Sunday, August 28, 2011

Can I Ever, Truly Retire?

I occasionally dream about what those far-off retirement years could look like - traveling, having a house stuffed to the brim with family during the holidays, traveling some more to visit our kids scattered around the world, relaxing (LOTS of relaxing)...and no more homeschooling.

That last one doesn't make most people's "dream" list of what retirement will look like, does it?  It's actually made my list for a long time now.  Don't get me wrong, I've loved all these years of guiding my children through those formative years of their education.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.  However, when I think about the fact that I began that journey in 1991, and depending on how long we homeschool the could be as late as 2020 or 21 before I'm makes me very tired.

I mentioned to Nate recently that if there was no other reason to find alternative schooling options for our younger three children when they reach high school age, that was ONE reason that was good enough for me - the fact that I'd be in my mid-50's by the time Josiah graduates.   When I started homeschooling as a young, 20-something-year-old mom, did I imagine I would still be doing it into my mid-50's?  Not even remotely.  But was Nate sympathetic?

"Oh, but that's a great age to retire; several years younger than most people retire.  That's one of the advantages of being a teacher!" he replied.

If only they could still use crayons
to do their college algebra.
Not exactly the kind of understanding, consoling response I was looking for.

As I think more about it, however, I realize homeschooling is too intertwined with the mom job to ever be something you just completely "quit" doing.  It's like during the summer, when Josiah asks about the web things in the trees with hundreds and hundreds of ugly caterpillars inside of them.  School is the furthest thing from my mind in summer-time (I enjoy summer break more than the kids do) and yet I hear myself telling him that we need to look them up and figure out what we can learn about them.  It's just become habit turning to look when someone hollers "MOM!" even if your children are nowhere around...or fully grown.

Does that mean I've convinced myself I can formally school my last three children all the way through their high school graduation?  Hmmm...I hope not.  But it does mean, some far off day when I'm "retired" and walking through the woods with one of my grandkids, we'll probably pick up some random, crawling thing and trot back to the house to figure out what it is.  And when the younger sibling screams because he didn't get a creepy crawly like big sister did...I'll turn to his mother and say, "You should deal with that screaming child."

THAT will be retirement.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pandora, You Don't Know Me

I love to listen to Pandora internet radio.  I can choose the style of music I'm in the mood for...or, best of all, I can mix it up and get the variety I love in music.  (What other station will play Abba, Plumb and Billie Holiday back to back?)

However, I don't like the way it tries to figure me out.  It started a year or so ago, when a certain song would begin and it would tell me "so-in-so likes this artist."  What?  How does it know who my friends are and what they like? I don't remember ever giving it access to Facebook or anything.  I believe, when I signed in a few years ago to begin listening, that all I did was give it my email address; and yet Pandora - you never email me.  You're like a stalker, trying to silently figure out all you can about me.

Now that it thinks it has my friends figured out - it's getting pushy.  It thinks it now knows my gender and age...because it keeps putting this ad in my sidebar, showing pictures of gray-haired men, entitled "Meet 50+ men in your area."  What???!

Here's my reaction to this - bulleted, of course, to make my points clear and concise, since I'm now old and know the importance of such things:
  • My first thought was, "Why would I want to meet 50 or more men???"
  • Then I saw all the gray hair...and realized Pandora was really trying to say 50 YEAR OLD men (or older.)  
  • Next - the photos.  Haha...those are NOT men in my area, no matter what Pandora may try to tell me.  Guys that age in my part of the world usually have pot bellies, farmer's tans on their head from wearing hats all their life...and they do not look the least bit air-brushed.
  • The insinuation - that I would be looking for an old man - is wrong in so many ways...
  1. I'm a middle-aged woman who, like every other woman my age, would love to feel and look younger. You dare to suggest I need an OLD man?
  2. I'm so happily married, it's crazy.  Why would I even consider offending my un-bald, un-gray, trim and fit 40-something-year-old guy for a fake, photo-shopped, random old man?  
  3. Some other thoughts that shouldn't be put in print.
  • Last but not least, my husband says Pandora also shows him ads, but of course they're for women in the area. 
  • The pictures of the women?  They're YOUNG!  WHAT'S UP WITH THAT???!   Because he's a guy - he needs hot, young things...and since I'm a woman, I need old, gray-haired "distinguished" guys?  Now if that doesn't offend me, I don't know what would.
However - I love music too much to quit listening.  Thus, I'll just have to tolerate your pushy insinuations.

Just remember, are not smart enough to ever, truly, figure me out.  But don't take it personally - even my awesome husband struggles with that one.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Wish it Weren't So

Over the past few years, I often grin inwardly as I hear my husband remorsefully exclaim, "When will I learn that my wife is ALWAYS right?!"

However, I try not to gloat. In fact, there are many times that I would prefer to be wrong.  Take, for example, the most recent time I heard him make that statement...

We were headed to Houston, TX.  It was August, the middle of the afternoon and about 110 degrees on a desolate stretch of Oklahoma "highway."  (I use that term rather reluctantly, as the road would have been more aptly called a "roughway" or a "potholeway.")  All of a sudden there was the dreaded thumping and out-of-control feeling of a blown tire.  Nate handled it very well and aptly got us maneuvered to the shoulder.  He, with the help of our three older girls that were with us, made quick and efficient work out of getting the ruined tire removed, the spare tire mounted and before we were all completely drenched in sweat...we were back on the road.

Here's where I wish I could be wrong.  We hadn't been back on the road very long when I hesitantly ventured to say, "Nate, I know it will eat up an hour or two of our time, but maybe we should go get that tire replaced so we have a spare in case we happen to have another flat?"   (I had now been noticing that there were literally pieces and shreds of tire along every mile of that "highway"...I think the heat and the rough road were consuming tires.)

"Ah - where's your faith and sense of adventure?" eternal-optimist-Nate replied.  "If we're going to make it all the way to Houston tonight, we really just need to keep pushing on, and I'm sure it'll be fine."

Well, you can guess what happened.  It was nearing dark...we were only 2 1/2 hours from reaching Houston, and a truck passed us with a guy hanging out the window making weird gestures with his hands and pointing towards the back of our Expedition.  Nate, still the optimist, said, "I bet a lid is coming off one of those containers on the back."  (we have a hitch rack, for hauling our extra stuff that just doesn't fit in the vehicle)

He pulled over, got out, and I heard him exclaim, "Oh no - that tire is going down fast!"

He hopped back in, driving towards the nearest exit ramp at a snail's pace - it was some county road exit in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but farmland for miles and miles around.  And yes, I believe the next words out of his mouth were, "When will I ever learn that my wife is always right?!"


I - not being nearly as optimistic as my husband - have been a card-carrying member of AAA for the past few years.  He refuses a membership - but as long as I or one of our card-carrying older girls are in the disabled vehicle - we can call them to the rescue, whether or not I'm driving and whether or not I'm right.

I spent several minutes on the phone as the lady tried to figure out where we seemed that the nearest town of any size at all was over 30 minutes away.  She finally got a driver called - he called back and Nate explained to him that we didn't have a spare - we were FAR from home - he wasn't leaving his family standing along the interstate - and we had to have a tire.  The guy's response?  "I'm just the tow truck driver!"

However, he went above the call of duty.  His large tow truck for loading 4WD vehicles  was a club cab, so all eight of us piled in.  He had also called a local garage at a little wide spot in the road.  Did I mention that by this time, it was nearly 10 PM on a Sunday night?  No matter...the mechanic said he had some used tires lying around - nine of which were our size - and he'd open up and fix us up.

So, we got fixed up by a quiet little tattooed redneck who didn't seem to mind at all that it was late at night on a weekend.  We all stood around in his hot parking lot (except for Nate - who can't stand still and had to help.)  At one point...a random tall, lanky fellow walked up, twirling a lasso.  He hung around a bit, twirled that lasso some more, then meandered off.  Next, a cat wandered up and the girls were petting it, when the mechanic-of-few-words said, "That's Dog."

One of my girls said, "What?  Wait...this is a cat."

"Yup.  And his name is Dog."

Oh, Texas - are you sure you're not your own special country (or continent?)

And Nate, I KNOW you're special, but I wish to goodness that I could be wrong sometimes.  ;-)