Being weeded

The end of the week was just as strange as the beginning of the week. I don’t think I want anymore signs.

I’ve been struggling this week searching for purpose and meaning. I’ve been depressed and clinging dearly to life by a small cobweb string. There have been fights and arguments. There was one where I pried off my wedding ring just to chuck it at my husband. Maybe we should separate. Maybe we should divorce.

Most of our friends have already been divorced. Some live with another and never remarry. Some are on their second or third marriages. They seem so happy. Sometimes it seems so much easier to throw everything you have away and start all over again.

This week we will be married 22 years and lately it has been more difficult than it has been before. We let our children become the center of our lives and have to learn to live with each other again. We don’t know what we are doing. We had a newborn on our first anniversary.

This week our baby got her driver’s license, first try. I honestly didn’t think she would pass. While she was taking the test, I was already thinking about when she could retake it.

My husband got his hours cut at the business we sold. He is only going to be paid for 12 hours a week. That has been very stressful. We should be okay with the money we saved up. Tomorrow morning, however, Paul is planning on signing papers to become a franchise owner of a new business. He wants us to work together again. Most of the arguments were about me not working. Although I am almost done with my book, I had to set it down for awhile because I promised myself if I got really depressed that I would set it aside.

We decided to keep working on our marriage and to go after our dreams. If it doesn’t work out we could always do something else. We have to trust that things will fall into place.

Paul and I had a good day together yesterday, but things gradually fell apart. Arabella had a friend over, went to drive her home, and had the windows fog up but didn’t know how to defrost the windshield. I kept my ringer on just in case she needed more help. Most nights I turn my ringer off before I go to bed. I’m a light sleeper and figure my adult children can take care of themselves.

I was tired, but left my phone on and stayed up late. I received a call from Alex saying that his car broke down and needed towing. We just had it at the garage the day before, but they said what he needed fixing is very expensive. The body of the car dropped to the ground and he can’t drive it unless it is fixed. He was distraught that he now has two cars that don’t run.

He asked what the meaning of life was if it only brought suffering and pain to himself and the people he cares about. I told him he has a purpose and his job in life is to find that purpose. Don’t listen to the thoughts in your head that tell you that you are worthless. Don’t be discouraged, yet at times I am.

Now we are waiting to see if the car is worth fixing or if it is beyond repair. We got home late last night, around 1 AM. We were ready for bed when my phone rang again. My daughter Angel was calling. Her friends took her out for her 21st birthday. She was rather intoxicated and called to tell me she loved me. I talked to her for awhile, but she wasn’t making much sense. At the end of the call, her boyfriend Dan came on the phone and assured me not to worry that he would get my daughter back home safe.

I knew she was going out. I did worry especially since I wasn’t sure if Dan was going because he had a funeral to attend on the other side of the state earlier in the day. His uncle died in a freak accident trying to clean up after the storm that hit.

As I was ready to finally go to bed around 1:30, my mom texted and said she got safely to her vacation destination out of the country. She wanted me to call my dad because he doesn’t text and it was expensive to call. I called my dad today. At the end of the conversation, he told me he loved me for the second time in my entire life.

I went in the house to eat lunch with Paul and a song was on I never heard that said you’re being weeded.

Although I’ve been having a faith crisis, I’ve been still going to church because I am able to find some serenity there. Last week there was a sermon about how the weeds are planted alongside the good seeds. But if you pluck the weeds too soon, the plant will also be uprooted and die. But at the right time, the weeds will be pulled out and the plant can flourish and grow like never before.

I think I’m being weeded.

Fortune cookie wisdom #15

Sometimes…money costs too much.

Money…along with sex, religion, and politics are the topics I was taught not to talk about.

Money…how can it cost too much??

I think greed costs too much. If you spend your life chasing the almighty dollar at the expense of having close relationships with others, in my opinion the price is too steep.

But wait, aren’t all rich people greedy?? Absolutely not! Greed can take the hearts of the rich and poor alike. There are a lot of rich people that do wonderful things with their money. If you don’t have money, you could be generous with your time.

But, doesn’t money buy happiness? It certainly can make your misery a lot more comfortable. My husband always said that the only ones he hears say that money doesn’t buy happiness are poor. It’s unusual because he has lived his life at both ends of the money spectrum. It gives a different perspective.

Paul is the type of guy that if we go on vacation, he spends a lot of time talking to the servers or staff. He can relate to almost everyone. Neither one of us feels comfortable being served. We like to clean our own house, mow our own lawn, and pull our own weeds.

I think we all tend to get used to our mode of living. If our fortune changes in either direction, it can be rather shocking.

For us, there is always the ‘can’t afford’ warning bell going off in our heads. It’s strange to live in a big house. Our electric bill this last month cost more than our mortgage on our old house. The more you have, the more everything costs.

I grew up middle class. I had a rich uncle that paid for my college tuition. My aunt told me to never tell anyone that he was paying for my college. There seemed to be a certain hush hush involved in having money. Like it’s some big shame to work hard and be successful.

In fact if people talk about how much money they are earning or how rich they are, I mistrust them. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But how come we don’t feel that way when someone tells us how broke they are?

I admit, though, I am jealous of a few rich friends that don’t have to work. It must be really nice to be able to devote all of your time to your hobbies. Maybe it would get old, boring, or be unfulfilling. I tell myself that often while I am at work on a beautiful summer day.

Although I’ve lived in my dream house almost two months now, I posted zero pictures on Facebook. I’ve told only the people that I’ve had to. I live a very secretive life and I like it that way. Money makes me feel very uncomfortable. It doesn’t fit. It’s a huge adjustment from the way we grew up and how we have been living up to the point of selling our business.

It has always been us and them. Now we are not us anymore, we are them. How would you act? I don’t want people that liked me to love or hate me. I don’t want to be treated differently. I just want things to stay the same, but they’re not. So I tend not to talk about it even though it is part of my story now. I’m afraid to be honest with you about money because it has been so ingrained in me that it is taboo. But who really cares?? There are people out there smarter, richer, and better looking than me. That is okay, I guess.

I think most people know where other people are at even if we don’t talk about it. Even if you never posted about money, I could guess where you are at just by the things you post about.

But, isn’t money the root of all evil? It depends on how you use it. There is a lot of weight on the little piece of paper that doesn’t grow on trees. And sometimes it costs too much…

 

Like a cactus in the sea

I’m not 100% unpacked yet, but I want to start getting back into the swing of things. I’ve made a lot of progress.

I am going to try to get back on a regular blogging schedule.

I even went for a run today for the first time in over 2 weeks!

So what if the house is not finished yet? I have a lifetime to unpack because I am never moving again!

I have so many things to tell you and they are piling up higher in my mind than the boxes in my garage. I never finished my whole fortune cookie thing and I’ve had some moral dilemmas that I wanted to run by you.

Moving has been a big adjustment…literally!

Our new house is 4 times the size of our old house.

The garage itself is 3 times the size of our old house.

You don’t know how many times I’ve set down my phone only to have to search a half an hour to find it. Over the weekend, I set down my beer and by the time I found it, it was warm. I won’t even tell you how long it takes to find my husband and kids. By the time I find them, I forgot why I was looking for them in the first place. There are still several things that are lost, but at least my son found his wallet.

My kids think that all of their friends should move in. I’ve had more people stay overnight in my house the one week that I’ve lived here then I’ve had for several years in the old house. Plus they leave things behind like clothing and broken phone cases. Maybe I should set up a lost and found box next to the pool. Oh, and they all left behind their swimming suits. But they used every single towel I have in the house.

My kids get upset that I don’t want to have people over every single day and night. Apparently that makes me a selfish person to want the house to myself (or just my family) every once in awhile.

My house has become like Hotel California. Once they come in, they never seem to be able to leave. We had friends over Sunday night. They had so much fun that they stayed until almost midnight on a work night. I ended up falling asleep on the couch.

Even the movers loved my house. They said it was the most beautiful house they have ever seen. They took pictures to show their significant others. They said they hope they win the lottery someday so they can afford a house like mine.

It makes me feel uncomfortable and guilty in a way which is probably why I didn’t tell a lot of people that I was moving. I feel bad being excited or talking about the new house in front of others. It makes me feel like I am talking on and on about how wonderful it is having 3 children when the person I’m talking to has been dealing with infertility for decades.

I wish I had what you have.

But they didn’t see the years, decades of struggling…the perseverance that we didn’t know if it would pay off…putting every penny and pouring everything we had into this business. They don’t know me. They don’t know that the first half of my life was a living hell.

They don’t see my husband as the boy that started out in the inner city of Chicago without a dad, born to a poor single teenage high school drop out. The boy that had a dream of starting a business…The boy from the projects that is now living in a mansion like some sort of celebrity rapper. How many others do you know with a similar story? I really don’t know of anyone else personally. But I do know it is possible.

So I watch as people I know and don’t know take pictures of my house to share with strangers.

Maybe you would like to see some pictures too. Sorry I didn’t ask. You could post the pictures on social media…show the kids, your neighbors, maybe even your cat.

Or maybe you don’t like me now. Maybe you view me as a greedy selfish rich bitch with a foo foo dog in my purse type.

Will it change me?

Maybe I’ll get used to it. I’m not sure how to respond or act.

Right now I feel like a cactus that has been thrown into the sea.

Moving on, part 1

Last time I shared how my feet swept the ocean floor. It was pretty raw, but not at all pretty. Today the pendulum is going to swing in the opposite direction.

Both the deepest lows and the highest highs are hard to talk about. People just don’t do it, unless they are writing a novel about the life of someone else. It somehow seems too personal.

But to talk of everyday life is boring. It is like a flat line on a bell curve. Today I did a load of laundry, ran the dishwasher, and went to work…blah, blah, blah…Nobody wants to be flat lining!

I learned a long time ago not to care what others thought of me. Having a severely mentally ill brother and an obese father that is known to walk out to get the mail in his underwear would do that to you.

Seriously, I would’ve been soooo screwed if I was sensitive enough to care what people thought of me. Instead, I do what I want whether people like it or not.

This thinking opened the door to new adventures. Literally!

In two months, I will be moving into my dream house.

Who could’ve guessed that the business my husband started and I helped him build would be such a success? We struggled to make ends meet for so many of our early years. We almost bit the dust with the recession. Then we slowly earned enough money to start remodeling our modest little house. And now after selling the business (but still working there) we are starting our life over.

He is having an identity crisis now, my husband. What happens when you accomplish more than you set out to achieve? Should he start another business? Would we, as workaholics, end up destroying ourselves when there is nothing left to build? Should we retire early? How could we sit still and do nothing? Should we start new careers?

My husband always thought of himself as the underdog, scraping and scrapping to get by. Who is he now??

People are stopping by our new house just out of curiosity and showing pictures to all of their friends. Remember that boy who didn’t have a dad that we thought wouldn’t amount to much?? People are talking. Rumors are spreading like wildfire. People are asking…How much are the taxes?…Are you going to clean your own house?…Why would you want such a big house when your kids are ready to leave??…They swarm around us with a buzz of questions like busy bees.

I’ve always wanted a swimming pool. When I left home, my parents bought an outdoor swimming pool for Matt’s therapy. What??!? When I begged them for one, they always said ‘no’. I could swim in the lake up north. It always made me feel a little hurt. But in our climate, we can only use an outdoor pool for about 2 to 3 months of the year. It doesn’t seem worth it. My parents haven’t even used their pool in years.

My dream house has an indoor pool in a room that is probably the size of my current house. It is an older house, but full of character and charm. It has hardwood floors, wood burning fireplaces, and a big yard for my dog to run around in. My kids will each have their own bedrooms.

At least people cannot say that I married my husband for his money. He didn’t even have the proverbial pot to piss in when I met him.

I married a boy that spent his earliest year growing up in the projects in the inner city of Chicago. When I met him, he didn’t own a house. He didn’t have any money in the bank. He owned a rusty old Chevrolet. That’s about it. He had a mediocre dead end job. He wasn’t going to have an inheritance. He didn’t have a father and had no clue how to be one. He didn’t have any siblings. He didn’t know how a husband should act. His mother wasn’t the type to offer help.

He had nothing and knew nothing about family life. But he had this dream to start a business. It was a big risk, but it paid off.

I am really excited to start this new adventure.

I’m ready to move on…

 

 

 

 

Pop the champagne

We sold our start up company today.

It wasn’t something that we were planning on doing. Not yet anyway.

We were approached by a huge private equity company and we turned them down…several times actually…until they gave us an offer that we couldn’t refuse.

We will be staying on for the next couple of years as employees. It will be a big change. Yet nothing will change at all. We will still go to work and do what we have always done.

Someday when we are able to walk away, I will tell you all about it. But not now. Although I think that you would find it rather interesting.

Today I feel like I won the lottery. Although luck had nothing to do with it. It seems surreal. I don’t think it really has sunk in yet.  How do we live this way?

The last several months have been a roller coaster ride of emotions. We weren’t expecting that. Surprisingly, a lot of the emotions were negative. We didn’t talk about it to anyone since we didn’t expect to receive much sympathy. Change is stressful, even if it is for the better.

There were arguments about money of all things.

There was fear…fear of failure. What if we fail now after we have succeeded? Will we be able to keep up our sales? Will we be able to impress our new employer? Will we mess it all up? Will we have to start at the bottom again scraping and scrapping to get by? Will we become spoiled and soft? Will we lose our grit from struggling for so long?

It has been a big shock.

Will our friends still like us if we have more money than they do? Will we attract new fake friends? Will we change? Regardless, it has now become a part of our journey. If we could do it, anyone can. All you have to do is take the first step…then run as hard and as fast as you can.

Today we are putting in an offer on our dream house.

We noticed lately how poor we have been living. A majority of our furniture is falling apart. Most of it came from long deceased relatives. We bought our kitchen table at a rummage sale and it looks like it. We never had a new table for our family to sit around. Most of our towels are torn around the edges.

We feel like the Beverly Hillbillies.

It is time to get rid of the old and start all over again.

We have worked so hard to get to where we are today. We earned it.

I never would have guessed all the sacrifices that we made would pay off.

It’s time to pop the champagne!

 

Birthday blessings

Today is a special day because it is the golden birthday of the child we recently sponsored in Togo, Africa. I’m sure he won’t be complaining that the birthday money I sent will be a little late.

This child comes from one of the poorest countries in the world. He has a big head and a tiny little emaciated body. Almost half of the people don’t have electricity. Most don’t have indoor bathrooms and have to walk for miles to get clean drinking water. That is their normal. I feel grimy if I can’t shower everyday. Showering is probably the least of their concerns.

The average annual salary in Togo is $400, so the $30 that we are sending him every month is considerable. But what is it to us? We probably spend close to their annual salary in one month of internet and cell phone charges. We are giving $30 out of our excess. Pocket change..coffee for a month..

It reminds me of the Biblical story of the rich man giving a lot of money and the poor widow giving the last of her money. Who gave more? The rich man. But did he really when the widow gave everything she had?

We had the opportunity to sponsor a child years ago but didn’t. Money was tight starting a business on one income with 3 little mouths to feed. It seemed practical to not spend any extra money. We didn’t give when we had little to give.

The child we sponsor sent a letter saying that he was praying that God would bless us for our giving. I’ll admit, it did give me warm fuzzies. But am I really that great if I am giving out of my excess? Maybe I should sponsor 100 children…but I would have to give up blogging to write all of those letters.

To tell you the truth, it is really hard to relate to a child whose favorite toy is a ball. He would be overjoyed to receive a new ball for his birthday. A ball? Not the newest iPhone? Or how about a fidget spinner? Or is that fad over now?? That’s right, most of the children in Togo don’t have the opportunity to stay in school. The literacy rate is horrifying, not to mention how the kids become easy target for sex trafficking.

Someday we would like to visit our child in Togo. I think it would be a humbling experience. Paul and I always spoke of doing a mission trip. We would love to help people rebuild their lives. But we wouldn’t be able to commit to anything until after our children grow up.

Paul mentioned how nice it would be to go to Togo to bring our sponsor child home with us to the land of milk and honey. Or the land of beer and cheese depending on how you view Wisconsin.

Can you imagine what it would be like to place an iPhone in the hands of a child who lived his whole life without electricity? He would be sickened by our excess.

Is it arrogant to think that our way of life is better?? I mean, my kids don’t call me a blessing every time they nickel and dime ($5 and $10) me. Which, come to think of it, happens pretty often.

I bet the food our country throws away in one day would be enough to feed another country. Remember the guilt trip our parents took us on about the starving kids in Africa when we didn’t eat all of our food? If only our parents could’ve sent our food there.

I think the average American would love to help those in desperate need if they could. If they can’t physically help, they would love to send money. The problem is that we are afraid. We all know of someone that was scammed. We cannot trust that our money is going to where it is supposed to go. There are some bad people out there that really ruin things for the people that need help.

Regardless, I feel blessed to help a child. Happy birthday to my other ‘son’.

 

 

Grace uncommon, part 9

One day while at the small local grocery store, I saw Aunt Grace come in to buy a beer. She wanted one beer. She wanted the store owners to open a case to sell her just one beer. She wanted the beer for a beer brat recipe. Aunt Grace did not drink so she did not need the other beers. She always said that sitting on bar stools made women unattractive. She also told us that we shouldn’t drink until our mortgage was paid. I sure hope that she didn’t roll over in her grave a little that time I was at Coyote Ugly. Hhmmm.

Aunt Grace was a religious church goer. She attended every Sunday but never took communion. My mom thought that Aunt Grace didn’t take communion because there was alcohol in the communion wine. My mom went on this big campaign to have the wine replaced with grape juice. She said that there were so many medications that people were on (Grace included) where they weren’t supposed to have alcohol. Finally the pastor switched over to grape juice. Aunt Grace still did not take communion.

Aunt Grace became bitter in her later years. She was very upset that people of the church did not pay their garage bills. She said that kind people were not always kind when they owed you money. Money that they didn’t seem to have to pay their bill even though they could afford nice new toys. She was very upset about this after her brother Harold died and the family business closed. She said that he worked so hard all those years for nothing. She was angry. She was bitter. She couldn’t stop ruminating about it. It found a way to trap her. Some things were hard for her to let go. 

The bitterness ate her up inside. She was the type of person to hold a grudge. She felt like she should not take communion with an unforgiving heart. It was too bad that she couldn’t see that she was only hurting herself. She wanted things to be fair and right, but the world doesn’t always work that way. 

There are certain family members that have a hard time forgiving and forgetting. When I said that Grace never forgave me for saying shut up to her, she really didn’t. I struggle with this myself at times. I find that being angry, criticizing, or condemning people for their imperfections is much easier than forgiving them. When someone screws me over, I want to cut them out of my life. Now this is much harder to do with family. LOL. Seriously though, forgiveness? Letting go? Forgetting? I find it much easier to form a hard bitter wall around myself.

Paul is one of the most forgiving people that I know. He tells me again and again that I am only hurting myself when I don’t forgive someone. That doesn’t mean that I have to be best friends with the person or trust them again. Forgive, forget, and let go… I can do this now, it just seems to take awhile until I can get over it. I feel a little sad that Aunt Grace didn’t seem able to do this. 

Grace uncommon, part 8

Aunt Grace was way ahead of her times. Aunt Grace was the Vice President of the local bank.

Aunt Grace earned what would be equivalent of an Associate Degree in Business in a time when most young ladies like my grandma only received an 8th grade education. She loved money and finance. She was most likely the richest woman in our small town. But she was never greedy. There once was a bank employee whose husband left her with several kids at home. One day an anonymous letter arrived at the bank with money in it for that woman. We all knew it was Aunt Grace because that was the kind of thing she would do. Another family had a tragedy where their house burned down. Aunt Grace took the children shopping to buy them new winter coats and clothes.

When it was our birthday, she would give us $50 in an envelope marked love always, Aunt Grace. At Halloween, she didn’t give out candy. She gave out rolls of nickels and dimes. At Christmas, we all received $10 worth of McDonald’s gift cards. If she ever gave someone a gift, she would wrap it in the comics section of the newspaper. Grace herself was a miser, it was sad to see how destitute she lived when she could afford to take better care of herself. Her washer didn’t wring out her clothes and her dryer took 2 hours to dry a load of clothes. Her clothes were old and worn. I didn’t find out how cheap she lived until I stayed with her at the end.

Grace worked as a bookkeeper for the family business. She also worked at the local bank. When I was a young girl, she was the VP of the bank. She would give me suckers and take me into her private office. She was so excited, she wanted to be President of the bank but women just didn’t do that in her day. Everybody knew her and respected her.

She always told me that I could do anything that a man could do. She went to a conference and brought a duffle bag back for me that read never underestimate the power of a woman. She was very upset that I didn’t go to college for business.

There were some things though that she thought that women shouldn’t do. She frowned upon me hanging out in the garage with the men. I didn’t hear the end of it if I went in there with shorts on. I loved the smell of rubber from the tires that were on sale there and even the scent of gasoline brought me comfort. But I never even learned basic things about cars.

One day while I was in college, I had car trouble. It happened on the day of a snow storm. I flooded my car. Today things are so easy, I step on the brake and push a button to start my car. Back then, I had to push the gas pedal to the floor once. Then while I had the key in the ignition I had to pump the gas to get the car to start. The day of the storm, I flooded my car. I knew that there was a way to pop open my hood and pull up on something to ease this problem, but I didn’t know how. I ran back inside to find a pay phone to call my grandpa who spent his whole life as a mechanic. It was all a fool’s errand because all I needed to do was pop the hood and about 10 guys offered assistance. I miss calling Grace or my grandparents for guidance. Now somehow I am supposed to be an adult with all of the answers. 

Last night all of these memories came back to me like a flood. Stupid things. Silly things. I felt overwhelmed by nostalgia, a longing for my loved ones long gone. I asked myself why I seem to be so plagued by these memories. Then I reminded myself that I opened the door by thinking and writing of these things. I feel very compelled to write everything that happened down so someday it won’t be forgotten. While I was studying genealogy, I searched to understand, to really know, the people that came before me. All I found were names and dates scratched on a piece of paper. It really meant nothing. Aunt Grace kept our family geneaology. The funny thing was that after she was gone I continued it for her. But with the internet and all of modern technology, I did not get any further than she did.

My childhood has been gone for a long time now. Now the childhood years of my children are coming to an end. It has been a difficult transition for me. I struggle with accepting change, even if it is for the better.

I have to keep writing.

 

The travel diaries, Nashville

A couple of years back, Paul and I went to Nashville for a business conference. The cost of airline tickets were insane. If I remember right it was around $1400 to $1500 round trip for 2. Remember that I am a cheapskate?? You should see my office equipment. I have a used printer that is probably older than my teenage kids. I have my Aunt Grace’s old desk which is older than me. I have two office chairs from the 70’s or 80’s. I have art work on the wall that was given to me as a kid painted by another deceased relative. Yes, $1400 is a lot of money for a plane ticket, so we drove instead.

On our way down from WI, we took a pit stop in Chicago to visit with some relatives. We walked along Navy Pier, but it was a cold night so we didn’t stay outside long. It cost $30 to park for one hour, if I remember right, which was way too much. We had Chicago style pizza which was absolutely awesome. It was 2 inches thick! Then we stopped to visit some friends in Kentucky. We finally meandered down to Nashville for the conference. Paul did all of the driving while I worked in the car.

The one thing I really liked about Nashville was that it was a good 10 degrees warmer than WI. We stayed at a hotel downtown that had an outside glass elevator that went really fast. Being afraid of heights, it was rather unnerving to ride in. I also asked for a room on the lowest floor. I got over this fear after several more trips with rooms on high floors. It was on this trip that we met Joe. Joe sat across from me at a table and commented that my eyes were the perfect shade of blue. He asked others if they thought that my eyes were beautiful. Now who doesn’t like a guy like that? He has great people skills and a love for adventure. We hang out with him and his coworkers at every conference. We can count on him to plan crazy and unique adventures. I am not quite sure what it is, Paul and I seem to attract eccentric or adventurous friends more often then not.

That night I checked singing in Nashville off my bucket list. Who cares if it was just karaoke? It was awesome feeling like a star for one night. From what I saw of the city, it looked rather clean. Although Joe said that he went for a walk early one morning and ended up by a deserted warehouse full of people that had him fearing for his life, but I think Joe tends to exaggerate at times.

Soon the conference was over and it was time to head back home. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful until we hit Louisville. While we were on the bridge we blew out our tire. We ended up having to pull into the little median between the highway and off ramp while cars went by us at 75 mph to put on the spare. That and having our GPS navigation go out in the middle of Chicago made for an interesting end to our adventure.

 

The travel diaries

One of the big items on my bucket list is to visit all of the continents in this world with the exception of Antarctica.  I can see myself taking the road less traveled. I have already started treading off the beaten path armed with nothing more than a camera and a story to tell. I decided to start a travel series this month. Who knows, maybe I will talk about your town as an outsider looking in to your world for a brief moment in time.

I always wanted to travel. Growing up the only “vacations” that we ever took with our whole family was going up north to the cabin. There were 3 trips that we took with the partial family. The first trip we drove down to Texas to take my autistic brother to the hospital. We didn’t stop anywhere along the way (except a hotel) or do anything fun so I am not sure that this counts as a “vacation”. The second trip we went to South Dakota to a conference with Aunt Grace. On our way back to WI, we drove 10 hours out of our way to stop in Canada for 20 minutes to get my aunt some tea. I wrote about this trip in one of my first posts. The third was a bus trip to South Dakota with my aunt and uncle’s church when I was in grade schoool. It was hot and stormy, a severe thunderstorm came up while touring the Badlands which was really awesome if you weren’t afraid of storms. The AC ended up going out on the bus and a lot of people felt sick. A teenage boy got upset and ran away. We saw the outdoor passion play. Just before the crucifixion scene another freak storm came up. Everyone went running as the thunder crashed and I got lost. That is my childhood travel experience in one paragraph.

Paul also wanted to travel. You can imagine how much traveling he did growing up with a poor single teen mom. He was 40 the first time he was on an airplane. Last week he asked me if I would be open to sailing around the world. I said that I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea at this time, but lets do the Great Lakes loop first. We both desire to live a life of adventure.

But how are we going to have this lifestyle living on a variable income? The first thing that we did was buy a modest house. The last thing that we wanted was a high mortgage payment that would trap us. We live cheap. Up until last year, both of our vehicles were over 10 years old. We bought our kitchen table at a rummage sale. Our bedroom set is the same one that I had as a kid complete with broken drawers. A majority of our furniture including a TV, couch, love seat, recliners, deck furniture, end tables, and lamps were inherited from deceased relatives. We bought our hutch at a good price when my aunt got a divorce. We bought our entertainment center used from another relative. Oh my gosh, I didn’t even realize what a bunch of cheapskates we really are. Not that I have to justify spending money on a vacation once in awhile to any of you anyway. Geez.

I will be going through one autism diary a month as well. Until then I promise to entertain you with travel stories off the beaten path…