It’s that time again

Back to school.  New beginnings.  Pristine notebooks and newly sharpened pencils and brand new markers and fresh boxes of crayons.  Backpacks and lunch boxes.  A few special outfits.  Haircuts.  Going to bed earlier but not being able to sleep.  Excitement and worry. Looking forward but also feeling a little bit afraid.  Hoping for a good year, a nice teacher, friends.  Vowing to be organized, to stay on top of things, to develop a routine.  I can remember all of these thoughts and feelings to one degree or another every year as school began.  I liked school as a young kid but always felt a little anxious and never quite fit in as much as I wanted to.  This only got worse as the years went by.  By high school, I just wanted to get finished and get out of there!

I can imagine the grandkids feeling at least some of those emotions as another school year begins.  Everyone finished the first week successfully despite a few little bumps in the road for a couple of them.  I hope the bumps even out and they all have a happy time, learn a lot, and feel loved and nurtured by teachers and friends.  So many hours of the day are spent at school and I want it to be a good experience for them.

I grabbed these back to school pix from the girls’ FB pages.

My niece Missy lives in Japan where her husband is stationed with the Air Force. She had the opportunity to come home for a quick visit so she and her parents, along with Aunt Frankye, came over for dinner on Thursday night. We had a great time catching up on everyone’s news and hearing all about life in Japan.

Clockwise: Missy with her dad, her mom, her Aunt Kelle, me, Aunt Frankye, and Sarah
Sarah, Aunt Frankye, and Missy

Jack loves Ajax and wants to come see him every day.  He is really cute with the kitty.

Saturday we went to Elle’s soccer game, where she was quite the little star and scored four goals!  Unfortunately, I have no photos of the game.  Sarah and Miles had tickets to see Coldplay with friends that evening so we brought the kids home with us and stayed with them till their parents got home.  Beck was already wearing this tie-dyed shirt and found a headband somewhere, picked up Elle’s harmonica, and my thought was “what decade are we in?”  🙂


I went back to my acupuncturist on Friday and he has decided he has never had a patient like me in 30 years.  OMG.  He can’t understand why I am not feeling better.  He was not very encouraging and seemed irritated with me so I didn’t make another appointment.

We went to some estate sales on Saturday; didn’t find much but I did buy two skirts for $3.50 each and Rich got a backgammon set.  I still find estate sales mostly sad.  I feel bad for the people who once lived in these homes that are now being picked over by strangers. And it reminds me once again that I don’t want to leave such a mess for my kids!

Rich cooked for the family on Sunday night and we had a nice time visiting, as we always do.  Now we’re into the second week of school–here’s to a great year for all!

Weekend Update

Late Sunday update!  We celebrated Miles’ birthday tonight–Rich made watermelon margaritas, beef and chicken fajitas with all the fixins, and a peach tart with ice cream for dessert. We’ve found THE BEST peaches at Trader Joe’s!  Went back today and bought another box!  Here are a few interesting reads from the last week.

School starts tomorrow.  I liked this thoughtful piece.

My middle daughter Bonnie ran track in middle school, high school, and college. I spent a lot of time at track meets in cold, wind, rain, and burning hot sun, loving (almost) every minute of it.  She was a hurdler so I got a special kick out of seeing these amazing US women win 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place at the Olympics.  Awesome!

Discouraging.  🙂  I’m gonna have to step it up!

I worry about my grandkids coming across a gun at someone’s home (we are in Texas, after all). Or another child finding a gun and shooting one of mine by accident. I posted this article on my Facebook page and it garnered a few comments by pro-gun people stating that it’s all about education.  I’m sorry, I don’t think education is enough.  I hope every parent asks about guns when kids get together at each other’s homes, even if it’s awkward to do so.

We do our boys and men a disservice by asking them to keep their emotions to themselves.

Botanical tattoos.

Picture at the top from our former  home in Unalaska, AK.  Lovely, isn’t it?


Retirement Issues: Health Insurance

Rich and I retired at 61, before we were eligible for Medicare.  In Alaska, we both had great health insurance through Rich’s employer,  including vision and dental.  We knew that finding health insurance would be a bit of a hassle but I had done some research and thought that we would be able to figure things out once his insurance came to an end. And we knew that we had the option to continue with his insurance through COBRA for awhile if needed.  With the Affordable Care Act, I knew that we could not be denied coverage so I wasn’t overly concerned about having to find new insurance.  Unfortunately, we have had nothing but hassles with our insurance so far.  If you are looking to retire early and can’t afford a high priced policy, beware!

I called when we first moved to Texas and submitted an application showing that we’d had a change of circumstances (no longer covered by employer and moved to a different state).  That was all fine and good and we were approved for coverage outside of the open enrollment period.

Next we had to find an insurance company that had the services we needed and did not cost a fortune.  My first rude awakening was that the “Affordable” Care Act does not necessarily provide very affordable insurance unless you are under a certain income limit.  Unfortunately, because Rich and I both worked most of the year (we retired in October 2015), our application was based on the income we’d already earned, even though we were only living on our savings the rest of the year (October through December 2015).  Because of our income, we would have to pay about $1200 a month to cover both of us for the rest of 2015 and then we could reapply with our lower income for 2016.   We were a little paranoid but we decided to go without insurance for the rest of 2015 since we didn’t have any major medical issues looming.  We decided not to take COBRA because it was going to be just as high.  (Thankfully we made it through without any problems!)

Continue reading “Retirement Issues: Health Insurance”

Another week gone by

Sometimes I think retirement is busier than working was. I know that is not true, especially in the early days when I was working full time and raising three daughters–I look back now and wonder how I did it.  When the kids were really young, my ex worked in an oilfield related job and had an odd schedule where he was on call and worked a certain number of days on, then a day off, so it was different every week. He was not home evenings and weekends very often, or was working into the wee hours and sleeping during the day.  Therefore I usually had to get three little girls ready every morning, dropped off at day care, and arrive at my job by 8 AM.  I think I went through several years in a daze because life was so hectic all the time.  So I KNOW that work life was busier than my life now, but I manage to fill my days up even without a job.  And it’s more fun!

Sarah, Miles and kids arrived back home last Sunday; Rich fixed dinner and we enjoyed hearing all about their vacation.  We went by the garden and cleared out some more plants that were wasted away and finished producing. Surprisingly we are still getting eggplant and a few peppers.  I’m also responsible for taking care of part of the butterfly garden and noticed a few Monarchs flitting around.  Rich made moussaka tonight using our eggplant and has been making baba ganoush regularly since it’s something I love.   Both very yummy.


I had another appointment with my acupuncturist, which was nice and relaxing but still hasn’t affected my headaches.  I did some research online and it looks like the usual recommendation is six sessions to help headaches so I will give it a little more time. I also found info on “chronic daily headaches,” which I have self-diagnosed since no one seems to want to give me a diagnosis.  haha  Of course, they are hard to treat. I am really annoyed by the whole thing, but trying to ignore them and carry on.

The kids go back to school on Monday. They got calls from their teachers (gone are the days of walking up to the school to see the classroom lists on the door, I guess) and went to “meet the teacher” yesterday afternoon.  They had little get-togethers with their classmates today.  Elle will be in 3rd and Beck in Kindergarten and we are hoping for a great year for both.  Jack will be going to preschool a couple of days a week so it will be quiet around the house!  The out of town kids are all heading back to school, too:  Aidan in 7th (how can that be?), Ally in 3rd, Emery in 1st, Luke in PreK, Ada will also go to preschool twice a week.

Ajax and Kali love to go outside and we hate to keep them cooped up in the apartment all day.  Kali doesn’t really leave the yard, thankfully, but our explorer boy Ajax takes off regularly. I’ve been reading on social media about coyotes killing cats around the neighborhood so we’ve decided to make Ajax stay in after dark.  He is not happy with us but we’d be heartbroken if we lost him.  Here he is sitting on the barbecue pit.  He likes to head over the fence and who knows what kind of mischief he gets into!


Weekend Update

How’s your week been?  Here are a few interesting things I’ve found while browsing online.  Check ’em out!

Having lived in Alaska, I like coming across articles about places I know.  St. Paul Island is in the Pribilofs, not too far from the Aleutians, though I never had an opportunity to visit.  When I worked for the Native Alaskan clinic, I was supposed to go to St. Paul and my flight got cancelled for weather EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. My friend/fellow blogger/social worker Suzasippi worked on St. Paul one summer. We joked that we were so close and yet so far.  Never got to connect in person the whole time she was there, if that tells you anything about the difficulties of traveling in remote Alaska.

Rich and I  loved Denmark when we visited last year.  And I love the idea of hygge.

A thoughtful piece from the Dallas Observer.  As a newcomer to town, I am really enjoying Jim Schutze’s writings.

Another Alaska story–I’ve seen this hashtag trending but didn’t realize where it started.  What were your #FirstSevenJobs?  Mine: babysitter, pizza server, clerk at a bluejeans store, student assistant to a German professor (who slept in a rumpled suit on the office floor while I was working), accounting clerk at a turkey processing plant (ugh, only lasted 3 weeks), hospital social worker, juvenile probation social worker.

I haven’t watched a whole lot of the Olympics but the rampant sexism is driving me crazy. When do women get credit on their own instead of as an appendage to a man? I liked this rejoinder.

Reminds me of social work school and social justice work I’ve been involved with over the years.  It would be great if everyone could take the time to learn about others’ lives before passing judgment.

Don’t you wish you’d been there to join in?  

Have a great weekend, all.

Mid August

We’re keeping busy even though the kids are gone!  Last week I went to see my new dentist, had a check-up and cleaning and, thankfully, liked everyone at the office.  I didn’t relish the idea of dentist shopping! One bad thing about retirement is dealing with all the issues associated with finding insurance on the marketplace (a blog post all its own one day); we currently have no dental insurance so it was all out of pocket.  Luckily I don’t need any dental treatment at the moment because the check-up, X-rays and cleaning were pricy enough.  🙂  But I’d been wanting a cleaning for a long time so I am happy I sucked it up and got it done.

I went to my volunteer work on Tuesday and again on Wednesday because we are short handed for client interviewers.  I am also being cross trained to be a “day coordinator,” the volunteer responsible for the day.  It’s not difficult but a little time consuming with paperwork.  I will then be able to fill in for coordinators who are absent for whatever reason.

Rich is becoming our yard-man and handyman, keeping the lawn mowed and shrubs trimmed and plants watered at home, plus doing the majority of the work at the garden.  The previous owners had left a little succulent garden planted in a bird feeder and it apparently toppled over a few nights ago (it was set in the ground a little lopsided so we are not sure if the kids’ dog accidentally knocked it over or it just lost its balance).  We salvaged the plants we could and then took a trip to the garden store to get some small ones to add to the mix.

Thursday I went to an acupuncturist to try some alternative treatment for my longstanding headaches.  I’d had acupuncture once before when we lived in AK and was having back pain; the acupuncturist was an itinerant who came out to our island to consult.  I wasn’t scared or worried about it but at one point he stuck a needle into my thigh and I thought I was going to come off the table!  It sent some sort of weird electrical shock throughout my body and hurt quite a bit. And did nothing for my back pain.  But yesterday was good, the doc was nice, if not very talkative, and the needles didn’t bother me at all.  It was actually very relaxing and I almost fell asleep a couple of times.  Then I laid on my stomach and he inserted more needles for the accompanying neck pain. I didn’t actually expect anything to happen the first time-and it didn’t-but he seemed to feel that things would improve with further treatment so I made another appointment for next week.

Susan, Corey and Ally came to town around 1 PM, ate lunch with us, hung out and chatted, Ally swam, we all went to get frozen yogurt and then they left to go to Gwen Stefani’s concert tonight. They were taking Ally as a surprise and she had no idea where they were heading.  I just saw a picture on Instagram and Susan said Ally was happy and excited. What fun!  We didn’t get to see Aidan because he went on a “guys’ trip” with his other Grandpa this weekend.

Sarah, Miles and kids should be home tomorrow. They are stopping in Amarillo at Bonnie’s and spending the night so the cousins should all have fun playing together.  I told Sarah I’d do her grocery shopping so she wouldn’t have to run out to the store as soon as she got home. Kinda nice having Mama around!  🙂

We celebrate Ada

We took a quick trip to Amarillo Friday through Sunday. Ada will be 2 years old on the 11th but Bonnie and David had a little party for her on the 6th since it was one of the few Saturdays David didn’t have to shoot wedding photos.  We had a donut party in the morning with David’s family and some friends.  Ada was really cute blowing out her candle and opening presents.  She loves baby dolls and got several for gifts, plus a cute trundle bed for them.  She played and played the rest of the weekend, putting those babies in bed, covering them up, saying they needed pillows and blankets, feeding them bottles and generally being a good little doll mama.  🙂

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Later in the day, Bonnie and I took the kids plus their cousin Hannah to the Discovery Center’s 40th anniversary bash.  It was hot and the lines were long but the kids had a ball. First up, Emery and Hannah wanted to climb the inflatable rock wall.  Bonnie took Luke and Ada to get their faces painted while I stayed with the girls.  It took forever, but eventually they each had a turn and did a great job going all the way to the top and rappelling back down.

Then off to get faces painted

The girls wanted to go on the zip line and Luke now wanted to do the rock climbing wall so we split up again.  The line for rock climbing was really long.  Zip line wait was long, too,  but seemed to be moving faster.  As we got closer, I saw a sign that said “must be 60 pounds.”  I texted Bonnie and asked if I should let Emery go if I wasn’t questioned about her weight and she said yes.  No one said a word (and there were even smaller kids going) so off she and Hannah went up the steps to the zip line platform.  I guess there was a reason for the 60 pound limit because Emery did not zip very quickly! At one point, she was kicking her legs to try to make herself go faster.

We finished there and went back over to the rock climbing wall where Luke was STILL waiting his turn.  Finally he got to the front of the line, got in his harness and took right off.  I couldn’t believe he actually climbed to the very top of the wall! Great job, Luke!  Then….he was too scared to come back down. Poor guy.  He wasn’t crying or upset but he wouldn’t let go so the guy holding the rope could guide him down, and he wouldn’t jump back and rappel.  Slowly, slowly, he inched his way back down step by step. Did I say the line was really long??  And it was really hot outside??  I know people were frustrated and impatient but everyone was pretty kindhearted about it.  Bonnie apologized several times and once Luke was down, he got some applause and we high-tailed it to the food trucks for something to eat.  🙂

We sat on the lawn and ate, then the kids ran around and rolled down the hill, laughing and playing with each other, totally carefree. It was fun to see them so joyful.

After more visiting, talking, laughing, eating, playing games and hanging out, we got up Sunday morning and headed back to Dallas.  Sarah, Miles and their three are on vacation in Colorado so we are on our own for a few more days and trying to get lots of chores finished up.

Around the house

First dinner in our little Granny apartment.

13932689_10206922858206385_2814281590031538359_nWe’re still getting things put away, hung, and organized, but it’s shaping up.

Beck couldn’t sleep while his parents were out of town at the end of July. Elle had gone to a slumber party and Jack was already conked out.   I told Beck he could come out on the couch and lie down for a little while–he was immediately gone.  In a weird position!IMG_2807

Ajax has been exploring more and seems to like going over the fence into the neighbors’ yard. We will see how they feel about that.  FullSizeRender-4