Tag Archives: Travel

How Does One Make the Perfect Life Choices?

I’m sitting in an airport waiting for a delayed flight, wearing bright orange compression socks, thinking about the latest book I’m writing. It’s been harder to write.

The main character is divorced. She was pregnant when her husband left her for her friend and she had to quickly get a job. She goes back to school to get a secondary education degree because her bachelor’s was in English.  

She had planned on getting a Master’s and possibly a Doctorate in English but then she met John. They fell in love. He got a job and they got married and she didn’t get a Master’s. When she got pregnant with their first child, she kept working. Then the two of them together decided she would stay home with their son. After childcare costs, it made more sense. And he made enough. Plus, she believed her kids would be better off if one of them could stay home. He made more, so she stayed home. She often thought about getting her Master’s, but then a kid would get sick and she wondered how she would do it all. She kept putting it off.

Until the day her husband came home and said he wanted a divorce.

She doesn’t think much about her choices (Why bother? It won’t help) until she has to work with a graduate of hers who has just finished her bachelors and wants to go get her Master’s. But she met this guy….

So Grace looks over at all of her decisions.

And this is where I’m stumped.  

Of course women should get an education and support themselves. Of course they should accomplish all they want to accomplish. But what if the two spouses decide that one parent could stay home. They think it would be better for the kids. But then the spouse who stays home loses potential income. Loses years of experience. May pass up on education that would help because they put their trust in their spouse.

Is this possible anymore?

Do both parents need to always work because relationships seem to be so fluid these days?

I stay home. Yes, I’ve had different jobs and done different things, but when I thought of applying to be a substitute teacher and saw they wanted 3 professional references, I started to cry and didn’t finish the application. I couldn’t think of a professional reference. Sure, I had people who would give me a reference, but I hadn’t worked for anyone in years.  

At the same time, I think having one parent able to stay home is great for a family. I think I’m slowly going insane, but besides that, I think it’s a good idea. If possible.

I had a parent home until I was about 12 or 13 and then I would come home and be alone for about an hour. It wasn’t that big a deal. I would do my homework and watch Days of Our Lives. The worst thing I did was eat a whole box of Kudos and then throw up. I never ate another Kudos again and I’m not even sure they make them anymore. They probably heard my story and realized they didn’t have a future.

But I remember when I missed the bus and I couldn’t get a hold of anyone. I was scared. I thought I’d have to stay at the school over night. My neighbor came and got me and it wasn’t a big deal except for the 30 minutes when it was.

I’m around if my kids forget their lunches or nice clothes for a presentation. I pick them up for appointments and make sure things generally run smoothly.

Except for those times when I mix appointments up and I show up at the right time a day late. Or when I give each kid a different kid’s lunch so when I see one on the counter and it says my youngest’s name but I know I gave him something, I just eat that lunch myself.

I’m not a very domestic stay at home mom but I’m a “I’m here if you need me” one.  

As I write from my character’s point of view, I wonder if this is still a good idea.

If I went back into the workforce and actually used my law degree, I would never make the money I would’ve made had I stayed working. I’m so far out of the game, I wonder if I could get a job.  

Some people volunteer and keep up their resume that way. I haven’t kept a file of what I’ve done. I think I was taught you don’t get credit for volunteer work. It’s a service. (And if it gets around that I’m a helpful person, people may actually ask me for help. No one wants that.)  

So what’s the answer?

Is staying home still a viable option?  

How does one make the perfect choices in life? And never regret them?

I would love to hear your views.

Road Trip Mishaps

You may be shocked to think there were any mishaps at all.  Usually family time is perfection time and it all goes so swimmingly.  Especially if a water slide is involved.

But I made one major mistake on this road trip.

I forgot it was 2016.

I made books with activities  for each child.  I gave each child a dry erase marker with the eraser on the lid so they could do the games in the book over and over.  (I’d carefully put each page in a page protector in the same order for each book so I could call out which page I was doing and we could do it all together.)  (Insert a picture of anything unrealistic here.)

I got material so everyone could tie their own blanket as we drove and then cuddle with it.

I brought extra paper and markers in case they got bored.

Essentially I brought everything I wish I had had when I’d gone on road trips with my family.

I’d forgotten that 30+ years had passed.

And there are iPods.  And iPads.  And books on CD.  And portable DVD players.

So yesterday I finished tying two blankets and tied mine completely.  (I didn’t bring mine due to the smallness of our vehicle.)  There is one more yet to be tied.

I brought home brand new notepads and markers and I was the only one to mark all of the licenses we saw.

Mount Rushmore is a jackpot, by the way.  We saw 24 different states in the parking lot.

We saw all states except for Hawaii, West Virginia, and two other states.  We even saw Alaska.  But I think Kevin and I were the most excited about the game.

I could’ve saved a lot of time and effort if I’d just downloaded the license plate game.

Then we could’ve opened the apps together.

This is where the bison licked the car.

This is where the bison licked the car.

Time not wasted was picking out these babies

Time not wasted was picking out these babies

Road Trip Recap

When we last saw our heroes, they were cramming themselves into a tiny SUV which should’ve been bigger.  We now join them somewhere on I-90.

I’d only reserved two hotels for the entire trip.  I had no idea how far we would travel each day and so I only booked for what I thought would be busier places: Rapid City and Nauvoo.  The little towns by Mount Rushmore are basically shut down off season, so I didn’t find anywhere closer for a family of five.

With a waterslide.

Mount Rushmore was pretty cool, I thought.  My husband had wanted to hike around it but all of the trails were closed because it had snowed the night before and there was ice.  And the Department of the Interior does not mess around with ice.

The kids became junior park rangers and I learned a lot about Mount Rushmore that I hadn’t known.  For instance, Teddy Roosevelt wasn’t originally planned for it.  And dynamite was used to create 90% of it.  And honeycombing isn’t just for bees.

Custer National Park was a highlight.  We saw prairie dogs, deer, elk, coyotes, wolves, wild ponies, and bison.  One bison started licking our car.  We found out from another visitor that they lick the salt off the cars.  I had just thought that was the bison way of being friendly.

This is the bison licking our car. If you would like a better picture, you can get out of your car and take it...

This is the bison licking our car. If you would like a better picture, you can get out of your car and take it…

Once you leave Rapid City, heading East on I-90, you start seeing billboards for Wall Drug.  And then you keep seeing them about every 50 feet.  There are big billboards and little billboards.  Billboards offering free water.  Billboards offering discounts to Vets.  Billboards with obscure drawings that have nothing to do with Walls or Drugs.

By the time you’ve driven 5 miles, you are very curious as to why Wall Drug advertises so much.  So we decided to stop.

(Which may be why they advertise so much.)

It was Easter Sunday and I wasn’t sure it would be open but THERE WERE SO MANY SIGNS we thought it was always open.

So we got off the freeway.  And followed the signs to a GIANT store.  It took up a whole block.  It was amazing.

It was closed.

So instead, we went to the bar across the street and had the best burgers and fries we had eaten in a while.  And fried pickle chips.  I would like a lifetime supply of fried pickle chips.

I think the highlight of the trip for the kids (and for me) was Nauvoo.  It’s a historical town where we learned how to make rope, bake bread in a brick oven (hypothetically), weave our own rugs and make a horseshoe.  The kids like living history towns; we sort of make them like them because we keep taking them to different ones.  It just makes it easier if they decide to enjoy themselves.

We learned a lot.  We even ran into Susan Easton Black and George Durrant who were there on  a very brief mission.  We followed her around town and the cemetery (with her permission).  We even stayed an extra day so we could hear her lecture.

And it’s a good thing we did because we then got to see the Carthage County Museum (or something like that) which was made from the collection of a biology teacher from the local college.  She used to collect things.  Nowadays we call that hoarding but I guess her stuff was interesting enough to keep her house as a museum.  And that’s where we saw the pickle jar with the pickled two-headed pig.  A true highlight.

It's in a PICKLE JAR!

It’s in a PICKLE JAR!

We finished our trip in Independence Missouri.  We spent the day driving to different LDS sites and then we went to the visitor’s center.  We knew it had been a long day and trip and that we were done with it all when the missionary asked us what we should do before we pray and my 8 yr old said:

Eat.

(The correct answer was some version of ponder…  meditate, think, pause…  Eat was an answer she hadn’t heard before.)

The whole trip was a good time.  There wasn’t too much fighting (Thank you Tyler Whitesides for writing The Janitors series and reading it onto CD’s).  By the end of the trip I think we were all sick of each other, but we all learned a lot.

I learned that my great, great grandfather Haight had a 16 day old child who passed away at Winter Quarters, Nebraska and that my great, great, great grandfather Higgenbotham had been a missionary from Nauvoo.  I got a CD with their information and their wives’ information and I can’t wait to read what I found.  Eliza and Louisa, their wives, did amazing things and wrote about it.  I can’t wait to read their journals.  It made Nauvoo a little more real, knowing my ancestors came through there.  (I even know where their land was.  I asked the owners if I could have it back and they said no.  I didn’t even get my own parking space in the lot that was over Gpa Higginbotham’s 1/4 acre.  Seems unfair.)

Can you see the resemblance?

Can you see the resemblance?

I think the kids learned a lot about U.S. and LDS history but they will probably remember the bison licking the car and the two headed pig the most.

But one day they will go back, wearing their prairie diamond rings, with the information we got this time, knowing their ancestors were there.

Prairie Diamond Rings

Prairie Diamond Rings

“This is Not What I Ordered”

We just got back from Spring Break 2016.  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that being the party hardy family that we are, we went to Cancun, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, or were asked to be hosts of the MTV beach party.

You are very close.

We rented a car and drove for a total of 2200 miles and 42 hours.    (Is Road Trip still an MTV gameshow?)

I called the local rental company I happened to be on the website of and asked the guy who answered what the difference was between a standard SUV, a luxury SUV, and a premier SUV.  He told me to rent a Standard and they would give me an Expedition.  Part of my goal in renting a car for the road trip was to try out a bigger car and see if I liked to drive it.  I said Okay fine and didn’t think about it.

Until I worried it wasn’t going to work out.

I called Thursday to ask if we could rent a day early and they said sure.  The person on the phone said nothing about not getting the car I had been promised so I tried not to be worried about it.  I just couldn’t believe there was an Expedition in Helena.

(When Kevin wanted to rent a convertible for an anniversary trip, it took them a week to get one up here.  This isn’t really convertible country.)

I showed up on Friday to get the car and they had a

Dodge Ram Truck

for me.

I was told it is in the same category as the Standard SUV which I had ordered.  I asked if no one noticed I would be driving it ONE WAY to MISSOURI when they put it aside.  The lady at the desk said that she didn’t think it would work.  I agreed.

I then went outside and looked at what they had available.  The minivans were on recall and so I basically had the option of a Dodge Journey.   It had three rows but it is smaller than our Pilot and therefore did not reach my goal of trying a bigger car.

It also changed the plans of how we would pack.  Unfortunately, I did not change WHAT we would pack, causing a tiny panic when trying to fit everything in our suitcases for the flight back.

(We decided to fly back so we could spend more time at different sites and less time driving.  It would’ve been a great idea and we would’ve had plenty of luggage, had we gotten a larger car.)

So that is the start of our week-long trek across the US of A.

Join us next time for “My Rapid City is Faster than Yours” or “Nauvoo; Naw Problem.”

I really wanted to become a biker while here. But our SUV was too small.

I really wanted to become a biker while here. But our SUV was too small.

A Joke I Heard from a Hungarian Dissident

Kevin and I are touring Budapest and we went in a walking tour. Our tour guide was a dissident in Hungary during the Soviet Occupation. He knew the organizers for the 1956 revolution (he has a piece of the Stalin statue they brought down) and he was there for the liberation in 1989.

I’ve been asking him all sorts of questions about his life and his political opinions.

He was forced out of his job as a professor at a university and he worked as a taxi driver and window washer.

I asked if he was scared and he said no. The Hungarian Secret police would follow him constantly. He knew they’d always be there and tapping his phone.
Here is the joke he told me:

A Swedish man was visiting his friend in Hungary. His friend told him how in the middle of the night, a bunch of men wearing black jumped out of a black car and broke into his house.
The Swedish man said, “Did you call the police?”

My Seattle Vacation

We just got back from Seattle.  I thought I’d share our weekend in pictures.  (I apologize to those of you who have already seen the pictures.  But I think they’re worth seeing again.)  I thought you’d like to see the view from our room and the international cuisine choices.

With a view like this, I didn't ever feel like leaving the room.  Because of fear.

With a view like this, I didn’t ever feel like leaving the room. Because of fear.

We went to Chinatown.  And had a burger.  At Joe's.

We went to Chinatown. And had a burger. At Joe’s.

Here Fishy Fishy Fishy

I just got the receipt for a fish my husband is having stuffed and mounted onto a plaque. I’m not sure if these are the correct terms, but my knowledge in this field is limited. And I wish it was more limited.

Because this is expensive.

I could buy 10 pairs of shoes. Or at least one.

I think he’s giving it to his mom for Christmas. I’m unsure if she reads my blog, but even if she does, I think one should be prepared if one is going to receive a large, dead fish as a gift.

If we are keeping it, it may end up at the lake. In a closet. In the garage.
Except that it cost so much to have it modge podged that we would have to hang it where people could see it.

Like at his office.

He scares kids there already, after all.

Welcome To Our Home

Welcome To Our Home

(Disclaimer: it is a huge fish and I may have asked if he was getting it mounted because it was so big and I would actually hang it up at the lake but how fun is that?)