Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!

This is a reminder to my future self. My December 2010 self, to be exact. Last Christmas I was hmming and hawing over what to get the kids for Christmas when I got an email solicitation from Hotwire advertising Cruises to Baja for under $300. Knowing my kids already have WAY TO MUCH STUFF, I asked Chuck if in lieu of buying Christmas presents for anyone in our family of four, if we could put the money towards a cruise, whenever it was most affordable. He loved the idea, so I set to work online to find a way to get the four of us airfare and cruise tickets and stay with our predefined very limited budget. Stupid layoff. Stupid housing economy. Stupid unpayed vacation time of a contract laborer.

But I digress. I could not do it. There was just no way with the amount I had to spend to fly all of us to Southern California and buy four cruise tickets – even interior ship cabin for four in the bottom deck, two sleeping in the shower, traveling like stow aways, going only to Ensenada, MX for three days on Allegiant Air red eye flight (what is with those guys - yes, you can have a seat, but that will cost you $40 extra, as will bringing extra reading material on the plane and we only fly on Tuesday afternoons between 2:46 and 4:02 pm out of Glide, Or).

Discouraged, but still determined not to buy video games for Christmas, I finally asked my mother, a seasoned cruiser, if she could help me find travel bargains online or throw me some miles or hook me up with some amazing travel agent, or something. She asked me to give her a couple of days to look into it. She called back in a couple of days and said, “how about if we come? You cover airfare, we’ll pay for the cruise, and it will be a present from us too..." (I know! Don’t you wish she was your mom too?? )

I circled back with CRM and told him of her offer. Chuck and I have a long history of fighting over both my mother’s and my own tendency to over indulge the kids at Christmas anyway… so he was thrilled and only extracted a commitment from me not to buy the kids any other gifts.

That, it turns out, was easier said than done. As Christmas Eve drew closer, I imagined our tree sitting naked in the living room without any packages and the kids, running downstairs full of excitement to see………………. NOTHING. We had lots of, “How about just a couple?” debates that I lost. The kids were fine… first of all they have wonderful grandparents and aunts and uncles that are extraordinarily generous with them, so the tree was lovely and stacked almost as high as usual. Plus it turns out they get it. They absolutely are material kids who like their spendy gadgets, but they don't need it to be happy. They were even more thrilled when they opened a poster I had put together with pictures and a big headline that said, “Merry Christmas! We’re going to Mexico!”

Well, Christmas is here! We fly south on Saturday – and will get out of this miserable non baseball playing weather for a week. We will also get away from our ridiculous schedule of working full time, trying to launch a business, two kids in sports, music and working very hard in school, and Chuck working full time and trying to keep everyone fed and happy and the house together. We can all use the break. I have much guilt over taking the kids away from school and their respective teams, but this is when it made financial sense to go, and when Grandma was free.

Deb, of December next? Remember this excitement. What the kids REALLY want from you is time. Time on a cruise ship and in a place Sam says she calls “Paradise” is even better.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Why did the Turkey Cross the Road?

I take Game Farm road the short distance between my home and my office. It’s a fairly main thoroughfare that divides Eugene from Springfield in my neighborhood.

Something caught my eye crossing the road, so I stepped on my breaks to avoid hitting it. Turns out it was a big turkey. He was crossing Game Farm headed from Springfield to Eugene, specifically to the Northwest Community Credit Union, which is where he stopped and stayed, making for a very silly site of a huge turkey sitting at Credit Union front door, waiting as if for someone to open the door and let him make a withdrawal.

Wonder if that is some sort of strange symbol about the state of the economy – the Turkey at the Credit Union.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

My fun for the day: Started the math group I'm teaching this morning with : "today we are going to learn about Lowest Common Multiples. To calculate LCM you need to first raise your base number to the 4th power. So let's take 5. 5 x 5 is 25, multiply that by 5, which is 125, then again by 5 to get 500. You then take that value and divide it by the first four prime numbers, 2, 3, 5, 7. But you skip any that are the number you started with and pick up the next one, so it would be divided by 2, 3, 7 and 11. Once you have the result you multiply it by pi cubed and take the square root of the result and multiply the reciprical by 147." I then started handing out work sheets so they could solve the problems. A few brave 5th graders were mumbling "What??" until I clapped and said "April Fools!" Real LCM problems were pretty easy to solve after that scare.