Monday, August 31, 2015

50 x 50 Bucket List Revisited

Well, my Big 5 - 0 has come and gone.  It was awesome!  My celebrations were many and various including:  a scrapbooking convention, a pizza party, a spa day and a trip to the theatre to see a melodrama.  Yeah, I mostly planned my own celebrations, which is totally the way to do things ya'll.  I mean, who else knows exactly what you want as well as you do?  This is why I purchased several of my own presents as well.

Now, it's time to take stock.  Remember my 50 x 50 Bucket List?  It was 50 things to do before I turn 50.  Here is a quick review:

50 Things to do Before I Turn 50

  1. Buy myself 5 Presents 
  2. Do 5 Fun Things 
  3. Organize for 5 Hours 
  4. Scrapbooking for 5 Hours
  5. Writing for 5 Hours 
  6. Try 5 New Things
  7. Re-Connect with 5 Old Friends 
  8. Pampering - 5 Things 
  9. 5 Health Goals 
  10. 5 Spiritual Self-Improvement Goals 

So, how did I do?  Well, unlike my advancing years, I didn't quite make it to 50.  Let's do the math, shall we?

10 points for #1 and #2 - I was all over the presents and the fun.  In fact, I did 5 fun things just this past weekend.  

Only 2 points for #3.  2 months ago I spent 2 hours organizing some of the stuff in my bedroom.  That was it, I never got back to it.  FAIL!
I managed to knock out items #4-8 for a total of 25 points!  Again, I am all over the fun stuff.  Totally nailed it.  I tried new things, I scrapbooked at the convention, I got together with old friends and then there was the spa day.  

My wonderful Mom got us both spa packages and it was A-MAH-ZING!  Why have I not been getting facials all my life?  We went to Highland Spa in Katy, TX so, next time you want to treat yourself, that is the place to go.  

Writing for 5 hours happened basically every week.  I did not find the time to work on my novel, though.  So that will have to be a goal for my next bucket list.  Yes, I've been working on a novel, not recently but I do have several chapters written.  It's a murder mystery set in a small Texas town.  Thanks for asking.  

Then we come to number 9 - total FAIL, zero points.  (insert frowny face here).  I did not manage to meet my weight loss goal but I get partial credit for losing 23 pounds.  If any of you are curious about how I managed to lose 23 pounds in only 4 short months (that is not rapid weight loss people) then I will reveal my amazing weight loss secret.

Drum roll please.........

The secret to slow and steady weight loss is.......

               Diet and exercise!

Kind of anti-climactic, right?

Anyway, it wasn't as much as I was hoping for.  Also, I had hoped to accomplish a few other feats of physical fitness which did not happen.  The best that could be said is that I did attend water aerobics classes as often as I could.  Every so often the pool at the YMCA was closed because of thunder storms.  I took this as a sign from God that I was not meant to exercise on that day.

And finally, #10 - I give myself 3 points - 1 for Bible study, 1 for a daily devotional and 1 for daily prayer.  I fell short in journaling and actually reading the Bible.  

So, where does that leave me?  40 points - only 10 points shy of my goal.  So, my areas of improvement are in cleaning house, losing weight and being a good Christian who journals also.  

Hmmm,  I feel another bucket list coming on.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

10 Things I Hate About Back to School

One more week until school starts.  Teachers go back Monday though so Summer is essentially over, despite the high temperatures.

Whereas many stay-at-home Mommies are celebrating the fact that their days will now be free of kiddos and they will have the house all to themselves again, us stay-at-work Mommies are dreading all the hassle that comes with the school year.  I actually had a friend that would throw a little party for the Moms every year on the first day of school. After the first-day-pics had been taken and all the backpacks zipped and everybody safely ensconced inside the schoolhouse, she would invite everyone over to her house and serve cocktails.  I was quite jealous that I had to be at work and missed out on the festivities.

Those Moms did not seem at all bothered by all the frenzied hustle and bustle of back to school. As for me, I hate it.  Here is why I am dreading Back-to-School:

1.  Back to School sales start in early July - This ruins the second half of the Summer.  Just seeing the displays in the stores causes a wave of dread for my girls. They moan and groan and carry on like it's the end of the world. Retailers:  How about instead of "Back to School" run an "It's Still Summer!" campaign with even more swimsuits, flip flops and tote bags?

2.  My oldest is going back to college - It's been really nice having Buffy home for the Summer and I will miss her.I'm not as much of a basket case as I was last year, when she was leaving for the first time. This year I am simply a blubbering idiot, alternating between kissing her on the forehead and nagging her to pack her stuff.

3.  Buying School Supplies - This is actually no longer a hassle now that Buffy is in college and Cissy is in High School, but for all of you with elementary age kids, I feel your pain.  You are given a ridiculous list of hard to find, very specific items.  Your options are, buy the pre-packaged supplies from the PTA which cost around $80, or drive all over town in a scavenger hunt for the supplies. My advice to you is this - shell out the $80 and forget about it. It's not worth the aggravation of checking every Walmart and Target in a 30 mile radius. Also, don't let your precious angel pick out the perfect super-hero pencil box because she (or he) will not get to keep that box.  The teacher just takes up all the supplies and redistributes them anyway. It's an early lesson in communism.
We learned not to buy the package deal in Jr. High when Buffy told me they didn't need all that stuff, just a few notebooks and folders.  Since then, we wait until after the first day to go get what they really need.

4.  Schedule Problems - In High School, this can be a nightmare. If your kid is doing more than one activity, fine arts program or sports, their schedule will always have problems. Just once I would like to have the start of the school year without a phone call from the counselor asking me, "does Cissy really have to play the cello?"

5.  After School Activities - Out here in the suburbs, after school activities are a status thing. If your kid isn't in at least one activity every night then you feel like an inadequate parent. Logistically, this is the real scheduling nightmare:  How are you going to drop Buffy off at gymnastics, take Cissy to piano lessons, pick up a "healthy" dinner at the drive through, then get Buffy back home so she can finish building the Alamo out of popsicle sticks and take Cissy to soccer practice while listening to her whine that she doesn't have the socks that go with her uniform. You have to be a criminal mastermind to pull this all together, let alone pay for it. My husband and I were run ragged carting kids and the appropriate equipment all over the place.  Luckily, by high-school age they quit doing a lot of this extra crap and focus on only one or two major things (see #4)

6.  Forms to fill out - lots of them.  In the computer age you would think there wouldn't be so much paper brought home on the first day.  You would be wrong.  What gets me is, we have lived in the same house the entire time my kids have been in school.  The address is exactly the same as last year and every year before that.  They already have all this information.  One form I had to fill out had me writing my address and phone number on the same sheet of  paper in four different places.  I got snarky with that one - I kept writing "same as above" and drawing big arrows.  Yeah, that'll show 'em.

7.  Building the Alamo out of Popsicle sticks - Who came up with this stupid idea?  What does this teach anybody?  Elementary school teachers:  stop assigning our kids to build solar systems or shoebox dioramas or replicas of Notre Dame.  It's a huge, frustrating chore necessitating another trip to Hobby Lobby for $40 of materials and an all-nighter trying to construct the thing.  A better idea would be... oh, I don't know....  ANYTHING ELSE!  (so glad my girls are over this stage)

8. Bad traffic -  I mean seriously bad.  Like adding an hour to my commute. And then there's the school zones. Be careful out there.

9.  Fundraisers - I always hated that elementary school class time was used in pumping the kids up to sell crap for fundraisers, in the hopes of earning cheap prizes that would break before we even got them home.  I also hated bothering friends, family and co-workers with pleas to buy cookie dough, gift wrap or barbecue sauce at ridiculously jacked up prices.  Who can afford it anyway?  We're all broke from buying school supplies and popsicle sticks.  So, sometime around Jr. High age, I quit doing it.  The world kept turning so I think I made the right choice.

10.  Fees - Be prepared to get out that checkbook because there will be fees - fees for uniforms, mandatory t-shirt orders, dues for this club or that club.  If your kid is in sports or drill team, you may have to take out a loan.  Orchestra has nearly $300 in fees, including an extra $100 cello fee.  What is that?! Violins don't have to pay extra.  It's unfair discrimination against larger instruments!  The extra cost for cello storage should be absorbed by the entire orchestra in my opinion.  What happened to all that communism we learned in Elementary school?

11.  Open House - Do not make me go to another open house!  This was actually so much easier in Elementary. You went in, met the teacher, saw your kids desk, took some pictures and you were home again in 20 minutes. Now, it's a 3 hour ordeal in which you follow your high-school kids daily schedule by traipsing from classroom to classroom and listening to each of their 8 or 9 different teachers give a little spiel, pass out some reading material and forms to fill out (more forms?) and then it's off to the next classroom. You better put on your running shoes for this one and....  you know what, just forget it, I'm not going.

12. Requests for volunteers - Every PTA, every Booster Club, every church group and the Girl Scouts will hunt you down and ask you to volunteer.  They NEED you.  They will apply a thick layer of guilt.  They will call, send emails and send home requests in the backpacks.  They are always surprised to hear that I am a working Mom.  Once they learn that, they will text me and ask, "are you working today?" as if coming to work 5 days a week is optional.  Yep, it's an everyday type of job, full time, sorry.  But then, they want volunteers on the weekend - all day Saturday and Sunday too.  "Are you doing anything this weekend?" they will say.  Yes, I'm resting up from the hellish week I've had filling out forms, driving all over town, and building the Alamo, (remember the Alamo?)
In truth, I do try to fit in some volunteering when I can. I have been on several committees and booster clubs, been a booster club officer, been a girl scout leader, and all while working so it can be done. But, it aint easy.

So, there you have it.  I got carried away, so it's actually a list of 12 grievances, not 10.  Ooops.  So, what are your Back-to-School pet peeves?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

What a Drag it is Getting Old

Things are different today.

Note:  I am frequently annoyed by 30-somethings who complain about how old they are getting, as in, "OMG - I can't believe I'm going to be 33 next week!!! I am sooooo OLD!!!" I just want to tell them to SHUT UP!
So, if you are a person who is older than me - I apologize in advance for this blog.  I am going to complain about being almost 50.  Also, I would like to thank you for making me feel younger.  Go ahead and tell me to shut up.  It won't work but I might like hearing it.

This past week I had three conversations with friends about what kind of arthritis medication they are taking.  I wrote them all down.  I looked them up on WebMD.  I printed stuff out so I could ask my doctor about them.  How did this happen to me?  We used to talk about where we bought cute outfits or good movies to see.  Now it's all about our aches and pains.

Last week I wore contact lenses to work.  I used to wear them all the time.  I thought I looked better with contacts.  Well, not any more. Here is an exchange between me and a friend at work that morning.

     Ethel:  (not her real name) You look tired

     Me:  No, I got plenty of sleep last night.  I feel great.

     Ethel:  I don't know what it is, you just look exhausted!

     Me:  Really?  Why?

     Ethel:  I mean, you look seriously EXHAUSTED!  (huge emphasis on "EXHAUSTED")

     Me:  (realizing it's because she's never seen me without glasses) Oh, it's just the first
              time you've actually seen the bags under my eyes.

     Ethel:  (giggling)  That must be it.

     Me:  (perturbed)  Just get out of here!

As if that weren't bad enough, the young whipper snapper who works in accounting, we'll call him Jeffrey, recently came across an ancient relic in the world of office supplies.  One of the more mature new-hires brought with her an actual steno pad.  You can still buy these at Walgreens so they're not that ancient.  Jeffrey had never seen one though.

For the uneducated, a steno pad is a 6" x 9" notebook with a spiral at the top.  Secretaries used them to take dictation from their bosses back in the old days. My grandmother always had one laying around for grocery lists or whatever. So, in his confusion, Jeffrey came to me.

     Jeffrey:   Hey, Sherry, you ever seen anything like this? (showing me the notebook)

     Me:  Yes, it's a steno pad.  And my name's Cherry not Sherry.

     Jeffrey:  Right, sorry.  So, a steno pad?  ...  Hey, when you were younger, did you used
                   to write in shorthand?

     Me:  (Oh, Hell No!  He did not just ask me that!)  No, Jeffrey, I'm not THAT old!  You've
               been watching too much Mad Men.

     Jeffrey:  What?  Oh, yeah.  Actually, I never watched that show.

     Me:  Just get out of here!

I'm beginning to understand why the elderly are always so grouchy.

Recently, I watched an excellent movie on this very subject.  If you haven't already seen it, get the DVD for While We're Young starring Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts. It perfectly depicts the reluctance to accept what we call middle-age.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Prayer ~ There's an app for that

Are you there, God?  It's me, Cherri's phone.

Last week I heard someone talking about an app that  prays for you.  I was a little confused by this.  I was thinking, it could be one of two things:

  1. An app that says prayers to God on your behalf.  As in, "Lord, please help Cherri as she is so pathetic that she doesn't have any friends or family that will pray for her."  Or...
  2. An app that prays your prayers instead of you because you are too busy to do it yourself. As in, "Lord, here are the prayers that Cherri would pray if she weren't too busy looking at organizing tips on Pinterest."

Either way, I thought it was a pretty sorry state of affairs.  So, I did a little research and I was completely wrong on both counts.  There are several prayer apps out there.  Some have written prayers you can pray. Some have a timer to remind you when to pray. Some allow you to share your prayer requests with your friends and contacts on Facebook or on your phone. I am not going to tell you what the different prayer apps are. Go to Google Play and check 'em out.

My favorite prayer app has the ability to let you know when your friends are praying and even where they are at the time. It knows your location and knows when you're praying, kind of like God. Only now, you can know too.  Imagine the power that gives you!

You now have the capability of looking at your phone and seeing that your friend Jim-Bob is at the liquor store, again, but he's praying. Probably praying for strength to resist the evils of whiskey. You could pray for Jim-Bob too, but then he might find out that you are at the Cupcake Hut, praying for strength to resist the evils of strawberry frosting.

And now, because we're talking about religion:

Overheard at Church in the pew behind us before the service - 

Little Old Lady #1 - (speaking to her friend ) Well, Hello there.  It's good to see you back again.  How was your trip?

Little Old Lady #2 - It was great, we didn't get dressed for two whole days!

My thoughts:  Where did they go on vacation, a nudist colony for the elderly?  This does not bode well.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Food Pushers and Food Police

Like 67% of Americans, I am trying to lose weight.  Along the way I have encountered friends, co-workers, and family members who fall into one of two categories: Food Pushers and Food Police. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Let's start with the Food Police.  They employ several techniques to control the calorie intake of those around them.

Food Police always have something to say about what other people are eating. Here is a random sampling of some common Food Cop phrases:

  • You can't have any donuts!
  • Is that on your diet?
  • We could go out for lunch but then, what would you eat?
  • You can't have any cake!
  • Ranch dressing on a salad is bad for you, even light ranch dressing.
  • Artificial sweetener turns to sugar in your body so it's just as bad as sugar.
  • Even though it's fat-free, it still has calories.
  • You can't have any kale - you fatty!

There are thousands more.  And, as annoying as the food cops are, they are only trying to help.  It's tough love.

Food cops also have lots of helpful advice about foods to avoid.  I have been advised by various officers of the official Food Police Force to give up the following:  sugar, carbs, meat, caffeine, sweetener, gluten, salt and dairy. What does that even leave, star fruit?

Food Pushers are much more prevalent. There are a lot more food pushers out there and they have the advantage, because we really want what they're offering, namely carbs, sugar, meat, caffeine etc. Food pushers are always trying to tempt us dieters into cheating on our weight-loss plan. They bring cakes to work, they sell cookies door-to-door and they suggest getting hamburgers for dinner as an easy alternative to cooking. Food pushers have their own list of common phrases:

  • One piece of cake won't hurt.
  • It's Christmas, calories don't count.
  • C'mon, it's my birthday.
  • We have extra bacon and don't want it to go to waste.
  • You can have donuts.
  • I brought breakfast tacos!
  • There are cookies in the breakroom!
  • What are you going to do, eat kale?

Food pushers are persistent too, keeping you updated on how much food is left over and urging you to get seconds.  They do not take no for an answer.  I've had pushers bring me cake or a plate of cookies right to my desk at work, without me even asking. On the one hand it's thoughtful but I wonder if they might be trying to sabotage my weight loss efforts.

Undercover Cops are the pushers who, when they finally get you to cave in and take whatever food they're offering, then point an accusatory finger and yell, "I thought you were on a diet!"

What to do?  It's hard to resist but resist we must. I got a piece of advice from a doctor recently which I intend to try at the next office party. If someone brings me a plate of scrumptious goodies I will accept it graciously, wait until they have walked away, and deliver it with a smile to someone I don't particularly care for. How deviously passive aggressive is that?  I love it.