This is a blog intended to bring our family and friends closer by giving them an opportunity to participate in a web discussion. I am new to blogging, so I don't know where this is going to take us, but hey, it's the 21st Century. Peace

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving already

Doing this blog monthly seems to be the norm for me. It probably doesn't stimulate any sense of urgency to read this, but hopefully when you have a minute and think about it there is something worthwhile for you to read. It just so happens that a lot has happened since my last post.

Nora is home and back in school. Though her foreign term was enormously expensive, it appears to have been highly rewarding. There were many stories of extraordinary travel, missed and broken down trains, airline price gouging mixed with cultural opportunities that could not be repeated. She went to Ireland (loved it), Scotland ( loved it and skinny dipped in Loch Ness which made her sick), Amsterdam to see Ann Frank's house (not for the "coffee houses") and to tour the city by canal, Paris where she ran her travel companions into the ground and unfortunately missed the train back to Berlin. The train trip back to London from Berlin was exhausting and cramped. She has a little story to tell about an interaction with a German train conductor which ended with a rather strong exit dialogue. All in all it was eleven weeks filled with the kind of education one can only get by going there. Having lived rather independently for that time has had a positive impact on Nora as a total person. Going back to Augustana has been a bit of a challenge. She is definitely not the same person who left in August. She pre-moved into a house she is sharing with three other girls. Elsa, her pretty much best friend at school had been holding down the fort while Nora was in Europe. They are thrilled to be reunited. Nora has finally met the the third roommate and seems to really like her. The fourth is abroad and will be returning soon.
In addition to all of this, Nora is submitting her student teaching papers this week. This is a big step because it makes the real purpose of her college education a reality and that can be scary.

Mary is doing well. She still has some gastro issues. She may be suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome as a result of the bone marrow transplant. What is IBS? No one really knows. It's a non diagnosis. If they can't figure out what's causing the discomfort and have tested everything then they may declare it to be IBS. Will it go away, will it be manageable, what??? No one knows. Hopefully it will work its way into a non issue.
Mary is also getting ready for Christmas. There is lots of talk about cards, presents, guests, etc. We will be hosting Thanksgiving again. We will have the usual suspects: Karen, Lee, Charles and us. We are going to invite Carlin's mom and brother over this year. Carlin, Nora's best friend at home and away is in London for the year and we know her family will be missing her. Nora can be surrogate daughter for the day and we can be the family. That's kind of how it goes for Thanksgiving. Last year we had Mary's friend Jody and her husband Dave for the weekend. It was really fun and we hope they have a Happy Thanksgiving this year.

We saw William Peterson (Gil from CSI) in a play at Steppenwolf in Chicago on Saturday. It was a classic personally dysfunctional alcoholic Irish play. He was very good. They kind of promoted it as an Irish Christmas Carol. HMMM? I can't say I really got that. It certainly makes me appreciate my family more, though.

My personal news in extensive, so if you really don't care what I've been up to you can probably stop reading now.

I sold my truck to a guy who saw my Craig's list ad in Guatemala. We corresponded all week and I really never got it that he wasn't in the US. After we exchanged title for cash, I saw the guy he came to my house with, who acted as a translator, taking luggage out of his van. I saw the ORD sticker and asked if Henry (the guy who bought the truck) had flown in from somewhere. They guy said that he had flown in from Guatemala this morning and intended to fix up the truck and drive it back to Guatemala to sell it. Whoa! I've been reading Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat but I never realized it was so flat until Saturday. Imagine, flying to Chicago to buy a truck to drive back all the way Guatemala. We are truly all neighbors.

I had some very serious issues with the school district concerning my retirement. First, they didn't want to pay me for work I had done during the summer to get the auditorium ready for the ribbon cutting ceremony. They also were delaying paying me for my work on the fall play all because they didn't know how to calculate my maximum salary allowable by the state. I had calculated it numerous times but HR just couldn't get it for me or for the other retirees. After many emails and couched threats they finally figured it out and I got my money. My second issue had to do with sick days. Our contract allowed us to receive an additional year of sick leave if we had accumulated 160 days in our career. I had 290. The district sent out a letter that I had received fifty days in October of 2007 which would give me the 340 (two years). Unfortunately, they thought that was all that I needed and they continued to deduct days as I was out legitimately sick or taking care of Mary. When I got my sick leave report it showed 333 days, seven short of the 340. Now I talked to the union and to the administration last year numerous times telling them that they had to award a few more days in the case of need. No one listened. So when I got this report I was pissed. It took several weeks and finally a guilt laden dialogue with the superintendent and with the union president to get it completely worked out. I must say that my faith in the district administration and with our union has diminished tremendously. Hopefully, now that all is resolved I will be good to go in 2010. I will be meeting with the Teacher Retirement System this spring to be sure all time lines are met and what I will have to be on the lookout for on the district's part.

Library life is great. We saw over 8,000 students in October. We averaged about 360 kids a day. I like it busy. I'm not so sure about my partner Lisa. I think she's getting used to it. I really think she likes seeing the books she orders and processes being read by our students. I think that's a relatively new occurrence since my arrival.

My Nephew Sean from Nashville organized a Bears outing for me, his brother Brian and his sons a couple weeks ago. The undefeated Titans were coming to Bear country and Sean wanted to be there for it. Mary and I hosted the gang which included Jesse and Jordan, Matt and his friend Whitney and Brian's daughter Alyshia and her husband. It was very active to say the least. The game was fun. It was my first. Soldier Field is very cool. It looks much different from the inside than from outside. It all makes sense from the inside. One side is kind of traditional seating and the whole east side is primarily VIP. If you want to get inside you only need to the back of your row and you're there. It is quite impressive. We sat in the south end zone. Sean was the only Titan fan and did he get a lot of shit for it. As they took the lead and ultimately won, Sean got progressively more demonstrative in his support for his team. We tailgated on the porch with scrambled eggs and bacon and toast. Next time it will be the works with the grill, brats and all the fixins.
OK, some of those 360 kids need me.
Happy Thanksgiving,
Give us a call, drop us a line or comment on the blog.
Peace to you and to those you love.


  • At 12:54 PM , Blogger Beth said...

    How funny that you were at Steppenwolf on Saturday. I was across the street at the Royal George!

  • At 9:00 PM , Blogger Amber said...

    Happy TG! Always thinking of y'all.

  • At 9:32 AM , Blogger Nancy said...

    Now it is almost Christmas, and we are very excited to see you!!

  • At 12:33 PM , Blogger Jody said...

    Rob you are so entertaining and funny. You and Mary should collaborate on a book. miss you. love Jody & Dave

  • At 11:58 AM , Blogger Amber said...

    So, who are the guests for this xmas?


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