Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Getting Through Christmas on a Budget!

I haven’t been very thrifty lately. Like everyone else, I was just trying to get through the holidays. What I know that most of my readers already know, is that holiday spending is only partly about gifts. The rest is extra food for various occasions, cards and postage, extra gas to get here and there. It adds up, and I have always budgeted for these things, along with my gift giving budget.

In 2014 I did not have a Christmas Club. I stopped working the end of January and suspended the Christmas Club. Financially, these accounts make no sense. They pay no interest, and have no benefit. It is all psychological. You put away your chosen amount each month/two weeks/one week—whatever period of time you choose—and in October, you get your money. For me personally, this has been excellent. I have five birthdays from October 17 through November 10. My Christmas Club is also a Birthday Club.

I started my account back up in November so Christmas 2015 will not be so stressful. Here are some things I/we did to make things work this (and other) year.

If you are married, you must work as a team. If you are doing things behind the scenes, you end up with one kid getting more than the other and although we don’t count pennies around here, we try to keep things somewhat equal. My husband likes to surprise people. I don’t care HOW much he surprises me; but let me know what you are doing with the kids, buddy!

I gave up Christmas cards. I love them but I have arthritis in my right thumb and there is no way I can do them anymore. Since I began writing blogs; that seemed like a good place to “keep” them. Cards and postage for us was $100. If you haven’t seen the 2014 Christmas entry, it is right here!

I like having a few go-to recipes for occasions. You know what you need and you can find the ingredients on sale. This year my daughter-in-law did Christmas and I didn't have to do much! That was wonderful! She had some go-to things and I learn from her too.

I fill stockings. I don’t know how long I am going to do this for the adults, but I will for the kids. I like to pick up things during the year, but it goes against the whole concept of accumulating if I get little stuff. We like our candy (!) and I bought mine after Halloween. I prefer to get gift cards or some other item that will be consumed, not clutter up someone’s home.

My son and his wife built a new house this year and they are still in the accumulating phase as they buy things for their home. My daughter and her husband, and my husband and I are not in that place. We prefer things that do not take up much space or that will replace something worn—or a gift card for an experience.

We try to give each other ideas, but I wish I could surprise them more. My daughter needed clothes to rebuild her wardrobe after maternity clothes, and my DIL wanted boots. They send me links to Kohls and The Limited (or whatever). While I enjoy shopping from home, I still wish I could surprise them.

We all use Kohls cash or any other premium that we can. Even buying gift certificates sometimes gives you extra $$ on a small card or, in the case of Bob Evans, an apple pie! Works for me!

While we were on the cruise, we did buy some stuff that we would have bought anyway and that made nice little gifts. I got the little girls matching dresses in St. Marteen. My daughter has set boundaries for her children: only three gifts per child. They have so many relatives that it’s plenty! More than plenty! Now Grandma has been known to put two things in a box, and if it fits in a stocking it’s OK, but I suppose the three-gift rule is probably a good idea. The grandparents and aunts and uncles would go overboard.

Every Christmas is not the same. Last year we gave the kids some money; so I didn't shop much! That worked out excellently as I was “recovering” from radiation and I was tired.  This year we took a cruise so that was our present to each other. It will be something else next year.

However, we stayed within our limits and I have about a $50 credit card bill to pay in January. I consider that a success.

What kinds of things have you done to save money during the holidays?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Another Purge--The 40 Hanger Closet?

Ten months ago I wrote an entry entitled "How Many Clothes Do I Need?" At the time, I was recently retired and I could visually SEE that I did not need as much, but how much was enough. Here is that entry, so I won't rehash it. 

I was always fascinated by the blog entry “The 40 Hanger Closet.” The first time I read it, I counted my hangers. I did hang my t-shirts and many of my sweaters—I know there are different ways of looking at that—but including them, I probably had 120 hangars.

What would it take for me to purge to this level, and frankly, did I want to? I know that I don’t need the clothes that I used to need, but really, how much should I really truly keep vs. donating to someone else who could use it?

This year I have been “helped” by not losing the weight I was planning to, so the skirts and slacks (jeans) are right in line with what I want. I have a box of the size smaller in the basement so we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

So, I decided to fold all my “t-shirts” (I am defining this by nice shirts I wear with other pieces to actually create an outfit, not the residue of shirts that came from my son’s football or baseball career). I also folded sweaters—mostly cardigans—that I had been hanging up. In the back of the closet, I still have summer capris hanging, so we have to count those.

I counted again and I was down to 56. It's not as though it HAS to be 40, but I looked at the whole again. Because this does include some "novelty" outfits, like my Joey Votto shirt, I was comfortable with this.

So today, I took another two bags to Goodwill (having done the same last month), and it was no coincidence that I did it on December 30.

My sleepwear, exercise wear and underwear is in drawers and always has been and will remain so. I am comfortable with this.

Monday, December 29, 2014

My End of Year Fitness Report

I really don’t even want to write this blog entry, but I think it’s important to take the good with the bad. Fitness-wise, it hasn't been the best year. Fortunately, and I will address this later, I now know some things about my health that I can actually do something about!

Looking at my regular journal, in which I always record my weight on January 1st, I have gained less than two pounds overall. It could be worse.

I retired the end of January and I was ill at the time and the first two weeks were spent hunkered in and getting well. By the time I got back to the gym, I was exercising five days a week. Usually that consisted of two or three classes, a “hard” day for myself and an easy day. While I am very sure that things were happening on the inside of my body, the scales, or the benchmarks, were not moving. My clothes were not getting looser to encourage me.

Around May, I started having some real problems with wanting to be sick—as in throw up—during exercise classes. I blamed it on the getting up and down because that seemed to be what was causing the issues. Sometime during early summer, I actually DID get sick in class. There were only four of us there that day and I was so thankful for that!

Routines changed at the gym and two ladies left the employ of the gym. During the summer, there were no classes and we ladies do like our classes! We like the comradery (we have a private Facebook group) and we really do support and pray for each other. I know that there are folks that have my back.

I did the best I could during the summer on my own, but I still didn't make much progress. I was feeling nauseous and crappy all the time.

By fall the gym brought back some classes and I am happy to say that beginning in January there will be five classes a week for me to choose from.

BUT—that’s not the big news! In December, I saw a gastroenterologist and we did an endoscopy. For those of you who think that is awful; it is about the easiest procedure that I have had in a very long time. Although I follow up with the doctor in three more weeks, what I do know is that I have a hiatal hernia, acid reflux and “possibly” celiac disease! For crying out loud! This wasn't about the cancer or anything else at all!

The doctor did start me on some medications that have helped; and I realize that I may have to make some major changes in eating in the future, but I feel like I can now DO something about it. I will do what I have to do. Period. And I will go to the gym as often as I can. I know there will be interruptions but there are classes four nights a week, and unless I am doing something else, I am going to be there. We have a DVR!

In summary, I did whatever I could do. It wasn't enough and I didn't make the progress I wanted to, but 2015 is going to be different!

Friday, December 12, 2014

It's That Time Again!

I feel that I need to respond to someone who said that I was the “heart and soul” of our class. More than one person has said this to me, and who knows how many others have had similar thoughts?

And BTW, I did take this picture!
Well, I want to nip this thought right in the bud!

I cannot stand on my feet for very long, but I can use a computer and I do it. I have a smart phone and use that also. Not only with the Class of 1971, but with all other relationships in my entire life; it is important to me to keep up with people.

There are other people who support me emotionally and physically during the entire process of planning a Reunion and the afterthought. There is SO MUCH WE CAN DO THESE DAYS, but alas, Denise only has 24 hours in a day, just as the rest of you do.

Cassie Handshoe is the ying to my yang. We have entirely different backgrounds and family situations, but we share the same core values and I believe that we “represent” the scope of people that we have in our class. What would be perfect is if we had that “military brat,” whose parents’ retired in Fairborn, and he or she has stayed in the area. That person could bring in the military thinking, which is different from those who grew up here. Paula Markus, I am not hinting or anything……

Next month we will have a meeting in my basement on Tuesday, January 20th at 7:00. No dinner, dessert maybe. At this point we need a meeting of minds as to what people want to do for the next Reunion. There are several things to consider as we begin thinking about this.

  • People who come into town want to come into town for SOMETHING. They want to make it worth their time and $$ and who can blame them?
  • Those of us putting on the Reunion are OLD and TIRED! I am simply too old for decorating anymore and the Sunday picnics are history. They are too much work for me. (Actually that is incorrect: they are not too much work for me, they are too much work for me after two nights of partying before.)
  • Other classes—and this is NOT a contest—have three to four day events. We simply MUST have Event Chairmen for each event. None of us can do it all, or even come close. Please see former blog here.

Maybe you are asking “What can I do from afar?” Well, let me throw out some suggestions, and we have not had any committee meeting; this is Denise only speaking. Do you have or can you buy table decorations? Memorabilia? Do we feel door prizes are important? Can you donate those (or the $$ to purchase them)? This is the tip of the iceberg, folks.

Ideas, ideas and ideas. We need them so we can see if there is a way to implement them!

By the way, attendance at this meeting does not commit you to anything. However, an idea must be able to be seen through. We need idea people, but we need worker bees too!

I have not blocked anyone from messaging me on Facebook (except some crackpots who DID NOT know me), most of you have my email and phone number, and there is a thread already started on our class web site under Classmates Chatter called Ideas for the 45th Reunion. Let your opinions be known.

My calling in life is as a human behaviorist, and I am about people connecting with other people. I do have more time right now and I can use it to “connect” if you will, but I would like some ideas at that January meeting! I don’t have the strength to do it all alone, nor would I want to.

Put on those thinking caps!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Story With the Affordable Care Act

It’s December 9th and Medicare Open Enrollment is closed, so I now feel I can address this subject. Remember, I always say with both of my blogs, “This is MY story” and that’s about all I can say. There are so many particulars that factor in to this issue that I cannot speak for anyone else and I will not. 

Every year, we have our “checkup” with our insurance agent, who does it all; insurance and our investments. Everything looks good, with one exception. They thought they could go out on the Exchange for a better price for me for health insurance. My husband is on Medicare and I am not. He has a Medicare Advantage plan subsidized by his retirement system. He’s in good shape and it’s most definitely “affordable” for us.

I, on the other hand, must pay 100% of my health insurance because I am not on any retirement plan except Social Security (eventually). By the way, we took joint retirement on his retirement so I will not be destitute in my old age.

We pay an amount for my health insurance that would equal a house payment that we have had for most of our lives. Fortunately for us, the house is paid off! It’s an exorbitant amount for one person, and it is the “basic” plan. It has a higher deductible, 80/20 for a certain amount and if one goes over that amount, it pays 100%. We got our money’s worth when I had cancer.

So, our insurance agent did some research. She was able to find policies that were slightly less than mine per month, but with a much higher deductible. The other idea was to get a “calamity” policy with a $6,000 deductible, for just a little bit less. With my history, I wouldn't even consider this option.

She tweaked some numbers, but we came up over the income limit for any real help. I might add, JUST over the line. Although our middle class is shrinking, I feel that we've been as close to middle class as there is in this day and age. Our needs have been met. If anything, we are on the lower end of middle class.

So, we are too rich for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but there is nothing “affordable” about the amount we have to pay for health insurance. We pay it, because the alternative would wipe us out if I have another bout with cancer or anything else of that nature. But as I said, it’s a house payment.

The Affordable Care Act is for the poor. I do not deny that they need health care. My $7,000.00 a year for health insurance is paying for it.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Derges' Digest 2014

On the cruise
At the dawning of 2014, we could not have imagined the changes that would come. I knew before we sent out our 2013 letter that I was going to end my career at the Senior Center at the end of January; but since I had not told them, it would be inappropriate to announce it.

I knew I did the right thing. I became ill in mid-January which lasted four weeks, and I have not been ill since. I've had tired days, but I have not been sick. With the wicked winter we had, I was happy to just stay home and it was fine.

In the middle of February Jessica got a promotion to a Human Resource Generalist, and in the same week we found that Jessica and Brent were going to make us grandparents again, so that gave my life purpose beyond earning an income.

Jerry continues his volunteering at Springfield Regional Medical Center three days a week; but once last school year ended, he decided he liked Tuesdays and Thursdays free, so he got together with the STRS people and took his second retirement. We are both officially retired, but Jerry will continue his volunteer work at the hospital, which he thoroughly enjoys.

We took Jessica and Kyah to Atlanta for Easter, to visit my brother. It had been almost two years since I saw him and Kyah had never met him. We had a great time and celebrated Easter in fine fashion, church and a picnic with friends.

Joel and Lindsey
In June we helped Joel and Lindsey move into their new home. Lindsey has done a wonderful job of transforming a new house into a real home. The same week, we learned that son-in-law Brent passed the actuary test that makes him an ACAS (Associate of Casualty Actuarial Science).

In August, my long-time friend and I went on a road trip to Wisconsin to the wedding of another long-time friend. We had a wonderful weekend and decided we definitely want to do this again.

I have been doing some things that I have wanted to do for a long time. I am exercising regularly, doing Precept Bible study and did rejoin church choir. My high school classmates have had regular get-togethers. What I added was an interest in Sears Kit Homes, and meeting some other aficionados, who know A LOT more than I do! I have renewed my social work license, so took some education for that. I took an online course on the life and writing of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I am singing with the Springfield Symphony Chorale for the 2014-2015 season. I am exploring my loves of history, architecture, and music. I continue to write my blogs for my creative outlet. I am able to visit my Mother one day a week. In short, I LOVE retirement! And the house is clean too! (I’m still not much into cooking.)

A new school year brought football to Joel at Tippecanoe High School and he moved to the Offensive Coordinator this year. Tipp had a good team that made it two games into the playoffs. Their final record was 9-3. They had several players getting league and all-district recognition. It was a satisfying year.

My two precious girls!

Our precious granddaughter, Norah Kinsley, made her arrival on Tuesday, October 7th.  She is a petite little thing at 7lb. 5oz. and 19 inches long. Kyah is a very happy big sister; and the rest of us like her too!

In November, Jerry and I took a cruise in the Eastern Caribbean. We decided to drive and stop one night in the Smokies before going to visit my brother in Atlanta. From there we went to Savannah, and took a tour of that city. We headed down the coast to Fort Lauderdale, where we set out for the Bahamas and St. Thomas and St. Maarten. We sailed on one of the largest vessels, Royal Caribbean’s “Oasis of the Seas.” It’s enormous and you just have to google it to imagine it. We spent 7 days on the cruise, and left Fort Lauderdale and stayed a night in Valdosta, GA before heading to Atlanta again.

We spent Thanksgiving Day alone, which was fine after two weeks of being on the go. We were able to join Brent’s family on Sunday for their meal, and we enjoyed that as we always do. I had my Class of 1971 Christmas party in early December.

So as we complete another year, we reflect on the many blessings that we have, and sincerely look forward to another year in 2015. The biggest blessing of all: God Came Down—Emmanuel! It’s not just a holiday! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Celebrating Our Anniversary With a Cruise

I’ve been off the radar for a while, literally and figuratively. I had no real inspiration, there is nothing new on the Cancer Journey and should not be, and I tread water in My Fitness Journey. I have had some issues with medicines fighting each other and I have let the fitness go a little; but I know it’s time to get back. NOW! Not waiting until the New Year!

Earlier we decided to go on an Eastern Caribbean Cruise after the birth of our second grandchild, so we planned on mid-November. It would be nice to enjoy summer weather for one last hurray before winter sets in. We did literally leave the Midwest in one season and returned in another. ~sigh~

We decided that we would drive down to Fort Lauderdale, giving us the opportunity to visit with my brother in Atlanta, and an opportunity to drive over to Savannah, GA, which I have always wanted to do. It was beautiful to drive through Kentucky and Tennessee and still see so much color in the trees. We had three beautiful days of color. We also had some quality time with my brother, and we got to see a city I had always wanted to see.

After touring Savannah, we headed down Interstate 95 and eventually ended up on St. Augustine Beach for the night.  The next day we had a leisurely drive to Fort Lauderdale, down the east coast. We stayed at a motel that gave you a full breakfast, let you keep your car there for the week, AND shuttled you to and from the Port. It was worth every penny!

We boarded the ship, Royal Caribbean’s “Oasis of the Seas” on early Saturday afternoon. We had plenty of time to unpack and explore, before we set off. It is one of the largest passenger sailing vessels in use. One of the new features of this series of cruise ships is a “Promenade,” where shopping and some restaurants are provided for passengers. Another is a “Boardwalk” which is open air, and has a carousel, more shops and at the back of the ship, an Aqua Theatre where they have diving and swimming shows. The pinnacle of design is the open air “Central Park,” where they have an actual park in the middle of the ship, with trees and other plants growing. There are staterooms with balconies looking over Central Park.

The Oasis of the Seas is on the left.
Otherwise, the ship is designed much as other ships are, with the formal dining room at one end and theater at the other. For me, most of what I wanted to do is “dress for dinner” and then go to a show. Neither of us is interested in the casino, and I didn't make it into the Kate Spade store.

It seemed enormous, and when you consider 6,300 passengers and 2,400 crew to serve them, that is just shy of 9,000 people! What sized town do YOU life in?

The first two nights, they were confused in our dining reservations. This problem probably originated with the telephone CSR, but was escalated on the ship. By Monday, we had OUR place, and two waiters that were fabulous. They learned what we liked and brought it to us before we asked.

Sunday was a port day in the Bahamas and we took a bus tour. I had much to learn about that country and its history, we had a delightful driver and a small group as we ended up on the “handicapped” van. We drove over to Paradise Island and it is indeed adeptly named. However, I got a terrible blister on my foot, which made life uncomfortable.  Monday was “at sea” so I was able to rest it, but by Tuesday’s shore visit to St. Thomas and St. John, I needed to visit the medical facility in the evening. Buy the insurance. In theory, it’s supposed to take care of the doctor and meds. I’ll believe that it’s going to happen. Well, at least I had an antibiotic in me to avoid any infection. It’s hard to keep one’s feet sterile in this environment.

The Tuesday visit to St. Thomas and St. John was an interesting day. They are part of the U.S. Virgin Islands and I was able to check my email—mostly ads. We took a boat ride to St. John and spent most of our day there. This is the island with the glorious beaches. We had lunch, but I didn't walk much.

By Wednesday, we docked in St. Maarten and I was feeling better. It’s so interesting to see this island which is split up between the Dutch and the French. We drove around the island and enjoyed the sights. I had time to shop, so I picked up a few things.

I needed Thursday and Friday to rest up, and that was good. What I love about cruises is that on “at sea days,” you can sleep in, have breakfast when and where you want, spend time at the pool if you want (after I had an open wound on my foot, I felt it was irresponsible to go to a public pool) and Jerry did, while I did other things. Usually we took a late afternoon nap, then went to dinner and a show.

We saw five completely different shows. The first was the Broadway show “Cats.” We saw a diving show in the Aqua Theater, an ice show on the onboard ice rink, a comedy and music show aimed at people of our age which was fabulous, and another show called “Come Fly with Me” that featured people flying around the theater, all kinds of special effects. Sometimes after the shows, we went to lounges to see other shows. No, I did not do Karaoke.

As I mentioned, “Oasis of the Seas” is one of the largest cruise vessels in operation. Currently, you may be seeing advertisements for “Quantum of the Seas,” which is even larger, to begin cruising in April 2015. I have mixed reviews about large verses smaller. These larger ships, by sheer size, have even more issues for the folks who are older and slower, which is many of the cruisers. The ships have more to do for families.

On the other hand, the smaller ships are more intimate. You are more likely to see someone you don’t know more than once and engage in conversation. For me, where dinner, entertainment and the pools are the most important thing to me, I’d just as soon stay small.

We enjoyed ourselves immensely, and had the opportunity to reconnect over all the things we were learning and doing. The phones were shut off, the stateroom TV didn't have network programming although it did have one ESPN channel, and we mainly used the TV to order tickets to shows and check our account. I love the balcony view, but it makes Hubby a little queasy, so he just doesn't look that way. I also love the movement of the ship under NORMAL conditions (our last day at sea was a bit rough.) I can’t tell if I've had too much wine, or it’s the ship. Haha! By the way, the wine was as good as the food.

One night, we had lobster. It was fabulous. Our waiter asked us if we liked it and we said yes and HE BROUGHT US BOTH ANOTHER PLATE! We finished that meal off with baked Alaska and could barely move. The following evening we had Key Lime Pie for dessert (which is my favorite), and he brought me a second piece! He got a good tip.

Our stateroom attendant was great too. She kept me in ice for my foot for three days. She would call “Miss Denise, how are you?” from six rooms away! She got a great tip too.

This is the Farewell Party on the Promenade.
I may or may not have been dancing.
We chose an “express departure” off the ship which began at 6:30 AM. With 6,300 passengers, we thought it was a good idea! We were right. By 7:30 we were in a van on the way to the motel and then we were on our way home, eating when we got hungry. The two days of driving to Atlanta were rainy and was the worst weather on the trip. We visited Valdosta, GA and spent the night there. The following night was at my brother’s. We spent a day with him and then headed home the following day.

After thirty seven years, we don't look too bad!

It was a great trip! It is my hope that, in retirement, we can have more of these opportunities, and also be able to take advantage of great last-minute deals. Whether a cruise or not, it’s time to learn new things and share with my spouse and the people we meet along the way. I love this time of life.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Cyber Monday

I would be remiss if I did not admit to my cyber habits in general, but especially on Cyber Monday. With all due respect and a tip of my hat to those who do Black Friday, I cannot do that. No amount of savings is worth my anxiety in being in an environment that I have no control over.

My daughter-in-law and her mother are pros at Black Friday. DIL spends as much time creating her "game plan," as her husband, The Coach spends on a game plan for his team any given week. I salute her! She gets a massive amount of work done in little time.

Cyber Monday also takes some strategy and planning. I was getting my shopping carts ready last night, but they would NOT let me ad my premiums until midnight, by which, of COURSE, I was asleep. This was the first year Swagbucks became part of my payment option. I choose to convert the Swagbucks into Amazon gift cards and my Amazon bill was reduced substantially. Next year, I will work harder at that and it will pay for more.

I ordered a couple of items for myself that had premiums for the future. My husband says, "Go for it. Act surprised!"

I've used Kohls on more than one occasion to provide for my family. They do keep you coming back with their Kohls cash, and at holiday time it's easy to do. This is where I must maintain my discipline.

Don't we love shopping in our jammies? I do! Especially while the house-cleaner is here. THAT is my one Christmas gift to me!

P.S. K-Mart is going out of business in our area. I must hit that store up later in the week! Those are true discounts, especially toward the end. Of course, selection is less. We know that going into it.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Celebrating With a Cruise!

I've always said that “The Thrifty Tabloid” is really about saving over here to be able to spend over there. So I have been quiet this month, because we have been spending!

Several months ago, we decided that we/I needed a more relaxing vacation this year. We decided to take a cruise on the Royal Caribbean “Oasis of the Seas.” We have a Royal Caribbean credit card and we gain points to help with paying for a cruise. If I were satisfied with a small inner cabin, it would have been a BOGO. However, I must have a view.

When I booked the cruise, the customer service representative asked me if I wanted an outside balcony or an inside balcony.  It was then I realized how big this vessel must be. At the time I am writing this, it is the largest passenger vessel sailing commercially. It carries 6,300 passengers and 2,400 crew members.

The "Oasis of the Seas" is on the left.
Hubby did the research on airfare. We had a choice: drive and make memories, or fly. We chose the former. We were able to visit my brother, visit Savannah, GA, which I have always wanted to see, then drive down the coast to Fort Lauderdale to catch the ship.

The cruise was seven days long, with three stops in Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten; and three days at sea. That was a good balance. The Bahamas is another country, St. Thomas is a US Virgin Island so I could use my cell phone and check in! St. Maarten is divided between the Dutch and French. That was interesting. They seem to get along, but there are differences too. The Dutch side uses 110 volt electricity, but if you want to go to the French side, you’d better have your 220 European adapter!

All of them had shopping. My husband likes to keep me too busy to shop, but I was able to buy some Christmas gifts (already budgeted for) and some items we always get while traveling.

I definitely recommend buying the health insurance, because sure enough, I got a bad blister that I lanced myself and had a real mess, so had to go to the medical facility.  As if the $208 bill wasn't bad enough (that should be taken care of), I needed to buy more Neosporin and Band-Aids. You always want to take a small first aid kit when you travel, but buying $10.00 Neosporin (when I buy name brand at the local drug store) and $6.00 for more Band-Aids on the ship—they've got you!—it is rather painful, pun intended.

I guess my point is that there will be deals, but there will always be surprises, and they are a part of life. Also, some of our purchases will not be wise in the long run. My husband really didn't need his drink package—but I had a lot of wine on this trip! It was all good!

Don’t deny yourself life’s pleasures!

Becoming a Grandma Again!

I was never worried about loving one grandchild over the other. I have two children. If I had three, I would still love them all.

So when I learned that I was to become a grandmother for the second time in early October, I was exhilarated with anticipation. This child was more real from the get-go. As I recall, I felt the same way about my second pregnancy. Because I already had a child to love and it was REAL, the second child was a real life from the moment I knew I was carrying. It was the same way with this grandchild.

When we learned it was to be another girl, I didn't have one bit of disappointment. That’s the thing about being a grandparent—it just really DOES NOT MATTER! You love them all!

This baby had a name and the parents actually told us the name, because Big Sister was bound to spill the beans. I don’t know what it was about it, but a name made the baby more real. I don’t know why that is. We had two names chosen for our children, so their grandparents knew if it was a girl, it would be so and so, and if it was a boy, it would be so and so. But with this baby, we just always called her by her name, as if she was already among us. (She was in a manner of speaking!)
Within an hour of her birth.

We found out early, and it did seem to be the longest pregnancy ever, but she came one day after her due date. Mommy knew she was in labor on her due date. She doesn't tell me, but her husband hinted on Facebook. By the following morning, we were getting ready to get to the hospital. Norah was born at 10:40 AM or thereabouts. Big Sister got to see her at the same time we did. It was a very family oriented day. However, I do draw the line with being in the delivery room. I did that twice and that was enough.

We didn't stay long as Mommy was exhausted. Nana took Big Sis to a special afternoon for the two of them.

I have seen more of this child than I did her sister. Working kept me from being able to help with her, and now I can do much more. I took Big Sis to her preschool pumpkin patch trip. I was happy to be able to make those memories with her. I look forward to doing that again.

Life is changing, but this is the BEST part of it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Maybe It's Not As Bad As You Think!

Everywhere you look, you see advertisements designed to make us fear retirement. These create in us a feeling of lacking in the things we need to survive. They also prey on the natural feelings associated with end-of-life issues ("Will I have enough? Well, what's enough?")

I have to be careful in writing this entry, because I have promised NOT to make it about me or our circumstances. However, recently we met with our financial counselor, who has been with us about 35 years, to discuss our total picture.

He had some ideas that I had never even considered; and after putting three heads together, we were able to create an avenue for more monthly income.

I was very excited and the three of us decided that there was no particular reason to take my Social Security at 62, as I would be getting 8% each year for the next four years, and 8% on anything is pretty good these days! I WILL take it at 66, and if I get a bad diagnosis sometime, I will head for the Social Security office right away.

This does not make us wealthy, but it makes us comfortable. I may not have to do some of the thrift things I have been researching; BUT I know that I will always live a thrifty life in some areas, so that I can do more in other areas.

  • I will continue to buy just what I need, whether it be grocery or sundry or hardware. While it is important to have one stored up when you run out of shampoo, one is ENOUGH! You don’t need six bottles. Of course there are exceptions to this rule for certain times of the year, when you might get a blizzard or something. But generally, you do not need to buy, or store, lots of stuff.
  • I will continue to buy non-brand-name items at the dollar store or grocery store. I have few “favorite” brands left.
  • I will continue to use loyalty rewards of any kind; Groupon, Living Social and any special deals or coupons.
  • I will not fear “shopping ahead” for holidays and such, when I see something that is a good deal!

Going from a bi-weekly or twice monthly paycheck to a monthly sum is always an adjustment. My husband has been retired for 11 years so our main income has been managed for some time. I am learning to manage my personal responsibilities now. I will reinstate a Christmas club account (because I just need to!), give to the church regularly, which I have not been doing, and it’s time to be faithful; and plan for hair appointments, because I am JUST NOT giving that up. At this stage of the game, I am putting a huge amount of money into my gas tank. Groceries are not an issue.

My mission in writing this blog has not changed, even though our circumstances have. I will continue to look for the best prices and choices, while not giving up quality. I will save here to spend there. When I find something unique to retirees, I will share.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

When a Warranty was worth it!

Today was a good day.

Last year, exactly 13 months ago, my husband had some trouble with his desktop computer and he took it to the local national chain store where he bought it. It was going to cost just a little more to buy the two-year warranty than they would charge to fix it, and the warranty would cover the repair. I don't normally recommend computer warranties, but it did seem like a good idea at the time. The warranty covered three computers in one household.

I have been having trouble with my laptop, and I asked to see his paperwork. He couldn't find it, so off we headed to the store. I walked in without the laptop, and asked if this warranty would cover work on my computer. Sure enough, it does and they took my computer and aren't charging me anything! AND I can take it back for service next summer right before the warranty expires!

It doesn't always work this way, buying something such as a warranty that takes care of something in the future. We don't buy a lot of insurance and warranties, and for some things it is not worth having--electronics being in that category.

It worked out well for us this time!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall Festival Time!

Here in the Midwest, this time of year is “festival time.” There is at least one festival each weekend. I don’t do much of this, but I think it would be fun.

Festivals can be good or bad for the wallet. It’s cheap entertainment if you are frugal, but you certainly can spend a lot of money if you don’t watch it. Mind you, I don’t think it’s necessarily BAD spending. You have to eat someplace, so money on food isn't necessarily an extravagant purchase.

My weakness is the craft booths. (1) I don’t need some of this stuff and (2) it clutters up the house. However, there may be that special thing that would make the perfect gift for someone (Christmas?) or something that you have wanted for many years.

Spending is not the issue. Going every week to a festival can impact your monthly budget in a short time. But if it’s the only “entertainment” that you have, who's to say that a festival is different from a weekly bowling night, or a movie night, or dining out?

I think that the danger is in not being aware of how much is idly spent. Doing what you did when working and doing what you do on a “retired” income (notice I did not say “fixed,”) you have to be more aware of where the money is going.

There is no right or wrong, but there needs to be awareness. The end of the month comes quickly.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Why I Love All Four Seasons

As many people retire they are looking for more moderate climates to live in. I am happy to live in an area that has four definite seasons, and there are things I love (and dislike) about each of them. Let me be perfectly frank; this is my home and I am close to my children, most of my relatives and many of my friends. I stay here because of relationships, not climate.

I know that we live at a certain latitude, and the earth is at a certain angle on its axis and the earth rotates around the sun, and let’s not forget the effect of our moon—I’m Mrs. Science Teacher, remember—but I do love the Midwest and I get bored easily with only one or two seasons.

One of the things I like about the changes is the cycle of the growing season. I realize that the Midwest is not unique in this; every climate and area grows what grows there! Here, it’s corn, soybeans, winter wheat and hay. I love to see the annual growth and finally the harvest.

If I had to pick a favorite, I think I would pick the one we are in now. I love the daily changes during autumn. I love the colors of autumn. I love to watch them unfold, green to yellow, yellow to orange and then finally the dying brown. Actually they are the colors I have usually decorated with almost all my life. My wedding colors were fall colors.

I love to drive through the country and watch the corn being harvested. Next will be the beans, and after that winter wheat will be planted in the bean fields. Sometimes we are annoyed by the machinery on the roads, but it’s part of the agricultural life. What I look forward to is the picture of all the fields being “put to bed” for winter. Here, that is about Thanksgiving time. I love to watch the changing of the colors. For us the peak is the mid-October, and then the leaves begin to fall—it depends on whether we get a big rain to just bring all the leaves down at once, or it happens in stages.

By the time the end of November rolls around, I am ready to change seasons. Christmas decorations are up and I am basically a Currier and Ives sort of girl. I like snow for Christmas. My husband and I still drive around to see the lights. Snow is quiet and I love the peace and quiet. We quiet down and observe the Christmas holidays with our family.

In January, I love to “hunker down” at home. I love the beauty of snow. I don’t love the dangerous roads. I pray for my children that are out driving and doing their activities, but I am happy to read a book. We watch a lot of basketball on TV. I make lots of soup. When the roads are cleared, I love to drive and see the beauty of snow on the fields and the trees. But now that I’m retired, I don’t have to!

Alas, by the time March rolls around, I am tired of snow too! It’s melting, dirty and ugly. March is supposed to come “in like a lion and out like a lamb.” Not usually. I have sat through high school baseball games in late March and nearly froze.

Spring brings promise of new life and new growth. I enjoy watching the new growth come out in stages—first the crocuses, followed by other flowers. The fields are planted and the tree growth begins from the ground up, first with the lower bushes, reaching up to the deciduous trees, and gradually filling out as summer approaches. I love “purple week,” where the all the purple flowers and redbud bushes bloom.  I love the celebration of the Resurrection.

May is a time of endings, school and other programs that operate during the school year, but the crops and other trees and flowers are growing. We spend time in our yard, planting the new flowers. I fix the pots for the cemetery for Memorial Day.

In our area, Memorial Day does signal the beginning of summer, even if the summer solstice is later in June. The trees and flowers are in full bloom and the crops are growing. The corn is usually far beyond “knee high by the Fourth of July,” and the wheat is nearing harvest. As summer progresses, the beans and corn grow and it’s all lush and green. Even if hot, I love seeing the greenness of it all!

But all growing seasons are supposed to come to an end. It is the way of the world, and the income of the farmer. Gradually the green turns to golden and the time comes to harvest. The nights are getting colder and the leaves turn, and it starts all over again.

It’s never boring and I love it. 

Never Stop Learning

There are many opportunities to learn online or at local universities. In retirement, if you love learning new things, you can find many options to do so. Maybe you like to learn with a group, maybe you like to read alone.

Here are some links to free online learning.

This doesn't cost a cent. I just mention a company I ran across. brings together classes from many institutions of higher learning, to learn and discuss specialty topics. I am taking a class called “Laura Ingalls Wilder: Exploring her work and writing life.”

I loved reading her books as a child, and watching the television series starring Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert when I was a young adult. I purchased the series for my daughter, but it’s still in my home. I did buy a book ABOUT Laura Wilder, but that’s all the money I spent.

I am enjoying the You-Tube lectures about Mrs. Wilder. I can choose how interactive I want to be. I have never gotten into “chat rooms” and so I am a little uncomfortable about posting in the forums. I do read what others say.

Almost every local college or university offers people over 60 to “audit” classes for free. I am not taking advantage of this right now, but I plan to eventually. It will be interesting to take classes that I am interested in now, as opposed to what I had to take to get my degree. I would love to share this with my husband or a good friend. The advantage of going to the local university is the interaction with teacher and other students; the disadvantage is the gas and particular time to set aside. Online, you do it on your own terms. But, you are alone.

When people tell me they are bored in retirement, I just want to say “really? You can do this for free.

If you prefer, there are book clubs. Check with your local library.

There is no reason to let your brain atrophy.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cleaning Out the Refrigerator!

Some months don’t go so well. I write this on the 22ndof the month which has 30 days in it and I am down to $30 which will go in the gas tank. Now keep in mind, WE DO HAVE SAVINGS, but my goal is to live on our income only. So today I took a look at the refrigerator and saw many items that just needed to be put together. Some for now, some frozen for later.

I have food, the freezer is full, and by most standards, it all looks quite fine. The question will be what to do with what I have on hand.

The first thing I did is throw out items with aspartame. In my pantry, I had a box of store-brand Splenda© and a good quantity of those little packages that you put in water bottles, to make lemonade, raspberry tea, peach tea, and lots of other things. I have given that up and I am not drinking diet soda anymore either.

Next I put up some tomatoes in the freezer for winter. I’m so done with tomatoes now! I also froze some gazpacho that I had made from other tomatoes, peppers and a cucumber, and you can only eat so much of that at one time before it’s tiresome. Anyway, those things are out of the visual that we have when looking in the refrigerator.

I cut up strawberries for us to use for breakfast cereal or snacking.

I started looking at some dates and tossing. This wasn't much—two freezer biscuit items which expired almost six month ago. We all know what it looks like when you try and open them! There was some cottage cheese that needed to go also. I found some old cheese in the back that was past it’s time. I have plenty of cheese for sandwiches or crackers!

I had some chicken that I had made with Ragu© sauce last week and I wanted to make a Waldorf salad, so I washed the chicken off—yes, that is what I did! I did keep the spaghetti sauce in a container for (maybe) future use. So I had chicken, one apple, several grapes, and added marshmallows, nuts and mayonnaise and have that for tonight’s meal. Didn't have any celery or broccoli which I normally put in a Waldorf salad. Oh well.

Then I thought, let’s just take a look at this pantry and see what can be done? I put canned cherries in a graham cracker crust—all store brands—and we have that for dinner also.

We have plenty of milk, eggs and bread, and meats and vegetables in the freezer.

All that’s left is creativity.

I think we’ll do just fine!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Considering Amazon Prime

Some time ago, I mentioned looking at Amazon Prime, which is priced at $99 per year. For this, you get two-day FREE shipping and good prices on certain bulk items. My daughter and son-in-law use it for many things, diapers being a biggie. As per my understanding from this article from Living Well Spending Less, you have to buy five items on a scheduled rotation. I looked at her list and of course there are other items, but other than toilet paper, we just don’t buy that much of anything to total five items.

Another perk is the ability to stream videos, and access to the free Kindle lending library. I wouldn't mind watching videos, but we are already paying for that with U-Verse (we have already discussed in a previous blog that I am not fighting the telecommunications battle) and I would have to watch 20 videos a year to make it worth it. Honestly, I don’t watch that many movies.

The Kindle lending library would be attractive, but I can borrow electronically from the public library that I pay taxes to support.

So, for my place in life, I can’t find enough reason to use it. However, I can definitely see its value for other families, and that may include yours! So, don’t rule it out! Free shipping is my favorite thing!

P.S. I do use Amazon for other shopping.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

For The Love of the Game

My Dad, with the octagon OB
in the background.
I remember being a little girl and going to softball games to watch my Daddy play. I’m sure I played with the other little kids, and Mommy bounced baby Benny on her lap. I don’t remember one single thing about the game itself.

The year I turned seven (1960) my Daddy took us to our first Reds game at Crosley Field. I had watched a few games on TV and was aware of the “star power” of Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson. I was in awe of seeing “real” baseball players. A seven-year-old doesn't last long listening to the radio, but I walked to the candy store, and bought lots of bubble gum with baseball cards in them. This probably gave me my first visual interest into the players and teams.

I remember the Reds playing in the 1961 World Series. That really piqued my interest at a time when I soaked it up like a sponge. During those elementary school years, I learned more about the game itself; the teams, rivalries and leagues. I continued to chew that bubble gum and buy those cards. I never traded.

Both my parents loved the game—I didn't stand a chance. Dad played at Olive Branch High School, and Mom was friends with baseball players in Springfield. I’m sure it’s an interest they shared together in the early years.

One of my absolute all time favorites, of Mike laying
down a suicide squeeze, with another Mike coming home!
Benny’s myopia kept him from playing baseball, and we certainly didn't understand that during those years. I know Dad was disappointed, but it’s what it was. After moving, I played softball, but I really wasn't very talented at it. I just tried my best and made some lifelong friends.

As a family, we continued to go to games at Crosley Field each year. It always was a great family activity and we loved it. We sat in the “moon deck” sometimes, to save a little money. It never mattered to me.

What is this thing I have with
left-handed batters?
When I got to high school, I "went steady" with a guy who was on the varsity baseball team. I was a junior and he was a senior. I guess you could say I was a “groupie.” I went to every game, and can remember sitting in the car in some miserable place with his mother. Spring high school baseball can be brutal in Ohio—I've been to games called for snow. I thoroughly enjoyed that year, and when he and I began talking seriously about a life together, while other girls were planning their college careers or something else, I was planning on following a guy around in the minor leagues, if we got lucky.

There REALLY are not very many 17-year-olds that think like that!

Well, of course, that didn't work out (although we have a wonderful relationship today and he approves this message) and life moved on. I continued to follow our high school team my senior year, at least to the HOME games.

Riverfront Stadium was built between my junior and senior years in high school, 1970.

The college years brought new friends, many of whom were Reds fans and the Big Red Machine was gearing up. We weren't any richer than any other college kids, and we would pile into someone’s semi-operational vehicle and go to college nights, and any other special cheap night. We parked ten blocks away at a cheap place and ate 25 cent hot dogs. I didn't drink beer. I think we went a couple of times on someone’s sibling’s straight-A tickets. We would do anything to get to the game.

During 1975 and 1976, the years the Reds won the World Series (plural), I was 22 and 23 years old.  I graduated in 1974 and lived in another town through most of the summer of 1975, but moved home September 30, 1975.  I had no job, so by golly, I could watch every game of that 1975 World Series, the series that all others are compared to in Cincinnati. The big joke is that I met my future husband on a travel night of the series, because otherwise, I would have been home, planted in front of the TV with my Dad, who was recuperating from a heart attack. I guess it was meant to be, because I just wouldn't have been out while the ball game was on! Period.

My husband-to-be was not the dyed-in-the-wool fan that I was. His Dad played ball, and I guess was a pretty good pitcher, but he was a farmer and there wasn't much time for watching TV baseball games. However, the man had a transistor radio with him at all times, so he was listening to games. Living between Detroit and Cleveland, he was an American League fan, which he and I teased each other about for many years. (My father-in-law was buried with his transistor radio)

By the time we were married, there was much more baseball on TV. I watched it. Wanna spend time with me? Watch baseball. Period. He was converted.

During the early years, we went to many games with friends, and we didn't sit in any moon deck or nosebleed seats. I worked in a bank and could sign up for free tickets to several games. We usually went to Farmers’ Night with my in-laws. I talked my father-in-law into attending a National League game. Land sakes!

I remember the sickening feeling I had when Tony Perez was traded and the Big Red Machine was bit-by-bit dismantled. When I heard that Tony had been traded to the Phillies and would be playing in Cincinnati in April 1983, I ordered tickets. This I wanted to see. We were part of an ovation that lasted about ten minutes. It was awesome! I don’t remember who won the game, I just remember the welcome of Big Doggie back to Cincinnati. (I also remember being at work in 2000, when my co-worker—also a baseball fan—got the word of Tony’s Hall of Fame election. I told my co-worker I could now die in peace!)

I was eight months pregnant on Johnny Bench Night in 1983. All we could get were nose-bleed seats and I think Jerry and I were in one place and Mom and Loren were in another. It was September 24th or something and I was so darned hot I had a beer. Not that I needed to, but I didn't dare go down those steep steps to the bathroom.

A little girl being raised right.
Opening Day 1985.
During the years the kids were little we didn't get to Cincy much. I remember my daughter liked “Buddy Bell.” (I think she liked the alliteration, she was four. But come to think of it, later she liked Bret Boone, so maybe she had something for players named B). We took Joel at a young age and he DID understand the game, because he had so much more exposure to the game and commentary on TV. It’s so amazing how kids soak up these things.

Then, there was a shift from going to games in Cincinnati, Ohio to games in Enon, Ohio. Jess played girls softball several years and Joel played little league.

I like to tell the story about Joel at 6, when his t-ball team was practicing on the grass because the field was wet and we were making do. Joel was playing second base and caught a line drive and ran to second and then to first and got an unassisted triple play. We adults looked at each other and thought, “Did we really just see what we thought we saw?” It was not a physical feat, it was a mental feat. The other kids were picking dandelions.

Another favorite of my son, playing
against the school (system) in which
he would later teach and coach.
That began thirteen years of walking tacos and hotdogs. Little league, traveling junior high league and high school JV his freshman year, and then took over first base for varsity for three years. I always did like first basemen. There was spring high school ball and summer ball. When he was 15, he started his 10-year stint as an umpire. I missed very few games that he played in, but I did draw the line at umpiring. Oh, I saw a few, but I mostly heard about his umpiring from other parents. They were pleased, and that was nice to hear.

It was a small town and I can remember him coming home from umping a game of 5th and 6th graders. He said, "You know you live in a small town, when you are umping a game and the pitcher is the younger brother of your former girlfriend, the catcher is the younger brother of your current girlfriend (now wife) and the batter is the younger brother of the second base umpire." Yeah, life was like that.

Last year, when they reunited the position players of the Big Red Machine, one of my college friends got tickets and she and I were there. It was completely awesome and one of the best baseball memories of my life. It MIGHT happen again because they are building a statue for Tony Perez. You never know. I’ll be there, regardless.

Next year Great American Ball Park hosts the All-Star Game. That’s a pipe dream, but I’d love to see the Home Run Derby.

Yes, I have been to Cooperstown, and did not have enough time to spend there. We were on a group tour of New York State and City and I would like to return on my terms.

Big moments in baseball that I remember exactly where I was:
  • Sobbing on New Year’s Eve 1972 when I learned of the death of Roberto Clemente.
  • At my Social Work Practicum watching TV when Hank Aaron hit his home run in April 1974. In September of 1973, I ordered tickets for a Braves game in left-center field.
  • Watching the game that John McSherry died in (Opening Day 1996) with my children. I knew he was dead immediately. Try telling that to your kids.
  • Letting the kids stay up when Cal Ripken, Jr. broke the longevity record.
  • My choir director wondering why no one showed up for choir the night Pete Rose got his big hit. (The man was from Alabama. What would he know?)

Well, the professional season is almost over and I will watch the post-season, depending on who’s playing, and I rarely root against the National League, but you never know. I do wish Derek Jeter well.

I love this picture too. #1 played for
a team in my son's league and we
watched him grow up. Here he gives
a high five to one of the kids on the
World Series Championship team
from Chicago.
Why do I continue to love and watch the game? Why do I choose to watch the Little League World Series instead of a movie or other program? Because somewhere in my soul, I love the walk-off hit-preferably a home run-and watch grown men act like little boys when they play a little boys' (and now girls'!) game. I love the strategy and I love the skill of the game. To some people, it plays too slow; but there's something about the mental battle of a pitchers' duel that I love. Certainly, I still have my favorite players, (not always Reds) and always will. I can tip my hat to a fine defensive play, even if it results negatively for our team.

There are changes coming next year. I don't know what will happen; but I know I will still love the game.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Different Look At Thrift!

I was inspired recently to think some entirely new thoughts about thrift and development. The article that I am referencing is HERE, so it would be interesting to peruse. Spoiler alert: the article is written to young parents; but the information is valuable to all. It’s really about how we think of ourselves.

In a nutshell, the authors warn that if all you get is the bottom of the barrel, leftovers and hand-me-downs as a child, you will have less self-esteem as an adult, because you were never “worth” getting something new. It doesn't matter what the “thing” was, this is an ongoing process.

This got me to thinking about myself and my childhood and others that I know intimately. This theory is certainly not foolproof; and sometimes as adults, deprived children become completely opposite and then have problems with debt.

My mother is still alive and reads this and I think it is safe to say that I was raised in somewhat of a thrifty home, but it was the 1950s and life was going pretty well. I had new clothes every year for school and Christmas wasn't Christmas if there wasn't half a room of gifts from Santa. (That does NOT mean deals were not in the equation) My mother and father socialized frequently with their friends, and life was good.

In my teens, things got tougher. They had a surprise baby when I was ten and my brother was eight, necessitating a move to a larger home, and I don’t have to tell anyone that kids get more expensive when they are teens. My brother had a hollow leg, there were activities with prices, and we just wanted to DO things.

This was the first time I understood the “austerity program.” This might have been a term my parents brought with them from living during the depression, but my Dad worked on commission and times could be good or bad. We learned to do without, but there was a better day too! Needless to say, I learned to be frugal, but it didn't affect my self-esteem. My needs were met.

Contrast that with the child whose parents always talk about how “tough” life is, and consistently wears the hand-me-downs from older sibling or cousin. After two decades of this treatment, how easy would it be for them to feel like they have less worth?

Obviously, the answer lies in between and in a balanced fashion. I am not addressing poverty, which is another blog entirely, I am addressing attitudes toward thrift.  In my humble opinion, practicing thrift in one area frees up funds for “treats” someplace else. My mother-in-law used to say, “You have to have some money to save money,” meaning you can recognize a deal and act upon it. The first thing to do is have that excess fund with which to work in the first place.

And, while no one knows this except you, it means saving on toilet paper and dish detergent to be able to buy that special outfit for someone in the family. Or saving by refurbishing or repurposing, in order to have something else that is NEW. Maybe being thrifty in order to be able to give—that’s another blog.

If there is anything I have tried to say with this blog, it’s this: Thrift is not for thrift's sake alone. It’s not to leave a boatload of money for our kids. It’s the concept of not wasting money on some things (which are marked up ridiculously) in order to be able to buy something for ourselves or our loved ones today! I may involve delayed gratification, and that is certainly character-building at any age.

Read the article. I’d love to hear how thrift affected you as a child and as an adult.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sometimes You Have to Have a BLAST!

August was a rather strange month, thrift-wise. I did not save tons of money. I did go on a road trip which I planned for and it cost me half of what I expected to spend. One reason for that is that my companion is a night owl and she suggested we “drive on through” instead of stopping at a motel. Since I have known her for 45 years and I know her body clock to be accurate, I had no trouble agreeing with that.

We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express©, and did not have a special deal there, but they do serve breakfast, so other than gas, we spent very little. The occasion was the wedding of a friend, and there’s always food at weddings. Gas was reasonable, and her car got good mileage.

However, my point is, we've reached the age where you just have to do some things! My companion was my best high school friend, and we have kept in touch over the years and have had many experiences from which to draw.  I was always the early riser and she was the night owl. We knew what to expect. It was “easy” travelling with her. And, as we've discussed with other high school era friends, we need to do it again. Soon. Our idea is to find appropriate classmates and just spend a night (maybe two) at each stop and basically just spend gas and have a blast!!!! It sounds like an excellent plan for next summer.

As far as spending and saving this month; I ended up with a balance of $2.09. I win again. I did purchase some items for which the Piper will come to call in September, but they are necessities, quality items, and were on sale x 3. (I combined a coupon with a discount, and got another coupon for next time)

I didn't find any great ideas, but I did spend money on a Christmas gift, so I am ahead on that.

I guess my word for this month is DO SOMETHING AND HAVE A BLAST! Time is too short!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Whatever Do You DO All Day?

Many people ask, “What do you do with yourself now that you are retired?” so I thought I would give a little rundown on how my days unfold. Knowing fully well that I am not “normal” (and no one really is), this is just me. It goes without saying, none of this is engraved in stone any particular week either.

Hubby volunteers at the hospital three mornings a week. Those days are “mine,” and they are different. I usually begin a day with watching the taped Tonight Show, while having breakfast. I believe beginning any day with a laugh is a good thing, and starts me on the right foot.

Because I cannot exercise within two hours of eating (or I will be sick), I then usually do my Bible study. I am wrapping up a study on First Corinthians, and don’t start another one (Exodus) until September. During that time, I will spend that time reading some other devotion readings. I have a quiet time to pray. Then I may go to exercise, or I may do something else.

On Mondays, because there is no Tonight Show, I clean the house. I’ll admit, I take lots of breaks. There is no one here to notice how many breaks I take and I like it that way. Each week is different. Hubby and I clean up after ourselves and this is basic maintenance. I may not get to the study time.

Wednesdays are my day with Mom. After my morning routine, I drive to her house and we just visit, or I may take her to an appointment or shopping. Sometimes I visit my niece who lives nearby, or meet another friend.

Right now, my exercise classes are Monday evening and Saturday morning. As we move into the fall season, we all are hoping for some more classes and I will adjust. I do exercise on another day during the week, but it varies.

At this time, the days my husband does not volunteer are more or less reserved for things we might do together. This is not always the case; as he enjoys time for himself too, and he takes care of the yard. I might schedule a doctor or hair appointment, meet with a friend, or just go to the gym.

Soon Thursday nights will be choir practice, and as mentioned previously, Bible study resumes on Friday mornings.

I love to read and much of my time is spent reading. I have a plan to take an online class next month on the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder of “Little House on the Prairie” fame. I loved her books as a child, and the television program as a young adult. I also do webinars, meetings and online education for CEUs for my license. This will be my last renewal (October 2014), but I am open to an ad hoc opportunity if it presents itself.

I think my husband imagined that I would be out running around with friends all the time and I just don’t! This does not mean I am not in touch. I make at least one call a day to someone, and I am in touch through Facebook and email. In a perfect week, I’d have lunch or dinner with a friend one day. Sometimes it doesn’t happen.

I look forward to being a Grandma again soon and that will consume our time. Outside of that, I am very happy to be a homebody. I don’t have a “shopping” day anymore. Weather, busyness, and need regulate that. There are two stores near the fitness club, so it’s not an issue.

This week begins Friday Night Lights again so we’ll be into that for a while. The new granddaughter has been instructed not to be born on a Friday night. She’ll probably spite me.

As you can see, there is no boredom. I have my house to keep, laundry to do, books to read, music to listen to, a phone with unlimited minutes and access to the Internet. I am connected, and I am not connected. It’s OK, either way.

A Sears Kit Home in the area.
**For the future, I have some things I am looking forward to:
·        Singing in the local symphony chorus.
·        Expanding my interest in architecture and history, with a special emphasis on Sears Kit Homes of the early 20th century.
·        Being a Grandma chaperone for preschool field trips.
·        Before we know it, headlong into our 45th high school class reunion.