April 17, 2014

Celebrating Small

As a child, my birthday was often celebrated with an adult family member that had a birthday just a day or two from mine.  I don't remember much about them, but there are several years worth of photos of the two of us side by side with our birthday cakes.  One, in particular, has always delighted me - I am probably 4 or 5-year's old, posing behind my Barbie Doll cake, and next to me, with a beer in hand, is my uncle, with a classic 1970's 'bikini cake', which, as I recall, required the integration of two Hostess Snowball snack cakes for the top.

The teenage years centered on friends and less family, and as I have aged, I don't have many specific memories, other than a trip to Benihana on my 18th, that included a broken English version of the birthday song, and a truck and tractor pull for my 21st.  I am still amazed at the things my boyfriends thought I would enjoy.

I am content that this time in my life has brought celebrations back to family, with Boom at college, I have a constant reminder that it really won't be that long before all the kids are gone.  I appreciate that the years have brought contentment in simpler things, a place many people never seem to reach.

I sometimes feel guilty that I am not a big party planning mom.  We shuttle the kids to a select few birthday parties each year, but don't reciprocate with lavish bashes.  Instead, we typically celebrate smaller, and more family-oriented than other people do.  Easter this weekend will center around a family meal, and our annual family egg hunt that includes prize coupons for extravagant things like getting out of chores, extra dessert, and mild sibling torture (the 'make my bed' coupon is popular).

I hope my kids grow to value family over store bought fun.  I hope that a raucous game of Yahtzee or corn hole in the yard outshines Chuck E Cheese skeeball or an afternoon at a trampoline park.  Sure, there is fun to be had for a price, but my hope is that my kids will see more value in family, and the fleeting time we have to spend with them.

April 16, 2014

Remembering Ruth

I went to the best kind of funeral this morning, if there is such a thing.

It was the funeral of a life fully lived, 95 year's worth of hard work, one marriage, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, love, faith, friendships.

There aren't many more like her out there - people who have seen such change in our world, yet remained true to a work ethic and moral base that is nearly extinct in today's young people.

The preacher remembered her thusly, "I knew her long, I knew her well, I loved her much."

I hope that when my time comes, there are those who will say the same about me.

April 15, 2014

FIRSD

Today is tax day, and, I am writing the IRS a hefty check.

I normally try to break even, and have never had to write a check this big before.  It is painful.
For years we have gotten refunds, though tax planning and jacking up our withholding exemptions kept the refund amount small, and allowed us to use our money throughout the year, rather than loaning it to the gummint.
My CPA pointed to what he described as an"Imperfect Storm" of life and tax events that combined to nail us this year.  And, this tax day serves as an excellent benchmark for planning purposes to make sure we aren't in the same position next year.  
What chaps my hide the most is seeing the total tax due, and trying to correlate what government services my family benefits from that justify the amount.  I can't come up with much.  
Financial experts often suggest that people with limited budgeting willpower use an envelope system to divvy out their money.  This involves putting cash into categorized envelopes, and paying for the specific expenses out of those envelopes.  When the envelope is empty, you aren't supposed to refill it from the ATM, or borrow from another envelope.  One of the reasons this method tends to work is because there is a psychological effect felt from paying cash for items.
I have long advocated for an elective system wherein tax payers can choose from an a la carte menu of government services and agencies that they want to support.  If you choose not to pay into the welfare system, then you simply can't ever receive benefits.  All the bleeding heart liberals that want to support deadbeats are likely to think twice if they have to fork over their own cash to do it.
Withholding taxes (and SS and Medicare) from paychecks has made our working class ignorant and apathetic with regard to how big and greedy our government has become.  If every company had to pay their employees in cash each payday, and then the employees had to step up to the next window and pay the government from their fistful of cash, there would be a revolution.

April 14, 2014

FOD

Golf Count: 9 rounds this year, totaling 166 since taking office.

Vacation Count: I think three so far this year.  The Obamas kicked off the year in Hawaii, then the separate vacays in Cali and Aspen, then a weekend in Key Largo while Ukraine burned last month.

May will argue that we are better off when the president is out of the Oval.  I still bristle at the thought of the leader of our country having enough time to golf and vacation while I burn the midnight oil earning a paycheck that the government takes 28% of.

FOD, indeed.

April 13, 2014

Where flowers bloom, so does hope

I am too young to have anything other than a jaundiced historical view of the Johnson presidency.  I do, however, love me a Texas roadside in the spring, and I have to give credit where due, and give thanks to Ladybird Johnson.

Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush decorated miles of highway shoulder on this weekend's travels.  New England may have the market cornered on fall color, but nothing compares to Central Texas in the spring.  Sure, there are other wildflowers, but nothing is quite as breathtaking as the purplish-blue hue of our state flower. 

Except, maybe, that certain hybrid developed by a certain Texas university, that has been popping up in the unlikeliest of places...




April 11, 2014

If I were a political cartoonist

Today, I would be sketching a scene of rats fleeing a sinking ship.

The rats would have faces resembling folks like Kathleen Sebelius, and all of the other members of his administration that have left, or been asked to leave the service of President Barack.

Keep watching, as anyone with future political aspirations will soon be headed for the door, anxious to put distance between themselves and this administration.

April 9, 2014

Mid-week FOD

9:05 am || Departs White House with the first lady
11:30 am CT || Arrives Killeen, Texas
2:00 pm CT || Attends a memorial service for the Fort Hood victims
3:30 pm CT || Departs Killeen 
4:20 pm CT || Arrives Houston
5:00 pm CT || Attends a DNC fundraiser; private residence, Houston
7:20 pm CT || Delivers remarks and answers questions at a fundraiser for House and Senate Democrats; private residence, Houston
All times U.S. Eastern except as noted
If anyone has the time, I would appreciate a full accounting of each and every douche bag that helped formulate this schedule.  That would start with whichever opportunistic jerk saw that the president would be traveling to Texas, purportedly to pay his respects at the Fort Hood memorial service, and saw an opening for a fundraiser. Who would have thought that we would ever have a president that held American soldiers and their families in such low regard, that he would squeeze in a glad-handing session just after pretending to care about the tragedy that will forever touch their lives?

List for me, if you can, each and every attendee, donor, valet parking attendant, and catering employee that doesn't have enough patriotic gumption to refuse to participate in this event.  Heck, Barack should decorate his lapel with these candidates' campaign buttons at the memorial service - I am sure the DNC would delight in the amount of television coverage they would get.

Gah.  I have always said that there is no reason that I would get within spitting distance of this president, but I sure would like to get within crotch-kicking distance.