Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Don't you wonder

My father was brought up by the church- literally.

My grandmother and grandfather were second cousins and married only after a dispensation from Rome. From what I can tell, they were in their thirties. My father came close behind the first year together and the few pictures we have from that time show a happy family. The pictures stop at this one- my dad at 18 months.
About this time my grandmother and her mother were in a fire, caught in an elevator, and both were killed. The story goes- through a step grandmother many years later- that my grandfather heard about the fire and was afraid to go to the building so he went home to wait for his wife. He waited all night until someone came the next day and told him that his wife was dead.
We have nothing from that time. No Mass cards, no notes from friends. We used to have a trunk that was packed with her things- which has long been unpacked by my mother. I don't know where that is.
My father lived with two of his uncle's families for, I think, about four years in Baltimore. My grandfather "called for him" and brought him to California. If you look at the picture, you can see my dad looks a great deal like his mom. My grandfather was a person who said, "if you do it, there could be punishment." Could my grandfather see my dad as his punishment of wanting to marry his cousin?
Grandaddy took my dad to California, hired a housekeeper and began a job with Ford motor as a credit person- on the road all the time. My dad had few memories- none of his father- that he shared. My understanding is that as soon as he could be in boarding school- off he went. There was never any real love bond between father and son. I am not sure if my grandfather saw dad as a burden or shame...maybe it just hurt too much to care for him
My dad did talk about spending the holy days with the nuns in the convent. Christmas with the sisters.Pretty astir life from what I gathered. He always had the material things- but the warmth...it simply was not there.
He went to St John Military academy until he went to Bellermine-boarded of course. Having Jesuit great uncles- I am sure that is why he went. He did learn how to read aloud- but struggled with reading in general.
Most of my family struggles with ADHD and reading problems. Compound that with my dad falling down and elevator shaft (ironic-eh?) I am sure that school was not the shining star- even though it seemed to be the only star in his life. He companions seemed to be the priests there- but his caring for the sisters indicate that is where he learned love. Must have been tough since that was the age that nuns were not supposed to be very open about caring.
He did learn how to be a sales person. My dad could talk most people into anything-but once you bought it- he was in your service for life.
My dad often struggled with what love was. If you were close to him (or should be) then you proved your love by NOT wanting things. Never show weakness. Weakness was only for the poor and needy- which he often cared for. Do you think this was the nuns? If he gave you something, he often wanted it back. I never understood that. He kept an arms length from everyone.
There are five of us. Although some have a more nurturing vision of how he was with them, there are just glimpses of love. My dad wasn't especially harsh (after he learned that corporal punishment of the nuns was unnecessary). He loved to take us to where he felt the most free- outdoors. Was that his escape from boarding school?
Once cannot blame their history for their final chapters, but understanding where the writers come from is a good place to start.
I often wonder what would have happened if my grandmother never died. Or if my grandfather, with his law degree, has simply stayed in Baltimore. Or if they had lived in a different time. I always wonder if my dad could have been happy most of his life instead of just a bit of his life.

Monday, December 28, 2009

It is almost the first

Usually I do not do this- but this year:
1) Some sort of exercise every day - WWii/ Swim/ walk the halls
2) Cut to three sodas a week by Feb and no more after then. Replace soda with tea
3) Call mom twice a week- and Scott's mom weekly- even if she doesn't answer the phone.
4) Spend an hour in conversation with my hubby daily. Move it to two hours by February.It is surprising that we can live together and sometimes not get an hour in converstation.
5) Find one volunteer activity that I enjoy
6) go to the doctor

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The yearly check up

Savings rate- 35% of income.

Portfolio up 12% not counting amount saved this year.

Spending down a bit- but not out of the ordinary.

Four trips to see the adult children and their family.

First ever no children vacation since 1987.

No weddings, no funerals, no major surgery, no graduations, no big b-days.

Countdown to Scott's retirement is official.

Ah- financially, it was a very good year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

last day

Last Day for school this year. We are watching the movies of the books that they read in Language Arts this month. The kids are doing well. The Christmas excitment is up- but that is all right. I remmebered the custodians yesterday with some great Spanish phrases- they laughed at my attempts.
Life is good. The last "child" arrives today.
Catch Phrase last night- Tree decorating tonight!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

All joy!

The house has been busy with lining up trains and playing with doggies.

Adults have been rushing home from school and work to play.
Helicopters have landed and the son returns home today.

Decorating begins today.

One more son arrives on the 22nd.

Life is good! We all believe!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Could use a few prayers this direction

We have a dear friend who is fighting a difficult kind of cancer. Jay could really use your prayers (along with the rest of the family).
One of my oldest friends had the early present of a grand baby this week. Connor is about 6 weeks premature and is pretty tiny. Could you pray for them.
And there are some things going on all around me that need some help as well.
Thinking God wants us all on overtime this Christmas season.


No, it is not my birthday- but it is the day I was born as a mom. I love being a mom. My children are the precious things on the earth to me.

Happy Happy day (whhh-blowing out the candle) Jen!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ah- someone is listening!

I got an email asking me to become one of the Smithsonian's exhibit teachers! I will join a group of twenty teachers throughout the country who will write lesson plans for primary sources connected to the Civil Rights movement.
I am SOOO excited!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Have you ever thought of spending a year volunteering?

I have always wanted to be a docent at a Smithsonian. Maybe I could get a tiny apartment in the city and do just that- someday.

let's be quite clear

My stand on the Middle East/ Western Asia is pretty different than most Americans can understand. After living in a middle eastern oil rich country, one becomes pretty aware that our country is considered the France of old- they use us as mercenaries to their satisfaction and we get oil in return.
We finally have a President who GETS IT!
The "Presidents" of said countries would like to keep us there forever to support their unsupportable regimes. We should not have been there to begin with. The attackers on 9/11 were SAUDI.
Now that we have stepped all over the region and the bleeding hearts have seen all the uneducated and impoverished people (don't they see that Africa is much the same?), we have to mop up. Unfortunately, mopping up come at the expense of putting my son's life on the line.
The President laid it out straight- we will do as much as we can in 18 months and then GET OUT! It is a warning to those in charge that if their people do not see a change in them in 18 months then they will probably have to seek refuge elsewhere (I am hoping France).
I feel that we were totally lied to by the Bush administration who thought they could change the world by offering democracy to a land that is dominated by tribes and dictators. Didn't work in the US in the 1850's with the tribes- "had" to wipe them out and move them around to get what the white people wanted. Seems that was the Bush plan. Cheney and Rumsfield ruined the United States. They messed over the military as well. I am beginning to think that Bush was as naive as he appeared- and then in a mess.
Sure, the Republicans are capable of talking a good talk when it comes to abortion. That they did very little about it in their reign is regrettable. Maybe I would admire them more- but they didn't.
Bush came in claiming NOT to nation build- but all of OUR money is in Iraq. A big part of surge is to PAY the people NOT to fight us. I voted for him because he was not going to nation build. He ended up building their economy and defeating our ecomony in exchange. You cannot give out a million dollars in one villiage in Iraq and not expect it to come out of your budget in the long run.

At least Obama has a plan. At least he is forthright in talking about it. He understands that the people in the Middle East are not interested in being colonies of the US. He has finally said it out loud and maybe, hopefully, they are listening. I hate that we are in the Middle East one more minute than we have to be. Unfortunately, most of us drive to work and heat our houses- all with dictator and war torn oil.
What is that ring on your finger- diamond? Is it a blood diamond? Well, that is a different story.

The public option of Medicare at 55

Personally, I think this is a terrible idea. There are loads of self employed who write off everything from their cars to their gas to many meals to seem "poor". I know because I helped with the free and reduced lunch forms at one of my schools. I hate the idea that they could now drop off insurance and declare for Medicare.
I think SS disability takes care of those who are in poverty and truly disabled. Yes, it needs to be cleaned up- but it is in place. There needs to be some sort of buy in for the rest. This is not what Obama proposed.
I am sick of the Democrats in the House and Senate! Fortunately, I never have to vote for one-lol. I don't think any live in Kansas.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


From the back
and the front

Snow is here

Best of all- it is a snow day tomorrow!


Trees covered in snow
a white path
tree house unused
clothes line empty
dogs sleeping
we wait

Monday, December 07, 2009

St Nick

Today I got to share the story of St Nicholas with my class and gave them the tradition of a bit of candy for working hard. The fortunate thing about teaching sixth grade is that it is world religions. Currently I am working on Hindi- but could interject a bit of St Nick in the bunch. We already did a "holiday wreath" for the hall - some of the kids put, "He is the reason for the season" on their hands.

I am trying to wrap my mind around having everyone here for the holy days. Our house is not even close. I guess it is time to get moving and clean out a bit of space in my heart for the season!

Friday, December 04, 2009


Extended family- well part of it anyway!

Financially Responsible

I once had someone tell me : "Quit saying you can't afford it. You can afford it. You chose not to do it." I guess it is all in the words for this person. If I feel that I cannot financially justify something, I cannot afford it. To me it is simple.
We are frugal in certain ways- but free flowing with other things. I cannot afford an expensive purse- or else I have to give up having a trip to see the grandbaby (about the same costs these days). I cannot affort to go on a fabulous vaction with my extended family- because it takes away time and money from my intimate family. I cannot afford to buy a new car- or else I have to give up being ready to pay my taxes fully.
I cannot afford it is my term and I am sticking to it.
This has helped us be in the mind set for retirement. One person thinks we have so much more money than we do. The secret? We simply live for the special things and cannot afford the show things:>)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Another day

Need a good mental trip back to the time of Siddhartha?
Need chapstick?
Need a ride home?
Need your hearing checked?
Need a good book to read?
Need chocolate?
Need girl drama advice?
Need glasses?
Need baby food?
Need homework?
Need a Mass card?
Welcome to my school world!
Forget retirement.
I could spend every minute and cent at school- lol!
Opps- I forgot!
Need 20 semester hours for the end of my Masters program!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The next step

Now that finances are in one place and we can look at them, the next step of retirement is to figure out how to do what we want to do. My husband has been accumulating tools for years. I never knew they all had a part of what he wanted for himself. I figure his plan is at least twenty years old. Why can't I do that?
My plans are much more scattered- which means I will have to take the time with them that I have taken the time with finances. AGGG! I am just not ready!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

What does retirement look like?

Neither of us plan on hitting our Social Security or our IRAs for quite a while. Retirement simply means to not have the nine to five position that we currently have (actually 7:30 to 4).Driving to the office/school and working at a desk (or standing in front of a room).
Instead we would like to do our own thing.
My husband plans on wood working - and keeping care of the property. There are trees to prune, fields to mow and gardens to tend. All of those are being done now- but on the weekend in a hurry. I don't know if my husband will ever sell anything he makes when he finally accepts taht he can play with wood full time. I suspect that his plans are to make every stick of furniture that our children and grandchildren will need....
My plan is to tutor, on line, overseas. I may continue teaching, but in a school that only needs me part time. My best days of Catholic school were when I only had to be there three hours a day. I would also like to be available to pitch hit if my daughter decides to homeschool or my grandchildren have bumps in the school road.
Both of us get bored of full time travel, or full time playing. Retirement is simply working for ourselves in a more relaxed manner.

Health Care for us-in the retired sense

One of the main reasons we moved to Kansas was our health care. After moving nine times and being blown up once- we are comfortable with our military "socialized" health care. We moved to Kansas because the VA is good for my husband and the military hospital is good for me. We might have moved somewhere else if there was a national health care plan- but Kansas serves us well. With health care in place, we do not have to worry as much about health costs. Twenty years of "you have no choice but to serve there" has turned into lifelong health care.
Health care is a reason for my son in law to choose to stay in as well, but certainly not the primary reason.