Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Still singing my song(s)

As all my kids will attest, there is nothing I like more than singing in the car on long road trips. Okay, truth be told, I will sing in the car for a five-minute drive.  I am also very guilty of playing the same song OVER AND OVER again, for a variety of reasons.  Now, if I am trying to learn the words to a song, of course I need to hear it many times.  Sometimes my OCD nature just locks in on a particular song (due to mood, memories, etc.) and then I might play it the entire way home.

Pretty battered but still plays!
When Madison and I were getting ready to leave for our road trip to Tyler, we talked about our music choices the night before.  The iPhone makes it so easy to have all your music with you and available, but if you didn't buy it from iTunes, your selection won't be as all encompassing.

Enter my first iPod.

I didn't even know what an iPod was nine or ten years ago.  My co-worker Janet had just purchased one and since I was traveling much of the time, she encouraged me to ask for one for my birthday.  So I did...and I was fascinated with all it could do.  It was about an inch thick, and not only could I download songs from iTunes, but I could also transfer CD's on to this little gem.  I could also listen to books and watch movies.  It was a portable entertainment center.

Since the original iPod has come out, there have been sleeker, more intuitive versions, however since my old one has well over 3,000 songs, I was loathe to give it up.

It has been on a charger up in my office for the longest time (as I said before, the iPhone just makes it too easy) but I grabbed it for the road trip we were going on.  WHAT A JOY THAT HAS BEEN!

There are songs (and artists) that I had totally forgotten about until the song popped up in the queue.  Amazingly, the words to these songs (some which date back 40+ years) roll out of my mouth as if I have been singing them daily.  Don't ask me what I had for lunch yesterday or who I had lunch with....but start a song that I knew oh so many years ago, and I am BACK!

I have been back from the road trip for three days, however, I am still dialing my way around the plethora of songs I have at my fingertips (literally).

While I don't know (or remember) everything, I am confident that if I have heard the song before (and liked it)....I can sing it!

Until next time,

your song leader,

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Waking up confused

When I first moved to Texas five plus years ago, I had responsibilities across the state. This wasn't any different than I had experienced in Kansas with one small caveat  Texas is a BIG state. When I travelled across the state in Kansas, even venturing into Oklahoma (and always starting in Missouri) I put 40,000 plus miles on my car annually.  The only places I drove my car in Texas were to the office and to the airport.

It was during that frenzy of travelling, usually weekly (and sometimes with more than one trip) that I overcame my fear of flying. I racked up frequent flier miles and even earned a companion pass. This went on for almost three years before I departed that life.

Why bring it up now?  There are a few reasons. When I reflect on the past 26+ years of my career, travel has always been a significant part of the gig.  It's only been the past (almost) 2 years, that travel has become a "planned" part of my life.  Because of this, I now have a greater appreciation for simple things such as a daily schedule, eating home cooked meals (even though I am the one preparing them) and especially sleeping in my own bed the majority of the time.

The second reason I am reflecting on this is because I have been doing a significant amount of travelling lately. Since August 12th, I have slept in five different beds (6 counting my own), in five different cities, across four different states.  I am having flashbacks to when this was my life. And I ask myself not only HOW did I do this, but WHY did I think this was the way to live.  

There were many times during that period, that I would wake up not knowing where I was!  Not a good feeling.

Before you think I am backsliding into my old ways, the difference this go-round is only my current time away from home is work-related. Yes, you read that right.  As Terry and I close out this summer as full-time parents, we planned several trips to see family and friends (like family) before we send Madison off to college on Friday.

For reference, add one more bed and one more city to the list above come Friday. 

So while I am responsible for the jetsetter schedule, I also got to bring my favorite travelling companions with me.

And a GREAT time was had by all.

Finally, since Madison will be starting college next week, I do plan on showing up for work the ENTIRE WEEK.  I will reacquaint myself with staff and responsibilities.

But not for long. After enjoying a three-day Labor day weekend, I will add one more bed, one more city and one more state to the list above.

All business this time!

Until next time,

Your pal,

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The (mad) dog days of summer

The summer is winding down. August is now closer to ending than beginning.  But what a summer it has been.

I believe we have packed more activity into this summer than some years all rolled together. And it's not over yet.

This past weekend we flew from Austin to Kansas City, and then headed north to Iowa.  My mother-in-law and her family were all gathering for a family reunion.  Not only did we get to enjoy more time with Madison (we are on the final countdown) we enjoyed time with the other French kids and their spouse or significant other. Not to mention our youngest two grandsons. And quality time with Terry's four sisters and their families.  And of course,  Terry's mom!

Sunday found us heading back to Kansas City for Averie's birthday party (hello terrible two's) and time with the older grandsons.  By evening we were heading west to Topeka for time with Grandma Jones.  Back to KC on Monday night and then a great opportunity to eat lunch with four former KGS employees (they REALLY retired).

Back to Austin but only to check in, unpack, do some laundry and get our things together.  Our girls trip to Florida begins tomorrow through Monday. We will get together with one of my favorite mother daughter duos (KP and Gia) for a magical weekend of Disney wonders, beach time, and serious catching up.

Madison (aka Madi, aka Mad dog-depending on circumstances) is T minus 9 days and counting before we take our last car trip for awhile, on the 26th.  And this time, Terry and I will be driving home without her.

I remember the first time she spent the night at a friend's house. Then "little Jamie" was having a few friends sleep over. We knew her parents well; her mom was actually the director at MT's daycare.   While we didn't spend the night with her, we DID send Marissa as her chaperone (Marissa was around 15 at the time).

Fondly I recall the first time Madison went to church camp. It was in Colorado; in the mountains. Again, we didn't stay AT the camp, however I did stay in Colorado Springs for the entire week....just in case she needed me.  And did I mention, Marissa was a counselor at the camp?

So now, we are expected to drop her off at college. Sharing space with girls we don't know. Terry said I cannot live in the town where she will be....just in case as she needs me. And as of this date, Marissa has made ZERO plans to be at college with her.  This is unacceptable.

When Madi was growing up, she sat in the backseat, in a car seat and then booster seat, until she met both height and weight requirements. The booster seat from an age perspective was up to 5 years old. She hit the height/weight when she was 7 plus. When she pointed out that other kids didn't have to sit in the booster seat anymore, it was then I had to tell her the truth (according to me)

Very sincerely I told her that it was sad but true that her mom and dad loved her more than ALL those other parents.

And we still do!

Until next time,
Your pal,

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Life's lesson plan

When I was growing up, I loved school.  Or at least the learning part. Before I finished sixth grade, I had attended five different grade schools. Yes, we moved around a lot. However, once we landed at my last elementary school, we lived in the same neighborhood through high school.

As much as I liked school, I loathed being the new kid in class.  Maybe that is why I have stayed at my "grown-up" jobs for so long.  I like to get to know people, and have them know me.

Being a non-traditional college student , I was reminded again of my enjoyment of formal education.  With young kids at home plus working full-time,  I attended what I call "real college" because I wanted the experience.  Granted, I never lived in a dorm, but I did get a taste of college life.

After completing my bachelor's, followed by my master's degree, I could easily been persuaded to go for my Ph.d, but that wasn't part of my life's lesson plan.

But I never stopped learning.

The "school of hard knocks" (aka life) has certainly provided me many learning lessons along the way.

When I was in sixth grade, my career choice was to be an FBI agent.  And while I have keen investigative skills, the acquisition of such skills did NOT come from bureau training.

I also always wanted to be a mom.  I have enjoyed this role many times over and all of the parenting skills learned have been fine-tuned (almost to an art) when raising our last girl.

My education has been focused on psychology and counseling. And although I have never pursued my license in this field, I use my education and skills associated with this degree, every day of my life.

Finally, I always thought I did not want to be a teacher; yet in looking back (and very recently) I have taught.  As the primary driver's ed teacher in our family, I taught all the kids to drive. I know my brother and sister would much rather have had "adult" Kari teach them, than the 18 year old screamer they experienced.

I don't recall having much confidence when I taught Sunday School at different times, but I have been told I am very calm and patient with my ladies at knitting class.  Patience - such a concept I never fully grasped before.

I don't know everything and I am so glad.  That means there is still so much more to learn.

Until next time,
#teacher's pet

Your pal,

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

It's my birthday...NOT!

Yesterday was Averie's birthday.  She is my favorite (only) granddaughter and she is now two years old.  My daughter is accommodating my travel schedule and only celebrated Averie's birthday with immediate family.  Her "party" will be later this month when I can be there.

I hope we aren't starting something.  You'll see why in a minute.
Birthday fun at school

Everyone celebrates birthday's differently.  When "us five kids" were growing up, there were enough of us already to constitute a small crowd so we didn't have friends over.  If a big present was received by one, it was a guarantee that we would all be receiving the same for our birthdays.  For example, my brother's birthday was in January and when he was around 11 or 12, HE RECEIVED A BIKE!  This was a big deal since none of us had one.  My nose was slightly out of joint since being the oldest, I thought he shouldn't have a bike before me.  Luckily, my birthday was next up on the calendar and my blue sting-ray nicely complimented his gold one.

When I had kids-plural (which wasn't until Megan was 7), I started the practice of giving the non-birthday child a small gift.  This soon became a tradition that carried on to my nieces as well.  As my list of recipients grew, I was spending like Christmas (almost).  And while Megan and Marissa might have both received gifts twice a year, I cut that expensive idea off by the time I had Madison.

As a grandma (Mimi) darned if I didn't start the same business all over again, once each family had more than one boy.  Heads up to Ethan and Nathan....that ship has sailed now that Averie is here.  It seems 3 is the magic number of how far I will go.

As a child, Megan loved her birthday.  In fact, she loved it so much that I shared a memory with her that few people know about.

Megan was three (already) and I was back to work.  One summer afternoon when I went to pick her up, I was surprised to see a full blown birthday celebration wrapping up.  Before I could ask whose birthday it was, the sitter started chastising me for not telling her it was Megan's birthday,  My smiling face froze as my little daughter came out with her gift bag, evidence of cake and frosting still on her face.  She smiled at me and said "it's my birthday".

At this point, there was only one thing to do.  After quickly determining that the only thing more humiliating for me would be to ADMIT  that it was INDEED NOT HER BIRTHDAY (after such a great effort had been made)  was for me to graciously thank everyone involved, and hustle that little schemer out to the car.

She's two!!!!!
Megan has conveniently forgot this episode, but I was scarred for life.  While I was very happy with the in-home day-care situation, I now knew the clock was ticking.  After all, Megan would REALLY have a birthday in about nine months and we needed to be gone by then.

I don't remember much more than that (about this particular incident) but I can't help but wonder....Were we having family birthday parties separate from friends parties, which made her think she could easily have two (once we stopped)?

Just wondering.

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...