Celebrations, Menopause

A Cup of New Year Kindness!


I love this song!

And I love the passing of the old year into the new.

What a night!  Even if you or I have a bummer of an evening, what a night, as time goes on and brings us along.

Thank you to the night,

And thanks to all of you for reading my posts as Friend for the Ride dips and swoops into 2013.

A big old cup of  New Year kindness to you!

Cup of Kindness

Happy New Year!

Happy 2013!

Photo:  My mom bought this large old cup and saucer years ago. Perhaps in honor of this post, I should begin to use it each year for my first cup of New Year tea.

Grandchildren, Grandmother, Grandparents, Menopause

Happy Sitting: An Idea for the New Year

On my first official babysitting gig

At Kath’s house a few months ago,

We played, sang, read,

And sang some more,

And then one of us

Cried, really cried.

Oh no!

Grandma KK, the other grandma,

Had visited in the morning

And lulled baby to sleep

With persistent rocking.

So that afternoon,

Mazen and I rocked

And rocked and rocked,

Until finally, he slept.

Tiny zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s.

I looked around for a

TV, a book, a magazine,

A computer, a phone.

Nothing in my reach.

Not daring to move,

I sat, still (almost) as a portrait

Until his mama came home

And snapped this picture.

Smile, Grandma!

That hour in the rocker

Was oh so grand.


A New Year’s resolution:

More happy sitting in 2013

With or without baby.

No grumping

No to-do lists

No figuring out

No planning ahead

No worrying allowed.

Just sitting

Being happy.

(That’s why it’s called happy sitting.)

Will you join me?

Hot Flashes, Menopause

Hot Flashes! Some Tips

 Some hot flash tips sent to you from health writer Arianna Solimene:

With the decline of estrogen levels in the body and the onset of menopause, the always-dreaded hot flash effects women of all ages. While hot flashes aren’t completely preventable, there are some steps you can take to manage the overwhelming symptoms.

Step 1

The first step to preventing hot flashes is avoiding tobacco and heavy alcohol consumption. While not a direct cause, both are known to trigger hot flashes in women. Other things to avoid include stress, caffeine, spicy foods, and heat. Because triggers for hot flashes are different for every woman, it’s important to observe and recognize what brings on hot flashes for you.

Step 2

The next step is easier said than done. Relax. More times than not, anxiety and stress can worsen hot flashes. It is important to focus on breathing or meditation to practice relaxation techniques.

More tips for preventing hot flashes

Other ways to prevent hot flashes include exercise, eating well and staying cool. Often, sudden changes in body temperature can trigger a hot flash. Common techniques for staying cool are wearing layers so that you can peel them off, freezing wash clothes so you can place them around your neck, or sleeping in a cool environment at night.

While hot flashes are a normal symptom of menopause and are not a medical problem, some women find them so uncomfortable that they choose to seek medical treatment. This often includes hormone treatments, medications, acupuncture and more.

Although the annoyance of hot flashes is not completely preventable, it’s important to take these steps to manage the symptoms. By living a stress free and healthy lifestyle, you will able to manage & hopefully avoid regular hot flashes.

Arianna Solimene is a staff writer for NorthShore, an integrated health system with dedicated medical offices and hospitals in Chicago. The core mission of NorthShore University HealthSystem is to preserve and improve human life. Visit NorthShore today for personalized wellness services today.

Top Photo: Thanks to the kind shopkeeper at the North Carolina State Fair who let me flash a picture of her hot flash magnet!

Photo Below:  Here’s writer Arianna, with miles to go before the Great Pause!



FA LA LA LA LA from Our House to Yours!



My name is Rudie.

I’m  not  THE  Rudolph.

I’m just a reindeer with the same name as the famous one.

I live at Barbara’s.

She’s off emptying the dishwasher or playing charades or admiring Baby Mazen. (You’d think she’d never seen a baby before.)

I told her I’d write a fast post for Friend for the Ride.  She had one from Santa a few days ago that didn’t go so well.

I’m a regular old reindeer with nothing fancy to promise, so this post should go okay.

But actually, I don’t know much about menopause. I don’t even know what it is.

Maybe that’s a good thing.

Anyway, I’ll just say happy holidays to all of you.

Fa La La La La.

With lots of love,


Celebrations, Menopause

Holiday Charades! A Game for Young and Old

Mazen Doing Charades

Happy Holidays to one and all!

If you have a houseful, as I do, you may be wondering how you’re going to entertain them.

Play Christmas charades, that old-fashioned game that calls for ingenuity and innovation!

  • Conversation dwindling? Play charades! They’re perfect since no talking is allowed.
  • Can’t get the young people off their new high tech toys?  Play charades. Celebrate the low tech!
  • Is your group a little lethargic from turkey or sugar cookie overload? Step lively with an active game!

My charades aren’t overly original, but I had fun coming up with them.  Categories are Activities, Carols/Songs, Movies/TV Shows,  Foods, and Books/Poems.

Remember, no talking in charades! Actors may act out the entire charade or take it word by word (or even parts of words). Play in teams or as individual players.  (You can also pair a little kid with a teenager or adult.)  Small prizes are recommended for the winners (well actually, prizes might be nice for everyone. It’s Christmas!)

If you copy this list onto a document, you can space it out a bit and then print. Cut the paper into small strips, fold them, and place them in a holiday box or stocking.  You get to be the Grand Marshall.

Photo:  Grandson Maze warming up for our holiday charades. I added “Baby Jesus in the pageant” just for him.

Christmas Charades

Activity: Santa coming down the chimney

Activity:  Rudolph’s nose shining brightly

Activity: The Grinch taking all the presents

Activity:  Decorating the Christmas tree

Activity: Baby Jesus in the pageant.

Activity:  Frosty melting away

Activity:  Christmas caroling

Activity:  Rolling and baking sugar cookies

Activity:  Kissing under the mistletoe

Carol/Song:  Do You Hear What I Hear?

Carol/Song:  I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Carol/Song: Feliz Navidad

Carol/Song:  Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Carol/Song:  The Little Drummer Boy

Carol/Song:   The Friendly Beasts

Movie/TV: White Christmas

Movie/TV:  How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Movie/TV:  Charlie Brown’s Christmas

Movie/TV:  Miracle on 34th Street

Movie/TV:  Home Alone

Movie/TV:   It’s a Wonderful Life

Movie/TV:  Love, Actually

Movie/TV:   Prancer

Movie/TV: Elf

Food:  Egg Nog

Food: Cookies and Milk (for Santa)

Food:  Fruit Cake

Food:  Candy Canes

Food:  Gingerbread

Food:  Turkey and stuffing

Poem/Book:  A Christmas Carol

Poem/Book:  Skipping Christmas

Poem/Book:  I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Poem/Book:  The Polar Express

Poem/Book:  The Night Before Christmas

Poem/Book:  Christmas is Coming, the Goose Is Getting Fat

Poem/Book: The Christmas Box

P.S. Before they begin each charade, players should use silent signals to indicate the category:

Activity: Wiggle hands in air.

Carol/Song: Open singing mouth.

Movie/TV: Draw a box in the air

Food: Pretend to eat with a spoon or fork

Poem/Book: Hold out hands to make a book


Disappointing News from Mrs. Claus–Friend for the Ride Giveaway Cancelled


I’m upset and embarrassed to have to cancel the latest Friend for the Ride giveaway: the sleigh ride with Santa  on Christmas Eve.

Last year, I was so thrilled when Mrs. Claus agreed to do an on-line chat with me.  Read it here!  She couldn’ t have been more gracious, so you can imagine  my surprise when I received this email:

Dear Barbara Younger,

This note is to inform you that Santa will NOT be taking two of your readers on his sleigh on December 24th.

As you may know, Christmas Eve is a magical night. Time stands still to give Santa enough time to deliver presents around the world. That would give your two readers many many hours alone with my husband.

Your readers, Barbara, are some of the world’s smartest and most stunning women. I know their intentions are respectable, but I just don’t feel comfortable with them spending hour after hour with my husband.

Santa wrote in his guest post that I was fine with your giveaway. I was, but I’m afraid now, Barbara, that I’m having second thoughts.

We’ve been married for centuries. I don’t want to take any chances with a situation that could endanger our cold (due to our location) but still very warm marriage.

So please, tell your readers I am sorry. The giveaway is off.

Yours truly,

Merry Claus

(Mrs. Santa Claus)

Me again:  The last thing we want to do is worry Merry ( I never knew her first name until now) and cause trouble in North Pole Paradise. My apologies to all of you for cancelling a giveaway.


Guest Post: From a Man, Finally, and a Chance to Win a Sleigh Ride!

I have begged and pleaded and tried my very best to convince men friends to write a guest post for Friend for the Ride. Some have turned me down with a smile, some with a quite serious shake of the head.  And others have kindly agreed to write a guest post, but I have been waiting, gentlemen.

Up until now!  Without any cajoling, I found in my inbox the other day, a guest post from a man of men, Santa Claus! Santa writes:

Good Friend for the Ride Readers:  As most of you know, I don’t just watch the kids. I watch all of you, especially you menopausal ladies.  Mrs. Claus, who is long past the roller coaster ride, had a tough time. I did all I could to help out my North Pole Missus.

I want to help you,too, being the giving soul that I am. Here are five tips for menopause, just in time for the holidays, from a man’s point of view:

1. Speak up! I tell my elves not to suffer in silence. If things aren’t going so well  in the toy workshop, let me know. The same goes for partners. I can’t read the minds of elves or my wife. Let the man in your life know what you are thinking and feeling, especially when menopause makes you as gloomy as the Grinch.

2. We men aren’t nearly as concerned as you are about your wrinkles or sags or age spots. I’m glad to put some makeup and potions under the tree for you, but you really don’t need them. To a man, you’re lovely as you are!

3. Don’t worry so much about your weight over the holidays. My stomach looks like a bowl full of jelly. Most men develop at least a small pooch themselves. Live and enjoy! Tis the season!

4. As far as the bedroom goes,  Mrs. Claus and I figured out that it’s best to make dates. In fact, if you promise you won’t tell the teenagers, I’ll let you in on a secret: Our favorite rendezvous of the year is on Christmas Eve, when I return to our cozy cottage in the frozen north after my jaunt around the world.

5. When menopause gets you down, sometimes meaningful volunteer work can take your mind off your own struggles. And so an announcement:

This year, I’m inviting two ladies to join me on the sleigh (with complete approval from Mrs. Claus). Share the joy as we deliver presents across the earth. Leave me a comment saying you’d like to win. I promise you, this will be QUITE the roller coaster ride.

Me again: Thanks Santa, for the great post and for inviting two of my readers to take a sleigh ride of sleigh rides. Good luck to all of you who enter!

Congratulations to Susan and Joy, who won a copy of Janet Fox’s Sirens.  And congrats,too, to Judith and Lucy for winning the Bring It Up giveaway.  More giveaways in the works (lots of them) for 2013!