Wednesday, October 28, 2015

NBA Season is Upon Us

Yes.  I need a new picture.  Perhaps one with a basketball?  Well, the smile is right, because I am pretty happy about this being the first night of the NBA season.  Eh, technically the season started last night, but tonight I get to watch the San Antonio Spurs play its first game.  Which is the start of this years journey for this fan.

Go Spurs!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Rebecca: Half of a Century

Ben just turned 50.  He is not vain, and I do not think he will mind that I publicly announced that he is a half-century old.  Wow, it seems old when you think about it in terms of centuries (he might mind that snarky remark).

Since one does not reach such momentous milestones everyday, I wanted to do something special.  I do not enjoy planning big bashes, so I removed a birthday bash from the “ways to celebrate” list.  Because of school and work schedules, I also removed a fabulous vacation to Hawaii or the Caribbean or some other exotic locale.  Note: Ben may be upset when he reads this post and thinks that the birthday bash and the exotic vacation were considered and nixed.

With few ideas and, honestly, a limited budget, Ben suggested a weekend in the city.  My mother-in-law, an awesome and amazing Nonna, agreed to watch the children.  I started the process (and it is a process to coordinate the family calendar with my work calendar with my MIL’s “enjoying retirement” calendar) of booking a weekend in the city.  Since we could not manage a weekend getaway, Ben and I settled for ONE night away…3 weeks after his birthday.  

Fortunately for the Bears Varsity Football team (not so fortunate for Ben), they had a great season, and they are going to championships (along with our daughter’s Varsity cheer squad).  The ONE romantic birthday night in the city no longer worked.  Ben threw up his hands and said forget about it…meaning his 50th birthday.

I was in quite a dilemma.  Ben is a great husband and a wonderful father.  He is working hard to make Zenerdgy work, and he is keeping the home fires burning.  What to do to make his 50th special…to make it memorable?

As readers of the blog know, Ben is a Spurs FANATIC.  He is an obnoxious fan that talks about the San Antonio Spurs through all the seasons.  He watches the draft and trades, he analyzes the pre-season, and he watches every game (some 2 or 3 times).  Thankfully, he provides the family with daily Spur updates. I learned one of Ben’s favorite players, David Robinson, turned 50 this year, and the “Admiral” wore #50 jersey. 

What better way to celebrate Ben’s 50th?  My special guy, who deserves a birthday bash and an exotic holiday and a night in the city, got an autographed David Robinson picture and a #50 David Robinson shirt.  Ben, we love you and hope you make it to the full century. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Rebecca: One Bag

Yesterday, I left for a week- long meeting in Atlanta.  While there were lots of things on my mind (will Ben remember that piano resumes this week, will our 10 year old remember to register for the TKD tournament in November, do we need milk, we do need toilet paper), my priority was to pack a full week’s wardrobe in a carry-on. 

Typically, when I travel, I am only gone for 2-3 days.  For these short trips, I pack a carry-on suitcase and my computer bag.  I really DO NOT like to check bags.  I am a little concerned my luggage may not make it to the final destination; but truthfully, I want to bolt out of the airport when I return home.  I do not want to stand around and wait for my bags to arrive at the luggage carousel.  After travelling, I just want to go home.

A week-long business meeting challenged my packing skills, but I boarded the plane with my carry-on and my computer bag.  I packed business wear, work-out clothes, and a causal outfit (jeans).   A few helpful hints for packing:
  • Wear black pants.  They go with everything, and I wear them more than once.  On Friday, no one will know that you wore the pants on Tuesday. 
  • Really consider the shoes. I packed a pair of black heels and a pair of sneakers.  I know we will have 2 casual evening events, so I packed a pair of black flats.  I usually pack 1 pair of shoes and wear my sneakers on the flight. It was a bonus that I had room for the black flats. 
  • Compromise on the toiletries.  I intentionally write compromise because most of us cannot fit our bathroom counter in a carry-on.   By airport rules, all the liquids and gels have to fit in a quart bag and contain less than 3 oz. (I am not sure of the volume restriction, but it is ridiculously small).  When possible, I use travel size toiletries.  I have finally found a travel-sized hair gel that I like.  I do not love it, but it works for travel.  For me, the hardest items to forgo are my face wash and face lotion.  Although it is over the volume limit, I stuff my face lotion in the quart bag.  Thankfully, TSA has not confiscated it.  For the face wash, I have not found a travel size or a substitute.  I swear I have 2-3 more wrinkles after the long trips. 
  • A little make-up goes a long way.  When travelling, I do not get fancy with the make-up.  I need it (my skin is over 40 years old), and I can’t attend professional meetings without it.  But I keep it simple.  One does not need different eye shadow or lipstick for each day. 
  • Use dry cleaner bags.  Dry cleaner bags work great for keeping clothes crisp and wrinkle-free.  I pack my pants, blouses, and blazers in dry cleaner bags.  I place one item of clothing in a bag, make sure there are no creases on the clothing, and carefully fold the garment.  Since the bags take a little extra space, I only pack the clothes that I do not want to wrinkle.  Work-out clothes, PJs, and under garments go in the bottom.

Please note that when I travel with the family, we are lucky if we only check 2 bags.  Not matter how hard I try, we usually have 2 large bags.  Suggestions?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Rebecca: School, Activities, Schedules…Savings?

We are full swing into the 2015-16 school year, fall activities, and a packed schedule.  Long gone are the lazy days of summer, which honestly, are lazy only for the two kids in our lives.  With school and activities, the Bruhl household hums with activity from the crack of dawn until the moon has risen.  Ben and I strive to keep the schedule manageable; but every fall, we are bombarded by PTA meetings, football games, cheer practices, sparring classes, music lessons…

Ben and I feel very blessed to have healthy, active children, BUT (yes there is a BUT) the start of school strains our time and financial resources.  Since Ben works for himself, it allows us the flexibility to juggle this packed schedule.   On the down side, there is no guaranteed paycheck, and he does not get paid when taxiing adolescents all over town.  Knowing that Zenerdgy is not a guaranteed paycheck (like a corporate gig), we try to anticipate the extra expenses of September.  I am pretty good at budgeting for school clothes and supplies, but I was unprepared for the “nickel and dime” fees: $15 for PTA membership (times 2 because the kiddos go to different schools), $30 activity card (still not sure what the card covers), $15 choir shirt, $40 new TKD uniform, and on it goes.  Do not try to save money in September.   Prepare for the expected expenses and add a little to the budget for the unexpected ones. 

September is a great time for getting back on to a schedule.  It is much needed time for Ben to work uninterrupted for more than 4 hours (kids and I are out of the house).  It is a wonderful time to enjoy football games in the fall sunshine.  It is an ideal time to listen to an audiobook (entertainment while driving around town).  Just try not to sweat the bank account.