For the fourth time, Carl and I were blessed to use my client’s beach home near Destin, FL. Our first two visits in 2016 and 2017 were full of family, friends and fun. Last year, not so much as we dubbed it our worst vacation ever! This year, we were originally scheduled to go at the beginning of September. However, Hurricane Dorian (our third major hurricane since moving to FL) postponed our plans.
Not sure where or when Dorian was going to hit and preferring to stay home to monitor things, we pushed our trip out a month. Our good friends, Dee and Eddy came to join us for two nights.
The first day, we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon on the beach.
The second day, after attending church together, we spent the afternoon watching football before hitting a restaurant on the bay to celebrate Dee’s birthday.
In the evenings, we enjoyed time playing games and watching a movie. We are always so grateful for time spent with these special people. Thanks for coming Dee and Eddy!
Carl were supposed to have two nights alone before another couple, Bruce and Cathy, came to join us for the remainder of the stay. Carl and I enjoyed another relaxing beach day.
Our second day alone was spent with a movie matinee to watch Downton Abbey.
After the movie, we drove over to Destin and walked on the Boardwalk.
We saw lots of jellyfish floating around the harbor.
We rewarded ourselves for walking around in the heat by stopping at Dairy Queen on the way home.
We didn’t really want to but the pirate made us do it!
Bruce and Cathy were due to arrive on Wednesday but Cathy came down with a bug. We entertained ourselves by taking a long walk on the beach in the morning and then hanging out at the pool all day. In the evening, we walked down to the beach for the sunset.
We came upon a large pile of jellyfish that some boys on the beach were collecting.
So weirdly cool! I did my best to counteract their mission by kicking the jellyfish that I saw stranded in the sand back into the water.
It was a beautiful evening on the beach with my husband.
Since Cathy was still feeling ill on Thursday, we decided to make our way home early since we had had our fill of relaxing, beach walking, watching movies, drinking and hanging out alone.
We are grateful for our time away. Free vacations are always the best! I am grateful for a generous boss who shares his place with us each year. We can’t way to go back, hopefully with all our friends, who always make things more fun!
Since my blog posts are made into yearly books, which hopefully our children and grandchildren will one day enjoy reading, I thought it would be fun to add my career history as well just for posterity sake, starting with my marriage to Carl in 1986.
June, 1986 to September, 1986: K-Mart, Wichita, KS
Just out of college with my Bachelor’s Degree in Speech-and Hearing Science, which at this point is useless in my field without a Master’s Degree, I go to the local K-Mart for a job where they give me a pricing gun and a list of products to update each day and I spend hours placing new price labels on products all. day. long.
September, 1986 to sometime in 1987: Vollrath, Memphis, TN
My mother-in-law, Sue, who was working outside of the home for the only time in her life since I’ve known her, got me a job as a secretary at the company where she worked. I don’t really remember anything about that job except that the company had to do with medical supplies.
1987: Bob Blow’s Office, Memphis, TN
I don’t know why I changed jobs but I do know that it was right across the street from the apartment that we were living, which was very convenient. Bob Blow (I’ll never forget his name) was a technological early adapter and was involved in buying cell phone towers in cities across the county. He had a giant, corded cell phone in his yellow Mercedes that I would get to drive around to run his errands (pick up his dry-cleaning, go to the bank) and I would call Carl from the car because it was so cool!
Bob frequently traveled to Washington DC for the cell phone tower lotteries and then I could forward the phone calls to our apartment and just stay home those days. I remember it being a relatively boring job since there was just not much to keep me busy. I think I only worked there about 6 months until I started graduate school.
August, 1987 to May, 1989: Memphis State University (now called University of Memphis)
I attended a two-year graduate program in Speech-Language Pathology. Since all graduate students in the program perform therapy throughout their training, I actually went to graduate school for free and was paid a monthly stipend of $400. Sweet!
May, 1989 to December, 1990: DeSoto County School District, Southhaven, Mississippi
(Southhaven is just across the border from Memphis and so that is why I worked there for those of you that are clever enough to realize we’ve never lived in Mississippi.) My first professional job was as a public school speech-language clinician at an Elementary School making a whopping $19,000 per year. I love this photo from when all my family came down for my graduation and I pasted in Gale from a similar photo so that I’d have all of us in one photo (that’s old school Photoshop!).
I actually worked during the month of May after graduating, then had the summer off and returned to work in August. One of my biggest memories from that job is that the public schools in Mississippi still paddled children at that time. It was quite traumatic for me to be walking down the hall and seeing a child bent over getting paddled on the backside for bad behavior.
Another memory is the fact that there were still many families living with dirt floors and no running water or indoor bathrooms in this school district. The social worker and I would have to go to the homes of some of my students to obtain signatures (because they would never return the forms on their own) and I was amazed at the conditions of some of the homes. Again, another very traumatic experience for middle-class me.
I love the fact that after getting hired in my first professional job, I immediately got pregnant. I wouldn’t even make it through my first full year before having Kelly in April. After having Kelly, I had the rest of the school year off and then the summer off, giving me over 4 months home with her before returning the following school year just 2-1/2 days per week, which is what I worked for most of my career.
January, 1991 to June, 1991: Memphis/Shelby County Health Department, Memphis, TN
A former supervisor in graduate school hired me to complete preschoolerspeech and language evaluations and write reports a few days a week.
August, 1991 to August, 1993: Excellcare Rehabilitation, Prospect Heights, IL
After moving to the Chicago area, I got a great job with a Rehabilitation contract company that offered me full benefits and guaranteed me 30 hours per week. My first year, I traveled around the suburbs, serving in nursing homes, hospitals and a Head Start program. I was definitely not a fan of my time working with the elderly in nursing homes and hospitals and this was the only time I did so in my career.
They eventually found me a contract at a private, special education school which was not far from our home, which was so much better although this was my first experience with children with significant needs, including autism, Tourette’s syndrome and Down’s syndrome.
One of my favorite memories of this job is that they had a few condos that employees could borrow for a $50 cleaning fee. We were able to use this amazing 3-bedroom condo in Beaver Creek, CO with Carl’s parents during the week of Carl’s brother’s wedding in Vail.
August, 1993 to August, 1995: Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, Naperville, IL
In a move that still blows my mind, after seeing a classified ad in the Speech-Language professional magazine, Carl and I bought an established private practice near us. The business came with a part-time administrative assistant and contracted with several therapists. The leased space included a reception area and three offices. I eventually had to let the administrative assistant and the other therapists go and I handled all the business myself because I couldn’t afford to keep them.
The business needed someone with a lot more business knowledge and a lot more drive/desire to market and build the business. At that time, I didn’t even want to work full-time and we were going through infertility treatments trying to get pregnant again. I should have never given up a well-paying, steady job to try to run my own business. Luckily, we were able to sell the business and recoup most of our money, although I didn’t really make any money for the two years that we owned the clinic.
August, 1995 to April, 1996: West Chicago School District, West Chicago, IL
I returned to the school system as an elementary school speech-language clinician. My two main memories of that job are 1) there was a huge Hispanic population and I had to try and do speech-language therapy with many students using an interpreter and 2) they threatened to sue me for leaving the job before the end of the school year after we had moved out of state.
April, 1996 to April, 1999: Fairfax County Schools, Fairfax, VA
I worked as a speech-language clinician two and a half days each week at Forestville Elementary School.
April, 1999 to late 2000: Stay-at-home mom
After moving to Minnesota and with Zack’s impending adoption and subsequent arrival, I took some time off of work to be home with our two young sons. Keeping them in line was definitely a full-time job!
Late 2000 to Feb, 2001: Target, Chanhassen, MN
After staying home full-time for over a year, I had a desire to get out of the house without children so I got a job in the evenings at Target as a cashier. I remember working over the holiday season but don’t remember when I started working there.
August, 2001 to August, 2002: Edina Public Schools, Edina, MN
I finally decide that if I’m going to work outside of the home, I’d like to make more than minimum wage and decide to go back to speech-language therapy in the public school system. I worked at a high school a few days a week in a nearby district.
August, 2002 to June, 2007: Chaska Public Schools, Chaska, MN
Our local school district had a part-time opening and I’m was able to move to our home district. In a unique position, I’m a public school speech-language clinician placed in the large Catholic elementary school. In all other states that we’ve lived, if private school students need special services, the parents are responsible for transporting them to the public school for services. In Chaska, they actually place clinicians within the larger private schools. For the 2006-07 school year, I only worked two afternoons a week doing evaluations for the school district while Anthony and I tried out homeschooling for the first year.
August, 2006 to March, 2013: Homeschool Teacher, Chaska, MN
Anthony is homeschooled from fifth grade (8/2006) until halfway through ninth grade (1/2011) and Zack is homeschooled from halfway through second grade (12/2006) until two-thirds through eighth grade (3/2013).
For the first few years of homeschooling, I kept up my Speech-Language licensing. But by the second year when things were going well with homeschooling and we were in it for the long-haul, I decided that when I ever went back to work, I would be ready for something different. I think by this point I was just tired of working with children and the paperwork necessary to do the job. So I let my licensing lapse and I retired from Speech-Language Pathology.
July, 2011 to present: KLM Bookkeeping
Carl was a member of the Chaska Rotary Club Board of Directors and their long-term bookkeeper decided to retire. Carl suggested me, since he knew that I was good on the computer and managed our family finances on Quicken. Plus, this was a job that I could do at home. After starting with the Rotary Club, members started calling to hire me to do their bookkeeping. And thus my bookkeeping business was born!
I have found that there is a difference between training and gifting…I was trained as Speech-Language Pathologist but I am gifted as a bookkeeper/computer geek. So I find a lot more enjoyment with what I do now and feel that I am better suited for it. But speech therapy was a good career while raising a family since it very flexible, had school hours and summers off and it was always in demand throughout our moves…there was never difficulty finding a job quickly. But I am certainly grateful for the second career that God presented to me and have enjoyed working with so many different clients over the years.
Carl and I still have one rental property (a two-bedroom townhouse) in Minnesota. When I wrote a post about our properties in May, 2017, I stated the following:
I do not believe that we will ever recoup the money that we paid for that property. It has slowly climbed up to around $100,000 to maybe $110,000 (if you believe Zillow) but it will be many, many, many more years before it makes it back up to what we paid.
So I was happy to go on Zillow a few weeks ago and see that the Zestimate was now around $142,000, which is close to what we paid for it. But I also noticed something new…a box telling me to “Get a Zillow Offer.”
Turns out that Zillow is now buying homes in select markets, making minor repairs and then reselling them for a small profit (more or less flipping homes).
I figured “why not?” and wanted see what they would offer but had very low expectations and figured it would be a totally low-ball offer. Imagine my surprise the next day when my initial offer came back at $150,000 (which is the number that Carl and I had had in mind and had stated that when it ever reached that, we would sell). What? That’s even more than their Zestimate! After getting over my shock, I read the email and saw that the next step would be an in-person inspection by a representative by Zillow to adjust the offer for repairs needed. I again figured it would be an unrealistic deduction off the initial offer. A few days after the inspection, the revised offer came in and was quite reasonable and comparable to what we would spend on necessary repairs.
After comparing the estimated costs of a traditional sale (with realtor fees, travel, repairs, weeks of hard work by Carl and I and the hassles of coordinating showings from afar) and the final Zillow offer (with zero hassles or effort on our part), it was very close. So it was a no-brainer in our minds. SOLD!
Since we do have a tenant on a month-to-month lease, we had to give her notice and time to find a new place to live. She did so quickly and will be moving out September 1st. We will close the sale with Zillow on September 6th, at which time we will pay off the rest of our house here in Jacksonville. Yippee!!
We are amazed at how God has moved the past month in clearing this path for us. We weren’t even planning on selling this property at this time but God made it so easy and hassle-free for us that we couldn’t NOT do it. We are grateful and it will be awesome to be debt-free in just a short time.
On Sunday, more home projects were completed (including taking down a lattice wall and chopping down a dozen trees in the backyard) but we also found time to play some games together.
I brought two new games with me… Exploding Kittens and LCR Wild and we had fun with both but there is a little bit more of a learning curve with the Kittens. And of course, we had to revert to the new family favorite of 4-Up 4-Down.
We had hamburgers on the grill before Jim had to leave for his return flight home.
I am so happy that Sue had all three kids home with her for a few days.
The best gift ever!
Carl and I had a somewhat less eventful return trip home. After boarding our plane and getting comfortable, the pilot announced that due to weather in Orlando, the FAA was holding our flight for an hour. So instead of arriving back in Orlando at 7:30pm on Monday, we arrived at 8:30pm. By the time we got our luggage, took the shuttle to the car park lot and drove the 2+ hours from Orlando, we arrived home around midnight. YAWN!
It was a hectic but great weekend away and we are so grateful for every moment of family time. Until next time!
Saturday morning was spent completing all sorts of home maintenance projects for Leslie and Sue/Karl. Carl went over to Leslie’s house to help her with trimming her bushes.
Jim worked at Sue and Karl’s house setting up automatic sensors on all of their outdoor light fixtures (so the lights go on and off by themselves). I worked on all of their electronic/technological needs :).
After attending mass together, with Marilyn, we took Sue out for dinner at a nice Italian restaurant.
We all returned to Sue and Karl’s house for after-dinner drinks.
Sue opened all of her cards from family and friends.
And then we had one more surprise for Sue…an Ipad from all of her children. It’s a great upgrade from the Amazon Fire tablet Sue has been using for years.
It was a great day (and weekend) spent celebrating a very special woman.
I am grateful for the role-model that she is of patience, kindness and love.
After finally getting to Memphis and crashing at Marilyn’s house for the night, we woke up and got ourselves ready to finally surprise Sue at home. Carl’s sister, Leslie, met us at Marilyn’s house and the four of us drove over together. Marilyn rang the front doorbell while we hid to the side. After Sue answered the door, Marilyn said “You forgot something last night” and we popped out and greeted Sue. It was great fun and Sue got all teary-eyed, so it was worth it!
We sat around and visited for the afternoon. Leslie left for a while to go take care of her kitty and when she returned, she had surprise #2…Carl’s brother, Jim, also surprised Sue for the weekend.
So Sue had all three of her children home with her…what more could a mother ask for?
Marilyn, a truly gracious and hospitable friend, had us all over on Friday night for a great BBQ dinner and drinks. We are so thankful for Marilyn helping us to make the surprises happen and for putting us up at the last minute after all of our delays. Thanks Marilyn!
It was my mother-in-law’s MAJOR birthday (I’m not allowed to mention a number but it’s the same year that the Wizard of Oz was released and the Worlds Fair opened in New York) over the weekend so Carl and I thought it would be a special gift to fly in for the weekend to celebrate with her. But first we had to actually get there.
We started by buying round trip tickets on Frontier airlines for super cheap to go from Thursday until Sunday. Unfortunately, the tickets were out of Orlando but they were direct flights.
But a week prior to leaving, I woke to an email asking me to call Frontier regarding our tickets. Turns out Frontier canceled all return trips on Sunday. There were no other options until the following Thursday. Nope, that’s not gonna work so we accepted $250 vouchers each for our canceled flights. After investigating all options, I finally found some decent return flights on Southwest for Monday.
Last Thursday, our trip started with driving in a torrential downpour to Orlando. After finally getting there and getting to our gate in plenty of time, we sat and waited for boarding. Shortly before boarding, they announced that they were “Swapping Planes” and we’d be leaving from a new gate. After getting to the new gate, Carl stood at the window and watched them start loading luggage onto the plane. Then he noticed them standing around the engine with tools. Then he watched them start unloading luggage from the plane. The aircraft staff (pilot and flight attendant), who had been standing near the gate waiting with us, suddenly disappeared. And that’s when we looked up and noticed this:
After a confusing 10-minutes, they finally announced that we needed to return to the check-in counters at the front of the airport for further instructions. After making a beeline to the front and waiting in line, we were finally given papers that gave us the option to 1) cancel the trip and get $500 vouchers from Frontier or 2) rebook on another airline (with the cost to be reimbursed by Frontier) and get a $100 voucher each. We went with option 2 and frantically got on my cell phone and attempted to book new flights with United Airlines before everyone else got all the seats. Done, but unfortunately they were not direct and we now needed to travel to Houston first.
After starting to run to our gate for the flight leaving in 1-1/2 hours (originally it was scheduled to leave in 1/2 hour but thankfully, it was delayed an hour), we stopped and said “WAIT! What about the luggage?” only to read the notice on the bottom of the paper that said we needed to pick up our luggage at baggage claim and recheck it with new airline. Done.
After starting to run to towards security, we stopped and said “WAIT! What about our TSA Known Traveler Priority Access?” (because the security lines were ridiculous and we didn’t have time to wait), we returned to the United counter and got new boarding passes with our TSA Precheck.
Finally, we got to our new gate and made the flight and arrived in Houston with a two hour wait before our final flight. Shortly before that flight was to board, we again heard those dreaded words “Folks, we are going to have a slight delay while we swap planes.” SWAP PLANES…again? We were sure that meant that they would end up canceling it and we’d be stuck in Houston for the night but luckily, after an hour delay while they changed a tire on the plane, we were in the air, arriving in Memphis at 1:00am.
Instead of arriving in Memphis at 5:30 pm, Ubering to Marilyn’s (Sue’s friend) house, where we would walk in and surprise Sue as I had arranged with Marilyn, we got to Marilyn’s at 1:40am, used the key hidden under the door mat, quietly snuck upstairs to the guest bedroom and crashed for the night until we could surprise Sue the next day.