What up recently…. not much but working and Grad Party

So we have not posted lately, but that is because we are not doing much. We did however have our sons Garions Graduation party – that took all our free time for about a month and a half in preparation! But our youngest son is now graduated and starting online community college next week – it is way cheaper and I went to community college prior to moving on to Oakland University – where he has decided to go as well.

Sharing a few pictures of him. The party was small and separated some inside, some outside, some downstairs some in the garage, the ultimate social distance party. It has been three weeks since the party and I am feeling rested and ready to start posting again.

Grocery Shopping has become really hard

Wish I was posting on our travels, but Covid-19 locked down still. So this is what I do, work all day often at home, but still a lot in the hospital or doctors offices working until dinner time, then clean, cook, watch TV at night with my husband David. Not much to talk about, but did want to say, here in the Detroit Michigan area, we have Covid-19, fairly severe and I am grocery shopping every week for my family and my parents and starting this week with my mother in law. So it is hard, we get our list, get their lists and then put on our masks and we shop with separate baskets (because I mix things up and that causes issues). About 1.5hours to shop, then we wait in really long lines for 30mins – 6 feet apart, then load it into the car and go home and wipe it all down with bleach water then put away our groceries and then drive the rest to our families. It takes pretty much all day, which is fine.

I have noticed EVERY time I have shopped for the last 5 weeks, I have been accosted, or yelled at or was standing right in front of some one who was yelling at someone else. I have never yelled back or raised my voice. Some examples: Was told:

1-“wearing a mask just holds in the germs – it is wrong”

2- “your walking the wrong way down the isle – this is a one way isle, why don’t you know that – look at the floor” He really smugly walked away with his nose in the air – and Nope I did not know.

3- Saw a shopper try and pick up some coffee creamer from the milk shelf, and the store worker who was loading it told her – to “get off my ass” then the shopper said “sorry I was ON your ass” then the shopper said – let me speak with your manager and the store worker said ” get her yourself I am busy working” then the shopper cried and looked at me, I had my mouth open and looked at the store worker and then she made a head butt move toward me. BTW, told the manager about that whole thing.

There were other rude shoppers as well, many more stories. So I came up with a response so my mouth can do more than hang open. Tell me what you think.… “I know things are hard for all of us right now- but speaking like that is not respectful to me and while things are still happy in my life right now, I will not accept it” If I get trouble, my husband is shopping around the corner, and I am going to tell them then – “I will call my husband and the two of you can talk about this further if you like”

I will honestly listen to whatever you have to offer in suggestions, I am empathetic and willing to listen.

What we are up to April 15, 2020

Since our last posting we have received the bees for the backyard, they ALL died over the winter. Beekeeping is hard, the bees are very sensitive and they just could not make it thru even this very mild winter, we left them plenty to eat over the winter, and now we have four boxes (which is a lot) of honey to start off the spring since they did not use it. This is a picture of them in our garage, we put them out yesterday, hope they survive – it is cold but they cannot live on our garage for long, so hoping for the best.

These are new bees ordered to fill our hives that died out over the winter.

While David and our son, Garion have been off work, they built a dock to put in the river behind our house, we are the only people on the river who do not have a boat or a dock, so they built this floating dock and were putting in the water in this video. I was there to help if anything happened, and it did, the dock got stuck at the end, and David tried to lift it out of the water to move a piece of wood that was wedged underneath and he tore a ligament or tendon and has been out of commission of his right arm since Saturday. We spent 4 hours at the urgent care, it is not broken, and today a video conference with the orthopedic surgeon was good news of just move it as much as possible and take steroids. So good news there!

Putting in the dock on the river, but not smoothly.

I am working quite a bit from home and going into the hospitals to work whenever they need me, this is a picture of me and my friend Kathy today working hard and staying safe!

So this week, we have been eating together, like every week, but posting our dinners so far, we cook every night except Thursdays. Saturday – Salad nite. Easter – Ham, Mashed Potatoes, Cheese platter, corn, rolls, Salad, cupcakes with cherries and whipped frosting. Monday – Leftover Easter Dinner along with Brussel Sprouts. Tuesday- Fried rice with Pork and quinoa with frozen eggrolls (those were not good eggrolls, did not eat them). Wed – Chicken Tamales with Nacho Chips. Thursdays is our order out nite once a week. Friday will be Breakfast for dinner, probably pancakes with bacon and eggs.

What we are up to now… April 6, 2020

Well not up to much, but up to so much. So David was laid off about 2 weeks ago until April 13, 2020, but we think that will go much longer. So he is doing a bunch of projects he always wanted to do. First he made some shelves for our sons room, then power washed the deck, then prepped the ground and put down pea gravel and pavers under the deck, then built a dock to put in the river behind our home, it is a floatable dock, which means no builders permit. All of our neighbors in the area have docks, we could put a canoe or small fishing boat on it one day. We figure this will improve the value of our home, if we sell it one day. Today he is staining the dock. Then will put in the post holes and drop the dock in the water later this week. He has projects on the back burner of taking down the sides of the deck, and putting up new ones, we will painting those together, and making a D&D table cover with a grid for his D&D nites.

David relaxing on the couch after a hard days work with our Cat Henry.

I am still working, but mostly from home, going into work about 1/week at the hospital, the rest of the work week I spend most of my time answer emails, writing reports, submitting lead shielding reports, writing policies and writing ALOT of lectures. I am updating my website with a new lecture group. Been cleaning the house, working on taxes, planning on painting a hallway this week, and dusting all of the blinds. Cooking dinner every nite, tonight it is Ham.

So holding up fine, what are you up to? Let us know.

Happy New Year from our family!

Happy New Year from our family, May 2020 bless you and your family with Health and wonderful times. We celebrated our New Years Eve by first stopping over to took Laura’s parents to help them fix a circuit breaker that gave us some trouble on Christmas Eve dinner – the lights went out 4 times. David replaced the breaker. Then we toasted with some champagne and then out to Dinner, then Lauras parents were done with all the fun and headed back home. We stopped at Dave and Busters, a giant arcade by our house for about 40minutes of game playing fun. Back home for a drink and celebrating the New Years!

Dad’s 90th Birthday Party

Well my Wonderful Father turns 90 years old tomorrow – on Veterans Day – November 11th. Happy Birthday DAD!

A little bragging – my Father is a great man – a Super Hero of a Dad. He has my back, loves us like no other, proud of each of us , a strong role model for my children -especially thru some really hard days we have had in the past, he is a close friend and mentor to my husband – my Father will tell anyone he meets about us, how great we are, what we do for a living, how David and I are retiring soon – and then will ask – so What are you up to, with a Cheshire Grin. He is tough as nails, I still think he could easily take on and win a fight someone 20 years younger, in a fight . He is sharp – still can do math in his head, when I was a kid, you could ask him the square root of any number, and he knew it! He can remember an address of a house he visited over a month ago, he can remember the price of a stock from a conversation we had last week. He regularly sells things online and keeps busy all day with reading up on the news and learning new internet information. Sharing some pictures of his Birthday party at Buca Italian restaurant this evening – Love the Patriarch of the family –

David and I love you so much – thanks for all you have made us.

Glacier Bay, Alaska – Part 1

These were our views from the deck of the Ruby Princess, it was so breathtaking, I am posting in two parts. Few words, mostly pictures

In my mind this is the entrance to Supermans secret layer….
He was floating by on an iceberg.

Space Needle – Seattle, Wa

Second on our list while in Seattle, Wa for one day on our way to Alaska is the Space Needle. We honestly do not know much about the space needle, except it is tall and cool and we want to check it out. I did just learn today that the space needle was built in 1961 for the world’s fair. The glass floor is new from a recent renovation – which is good, because it turns out the glass floor is our favorite part.

Walking up to the Space Needle after a quick Lyft ride over.
We bought our tickets – and did not realize thought we would not have enough time to make it over to Chihuly gardens, and turns out the gardens are right next door, so missed out on the shared deal you can buy as we purchased these tickets at the base of the space needle.
TIP: Really look into a joint deal on travel sites, prior to dismissing the option.

Video (from the top) of the elevator we just rode up to the top of the space needle.

Picture from the top and the glass bottom, people love to lay on the floor and snap a picture of the suspended look. It is for sure an uneasy feeling walking over the glass portion for the first time.

David having fun with the glass bottom from the top of the space needle.

You can buy at drink of wine or beer or a soda/water at the top or a light snack meal. We did not, but instead just reviewed the views from the top.

Wait a minute: “This will be to Seattle what the Eiffel tower is to Paris” – then we have back to back seen Both the Seattle and Paris towers… this is us in June. (wait it was late July, time sure does work weird when your on vacation).

https://daveandlaurasdream.com/2019/07/10/eiffel-tower/

Date Night – Tokyo, Japan – Grilled meats and giblet hotpot

We have been back from Tokyo for a little while now and wrapping up these posts. So just a few left. Then on to our next adventure.

David and I always try and sneak away from the kids for an evening – we try to do it once a week, but it does not always work, but we steal away time even if just a walk down the street to a mini eatry – the giblet hotpot for some yummy meats on a stick. We tried the chicken skin, chicken wings, asked for a surprise (yep could have been anything, guessing it was heart) and some pork belly. All was delicious.

Cooking up our dinner date snack.

Tokyo Sky Tree at Sumida district

We thought we were at Tokyo Tower, but were recently corrected this is Tokyo Sky Tree at Sumida district an Eiffel Tower inspired lattice communications and observation tower in the Shiba-koen district of Minato, Tokyo, Japan. It is huge, actually 332.9 meters and is the second-tallest structure in Japan. When we visited Tokyo Tower, we had no idea what to expect, but it is like a HUGE mega mall. So pictures of what we were up to at Tokyo Tower! We walked in and first saw a huge food market, with so many choices, of everything, then later a food court, and then shops, so many many many shops. We were there for over 3 hours and had to start walking faster, just to get to the stores we really wanted to see – Pokemon’s second store, and some clothing stores the girls wanted to look at.

Totoro character – we bought quite a few gifts at this store.
Moomin House Cafe – ran out of time for eating here, but fun place.
Pokemon store at Tokyo Tower

Gundam Cafe- Akihabara Japan

Garion more than anything else wanted to buy as many Gundams he could while in Tokyo. He wanted to buy a super large one, but it would not fit in our suitcase – he did purchase five normal sized model kits. So we decided to surprize him with a Gundam Cafe Visit. Gundam’s are a Japanese science fiction media animation series that features giant robots (mecha).  

Tip: Check out web sites before heading over to a special tourist cafe, as sometimes you HAVE to have a reservation, or they open at weird times.

Gundam Cafe website: http://g-cafe.jp/akiba/menu/food/

I can’t stop smiling!

In his complete Glory of happiness!

So we had a snack and Garion ate, everything – a blue soda drink a Hamburger and fries. He could not be happier, and that makes all of us super happy.

The Masked Dancer Dances Backward on Dance Dance Revolution Game – This video is Amazing! Sega Akihabara Tokyo Japan

While inside the SEGA Building in Akihabara Japan, after checking out the Crane Games and Virtual Reality and playing until we were almost out of money for the day, we saw this….. The Masked Dancer is what he calls himself. Look! HE IS DOING THIS BACKWARD!!! with a Mask on – he has memorized this Dance without even looking at it.

Backwards!

Forward is just as impressive!

I could watch this all Day!

Disney Tokyo

This is what I have been waiting for the Entire Trip, the one thing I REALLY wanted to do in Tokyo – Go to Tokyo Disney. I actually want to go to every Disney Park in the world, so all that is left is the waterparks in Florida and Shanghai and China Disney parks. I researched that today is a great day to go as the Tokyo Disney crowd calendar says it is moderate, which is the lowest crowds at the park the entire time we will be there – Never go during high, because it turns out it was still pretty darn busy there.

TIP: Use a Disney Crowd Calendar – just do a quick web search on this and it is easy to figure from there.

Disney Sea Map
The map including rides and details of Disney Sea, Tokyo
Entrance to Tokyo Disney Sea – Wide shot

We take a train about 45mins from our Airbnb to the entrance to Disney Tokyo, and wanted to visit both Disney Sea and the Disneyland Parks, there are two Parks. But you cannot swap between – no Park Hopper options. No using the tickets we have from the Florida park you have to buy new ones. A one day price one park (we decided on The Seas based upon previous online research) is 7400 yen or $74.00, in comparison todays price for Disney World is $109.00 for one park one day.

The best price deals though were inside. Food and snacks in comparison to Disney World are extremely well priced you can buy an ice cream large for $3.00, this frozen treat is made of a frozen jello on the bottom, shaved ice in the middle and rice crisps sprinkled on top with a creamier than you get in the US style frozen custard on top – it was 550yen or $5.50, Bargain in Disney!

You can buy a quality tasty chicken curry bun sandwich for $5.00, and it is cute! More on food in a future post.

View from when you walk in
View of Arabian Coast
The boys in front of Indiana Jones Adventure Temple of the Crystal Skull Ride

Check out my two bearded guys faces on the screen – nothing just pan face nothing, lol!

This is a YouTube Video of the Indiana Jones Adventure Tokyo ride for more details: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OEkTOubp8g

Paris Pictures

There are so many beautiful pictures from random areas we saw in Paris, these are a few. Some from a top the Hop on Hop off, some just from wandering around. Enjoy!

A wonderful eating and shopping street near Notre Dame.
The busy streets near the Seine river
Notice the Bride entering the building.
Gift from Egypt to France.
There was a protest going on at this area – peaceful and childrens medical rights based.

Arc De Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile or Triumphal Arch of the Star in Paris, France. It is a monument to the fallen solders of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

The name of all French Victories and general are inscribed on the inner and outer surfaces.

You can walk under the circle intersection of twelve roads and pop out in the center – and walk around checking out the twelve roads surrounding – you can take the elevator up to the top – but the line was HUGE – or you can book this in advance and skip the line – remember the tip of doing these at least 30 days in advance.

Notre Dame – still standing just like us!

Notre Dame is still standing – battered and in renovation, but she is still standing despite what we all thought was the end of her and the fire that was so devastating only just 2 months ago.

This month David and I will be married 3 years and together 5 years. We are winning against the odds of a second marriage succeeding. Our marriage and my life is testament that regardless of your current situation, you can fight hard, and win – in a big way. Our children are thriving and growing up surrounding by love and we are a family. Six years ago, my life was so different. I was in the middle of a divorce and thinking my life was over, I was fighting for my health, my finances, and my children. I was devastated and burnt down to my core. At the time I could have never predicted that point of my life was just the beginning of things to come. I still have to pinch myself to believe this is my life. I feel so blessed and grateful, it can be overwhelming.

Seeing the Grand Dame was also a memory of 2008, and my last visit to Paris with my parents and children. When we were there, we went to Palm Sunday Mass, which was crazy busy with mass mobs of people – in fact we were separated by the crushing crowds. I was just laughing about that with my parents last night – what wonderful memories of this trip, and the memories are still strong.  

Six years from now, I would love to visit Notre Dame and see her completely re-built, toast her and myself for both over coming against the odds.

Paris Date Night

We like to date, even when traveling, we think it is part of what keeps us together – grown up time to re-connect. My daughter recently asked David, what was he looking for in a date when he was first dating me – he said companionship – he wanted a companion to do things with, talk with, travel with, enjoy his time with. That is part of what Date night is for us. So we date.

Were exhausted, after 20 hours of traveling, but we make time for a date.
Date night dinner of roast beef with mushrooms and au gratin potatoes for me with a glass of cabernet – 20Euros.  David had cheese and bacon risotto with a coke – 23Euros.  A wonderful meal at the little café about 2 blocks ~5mins walk, from our Airbnb.

TIP: Wine is cheaper in Europe than a Coca-Cola (soda pop).
I say go with the local lifestyle and drink wine!
We sit and talk away the evening, people watching and amazed at the beautiful buildings that surround us. I love this man and our time together.
Parisian buildings that surround our dinner.
The view all around us
Liked this wall posting we saw on our walk home. David, Architecte, 1821 – lol!

Next posts: Notre Dame and The Louvre Museum.

Chinese Lantern Festival – Philadelphia, PA

At the end of our visit with our Son in Phily, PA, Brett had to head back to his job at Dover Air Force Base for a 6am Shift on Sunday. While we only had Friday and Saturday to be with Brett, the visit was wonderful and this left a date nite for us parents. We chose to visit the Chinese Lantern Festival -which was at Franklin Square, within walking distance from our rental apartment. The festival moves from town to town and is in downtown Philadelphia thru June 30, 2019. This website has more information: http://historicphiladelphia.org/

Walking into the Festival

The Festival has these Extreme oversized light sculptures, some that move and change colors. There is also food, alcohol, acrobats, snacks, vendors and these incredible visual explosion of color and showmanship of what looks like paper or silk lighted lantern art. I loved this and would recommend it with a 10 out of 10. The price was $20 each, and even though it rained the entire time, I did not even notice I was so memorized. Fun night, and my husband is wonderful company.

David with Angel Wings – he says – see I told you I was an angel
In front of the mouth of a dragon!
Panda Tree that Changed Colors, it was Magical!
As it became darker it was even more magical.

Henderson Castle – Kalamazoo, MI

Had a date weekend with my husband. We visited Henderson Castle for a dinner date, while you can stay at Henderson Castle, we did not. What a great date night. This is a little history of the castle: The Castle was built in 1888, by Frank Henderson. He was the owner and president of the Henderson-Ames Company which made uniform regalia for secret societies, fraternal organizations, and the military. I noticed many pictures through out the bar of Males in Church robes, Militia service outfits, and Fancy Pants outfits, the bartender explained a quick history lesson of the Castle and how these clothes were his handy work. The Queen Anne style house cost $72,ooo and was designed by C. A. Gombert of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The house has twenty five rooms, seven baths (one with a thirteen-head shower), an elevator, a third-floor ballroom.

Davids beard is looking a little shaggy in front of Henderson Castle.
Fancy Romaine Salad.
We had steak, which was really tasty, but $$$ – Good thing we had a Groupon.
Beautiful interior

Overall wonderful Nite, beautiful location and I heard they give tours and I would really have loved to do that, but they were scheduled. Not going to lie, service was slow, no one ever answered when we called or even called us back to confirm the reservation. But we did not care because we were enjoying each other and the conversation. Without the groupon – this would have been a very expensive meal. Would I go back, sure if I was willing to wait, and had another Groupon.

Sushi, Saki, and the Chicago Field Museum

What an enjoyable evening with my husband at the Hitachi Buffet at the Chicago Field museum. We walked 3 blocks over from our Fair Field Inn Ontario street hotel to the AAPM, American Association of Physicists in Medicine cocktail party at the Chicago Hilton. Then to the Hitachi Party. All the Japanese Sushi and Saki we could want, then tours of the museum at our freedom. An incredible night!20181127_205830

I love this Sexy Man at the RSNA Hitachi Field Museum Event.  I feel so lucky and blessed to have these incredible times with him!20181127_195807

Ray Carlson my Boss toasting with my husband a Saki Special!20181127_192626

The Shrimp were so tasty, but I loved the Bai Bun the best, like a cloud of tasty!20181127_190843

An RSNA event at night with over 1000 people at the Hitachi Dinner with Sushi, Saki and at the Chicago Field Museum. 2018112795174758

David, Me and My Boss Ray Carlson!201811279517545420181127952013012018112795174754

Beekeeping

The Spring and Fall mean a lot of work to a beekeeper.  We would love to share a few pictures of our hard work.

Walking to the back yard to start some bee work.

20180929_111220  Notice how he only wears the top section and thin gloves.  Yes, he has been stung, but only one time this year, five times last year.  The tool in his hand helps him pull the honey frames out of the boxes.

 

Notice our Caution sign.  This is for legal reasons.

We also collect the wax.  After we extract the honey, we break down the frames and put them in a metal pan, that is put into our home made wax melt box.

The box is closed with the wax inside and it has a clear window that is faced toward the sun, the wax melts out of the frames to the bottom of the box.  It is way easier than picking out the wax.

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Then we take that wax out along with scraps of wax and melt it in a crock pot, and pour it into molds.  We have a lot of wax, and this year we are thinking about making candles for Christmas for our friends.

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Armada Fair

We visit the Armada Fair annually, we look forward to the atmosphere the animals, the food, the exhibits.  So much fun.  Check out these fun pictures!

Bunnies!

PIGGIES!!

Sheep!!!

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FAMILY!!!!!

Chickens!

 

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So many more fun things at the Fair!  It runs thru today, so if you want to go, plan on it for next year

Y-12

20180417_072218As I am driving thru Oakridge, Tn – I see atomic symbols everywhere – so my interest is peaked.  Following signs to the Y-12 museum – I have to investigate what this unusual atomic symbol is with the name of Y-12.  I learn Y-12 is a national security complex tucked away and rarely heard and the small museum is a wealth of interest to a physicist and history buffs.

Y-12 itself is a National security complex with three primary national security missions that protect our country.  They maintain the US nuclear Stockpile, reduce global threats, and fuel the US Nuclear Navy.

The museum show cases instruments and stories of Radioactive history.  My favorite part of this museum is this newspaper article.  This is the site the Atomic Bomb was made!  For some reason… Manhattan Project, made me think the WW2 Bomb was made in NY, but nope, it was made here.

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A few more interesting pictures to share:

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A “Moon Box” manufacturered here at Y-12 that was used Moon lunar geological samples to Earth.

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Sample badges and ID for Y-12 workers, looks just like the badges I recall from Manhattan project workers, although these are just samples.

Interesting side trip for a Radioactive Geek Girl!

 

5 things I wish I knew before I went to Cuba

 

20180409_213740I knew you cannot use credit cards in Cuba, and they have cigars and rum, but I did not know….

 

  1. We were told we had to have a cultural tour booked or we would not even be allowed to step off the Cruise ship (or if we flew in – not step off the plane).  This is not true.  The threat is empty.  We saw several couple walk off the ship (they were Americans) they said they had nothing booked and were unconcerned and when we were back on the ship they said they had a wonderful day.

2.  Everyone in Cuba, LOVES Che Guevara!

 

ErnestoCheGuevara  was an Argentina Marxist Revolutionary, a doctor, an author, guerrilla leader and HERO in Cuba.  He was a major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his picture and vision has become a symbol of rebellion in Cuba and popular culture.

I saw two pictures of Fidel Castro, saw 1000 pictures of Che Guevara.

3.  Every person in Cuba (except politicians) make only $50 per month.  You could be a doctor or street dancer, it is the same salary.

4.  We had no idea how much to get in Cuba dollars, so we got $150, which was more than enough since there was not much to buy when on a tour.  We did buy rum, one cigar, a necklace at a local children’s center and could have bought typical tourist trap t-shirts and carvings and plastic items you could get at any tourist trap location, but we are past that type of vacation item. When your on a tour, you do not have an opportunity to buy much, but if your so inclined sharing a few dollars with the locals, would be wonderful, considering #3.

5.  The Cuban people are wonderful, we expected them to be angry with many things, including our President, but did not find that true.  I was not afraid even for a minute, and would not be even if we were wondering around town ourselves, it is a safe place.   We would go back in a heart beat, but first so many other choices to explore!

Tropicana Club, Cuba

I figured out how to add videos! Better later than never! so this is older post updated.

We only had two days in Havana, Cuba – so we made the most of it – a day of everything, then an evening trip to the Tropicana Club.  I would describe it as an outdoor larger version of the “I Love Lucy” Show’s – Ricky Ricardo’s Club – which was also originally called Tropicana – then renamed Club Babalu.  David and I saw the Las Vegas review – Jubilee, and this show is superior, the dancers have a fire, the music is the over the top and beats Jubilee for me.

We took a bus on a 20min drive to the Tropicana, which had a huge entrance first with a Billboard show casing the Tropicana Club name and a dancing ballerina (club icon), then we drive down a tropical foliage filled drive to the entrance.

We stood in line a long line, but only for 5 mins to walk thru a lobby,  where a Tropicana show girl hands out a cigar to each man and a flower to each women.  There is a sign posted  – all must pay to take pictures inside the club, which we did (hence our photos and videos), but we saw no one else pay and no one was stopped from taking photos, so if you skipped this fee, I don’t believe there would be any trouble for you.  We then huddle into what we assumed would be an indoor theater, but instead we were walked outside to a lush outdoor garden amphitheater style venue, with elaborate overhead lighting.

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This picture does this location no justice.  It is a 180 degree theatre, with a waterfall dancing stage to our far left, a main stage for singers directly ahead, a mini dance bridge in between.  To our right was a three level tower of dancers and in between the main stage and this tower was a hidden full orchestra.

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This picture also does this club a small justice there is stages to the left and right.

The girls and the costumes are incredible.  There were tall statues of art with about 12  costume changes that each were more over the top than the previous, we saw bikini (no nudity) wearing model ladies, with fruit baskets 3 feet tall on their head, they wore chandeliers on their heads, they danced in the 80 degree night heat like it was nothing.

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There were acrobats and singers and non stop Mambo, cha cha cha rhythms action for the entire 1 hour 45 min show.

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You get an entire bottle of rum (and a big bottle, larger than a fifth) to split with four people at your table, each person gets a tiny glass bottle of Coca-cola along with a bucket of ice.  So of course we drank most of it in the flaming heat, which made our bus drive home a boisterous spectacle to our bus mates, we laughed so hard, I think we had everyone else laughing too.  I highly recommend the Tropicana Club for the Havana experience!  We sat at the back, and I would have paid the extra $30/ dollars for a middle closer seat, but the front section is not necessary – all views are amazing.

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Bon Voyage

We are headed out to our 7 day Cuban Explorer with Holland America Cruise, on the Veendam.  We started in Fort Lauderdale, Florida then to Georgetown, Grand Cayman, to Cozumel, Quntana Roo Mexico, then Havana Cuba, back to Ft Lauderdale.   We choose this cruise specifically for the Cuba Experience and we are really are very excited to step foot in Cuba.   We did read in our paperwork, we had to book an excursion or we will not be allowed off the ship, and that is a recent change to the US requirements.   So we booked an 8hr – Best of Havana, and a night trip to the Tropicana Club.  While many might not ever even consider visiting Cuba, for us something about seeing what has been forbidden is a thrill.  This might be a short window of opportunity that we never get to experience again, but if we enjoy Cuba, and it is still possible a longer trip might be in our future as well.

This is our third cruise together as a couple, but Davids ~10th, I only started cruising when I met David, so my third cruise.   This is our second with Holland, where the population is significantly older, but then again our cruise with Celebrity was also an older group.  I guess most can afford to cruise when they are older and finally have the time, so the ships population is filled with motorized scooters, canes and stories of grand children.

When I checked online reviews of the Veendam, I see Excellent reviews, and that it is a small ship with a max capacity of 1350.  We will report back on what we experienced upon return.  I am sure I will drink a few Cuba Libras (Rum and Coke) during this trip, so I will try and report back daily on our adventure, or might forget a fact or two.

Cruise to Cuba

After weeks of looking for a trip that we could take together (no kids) during the time our youngest would be on spring break (and could go to his mothers) we finally found a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico – Grand Cayman  – and two days in Havana, Cuba.  It is a Holland America Cruise, smaller older ship.  But the cost total for seven days and a day before stay in Fort Lauderdale is under $2100.  We searched Travelzoo, Travelocity, Groupon, Cruise.com and finally found a trip that meets all our criteria.  Whew, a lot and I mean a lot of looking (months of looking) our deal was on Cruise.com, but cheaper directly thru the Holland America site (like $150 each cheaper).    Now just to dream and figure out excursions, hopefully loose a few pounds and buy a nice outfit.

Retirement seminar

So David and I went to a Retirement pitch dinner, where they try and upsell you on a product.  Honestly we know so little about the variety of retirement programs out there.  What we do know:  A Traditional IRA is a tax-deferred retirement account. You save your $ today and are taxed later when you withdraw the money.  A Roth IRA, is like and IRA where you don’t get a tax deductions for the $ contribution today, but later can withdraw the assets when you retire without paying taxes.    A 401k or 403b is an employer sponsored retirement program. Taxes aren’t paid until the money is withdrawn from the account.  Sometimes employers match these on a smaller amount.  A SEP, is a Single Employer Pension Plan, which really is a small business owner traditional IRAs (SEP-IRAs) set up for employees.  Do not put all your eggs in one basket and diversify as much as possible, save and save in as many different methods for retirement as possible.

But If I am going to retire early, I figure I need to know Everything and make best choices, saving money is good, but saving it smart is better. So this seminar did teach me some things.  What I learned:

  • On a Roth or 401k/403b, you can withdraw your money as soon as your 59.5years old, (before will cost you 10%) and have to start spending these (or be penalized 3%) by age 70.5.
  • 403b’s are more restrictive, but also can allow higher contributions.
  • An annuity can go up, down, or stay the same.
  • A fixed annuity can go up or stay fixed – this is what they were selling – so going to learn more on this and report back later.  It sounds fabulous, but things always do at free dinner seminars.  I plan on researching this subject and getting back to everyone.

What do we have as far as retirement plans and income- well we currently we have a huge diversification – I have a 403b, with a small match plan.  David has a 401k.   We are not 401 millionaires.   We both have retirement accounts – David has stocks, and mutual funds, and MESP accounts for the kids college, which he is still adding to.   I have two SEP accounts – one for each business I own – an education website, and a physics consulting group.  These were added to at the advice of my tax accountant, who told me send a certain amount of money to these each year to avoid taxes in the current year.  I have a small Roth IRA, and an IRA.   I have three MESP accounts for the kids, that a funded.  We have three rentals, which I bought one at the peak of the market and two at the downfall.  We have an investment property, that too this point has not generated any money.  I have two pensions (one fairly small), and two pensions from my ex-husband (which can be collected upon 6 years after we retire).  David has a pension.  We cannot collect on our pensions until 3 years after we retire (at 55 years old) but that would be at a low rate, and waiting would be smart.

So we are need to bulk up and figure out how to live for those years in between when we retire and we can collect on our retirement funds.  Another post in the future will detail our plans, even though these are in flux and well honestly we are not 100% sure.  I guess we will learn and figure it out as we go.

 

 

Date night Back to the Future

We had a great date night at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s (DSO) Back to the Future Movie play along nite.  We first ate dinner at Hop Cat a cute restaurant about four blocks from the DSO, which was a fine walk during the day, but at night… I was glad David was there with me.  I can not believe I used to walk thru Detroit at night after grad school at Wayne State University by myself at 11pm, 1 block only, but crazy I did that back in the 1990’s.

We shared a plate of Vladimir Poutine Crack Fries, there was chili gravy, Peruogi and well the kitchen sink on those.  I had a salad to counter the fries, David had a Bar Zee Hamburger.  We could not finish it, so took most of it home for lunch the next day.  I would go back for sure, but I also saw a restaurant I saw on one of those competition cooking shows I watch – Rock City (next visit).

We really enjoyed the show, I believe it was a one day event, but they do have a Home Alone show coming up for Christmas.

I still really enjoy my husband, he is my best friend and marriage and this partnership is just like I always imagined marriage would be like, but never experienced until I met David.

 

What Does a Nuclear Physicist Do?

Most people when they find out what I do for a living, they stop talking to me, sometime they walk away.  For awhile there I stopped telling people what I did for a living, but after being shunned (but also made some of my best friends) at a pre-school meeting, I decided… I am who I am, if I am shunned or berated for being me, I will accept that.

So what do I do?   Let me give you a little past history of my career, I have been practicing 29 years this November 2017.

I’ll start with most physicist have multiple jobs, and most are introverts who have ADD and quite a few of us have type A personalities.  I like to keep busy, but not at the expense of my family.  That would mean for me for years when the kids were little, I often took my children along with me to work ALOT.    I can remember bringing my elementary school children with me to my hospital office, which was the size of 10 normal offices (it was also next to the morgue in the sub basement) and I had space to let them run.  I would tell them, if they played nice while I answered emails and filed away papers, I would take them for McDonald’s, which was a great bribe that worked.  They have sat under tables in the Operating room conference area while I spoke on surgical radiation safety.   I dragged them to nuclear offices and asked for them to sit quietly for 20 minutes in the empty because closed office reception area when they were as young as 10 and 12 years old, while I quickly worked and had a receptionist keep and eye on them.  I would tell them if mom could do two nuclear accounts today, we could go to the zoo afterward.  If mom could write one lecture this morning, we could go out to lunch.  If mom could just test one quick test on mammography machine after dinner and you guys could sit in the closed facilities break room, I would buy a video on the way home and we could all stay up late and watch it together.   Physicist often work before and after hours, or weekends when patients are not around, we are called hospital vampires for our slipping in and out and being unseen.

I have worked at two large hospitals in the Metro Detroit area as both a Diagnostic Nuclear Physicist and a Radiation Safety Officer.  These jobs allow flexible hours perfect for raising children and working the most during school hours, but they also often allowed me to type paperwork at home, often with the kids asleep.  I work for a consulting group, that only wanted me to work evenings and weekends, which was ideal.  I started performing my own consulting for small jobs, such as helping to clean up and close nuclear facilities, or write radiation safety education lecture materials for facilities, or performing nuclear audits.  I decided to partner with a friend and worked endless extremely early mornings, even on family vacations, writing lectures to start up my website on education for the required training of 80 hrs for all Cardiologists who want to open their own clinics, or practice Nuclear Cardiology.

This week for me was the end of a quarter, last week of September, which means all Nuclear sites I cover must have an audit completed.  I work hard to not cram them into the last month, but it is always a busy week.  I also performed a nuclear lecture on Radiation Hormesis (the theory that small amounts of radiation exposure are actually healthy for you) at the local chapter of the Society of Nuclear Medicine.  I had to perform one digital mammography unit service call re-evaluation.  It is federal law that certain repairs performed on mammography have to have a physicist evaluation prior to human use, they are closed until that physics test is passed.  I performed a preparation and surgical procedure using Sir-Spheres, a liquid Yttrium 90 radionuclide used to treat liver cancer (these are long and exhaustive procedures, but the patients are last option of treatment stage, and I feel good to know this is life extending for them).  I visited a Nuclear Cat facility to start a re-calculation on reduced time of holding cats after an Iodine-131 thyroid treatment, this is a medical vet technology, but also performed often on humans as well.  I had my annual review with my hospital job, she said she thought it was unique I said in my comments about my job, that I love my job, which I do, I told her I was retiring in three years, and we laughed.  I performed multiple audits of my hospitals cancer treatment center, to audit the other physicists work with HDR (high dose rate- nuclear materials) cancer treatments to assure these physicists are performing their work with the highest standards.  I audit their work and I am audited by many different federal, state and insurance agencies to assure my work is at the highest standards.  I performed four lead room shielding evaluations, where you place a source of radiation Tc-99m in the center of a newly leaded x-ray room, and measure the radiation on the circumference of the room to prove there is not radiation exposure leaking out of the room, it should be a perfect lead box that is sealed from radiation leakage, so they can start using x-ray radiation in the room and keep people on the outside of the room safe.  I tested one new orthopedic office and three new CT room installs.   Whew!

I am so happy the week is over, and I get a rest week, although I don’t intend on resting too much, I am going to try and finish up outstanding work and send out a ton of emails tomorrow.

I’ll post another weeks work schedule in the future, sometimes I do really fun things.  More to share……Radiation symbols

Graduation!

The twins Graduated!  We had a big party and just finished up cleaning up the house – three months of prep (we even painted part of the house & re-did the kitchen – which should add to re-sale value and we get to enjoy it in the mean time).

My whole life I have always said if I could just raise these children to become happy, healthy and great members of the world, I would be happy.   I am one step closer. Whew!!! as all parents know, you start to think – this will never happen, the late night homework helper, drama filled situations, school events, vacations where no one is happy, messy everything, an ex-husband who argued every single step of the way with me, to the point I was the bad person of the family – another post for another day I suppose.   So glad I have David now to help with the support – we might not always agree, but we never never say it in front of the kids….team work to the end on the subject of kids.  Stand or fall, we do it together.

So now the girls are graduated and off to study graphic design at the local community college and then off to an art school to finish up a bachelors.  I could not be prouder of them.  How lucky am I to have two such wonderful daughters who are respectful, smart, beautiful and with the biggest kindest hearts and they are finally on the way to be the adults they want to be.

The bonus is – David and I are one step closer to our dream of retirement.  In fact we even had two whole days with no kids this past week.  We did not do much, but did sleep in, went out to breakfast, took naps, enjoyed the quiet (missed them a lot for sure).  We imagine this combined with travel as how our retirement will be – just enjoying life and each other.

Sandos Eco Resort, Cancun Mexico

We decided to start rating the locations we visit on our travels.  Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as the best experience we could ever imagine.  The Sandos Eco Resort, in Cancun Mexico is a great family all inclusive.   We spent 7 days at this resort, and never ran out of things to do.   We are giving the resort an 7.5.

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Our favorite dining locations were the surf and turf, Los Lirios, with the best filet I can remember eating in a long time, and the potato soufflé was also very tasty.  The Japanese Teppanyaki (table top cooking style) Steakhouse, El Templo, was a fun nite, but you will need a +5day ahead reservation, so do that when you book your trip.  We also really loved the Brazilian Steakhouse, Fogo De Brazil.  All of these are on site and included.  The two buffets, International and Italian, both were OK, but there was a large choice of food, and almost always open for a quick snack.   All of the dessert at the site we just above OK,  mostly dry cakes and the lower end of flavors.

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By far the best part of the resort, and the entire reason our daughter choose this specific location was – the animals on site.  This trip was for our twin daughter we are graduating high school, they wanted the beach, the Caribbean and site with lots of animals.  The Sandos.com website showed us quite a few animals and the location delivered.   There were rabbits, donkeys, dear, peacocks, sheep, pigs, monkeys, tapirs, coati, dogs and lots of stray iguanas and cats.  Animals were noted on signs as rescues and site animals are spayed or neutered and fed everyday, there areas were very clean and you could sign up to be an animal caretaker and feed them at lunch time.  There are signs not to feed the animals, but my daughters did feed them – a lot, and even though they look skinny they looked happy and would stop eating when full.

Baby Deer

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There was plenty to do, and ALOT of walking.  We were in the furthest location from the beach, our daily location of choice, so much walking I have the blisters to show it.   There are bicycles to borrow, but we never used them.  There are several pools, including an adult pool by our rooms, a mini water park with quite a few water slides and a big sized kids pool.  We spent most of our time at the beach which honestly it was way too rough to actually swim safely.  This for my husband was the biggest turn off of the resort – he loves the ocean and it was unsafe to swim.   We did really enjoyed the man made cenotes for swimming, these were cool, and it was hot.  There were fish and turtles and quite a bit of algae in these cenotes, so not for everyone, but we loved it.

The nite time shows were actually great.  The Sunday Fire show at the onsite Mayan ruins were just incredible.  We recommend you go to all of the variety of ancient Mayan culture shows.  There was also a Freddy Jackson Tribute show, a Disney Princess show and a super hero show at the Theater – which were cute, but don’t worry if you miss them, save your show time for the culture shows in our opinion.

Our rooms were very clean, and huge, and the best part, there was really cold air conditioning, which is important, because the days were SUPER hot and it was so nice to sleep in the cool.

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So, would we go back, yes.  But we are the type of family who likes to see what is next, so maybe after many other visits to many other places.  Next blog, pictures of the beauty of the resort.

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Cancun Mexico

Were on a Senior Trip for the girls in Cancun, Mexico!   I forget my regular life – my Metro Detroit life, where I get up at 4:45 am to make sure my husband has his lunch, tea, and breakfast when he heads off to work, I then crawl back into bed and talk to him on the phone for 30 minutes as he drives into work.  Back up at 6:15am to get ready for the day, make sure the kids are awake for school, I remind all three kids I love them and to kick the world’s butt as I drop them off.  I either work from home, or off to kick the world’s butt.  After the kids are home, I plan dinner, we eat and I continue to work until I get to sleep next to my husband.   He tickles me until I laugh so hard I beg him to stop, and we cuddle like two lost puppies until the next morning… 4:45am.

My husband has a saying I love: “I do not think we are better than anyone else, but I also don’t think anyone is better than us”.  So I know we are not the only ones who work hard and tirelessly, but what surprises me is how I forget how to relax.

But as soon as I walk in the huge Lobby of the Santos Carcacol Eco Resort, with its thatched roof and large hanging chandeliers the size of a car, the air is heavy with flowers and your handed an orange mango drink with tequila and I stand there with my mouth open looking around while we wait for check-in and I forget all about everything but the moment.  I have a whole entire week with my daughters and husband to enjoy them….. fun relaxation times to be posted soon.