Covid19 Culture

As America lives under quarantine and unable to live their ordinary lives, I’ve noticed a few positive things.

Life has slowed down to pretty much to a halt, and without all the running around from one activity to the next, children are spending more time with their parents. In many ways we have stepped back in time to a different era where moms stayed home with their children. I’ve seen parents trying very hard to homeschool their kids or try to fill their time with meaningful activities.

Many parents have set up their own little Corona Academy where they have stepped in and filled the place of their child’s teacher. They have their own little classrooms set up for learning the basics. Children are reading, writing, and doing math problems in their own little at home classrooms, and parents are doing the best they can to help them.

We all know distance learning isn’t the greatest idea for young children and parent’s are going to have to play a pivotal role for it to work at all. There is going to have to be some structure for the learning time to work. Some teachers are going to be better at distance learning than others, and I hope parents realize that this is new for most teachers too. In addition, many teachers probably have their own kids at home that need assistance and have to be cared for. My biggest concern about distance learning is that parents are going to make comparisons with their family and friends about how and what their child’s teacher is providing as educational material.

We have also stepped back in time recreationally. As I walk my dog, I see more and more people walking their dog or just taking a walk to get some fresh air to break up the monotony of it all. I’ve been walking for years and I always comment how sad it is that you don’t see any kids playing outside or doing any of the outdoor activities I did when I was a kid. Now I’m seeing other walkers, including whole families take a stroll around the block. More and more people are walking their dogs, and I’ve seen a few bike riders too. A couple of kids were shooting a basketball in front of their house and even skateboarding.

Puzzles and board games are making a comeback from what I’ve seen on Facebook. I ordered myself 1,000 piece puzzle that’s coming from Amazon today. Puzzles and games also remind me of my childhood. My mother played Candyland and Monopoly with me all time. My father was always up for a good card game.

The funniest thing I’ve seen is a lot of my friends have started cooking, something they pretty much never do. I’ve seen post after post showing these great dinners and desserts that are being made. Most of these women never cook and are feeling quite accomplished.

All these culture changes are great, but it’s going to come a time, sooner than later when people are going to want to get out and do more. We all want to do our part when it comes to social distancing, and Americans always pull together during hard times. Unfortunately, at some point we are going to get like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day and long for our busy and hectic lives of old.

Television for the Quarantined

As I read my Facebook timeline, I see many friends posting about the shows they are binge watching such as Schitt’s Creek and Grace and Frankie. Then there are the friends looking for suggestion for shows or series they can binge watch. The recommendations come quickly. This is television for the quarantined. I actually haven’t been binge watching any shows accept maybe Law & Order SVU, but I always do that. I’m currently watching Hunters with Al Pacino, but I watch that with my husband who is never home because he’s a manager in Stop & Shop.

I’ve been watching movies on AMC that I have on my DVR. I’m newly retired and I thought I would spend time watching movies in the afternoon, but that never really materialized until the quarantine. I’ve watched some classics like Linda Blair in The Exorcist and Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest. Terms of Endearment was a real tear jerker with Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, and Jack Nicholson.

Yes, I have seen all of these movies before, but they are classics. It is also very different watching these movies as a mature woman with adult children than when you are in your teen years. When Regan’s mother is desperate to help her possessed child any way she can, you get that. At the same time all the devil and vomit spewing antics are pretty entertaining. Joan Crawford makes you realize that maybe you were a pretty damn good mother after all. Any drama you may have caused or created was nothing compared to the wire hanger scene, the bathroom cleaning scene, or the rose garden calamity.

Terms of Endearment was hard on me though. Those early glances and smiles between mother and daughter. Then the moving away and only having the phone calls to keep in touch. Nothing could top my emotions during the scene when Shirley MacLaine is screaming at the nurses, “GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT!” The scene when Debra Winger spoke to her sons for the last time, and when mom and daughter engage in one last glance and smile, put me over the edge. My dogs were very concerned about mommy crying and showed genuine concern.

So as this quarantine continues, I have Rosemary’s Baby, Network, and Saving Isaiah on tap. I’m sure I’ll watch a few Law & Order SVU and maybe if my husband gets a break at Stop & Shop we’ll squeeze in another Hunters. One thing for sure is that I’m done watching Cable News!

Cruise Travel

As a newly retired teacher, I was able to take a vacation for the first time in the month of January. My college age daughter was on her winter break and we took this opportunity to travel to the Caribbean because we have a mutual disdain of winter, especially the month of January. Our cruise started on January 4th, but we went to Puerto Rico for a couple of days to get a head start on some sun. January 2nd was a perfect day because that was when Christmas break was over and teachers and students returned to school, making it bittersweet.

My daughter had us on a 5AM flight which I thought was kind of crazy, but we were checked in and on the beach before 11AM. The funny thing is the first thing we did was order Coronas. The beach was great and the hotel still had up all their Christmas decorations which was a very different experience for me.

Our cruise started early on the 4th and it was like we had an extra day at sea, but we were docked. It didn’t matter at all that bon voyage wasn’t until 8PM, we were all in on Day 1 festivities.

Day 2 had us in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We chose the Juanillo Beach excursion which turned out to be breathtaking. The beach had the white powdery sand that I love, and I couldn’t stop talking about how great the sand was the entire excursion. The water was calm and a perfect blue too. There was a bar that had swings as seats which everyone there just had to try and take pics on. Margaritas and rum punch were my chosen drink here which made the day even better. I joined in for some volleyball which was fun and kind of made me feel pretty youthful for a retiree. There was a mixup with the pickup time and tendering was kind of shaky, but I tend to always remember the positive.

We went to Secret Sands Beach in St. Thomas on Day 3. We probably should have chosen the Magens Bay Excursion, but we had a good time. The beach was quiet and pretty small as its name suggests. We were provided with chairs, rum punch, and a great host. It did rain on and off a bit but we still enjoyed the water and it was definitely better than winter in New York. Our guide took us to some roadside shops and we got to take a picture with a donkey we had seen the last time in St. Thomas. We don’t know his name, but we call him Banjo. All in all we had a great day and it contributed to one of my retirement goals to see one beach at a time.

We switched it up in Martinique on Day 4 and skipped the beach. We did some local shopping and then went on a rainforest hike excursion. We like to do one hiking excursion on every trip we take, and you never really know what to expect. Well, we hit the jackpot on this hike! Our guide was a seasoned local who was really into his job. He really took the time to point out the unusual way some of the plants grew. He share stories from his home about the different wood like how mahogany is used. He pointed out the unique beauty of the forest that you may not see as a casual visitor.

The best part though was that the hike was pretty challenging, not just a stroll through the woods. Our guide really took pride in his country and showed us how to eat fruit right off the tree and took us to a local church on the way back to our ship. It was a really great day! Like I said, you never know what to expect on these hiking excursions.

Back to the beach on Day 5. This time we were in St. Lucia. We had been there for a week vacation and saw all the big highlights before, and since it was January we chose the Reduit Beach Excursion. Shopping and going to the beach are 2 things my daughter and I really enjoy so that was our plan for the day. They had some great shopping right at the port and once again it was great to see how different cultures decorate their Christmas trees. Reduit Beach was my least favorite excursion. The beach was super small and crowded, and the ocean waves flooded the entire beach. The people at the bar weren’t very kind when I tried to redeem my drink tickets, and sent me on an adventure to figure out how exactly I could do that. Eventually we figured it out, it was a beach in January, but not the greatest experience. The shopping was much better.

We went Beach Hopping on Day 6 in Barbados. This was a fun time and a place I would go back to and spend a week. This was an open air bus ride that was run by two fun guys who knew how to have a good time. The island music was playing as we learned about the history of Barbados and hopped from beach to beach in a 4 hour period. The rum punch was flowing too as we soaked up the sun on Worthington, Rockly, and Carlisle Bay’s Pebble Beach.

The bus ride back was very festive thanks to our great guide who really did know how to give people a good time. It was fun learning about the island sayings and seeing and hearing about the island. One beach was nicer than the next and it was a really laid back feel, and upbeat at the same time. I can see an all inclusive Barbados vacation in my future.

Day 7 was a Day at sea which my daughter and I enjoy very much. We love the lazy days by the pool watching all the events and activities organized by the pool. We really like everything about cruising. We like how we were able to go to 6 different islands in a weeks time. We like not worrying about how to get to and from places, and we love dressing up which you get to do if you are on a Royal Caribbean Cruise.

Cruising is fun and I hope that the cruise industry bounces back quickly from this ordeal. We love waking up each day and heading out to take photos and set out for new adventures. I have been on many cruises and I can say first hand that there’s always workers walking around and cleaning surfaces. People are always encouraged and reminded to wash their hands and hand sanitizer is available everywhere. There are workers whose job it is to distribute hand sanitizer as you enter food areas and when you embark on the ship. I know cruising is not for everyone, but there’s many a people like me rooting for their recovery!

Things To Do Near Me

Long Island Gardens and Trails

As a newly retired teacher, I was able to enjoy the beauty of the season of fall through fresh eyes. When your a teacher, fall means one thing- Back to School! I soon discovered that fall is pretty nice, especially in my own backyard of Long Island.

I had become a member of Old Westbury Gardens and fall weekends were great for enjoying the Dog Days at the Garden. The dogs like that it’s a little cooler and the Garden is still a great place to roam.

I used my strategy of Things to do Near Me to find more places we could roam. I discovered Bailey Arboretum and Clark Botanic Garden. They are great places to stroll and appreciate the beauty of Long Island.

Bailey Arboretum is located on the North Shore of Long Island in Lattingtown, N.Y. There’s 42 acres of trails and gardens and you can visit throughout the year for free. They do have events such as Family Day and Popcorn and Pajamas. My husband and I enjoyed getting lost along the leaf littered trails and enjoying all the beauty fall has to offer here on Long Island.

Clark Botanic Garden is a 12- acre botanic garden located in Albertson, N.Y. The garden has thousands of species of plants, specialty gardens , two ponds, and a wonderful gift shop.The gift shop closes for the winter and reopens April 1, 2020. They accept voluntary donations and do have a membership program. My husband and I enjoyed a nice leisurely stroll through the gardens, trails, and around the ponds. We are looking forward to enjoying the season of spring at the garden and may attend some of the upcoming events listed on their website: Let’s Chat about our Garden; Poetry at the Gardens; Yoga at the Garden.

Being retired on Long Island allows me to enjoy all the beauty each season offers. Fall is a beautiful season and I can now see it’s a lot more than the back to school season. The spring season will be here shortly and it will be delightful to view it as a new beginning and a season of hope without it turning into a countdown to the final days of the school year!

Mill Pond Park

Today was a great day to take a stroll around Mill Pond. I’ve been strolling through life with my husband for about 30 years now, and a simple Sunday afternoon walk somewhere near our Long Island home suits us fine. We get a little fresh air, sunshine, and exercise as we talk about this and that and marvel at the scenery.

Mill Pond is located in Bellmore, New York. The trail is a 1.1 mile loop where you can admire the wildlife, as you take an easy stroll on mostly flat terrain. The trail loops around the pond, but does have occasional points where you can wander off and be a little adventurous.

It is a memorial trail dedicated in loving memory of Adam D. Rand who died saving others on September 11, 2001 with Squad 288, FDNY. Adam D. Rand was also active in the Bellmore Volunteer Fire Department. You can find a 911 Memorial on the trail loop. We also found and met many dog walkers, families, and couples just enjoying this little hideaway right off the Wantagh Parkway.

The pond attracts quite a gathering of birds. As you stroll along you can hear various chirps, honks, warbles, and general bird chatter. The ducks and swans seem to be swimming in pairs as the spring season is closing in. The geese seem to outnumber the other birds on the pond. Steps away from the highway and suburban life there is a collection of aquatic birds.

As we were at the tail end of the loop, we were greeted with a gaggle of geese. I’m guessing they were expecting us to feed them because they had no fear of a human encounter. The geese encounter was a great way to end our stroll and I took some great photos too. I’m sure we will be back again to Mill Pond for a stroll and to other nearby Long Island trails for a great way to live a happy retirement life!

I have returned to Mill Pond and discovered that it is even more beautiful in the spring time. I really enjoy the birds of Mill Pond as I sit on a bench and take in all their antics. Now that spring has arrived, they are on land more grazing on the grass and they don’t seem to mind me marveling their beauty as they strut along or glide along the waters. Mill Pond is surrounded by homes, busy streets, and a parkway, but somehow it feels like you have been transported to a rural town in a quiet, remote landscape.

Update! The goslings have arrived. They are little fuzzy eating machines. Proud mamas and papas are all around the lake with their offspring. As a newly retired teacher, I have to say I never really enjoyed the outdoors as much as I have this spring. I usually only see the baby geese from the side of the road as I sit in bumper to bumper traffic on the parkway. Looking forward to sharing more of my adventures on Long Island.

Intermittent Fasting

Here’s my take on Intermittent fasting, the latest craze when it comes to dieting. Between the holiday season and a 10 day Caribbean vacation that included an overindulgence of eating and drinking, I felt like a needed to lose a few pounds. I usually eat mostly fruit, vegetables, and eggs, but I thought I would give this intermittent fasting thing a try.

On New Year’s Eve I saw a segment where Hollywood stars were asked the secret to losing weight and the answer was always the same – intermittent fasting. This stuck with me, so I searched Google and Pinterest to see what exactly it entailed. I did my home work on the guidelines and it was pretty straight forward. There were a few different methods, but the one that seemed the most feasible was the 16/8 Fasting Method.

During the first 6 hours of your day you can only have water, tea, and black coffee. The next 8 hours is where you eat all your calories. The last 10 hours you are back to the water, tea, and black coffee. It sounded pretty simple and straightforward.

I started on a Monday morning and had my bottle of water like I aways do, and then I usually have a couple of cups of coffee with almond milk. (I never put sugar in my coffee and gave up dairy a while ago.) I had the coffee black as instructed, but it really took the pleasure out of the whole drinking coffee thing. I went off to the gym like I always do on Mondays and halfway through my class, I started feeling like I was losing steam. I finished the class and drove home thinking about how I only had about one hour until the eating part of the day would begin. This really was all I could think about. Light-headed and wiped out waiting to eat my two over easy eggs and sliced apple.

I ate my breakfast pretty fast and had a real cup of coffee with some almond milk. It wasn’t long until I was thinking about lunch. Before I headed out again, I made sure to have lunch, but while I was out and about the realization that I would have to be back to prepare and eat my dinner all before 8pm was always in the back of my mind.

This went on for a few days, and I proved I could do this intermittent fasting thing, but I really didn’t see the point. Why not put a little almond milk in my coffee? Almond milk is sugar free and a whole cup only has 30 calories. Why not have a piece of fruit before I head out to the gym, so I don’t feel light-headed the whole time?

In my opinion, intermittent fasting works for people because they only eat in the 8 hour window of time and you would tend to consume less calories. Of course during the eating window you wouldn’t have cupcakes and chips, but I would never have that anyway. Intermittent fasting is another method for those who want to lose weight, but it is definitely not for me. I felt brain drained the first 6 hours of the day which made it challenging for me to do most things effectively. It just wasn’t for me.

I prefer to have 3 sensible meals a day with a couple of pieces of fruit for snacking throughout the day. I’m old school and still think breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I prefer to eat a whole food diet and avoid meat, dairy, sugar, and processed foods. I tend to eat the fruit and vegetables that are in season to mix things up. Of course when I go on vacation I over indulge, and usually one day on the weekend. Life is short, and I like waking up to a good cup of coffee, and enjoy going about my day with a clear head!

The Lakeside Birds of Eisenhower Park

Eisenhower Park in East Meadow has a lot to offer the people of Long Island throughout the seasons. In the winter, you may just want to get out for a little fresh air, and a brisk stroll around the lake just might be the answer.

A short drive will bring you to a place where not only you can get a little exercise, but you can enjoy the lakeside birds of Eisenhower Park. It was only natural for me, as an animal lover to focus on the unique behaviors of the birds as my husband and I made our way around the lake.

There were basically three cliques- the geese, the ducks, and the sea gulls. The geese were strolling around the lakeside until we approached, and they soon made their way onto the frozen lake. It’s funny to watch them because they gracefully glide across the frozen ice. They spread out across the frozen section of the lake content to be soaking up some sun. They allowed us to get pretty close to take some pictures.

As we made our way around the lake we discovered that the opposite end of the lake wasn’t frozen at all. One can assume the sun shines longer here. In this section we found the ducks, who seemed to not have a care in the world. They were swimming and splashing and having a grand old time. They were quite a contrast to the ice skating geese.

As we approached the final stretch of the lake we found the sea gulls. They were huddled together on the frozen lake with their feathers all puffed up, heads down looking pretty miserable. They literally seemed frozen in time longing for the dog days of summer and to be back on the beaches of Long Island.

Our walk was pretty quick, but when you’re retired you just want to get out for a little while. By the time we made our way around the lake a couple of times, we were happy to be home and out of the cold. We’ll be back to the lake at Eisenhower Park when it gets warmer, and take advantage of all the other events and attractions the park has to offer.

Old Westbury Gardens

As a newly retired teacher, I have been actively trying to get involved in doing new things. In a previous post, I wrote about a simple strategy that I use to try to find new things to do. I Google search – Things to do near me. Well one place I’ve had my eye on to join was Old Westbury Gardens. In recent years, I had gone there for Rise of the Jack-o-lanterns which is a scenic walking tour of more than a thousand hand carved illuminated jack-o-lanterns. When my daughter was younger we went to the Gardens for a variety of children activities. For some reason we never became members, we would just pay the entry and program fees each visit.

As a newly retired teacher, I decided it would make sense for my husband and I to become members because the membership would pay for itself after the 2nd or third visit. There are a variety of memberships and discounts for children, seniors, and students. We chose the Family Membership Package which includes unlimited free admission, advanced reservations for events, members only events, and discounts at their shops.

Old Westbury Gardens is centered around the former home of John S. Phipps, his wife Margarita and their 4 children. Many events are held at the mansion including mansion tours, a variety of children activities, art exhibits, concerts, and an activity that my husband and I participated in Flavors of the Season. This was a great event that took place during the Christmas season. Each room in the house was decorated with Christmas trees, poinsettias, and other Christmas decorations. Even Santa Claus was there to greet you and take photos. The meeting area was in the mansion’s indoor porch area where the wine and cheese flowed freely. The main event was in the mansion ballroom where we sat at round tables in groups and an expert guided us through wine and chocolate tasting. This was a great social gathering where we learned a lot about wine and chocolate pairings.

My husband and I also enjoyed yoga at the gardens. This was great; blue skies, sunshine, and yoga! They have this activity twice a week and is open to members and the public. We also enjoyed the holiday market which was held in another home on the grounds of one of the Phipp’s daughters. I walked through the many rooms in this home imagining how wonderful it would be to live there.

My daughter and I enjoyed the Owl Prowl which was held in the former barn of the Phipp’s family. Members of a local Sanctuary brought a variety of live owls and taught us all about the physiology of owls, interesting facts, and about owls in our area. We then went on a prowl for owls. We didn’t see any, but we enjoyed looking.

The thing I like best about Old Westbury Gardens are the Dog Days. It’s usually held the last weekend of each month and you can walk the grounds with your leashed dog. My dogs love the adventure and dog lovers across Long Island gather at the gardens on these weekends. It is such a pleasure to walk around and see both owners and dogs smiling as they stroll the gardens. Everyone seems so happy to be there and its a wonderful experience for all.

Old Westbury Gardens opens for the 2020 season April 1st. I’m sure I’ll be receiving my newsletter and events calendar soon, and in the mean time you can always go online to their website. An event I saw listed was Spring Break Out, a fun for all ages garden tour. Concerts, stargazing, bat walks, and summer camps were other listed events. I’m looking forward to the first dog friendly weekend which will be held Saturday April 25 and Sunday April 26.

My family is sure to renew our membership to Old Westbury Gardens to participate in many of the same events we did last year. This year I’d like to try the tai chi, a guided tour of the gardens, a concert or two, stargazing, and lunch at theCafe In The Woods. TheThings to do near me strategy is a great way to find gold mines like Old Westbury Gardens. A simple Google search can lead you to endless magical experiences and adventures close to home.

Meet and Greet Questions Dog Sitters Should Ask

  1. Start out very open ended and ask the Mom/Dad to tell you a little about the dog. This can be very informative.
  2. Dog sitters should ask how old the dog is and if he/she has any special needs you should know about.
  3. What times do they feed their dog? Ask how often they feed their dog and how much. Is the dog a grazer? Food aggressive?
  4. Is the dog allowed to have treats? Will they provide them? Can you give them any kind of treat or are there restrictions?Allergies?
  5. Can their dog go up and down stairs? This is very important because you don’t want any pups tumbling down a flight of stairs.
  6. Do they keep the harness on all the time? collar?
  7. How often does their dog need to go out? When do they usually take out their dog? Does it go in the yard or do they walk him/her? Is their dog fully potty trained or do they use wee wee pads?
  8. Does their dog know how to walk on a leash? Do they want you to take their dog for walks to get exercise?
  9. Would they like updates of their dog during his/her stay? How often? Do they want photo and video updates? Will they be in a different time zone? You don’t want to be sending updates at 3 AM their time.
  10. Where does their dog usually sleep? Does he/she sleep in a dog bed? Crate? (door open or closed) On a chair or couch? Does the dog usually sleep in their bed?
  11. Does their dog have a favorite toy or blanket?
  12. Does their dog get along with other dogs? Children?
  13. Is their dog spayed or neutered? Are they up to date on their vaccines?
  14. Do they have any questions for you?

I Miss You All The Time

Well today’s the day, one year since my baby Gabby went to heaven. It’s crazy how much I still miss her. Today I heard this song while I was driving by O.A.R. “I Miss You All The Time” and I know it wasn’t by accident. A Jonathan Carroll quote says it all: “My memory loves you… it asks about you all the time…”

I’ve had many dogs before Gabby and I love and miss them too, but Gabby was special, she was my soul dog. We had a connection that is hard to explain, and can never be replicated. She’s the only dog that I have had who has a mini memorial on my dresser, a stack of photos of her at hand, and a canvas of her on my bedroom wall. Gabby is the face of my business card which I have handy in my car, bag, and around the house. These things keep me connected to her and I occasionally blurt out a “Right Gabby” or “Right Grandma” (I called her that when she started getting grey).Each holiday or major event throughout the year usually begins with me saying, “This is the first (fill in the blank) without Gabby.”

The thing I miss the most is soaking up the sun with Gabby. Read my Instagram over the years and every other post was Gabby. ” Soaking up the sun with Gabby today” “Another great day with Gabby”. “Blue skies, sunshine and Gabby” Today was blue skies, sunshine and no Gabby! I really thought we would retire together.

Gabby will always be that dog that no dog can replace. The dog that can make me cry. My heart will always miss her, but my soul knows she’s at peace. “Whoever said, it’s only a dog, obviously never loved a dog.”

3 Things You Need For A Happy Retirement Life

“Find Three Hobbies You Love: One to make money, one to keep you in shape, and one to be creative.” This is a great Her New Life Quote for living a happy retirement life. Long before I retired, I was planning and establishing these hobbies.

I have been a Rover Dog Sitter for about 5 years now developing my hobby that makes money. Rover is a great way to create a profile where you can become a dog sitter in your home, make home visits, do daycare, or become a dog walker. You can set your preferences. I personally dog sit in my home and do daycare only for small dogs, and I get to do what I love, hangout with dogs all day.

I belong to Life Time Fitness and enjoy BarreFusion. I occasionally take a yoga class, if I feel stiff or my back starts acting up. I gave up on the strength classes and HIIT classes because this usually leads to skipping the gym completely and regular chiropractor visits. BarreFusion is just right for me. It’s an overall body conditioning class that is dance based. There’s no high impact involved and class routines are almost always different.

Walking is also a great way to get some fresh air and exercise. Taking a walk can really break up the day. You can take a walk in almost any kind of weather all year round. You can walk around the neighborhood, park, preserve etc. Walking is something almost everyone can do, and the location possibilities are endless.

When you are retired you have more time to pursue hobbies that can bring out your creativity. I enjoy crafts such as mosaics. I learned all about mosaics in classes at the local library. I used Google and Pinterest to learn more and to get creative project ideas. I was inspired by some of the pins on Pinterest to make Christmas ornaments. I ended up mailing them around the country as Christmas gifts.

Baking is a fun all year round activity where you can be creative for every holiday or occasion. When I was working I tended to make box cakes or just pick up something at the store. Now that I’m retired and have plenty of time, I’ve been more creative. I made chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate bark, cheesecake, and cookie dough pie. These treats aren’t hard to do, but who has time for that when you’re working full time? Pinterest once again is a great place to find recipes and decorating ideas. Making cake pops was one activity which was very time consuming, but I was very happy to make them to bring to my daughter on her birthday. I’m just getting started with my creative endeavors, and it’s one of the best parts of being retired to me.

No matter what your interests are, perhaps you like photography, painting, tennis, golf, hiking, writing, when you’re retired you have more time to pursue these interests. Don’t be afraid to try new things, the possibilities are endless! Hobbies are an important part of living a happy retirement life!

Oheka Castle Tour and Lunch

As a newly retired teacher, I’m almost always looking for new and interesting things to do. I’m forever searching the web looking for vacation ideas and new adventures I can take with my college aged daughter, or my husband who is still too young to retire. Sometimes I just want to do something a little special and not travel too far. I discovered a simple technique of just googling Things to do near me… and a multitude of options appear right before me. Tripadvisor is also a great site to find things to do and read reviews from people who have personal experience with a particular venue or event.

Well, one place I discovered was The Oheka Castle. This is an historical hotel in Huntington, Long Island. It is also known as the Otto Kahn Estate because it was the country home of Banker Otto Hermann Kahn and his wife Addie during the roaring twenties. The castle is well known for its prestigious weddings, exquisite galas, and luxury hotel accommodations. I discovered during one of my Things to do near me searches that the castle has daily mansion tours. You can go on their website and book a tour of the inside of the castle and the grounds. We chose the mansion tour and lunch package. When you make the online tour reservation you can choose from a few options.

It was a quick and easy drive to the castle, and as we pulled into the estate grounds, and I was kind of glad I was driving a Mercedes. The castle and the grounds take your breath away with its beauty and elegance. We took some photos outside and had an easy checkin. The meeting place was in a corridor with a beautiful staircase apparently used in many films and music videos, including Taylor Swift’s Blank Space. They keep the tour group small and intimate and there was a real mix of people. There was an older couple who came to the castle specifically for the tour who were visiting from England, a family who was staying at the hotel, and the remainder of the participants were couples and friends that I assume were somewhere from the tristate area.

We were greeted by a very warm and friendly guide that led us to the library of the Kahn family. We were allowed to browse a few minutes and then were invited to sit down for what would be the portion of the tour where we learned the history of the Kahn family, and the castle throughout the many decades. Through the use of large photos and a very informed and animated guide we were both educated and entertained. After a Q and A , we toured some of the lavish bedrooms and suites and made our way to tour parts of the outside of the castle. Back in the castle we viewed various rooms for entertaining and dining, including the Charlie Chaplin room.

At the close of the tour we were invited to help ourselves to some tea and cookies. Many of us headed to the restaurant for the lunch portion of our tour. It was a beautiful bright room with large windows and fabulous views of the grounds. Our server was very inviting and made us feel very welcome. Of course my husband chose the Castle Burger as his main course and I had the crab cakes. Throughout our lunch the service was impeccable and at no time did we feel out of place. This was definitely the type of place that my husband and I would choose to have lunch over dinner due to the cost, but you get to have the same experience.

As we were leaving, we saw that there was a luncheon fully underway in the Chaplin Room, from what I understand is pretty pricey to reserve for a group. We left feeling very happy and pleased with our day at the Oheka Castle, and the venue we found under things to do near me.

10 Reasons Why Teachers Make Great Dog Sitters

  1. Teachers are experts at multitasking and can easily take care of more than one dog at a time.
  2. Teachers are use to setting up structure and routine. Dogs thrive on that!
  3. Teachers know how to differentiate and address individual needs very well.
  4. Teachers know about engagement. Dogs need activities that keep them occupied.
  5. Teachers know how to plan out a day: morning time, outdoor time, snack time, nap time, playtime.
  6. Teachers know the importance of play and how it develops the mind, and how play can teach you how to get along with others.
  7. Teachers know how to use positive reinforcement to obtain desired behavior.
  8. Teachers know how to plan field trips around the neighborhood or maybe to the local park.
  9. Teachers are pros at dealing with parents and know how to focus on the positive traits their baby exhibits.
  10. Finally, teachers are warm, loving, patient, compassionate and are experts in a crisis. Teachers have seen it all, and know how to stay calm and take care of almost any situation.

Click on the link to checkout Jen’s Doggy Daycare

Rescue Yorkie

Just as every child is different, so is every dog. In my previous Her Life Dog Sitting post, I wrote about Fiona the Pug. Everything Fiona is our yorkie Stitch is not. Where Fiona is confident and down right pushy, Stitch tends to be timid and laid back. Fiona always seems to be calculating her next move, Stitch not so much. One thing that is especially different about Fiona and Stitch and most other dogs I know, is that he’s not a kisser. I’m always expecting kisses, but it’s just not his thing.

Many of the personality differences may be breed related, but their early lives were very different. I had been dog sitting a fair amount of yorkies and I got it in my head that I wanted one too. I looked around and asked people who had a yorkie (most had two) where they got them and the answer was always a store, and that they paid thousands. Well, my husband didn’t like that scenario, so he suggested we check out one of our local animal shelters.

One Friday early January 2016, we went to the local shelter, we walked passed the large barking dogs in their runs, and came around a corner, and their in a dog run was Bacon the Dachshund and Oz the Yorkshire Terrier. I stopped dead in my tracks and said, “I’ll wait here while you get someone to help us.” We were told that Oz was a puppy mill rescue dog, 1-3 years old, and that he was an A/R- animal returned. Since it was early January, we guessed he was probably given as a Christmas gift and was unwanted, so they returned him.

We instantly fell in love with him! We loved everything about him, except his name. Oz was never going to work especially since it wasn’t a Disney name. We eventually agreed to call him Stitch from Lilo and Stitch. We thought he was the cutest thing. We had no clue how poorly he was groomed. Stitch’s beautiful brown eyes were all we could see.

When we took Stitch to the vet the next day we were told based on his growth plates that he was still a puppy, not 1-3 years old. When I looked more closely at his papers, it said that he was born in June making him 7 months old. Who would of thought that we would end up with a cute, little Yorkshire Terrier puppy from a shelter?

Stitch got along great with our chihuahua Gabby, they became great friends-little cuddle buddies. They snuggled together everywhere and soon became inseparable. Stitch also liked the yard like Gabby, and they enjoyed barking at the neighbor’s cat together. Barking at the neighbor’s cat is Stitch’s favorite thing to do. Unlike our chihuahua, we were able to teach Stitch to walk on a leash and loves taking walks around our local neighborhood on the quiet streets, (he doesn’t like the loud streets) or at Old Westbury Gardens on Dog Days. He doesn’t do so well in the car so we tend just to walk him around nearby.

We eventually discovered The Spaw Pet Salon in Westbury. They don’t put the dogs in cages which is great for a puppy mill rescue dog. They just kind of hang out at the spaw. We were very pleased when we found them because yorkies need to be groomed regularly, but we soon figured out that not everyone knows how to groom a Yorkshire Terrier. We bring Fiona and Stitch together to the groomer. Fiona marches in announcing her presence. Stitch reluctantly agrees to be handed over to the groomer, but then he relaxes. He loves getting a bandana each time he’s groomed, and he actually wears it until his next appointment. My husband always says,” Who’s a handsome boy?” He really is gorgeous with his beautiful brown eyes.

Stitch doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. When my chihuahua was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and a leaky heart valve, Stitch was by her side till the end. He laid with her like he was a sick old dog too. When she went over the rainbow bridge, he was lost without her. He remained like an old dog just kind of lying around. The only thing he really enjoyed was having his head rubbed. He’ll let you do it for hours and if you stop he’ll beg for more. He does this with anyone that comes to our house.

We now have a new chihuahua who we also adopted from a rescue and Stitch definitely loves having Andy around. (Andy as in Andy from Toy Story) He loves being a big brother to him, and Andy definitely looks up too him. They only know each other for a few months, but have become the best of friends. Stitch is very happy to have an eating buddy again, and a cuddle buddy too. Andy is good for Stitch because he makes him more active, and he makes him realize he’s not really an old dog. I never thought I’d get another chihuahua, but Andy and Stitch are good together!

Having Stitch is really a blessing. Stitch is our sweet, handsome boy, and we love him. It is true what they say about rescue dogs being the best dogs. They teach you the true meaning of unconditional love. We can all learn a lot from our dogs about kindness and compassion.

Dog Sitter Life


Life with Fiona the Pug

Her new life dog sitting will be a page where I will feature dogs. The dogs may be my own, or dogs that I sit. Now that I am retired, I am a full time dog sitter and would love to share heart-warming stories with you. My first featured dog will be our very own Princess Fiona the Pug. We are an avid Disney family and name all our dogs after Disney characters.

My daughter was going to be leaving for college for the first time and I got in my head that a pug would fill the hole in my heart. We had a pug years back that had died young of pancreatitis, and I wanted a fresh start with a new pug. I had been in search of a rescue pug, but had no luck finding one in my area. When my daughter was officially off to college I decided that perhaps Canine Corral the store where we had gotten my soul dog Gabby the chihuahua had pug puppies. It turned out they did, but my husband was adamant that he didn’t want to have 3 dogs again, but I tend to have the knack of getting my way.

When we got to the store they had brother and sister pug puppies- a black male and a fawn female. After watching them play and cuddling them, I knew we were going to have 3 dogs again, the question was whether it was going to be a black pug or fawn pug. We ended up with the female fawn because that was what my husband wanted. I was getting a pug like I wanted so I didn’t protest too much about my preference.

Pug puppies are notoriously cute, and Fiona was no different. She fit right in with her new siblings and her friendly personality made her instantly loved by everyone, especially my husband. The man that didn’t want a third dog was suddenly more enamored with Fiona than pretty much anything else in life. His constant devotion and the inability to believe that Fiona could do no wrong was very apparent.

Fiona is like most pugs in that she is very food oriented. She eats alone so that she doesn’t eat all the other dog’s food. She loves her treats and will go outside just so she can bark and in turn I have to beg her to come in. She has trained me to give her a treat or she will stay outside and bark until I do. Fiona also wants everyone else’s treats too and will bark in protest.

Sharing toys also isn’t one of her best traits. To Fiona all the toys are hers, especially the toy another dog is playing with. She does keep herself occupied playing with toys (which I’ve read means she’s intelligent), and she loves a good game of fetch.

All our holidays are more special with Fiona. Whenever it’s someone’s birthday we say it’s Fiona’s birthday again because she always seems to become the center of attention. Halloween is usually pretty funny, unlike most pugs, Fiona is not crazy about clothing. She just likes to wear her baby girl headband that I buy through Amazon. They make great decorative collars for Fiona who doesn’t seem to have much of a neck. Christmas is great taking pictures in front of the tree and of course Fiona thinks all the presents are for her. On July 4th Fiona loves to celebrate with a party hat and flag cake.

Our lives are forever enriched by Fiona. She sleeps in the arms of my husband every night, wakes me very early every morning for her breakfast and keeps us smiling throughout the day. We love Fiona the pug and could’t imagine life without her!

Dog Days at Old Westbury Gardens

Strolling Through Life Together

Old Westbury Gardens has “Dog Days” which are dog friendly days, usually the last weekend of the month. They are closed in the winter months. You can bring your leashed dog for some exercise and fun. A good time is had by all and your furry friend will thank you!

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.

_ Rodger A. Caras

Retired Teacher

Throughout our lives we will be guided by others, but we ultimately, make the decisions about the way we will live our life. When I was young and I would ask my dad for advice, he would say,” I can only give you suggestions and try to guide you, but you have to live your own life.”

It’s the same with God. We look to God to guide us and there may be signs on the path we should take, but God gives us free will to make our own decisions.

When choosing your career, you will only be truly happy if you do what you want to do, not what others think you should do. When you do finally choose your career, you have to be you. As a teacher you are given a curriculum but each individual will present the information in his/her own way. If you you try to teach like someone else it won’t be authentic and kids have a way of sensing this. It’s the same with all parts of life. You need to be with the partner that’s right for you, live in a place that suits you, and explore interests that make you happy.

I made a promise to myself a long time ago that when my heart wasn’t in it anymore, I would retire from teaching. I believe all teachers should do this for the benefit of the students. Many of my colleagues said I still had a lot to offer and a few good years left in me, but that wasn’t the path I wanted to take. My husband and my children thought I should work a few more years but my heart wasn’t in it. I was ready to lead my happy retirement life, and the road is mine alone to walk, although I’ll always want to have others to walk it with me.

Living a Happy Retirement Life

Last year started off pretty slow and painful for me due to a horseback riding accident, but taught me how strong I was, that people are genuinely good, and you should take nothing for granted. February brought the loss of Gabby my chihuahua which makes me feel very sad, I thought we would retire together. News soon spread that I was retiring from teaching which I knew was the right decision. As stated in Paul Coelho’s Alchemist , “Dreams make life interesting, when you want something all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”

My last days of teaching at a school I spent my whole adult life at was very satisfying. I hope I inspired people to always finish strong and at the top of their field. Most importantly, that time is moving very quickly and life is always a matter of waiting for the right time to act, but don’t wait for the perfect time because it will never come.

Well, now life is different and sometimes so full I don’t know how I managed to do all the things I did with a full time job. Dogsitting keeps me busy and I feel blessed how that all worked out. Once again, when you want something you can achieve it. I spend a lot more time outdoors these days. I always loved summer but I don’t think I ever fully appreciated the beauty of the season of fall before this year. I love planning trips because it’s always good to have something to look forward to. I’m forever browsing sites looking for new adventures.

So here’s to my new life. Month and a half into the new year and a new decade and I have to say this was the best January in a long time. I went on a vacation with my daughter in January for the first time in my life, and I was sure to make day 1 of the vacation the day I would have to return after winter break. I go to the gym most mornings, and do other things when I want to, or not. I don’t stress over the weather report and having to commute on the Belt Parkway because NYC schools hardly ever get snow days. I don’t spend my nights writing lesson plans and I watch dogs when I want to or not. I still tend to have about ten tabs open in my brain and still need to learn how to slow down and relax.

I have many things planned for this year and look forward to and believe the best is yet to come in my new life!

Living my new life!

Retired Life Blog

Hi I’m Jen, and I’m a newly retired 3rd grade teacher. 55/25 is a wonderful thing! I was told it was a good option to have, but for me it was the only option. I’ve known for a while that I wanted to retire young because life goes by so quickly and I want to live a happy retirement life.

I’ve been a Dogsitter for about 5 years now which enables me to earn some side money and do what I like best- hang out with dogs. I love to travel, especially utilizing all inclusive vacation packages for the ease of mind and simplicity. (Who knows maybe my next gig is to become a successful travel blogger?)

My goal is to see one beach at a time. I’m always planning my next vacation. I try to stay fit because without your health you really don’t have much in retirement. So… my latest venture is Momrockzz Her New Life Living a happy retirement life!

I hope to inspire others to live their retirement life to the fullest by sharing my stories and starting a conversation. I would love for you to join me on this journey through my new life!

One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now. – Paul Coelho

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