Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Let the Journey Begin!!

I decided to dust off this little blog because my searches for empty nester-focused blogs yielded pretty much zilch.  I want to know how other people handle this cataclysmic shift in our way of life, especially if they're not in any hurry for grandchildren.  What does life look like when your children and their needs aren't always at the forefront of your concerns?   

Before we try to answer those questions and the many more that will come along, let me get you caught up on the Nagle5 News that is fit to be shared!

Superman was home as scheduled for his Christmas 2019 trip when we got the news his entire company had evacuated from Iraq the first week of 2020.  (Remember the assassination of that Iranian general while he was in Iraq when people were afraid we'd go to war?  That's what I'm talking about.)  Well, a pandemic cooled the talk of war it became clear he wasn't going back any time soon.  At that time, we still had Valiant and Buttercup living at home, as well as Buttercup's boyfriend, and Valiant's girlfriend was a steady presence in our home, so the first lockdown here in Washington State meant that, in the course of a month and a half, I went from really feeding no one because the kids were adults and doing their own thing to feeding six adults a couple times a day.  Our grocery bill sky rocketed and the kitchen was never closed.  It was a shock to the system for me, let me tell you.  

Fortunately, only Valiant's job was affected by the lockdown policies (RIP events industry) and life in our household could go on as normal.  Superman continued to work from home and, as the pandemic continued and it became clear his job overseas was going to be unstable at best, he changed firms, so his travel is now limited to  domestic travel only for the foreseeable future.  (That 14-hour Emirates flight from Seattle to Dubai is already a slog...I can't imagine doing it in a mask!!)

In April, Buttercup and her boyfriend moved into their own place in town and in September, Valiant and his girlfriend moved across country to start their new lives in Virginia.  After having six adults in the house non-stop for a number of months, I confess I was thrilled to become an empty nester (sorry, kids!).  The second the last of the kids moved out, I converted one bedroom to a bona fide office for Superman, who finds himself working from home more than he'd anticipated, and I turned the other bedroom in a nice guest room (anybody want to come visit?).   

The empty nest fun took a pause when both Superman and I got the 'rona in early November, but two weeks of feeling like crap later, and we were back at it.

After that, I started purging a ton of stuff.  You know the stuff: the stuff you hold on to because "the kids might want it".  Yeah, no.  If they didn't take it and it's not a keepsake, it's gone!   Thank goodness Goodwill opened up again, or I'd have a mound of stuff in limbo. As the holiday stuff came out, I even sorted through that to get rid of a bunch of stuff.  Superman and I like to decorate, but not in an over-the-top kind of way, so with no kids at home, I was free to sort through the seasonal decor items, too.  (I put the bulk of the purging on pause to get ready for the holidays, but I'm itching to get back to it now.)

Fortunately for our transition to empty nesters, our kids were all able to come home for Christmas, so we didn't have the shock of no kids at the holidays, but I'm already anticipating the changes we will need to make for next year.  

I'm not going to lie, this empty nest thing is new and weird and bittersweet.  My children are some of my favorite people to have in my daily life and losing that has definitely felt like a "loss".  That said, at some point it occurred to me that Superman and I threw ourselves wholeheartedly into trying to be the best parents we could be, beginning when we were pregnant with Charming, and that we'd lived that way for the past 30 years.  There is an exciting freedom, in fact that we no longer have to make decisions based upon "what would be best for the kids" or "what do the kids need right now" and we're both bouncing around a bit with all of this freedom as we explore what WE want.

Cliff Notes on 2020 recap: Evacuation, Pandemic, Lockdown, Child 3 moves out, Child 2 moves out, everyone come home for Christmas and goes back to their own homes and we're on our own again!

As I've written before, this blog began its life as a way for me to share our lives with family and friends across the country.  As the children reached a certain age, I concluded that to continue to share in such a way was compromising their privacy and my blog faded away.  But life continues, and our journey continues, and my blog will be reinvented again, this time as a way to share life not only with family and friends, but as a way to share this next stage of life for other people looking for answers to "what now?" So, feel free to come along if you'd like, but if the tales of fledgling empty nesters are not your thing, that's okay, too.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Year End Recap -- Change was in the Air

2016 is already a memory.  I can hardly believe it.  This blog has evolved from a chronicle of life in a house with kids at home to a blog designed to keep family and friends up to date as our family has grown and spread its wings!  2016 seemed to personify this evolution in a way I could never have anticipated at the beginning of the year. 

The complexity of a maintaining a family blog when everyone in the family is now an adult is a delicate dance between sharing news and progress and protecting the privacy of the family members...fewer pictures, fewer funny anecdotes which might embarrass, but still trying to sharing important events.

Last things first.  Christmas came off without a hitch and everyone had a terrific time.  Santa did a terrific job of picking gifts for the kids and  I managed to meet my goal of making hand made gifts for friends and family (on time - which means packages got mailed early, not at the 11th hour).  Christmas cards were mailed in middle December (!), all of the presents were wrapped by the 23rd, and I managed to pull off Christmas breakfast for the kids and some friends and Christmas dinner (for 11!).  I was actually pretty impressed with myself.

Superman went from working locally in the beginning of the year to working overseas by mid-summer...this time, however, he's not a contractor, he's an employee of a multinational corporation.  For us, that simply means that his doesn't find a new job every year and, as long as he likes this company, he can move within the company.  His current assignment runs through August 2018, so we know where he'll be until then.  Superman loves his job and this is old hat to the rest of the family, so while it is not your typical set up, it works for us.

Charming has been running, and running, and running...and when he's not running, he's plotting and planning a move to the west side of the state for sometime this spring.  After being at the same company for five years, he's looking to make a change both professionally and geographically.  Truthfully, I can't decide what to hope for:  Should I hope he finds a fantastic job here in town or should I hope he finds a fabulous job on the west side?  So, I just hope he finds something he likes and have faith it will be the right next step for him.

In December, Valiant moved out and into a place with his girlfriend, taking over the reigns of his life.  It is so exciting watching him make his way out of the family home.  He's bought a truck and sold the same truck (all in 2016) and he bought himself a project car which is his 2017 project.  (That car, he left behind our fence...not exactly room for a project car in apartment parking!)   Valiant's life has moved beyond the family it is consumed by his relationship, his job, his apartment, and his project car.  His girlfriend and her family are lovely...they joined us for Christmas dinner and it was a blast.  We figure any girl who can just roll with the weirdness that is the Nagle5 is a good girl to have around.

Buttercup is halfway through her senior year in high school...and is also well into her second year at the local junior college through the Running Start program.  She has been throwing javelin for her high school and is looking forward to doing it for one more season.  Her favorite class is ceramics and this spring she's decided to master throwing on the wheel.

And then there is me...with the kids almost all grown up, you'd think I'd have plenty of free time, but with Superman overseas and both boys moved out and Buttercup busy with two schools and a job, the house maintenance and pet maintenance is left for me.  (Pro tip:  don't let your second son move out of the family home until spring, otherwise you're the one left doing the shoveling when it snows...just saying!)  So, when I'm not shoveling, cleaning, worrying about cars, or heading to the gym, I'm sewing or embroidering.  In addition to helping out my friend at Piping and Pleats, this fall I really dug in and learned all about the embroidery side of my sewing machine and it made me love my machine even more.  If you want to follow my sewing adventures, I've started a separate blog: to chronicle my journey.   In addition to sharing many of my fall sewing projects (now that the recipients have opened their gifts), I've committed 2017 to be the year I sew clothes I actually WANT to wear.

So, time keeps marching on and, while the story is ever changing, it continues.  Coming up next:  The Nagle5 (plus 1 - the girlfriend!) will be together again when Superman comes home on leave this spring and we will be heading to California and, before you know it, June will be here and Buttercup will be graduating from high school. 

In the meantime, the frigid temperatures are supposed to give way to snow tomorrow night, so I'll be back manning the shovel!

Happy 2017!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

October Recap...Where does the time go???

November?  Already!?  Where did October go?  I know I felt pretty busy in October, but it wasn't until November arrived that I realized just how busy we'd all been.  The weather changed, cars got repairs (heck, a car got stolen and found - Valiant's girlfriend's car, to be specific!), a room got painted, I made it to book club for the first time in months(!), dogs got sick, dogs got better, sprinklers got blown out in anticipation of the freeze, I even covered for a friend at her work so she could get some much needed time off.  Obviously, I didn't take pictures of it all, but I did take some random photos:

I put up a few of my favorite Halloween decorations, but with no little kids at home, I didn't feel like going all out.  I have three of these wrought iron spiders in various sizes and just love them...this is the smallest one:

I also put up our ping pong ball bats...they just make me smile whenever I see them.

Not bad for a ping pong ball and googly eyes!!
I got some awesome bird feeders to replace the generic plastic ones I've had forever...and, as you can see by the picture I just took, the birds are fans and empty them quickly as they prepare for winter. 
So pretty when they're being swarmed by birds...
I even managed to get a new barbecue cover on Superman's barbecue before the three weeks of rain came...the leaves?  They have to wait until tomorrow...I did the front yard today.

Ready for winter!!
I did a lot of sewing.  Some of it was sewing for my friend Cassi at Piping and Pleats...and a c couple of the projects were incredibly large cushions.  Seriously large.  I had my sister in stitches on Skype watching me stuff the cushion below into its say it was stiff would be an understatement.  I was wrestling the sucker into submission!  Check out this before and after:

Just to give you an idea of how large this is:  That cushion is lying across a couch and each of the
 floor tiles visible in the before picture are 13x13" tiles.  The cushion was large!!
I finally pulled the trigger and bought some embroidery software to enable me to do more with the embroidery functions on the Brother SE400 my family bought me four years ago.  I went with Sew What Pro for $65 because I don't even know what I don't know, so I couldn't see a reason to spend more on Embrilliance.  At some point, I might switch over, but for now, I'll see how it goes.

I love binding PDF documents - software instructions, pattern instructions...binding
makes them so easy to use.  They lay flat when they're open for reference during a project.
After quite a bit of trial and error, I decided to go for it and embellished a couple of toddler sized Halloween t-shirts for Aunt S's baby first time embroidering something other than names on anything and my first time embroidering on clothing.  It wasn't easy, but I was pretty pleased with the results.  (Plus, toddlers aren't perfectionists!!)

Ruined Cash's first shirt, otherwise both would have been and learn...
In the middle of it all, I had a birthday and Superman and Charming got together to get me these:
Who doesn't love red Vans?
Oh, and my sister requested some Halloween pillowcases made from some of the most fabulous fabric...the pictures she sent me didn't do it soon as the fabric arrived, I was itching to get the pillowcases made and shipped off to her.  They were such a fun project!  (And it's really awesome when your family likes what you sew enough to ask for more!)

Best fabric ever!!  (It reminds me of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.)
And, as October wound down, Buttercup and I helped close down our beloved CrossFit 509.  It has been our gym home for five and a half years and I was heartbroken when the owner had to make the difficult decision to close it down.  Still, when you're lucky enough to have your gym become part of your family, you help with even the sad stuff.  When all the equipment is gone, you're just left with just a sad shell of a building...very sad and weird and all of that...even Honey was bummed...
I had to chuckle at the scuff marks above the blue stripe...wall ball marks!  Bahaha!
We finished off October by going to dinner on the kids got too old for trick or treating, we started a new tradition...this is our 6th year doing it...PF Changs was pretty tasty.

There you go...some of the stuff that went on in the Nagle5 world in October.  Now I'm ready...let November roll on in!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

When You're Depending on the Internet for Pretty Much Everything...

...and your internet starts having a problem the day before your IT professional husband takes off for far off places, it quickly becomes a problem.  We use the internet for television, we use the internet for music, we use the internet for shopping, we use the internet for getting library books (because we're lazy that way), we use the internet for banking and paying bills, we use the internet for our landline, and we use the internet for, well, surfing the internet...seriously, we use the internet for everything.  When I say "internet problem", I actually mean the internet keeps going down completely, as in, completely not there!!  I tell you, we've become so spoiled, I was looking at my Roku-hooked-up television and asking it, "what do you mean, "Not Connected"?  We were just watching Defying the Nazis on PBS!!!"  (Or, the finale of American Ninja Warrior!!, or that new show The Good Place!! -- it really depends upon which night we're talking about here...)  Trust me, though, it was a PROBLEM.

So, in addition to not whining myself when I discovered we had a big internet problem, I had to be mature and parental when confronted with a teenage daughter who WAS NOT HAPPY about the internet problems. (The internet problem required her to use a lot more data on her phone and her speed was throttled back!!!!)    Interestingly, your son doesn't care--he just uses the internet at his girlfriend's apartment - problem solved.  Sigh.  Anyway, when you discover the problem is, in fact, at your end and NOT at the CenturyLink end, it becomes an annoying problem which YOU have to solve.

Fresh out of the Amazon box--still in cellophane--waiting for Superman.
 Actually, you just tell your husband who is off adventuring in far off lands that there is a BIG INTERNET PROBLEM and he has to fix was in the marriage vows he said all those years ago and adventuring doesn't absolve him of that responsibility.  (No, seriously, it was in the vows...check the fine print.  Never mind that we were married long before the internet was a thing.  The "handle the internet problems" vow is right that after the "fix all the car problems" vow.  Check it'll see that I'm right.)

The cellophane is off and, if you look carefully, you can see my cell phone in the background off to the right and you can see there is an active call on the screen.  This was the part where Superman was starting to tell me what to do.
When you tell your IT professional husband that you're having a problem with the internet, he does magical things from those previously mentioned far off lands, logs into your home modem, verifies the problem is, in fact, on your end (because he's pretty sure you don't really know what is going on with your home network and its three different wifi networks--yes, three!), and jumps onto Amazon and orders you a whiz bang router to solve your problems. 

Apparently this lovely router will have four channels (upgrading from our current three) and will solve the bandwidth hog problems we'd been having before we had the "real" internet problem.
This huge thing arrived on my front porch this morning.  Doesn't it look impressive?  After a brief phone call this evening, it is now powered up and plugged into our modem.  That doesn't mean it is busily solving my internet problem.  That will require Superman to log in and configure it to his liking in the wee hours of my morning, so I will have another night of internet problems, but this, my friends, is the light at the end of the tunnel (or so I'm told!)

Monday, September 26, 2016

I'm Reading a Terrific Book Right Now...

...but you might not want to read it if you're easily offended by the use of the f-word.  Just giving you fair warning.  This book is fabulous, but it is not for those who can't get past that particular curse word because it is liberally sprinkled throughout the entire book.  (There!  That is my disclaimer, but I truly hope you won't let the word put you off because the book is terrific.)

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k - A Counterintuitive Approach to Living the Good Life by Mark Manson is a brand new self-help book which doesn't really fit into the mold of traditional self-help books.  The author's premise is that the pursuit of anything really just makes you focus on the lack or inadequacy of that thing in your life and because we don't understand that fundamental idea, we're not carefully choosing on what we expend our energy and emotions.  The first chapter is called titled "Don't Try".  (Not very rainbows and unicorns, is it?)

"The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience.  And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one's negative experience is itself a positive experience" - Mark Manson

He writes:  "...Our crisis is no longer material; it's existential, it's spiritual.  We have so much f**king stuff and so many opportunities that we don't even know what to give a f**k about anymore."  [I warned you about his love of the f-word.]

He sites British philosopher Alan Watts "backwards law" -" the idea that the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place" regardless of how much of that something you might already have. "... The more you desperately want to be happy and loved, the lonelier and more afraid you become, regardless of those who surround you.  The more you want to be spiritually enlightened, the more self-centered and shallow you become trying to get there."

Anyway, all of the above is in the first chapter...the author also uses Buddha, Megadeath and Metallica, and the Beatles to make his points.  He makes so much sense both about how we got here and how to get out of here...especially for those of us who are looking around and wondering what the heck is going on with people...his language might be crude, but his clarity is refreshing.  Be brave and just substitute a word of your own choosing for "f**k" and read the book.  Seriously, if you're the least bit interested and can get past the liberal use of the f-word, this a fabulous book and I highly recommend it. (Oh, and Superman says the guy who reads the audiobook version does a fabulous job, if that's your chosen medium.)

Oh, and if you do read the book and love it, or if you're not sure you can stomach his writing style, he writes a successful blog at Mark where you can read more.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Where all our money goes...

When our kids were little, the majority of our money seemed to go to Target.  I seriously loved Target.  Clothing, toiletries, shoes, toys, electronics, cleaning supplies, garden, holiday d├ęcor--even our live Christmas trees  came from Target (when we lived in California)--and our artificial tree we picked up at the 75% off post-Christmas sale, which I used to love.  Honestly, pretty much everything we wanted could be found a Target.  It was convenient, it was inexpensive, and it was cute enough.  I have never been a fan of their grocery store side...they don't stock anything I use, so it has never been an added attraction for me.   (Hey, I'm not proud, I'm just being honest here.)

Not my favorite store anymore...

As I was breaking down boxes for our recycle bin, it occurred to me that I spend almost no money at Target any more.  Seriously.  Almost nothing.  Three grown children plus the convenience of online shopping has changed entirely how I shop.  Now, these boxes, plus a regular Costco run,  are pretty representative of where our money goes these days.

These are my go-to "stores", these days...  For just about anything and everything...Amazon gets most of my non-food shopping dollars...what can't you find of Amazon?  Plus, Prime give us terrific television.  So, free shipping plus great television programming?  It's a win-win in our house.  (Also, did you know if you order via Prime, they'll even ship to an APO/FPO for free?  Pretty cool, right??  We learned that last time Superman was overseas and utilized that feature a lot during his last adventure.)  For fabric, when I don't find what I want at JoAnn's--my beloved Hancock Fabric's went bankrupt.    I know lots of people love Hobby Lobby, but I find it overwhelming and their fabric selection is pretty slim.  (Oh, and I'm also a huge fan of for unique fabric, too...I spread my fabric love!)

Isagenix:  Yes, I admit it...I even feed my family via online shopping: we get our nutrition shakes via the UPS man, too!  We had to stock up  for Superman to be able to take a five months supply with him, so we had a LOT of these boxes coming through our door this summer.  (Seriously, do the math:  2 shakes a day x five months = a LOT!) 

Don't get me wrong. I still shop at brick and mortar stores:  Bras need to be tried on at VS, candles need to smelled in person at Yankee Candle, and I'm all in for a quick trip to TJ Maxx in search of some treasure for the house or a Home Depot run to further progress on some project, but I almost never think of going to Target.  It's not just because I'm old, either.  My teenaged daughter doesn't shop at Target much any more, either.  I guess Target didn't grow up with my family...maybe they're still the go to destination for young families?  Do people still love Target?

Same home, same family, but completely different shopping patterns.  Now you know just how random I can be.  This is the stuff that pops into my mind. What about you?  Does your heart still beat a little faster as you approach the doors to your local Target?  Or are you, too, keeping your local UPS driver busy? 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

When the winner of "Who is your favorite human?" leaves the country...

When he wasn't travelling, Superman loved to begin his days at home playing "Who's your favorite human?" as he would dole out treats to the dogs...

Jack is a pretty boy!
Jack, our youngest at only three, has taken the end of the game hard...despite the fact that Superman was, in fact, really just a close second to Jack's true favorite:   Buttercup.  Jack loves Buttercup the most, but the same day Superman left was the day classes started at the college for Buttercup, so she's gone all day this week, too.

Buried in his Minion blanket...Jack is sad.
Even his Minion blanket isn't cheering Jack up...

Poor Jack!

Poor Jack.