Cruise 13 - Alaska, Vacations

Sailing the Inside Passage to Alaska

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Finally. We’re on Holland America’s Statendam. Look at that water – smooth as GLASS!!

Here’s one of my favorite pictures from our 2013 Alaska trip:

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I want to blow this one up and hang it – soooo pretty.

Here’s a short video to show how smooth the water was in the inside passage…

We were also fortunate to see some whales, too.

I wish I could say the trip back down to Vancouver, after our cruise was over, was equally smooth sailing but alas, no, it was not.

We were one of the last cruises of the season and we ran into a storm on the way home. Luckily, our ship was small enough that we were able to stick to the inside passage and though it was not as smooth sailing as above, it wasn’t too bad. Whenever we passed by an area that there were no longer mountains on either side of us, the waters got very choppy and I got seasick. In fact, we have a video, somewhere, of the water in the pool sloshy so much that it soaks the deck. The pool water got so bad, that Holland America had to drain the pool it was making such a mess. But at least we were able to keep to the inside passage most of the way back to Vancouver. We were sailing side-by-side a Royal Carribean ship and it was too large to sail the passage so I heard they had some REALLY choppy waters on the way back.

That is definitely a con to cruising – even though the captains do a fantastic job of avoiding rough waters, it will occasionally happen. That’s when your Dramamine comes in handy.

Empty Nesters

Applying

This picture has nothing to do with anything, just thought it was cute.
This picture has nothing to do with anything, just thought it was cute.

We visited two apartments today.

The first one, we met the gal at the complex and she showed us an apartment on the 2nd floor. The first thing I noticed was – it was dirty. At least, it FELT dirty. And it was right next to a major highway, so there was the highway noise. And then there were REALLY squeaky floors. And the floors felt … bumpy. And I immediately felt sorry for the neighbors down below the unit. And it just felt … wrong. The boys weren’t too terribly impressed, but they haven’t really had anything to compare it to so …

When we left, we discussed the pros and cons. I felt like there were too many cons and I wasn’t impressed.

Moving on.

The second apartment, I had high hopes for. It’s the closest one to our house and the most reasonably priced. It’s near grocery stores and in the middle of a nice neighborhood. I crossed my fingers.

We didn’t have an appointment at this complex, we just showed up. (But to be fair, I had called them them day before and they said it was okay to do that). The guy was super nice and very helpful. He also showed us a unit on the middle floor and I immediately LOVED it. It felt right right off the bat.

The living area was a nice size. The kitchen is small, but again, it’s just the two of them. There’s also a pantry and a coat closet just off the tiny dining area. It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. And the closet in the master bedroom is the BIGGEST closet I have ever seen. In fact, it’s so large, they could easily have a third person move in and use the closet as their “bedroom.” There is definitely room for a twin-sized bed in the closet. They’ve been toying with the idea of having one of their cousins move in with them… but we’ll see how that goes. It came as sort of a shock to Blake, when we talked to the manager more at length, that if their cousin moves in, he just can’t “move in,” he too will have to go through the application/approval process which means he will HAVE to have a job before that can happen. I’m relieved that was brought up and discussed because I really think Blake had plans on basically supporting the cousin and that would have been a bad idea all around.

They have several units available. And again, I think it might be a better idea if the boys either get a ground floor or a top floor – stay away from the 2nd floor. Having neighbors is bad enough, having a neighbor both on top of you and below you is double the trouble.

This complex has a pool, a BBQ area, and a laundry facility. And Blake is seriously considering paying an extra $15 per month to reserve a carport.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We left with some applications and went to our third apartment prospect.

But the manager was out and wouldn’t be back for 45 minutes. So we went ahead and came back home.

The conversation we had with the boys was probably one of the best conversations we’ve had in, wow, a LONG time. We weighed the pros and cons of the 2nd complex and talked about a realistic move-in time. After a while, I said, “what, exactly, are we waiting for? Let’s go ahead and start the application process.”

And that’s what we did. The boys filled out the applications and wrote checks out for the application fee. Kevin wanted to see if they could be approved on their own first before we agree to become co-signers. Either way, we are going to work hard to try and make this happen. The manager said they usually have an answer back within 24-hours. I told the boys to keep their phones close.

We never even returned to the third complex.

I’m so excited for them! This is such a big step in their lives!! We talked about priorities – what would they need to buy right away and what could wait. I even found a pretty sweet kitchen table and chairs on clearance at one of the furniture places. I think I’m going to try and talk everyone into going to a few furniture places tonight after dinner, just to give them an idea of how much things cost.

If today produces nothing else, it was a FANTASTIC learning experience for the boys. We can talk to them until we’re blue in the face, but to actually hear someone else explain the process and do some comparison shopping was a much needed dose of reality for them. I was worried about them being able to afford it, but after delving more into their finances, and being shocked by how much they both have in savings (We’re doing something right!!), I’m more confident they will make this work. And they’ll still have keys to our house, they can come over and do their laundry and of course, they’re welcome to come over for dinners to save them money on food, at least, initially.

I’m hoping we have an answer by the end of this week. I hope they get approved on their own, but if they need a co-signer then let’s get the ball rolling on that process. Our goal is to get them moved in mid-March, IF all goes according to plan.

It would be nice to have them all settled before the end of April.

Why the end of April, you ask? You’ll see … 😀

Life

Time to Grow Up, Boys!

I have the day off today and tomorrow.

Let’s take a moment and savor that sentence a moment ……………………………………

Okay fine. You don’t care. But I am loving it!

I haven’t had a day off since our Vegas trip in October.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Okay, okay … we’ve savored enough.

I got my gray covered this morning.

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I ABHOR the hair dresser. Not because of where I go – they are actually super nice and their prices are fantastic – no, I hate going to the hair dressers because that means I have to be messed with and I HATE BEING MESSED WITH.

Body massages and pedicures are definitely out for me.

Know what else I’ve been up to today? Other than a nappie poo … or two … (Hey! It’s a day off, remember?? I can be lazy if I want to be …), calling apartment complexes.

I did a lot of research over the weekend. (I love doing research on the ‘net – so many things pop-up that you don’t think about). And I narrowed our search to four strong possible places for the boys to live.

Yes. The boys SHOULD be doing this themselves. No. If I waited for them to take the initiative they would never move out. I wish I was kidding. *sigh*

Since this is the year we kick them out (I’m DETERMINED to make this happen), then I’m taking the bull by the horns and getting this ball rolling. Plus. They are getting on my nerves SO BAD. They are both so immature and lazy and I’m sick of their little boy mentalities – ENOUGH.

All of these places are close to where we live. And the prices are reasonable. In fact, my first pick just happens to be the cheapest pick. And the closest. When I called to see if anything was available, I learned a con right away – the parking is a first-come-first-serve situation. Which means … what exactly, I’m not sure. But if they want to park under one of the carports, they have to pay an additional $15 per month – which is one reason it’s probably cheap, now that I think about it.

I called all four places today. We are looking at two tomorrow. Possibly three. Since I could never get anyone to answer the phone at one of the complexes, we’ll just take a chance and drop by tomorrow and see if anyone is available to show us around. And the fourth place? Didn’t have any units available until April. Which, may work out fine anyway as I’m not sure the boys would be ready to move out in a week anyway.

We’ll talk about that tonight at dinner.

We have an appointment to meet someone at my second choice at 10:00. When I told Brandon what we were doing, (he isn’t working today) he was NOT excited. When I asked him why, he sighed and said “it’s more responsibility.” Well freakin’ duh! It’s called LIFE son; it’s time to start living it.

See what I’m dealing with here? They’re spoiled rotten. And yes, I realize it’s our fault. Bleh.

Anyway, I’m trying not to get my hopes up about these showings tomorrow. I can’t explain it but I either KNOW it’s going to be right or it WON’T. That’s how it always is with me. I KNEW Kevin was the one for me. I KNEW this house was perfect for us. I KNOW whether I’m going to get along with someone or not right away. I KNOW if I like something or not right away. It’s just a … feeling. That’s the best way I can describe it. Granted, these apartments are not for me. And I will do my best to keep my mouth shut and let the boys do the talking … but ugh. I just can’t wait on them anymore. I’m ready for them to begin their lives whether they are ready or not.

And I’m being selfish – I want two extra rooms in our house. One will be an extra bedroom for either me or Kevin (I mentioned we don’t sleep together, right??) and the other will be an office and/or a workout room.

It’s going to be SO NICE to have that space. But I don’t want to get too excited yet – we still have to make this happen. Blake actually did a budget the other day based on just the money he makes and he can do this – it will be tight, but he can do it. Brandon … can do it but he may have to get another part-time job or get more hours at work. But I’m hoping that moving out will motivate the boys to DO something more with their lives. Right now, they just go to work and play video games. I mean, they will likely do that when they move out, but at least it will be on their terms.

This MIGHT motivate my nephew, my 24-year old nephew still living at home with his dad, I might add, to get a job and maybe move in with them. They have all talked about moving in with each other for years. That way, they could split expenses three ways and it will hopefully kick-start my nephew’s life into gear. WIN-WIN.

Time to grow up, boys!

Politics, Twitter Messages

Tweet of the Moment

I would.

We watched “The Iron Lady” this past weekend and WOW – Margaret Thatcher was one tough lady! (And I was super impressed with Meryl Streep’s performance).

But some of the things she said really resonated with me … for example:

One of the greatest problems of our age is that we are governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas. Now, thoughts and ideas, that interests me.

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become.

I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it. ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.

There are significant differences between the American and European version of capitalism. The American traditionally emphasizes the need for limited government, light regulations, low taxes and maximum labour-market flexibility. Its success has been shown above all in the ability to create new jobs, in which it is consistently more successful than Europe.

Sadly, not anymore. Our country is definitely not as successful as it used to be and I not only blame OBummer, but the government in general. America is no longer, “We the People,” it’s “We the People want the Government to Take Care of Us Because Being a Responsible Adult is Too Hard.” (Insert incessant whining here).

Yes, I’m bitter. I’m one of the 51% working stiffs supporting the other 50% of people who DON’T work. It’s disgusting the way this country kowtows to people who are physically, and mentally, capable of working but choose not to.

Politics

Unemployment Drops Despite Obama’s Attempts to Keep it High

The authors compared neighboring counties in adjacent states, and found that states that had the shortest duration of unemployment benefits experienced the strongest labor market recovery. “A 1% drop in benefit duration leads to a statistically significant increase of employment. 1.8 million jobs were created in 2014 due to the benefit cut.” Those 1.8 million jobs represent 1.2% of the U.S. labor force: correlating quite closely to the drop in unemployment over the past year.

What can we learn from all this? Nothing we shouldn’t have already known. If you pay people to stay unemployed, more people will stay unemployed.

Annnnnnd *snap – 2016 can’t get here fast enough.

Roy's Story

Roy’s Been on His Own for Four Weeks

That statement doesn’t even seem real to me. Though in some ways, it feels like he’s been living in the rental house for months, not simply a few weeks.

I’ll be honest, I was skeptical. I’m still a little skeptical but more optimist now. The novelty is wearing off but once again, Kevin has surprised me with his determination to MAKE this work. He keeps him busy. So busy, in fact, that Roy collapses into bed at the end of the day. It’s not that he’s physically busy, though Kevin does a pretty good job of keeping him busy washing windows, taking out the trash, sweeping, cleaning up the kitchen and vacuuming at his office, but he makes sure Roy is mentally exhausted as well.

And that’s a good thing. If he’s busy he won’t get into mischief.

I saw Roy out washing the windows on the rental house this morning. The rental house has huge windows, which is one of the things I love about the house (funny – but people either love those windows, or they don’t – it’s rarely in between).

We didn’t tell Roy to get out and wash the windows, he took it upon himself to do it. However, when we went shopping last night, I called Kevin on his cell to ask him if Roy had any Windex, that since this weekend was supposed to be nice (and it is – it’s GORGEOUS outside right now [I actually wrote this last weekend – it’s cloudy and supposed to snow later tonight]), it would be a good opportunity for him to wash the house windows. They’re very streaky and it’s very obvious since the afternoon sun shines right into the front living area.

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(Friday night is our grocery-shopping night. We take Roy with us. When we get there, we go our separate ways: I do our shopping and Kevin takes Roy around and helps him pick out the stuff he needs. He also helps Roy understand the cost of things and teaches him how to budget his money. Can you believe he’s never been taught that before?? Also. Saturday is wash day. Roy brings his clothes over to our house and starts a load. He then goes back home and I finish his laundry. I think I about have Kevin talked into buying a washer and dryer for that house at some point – MAJOR rental perk, I’m sure!).

Roy doesn’t live in the front of the house (pictured above – that’s the living/dining room when you walk in the front door). There’s no reason for him to use the front two rooms. He stays in the back of the house, in the family room, just right off the kitchen.

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Kevin and Roy went and picked up the sofa you see in the picture today. They got it from our niece and her husband – they’re moving into a house and didn’t need it anymore. The sofa actually used to be in Kevin’s dad’s shop before he closed up his business. It’s a decent couch and not bad for FREE. 🙂

Roy was feeling a bit like he was living in a fish bowl and had been talking about buying blinds for the huge window just behind the sofa. (There’s a sun room on the other side of that window and though there’s a privacy fence in the backyard, the house is up high enough that his neighbor can see into his house and that creeps him out. That would creep me out, too.

When Roy gets something into his head, it stays – FOR-EV-ER. And when him and Kevin were at Lowes, (they practically live there), Roy spotted some outdoor roll-er thingie shades and wouldn’t you know it, they fit the large window. They’re not ideal and at some point we’d like to have some custom blinds on that window, but they cover the window and work at concealing Roy so he doesn’t feel like his neighbor can see every little thing he does.

Kevin thinks I should write about Roy more often. He wanted me to start a new blog and just tell Roy’s story but hello – HAVE YOU MET ME!? I can barely keep up with this blog, let alone a brand new one. But I do want to write about Roy more. He continuously surprises me. I’m ashamed to admit, even though I’ve known Roy for about 27 years, I haven’t really gotten to know him until these past four weeks. He’s actually pretty funny. And he will say things that convince me that he’s not NEARLY as slow as the family has made him out to be all of these years. I just think the family has written him off and haven’t taken the time to teach him things. Yes. He requires patience. And no, there IS NO WAY I could take him on, full time, like Kevin has. Kevin checks on him and keeps him close EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I could not do that. Judge if you must but I’m just being honest. I don’t have the patience required for that much full-time care taking, however, I’m really glad that I’ve gotten to know Roy because he’s a pleasure to be around.

Yes. He can be devious. Yes. He can be sneaky. And he is mischievous at times. You have to take everything he says with a grain of salt. He doesn’t lie, per se, but he definitely stretches the truth sometimes. The fact that he KNOWS to do that also convinces me he’s not that bad off. He needs constant reassurance and that means he asks the same questions over and over again, (so that you finally have to say, “Roy. Enough. I’ve already answered that question and I won’t answer it again”), and he CONSTANTLY apologizes for, well, being human. Whenever he drops something, or he forgets to do something, or accidentally gets in your way, he’s like a whipped puppy and he apologizes. It sort of breaks my heart, if you want the God’s honest truth. The more I’m around Roy and the more he casually mentions what Kevin’s parents have said to him or treated him, the more I want to go over and give Kevin’s parents a piece of my mind. However. Again. Take it a with a grain of salt. How much is exaggerated to garner sympathy?

Exactly.

Roy dyed his own hair. When he was living with Kevin’s parents, they would keep his hair army short. And since he’s in his mid-forties, he is getting gray hair. This really bothers Roy. He doesn’t like his gray hair – he feels old. He doesn’t like to look old because in his mind, he’s not old – he’s still a young adult. (But then again – do ANY of us really like going gray?)

So he bought a box of hair dye at Wal-Mart the other day and when he went grocery shopping with us on Friday night, I didn’t even notice that he had colored his hair – he did that great of a job. He colored it just enough to take most of the gray out but it doesn’t look artificial. I was quite impressed. Kevin also trimmed up the sides and back so it’a little longer and Roy is in heaven – he thinks he looks sexy. HAHA! He is, however, terrified of what Kevin’s mom is going to say about it because she would never allow him to color his hair when he was living with them.

And that breaks my heart. Every little independent thing he does, the first thing he says is, “I hope ____ doesn’t get mad at me.” That’s how much control she had over him. We keep telling him, “so what – who cares what she thinks,” but deep down, Roy is terrified that she will assert control again and make him move out and back in with them.

And we keep telling him that’s not going to happen.

Again with the patience factor. We’ll just have to prove to him that we’re moving forward, we’re not moving backward and he’s not moving back in with Kevin’s parents – ever.

We’re going over to his house tonight for dinner. He bought himself a crockpot at Wal-Mart last night and he’s cooking us chili for dinner. I’ll probably cook some cornbread and take it over there. We thought him having a crockpot would be a good idea, then he can cook himself some meat and make several meals out of it. We’re still not comfortable with him using the oven, at least, unsupervised, so this is the next best step.

Oh – and by the way – Roy’s dog, Misty. They took her to the vet and they pulled five rotted teeth. She’s doing well. In fact, she feels loads better (I can imagine!). So all is good on the dog front. She’s definitely moving slow, though. The vet said he thinks she has arthritis in her hips, which would explain the way she sort of waddles when she walks. She’s also on a diet – Roy has been feeding her too much and she’s getting fat. So now he measures out how much food to give her. It’s little things like that, not knowing when to stop giving her food, or when to stop feeding himself, that makes him need constant supervision.