy.  Let me explain and other moms out there in this stage, let me know if you agree with what my heart and my head is about to share. broken heart teddy bearI am not a sad person.  I am an upbeat, optimistic, glass is always half full kind of girl.  So I don’t like this new feeling of a partial emptiness.  Of crazy change that took 18 very full years and then appeared in an instant when college move in day arrived.  That was almost one month ago now.  And for the first time I can’t say that time flies.  Because it hasn’t flown this time.  This time is different. 

My mind reminds my heart that we still have one at home, although now that she is in high school, she is rarely home so that isn’t helping as much as I thought it would.

My mind is also conversing with my heart that a pity party is not acceptable because my lucky heart has been blessed with an overflowing trunk full of happy and fulfilling memories.  These memories should be enough to carry me forward with smiles and a calm heart.

But my heart doesn’t want to be still just yet.  It is telling my head that right now the heart wins out and that my head needs to figure out how to process this half empty nest/heart time in my life’s journey.

True that I still have one left in my nest, but she is teetering on the edge preparing to fly out like her big brother just did right before her anxious eyes.  I can see her leaning out in the wind and my efforts to pull her back in are failing me.  I am not supposed to be yanking her back in and she also can’t go yet at this stage of her life’s journey.  It is my job to begin to let her lean out a bit with me holding her gently with support and guidance.  But she, too is tugging on my heartstrings as she hovers over the exciting edge that is waiting for her to arrive in just 4 years from now.Class of 2020 lexThankfully, so far, her attention is directed to the right areas. She is super committed to her academics as she knows that obtaining scholarships is her ticket out of the nest…and to fly much further away than her big brother did, as she is dying to attend college out of state.  This has been her dream since the 4th grade.  I know this because I recently found a first day of school 4th grade welcome sheet that the teacher had the new students complete. The dreams she wrote on that paper still match up to her goals today…five years later!  Yep, that is my independent girl!

So I didn’t mean to lie or to sugarcoat this new parenting stage in my previous posts.  Because on most days, I am strangely OK.  I don’t really miss my son like I thought I would because he is so happy and that makes me SO happy.  So I miss him but I think I miss the job of being a busy mother to a full nest. Because he is doing so well, I don’t need him to be here.  I need him to stay there, in his new college dorm, where he is grabbing college life by the horns.

That makes me SO happy!  Truly!

But oh there is still this emptiness that at times takes over.

I had just about had it with the days that were so crazy busy and so full that I felt like I couldn’t keep up. Putting an excessive amount of miles on my car and steps on my Fitbit day after exhausting day.  Life was so crazy then with hockey tournaments, rehearsals, recitals, teenagers here blasting the music too loud in the backyard. Running food out back that the hungry friends always appreciated.Homecoming food ready for teensThen running out of food and thinking that next time I will buy more grub for the “hangouts”, as the teens call this time together.

What fun that was! And it was tiring.  Asking their friends to resist doing back flips in the pool, waiting up on my son’s curfew.  Posting the weekly calendars on Sundays while wondering how we would get it all done.  It was a selfless time for me to be sure.

So now I get to be selfish.  I am rested.  I am so lucky that my memory trunk overflows with all of these incredible experiences.

So hush heart!  Be still!  This stage of sadness and letting go will pass…I expect and hope!

And for once I can’t say time is flying during this stage as it so often does with the other parenting stages. This parenting experience is so different.  Definitely not easy.  Easy on some days but not every day. This parenting stage goes much slower than the others that came before this one.  Time is moving much slower now.  So odd.  So strange.  How does the concept of time change so drastically in this new parenting stage?! Gift of TimeFor those fellow Moms of mine that are in this same transitional and emotional boat, it is an odd time, isn’t it? I guess that is why it is called a syndrome with those emotional words, “empty nest” in front of the syndrome word.  My nest is only half empty I know, but don’t be fooled because that one whole half, that 50% of the nest, which is a big number, does indeed feel…well…empty.

And there is fullness, too.  My heart is full with joy when I see my son’s smiling face in pictures that I receive in the occasional text.  Look how happy he looks!  My heart swelled up two sizes when my phone lit up with this photo!Jack away at college 2016I don’t know his new pal in the picture, which is why I cut him out of this shot.  I don’t have his permission to share his image because I don’t know him.  That is different as well.  To not know my son’s new chums.  But believe me, my heart is so full with the knowledge that he is thriving and doing well.

However it still feels empty at times.

And I have truly been pretty OK.  A few tears here and there.

Until this weekend, almost one month down.  My friend told me that this would happen and that this day would come.  The day that I finally lost it!

I sat down on the kitchen floor and bawled my eyes out.  My cats look at me bewildered.  My husband came downstairs and found me there and he was also surprised.  I have seen him start to unravel just a twinge during this almost one month mark, too.  So he was confused, but he also understood.

It is funny the different comments I heard from friends as we neared the big move out day.  Most pals commented that my son would be around a lot since he chose to attend our local university.  Some predicted that he would be back multiple times to do laundry or to have a home cooked meal.  Others said that I should be thankful that he isn’t going far.

But one friend told me that even though my boy would be close by, he might as well have gone out of state.  He predicted that I wouldn’t see much of my kid once college life took hold of him.

Guess which friend was right?

It is like my son flew off to a far away college.  I have received a few text messages (that make my day, let me tell you).  But he has not come home to do the laundry.  He seems perfectly content with college food.  And the fact that he stayed in town hasn’t mattered.  I haven’t seen him. I don’t run into him.  I don’t know his new friends.  I couldn’t tell you his professors’ names or what his daily schedule is like.

No more daily chats or check ins to see how he is doing.

Now I wait.  I wait for word from him.  I text him sometimes but I am truly leaving him alone for the most part.  That is my job now.  To let go.  And like all of the parenting stages that I have walked through before this one, I am figuring it out as I go along.

I am going with my gut while I balance what my head and heart tell me to do.  Call him.  Don’t call.  Text him again.  No, no…the text I sent two days ago was enough. Send him a care package.  Wait, remember he told you that he didn’t want the basket full of food. But that was on move-in day.  Does he want one now?

Ugh, be still my beating heart.  Quiet down head.  Just take this new stage day by day.  Let him be. Let him go while knowing that it is also OK to reach out to him at times, which I do.  But I mostly wait to hear from busy him.

I worked hard during the first 18 years of my job.  That had challenging moments and many many wonderful magical moments.  No question.

But my job now just might be the hardest on my heart.  This business of letting go.

And yes, I still have one left at home.  But the dynamic here has changed so drastically that my head is trying to wrap around what our new life is and my heart is trying hard to be still and accepting.

So parents who are riding in this same transitional new boat, don’t let anyone tell you that this is easy. Do not beat yourself up because at times the joy you feel for your kid is weighed down by your own sadness. Because it is not easy.  That just isn’t true. It is still tough on our parental hearts.

These kids are embracing new beginnings.  My most recently received photo of him with his darling girlfriend before the big college football game aptly shows this.  And boy oh boy was I excited to receive this a few days ago!  This makes me happy!asu cuties 2016

And while they embrace these thrilling new beginnings, I am also forced to embrace the beginnings of letting go.

It is not for the faint of heart.  So if you find yourself curled up in bawling ball, I feel you.  I am there with you.  Hang in there.  Hang on.  I am told that this will get easier.  And on most days, I really am doing fine.

But on those other days when I ask my heart to be still, I know that my heart is not alone and that there are many other moms and dads out there going through this same exciting and emotional transition.  I just can’t end this post without using my overused word….bittersweet.

Exciting and painful.  Bittersweet.  Who said that letting go and change are easy and natural?

It is simply, not so.

Hang in there fellow empty nest parents.  It hurts so much because you tended to that nest so well.  You put your heart and soul into that nest.  So give your heart some time before it can be still again.  To heal.

It is normal to have a joyful heart and a heart that aches at the same time.  This new and strange ache is because that mama heart of yours loves that kid of yours so deeply.

P.S.  My daughter just called from her sleepover at her pal’s house and she wants to go do something today.  With her ol’ mom.  An unexpected surprise.  So be still my beating heart and walk through this stage as gracefully as you can.

 

 

 

Parenting: Thankful He Picks Up Where I Fall Short

Manic:  Raising kids, especially teenagers!  The times when I just can’t do it for various reasons.  The times when I need a break.

Managed:   Asking…and sometimes it is about letting…my husband pick up where I fall short.

Sometimes it is because I can’t seem to find my patience, no matter how hard I look. Sometimes it is because I just don’t understand the complicated high school homework assignment.  That is a very frustrating feeling!  Sometimes it is because I am tired and have been pushed a little past my Mama limit. And sometimes it is because I need a fresh perspective.

Sometimes he is what she needs.

Sometimes he needs his Dad a little more than he needs me.

And for all of these times, I say thank you to my husband.  Because raising kids, especially teenagers, isn’t easy.

I am reminded what my childhood gal pal’s Mom gave me when my firstborn came home from the hospital. She put the neatest little magnet in my card.  All these years later I can’t find that magnet, but the words, I can never forget.  It said…

Motherhood Is Not For Sissiesmagnet

Boy is that the truth.

And Fatherhood is not for sissies, either.

So moms out there…when you have had it.  It is SO normal.

When you are too tired to do anymore.  It happens and you are allowed to reach that point.

When you just don’t get that math equation.  Don’t beat yourself up.  Call in your partner.  Ask the Dad. Sometimes his different point of view or unique perspective is just what the doctor ordered…and the kid needed.

It does not mean that you failed.  You are entitled to take a break.  You should get to check out for a bit to reboot.  So let Dad take the reins.  The times I have done this I also realize that I truly need to step away and go into another room.  So that the Dad can really do this parenting thing without me around micromanaging.  After all, I did ask him for his help.

A few years ago when my teenage son and I had a little bit of a heated argument, I called my partner in crime for a little advice. He told me that he was on his way home and that I could take a drive if I wanted to.

So I did.  I met up with a good gal pal of mine.  We had wine.  We laughed.  We compared stories.

Back home, my husband and my son had a very good conversation.  When I returned my boy apologized and then we had a good talk.  I also apologized to my boy for my part of our disagreement.

Because Moms are human, too.

Last night my daughter was beyond frustrated with a high school homework assignment that I also found confusing.  And my 49-year-old brain just couldn’t figure it out.  Of course I was tempted to feel sorry for myself and label myself a momfail.

But instead I quietly asked my husband if he could please stop what he was doing to go and help her.  At first I heard arguing between the teen and the Dad, so I started to tell my kid that she needed to listen, behave and thank her father for offering to help her with this tricky homework.

And then I remembered that it is OK to let him pick up where I fall short.

So upstairs I went and I let them handle it.  A while later I heard her say that it was done and that the assignment was now turned in, on time, complete and ready to go with Dad’s help.  It is a different time now with online assignments that are done at home.  Many projects and tests are now completed on the home computer by midnight.

Different times.  Different parenting techniques required.  And some are the same from the ol’ days when I was growing up.

And with this I must remind myself that it is A OK to let the Dad do some of this tricky parenting work. Let him in to pick up where I fall short.

Because I do fall short.  Moms have hard days.  We can not do it all.  That line of thinking is a myth.

The funny thing is that we do DO it all.  Much of the time.  That happens instinctively as a mom, I think.

So remember to stop trying to do it all.  Save your sanity.  Save your strength.  Take time off to recharge.

Go ahead and ask him to fill in where you fall short.

He will benefit and find this rewarding and will bond with those kids of yours.

And the really cool thing is that those kids will bond with their Dad.

And you can pour yourself a glass of wine knowing that asking for help is really not falling short at all.

It is working smart.  Cuz those kids don’t come with manuals.  But they do come with the best thing ever.

You…and him.

The only gift I wanted for Christmas....family portraits and they obliged and we had a blast!

From A Mom Who Had To Use An EpiPen: How Heartless Can Mylan Be?!

My blog is usually a happy place where political comment is avoided.  There is enough of that online.  But I have been silent about this for several years now.  And to see this finally in the news makes me joyful and gives me hope that something will be done.  Because I have had to use an Epipen with my daughter, I felt compelled to make a statement and to tell Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan Global Pharmaceutical company that what her company did is very very wrong. epipen

Today I learned that Heather Bresch is a mother to four children and that surprised me.  I figured that a fellow mother wouldn’t run a company that raised the cost of the life saving EpiPen over 400%.  Perhaps Ms Bresch hasn’t felt the white knuckled, knee buckling fear and gut wrenching experience of seeing a child have a life threatening allergy episode.

I have.  It is terrifying and I can still remember the sick pit I felt in my stomach but knew I had no time to feel.  I had to act.

Fast.  Very fast!

I will never forget how all the blood rushed to my heart as I lost color to my face all the while telling my child and myself not to panic.  That moment after only two licks of icing on a cupcake at a bakery.  When the next thing she did was to put her small 9-year-old hands around her throat.  She then asked me if that cupcake contained cashews.  A cupcake?  I didn’t think so but then I saw the nice man behind the counter also turn pale as he answered yes.

An absolute Momfail that I am ashamed of!  The fact that I had forgot to ask about the ingredients.  But there was no time to feel anything but terror and worry.

My daughter, who was 9 years old at the time knew instantly.  She knew within seconds that she had ingested the enemy ingredient.  The food that could take her forever away from this world.  From me. From her family.  Even writing this and recalling it makes my stomach ache.

I quickly gave her Benedryl and rushed next door to the urgent care ER…what a stroke of luck that an ER happened to be next door to the bakery!

When you are an allergy patient you are moved to the front of the line and immediately escorted into the emergency room.  Right then and there the magical Epipen was swiftly poked into her leg followed by an IV with steroids.

Close call. Scary. Nice nurse.

Close call. Scary. Nice nurse.

This has been the scariest experience of my life.  And even more so for my child.

We understood after this day that the cashew nut wasn’t messing around with us.  It is deadly to my daughter no questions asked.  It just is.  Plain and simple.  She CAN NOT consume cashews ever.  She MUST have an Epipen.

Always.

And because of this experience, I keep multiple Epipens in our lives.  In our home.  In my car.  In my daughter’s backpack.  An extra one is kept with the nurse at her school.  I am one of the lucky ones who can afford the $633.00 price tag for two life saving Epipens.

A few years ago, before any of the uproar that is finally and thankfully happening this week, we went out of town to our family’s home for the holidays.  We realized on arrival that the EpiPen was accidentally left behind.  So we rushed to the nearest Walgreens.  The last time I had purchased the Epipen, it had cost me a little over $100.  The cashier told me that the total would be over $1,000!  I knew something was amiss so inside the store we went.

Both the cashier and the pharmacist kept trying to call our insurance because all felt that it was an error. The insurance rep on the other end of the phone also felt certain that this couldn’t be right.  But it was. The only confusion was that the register was ringing up two orders.  I only needed one so that brought the price down to $600.  I was in disbelief.

Truly shocked.  But we have to have the Epipen.  It is nonnegotiable for our family.  For my girl.

For us, we used our health savings account card and figured that we would reach our annual deductible that much faster now.  So we paid our money and went to bed with the reassurance that our daughter’s most important belonging was back in our possession.

But in the morning I felt so angry.  How could such a life saving med that can be the difference between life and death in mere minutes have such a steep price increase?  A price hike so absurd and heartless that many families would be priced out of a med that is an absolute must have.

How could Mylan and Ms Bresch force some parents to play Russian Roulette with their kids because they do not have the funds to pay for the Epipen?!  I was just stunned and so confused by this.

So finally this week, it makes the headlines.  It is about time.  I read the multiple articles and I signed the petition that asks to stop the immoral price gouging for the life-saving Epipen.  You can sign that here.

I encourage you to do so as you never know when a life threatening allergy becomes a part of your life. No one else in our family has or had a cashew allergy.  Discovering that our daughter did as a toddler was very surprising and came out of nowhere, truly.

I won’t go into the political side of this.  Mylan and Ms. Bresch are finally under a media and social media microscope and questions are being asked about how this could happen.  Rightfully so.  So while this gets figured out or gets swept under the political rug…oh I fear that it will…I have one wish.

I will wish for the means and funds to be available to families to be able to afford the oh so mighty Epipen.  I will wish that Ms Bresch and Mylan will show some heart and put the price back to where it was, when $100 was still pricey, but seems oh so cheap now.  Sadly.

I would not wish on anyone…not my worst enemy…the panic I felt that scary day when two licks from a cashew cupcake icing recipe caused my poor girl and her weary mother to react fast and to be thankful that her Epipen was on hand, even if it was the ER who administered it to her leg.  We had it handy right then and there and now we know how to use it.

Oh I pray that we never have to use it again.

And it breaks my heart to know that a child may feel physically, emotionally and mentally scared to the core between that crucial moment of having a terrifying and literally suffocating allergic reaction and the quick poke of a life saving medication.  What a shame that the Epipen is the only option at this time.

And to think of a situation where a child is lost due to not having an Epipen.

I can’t even go there.

So COME ON Mylan and Ms Heather Bresch…

Please make it affordable again.  For the children.

Please.

 

 

7 Days Down Adjusting: Life After A Child Moves Out

Yesterday marked the beginning of my 49th year.  Here I am with the one who is still at home with us 🙂wishIt also marked the beginning of college classes at my son’s new university.

Here is the one who isn’t still at home with us and this picture captured the pain in my expression that comes with the process of letting go…me with Jack dorm roomLucky me because my son and his girlfriend made it to my celebration dinner even with it being the first day of college classes.  Here I am sporting that joyful expression again…gift from j & h 49 bdayI was overjoyed!  And it may seem strange that I am even writing about this yet, but one week later, 7 days down, life is different.  Because now that the birthday fanfare is over, this is the first time that I probably won’t see him until college family weekend next month.

After seeing him almost everyday for almost 19 years.

And I am…mostly A OK.

It does help that he stayed in state.  But his room is still emptied out and the bed stays made.  empty room jackThat part is nice about the bed, but it does feel a bit surreal at this point.

My pals with local college students tell me that their in-state, and even in-town, college kid stays away at their college most of the time.  And that they might as well be out of state since they don’t hear from them much.

I haven’t driven to his dorm to visit him as I am resisting the temptation to do that until family weekend arrives.

It is nice with technology that we can call and text frequently.

But we haven’t.

Really hardly at all.  This is because I am truly letting him take the lead on how our new chapter of mother & son communication is supposed to go.  In other words, I am doing what the college advisers told us parents to do.  Let go.

And I also know that every kid is different and parents know how their kid ticks.  Mine ticks best like this. The way that requires me to let go and communicate less.  That is what he needs right now.  And if that changes, I will be right there for him, by phone, text or a visit.  He just has to say the words.  For now he is good.  And that makes me joyful again.  But I do miss hearing from him, of course.

I am told that is a good thing and that means that he is adjusting well and flying smoothly so far.

That totally trumps my desire to hear from him frequently as that is the most important thing.  His wellbeing and how he is adjusting.  My own adjusting comes second and is not his concern.

As it should be for now.

There are some things that are are not so bad about his departure.  Life is a bit easier with only one left at home. One less schedule to worry about.  One less plate of food to prepare.  A smaller and less expensive grocery list.  I don’t miss balancing a crazy calendar. The many times that required me to be at exact opposite ends of the city at the same time during the busy sports/recital season literally drove me crazy!

I do have a little more time now.  However the notion that I have a lot of time on my hands has not been true since the demands of running a home, my busy teenage daughter’s schedule and my own freelance work keeps the clock running fast.  But it is nice that it has loosened up a bit.

And no he didn’t come home to do his laundry.  He did it at the dorm already and seemed proud to tell me about that. He may have just been making small talk, but I think he was proud, too.  He is off, on his own and flying.

What we parents work towards during those 18 years!

This is his time to fly, to embrace his completely new life, to learn, to grow, to make his own mistakes and to flourish.

I made a vow that I would step aside and let my boy…I mean young man…do that.

7 days later.  7 days down.  I am doing it.

Sometimes I see that dark room of his and remember how annoyed I was that he always left his light on and his ceiling fan running.  I have choked up more than once realizing that the room will stay dark and that the ceiling fan will remain motionless until his next visit.

But then my frown turns upside down and my smile warms my face as I reflect on the experience he must be having right then and there at that moment as I am thinking about him.

It is very different to know that he isn’t coming home, popping in my office to ask me a question, tell me something or sometimes just chat.  Yeah, I miss that.

But I am adjusting.  You do adjust, Mamas.  It is different.  It is a new chapter.  And I am busy with the one who is still here for 4 more years.  Talk to me after her departure!  I foresee that one being more difficult.

But this one isn’t easy either.

But it is easier than I thought it would be.

Last night as I blew out my candles and read my cards, I thought about my wishes for a wonderful year ahead.  card from jack 49 bday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For his new beginnings.

When he announced that our time together was coming to a close, I quickly asked him why he had to leave.  “I have plans, Mom” he answered.  And I realized that of course he does!  Just like I had plans that started at 10pm when I was in college.  Oh those were the days!

And when I looked at his happy, healthy and smiling self, I knew that 7 days down, this life after a child moves out is….different.  Not easy.  Not as hard as I had imagined, either.  So far, anyway.

Simply put…it is good.  So good for him.  As it should be.

But first…he wasn’t getting away without a goodbye kiss from his #1 fan! kiss for jack 49 bday

 

 

 

The List: College Dorm Essentials & Stuff You May Forget

Manic:  This week as our firstborn baby boy grows up and moves into his dorm room!  With all of the excitement and emotion, it is hard to focus on the task at hand.  The list!

Managed: After several of my gal pals asked me to share our dorm room essentials list on my blog, I agreed that this is a great idea.  So here is the list.

My son's surprise dorm room essentials kit put together by his sweet girlfriend and by me. Guilty of placing his face sign there! That was me and he loved the surprise...except for the face poster. LOL!

My son’s surprise dorm room essentials kit put together by his sweet girlfriend and by me. Guilty of placing his face sign there! That was me and he loved the surprise…except for the face poster. LOL!  We discovered that there were still a few items that we didn’t think about so that also inspired this blog post.

Compiled by us, our son’s wish list and the best part…suggestions from other parents who have been there, done that…and then had to go back to the store for dorm stuff that is easy to forget.  Stuff like shower curtain rings (although do check the dorm room to see if the shower has a door and doesn’t need a shower curtain), a power strip, Advil, a lamp…stuff we don’t always think about.  So take a look, print out the lists (I have included several here) and happy college days to your little birdie who is leaving the nest.

And be sure to first consult your child’s roommate to check off who brings what and what can be shared like a mini fridge and microwave.

  1.  Linens for bed & bath – Dorm room beds are specially sized so typical sized fitted sheets won’t fit.  With this in mind and after shopping around and comparing prices, I found the best value to be at the very helpful online college shopping store, Our Campus Market.  The Student Starter Pak is a good value.  starter kitFor $139 we received our box in the design that my son selected…and I listed the contents below.  This is our box that we received…linens box

And here is what came in that box…

2 extra-long flat sheets
2 extra-long fitted sheets
2 standard pillowcases
1 extra-fluffy machine washable pillow
1 extra-long reversible comforter
1 extra-long quilted mattress pad
1 extra-long thermal cotton blanket
2 all-cotton bath towels
2 matching cotton hand towels
2 matching cotton wash cloths

2.  Laundry Basket on Wheels – found ours at Target. My son’s girlfriend, who is starting her sophomore year at ASU (so she has experience) suggested this.  I would not have thought to get him one on wheels to wheel down the dorm hall.  Smart!  You can see the one we bought in the first picture above. Of course, buy laundry detergent and dryer sheets, too.

3.  Grooming essentials – Our Campus Market has nifty grooming sets for both the guys and the girls.  We purchased one for our son called the Nitty Gritty Grooming Collection that includes a ton of stuff like shampoo, shower gel, deodorant, men’s face wash, toothpaste, toothbrush, mouth wash and more. nitty gritIt did cost $59 but it is the perfect set up to get him started.  The box it comes in is super cool and this can be mailed directly to the dorm as a college care kit.  My son liked this a lot.  The girls version, called Primp It Pretty Personal Collection is pictured here and costs the same…girls kit

4.  Our son’s #1 requested item was a coffee maker so he was so happy when he saw one in his surprise pile!

5. For the rest of the needed items, I am sharing this nice succinct list that ASU provided.  Then I will share a more elaborate list that ASU also mailed to us.  First the short list…

asu listASU also sent us these tips, but check with your own college dorm to see the unloading vehicle policies…tips pack

Here is a more detailed list…

Essentials

  • Backpack
  • Clothing
  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Personal hygiene products
  • School supplies
  • Personal property insurance

Home Supplies

  • Bedding linen/pillow (XL twin, regular twin or full size, depending on room style)
  • Can opener
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Dishes and silverware
  • Hangers
  • Iron/small ironing board
  • Laundry basket/supplies
  • Rug/carpet/bath mat
  • Shower caddy
  • Study/reading lamp
  • Light bulbs
  • Trash can (depending on room amenities)
  • Towels/shower shoes
  • Toilet paper
  • Shower curtain
  • Mirror

Electronics

  • Alarm clock
  • Extension cord/power strip
  • Cell phone/charger
  • Computer
  • Ethernet cables (20-25 feet)
  • Batteries
  • Stereo
  • TV/DVD/BLU-Ray Player

And last but not least, stuff my gal pals told me that I hadn’t thought of…

*1st Aid Kit complete with Advil and Tylenol and a thermometer.  Two of my mom friends told me that they added first-aid cold meds, cotton balls, Q-tips, Cortizone, Pepto, bandages and Caladryl.  I am also putting in bug spray wipes called Bug Band Towelettes that are conveniently packaged from Bug Band.

*One of these Moms also told me that she had to return to the store to get forgotten items that included light bulbs, a lock for a personal cabinet that the dorm provides, an ether net cable for the TV and a basketball.  Love that she told me this about more needed items for her son.

Ok, parents out there.  What did I forget on these lists?  Did I get it all?  Do share in the comments section as I am brand new to this college parent club.  It is an exciting world to be in!

And here we are in this new world!  In the dorm room model that I checked out last month with my son, my daughter and my son’s girlfriend.dorm room pic

The real thing happens next Friday…smile/sniffle/joy/sadness….bittersweet.  So exciting!