Wednesday, March 25, 2020

I escaped....

My Facebook post from tonight just after 10pm.

I've been good about staying home since school closed after classes on Friday the 13th. I did do some errands the few days after that but for the last week, I have been mostly in the house with a few forays into the yard when it wasn't raining.

When the Ohio legislature passed a bill saying that the Ohio primary will be concluded by absentee ballot only (instead of the governor's proposal to do in-person voting on June 2nd), I printed the forms for the three adults in our household.  We filled them out and put them in an envelope.  Instead of putting it in our mailbox for pickup delivery, I opted to take my car out for a run  (it hasn't been run for over a week). 

Things I learned or observed on my drive.

1. A 6 speed manual transmission makes a good zoom-zoom car.  All you have to do is shift a little late.
2. Old town Harrison looks about the same as always on a Wednesday night after 9 pm.  Know the old joke about rolling up the sidewalks?  That's pretty much how it always is and it was tonight.
3. A short run on the expressway (about four miles from the last exit in Indiana to the first exit in Ohio) is fun after you have been cooped up for a while.  And it was good for the car to blow out the dirt.
4. The price of gas has really dropped.  I have a full tank from about 10 days ago when I filled up at a dollar ninety something.  Tonight the Speedway was $1.67 and the BP and UDF were $1.64.    By the time I need fuel again, the price will probably be higher (oh well)
5. The stars are still there.  With days of rainy and cloudy weather, it's been near impossible to stargaze. After I parked the car in the barn, I stopped to appreciate the numerous stars (and Venus) that are visible.  One of the advantages of living in the boondocks.
6. The area really is quieter.  While standing in the driveway looking at stars, I could hear the trucks on the expressway about 2.5 miles away.   In the 22+ years we have lived here, I've heard the expressway traffic several times but our everyday life is usually too noisy to hear it on a regular basis.  The Cheviot house I grew up in was a little over 1.5 miles (as the crow flies) from the expressway and I don't ever remember hearing expressway traffic there.

Tomorrow is a new day and it will be back to programming and a bit of house cleaning.  Tomorrow is dust the dining room day for the kids.  They will be happy to know it's the last of the dusting for a while (I promised Meredith no dusting jobs for 3 weeks)  Although with the warm weather forecast for the next few days, I may open my bedroom windows and dust there.  Parts of the room have some serious dust accumulation.  The dust bunnies have not organized yet ;-)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

And so it begins (COVID 19 official Stay at Home)

It's a bit after midnight on Tuesday 24 March 2020 and the official "Stay at Home" order in Ohio is now in effect.  For most of the last 12 days, Governor DeWine has been encouraging Ohioans to work from/stay at home as much as possible.  First the schools were closed and people were encourage to not congregate in large groups (like crowded restaurants/bars).  With St. Patrick's Day approaching and pictures of crowded bars/restaurants being sent to the governor, he order the closing of dine-in restaurants and bars.  Any place could remain open as long as it was only offering carry-out, drive thru and/or delivery service.  Day by day, the Governor and the director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has warned of the need to "flatten the curve" by physically distancing ourselves.  Each day the Governor holds a 2pm (ish) press conference and most days one of the reporters would ask about an official "shelter in place" order (San Francisco issued one on March 16th) and each day he would reply with the hope that Ohioans would take the necessary precautions and stay at home as much as possible.

Slowly but surely, the Governor  and the ODH Director have closed down businesses to help encourage Ohioans to stay home.  Apparently not enough was being done because Sunday saw the official "Stay at Home" order signed by the ODH Director  to be effective from 11:59pm 23 March 2020 until 11:59pm 6 April 2020.

What change has this been to my routine?  Not much!  I have been at home since school closed on Friday 13 March except for working the election supply truck on Saturday morning the 14th (when we thought the election was still on) and Tuesday evening the 17th (to pick up the unopened supplies) and a couple runs to the grocery store.  I go outside, grateful that our property is approximately 1.25 acres and get fresh air when the weather permits (we've had a bit of rain - welcome to Ohio in early spring!)

The biggest adjustment?  Getting used to all five of us being here all the time.  For the most part, we are spread about the house.  The boys spend time gaming in the basement office, Meredith hangs in her room (just as she has since 5th grade) and Dennis has migrated his workstation from the basement office to the enclosed back porch  (those giant windows were a worthwhile investment!)

Household chores are being accomplished slowly but surely.  To keep the children involved, I limit my request to one job a day.  The job typically requires 15-20 minutes of their day (excepting laundry which is cumulatively 15-20 minutes spread out over an hour or so).  The kitchen cabinet doors have been washed for the first time since we moved in 22+ years ago (oh the horror!), the basement bar was dusted and reorganized today.  Laundry, vacuuming and other odds and ends were on the list last week.  This week sees lots of dusting (hello allergies) plus laundry.  Who know what next week will bring!  There is a shared google document so the kids can claim (and suggest) their daily tasks.  Two "free bee" days are allowed per week.

This is the official spring break week for high school and college classes.  Next week will see the true battles begin as I supervise the boys completing their classwork.  Meredith did well the last two weeks completing her midterm assignments so she is on her own to finish the semester (they already know they will not be returning to campus)  High school is still up in the air as to whether or not they will return to the building before the end of the year or just finish it out remotely.  The national AP board sent email notices today that all exams will be held remotely and will cover the 75% of the material that should have been covered in class by early March.  They are holding online classes and prep for the exams.

Stay tuned for ongoing news ...

Thursday, November 22, 2018

[Get Grateful - Day 7 of 7]: Gratitude Writing Challenge - Putting it Into Practice

Thanksgiving dinner is over, the dishwasher is running.  I published the day four post that I apparently saved as a draft instead of posting.  So now onto day 7 (the final day of this 7 day challenge)

Writing Prompt #7: Flood Yourself

Set a timer for 2-3 minutes, and flood yourself with gratitude. Write down what comes to mind and keep going until the timer is up, or for as long as you'd like…

Here’s one of my favorite passages to get some inspiration... :)

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times, during those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things. But a life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.

Find a way to be thankful for your troubles and they can become your blessings.

~ Author Unknown ~

Let yourself flow…

I am thankful for taking this seven day challenge.  It has made me realize that even though I feel down at times, my life is pretty good overall

I am thankful that I was asked to work a side gig as the local Catholic grade school cafeteria cashier  [Catholic guilt is an amazing thing ;) ].  The daily smiles of the kids is a great pick me up.  And it has helped me get into a daily habit and getting up and being organized.

I am thankful that my "real" job is flexible and allows me to work at my side gig.

I am thankful that my dad made me learn how to solve problems.  He made my crazy when I was a kid and wouldn't just tell me how to do things - he made me understand why  something worked the way it did.  He's been gone for over a year but I still use his lessons almost daily.

I am thankful that my mom is still here for advice.

I am thankful that my children still have three grandparents nearby.

I am thankful for the daily trips to/from school with my sons.  It's a few minutes of undivided attention and I get to hear the daily funny stories and bad jokes.

I am thankful my daughter has adjusted to commuter college life and her first job.

I am thankful that a warm house with reliable electric and internet service.

I am thankful for a refrigerator and pantry with food.

I am thankful for a sweet and qualified periodontist who did an excellent job putting in my implant post yesterday.  My recovery is going well and I was able to enjoy dinner today.

I am thankful for a loving husband who will watch movies with me.

I am thankful for healthy children. 

I am thankful for every morning that I wake up.

[Get Grateful - Day 4 of 7]: Gratitude Writing Challenge - What Might you be Missing?

Writing Prompt #4: Celebrate the small things that happen without you having to ask them to... 
  • What happens in your life without you having to think about it? The sun rises and sets, your eyes blink, you heart beats, you can hear the sound of your alarm, you can go for a walk.
  • What did your husband, brother, child, etc. do today without you having to ask? They made lunch or dinner, they picked up the kids, they paid the bills, they called.
  • What were you thanked for today or recently? Someone appreciated you, it’s time to appreciate yourself!
  • What did not exist 10, 20, 50 years ago that is a regular part of your daily life now? Healthy easily accessible food, the TV, the iPhone, being able to fly almost anywhere in the world, apps that help us learn and grow.
  • What is comfortable about this moment? Your clothes, you chair, your bed.

Bonus Best Practice: A little appreciation goes a long way so take a moment to thank someone or something that you listed above. Tell your partner that you appreciate them taking the trash out. Send a note or text to your house cleaner and tell them how happy it makes you that he/she does such a thorough job. Send an email to a company whose services you appreciate. The sharing of appreciation only breeds more appreciation so put your gratitude out there!

💁 Life happens without me thinking about it.  The sun rises and sets, the world spins, I breathe, my heart beats, I wake up in a warm house with food to eat, water for showering, clothes to wear.  I have a reliable car to drive my children to school.  I have the health to drive them and get around.

💁 My children got themselves ready for school (after the mom alarm clock ;) ).  

💁 I was thanked for returning the lunch money envelopes to classrooms.  I was thanked for a ride home from school.

💁 The biggest change in my lifetime is cell phones and internet.  I can contact anyone and search for answers anywhere I go.

💁  The most comfortable thing about this moment is I am sitting in my warm house with well fitting, comfortable clothes sitting in my recliner typing on my laptop while watching a tv show.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

[Get Grateful - Day 6 of 7]: Gratitude Writing Challenge - Leveraging Language

Writing Prompt #6: Leveraging Language
  1. Notice how often you say “I have to x, y, or z; or I should x, y or z.” “I have to go pick up the kids from school.” “I should go to this work function.” I have to go to the gym.”
  2. Any time you catch yourself saying that write it down and replace “I have to” or “I should” with “I choose to.”Because really you don’t have to do anything! If you are doing it, you are choosing to, so own up to it. Make sure you make this correction not only as you speak aloud to others but also in your head.
  3. Once “I choose to” feels like it has become your truth, take it a step further and replace “I choose to” with “I get to.” I can guarantee you someone would die to be in your shoes. You have to go pick up the kids from school? There’s someone out there who would do anything to have children of their own. You should go to a work function? There’s someone out there who thinks your job is their dream job and would love to be in your shoes. You have to go to the gym? There’s someone out there whose body does not allow them to go to the gym, so be grateful and honor the body you have. You “get to” do so many amazing things. Appreciate them!
  4. Once “I get to” feels like it has become your truth, take it a step further and replace “I get to” with “I want to.” Because if and when you can say this and actually mean it, you will want to!

Hm....  we'll have to see how this goes.  I'm pretty skeptical on this one.  I can see myself getting from "should"/"have" to "choose".  Not sure about making the step from "choose" to "get" (I understand the premise - just not sure I will see it that way) and the leap to "want" might be too much in some circumstances.

Let's take Day 5's fact as an example.    

I have to pick up the boys from school.  
There is no bus service and we live 3+ miles from school with no sidewalks so someone at some point needs to pick up  the boys from school.

I choose to pick up the boys from school.
There is a place inside for students to wait after school.  The boys could wait until my work day is over or until dad is passing by on his way home from work.  However, I choose to pick up the boys shortly after school gets out so they do not have to wait in the commons (aka cafeteria) area of the high school.  

I get to pick up the boys from school.
Not sure I can make this leap.  Yes, I am thankful that I have a reliable vehicle to pick up the kids.  Yes, I am thankful that my work day is flexible enough to allow this interruption in my work day to provide them a timely ride home.  On the other hand, without that interruption, my work day would end sooner and I would have another hour or more without them making noise in the house.

? I want to pick up the boys from school?
Nope, not going to happen.  I want them to have bus transportation or be old enough to drive themselves.

[Get Grateful - Day 5 of 7]: Gratitude Writing Challenge - Re-shifting Your Focus

Writing Prompt #5: Fill out the following chart with your responses

FactList a problem in your lifeFactList a problem in your life
Focus (what you don't like)What are your thoughts when you focus on what you don’t like?Focus (what you do like)What are your thoughts when you focus on what you do like?
FeelingWhat feeling does this make you feel?FeelingWhat feeling does this make you feel?

  *Note: I am not saying you have to like the problem, but we can find appreciation within our challenges. For example, when I lost my husband, I was always able to remain grateful that he chose me to share his life with. I didn’t anticipate his loss but wouldn’t have changed being with him, even though losing him ended up being a part of being with him. Or, while I had planned many more years with him, I am grateful I got as much time as I did with him. It's a shift of focus to what you do have within what you don't.

What did this make you realize about how your feelings relate to the facts in your life?

Bonus Best Practice: Do this with a number of facts in your life. What scares one person is exciting for another. What is a blessing to one person is a curse for another, and the only difference is the meaning each person puts behind things. So re-shift your focus and see how you can begin to respond to life’s challenges in an empowering way.

FactThere is no bus service to/from high school for my childrenFactThere is no bus service to/from high school for my children
Focus (what you don't like)I don't like having to get up and be functional early in the morning to drive them to school.  And then I have to interrupt my afternoon to pick them up - sometimes at different times if one has an after school activityFocus (what you do like)Twice a day I get their undivided attention for 7 minutes while we are driving to or from school.  And I get to see my niece every afternoon since I am her ride home.
Feelingrushed; chaotic; interrupted.Feelinglove for my children; laughter (they usually have a joke or a funny story to tell)

I realize that most "problems" in my life are first world problems.  While they may be an inconvenience to me, I have the ability to take care of them. And for most problems, there is a benefit that I can choose to see.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

[Get Grateful - Day 3 of 7]: Gratitude Writing Challenge - Looking Within

Writing Prompt #3: Tap into your senses.

What do you love to eat? What do you love to see? What do you love to smell? What do you love to hear? What do you love to touch? Food, drinks, movies, flowers, coffee, music, that one cute word your son or daughter says wrong, your cozy blanket, your comfy sweatshirt. List out feelings you love to feel for each of your 5 senses and the things that elicit those feelings.

Bonus Best Practice: Look at your day and how often you do the things that create these feel-good feelings. Is there a way to add more of these feel-good experiences into your day today? Perhaps, you can listen to your favorite song instead of turn on the TV, or call a friend instead of scroll instagram… Once you identify the feelings you love to have and ways to achieve them, you can start to design your days to feel better more often! #winning

Now do you see why we wanted you to write these things down?

Sight Hearing Touch Taste Smell
The play of sunlight and clouds  Rain My homemade  fuzzy blanket salty chips Cinnamon
Rainbows Rustling of leaves Rose petals Peppermint Peppermint
Smiles laughter Holding the hand of a friend Dark chocolateFresh cut grass
sunsetsbass voiceshugs Dr. Pepper Pot roast
kaleidoscopes music
pot roast with potatoes and carrots lavender