Right now I have been retired for almost three years. Still, my big question is: what happens next? I wasn't wired to just sit on a beach and soak up the sun. Well, at least not every day. So, what is next?
As I walk around my yard and neighborhood on spring days, I have a camera around my neck. My walk consists of looking at things with, not just writer's eyes, but with an artist's eyes. I see things in a new way. I try to look at things closer than I have before. Last night as I was looking through the eye of the camera, my neighbor across the street came home from work. His children had been outside playing. When they saw him drive up, they came running. It was so neat to see them run and hug him. It was so great that I could capture it with my camera.
As I walk with the camera in the early mornings, I can pass along almost unseen. It is like I don't become me anymore, I am now the lens of the camera. As the buds form on the trees and the new flowers push up from the ground, the camera snaps and they are saved. Here are a few more shots of spring from my camera.
We are winding down our Gramma Preschool. The things we are doing are all coming together and Meron is feeling more and more anxious about going to kindergarten next year. I want to be sure she has everything she needs to be successful as she enters her years of schooling.
This week for writing I let her take the lead. I asked her what she wanted to write about for that session. We talked about writing a story. I suggested writing about what she had learned about magnets. That was our science project for our day. She had discovered that magnets picked up some things and didn't pick up others. We put our findings in her Science Notebook. She had another idea. She wanted to write about how to pump gas.
On our way from her house to Gramma's house, we had to stop and get gas. Her first question was, "Can I help pump the gas?" I thought about it. Well, it would take longer if she "helped". Still, it would make a great learning experience.
I pulled up to the pump and she piled out of the backseat. I popped open the door for the gas to be pumped and she unscrewed the cap. I put the credit card in the slot. Each thing we did, I explained what was happening. We put the hose into the car and held the handle down. Then we did a counting exercise as we counted up the gallons of gas going into the car. After awhile it was full and the hose clicked to tell us to stop. We then put the hose back into the pump, she screwed on the cap and shut the gas door. Climbing into the backseat again, she said, "I know how to pump gas, don't I Gramma?"
That is where she got her idea for the book. Not only did she want to write that book, she also knew who the audience would be. As she wrote she said, "I want to give this book to Audrey for her birthday!" Audrey is her four-year-old cousin. You never know when you will have to help someone pump gas!
This weekend we celebrated two of our grandchildren's birthdays. This month Bamlaku turns three and Meron turns five. They were so excited to celebrate their special days. Meron was wearing a traditional dress from her native birth home of Ethiopia. Even though Bam had an outfit to wear, too, he did not fit into it this year!
After a great supper, we got to watch them open their gifts. They loved everything they got. They would shout out: "Thank you!" Then run over and give hugs. Their mom also took a picture of the kids with those who gave the gift! They were just excited kiddos!
Then came the cakes. We watched them blow out their candles after singing to them. Then we all got to eat cake and ice cream. What a great way to celebrate the lives of these wonderful children!
On Saturday we got up earlier than we usually do on a weekend. We had a destination! It was to travel to Detroit with my aunt to celebrate her 85th birthday. The thing is, she didn't know about the party. That was a surprise.
We had planned on visiting our cousins in Detroit all winter. The first time we started out in March and got half way there. Then we hit a Michigan snowstorm and had to turn around and come home. My aunt couldn't go that time since she had a terrible cold. That cold turned into pneumonia and she spent several days in the hospital. So, we promised to take her as soon as the weather got better. However, waking up on Saturday morning, we found a light covering of snow on the deck. We went anyway!
My aunt's birthday is the first of April, so all the Detroit cousins decided they needed to have a party for her. They had a delicious meal and then the CAKE! WOW! It was something else. Not only a beautiful cake, but it tasted great, too. Then the tulip on the top, when lit, had fireworks come out of it, played "Happy Birthday", and turned as the pedals came down to display lit candles.
After opening cards and gifts and eating cake and ice cream, we spent time talking to all the cousins. It was great seeing everyone and getting caught up. As we left, my aunt said, "Let's do that again!" We promised to take her with us again and make another trip north to Detroit!
Ever since I was very young, I was a Detroit Tiger's baseball fan. My aunt and uncle lived in Detroit and my mother lived with them for many years before I was born. it was just sort of a family tradition to become a Tiger's fan. Even though I followed the team as a teenager, I never went to a game. I listened to them on the radio and I watched them on t.v., but never in person. Then when I became an adult, life got in the way of making the two hour drive to see a game. Other things like a job and family of my own were more important. I even stopped watching and listening to games.
When I realized I was free to go to a game because I no longer had to report to a job every day, we made plans and we took off for our day at the park! My former colleages were in classrooms and meetings doing what they do best. I was in Tiger stadium watching a game!
For all my friends who are counting down the days until being retired, start making plans. Think about what you loved as a child. Think about what you wish you had more time to do. Think about what you do, but have to cut it short or do it just when you have "extra" time. Those are the things that you NOW will have time to do. Start making your list!
Today I received a message on Facebook from a friend who asked if I had been at the race in Boston. The answer, of course, was no, I wasn't there. It has been several years since I have run marathons, but I still call myself a runner. My husband and I still travel to Atlanta every year for the annual Peachtree 10k Road Race on July 4th. Due to being a runner and experiencing the thrill of finishing a long race, I have a real connection with those who were finishing that race yesterday.
Start of Peachtree Race 2012
One of the things I notice in every race I have run, is the way the runners support each other. It is not a competition for those who run toward the middle and back of the pack. It is a family of runners. Those who are along the side are not just there yelling for their own family members or friends, they are there supporting ALL runners.
We are already planning our trip to Atlanta for this year's race. We have our hotel room. We have our race registration. We will be running those 6.2 miles. Running on the birthday of our nation has been a special experience for us. I am sure this year will be even more special.
After last year's race.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones, those who are in pain from injuries both physical and mental, and all who were there and experienced this horrible affair. In closing, I'd like to share a quote from Bob Russell's tweet: "The evil one seeks to kill, steal and destroy. Don't cower in fear. Let's run to the only safe haven--the will of God. He will overcome!"
One of my favorite things about being retired is to walk with Dave. Dave is my three-year-old golden retriever. We usually walk around our addition on a two-mile route that takes us past lots of Dave's friends. The friends are not just other dogs, but also children and even dog-loving adults. This is a great way to make new friends and catch up with old ones.
We also like to walk in other neighborhoods or locations. This spring we took Dave to walk on a new pathway for us. It was on the other side of our small, northern Indiana town. The trail led us past woods, ball parks and churches. We saw many others walking on that cool spring day and even a few bikers. Dave loved the new smells that a new trail will bring.
We do many of our walks with my husband, too. The three of us get up early in the morning...5:00, and head out. This is a wonderful time to just have the road to ourselves. Dave can explore without any interruptions from people. The quiet of the new day gives us a chance to talk over our plans for the day or regroup on what we did the past weekend. Dave loves having both of us walk with him.
No matter what Dave and I do, we love being together. Taking walks in all kinds of weather gives us a special bond. His favorite time of year is winter, when the snow is piled high and he can make his doggy angels. Or he can tunnel through the snow with his nose to the ground. My favorite is the fall, when the leaves are changing and the air has a special crispness to it. We just like to spend the days enjoying each other. That is what retirement brings!
It was a rather rainy April day. But isn't that what April is all about? After all the verse goes, "April showers bring May flowers." However, this April day was not only threatening to rain, it was bitterly cold, too. The wind was whipping around corners and down the street. Still, it was that time in the spring when many women rush to Fort Wayne and stand in line with large pink garbage bags to do some shopping. Not just any shopping, but shopping for anything Vera!
For many years I had listened to ladies talk about how they were going to hit the sale early and stay late. They had their shopping lists made and knew what they wanted to get for children and grandchildren, cousins and grandmothers. The Vera Bradley sale was a high point of the year. The best stuff was there at the beginning of the week. If you were serious about buying, you went on Tuesday or at least on Wednesday and stood in line to get the best spots.
I had never had the chance to go during the week. I am not and never will be a die-hard shopper. However, I have been able to go on Saturdays and even talked my husband into going with me. We would walk the ailes and find a tidbit or two and make our way out through the lines.
However, this year I could go ANY day I wanted. I talked my friend and fellow retiree into going with me this year. She had never gone before and always wondered about it. So, on Friday morning, we had our registration in hand and drove the 20 miles to Fort Wayne and the show. We pulled into the parking lot and noticed it wasn't as full as we had imagined. We watched the pink garbage bags leaving the building in groves.
We had so much fun walking up and down the ailes. We were amazed at the amount of people there. We were amazed at the piles and piles of handbags, wallets, bags, and anything you could imagine in Vera Bradley prints. We spent about two hours looking for the bargains we had hoped to find. My friend came away with a large bag for traveling. I came away with a handbag, two wallets, a make-up bag and a computer carrier. Were they things we needed? Not really, just things we wanted!
As we headed over to Panera Bread for lunch, we promised each other we would do it again next year. No, we won't be there in line on Tuesday or Wednesday morning, but we will get our registration in so we can be part of the tradition of walking up and down those ailes with huge pink bags!
Did you go this year? Did you stand in line to get in before everyone else? What is your Vera story?
This morning brings clouds, but promises of the rain stopping, even though the air will be much cooler. The 80 degree weather of the first part of the week is a weak memory. Last night brought thunder storms and high winds, all things that Dave does not like at all. He spent the night trying to cuddle between us and with a dog that weighs 100 pounds, that is not the best experience for sleeping! Since it is a rather rainy, cloudy day, Vivaldi will be on my CD player both at home and in the car. This is another way I can spend my retirement days...teaching my granddaughter about classical music.
Using magnetic letters to write her name
The trip to and from Fort Wayne from my home twenty minutes away, is a time that the two of us to have great conversations. I have started using the trip from her house to mine as a time to listen to Gramma's music. I have introduced her to jazz by playing Joe Sample's CDs. She knows that jazz uses a lot of piano and drums. She likes the ones with upbeat music. I have also introduced her to gospel by playing from the CD by Alvin Ailey. She really likes the music that has a strong beat. Today will be a chance to introduce her to Vivaldi. That is the music of rainy days. I am hoping that she will always know that on rainy days we listen to that kind of classical music.
Snack time during preschool.
Yes, she always asks for "her" music on the way back to her house and I put on the Disney channel on my Sirius radio. We talk about the singers and what the songs are about. She tells me who her favorite singers are and why she likes them. We sing along with the ones that I know. It is a fun, happy way to end our day. But still, I have a chance to introduce her to some other types of music that she may never have understood otherwise.
As I sit in my living room watching the rain hit the windows and hear the thunder in the distance, I think about how my life has changed since I retired last June. This school year is 3/4 done and I have had time to explore many options for retirement. Most have been enjoyable and all have been learning experiences. In my next few blogs, I will be touching on things I have done and reviewing for myself, as well as anyone else who happens to read them.
I have had the chance to write blogs for my teacher friends and even strangers who just happen upon my blog. It has been fun searching and researching topics of interest and then sharing what I learn with others. I have felt connected with the education world by using my writing as that connection. It is great to hear what teachers are doing in the classroom and I even got invited to a few rooms to watch the wonderful work that is happening there.
I have had the chance to work in a couple classrooms on a regular basis...not every day or even every week, but often enough for me to get my "kid fix" and feel a part of those rooms. Both rooms were fifth grades but from different school districts. These visits gave me material to share with my readers and kept me informed as to what is happening in the school world.
I have had the chance to enjoy my grandchildren. I go every Wednesday to Story Time at the library here in town with Graham, my 2 1/2 year old grandson and his family. It is wonderful to watch him interact with other children and listen to stories, sing songs and do crafts. I also have Meron, my four year old granddaughter, come to my house and we have Gramma Preschool twice a month. We have done many fun activities like make play dough, frost cookies, play with magnetic letters, read books, do science experiments and play math games. She is now all excited about entering kindergarten next year.
I have had the chance to go for long walks with Dave, my three-year-old golden retriever. We walk every day in our neighborhood on two mile walks several times a day. We also went in town and walked for four miles with our friend, Sarah. We even went once to the Rieke Trail on the other side of town. That is something we will do more often as the weather gets better.
I have had the chance to do more exercising and have lost about 15 lbs! I always have enjoyed running and walking, but now I have time to use the elliptical machine. I use it several times a day and just love the way it makes me feel. I think I am in better shape now than I have ever been...even when I was running marathons. I am looking forward to the weather getting warmer so I can start running outside and biking! Oh, yes, and for our pool to open, so I can start swimming again!
I can't forget having the chance to travel. I have gone to Florida, New York City, Detroit baseball game, Chicago, Spanish Fork, Utah, and Las Vegas. I visited a school in NYC, did a lesson in a classroom in Utah, saw a dance troupe in Chicago and a concert in Las Vegas. We have many more trips planned for the future. Can't wait to share my trips with my readers!
As you can see, I have been busy. I will go into depth with each of these activities in the next few weeks. Come on back and share what's next!