Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Climbing out the window...

One of my favorite quotes is by Helen Keller and goes something like this (I am paraphrasing).  So often we stare longingly at the door that has closed, we fail to notice the windows that are open.  This can be so applicable.

Lately, Terry and I have been working on opening windows.  Not literally, but let's remember...we will soon be "empty-nesters".  Our closed door will be the full time parenting that we have become accustomed to for all of our married life.  I mentioned a few blogs back that we are "dating" again and we continue to look for opportunities to spend time together.

Or even out for drinks!!
It may kill me.

Don't get me wrong.  He can take me out to dinner every weekend night (and on occasion he has) but I need to know; how did we used to go out on week day nights a few short years ago (ok, 20+) and still show up to work the next day? It's one thing to plan a date night for a Friday or Saturday night (every other week).  I think we have those down now.  And we have even started talking to each other across the table.  Yes, this means "phones down"  unless I am logging what I am eating (or he is checking a late breaking score).  We are doing pretty good.  And this is even in restaurants with no TV.

This next level is the sporting events I am now occasionally attending.  Who doesn't enjoy a UT basketball game, particularly when they are playing KU?  This is the second one I attended with him. The first one was against West Virginia, an easy 6:00 pm game, basically down the street from where I work.  He parked next to me, we got a mile walk each way (#fitbitforlife) and we were still home by 9:00 pm.  Long day but doable.  Then comes KU.

I didn't realize it was an 8:00 pm game until I had very enthusiastically committed to attending.  That meant a quick drive home, supper preparation, wardrobe change and back to the same commute I make every day of my life (Monday through Friday).  Okay.  The game was great.  UT forgot to show up but their fan base was there in full glory.  This was not a family friendly crowd (at least where we were sitting).  When UT is losing, the adult fan base gets ugly.

Luckily for me, I have been around Terry for a few Chief losses, so I am familiar with this type of behavior (and language).  But I digress.

By the time we got home it was 11:00 p.m.  Madison had played a softball game earlier (that we missed) so we spent a good amount of time catching up on that.  By the time I went to bed, it was already the next day.  I had a headache and I didn't even have a drink!

I guess maybe the lesson here is to crack the windows open, before flinging them wide all the way. Or maybe just open the curtains.  We will see how it goes.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Walking in history-what a lesson!

Madi making friends
Madison and I (along with 39 of our closest friends) just got back from a 10 day stay in Europe, Specially we visited Greece and Italy.  What an opportunity to walk where so much history has happened.  And walk we did.

Just days prior to the trip, I managed to break my big toe (right foot),  Nothing like being prepared to walk the just 59 miles.  Yes, I checked my Fit bit upon return and the total number of steps for this ten day period was 144,367 (you are reading that right).

As luck would have it, (or grace)  on the first night we checked into our hotel in Athens, I managed to fall down the stairs and wrench my right ankle (notice a theme there) so hard I HEARD it.  This now took my mind off the broken toe.

Immediate impressions of Athens was the total acceptance and prevalence of graffiti on all buildings. We saw this also in Italy but not as much.  Some of the art was quite beautiful but overall, it was very distracting for me to see so many pictures, symbols, numbers and names spray painted on any available surface.  On day two I had extra time to enjoy this as I managed to become separated and lost from the group for a short time (probably about 1,500 steps).  Anxiety checked off list at that point.

Kari making friends
Something we really liked in Greece was their attitude toward dogs and cats.  There were many of both wandering, sleeping and sitting throughout the city.  They all appeared well cared for and healthy.  They were also very friendly.  Our guide told us that everyone took care of the animals, and they didn't belong to any one person.  Vets would spay/neuter them so the population did not get out of control and they were welcome everywhere ....outdoors.

We visited several cities (Athens, Delphi, Kalambaka and Meteora) in Greece before taking a 17 hour ferry ride over to Ancona, Italy.  Our passage was quite smooth and I was gently rocked to sleep in a very nice accommodation for the trip. Since I have never been on a cruise, I was wondering just how that would go.  SUCCESS.

I LOVE Italy.  We stayed in Rome for four days and also took a fast train to Florence for one action packed day.  I have never eaten so much pizza and gelato in such a short time frame.  We visited the Vatican, St. Peter;s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.  We also spent time in the Catacombs, the Coliseum and the Forum,  So much to see and do,

In Florence we walked all over the city (loved my six hours free time) and Madi and I both came back with new purses!  No money to put in them but they look good.

We flew from Austin to Athens and returned from Rome to Austin - via the Heathrow Airport in the UK so we managed to hit three countries in total.

By the end of our trip, I was ready to come home but will definitely want to go back to Italy again (make note Mr. French).

I love to travel and see what the world has to offer, but I am always grateful to have a home to come back to.  While we were blessed with safe travels, good health and hearty appetites, terror reigned the day after our return; this time in Brussels.  We will keep all those impacted by this violence close in prayer and will not yield to the fear that these terrorists hope to inflict.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How to appropriate when allocated

Working for the government is interesting and educational.  Did you know, when monies are allocated to a state budget (whichever one that might be), you must also have the same amount appropriated. I am not talking appropriate, as in behavior, but appropri8 (that is how you say it).  The definition is to  devote (money or assets) to a special purpose.  Allocation without appropriation is worthless.  You are appropriated your spending authority up to a certain amount.  This applies to all areas of the budget.  The appropriation is non-transferable.

It makes me reflect on a former leadership position I had a few years back.  I had plenty of responsibility/accountability allocated to me which was fine, but I soon found out my authority to act on same was suffering an appropriation shortage. It is like teaching a child to drive.  You have limited control over where the vehicle is going, yet you ultimately will be held accountable,  If you would have asked me if I would ever be someone's puppet, I would have laughed at you...but I danced at the end of that string for a long time.

So then I started thinking about our time and how we spend it.  We are all allocated the same amount of time every day.  What we don't know, is how long that time will continue to be appropriated.  We then choose how to appropriate (or spend) our time.  We can't buy time or transfer any unused time to another person, yet time is one of our most precious commodities.  Without it, we don't exist. All our days, memories. accomplishments happen in the context of time.

I remember reading that we spend one-third of our appropriated time on sleeping.  In the big picture of things, that is really frightening.  Yet, I don't like to go to bed late and would prefer to wake up naturally.

We are all very aware of being wasteful; be it with food, water, natural resources, etc.  Recycling is a big deal at our house.  How can we ever waste time, knowing that it can't be regained or recycled.  And that the appropriation could end tonight...or tomorrow?

Right now I am appropriating my time in Greece. Later this week, it will be Italy. My husband is worried that his idea of allocated funds and mine are different.  I think we all know the truth about that!

Until next time, it's all Greek to me🤓
Your pal,

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

59 candles

Earlier this month I had a birthday.  It's not the first time (hehe) and by God's grace, it won't be the last.  However, this is my last birthday in this particular decade and I spent some time reflecting on birthdays in general, and other birthdays that were particularly memorable.

First of all, without all the days leading up to the big event, the birthday would never happen.  When I was growing up, birthdays included a countdown.  Because kids didn't have the parties they have today, it was all about family and having your favorite meal prepared..  The first party I remember with friends was when I turned 16.  My friend Cindy D. threw a surprise party for me.  This was nice and thankfully I didn't cry during the singing (which seemed to be a conundrum for me).

I really don't remember the "significant" birthdays of turning 18 or 21.  By the time I was 18, I was engaged and at 21 had been married four years with a one year old daughter (terrifying to think of when I look at Madi, but NO ONE does that anymore).

I used to think I needed a new birthday "outfit" each year.  This was a challenge living in the Midwest because in March it could still be winter or spring.  I don't remember when that stopped but when it did, it morphed into just being content to fit into the same clothes as the year before!  Some birthday highlights -

25 was the year I worked at the same place as all my sisters.  This was always entertaining.  Particularly so on this birthday when bad sister Lori sent in a male stripper.  WOW.  I don't know what I appreciated more - the thought (and dance) or when I found out immediately afterwards that she DID clear it with my very conservative boss!

Thirty was the year my two little girls sang to me, gave me little presents and then I went in the bathroom and wept.  First birthdays after the loss of a child are difficult and seem unnecessary, but just can't be explained to young children.  So one endures....

I felt like I was getting "old" when I turned 35.  I remember thinking..half way to 70.  I have a daughter older than that now.  And I think she is still rather young...(oh, perspective)!

Surprise was the theme (again) but this time for 40 (and from my husband).  What a great year that was.  Just moved to Kansas City and Madison made her appearance later that year.

Birthday surprises!!
When I turned 50, I wanted to plan my own party.  That was the year we (my siblings and I) decided that we would all come together for each other's 50th celebration.  Since all five of us were born in a six year period, this guaranteed the beginning of annual visits.  I also remember driving into work and seeing signs two blocks away announcing my age.  It still makes me smile.

55 found me in Arizona with all my siblings, celebrating with my mom and Uncle By, who also got married while we were there.  (just to be clear, my mom and Uncle By did not get married - he married Aunt Barb).  It was a great time and was the beginning of the sibling annual reunion getaways.  I am so grateful that once grown, we still like each other and enjoy being together.  Don't get me wrong, we can still fight, just not physically anymore...and we always get over it.

So what will this next year bring?  As I move to the next decade, one day at a time, I continue to count the many blessings I have.  I truly enjoy my birthday, as they present opportunities for me to hear from people I haven't heard from.  I love the emails, a text, or phone call that instantly reconnect me to someone who has played an important role in my life

This year my mom fixed me my favorite dinner, and I spent the evening with family.  Except for the countdown, it was just like "the olden days".

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Who isn't College Ready?

Obviously too young for college
There has been much talk about college at the French household over the past several months.  In the fall, we enjoyed several campus visits and as this year begins its final months, decision time is drawing near.

As of right now, Madison has been accepted at every school she has applied and we currently have housing contracts with two of them.  Earlier in the year, she was ALL ABOUT Northwest Missouri State (family Alma Mater) but then another strong contender entered the race, UT-Tyler and all bets were off.

Here's my conundrum.  My "baby" is 18 years old.  She can vote in this election; she can drive well (after a late start, she has this down); she knows how to clean her room and do her laundry (though she treats those as optional at this point in time).  She is an accomplished baker and knows how to get around the kitchen to fix a few meals.  I know most of you are saying....what problem??

Madi needed an appointment with the dentist.  I had to call because Madison doesn't like talking on the phone to people she doesn't know.  Problem #1.

When we arrived at the appointment,  when the dentist asked Madi what she was there to see him about, she looked expectantly at me.  I am as comfortable with silence as the next person but this is time that costs money.  Madison doesn't like sharing personal information about herself.  So I told him why she was there.  Problem #2.

She is still my baby!
Today she received one of her rooming assignments (remember, we have two universities still at play here).  I logged into her account (yes, you read that right), to take a screen shot of where she landed and with who, to send to her.  Her immediate reaction - who is this person?  I don't know them?  What does the school know about what I want??  I didn't even take a personality test, etc. etc......Well, yea, she did.  Or I did.  Who has been doing all the paperwork up until this point?  Problem #3.  (She doesn't even know her log in information - trust me).

Okay.  It seems we have functioned as "we" for so long, the lines have become blurred (that is what I am going with anyway).  We all know that she isn't incapable of doing these things, she just hasn't had to deal with it.  Talking with other mothers, I know I am not alone.

Options....I could go to college with her (she has been voting for this option ever since she was small).  Not as popular lately though it did make a BIG comeback today when I suggested myself as a known roommate alternate!  The reality is she is very autonomous when I am not around so I know I need to begin separating myself from those things I have done for her - her entire life.  Problem #4
I DON'T WANT TO (err, I may not be ready).  And before I own this entire responsibility, let me assure you that if I don't take care of something, Dad does!  His option was that she go to college down the street.  (she wasn't interested).

Okay, so it looks like we have a few things to work on over the next couple of months.  Luckily, we will have plenty of time together to discuss the transition (or lack thereof) as I will be going with her on her SENIOR TRIP.

Until next time,

your pal,

It's never too late to do the "right" thing

Even this is my opinion! What is "the right thing"?  Many times over the years, I have heard people say "I want to do the...