Holy...Hot Flash... Batman!!!

It appears that I am definitely in menopause at least according to my recent blood test. I've been going through perimenopause for the last several years. You know hot flashes, night sweats and crazy cycles, etc. In the past twelve months I've only had 2 periods and the hot flashes have been worse than ever!

Symptoms of Menopause:

  • Irregular periods...check
  • Hot Flashes...double check
  • Night sweats...check
  • Loss of libido...unfortunately
  • Vaginal dryness...some times
  • Mood swings, anxiety...check much to my hubby & kids chagrin
  • Fatigue...yep
  • Sleep disturbances...every night
  • Memory lapses...not as much as hubby would hope for ;-)
  • Headaches...no
  • Weight gain...eh
  • Joint pain...no more than usual
Don't get me wrong...I.do.not.miss.having periods in any way shape or form. I've told the hubby for years that we were going to throw a big ol' menopause party when the time comes. The only problem with that is I'm too tired to make the arrangements...LOL. The hot flashes waking me up multiple times a night leaves me feeling exhausted during the day.

I know there has got to be a better way than trying to ignore it to deal with the incredible heat my body seems to produce. The feeling can only be described as starting in the center of my body and slowly emanating out to the rest. Hubby can tell when I'm having a "moment" by the sheen of sweat that appears on my forehead. There has got to be something besides hormone replacement therapy that helps. Hormone therapy seems to be the standard recommendation from the medical field but we are not ones to take more medication than is absolutely necessary and avoid the doctors as much as possible.  I once had a doctor jokingly say to me "that we were bad for business".

Internet research gives a million different suggestions for how to get through the worst symptoms with grace. How is someone suppose to decide which ones to use?

Tips for Surviving this Change:

Exercise - at least 3-4 days a week
Sleep - 7-9 hours, keep your bedroom cool
Nutrition - make healthy food choices, avoid: alcohol, caffeine & spicy foods, stay hydrated
Stress relief - Yoga, deep breathing, meditation, massage
Attitude - humor, positive thinking
Clothing - layer lightweight layers
Herbal - maca root, black cohash, passionflower, chasteberry, wild yam, ashwagandha, evening primrose, vitamin E, vitamin B complex, dong quai, flaxseed, soy, sage leaf extract

I've tried the Maca Root and it seemed to work for a little while so now I'm on the hunt for something to help without having to go the hormone replacement therapy way. Do you have any experience with any of these tips working? Let me know.


6 Tips when Starting to House Hunt

Last year we spent 4 months in house hunting hell!! It was an absolutely miserable experience. This was the fourth house that we have purchased in the 23 years we have been together. So it was definitely not our first rodeo but it was the most miserable one in all our house buying experience.

We ran our real estate agent ragged and we were all frustrated beyond belief. After physically viewing more than 40, yes I said more than 4-0, we finally made an offer on a house only to have it fall through at the last minute. It took another 15 or 20 house viewings before we finally found the one we purchased. I figured that it was a good time to share some things about house hunting that we have learned over the years so that maybe it will help someone who is new to the game. Of course I can say that this time was definitely a learning experience. I have to add that I am not a real estate expert and every experience has been different in one way or another.

1. Check your credit report before you even think about applying for a loan. You can obtain a free credit report from each of the reporting agencies once a year by going to Annual Credit Reports. I say this because you never know when something will show up that could throw a wrench in the works and delay or stop you from getting a mortgage loan. This will give you the opportunity to get any problems corrected ahead of time.

When we purchased our first house we ran into this issue with hubby's credit and had to spend some time getting corrections made to his credit report. You do not need to pay anyone to help fix credit errors this is something that you can do yourself. Check this site for help on how to dispute errors and get corrections made.

2. If you are a veteran I would also suggest going ahead and applying for your Certificate of Eligibility at eBenefits. That way if there is an issue with it you can get it corrected before you get started and hold everything up. We ran into this recently and while we were lucky they were able to research the problem and correct it quickly that may not always be the case. The VA showed that we had not paid off a previous loan which I fortunately had proof was paid in full.

3. Get pre-approved through whichever lender you want to use. Especially if you live in an area where the market moves quickly. With our first two purchases we did not do this but neither house was in an area that moved quickly. The last 2 purchases were made in places where houses where being sold within a day or two of being on the market. We actually lost out on a couple of houses because we didn't see them fast enough. If you have a pre-approval then you can move quickly when you find the house.

4. See if you are eligible for the Homes for Heroes program. This is a discount program for military, firefighters, EMTs, law enforcement and several others to help with the purchase of a new home. Not all real estate agents or other companies are signed up with this program so checking with them first will help you find your local agents that work with the program. We learned about this program right before we started looking for house number 4 and were able to get discounted fees with our lender and with our real estate agent as well. It ended up saving us about $2500 in closing costs.

5. Before you start working with a realtor, sit down and make a list of your must haves and decide on the area where you want to live. Also know ahead of time what you are willing to compromise on before you get started.

We ran into a problem with not finding a house with our must haves in the 10-mile radius we wanted and let the realtor talk us into looking outside of that area instead of saying no. We knew better than to let that happen and it ended up causing things to take more time and be more stressful. I finally put my foot down with our realtor and told her "this was our must have list and the only area we would look at houses" period. I'm sure when we hung up her first thoughts about me that day was not a nice one but I didn't really care by that time.

6. Don't look at more than 3 or 4 properties a day if at all possible. When you look at too many houses in a day it is tiring and frustrating for everyone trying to rush from one house to the next on a time schedule. And it can limit the time you have to walk around each one during the viewing.

We were in a time crunch with house #1, 2 and 3 because we only had a week of house hunting time available during our military transfers. I can say that with #1 and 3 I wish we had just rented something and taking more time looking for something. With #2 we only looked at maybe 4 or 5 houses when we walked into this one and knew without a doubt it was ours. House #4 we decided to rent for 6 months while we looked and still broke this rule because of the limited time hubby could be away from work.

BONUS TIP: I forgot to add this one originally. Even if you have filed bankruptcy it is still possible to purchase a home. Check with your attorney and see if there is a time frame before you can try. I believe that you may have to be at least a certain number of years into the process before the court will approve the purchase but I cannot tell you for sure. You will have to have the approval from the court if you have not reached discharge and this could take a little time so get it early.

I hope that something here will help someone who is just starting out on the journey to home ownership.


Must Read Monday: The Chase Brothers series

The Chase brothers are every girls dream. This series by Lauren Dane is about four brothers raised in Petal, Georgia by a larger than life Southern momma and quietly, strong Southern daddy. They are wanted by every woman and have been determined to remain the skirt chasing bachelors they have always enjoyed being. But when these boys finally find the right woman they fall hard, love completely and will do whatever it takes to have her.

Book 1: Giving Chase is Kyle and Maggie's story. Maggie has sworn off men after always finding the wrong guy when she runs into Shane Chase while out with her friends. Shane suffering from a past heartbreak runs when he feels that Maggie is getting too close leaving the door open for his brother Kyle. Kyle decides he will have Maggie and works hard to win her heart.

Book 2: Taking Chase is Shane and Cassie's story. Cassie is scarred from her past life and scared of every man. She ends up in Petal trying to escape from what has happened to her. Shane the giant of a man who is also the local sheriff takes one look at Cassie and immediately feels drawn to her. It takes all of Shane's self control and lots of hard work to win Cassie's heart and free her from the terror of an ex-husband who wants her dead as well as freeing himself from the heartbreak leftover from his cheating fiancee Sandra.

Book 3: Chased is Marc and Liv's story. Liv has decided that at 34 she is ready for forever and sets out with a plan to find it. Marc is the quintessential bachelor that every woman wants. Marc and Liv are friends but Marc wants so much more and sets out to convince Liv that they are meant to be together. Liv uses every excuse there is for why it won't work. While reading this one I thought it was my absolute favorite of the series leaving me wanting a Marc Chase in my life!

Book 4: Making Chase is Matt and Tate's story. Matt and Tate grow up on opposite sides of the tracks. When Tate gets hit by a car Matt is the first one on the scene. Tate sends him cookies as a thank you fulfilling the dream his daddy had about him and an unknown woman with cookies. It takes a lot of work and convincing for Matt to make Tate see that they belong together. I know I said that book 3 was my absolute favorite but I was so wrong!!! This one made me smile and tear up and some times both at the same time.

No cliffhangers with these and I don't think they have to be read in order but the characters do carryover from book to book. This is another series full of alpha males, stalkers, abusive ex-husbands, broken hearts, sex and love, fear of loving someone who will leave, and even abusive parents. I loved this series so much that I read it all in less than one weeks time. Thanks goodness no one else had checked them out at the library because having to wait between would have driven me crazy. I could see myself reading these again and enjoying them just as much the second time around.


Must Read Monday: Reapers Motorcycle Club series

A friend turned me on to the Reapers Motorcycle Club series by Joanna Wylde and I loved it!! I was so engrossed in the stories that, not only did I pull all night read-a-thons, I actually dreamed about the characters. Definitely cannot remember being able to say that about any other books I've read. The dreams even included my hubby being a Reaper and me as his old lady which surprising seemed like a perfect fit for us. I will add that if you have a problem with rough sex or women being called "property" then these books will not be for you. 

Book 1: Reaper's Property tells the story of Horse and Marie. Marie's brother steals money from the MC and after Horse takes one look at Marie decides to kidnap her as motivation for her brother to repay the money. Even though I loved the series by the end I will say that this one was not my favorite book or couple and honestly I almost did not go on except for the reassurance from my enabling friend Janice that they got better to just keep reading.

Book 2: Reaper's Legacy tells Ruger and Sophie's story. Ruger first sees Sophie when she is dating his brother in high school. Sophie ends up pregnant and has to call Ruger to help her get to the hospital. Over the years he continues to watch out for her and his nephew but being a single parent comes with it's own special problems. When Ruger gets a call from his terrified nephew he rides all night to him and demands that Sophie and Noah move into his house.

Book 3: Reaper's Stand is about Hunter and Em. Em is the Reaper MC president's daughter . Em meets Liam online and ends up being tricked into meeting him where she is kidnapped by Liam/Hunter who is a member of the Devil's Jacks MC which is a rival of the Reapers. Through all of their online contact Hunter falls for Em and decides that he wants her for his old lady. This was my favorite couple of all! I cannot explain it but there was just something about these two that made you want everything to work out for them.

Book 4: Devil's Game tells Picnic and London's story. Picnic is the Reapers' president and London is the owner of a cleaning company the club hires to clean their businesses. Picnic is immediately drawn to London even though she is so far outside of understanding the club's lifestyle. London's niece who she has raised as her own winds up kidnapped by a drug cartel and London and the Reapers must try to save her. This one was an all-nighter and kept me up til 4 am because I could not put it down. Those damn Reapers get under your skin.

There are no cliffhangers and you do not have to read them in order. The characters do carryover through each of the books and each book just gets better and better. This series involves lots of alpha males, some criminal activity, new friendships, brotherhood, some rough sex & hard loving, kidnapping and even a drug cartel. I'm so glad I did not stop with the first one!


2014 a Fresh New Year

Here we are at the start of a brand new year. Lots of new things going on in our lives that I will share before I get to the list of things I want/need to work on this year.

Last year the hubby had several companies wanting him to interview with them. This was a surprise considering that he had not been looking for a new job. He had been with his previous company for 8 years ever since he retired from the Navy after 24-1/2 years service. After much discussion we decided that he would interview with one of the companies. He ended up interview at 2 of their locations and having both locations wanting him. We discussed it and made pros & cons lists and discussed it some more and in the end the decision was made that he would take the offer for their Virginia location.

We had 2 weeks from the time we received the written offer to get our house sold and everything moved. Unfortunately we ended up having to do our move in 2 parts. The hubby left Tennessee on November 1st with a truck load and then flew back on November 15th to pick up the rest of us with a second truck load. So we are starting out the new year in a new place with a new job for the hubby and our oldest son. Temporarily renting a condo for 6 months while we figure out where we want to live so that we can look for a house to buy.

Now on to the things that I want to focus on this year:

  • Eat better - I did so well for about 8 months with watching what I ate and then it all fell apart. 
  • Create more - I am ready to get back to creating again. I'm contemplating starting an art journal.
  • Start moving - Ever since I ended up having to stop studying martial arts 3 years ago I have done nothing but sit and I can feel it in my joints.
  • Read lots - Last year I read 134 books so this one should be pretty easy.
  • Save money - We have been working on this for a while now but I want to see where I can cut cost and try to get a good emergency fund built up so we can start investing for retirement.
  • Improve skincare - This is something that I was so good about in my 20s but in my 30s and early 40s I gave up on and my skin shows it terrible. 
  • Create a wearable closet - After gaining a good deal of weight I stopped buying anymore clothes than absolutely necessary and things are starting to look worn out and old. I just need to figure out to dress not too young and not too old either. I have a ton of ideas saved on Pinterest.


Summer Lovin'

Here we are at the end of summer already. It's going way too fast! This has been a summer of unusual weather and lots of craziness and laziness and even a little travel involved. I thought I would share several things that I/we have been enjoying this summer. So here they are in no particular order:

J.Crew Chino Shorts
Source: J. Crew

The J.Crew Chino shorts with the 7 inch inseam are the perfect length for me. I know there are many who have been wearing them for years but this is my first time and I am thrilled! The fit is great and unlike all the other companies you get more than 2 length choices and the choice of colors is great too. I bought all of the colors above and I will definitely be sure to check out the new colors each year to add to my summer wardrobe.

Customer Service Praise:
I also want to add praise for the J.Crew online customer service too. When I originally ordered my shorts I did so after trying on the 5 inch inseam style in the store and since they seemed snug I went one size up. It was only 2 weeks before my trip that they arrived and I discovered they were too big. I was in a panic about not having any shorts to take to Florida with me. The customer service informed me it would take two weeks to get a reorder.

I explained to Samantha (the customer service rep) that I was leaving for a trip in just over a week and not only did she place my reorder matching the original sale price that I paid but she also gave me 3 day shipping at no extra cost to make sure that I received them in time. I was shocked that she went to so much trouble to help me out when most companies would have just said "I'm sorry all I can do is place the reorder and maybe they will get there in time". Needless to say that I will definitely do more shopping at J.Crew.com after getting such good customer service.

Vintage V-neck Tees

This has been my standard summer look this year. I know not very exciting but cool & comfortable. I love a good v-neck tee any other neckline make me crazy when it touches my neck. I know...I have issues let's just over look those shall we. The ones I've been wearing this summer are the Mossimo Supply Co Textured tee from Target and Women's Vintage tee from Old Navy. They have a vintage look to them, there are many colors to choose from and they are very comfortable. I wear them with shorts, jeans, skirts, etc.

Nail Polish

I keep my toenails painted year around so I guess this really isn't a summer lovin' item but I have found a couple of new favorite colors for summertime. OPI Purple with a Purpose - purple with a bit of shimmer (you know the Ace Hardware paint commercial where the woman says I want a purple but not a purple more like a purrrple...well this is it!) and OPI Teal the Cows Come Home - metallic teal blue.

Body Butter

I have been using the Body Shop brand on my feet. So far I've tried the Coconut, Mango, and Chocomania. They all smell so scrumptious and almost edible. It also seems to be very moisturizing if you have really dry skin. I have not tried it anywhere other than my feet because these are very fragrant so I don't want it on my hands all the time and I don't like heavy moisturizers on my body. My feet are so dry and regular lotion does not do anything for them so I do need the extra moisture on them.

Summer Television

Source: USA Network

Hubby and I have been watching this since the pilot episode; unfortunately I think there is only 2 episodes left. We are loving it and hate to see it come to an end. It is full of intrigue and suspicion and all kinds of unexpected twists & turns. We are really hoping that this isn't a one season show.

What have been your summer loves?


Home Schooling Part Zwei (Two)

So we have made the decision to try another year of home schooling with our youngest child. This is our extremely ADHD child who at 8 looked at us and said "I don't want to take my focus pills anymore because they make me feel sad ALL the time". What do you say to your child when they come to you in a very reasonable manner and state very clearly why they want to stop taking medication? Well in our case we said if you stop taking them you will have to do school at home because you cannot be in a classroom causing disruptions of other children. And that is what we did last year.

It definitely wasn't an easy decision for any of us. Him because he had to leave behind all of his friends and me because I knew that I was going to be at home with him ALL the time. Trust me when I tell you that being with someone who cannot sit still and cannot stop talking all day every day can be VERY tiring. But let me tell you what we did get...a kid who is funny and very animated when he tells you about something, a kid think clearly and LAUGH and SMILE many times a day!!

So here we are getting ready to start year 2 of home schooling. I will be teaching my child 6th grade school work. It has been a LONG time since 6th grade for this girl and I discovered last year that I am NOT smarter than a 5th grader so I can only image what this year is going to bring.

I think I have finally decided on what our curriculum for this school year will be after much research and hand wringing.

MATH: Teaching Textbook 7
LANGUAGE ARTS: Analytical Grammar, Wordly Wise 6, ESP Writing Skills (writing, cursive writing for left handed, and keyboarding skills)
SCIENCE: Holt Science - Physical Science
HISTORY: Harcourt Horizons - World History
FOREIGN LANGUAGE: Rosetta Stone German