Road Trippin’ Day One: Santa Fe

We got up around 7 this morning and left Susan and Corey’s at 8, stopping at the local McDonald’s for a quick breakfast before heading out on I-20.  It was raining a little when we drove off, but soon cleared and we had a pretty easy day all in all.

It was about a 7 hour drive, the longest day we will have on this trip, but the kids did great and everything went smoothly.  We played several games in the car and especially enjoyed a scavenger hunt where we had to check things off, such as “a police car with its lights on,” “a motorcycle rider with a beard,” “a driver picking his nose,” “the letter Q,” “a rusty old pickup truck” and lots more.  We saw the police car pretty early in the trip but thankfully it was not coming after us!

With the time change, we arrived in Santa Fe around 3:30 PM.  After checking into our hotel, the kids were dying to get into the pool so we went down for a swim.  Kids being kids, they immediately made new friends and had a great time playing with their fellow guests for awhile.

We got dressed and walked down to a pizza place nearby, then wandered around the square and saw some of the sights near the hotel.  Since it was Sunday, not too many places were open but we enjoyed taking a walk on a nice, pretty evening.  The last time we were in Santa Fe, Aidan was just a baby!

Now we’re just chillin’ in the hotel room and about to hit the hay.  We’re aiming for an early departure to Mesa Verde tomorrow.

Weekend Update

13432398_10206606962469189_2050298329480734697_nRich made pickles from our garden cukes.  Yum.

I haven’t blogged about the horrific mass murder in Orlando.  I don’t really know what to say that won’t sound trite or cliche-ish, but  am becoming more and more heartbroken by the level of hate and violence in our country and the fact that we, as a so-called civilized nation, have no real political will to do anything about it.  I was encouraged a bit that Senator Chris Murphy was at least willing to try.  

In the aftermath, I thought this from Project Happiness was worth remembering.

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Where do we fit in this great big world?

I’ve also been so disheartened by the very light sentence given to the Stanford rapist.  I hope parents of boys will read this article and raise sons who will treat females with respect and dignity.

A more peaceful passage of time?

This cracks me up.

Happy weekend, all.  Stay tuned for dispatches from our road trip.

 

Ready for Vacation

We’ve had a busy week getting ready to go on our road trip to Wyoming.  I always underestimate how much time it will take to get everything done and end up rushing around the last day no matter what. But I have to admit I am happy that I don’t have to worry about the weather, plane delays and cancellations, and getting on that little plane out of Unalaska to fly for two days any more!

The garden’s looking pretty good and we’ve harvested more veggies, though I’m disappointed that our eggplant and zucchini and cantaloupe don’t seem to be doing anything.  It’s getting so hot now that I doubt they will produce but maybe they will surprise us when we get back.  The flowers are pretty, though!

We took Elle and Beck to see “Angry Birds” at a fancy theater with reclining seats–what will they think of next?!  The movie was pretty silly but the kids loved it.  Afterwards, we went out for pizza and pasta and had fun hanging out.

I’m trying to be organized for our road trip with Aidan and Ally.  We bought a bunch of snacks at Winco, our favorite socialist grocery store (it’s employee owned) which carries a lot of items in bulk bins.  I decided to pack little snack bags for each day in the car so we wouldn’t have everything out at once.  Then I printed out a lots of activities to do while traveling along–word searches, tic-tac-toe games, “scavenger hunts” where they’ll have to spy various things out the window, the license plate game, and much more.  At Target, I bought them each a clipboard so they will have something sturdy to write on, spiral notebooks, folders, and a few more activities.  Of course, they’ll have their devices if all else fails!

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We drove to Clyde today and will leave early in the morning for our first stop in Santa Fe.  Can’t wait!

 

 

Busy Days of Summer

We’ve had lots going on!  Rich and I both have birthdays in June–mine is first, on the 13th, and his is on the 21st.  We were born 8 days apart in the same year.  🙂  The grandkids don’t quite get this age thing yet.  Recently Beck asked how old we were and I said we were both 61.  Of course, I am sure he thinks that sounds VERY old.  I then asked him who he thought was older, Grandpa or me.  He immediately said “Grandpa.”  We said no, Gigi is 8 days older.  He could not wrap his mind around it and asked, “How can you be older if you are not as tall as Grandpa?”  He then wanted to know if I was going to get taller than Rich.  🙂

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been wanting to go to Cafe Momentum so Rich and I celebrated my birthday there on Saturday night.  I loved seeing the program in operation and knowing that these young people are getting a chance at a more positive life after having some challenges in the past.  I especially liked the shrimp and grits beignets and the local veggie platter. On the way out, I asked the staff member at the register if they use volunteers but he seemed a little unsure so I guess I will need to follow up with someone at the office later.

Monday night Sarah and Miles took us to a birthday dinner at a place called Filament in Deep Ellum; Bonnie and David also contributed to the meal even though they don’t live here and couldn’t go with us.  We had a DELICIOUS dinner and lots of fun hanging out with Sarah and Miles.  Apparently we were having too much fun because we failed to get any food photos!

Elle made me a sweet bday card; Bonnie recorded her kids singing happy birthday, I had phone calls from all the kids and my Mom, lots of Facebook greetings, texts and messages from family and friends.  It was a good day, though I cannot believe I am 62 and it bothers me a little more than I want it to.  :O Continue reading “Busy Days of Summer”

Weekend Update

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Today was community work day in the garden, one of three required throughout the year.  Oh, my goodness, I have not had so much sweat running down my face in a very long time!  But it was fun to hang out with our fellow gardeners and pretty up the common areas. I’ve joined the crew who takes care of the butterfly garden so we cleaned it up, put down wheelbarrows full of mulch, and did some weeding.  It’s a nice little sanctuary for the monarchs when they come through town.  I could see Rich from a distance, doing lots of raking and bending and lifting.  We were beat and in dire need of a shower when we got home, but it feels good to be involved and doing something worthwhile.  Above, we’re getting more squash in our plot and the other night we had a nice saute of squash and peppers from the garden, along with some fresh corn. Yum.

Here are some interesting reads I found this week.  Check ’em out!

I’ve boycotted Walmart for years.  Learn about these inspiring women taking the corporation on.

Wow.  These are gorgeous!

I saw a photo of one of my nieces in some cool cat eye glasses.  Here’s where she got them.  I might be doing some shopping.  🙂

Just finished reading When Breath Becomes Air.  Beautiful and heartbreaking.

Now reading Ghettoside.  More than heartbreaking.

My birthday’s coming up.  Rich asked me what I wanted to do and I requested dinner at Cafe Momentum.  I’ve been reading about this fabulously successful culinary program for kids in the juvenile justice system since we were in Alaska,  but we haven’t managed to eat there yet.  I can’t wait!

Before I lived in Unalaska, Alaska, I had no idea (or I had forgotten if I’d ever been told) that the Japanese bombed the Aleutian Islands during WWII.  Remnants of the war still remain on the islands to this day.  A local resident recounts her mother’s memories of the bombing of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor.  Find more about this “forgotten war” here.

What a great idea!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

 

 

 

Reading is Fun(damental)

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My second volunteer job was helping two elementary school students improve their reading, but we are now finished for the summer.  I worked with two cute little boys for one hour each, one a second grader and one a third grader.  As I mentioned in an earlier post about seeing poverty up close, it was eye-opening to learn about my students and their lives, as well as the other children who came to the tutoring program.  Many of the families were struggling to make ends meet and some had additional social problems to deal with:  some were immigrants, some couldn’t speak English very well, many had difficulty finding employment, some had substance abuse issues, and more.  The kids were sweet and smart and mostly positive about life, despite their circumstances.  Sometimes I would go in an extra day and help students make up a session they’d missed.  On one such day, I had a very intelligent little girl who told me she loved school, her school was “the best in town” (it’s not….but I am so glad she thought so!) and that she wants to be a teacher when she grows up.  I hope she forever keeps that enthusiasm and achieves her dream!

I’ve always loved to read, though I have to admit that in these days of internet browsing of news and informational articles, I don’t read as many books as I once did.   I think part of it is a symptom of getting older, too, because my eyes get tired much more quickly than they did when I was younger.  🙂  But I can’t imagine not enjoying reading nor being unable to read.  Reading is such a foundation for so many other subjects in school and for so many functions in life.  I find it really sad when kids struggle to read because then they heartily dislike it, and they avoid working on it, and then they get further and further behind.   It becomes the proverbial vicious cycle.  Hopefully the tutoring program is breaking that cycle and helping kids catch up, keep up, and learn to enjoy reading.

Both of my little guys were strugglers but they were bright and curious and usually seemed to enjoy participating in the program.  We had structured lessons so we started out with the tutor reading aloud for 10 minutes, then we worked on tasks together, including the student reading aloud to the tutor.  Most of the books were fun and interesting for the kids, so that helped.  They were also encouraged to take home a book after each session and they received rewards for writing a basic book report if they wanted to do so.  One of my students LOVED to do book reports and I don’t think the other one ever did any!  🙂

I looked forward to my once a week sessions with the kids and had a couple of funny encounters–one day I was sitting with a student and he was lightly stroking my hand while I read a story to him.  My heart swelled as I thought how sweet he was, just wanting to connect with me while we read together.  Then, as he ran his fingers over the veins on the back of my hand, I heard him say under his breath, “old, old, old.”  LOL  Kids can certainly keep you humble, can’t they?

We were all a bit sad when the school year came to an end.  We had a little party and I took my students some books for the summer–hopefully they will keep up with their reading and enjoy it on their own while out of school.  I worry about what they will do all summer and hope that they will be safe and not too bored.   I can’t post photos because of confidentiality but you can just imagine how cute they were.  🙂

Now that my Wednesdays are free, I might have to look around for something else to do with my time!

 

 

 

 

 

Retirement is Good!

I was never one of those people who wasn’t sure what she’d do in retirement. I couldn’t really understand the ones who said they didn’t know  what they’d do with themselves or they were afraid they’d be bored. Although I *mostly* enjoyed my career as a social worker and especially liked my most recent stint as development director for our small public radio station in Unalaska, I looked forward to retiring, not having a set schedule or a lot of obligations, and the freedom to do what I felt like doing.

I’m happy to report that, so far, it has played out in much the way I hoped.  Life is pretty leisurely–we make our own schedule for the most part and get to do what we want to do.  We have a few obligations–volunteer work and the garden, mostly, and babysitting on occasion, but otherwise we can pick and choose how to spend our days.  I highly recommend it!

Grandson Beck has been playing T-ball and we had fun watching his games despite the already VERY  hot sun!  Those poor boys had to be burning up in their uniforms.  Son in law Miles was one of the coaches and he was just great with the kids–so encouraging and low key.  Miles played baseball in college and was drafted into the minors after his junior year so he knows a lot about the game, but also about the pressures,  so I think he’s a good one to work with the kids. You could tell he wanted it to be a positive and fun experience for them.

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We get to babysit sometimes and it’s always fun to spend time with the kids.  Last week I stayed with Jack for a little bit while everyone else was gone.  He’s such a sweet, happy baby.  He takes after his Daddy and big brother–enjoys building things (see pic below)!  I stopped by another day and played lost several card games with Elle  (remember “Slap Jack,” “Old Maid,” “Go Fish,” and “Animal Sounds”?!), then we went to get a slushie and to pick up some vacuum cleaner bags for her mama.  I like getting to do these little things that we might not get to do if we weren’t living here.  We’re talking about going to a movie soon–Rich really wants to take them to see “The Jungle Book,” but both Elle and Beck say they think it will be scary.  So we will see.  🙂

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Jack building with Legos. Well, Gigi helped quite a bit but he loved it!

My brother Joe and sister in law Denise own several restaurants in Jackson, WY.  Joe is good friends with a Dallas restauranteur and brought some of his staff to train at one of his friend’s restaurants here this week.  We had a delicious dinner and good time visiting with family and friends at Street’s Fine Chicken tonight.

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Sarah, Joe and me
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Fun group!
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Sarah and Miles

Next Saturday we have a required community work day in the garden, we’re mapping out our trip to Wyoming June 18-29 , and trying to get things organized for the move into our house July 1. I’m not sure how I ever managed to have a job and get everything else done, too.  🙂

 

 

Weekend Update

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Elle, Susan, Miles, Sarah, Corey, Jack

Youngest daughter Susan and her husband Corey came to see us for a few hours today before going to a Texas Rangers baseball game.  We stopped in on Sarah and Miles and kids for a little bit, then we drove around to see the community garden, Sarah and Miles’ new house being built, our house that we will be moving into, and White Rock Lake.  It was lots of fun to catch up on news and hang out for awhile.  We missed those two kiddos, though, who were off visiting Corey’s grandmother.  🙂

Happy weekend, everyone.  Here are some interesting items I’ve found around the web this week.  Check ’em out!

My niece Alana has always loved red pandas and now is off on a quest to visit and learn about all of the red pandas in 54 US zoos.  What a fun project! Follow her adventures here.

There’s hope in  this creative program designed to help veterans deal with PTSD and emotional issues.

Think positively about aging and live longer.

Goodnight stories for rebel girls–being a helpless princess is outdated!

Cool cats out on the street.

Ever wonder what happens to all the coins people toss into fountains?

Video games that encourage kids to think creatively.

And finally, RIP Muhammad Ali.  Although I was never a boxing fan, I think I first heard the term “conscientious objector” in news stories about him.   He was a trailblazer in many ways.

 

 

 

Poverty up Close

I mentioned that I am a social worker by training and I’m also a pretty big  joiner so I couldn’t wait to get involved in my new community.  Even before we arrived in Dallas, I was doing research on the internet to find organizations that resonated with me and aligned with my particular interests and values.  In addition to getting started at the community garden,  I signed up for two different volunteer jobs–one with a social service center and one with a reading tutoring program at an elementary school nearby.

Continue reading “Poverty up Close”

All That We Leave Behind

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My grandmother as a young woman, my grandfather’s 1923 graduation announcement, a teacup from my grandparents’ house, and an 1892 copy of The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott.

Rich and I bought our son-in-law Miles’ parents’ home in Dallas a couple of years ago. His parents were building a new home and a jokingly-made suggestion ended up a reality when we decided to take the plunge.  Since we were still in Alaska at the time, we rented the house out with the intention to move into it once we eventually came to Texas.  Our original plan was to retire to Dallas this summer, but we went slightly crazy and moved last October instead!  Meanwhile, our tenants still have a lease till June 30 so we’ve been renting a nice little apartment just a couple of minutes away from daughter Sarah and her family.

Continue reading “All That We Leave Behind”