We Miss Travel

At least some of us do.

Hubby, Lili and I love to travel. We love going to new places (or old places), seeing the sites, trying the food and enjoying time away from our everyday life.

The few times Arryn has traveled, she’s done well. Had COVID not ruined our travel plans last year, she would have made a couple trips back to Illinois and gone on her first cruise. She is always happy to go, so I have no reason to believe she won’t enjoy travel just as much.

Then there is Naomi.

Her idea of travel is a trip to see a local friend or a visit to a local store for some shopping. She has no interest in road trips or visiting new places. I guess one could say that having our 2020 travel plans canceled means COVID isn’t all bad in her book.

Yet, it is a bit daunting to plan travel when you know at least one person in the family just isn’t looking forward to going. Although it is a bit strange since once we arrive to our destination, she always finds a way of having a good time. She especially loves beach vacations. Getting up early in the morning to go shelling is one of her favorite things to do. I recently found this.

Her shell collection is now living inside and sits on her bathroom counter.

Like Naomi, I too love the beach. I enjoy getting up early with her looking for shell treasures to bring home with us. I love the sound of the ocean, the smell of the ocean breeze and the feel of the sand and waves as they wash up to shore. It is our happy place and I’ve often thought we would enjoy having a beach home. If only we could afford one!!!

But I digress . . . .

I’m on a mission to find a way to help Naomi enjoy traveling more. A way to peak her curiosity and develop a desire to see and learn about other places on this great big world of ours.

Would love to hear ideas from anyone who happens to still be reading.

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Our Normal Life

Like everyone else, we have not been living our normal life for the past year.

Our beloved homeschool group closed down about this time last year and other than a few phones calls, texts and some Facebook chats, we haven’t seen our homeschool friends in almost a year. We miss them.

Same with our family. We haven’t had a family get-together in almost a year and we miss them.

Another thing that has changed for us is travel. For the last several years, we’ve traveled at least once a year, but in many cases 2-3 times during the year. We cancelled all our travel plans this past year and as the year went on, we questioned when we might be able to travel again.

As we approached the 1-year mark of everything changing due to COVID, we are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. More and more people are getting vaccinated to protect themselves as well as everyone else they may come into contact with. In some areas of the world, they are seeing a reduction in the number of COVID cases. As more people get vaccinated, those numbers will continue to decline and we will begin to see a return of some normalcy.

With things changing for the good, we decided to begin making some plans for travel later this year and next year by booking cruises. Yes, that’s right cruises as in more than one. Three to be exact.

No one knows exactly when ships will be able to sail again, but Royal Caribbean has been successfully sailing from Singapore since December, 2020. Of course they had to make changes regarding mask requirements, COVID testing, hand washing stations, hand sanitizer and even more stringent cleaning protocols. However, all of these changes and their work with the Singapore government has worked.

Here in the U.S., the cruise lines are waiting on the CDC to provide them with guidelines on what steps they need to take so they can begin sailing out of the U.S. Of course the CDC has been promising these guidelines for quite some time, so who knows when they’ll actually release them. Many believe that ships will be able to safely sail again sometime this year and we decided to jump on board (see what I did there). We booked a cruise for December (our Christmas family vacation). Then we decided to book another cruise for February on the same ship.

Then we decided to take Lili on a cruise in April of 2022 for her 15th birthday. She has no desire to have a quincenara and would much rather take a trip, so a cruise it is.

Okay, three cruises over a 5 month period isn’t really normal for us, but travel is a normal part of our family life. Now we’re trying to make up for all the trips we didn’t take this past year.

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Look At Me Go

Third post in the last three days!!!!

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Seriously, is there that much to write about? Maybe?!

So let’s talk vaccines.

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Hubby and I got our second COVID vaccine last week. I know it’s been a source of controversy, primarily because there is so much fear around its safety. However, I have been watching and reading as more and more reports have come out about the vaccines. What has been encouraging to me, are the reports coming out of Israel, which has had the fastest roll-out of any country. In the latest report I read, they had vaccinated 32% of their entire population. And that’s not just one dose, but two doses of the vaccine. The rate of infection has gone down across all age groups, but the biggest reduction is 66% of those 60+ which is the largest group that have been vaccinated.

There is also a study of 600,000 who have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Of those 600,000, they are seeing a 94% drop in symptomatic COVID infections.

It’s reported that we need 70% – 90% to be vaccinated before we can reach herd immunity. While we’re certainly making progress, with only 3% – 4% having been vaccinated in the U.S., we have a very long way to go.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m more than ready for life to return to some sense of normalcy.

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And speaking of normalcy . . . .

I’ll talk about that next time.

Retirement

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My last post mentioned a lot of discussion about retirement in our home and how our retirement looks a little different. Not necessarily that it looks different from a lot of other people, i.e. older adoptive parents, grandparents raising grandchildren, or parents who just started later in life. It simply looks different then we anticipated it would look 20 years ago.

Like so many others, we don’t have as much in our retirement account as we need.

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Specifically, we will need to have the financial means to support ourselves and any kiddos we still have at home. For sure, we’ll have at least one and possibly two or three still at home.

Because hubby is now working from home full-time and since we’ll have kids at home for the next 15 years (at least), we sold our smaller house for a larger house. We really do love our new home and it does better meet the needs of our family. We are also hopeful that it was a good investment as this area continues to grow. For a matter-of-fact, between 2010 and 2020, this city saw 60.6% growth. We also moved to a neighborhood that borders the 2nd fastest growing city in this area which saw a 46.2% growth rate during the same period. Homes here have seen a 16.6% increase year-over-year as well. We definitely took a gamble and only time will tell if it pays off for us. Maybe it was a crazy move, but with all the planned business and home growth near us, we feel the potential payoff is higher than the risk. Fingers crossed!!!

What retirement will ultimately look like for us is yet to be seen, but knowing that we only have a few years left means it’s time for us to look at all our options and begin making plans. Life is, after all, a journey.

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Neglected

My blog has definitely been neglected.

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So sorry World of Weeks!!

We are feeling pretty settled in our new home. Not so much our new neighborhood though, primarily thanks to COVID. Hopefully things will change this spring and summer.

The girls miss living close to their friends (as do I), but they really do like our new house. Arryn especially likes it because there is so much more room inside and out for her to play.

Hubby is enjoying his office space. If we could manage to get everything unpacked and put away in there, it would be even better. Progress is being made, slowly as it may be and thanks to others moving in and out of our neighborhood, we’ve been able to rid ourselves of moving boxes to free up garage space.

Our winter weather here in Texas has been crazy. Although most of the world already knows that. We got several inches of snow that stuck around for days.

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The freezing temperatures, while uncommon for such a long stretch here, felt like we were back in Illinois. We were also lucky that we didn’t lose power, like so many others in Texas. I think we are on the same power grid as the fire department, which is why the lights stayed on. However, we did have to conserve energy by keeping our lights off, thermostat turned down and asked to not use our gas fireplace. It will be interesting to see if Texas makes any significant changes as a result of the chaos, damage and deaths that were caused by the energy crisis here.

But back to the World of Weeks.

I’ve had some trouble finding a good rhythm since moving and I’m hoping to get the girls and I on a much better schedule next month.

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I’m not sure it’s as much the move as it is the exhaustion of all the COVID related stuff over the past year. Some of my other friends have expressed the same type of exhaustion. Hubby and I recently got our second COVID vaccine as have some of our friends and family. We’re hopeful that in the very near future, some get togethers will be possible.

Another topic of conversation that is popular in our home right now is retirement. It’s getting much closer than we like to admit and with a few years left, we are exploring all our options for how we make the most our of our retirement years.

They say life begins at retirement and we would love to have a great life in retirement.

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Since we’ll still have 1-3 kids still living at home when we retire, we’ll need to have more financial resources available to us. We’ve spent a lot of time feeling like our situation is different from so many other retirees. However, we’ve come to realize that it’s not that much different from so many others who started their families later in life or those who are raising grandchildren. Our plans just need to include more than two in retirement and it’s nice to know we have options and the resources to make sure we are all being taken care of.

We’re living life as best we can right now while making plans for the future. That certainly isn’t different than what most everyone else in the world is doing.

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I’ll try to not be so neglectful with my blog going forward. I want my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to have some hopefully good and interesting reading material in the years to come.

If I still have any readers, please take a moment to say hi and if you care to share, let me know what exciting things are happening in your lives.

Please Let the Door Hit You on Your Way Out 2020

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As with most years, 2020 has had its ups and downs. However, 2020 ushered in more downs than ups.

COVID hit and the majority of us experienced something we hoped we wouldn’t see in this lifetime.

Now 2020 is coming to an end and I realize that my list of highlights for the year has been over-shadowed by the pandemic. Yet, there are still some highlights.

First and foremost, we managed to stay well.

Lili turned 13 in April.

Naomi turned 11 in June.

Arryn turned 2 in January.

I won’t talk about my age or hubby’s age, but we had birthdays as well. 🙂

We sold our house and bought a new house.

We had some sadness in 2020 as well when we said good-bye to Arryn’s baby brother and our other two foster daughters. Then we closed our home and said good-bye to foster care.

We cancelled some trips that we were really looking forward to.

We had to adjust to staying home much much more than we are used to.

We have missed seeing our friends and family.

I’ve grown tired on on-line shopping. I never dreamed that would happen.

I am more then ready to say good-bye to 2020 and hope the door hits her on the way out.

I’m hopeful that 2021 will bring better things for all of us.

The COVID vaccine is being distributed and will hopefully allow us to get back to some sense of normalcy.

We now have two cruises scheduled for December in anticipation of a better 2021.

We look forward to traveling back to Illinois to visit friends and family this summer.

We look forward to having friends and family come visit us as well.

We are entering 2021 with positivity for a much better and safer year.

To all our friends and family . . . .

May 2021 bring you much love, health and happiness!!!

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Make Sure You Use an Awesome Realtor

Thursday: We close on the two houses in 4 days!!

Later Thursday: No, we won’t be closing in 4 days. We’re just not sure when we will be closing 😦

Even Later Thursday: We will close next Thursday.

Still Thursday: But what about the movers coming to move us on Tuesday? What about the utilities that will be in our name on Monday? What about the mail that will start being forwarded starting Tuesday?

Still Thursday: You can still move on Tuesday, but you’ll need to pay the Seller’s a little in rent.

And still Thursday: That super low interest rate you locked in . . . . you’ll still get that same rate but it’s going to cost more money.

Yes, this is what selling and buying a house can sometimes be like and this is the situation we found ourselves in. It’s just a little blip on the radar of life and more than ever, we are reminded just how important it is to choose a REALLY good realtor.

Honestly, I can’t even say we chose our realtor. When we were ready to buy a house after our move to Texas, I filled out a form on line and she responded. I felt very comfortable with her from the first time we spoke and she did not disappoint. She never complained about showing us 10 houses, then 20 houses, then 30 houses, then I lost count. Or at least she never complained in front of us. When we contacted her about selling our house, she came over and gave us her professional opinion on what we should do to increase the chances of selling quickly. We took her advice and in less than 48 hours, our house sold. She didn’t complain about showing us another 10, 20, 30 or however many houses we looked at this time around. Again, at least not in front of us. She has never made me feel like I was going crazy during this process, even when I felt I was going crazy during this process. That in an of itself is quite a feat. LOL!!! She has answered all our questions and when I’ve begun to worry about something, she’s explained things to me and given me confidence that we’ll get everything worked out. She has come thru for us, gotten to know us and in turn we’ve gotten to know her. She isn’t just our realtor, she is our friend.

When she called on Thursday to tell us that there had been a delay in closing, I knew she was much more upset about it than we were. She had covered all the basis and the delay was absolutely nothing on our end. Our end was secure and we were ready to close. Still, when you have other parties involved in buying and selling, you can’t always be assured they have covered all their basis. You can’t always be assured other parties are working with an awesome realtor like you are and when things like this happen, you realize just how lucky you are that the realtor who chose you, is simply awesome!

So, things didn’t go as originally planned. We will still close on the two homes this week. We will still move into our new home as planned (again, thanks to our awesome realtor and her negotiation skills). The next chapter in the World of Weeks will soon begin and the dedication will most definitely include our Awesome Realtor!!!

Traditions Change

As a child, our family tradition was going to bed Christmas Eve and having trouble falling asleep because we were too excited about Christmas morning. Somehow, sleep always came and we would wake up Christmas morning to gifts under the tree. Our paternal grandparents lived a block away and would come over with additional gifts for us. They loved spending time with us and I’m sure being able to watch our joy and excitement on Christmas morning was much better to them then the gifts they received.

Later that day we would load up and head to our maternal grandparent’s house where we would gather with my uncles, aunts and cousins. My grandmother was an awesome cook and we looked forward to every meal we had there, which was many. She would have turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, rolls, and desserts. So many desserts! I especially loved her homemade rolls which were to die for. My grandmother had 11 children. She and my grandfather were products of the great depression. Being able to cook was a necessity and with lots of practice had perfected that necessity.

Their Christmas tree was the silver metal kind with the rotating lights that made the tree change from red to green to blue to yellow. As a child, I thought it was the most marvelous tree ever.

Opening gifts with cousins was special too. It not only meant having new things to take home and enjoy, but also enjoying the things our cousins received on Christmas. At least for the time we were together celebrating.

Every year we would receive some things that we wanted, but we also received a lot of practical gifts. Clothes, socks, underwear and pajamas were pretty much expected, but very much enjoyed and appreciated.

I have only fond memories of our family traditions growing up and like all things in life, things change. This means traditions change.

To be continued . . . . .

Holiday Changes

2020 has caused some holiday changes, but it is not just COVID that has caused things to change. At least not for us.

This is the first year since 2017 that we have not had bonus kiddos at the table for Thanksgiving. It will also be the first year of no bonus kiddos at Christmas. Our last two left in July and there hasn’t been a day since that I haven’t thought of them or all the other kiddos that changed our lives since we becoming a foster family so many years ago. While we have taken breaks from fostering and as such have had holidays without our bonus kiddos, this time the change feels vastly different.

This is the second time in our lives that we have moved in the middle of the holidays. The last move was cross country, and this move will only be cross a couple cities but moving during the holidays means that things are changing. Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving surrounded by moving boxes and I’m guessing we won’t be completely unpacked by Christmas.

The quietness of Thanksgiving was a change and not just because we didn’t have any bonus kiddos. I got to talk to our son and later I talked to another family member, but our other family was silent. I received a sweet message from a dear friend, who I consider family. Other than that, everyone else was silent. I guess I now have a new meaning to “Silent Night.” LOL!!! While the quiet felt somewhat lonely, it was also much needed. Between hubby’s job, kids, homeschooling, packing, and getting ready for our move, a day off from the norm was a much-needed respite. A time to refresh, reflect and ready ourselves for the final push of packing and preparation for our move.

Christmas will also bring about changes. A new house, no bonus kiddos, rushing to get everything decorated (we are usually decorated right before Christmas), and shopping for gifts. Amid Christmas prep is unpacking and organizing our new home. This will also include shopping for and buying furniture, since we sold some older pieces of furniture and need to replace those pieces very soon.

While some changes have been less than desirable, I am thankful for my family. Hubby is my rock in more ways than he probably realizes. My kids drive me crazy, but mostly they bring a smile to my face and warm my heart in so many ways. Our life is truly full and at the same time I realize that a full life still has room to change, grow and make a difference. Not just a difference personally, but a difference the life of others. Hopefully, we did that with foster care, but I don’t feel like we’re done yet. There are many ways to make a positive difference in the life of others whether that be donating food to those in need, buying gifts for families that wouldn’t be able to celebrate otherwise, or giving of our time in so many different ways.

I do not know what the future holds, but I do know that holiday changes are inevitable, especially this year. While there is some sadness in those changes, there is also hope, love and happiness in what the future holds.

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