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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Three Dates in One Week!

Jim emailed me Tuesday and asked if I would be his date for a church coed softball double-header.  I accepted even though I knew this meant he would sit in the dugout keeping score and I would be on the bleachers.  The team won both games and it was a good evening cheering for the team.

Then on Thursday Jim asked if I would walk along with him for nine holes at the Warren Golf Course.  I suggested a cart but was convinced walking would be good for us. My role was to stand behind Jim when he was at the tee or on the fairway so that I could help him spot the ball. However, I admit I was often distracted from my wifely support role by looking for stray golf balls--or even checking my iphone. We were both incredibly hot and sweaty at the end of nine holes so a DQ treat tasted great.

Last, but definitely not least, we took the South Shore train to Chicago Friday afternoon with the purpose of treating one of Jim's PhD graduates for dinner.  We stayed at the Four-star Blackstone Renaissance Hotel at a reduced rate thanks to Hotwire.    We walked up Michigan Avenue to the Art Institute where Jim was my member guest for "America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s."   We saw some iconic works by Edward Hopper and Grant Wood and others that were less familiar.

I used my Uber app succesfully for the first time on my own and we made our way to Pork Chop in Hyde Park for supper with Jonathan, Christine, and baby Avery.  An Uber ride back to the hotel was followed by a walk to Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park and a good night of sleep after 14,000 plus steps in the heat and humidity. Even the noise from the ever present El didn't bother me!

The next morning we had another very hot walk to our 10 am Architecture Tour on the Chicago River.   I had done the tour several years ago and was eager to share it with Jim.  He agreed that the tour gives you  amazing views of the skyscrapers that you don't get from walking down the streets.

We were happy to sit in the air conditioned Millennium Station for an hour waiting for our 1:35 pm train back to South Bend.  A $26 dollar round trip charge for two seniors was a great deal.

 No plans this week for any dates.  But who knows what will come up in the life of two retirees?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Three and a half days in Gladwyne

A few weeks ago I was feeling at loose ends and lonesome for children and grandchildren.  I emailed Michael and Laura and Michael responded with "Come on July 14 so Laura can go to Florida with me."    Jim was not interested, so on a whim, I asked my sister if she would like to accompany me.  To my surprise, her response was, "That sounds interesting."

A DQ treat in Haverford
 So last Wednesday I drove to Grand Rapids where I met Lois and we took an American non-stop flight to Philadelphia.   Michael was already gone on his business trip; Laura left Thursday at suppertime.  As it turned out, Michael went to Seattle instead for two nights and he met Laura in Maine for two days of hiking and lobster.

Promise and Gabrielle were the Thursday and Friday nannies.  Laura and Promise took the kids to the zoo on Thursday; Lois and I walked to town and got some coffee.  The humidity was terrible and discouraged us from much outdoor walking.   Lois exercised in the pool each afternoon but I enjoyed a nap instead.
Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom at 6 am

What did we do with the kids when we were on our own with them?   We swam after supper two of the nights.  We took the kids to swimming lessons Saturday morning and then had a DQ treat afterwards.  Lois played Uno and participated in a rather long and complicated Santa Claus improvisation directed by Jasper.   She was a saint.   While she did that, I was chauffering Sam to his six year old "girlfriend" Emory's birthday party at a trampoline center.   My goal was to avoid I 76 or I 476 and I did, but that meant Siri directed me with many turns.  I was relieved to see that we arrived at the right place--after crossing I 76 twice!

 After an initial protest of "I don't like zucchini", we made zucchini muffins and they were so good that we had to make them the next day too.  We also made brownies for Alex's 1 1/2 year birthday and that went over very well with Alex!  Our meals were kids' meals of scrambled eggs, hot dogs, chicken strips, etc. But Lois and I did enjoy a bit of wine when everyone was in bed or at least quiet.

 I tried to have evening prayers with the three older ones and, with a little encouragement, even rebel Sam joined in with a thank you for the pool and the party.  Ruth and Jasper can really enter into thanksgivings and requests worded with "I hope..." like  "I hope Mommy and Daddy have a safe journey."

The nights were not easy.  Alex is 18 months old and resists bedtime.  With long naps, I didn't even try to get him to bed before 9 pm. I'd give him a bottle, sing to him, give him his "nana" (pacifier), and  I would think he was asleep.    I would put him down and he would pop right up again.  He can crawl out of his crib so the end is left open.  As cute as he is,and he is adorably good-natured,  hearing his little "Mama" at the door of his room at 4:30 AM was not a welcoming wakeup call.  However, he was persuaded to go back to sleep.   The other two mornings, I was up with him at 5:30 and 6:00.  The last morning, Lois encouraged me to go back to bed after an hour--and I fell sound asleep again.

As Lois said, "This was not a vacation."  No, it wasn't.  We got tired and the kids never seemed tired!  Lois said she was glad to get to know my grandchildren and I was happy to feel as if I continued to get to know them better.   And I was glad Michael and Laura could have some time together.

Our last little adventure was our Uber trip to the Philly airport.  Gabrielle, the Friday nanny, helped me download the app and helped us call for a ride on Sunday. It could not have been smoother and easier.  Our flight was good, my two hour drive seemed long but by 7:30 I was home having a glass of wine with Jim.



Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The "Old Folks" Celebrate the 4th of July

I felt a little sad as the holiday began.  I missed family and the exciting celebrations of days gone by.  To his credit, Jim had said earlier in the week that he was thinking about how we could celebrate the 4th.  He came up with the idea of going out for breakfast.

So that was how our day started.  And my almond-cranberry pancakes at LePeep were absolutely delicious!   Jim enjoyed his "Eighteen Wheeler" breakfast too.

I told Jim we could just walk in our neighborhood for some much-needed exercise. But he thought it would be better to go somewhere else so we had a beautiful walk along the river in Mishawaka.  We enjoyed the gardens, the kids on the splash pad, and the sculptures along the way.

We had a cookout of chicken thighs and veggies--some of which were pretty burned but still tasty.  With rhubarb crisp for dessert, it was a good meal.

The Cubs beat the Cardinals after four losses to the Mets and that was worth celebrating!

We watched the Macy fireworks on TV and texted Dan who was there in person.  The patriotic music was great and so were the fireworks from the four barges on the East River in New York City.   It brought back memories of seeing them live several years ago from the 38th floor of the Corinthian where Laura and Michael lived.  It also brought back memories of other firework displays--Lexington, Massachusetts in 1976 for the Bicentennial, Meredith College in Raleigh, NC when I was 9 months pregnant with Dan and supposed to be on bedrest, and the Rose Bowl fireworks in Pasadena when Jim was teaching two week stints at Fuller Seminary.  All good memories--so many memories when you are of a certain age!

It was a quiet day but a good day after all.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Random Thoughts at the Beginning of Jim's Retirement

 Jim has about 20 boxes left to empty out of the 44 the movers brought to our basement on June 2.   He is working down there right now going through files of articles.  Every file means a decision--keep or recycle.  It does take time.  However, he just came upstairs to announce that he had found a long lost file that he will want to use for his next project.  He has asked our handyman to build more bookshelves because there is no more room on the ones we have.

On Thursday I posted a photo on Facebook of Jim and Mark Noll, a friend from church, with a statement about it being their last day before becoming professors emeriti.  At this point, the post has received 87 "likes" and 20 comments, mostly of congratulations.  The comments come from all stages of our life-- from high school friends to  recent graduate student friends in the group we sponsor at church.  Jim, Mark and Maggie scorn Facebook but I forward the comments to them in emails.  I like the idea that this occasion can be shared and noticed!

Friday, July 1,  was the first official  day of  retirement.  Jim was in his office by 8:30 am as always.  The big change was that he no longer has a reserved parking spot.  It's not a problem in good weather; it will be more of an issue when the weather turns cold and icy.  Getting used to a new office with a different microwave, refrigerator, copier, and printer has also taken a bit of effort on his part.  Jim likes his routines!

Is this all making a difference in my life too? Today I picked up my first prescription under the Medicare Advantage program and the charge was $2.  That bodes well. We are no longer on  Notre Dame's excellent medical and prescription plan.

Since Jim is purging so many files, I was inspired to go through the work materials I had saved since I retired 2 1/2 years ago.  I had purged them once; I found  it easier to purge a lot more this time.  I shredded 170 ILRs (Individual Learning Records) for students I could not even remember.  They enrolled but may have stayed in class for just a few weeks or less.  I saved probably 100 or so more files of students that I did remember and have been looking up those names on Facebook.  Many are there.  I refrained from making "friend" requests in most cases, although I am curious as to what has become of many of them.    It was definitely an exercise in nostalgia.

We shall see how this all plays out financially and how we use our time together and apart.  I am going to take care of our grandchildren later this month but Jim will stay home.  I hope we can do so again in September together.  We are planning a week at Lake Michigan in late August and a trip to southern Indiana in October and are not constrained by a university academic schedule.    There should be more freedom to come and go but I don't think there will be any other big changes in our daily lives.