Monday, January 16, 2012

January Beach escape - Hope for the Sand Dollar

Baby sand dollars and a few bigger ones.  Can you see the one moon shell?

Andrew and Lauren - before we threw the shells back in the water
 We escaped to St. Simon's Island for the weekend with Brian, Mary and the kids.  We knew it was going to be cold and would not go fishing but tried for the beach.  At low tide we usually find some shells and we were so surprised to find lots of baby sand dollars!  We had fun collecting them though our hands froze.  We made a pile of shells and then threw them all back in the water to get bigger and stronger.  I am glad that we don't have to worry about the sand dollar population on our beach.  We don't have any laws about taking the live creatures home.  
Andrew, Lauren and I
Going to the Beach

2007 by Bea Skeens

Going to the beach
A longing in my heart
A yearning for the quiet
The water and the sand

Sunning by myself
Writing down my thoughts
Relaxing with the surf
I don't do it enough

First I met the beach
With my brothers and sisters
As a mother I shared it
With my very own children

And now best of all
The joy and the wonder
The beach to discover
With my 2-year-old grandson
       Sand castles we build
       Jump in the waves
       Chase little fish
       Find pretty shells

Shaking out the towel
Packing it all up
Some sand will come with me
Stuck to my flip flops
To call me again
From the stress of my lists
To the sun and surf
To the calm and the peace
That the beach always gives

To the beach once again
It's never the same

Friday, January 13, 2012

What do I want MORE of?

Love this!- Caroline at my house playing with shaving cream.
 One of my cousins sent these new year wishes:  "lots of money, lots of people to love you, and lots of time."  But, I already have "lots" (enough) money, lots of people that love me, and lots of time now that I am retired; I don't need more!  Don and I are so blessed to have worked for a school system that had a good retirement, and so, we don't have to worry about money.   We were able to sell our house on St. Simons and, with that money, bought a house here, near the kids (and we had a little left over for our savings.)  Don had also bought some land (with plans to build on it at some point) a long time ago.  With the money we made when we sold it, we bought the condo on St. Simons so that Julie could rent it from us while she lived and worked on SS.   Now we can go down to St. Simons whenever we want to go.  I love the beach and we go fishing together on our boat (it's for 2 maybe 3 people.)  We  didn't go down there so much this winter.  We went to Las Vegas for a week and have been busy with Christmas.  We so appreciate being able to share with our children and grands.
Don and I on the lifeguard chair last Summer at SSI
Don retired 2 years ago and I just retired in June and I'm loving it.  I am not a bit bored and treasure being able to divide my time doing whatever I decide to do.  In fact, some days I still feel like there is not enough time for the things I set out to do.  But then I remember that I'm retired and can continue with whatever tomorrow.  No pressure.  

Don and I are still getting used to being in the same place all the time.  He wants to know what I'm doing and I want to know what he's doing.  Then we laugh and I realize that the "doing" is not important in itself but the fact that we have a choice and act upon it; that is the treasure.

Dive into every day head first like Caroline!
I just read a blog that posed the question: "If you already had “enough” money to retire, would you work a full-time job for one more year if you could walk away with $500k from that year’s work?"  She says for herself: "I think I would regret it.  Because it probably isn’t what I’d want to be doing with my life and I would be letting life slip by, even if it was only just a year of it."  I agree.  I can't see myself living any other way.  I love my life!  And, it was fun reading all the comments!  I would definitely not go to work, but I think Don would...
It's all about Caroline today!
I think in order to continue my life as it is I would put health as number 1 for wanting more of.  That is a great gift: to have our health and that of our loved ones in order to live each day to the fullest.  My sister, Maria Luisa who has been battling cancer says at the end of her New Year's letter that describe the highlights of her year: 
"Health: So how is my health, you wonder?? Since May 2009 to Dec 2011 the big C is totally controlled – all is “stable” in CT scans every 3 months. The bones with BC metastasis will never be “healed” but as long as it doesn't spread to other bones or essential organs, I can live many more years of life to serve, to love, to enjoy family and friends like you, to rejoice in the wonder of our world, and to continue to make our earth a better place for all human beings.
Let us celebrate Christ‟s Birth every day in our hearts, and re-commit to a New Year of making God's Dream more real in our corner of the world."

Maria Luisa - left - her son and wife, with 3 grandchildren and some cousins

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year Resolutions 2012

I have been working on this for one week now and have written three other posts as distractions before I felt that this one was ready.  What a compulsion!  I have not been able to concentrate on anything else. 

More sunrises at the beach!
First I decided that I have 2 different sets of goals.  Then I had to name them.  What do you think?

          Goals for 2012 and beyond!             

TO BE:  Working on these personal goals  
         (To be the best I can be and to fulfill God's purpose for me)
Continue healthy habits (last year it said “get healthy")
Sleep well – and maybe more
Aware when eating
Increase in spirituality
– start going to prayer group
Nourish and develop more loving relationships

Consider options for my Swim business (
Enjoy life every day - live in the present moment

more play!
TO DO: (because I want to)
Playing with the grandkids
Traveling / Visiting family and friends
Fishing / Beach bumming
Writing / Reading
Crafting/ sewing
Pictures - using old ones and taking new ones
Making jewelry, beading
Organizing - have to do it...

The first set is not much different than last year, but the second set is very different because I am retired!!  I have a hopeful heart for the year 2012.  I hope the same for you!

Baby Durham born in August 2011, New baby Skeens in July 2012!!

Resolutions II - From Teaching to Retirement - a poem

Last year my New Year Resolutions were more about discerning the major change in my life - deciding whether to retire or to teach one more year after 26+ years in the classroom.  All my lists were on the pros and cons of each.  Retiring was the right decision for me.  I started with High School and finished in Middle School.  I loved most of it and was happy to see it end.  Here are my thoughts on retirement from teaching.  Leave me your comments!

The journey is incredible!

I’m retiring!
by Bea Skeens  May 2011

I’m so happy retiring
The decision is made
My life will be changing
and I’m feeling just great

It was hard at first
To stop what I do best
Teaching is my vocation
Now I’ll be always on vacation

What I’ve loved about teaching
Is the learning and the sharing
With the students the lessons
With the teachers, preparing

Researching the standards
Made me learn and grow
Test making and grading
Was an unwanted chore

The rules and regulations
To be self controlled
Working toward proficiency,
For mastery and fluency

In my classroom I am ME
What God made me to be
Sharing my experiences, my travels, myself
To yearn to serve and want to learn

Today they are testing
And I look at each face
How little I know them
So what can I say?

To know each by name
A new challenge each day
Just listen and sit down!
Where’s your paper and pen?

I want to love each one
The nice and the sweet
I try to like most of them
The loud and the sneaks

Inspiring, enabling, enriching, forgiving
Loving, caring, listening, affirming
NOT frowning, nor yelling, impatient, belittling
Not tired, nor punishing, ignoring, nor failing

To not talk about students
In frustration and anger
But to try to understand
Their situation and problems

To answer each question
To not put them down.
To treat everyone equally
To smile more than frown.

To stretch their minds
To broaden their views
To look over the fence
Explore and be more

To teach them that life
Is more than the grade
Success is a goal
You can’t reach in a day

And what does my future hold?
What will I do?
I am open and willing
To face the unknown.

I know that I will enjoy the learning experiences with my grandchildren!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Creating for others is such fun at Christmas!

I caught Andrew looking for presents under the tree.  But there were none there yet. We super-enjoyed this Christmas season.  From being with the family to making Christmas things.  My house almost looked like Ani's house - my older sister who has a Nativity in every room of the house.
I see my new pillows, the new tree skirt, and on the tree, some of the special ornaments from years past.  The starfish we made for Julie's wedding.  I see one made of an oyster shell and cedar from St. Simons Island, and some made of fabric by my mother many years ago.   I wanted this year to do some things to remember my first year retired and having more time with the grandkids.

Once I brought down the decorations from the attic, I decided that I wanted to make some new things.  First was the wreaths with some sparkle inspired from Better Homes and Gardens.

The most favorite thing that I made in December is this Christmas tree:

Inspired from this pinterest pin I enjoyed going through Don's wood scrap pile and deciding what to use and then how to decorate it.  I even used several pieces of pallet wood and shells.  The snowflakes I had made a few years ago but never got them stiff enough to hang them on the tree. This is the only thing I don't want to put up in the attic until next year...

My next favorite thing is the snowman.  Andrew is such a wonderful artist that I knew he could make a snowman face better than I.  Instead of the stair rail snowman from pinterest, I used a table leg that Don bought at a yard sale with other scrap wood.  I painted it white and glued two pieces of wood for the hat.

Andy painted a great snowman face!

I tried the beachy ornament from pinterest but it did not come out right.  Maybe if I had used a blue one.

For years I have been wanting to do something with the beautiful Christmas cards that I have saved through the years.  I googled for ideas and came up with several  I tried to make a wreath from them but did not like how it looked.  In years past I have used them as tags.  (My sister Cristi makes some beautiful tags from them.)  My mom used to make the ornaments , but they take too much time.  She also used to make accordion fans from them and glued magnets to the back for the refrigerator.  I forgot to take a picture of those.

I made a memory type game to play with Lauren and we made some into decorations for a tree.  Also, I picked up sticks from the yard and set them up.  I glued and cut cards back to back that fit together.  The the kids had the fun of putting them on the tree.
Lauren punched the holes on the cards.
Andrew putting the cards on the sticks.

For a Christmas gift Don made Julie and Angie the shelves for books like the shelves from pinterest  Here they are:

Caroline got her book

Lauren needed a headband holder so I made this one from an oatmeal can for each girl.

Don has been working so hard making cutting boards.  Brian suggested that he try the endgrain style and he was so excited about it that he made a bunch.  Some he finished with tung oil.  Some had a food safe varnish and finishing wax.  He experimented with them and them gave them away.

Now we're on the countdown to El Día de Reyes - Three Kings Day
My baby Jesus from Spain.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year Resolution I - LISTS ON THE BEACH - poem

LISTS!  I've always had a list.  Here is a poem that I wrote in the 90's after a walk on the beach:

                The Beach and I   
by Bea Skeens (in the 1990’s)
I found that I could steal away
An hour from my busy day
And so I called some friends to see
If they could go walk on the beach with me
But they all had other plans or were not home,
I set off alone.
My mind was full of things I have been doing…
Planning and preparing others, even brooding.
Then startled from my thoughts I was
When a wave hit the sand with a foamy splash.
I looked around me at the serene sea,
The seagulls free
The children laughing gaily,
The grownups sunning
Some others running,
Many walking.
As I resumed my steady stride
Scattered thoughts invade my mind.
And with a wave that hit the sand came
Peaceful thoughts of God’s glorious plan.
The sun was shining brightly,
The breeze blowing so slightly,
And I became absorbed by the Might and Glory
Of my God revealed so rightly.
And I began to praise and thank Him
For the abundant love and constancy
With which He fills and guides me.
The beach and You are what I need
    To feel refreshed and be fulfilled.
The ocean’s calming waves… A prayer that saves
The sheltering dunes… A praising tune;
The endless sky… My spirit revived;
The birds that soar… I long for more!
No room for fear, You’re always near.
Your purpose in all things is clear.
I want to meditate on you and seek Your Rest
As soon as I get home I’ll make a list.

 Lists have always been a big part of my life.  So when I retired, I thought, now my list won't be a burden!  I'll be able to relax and do those things that I need to do.  Well, that has not been the case in the 7 months since my retirement.  Few of the big things on my list have been completed.  Oh, I have written lots of small lists and have enjoyed scratching off lots of things.  I do feel a sense of accomplishment and peace at being retired.  I have had fun with the kids, tried new recipes, and made lots of crafty things.  But I continue to say "later" to some of the big things and transferring them to the new list.  No big deal.  There is no hurry to clean out file drawers or closets or to transfer my VHS videos to DVD.  Maybe they'll get done in 2012. (Resolutions are coming...)