Saturday, December 31, 2011

It is a wrap

A good year
Son married a charming young lady
She makes him smile and laugh

Daughter enjoyed a year at home
With the light of our eye
Our grandson
Our son in law
Continued in his wonderful job
We warn him that the government Will cut back
He reminds us that would only return them to the farm

Work became very part time for me
Enjoying an occasional substitute position
And four hours a week mentoring.
My sewing machine is set up
But it has yet to find a real quilt.

Hubby made three amazing doors
Who ever knew that ALL of those tools
Collected over 30 years of birthdays
And Christmas holydays
Would turn into an amazing workshop?
Our children have requested tables
He has begun to draw

Travel was supposed to slow
About 21,000 air miles and 4,000 by car
Trips to see family
Continued to take every bit of my supplimental income.

Read my share of spy novels. Boring
Watched way too much of Yes to the Dress. Even more boring
Found my way to the library
Enjoying Elizebethan novels now.

Slowly my husband and I are carving out our time together
And apart.

This is the first year I have stepped back from "bag lady" worry.
It has changed our relationship.
I don't feel the need to hoard money for savings
He does not feel the need to seek to spend.
It works.
We are both happier.

We also stopped worrying about the end of the world
That was huge to let go of.
Politics is local
That is great.

We have plenty.

Our children are bright enough to survive.

Communication is about compassion with my sibs.
What a change that has brought.

Life is good
On to 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

What is on your reading list?

Going for the classics this year.
Last year was Elizabethan literature.
Looking forward to Dickens, Twain and a bit of Plato.
There are a few books of my father's on a spiritual bend.
The old family bible will also be explored.
I don't do fluff well.

I have to be fully relaxed OR traveling to read.
It sounds like opposits, but they are the same in many ways.
I can do nothing else productive in either situation:)

What are you reading?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2012 is on the way. What needs to change?

Some people call them goals.
I call them changes
Here are my thoughts on what needs to happen beginning on Sunday.

Save $100 a month. That doesn't seem like much. We have saving envelopes. New car (five years out), roof(10 years), travel (every six months), dinner out (every two weeks). I have gotten out of the habit of just saving for the little expenses that come up. The flat tire,the new grand niece, those things are not funded well.

Establish a home for substitute teaching. Currently I work in several schools a few times a month. I would prefer to find two schools and get to know everyone's name.

Enjoy time with my kids. I have the tendency to get wrapped up in the travel plans. We will probably be with our children's families in two places this year. I want to be relaxed enough to simply enjoy them.

Skype my grandson and talk to my son weekly. When Skyping my grandson I will get the added bonus of seeing my daughter. We talk almost daily now. That part I would like to maintain.

Quilt one large piece. I will get The fabric on our family vacation. I'd like to make it a memory quilt.

Learn to crochet. I was always too tense. I am hoping a year of quiet helps that.

Find something that both my husband and I love to do. Spend time with him.

Walk daily. We live 1/4 mile from a lake. It will be cold at the beginning, but my dogs don't mind.

Go to the library weekly.

Spend less than an hour a day on the computer.
That may be the most difficult commitment to keep.

Do you have changes that need to be made?

Fish and guests

Smell after five days.

The saying within our family is sacred.

Some of the things we do to survive one house for a longer period of time?

If at all possible, family occupies different floors.
Guests having access to their own fridge, bathroom and exit makes for easier times.

Trading off kitchen duties. Stepping up to doing dishes and cooking meals.
We also help each other with groceries and pay for our own meals out.

Make sure everyone has a private time and space.
An hour of reading, cruising the net or walk alone will do a great deal to improve together time.

Hold negative comments, no matter how valid- unless the situation is dangerous.
If you feel you cannot keep it to yourself- leave.

Discipline is only for the parent unless you are asked or alone.
Even then, never go further with negative discipline than the parent would. Never.

Remember that being polite goes a long way.
Please, may I and thank you.

Last, attempt to leave BEFORE you are the fish....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy HolyDays

Friends of many faiths.
This is a rare time of year when most of us are celebrating at the same time.
May your HolyDays be filled with light and joy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Alternative methods of payment while traveling

We live with the envelope system.
Virtually no actual $$ ever floats.
Hasn't for years.
Most of our money is placed in virtual envelopes for normal household expenses.
Tomorrow we hit the road
with our "travel" envelope money.

Travel envelope contains an amount from every paycheck
and use it only when we are traveling together.
Today was the trec to the bank.
Loaded the "cash" visa card at my bank.
In the past it has been American Express travel cheques.
Last trip, two places not even know what to do with them.

The travel cards are ready,
the suit cases are packed,
we are checked in.

Sea food, National Christmas tree, formal Churches, singing, Jesus' birthday cake and
SANTA is alive and well ready to come down the chimney of a four year old's house.
Hate to fly- love the family.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What can one person do?

Small and large works of joy are important- now more than ever.
Buy $10 gift cards at a local grocery. Hand them out on the street or drop them in a begger's cap.
Call a brother or sister you don't have easy contact with.
Chat with a person sitting alone at a library.
Go out of the house with a smile on your face and greet anyone and everyone.
Drop off a backpack full of food and ask them to give it to a student who needs it at a school.
Take your "hotel soap" to a shelter.
Stop by a juvenile detention center with a new jacket for a kid.
Buy a dinner for a family you know is struggling.
Invite a single person to Christmas dinner.

Other ideas?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Just for fun

Go to google search
type in
let it snow
Pretend you are in the mountains in the West!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Packing for the pat down

Air travel at Christmas seems to be a way of life. We raised our kids in many places, so we need to assume (yes, ass u me) that they will be moving for a good many more years.

And so we prepare.

A good look over the clothing.  No metal- anywhere.

Even plastic zippers does not help a 60 yr old man who sports a replaced hip. He always gets to have his underwear felt. Lucky boy!  One cannot profile. Even if you could, there are so many suspects who carry a military retirement card, walk with a limp and strip to almost nothing before they enter the airport.  Must be that Seahawks cap!

How about the pleasure of being hand searched because they said they could not see what is behind a necklace? The necklace hits above the collar bone and the blouse was a V neck. Yes, checking the breast area is so necessary after sending a person through that amazing machine that x rays bodies.  What did we spend that money on?

Walking across yards of rug and tile will be awaiting you. Have you ever wondered what is on the bottom of security's shoes? We all get to trace their foot steps in our bare feet.
Make sure your shoes slip on, otherwise you will sit in the chair too long and be asked to "move along".

Carry on luggage- pack correctly.  Little bottles, that carry less and cost more than the full sized ones, are stuffed into zip lock baggies. Then you are permitted to have those held up for everyone in the line to see what you use. Knitting needles are fine, Swiss Army knife  will be taken away. iPads are ok to leave in the bag, computers are not.
Clothing is rolled, not folded, into neat sections. You never know when a bobby pin will get you "Bag Check".  More than one TSA agent has found my dirty clothes bag- unfortunately for them.

Packing a week worth of clothing into a carry on is necessary if one hopes to get to your destination with items and money.  That lesson was quickly learned when standing behind a family of seven going home to see Grandma for the first time in ten years.  They left the counter with $250 less for the trip. Mama crying, baby crying, dad gritting teeth. Not a pretty sight.

Off to book the car. How many more people are killed in car accidents than air accidents?

"I am ready.
I can do it!
It is worth it to see my children and grandchild!"

The chant begins today....

BTW- I worked security at the airport for two years.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Saudi Christmas

The call to prayer waifs over the desert sands. The winter sun warms the camel markets and bedoiun tents in the country side. A land of beauty that is closed off to the world. One cannot go to Saudi, you have to be invited. It is a closed world where women are covered, male children drive cars and camels are common.

Saudi Arabia does not celebrate Christmas. It is illegal. When non Saudis arrive in country their house hold goods are opened. If ornaments are spotted, it was not uncommon for the family to be called and made to watch as each one is smashed.
People of other beliefs are still tracked down and hung. One learned quickly not to go to the main market place on Thursdays- judgment day. Being careful of not showing your beliefs is a way of life.

Saying all of that, Christians are not often dissuaded from Christmas. A closely held secret, the emphasis becomes the mystery of a Messiah in a strange and hostile world.

And so we gathered, in the large courtyard, and enjoyed the Christmas narrative. The ten foot walls kept us in a nd prying eyes out. Our children act out a narrative that is more similar to their lives than counterparts in most of the world.
The gifts of the kings- the beginning of sharing gifts - the western take on the day- is much more understandable. Our markets are full of the sap from Myrrh and frankincense trees. They are common smells, ones are children are often "blessed with" in local markets.Gold is sold openly and given on every important occasion.

Children of the compound had mothers who traveled daily outside the walls in abyah, a long, looses,dark travel coat from the early times. Underneath such coats, local women often wore loose long dresses- as Mary is often pictured in? Western women do not have to cover their eyes, but are expected the old modesty of covering hair, as Mary is pictured as well.

They were also used to seeing men In thobe and ghutra. The long "dresses" And head coverings were the norm, not the exception.

Family outings often took us to the cliffs at the edge of the sands. Children could understand that a stable could be carved from. Cliffs, since camels and donkeys were a norm in their lives.Towns are still made of mud brick and stone.

And so the narrative began near sundown. Our children portrayed the journey of Mary and Joseph, the birth of the Christ child, and the visitors of shepherds and kings. The compound dwellers then gathered in the sound proof chapel for strands of Silent Night and hugs of joy to be able to be together in such an amazing place.

The white thread becomes indistinguishable from the black one. The call to night prayer begins. Our children know to grow quiet. With Santa, without television, it is a simple celebration of the First Christmas and a time for prayer for Christians in an islamic world.

How to save during the holidays

Two weds: "Stay home!"

Those words need to be followed by, "put blinders on while cruising the net."

Having shopping done early permits time to enjoy the family and reason for the holydays.

Yes- holydays not holidays. That is what we are hoping for.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Every once in a while I read that someone feels that we are "done" with the war.
 Somehow that missed the many thousands of soldiers who are still serving.
Our family has been Army strong for many years. We are now in the middle of the second generation to serve. This is the hut that one of the children that we grew up with. We met her when she was a three year old- and could hold a conversation with you with her eyes. She is now an Army nurse doing trauma work in Afghanistan.

Last week I sent out a package to a father of four- Army soldier- who is serving in a village with only six other Americans. We sent him things of home- like US coffee and beef jerky. Since he lives in the village, he eats their food...which is not to the normal US palate. He acts as a mayor- keeping things in check so the enemy will stay at bay.

Yesterday a helicopter went down where my son is serving in Washington. Night flying- always dangerous. They train because that helicopter is often the eyes for the people on the ground. Keeping guard while others take a shift.

Today, when I sit in my warm house and complain that the mail may be one more day delayed, I take pause and thank the Lord that I live in a country where "young people" still choose to serve. They serve the impoverished, the illiterate, the injured and tired in the newest branch of the State Department, the US military.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Less expensive theater

We live near a university. Actually, for you big city people, we live about 45 minutes from a major university.  Last year I looked into season tickets for the shows that the university hosts.  We save a certain amount every year for eating out or local entertainment. This year I decided to take that budget in a lump sum from savings, replacing it slowly with our regular monthly allowance.
Tonight we are seeing Mannheim Steamroller.
In a "regular" setting, we would never "afford" the tickets.
The University provides the cultural experiences to enhance their students and the community at large.
I am glad they do!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Self insuring

We don't carry life insurance.
There, I have said it.

My husband had a professor who did not believe in life insurance.
Fortunately, while my husband served in the military, he was insured by the government.when he left the Army, we left insurance behind. He could not see it as something necessary. It has worked out so far.

Instead of insurance,we have worked hard to make sure that we have things paid off and we have savings. About three years ago I began to feel that his plan had worked. I still have concerns. He is older, but his family has a longer life span, in general, than mine.

Sometimes I get nervous. We lost several family members suddenly a few years ago. Something could always happen. I could be hurt by a collapse of military health care.

Still, I don't see us turning back now.

Do I recommend this plan to my children? No, quite the opposite. When asked, I tell them that both members of the family need insurance until children are long gone.

"Is the baby Jesus here?"

"Not yet."
"when is they Baby's birthday?"
"two more weeks"
"but we have mama and dada's presents?"
"yes" "We celebrate the Baby's birthday by giving presents to others."
"Can we give presents to everyone?"
Who says there is no hope for our future.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Through the eyes

We gathered our jackets and strapped into car seats. The drive to the train station took two minutes.
Train into town, and then the metro for a day at the museums. We avoided rush hour but still ran into a few rushers.
Hold hands
Talk about airplanes
Eat snacks
Color pictures
Do experiments
Talk to a toys for tots Marine
If you ever want to know how good the world is
Take a four year old to a museum.

It os amazing we can have such a productive day in the shadow of our Nation's capital building!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Off to soak it all in

In about 45 minutes the car will turn towards Kansas City. A plane will be waiting. It will whisk its way to Baltimore. Once it arrives one passenger will jump off, grab her bag and get on a train.

Most Nanas that I know do not have to go through all of this in order to spend a weekend alone with their grandchild. But we have been making plans for about three weeks.

"Nana, I want to go on the train 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,10 times with you!"
"The train only runs on the week days."
"That is OK- we can still go 10 times!"
" How about we take the Metro into town two days?"
"OK (sad voice) but we will see all the animals and the airplanes?"
"Yes, maybe even the dinosaurs."
"Can we dance?" "Yes baby"
"How about doing some mak'in stuff?"
"I have my bag full of things to make for the tree."
"Did you know that Santa has a key to my front door?"

And off we go into another conversation.
Skype and the phone are amazing.
Our family lived 2000 miles from my parents most of their childhood.
With modern technology- it is almost like living next door.
Still, the rare visits with the grandchild are few and far between.
Soaking him all in will be a pleasure!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Extra Income

I have been a teacher all of my life.
Surprisingly, most substitues do not have any background in education.
If you are need of extra income, you might try a classroom.

Substitute pay averages between $60-100 a day.  Most school districts do not take out your taxes until you have worked a few months, so you will end up with the entire amount. If you work too much, you need to hold out your own taxes.

Most places require a substitute license. That, in general, is given to anyone who can pass high school and a finger print check. Some states require some money for the license as well. My district does the finger print check for free. They are desperate for subs!

Once cleared, you go on a list. Our district is fully computerized. I go on line and sign up for the jobs that I want on the days that I am free. Good all around, for me.

"Are you crazy to suggest substituting?"  Nope.

If you come in with a plan, have a strong voice, and dress professionally, most jobs go very well.

Tongue depressors are my friends. A bucket full of forty sticks with numbers on them are the trick for 3-8th grades.  As a student is doing the "right thing" they get a stick. Making sure that everyone gets one is tough at times, but can be done.  At the end of the period, sticks return to the bucket for a drawing. Having stashed key chains, erasers, general little things that kids like, I am ready for the drawing. Pick out two sticks. You would be amazed at the cheers when someone "wins".  Even if I had to put out $1.00 for small things, it was worth my sanity for the day.

It is a great retirement gig. Many people substitute a month before they travel, so they can have a bit of extra spending money. Personally, I think most people don't think they can do it.  Give it a try. A day will pay all of the upfront expenses- so you will not lose any money over it.

If you feel the educational world stinks because of teachers, substituting may be a civic responsibility.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Moving mom

Mom chose to move to an independent care center. She chose a smaller apartment because it has a fantastic view. Now it is time to downsize.
When mom moved my sister and I moved as many of her pieces of art as possible. Her place is fantastic, relaxing, fun, and wonderful. The rest needs to go so we can sell the house.
First, inventory. There are five of us "kids" from 49-59. An inventory lets everyone know what is there.
My iPad came in handy. Pictures were fast and furious. My sister,out of town, posted all photos on Picassa. We each could make comments on pieces. Lots of fun memories shared.
Next month we will gather-two of us on Skype. We choose numbers 1-5 and then begin picking.
I'll tell you, doing it this way sure makes it fun.
Mom is excited. She loves to see her stuff in our houses. Nice to be moving forward while Mom is still with us.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Wedding in September

In case you missed it! We had a great time!

Starting again

It has been a wild few months.
We almost lost our nephew to congested heart failure.
Our son got married to a wonderful lady.
And I decided
that the full time classroom was still not for me.

This is a different start.
I am looking to track everything
and asking for help to keep on track.
We are going to live within our means
which means a pension and some substitute teaching money.

Start with the spiritual side
not necessarily the religious side.
Move to the financial side
not necessarily the budget side.
Move to the deeper relationship side
not necessarily leaving out the me side.

I have taken the time to breathe

Now I can step back in
and work
to see what is ripe for the second half!