Thursday, September 20, 2018

September 20, 2018

Being Grandparents 
Can be a Lot of Fun
September 20, 2018




What a delightful time Ron and I spent with family this past weekend.  Our second oldest son and his family live about an hour and 15 minute drive from us.  Our son and his wife wanted to take two of their children to see a Broadway style musical for the evening.  We were asked to care for their youngest 6 children at their home for the evening.  Knowing they would be very late coming home they suggested we stay over night in their guest room.

We did stay over and then stayed for the day.  It was 6:00 Saturday evening when I got home and Ron had stopped at the nursing home to see his mom, so it was 7:30 or so when he got home.  The kids were great.  They played for hours with one another.  One of the girls had started piano lessons this year and played a couple of little tunes for me while her brother who is next oldest in line to her also played several pieces for me.  Another of the children played for me at another time.
The oldest of the girls was helping one of her 
little sisters learn some new ballet moves.

Ballet classes had started for the fall and three of the girls are taking those lessons this year.  One of those three showed off what she was learning and her oldest sister helped her out with additional moves.  There are always so many things going on at their house and it was fun to just spend Saturday, just watching them be kids.  Swimming lessons start in a little while for the twins and then after a couple of weeks, several of the others will join in on the lessons.  Several of the kids are now doing Kung Fu and loving it. 
During Morning Family time,each of the
 children shared scriptures they had memorized.

We participated in their  morning family time where they sang, Mom read a story, they recited memory work they had been learning (one of the 4 year old twins recited several verses with complete confidence and then accepted Mom's coaching on others that she was still learning).  While this was going on, several played with toys quietly on the floor.  Right now they are focused on Psalm 1 in their Bible reading and reciting.  There was play time and several of the kids worked on illustrating the story  Mom had read.  There was prayer time and general happiness throughout the room.  It was good to be able to be a part of their day.
One of the girls with Nacho their pet donkey

Something interesting happened Sunday, related to my Cochlear implant.  As I was sitting at church before the service started, a lady came up, smiling at me like I should know her.  I did not recognize her, but she introduced herself and it was her voice I first recognized.  This was a high school friend who visits our church sometimes when a friend invites her to a special musical program.  The lady sat with me during the service since the friend who invited her is in the choir.  We spent time chatting and catching up with each other's lives.  And to me, the interesting part of recognizing her voice is that I often have trouble recognizing voices on the phone, but when I recognized hers, I recalled the same thing happening another time recently.  There was a person I did not recognize as I looked at her, but the voice confirmed who it was.  I am glad I am am able to recognize a friend from many years ago by the voice.  Thank you, Cochlear!
Picture one of our granddaughters did for me.
I think she knows me well!

This weekend was time for a couple of high school reunions here in Brownsville.  One was my brother and his wife's class; it was their 55th year reunion.  They came to town for the weekend and had spent time with my mom while Ron and I were in McAllen.  Another reunion going on was my youngest sister and her husband's class.  I don't recall what year their class was celebrating.  We had lunch Sunday with my brother, his wife and Mom.  My sister and her husband are staying at South Padre Island and did not come into town Sunday.  They will be here another week or more, so I hope to see them during that time.

The last couple of months since my last posting have been very busy for us.  Really more so for my husband.  When I wrote my last blog, Ron's mother had just been moved to a nursing/rehab hospital.  She made a little progress there, but very little.  She ended up going to another nursing home where she has now been for several weeks.  It is not too far from our home and is probably the newest one in town.  It is a nice place without the usual smells of many nursing homes.  She is fairly content there.  The food is not to her choice, but other than that, the care seems to be very good and she is looking healthy and other than her general weakness, she is doing well.

Ron has spent countless hours checking on her, spending time with her in the evenings, running errands for her, checking on insurance, and other financial things.  We are so blessed that even though she is weak physically, she is alert mentally and always wants updates on children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.  One of our sons sends almost daily photos of their toddler and she delights in seeing those.

I continue to do sewing whenever I have the time and energy.  I have just gotten another one back from the lady who machine quilts many of my quilts.  This one just came  back.


Speaking of that toddler, he has been sick this week and keeps running fever.  Sunday evening they called me on my cell phone with a video connection.  I was able to chat with him (and his parents) for a little bit.  He joined in the conversation saying hi, throwing kisses, saying a few more words and giving me a precious bye, bye.  It is hard to live so far from him but we are so thankful for the almost daily photos so we see how much he is growing and what his current interests are.

Our zinnia plants continue to produce lots of beautiful blooms.  The mosquitoes love to attack me when I am out there picking them.  They are producing hundreds of flowers.  At this point, I think I have picked about 2,700 this summer and there are well over 100 waiting to be picked.  It was been raining a lot the last two weeks.  At our house we have had close to 8 inches of rain during those two weeks.  Everything is rapidly growing.  Ron had spent time trimming trees before the rains and will need to do it again as soon as things dry out a little more.
Flooded intersection on my way home from work

The rains were needed and at lunch Sunday, my brother and I were talking about how green everything is.  I told him I have not seen a brown yard in town.  He said all the way from Corpus Christi coming down here, things were beautifully green.  Trees are putting out new growth like it is spring and things are blooming again.  It doesn't take a lot of rain to turn this area green but the amount we have gotten, is creating a jungle.  This last rain was from a tropical wave that came across the Gulf of Mexico.  Great way to get rain without hurricane winds.  There was a storm headed our way, but it weakened the last couple of days.  They think if it restrengthens, it will head to the upper Texas coast and not our area in South Texas.
Quilt I just recently put binding on.
FINISHED!

I have been sewing some the last few weeks.  I finished one quilt top and my friend Dolores machine quilted it for me this past week.  I finished the binding on another one and have several in progress.  One of my problems with quilting is that there are so many beautiful, fun patterns available, that I just can't stay focused on only one.
This is one I currently playing with

A few weeks ago I spent three days with the grandchildren in McAllen.  Their mom was on a trip to see her dad. Their oldest daughter had cut out a dress to make (her first attempt to make clothing) and she wanted my help.  We worked on it.  She did the sewing and I helped her understand the directions on the pattern. 
Dress making in progress

It was not as specific as I remembered patterns when I used to make clothing (before I started making quilts).  She sewed, I directed and she did an amazing job of making her first dress.  She has now gotten material for a second one.  We will need to get together soon.  She is also eager to finish her quilt that she started a couple of years ago and set aside.  Her younger sister started her quilt at the same time and finished hers and has had it on her bed for a long time.
Granddaughter with her first dress that she made.

So, as you can see, life stays busy and we stay happy and pretty healthy.  I did find out from my brother, that a high school classmate had gotten a Cochlear implant recently and also the friend's wife got one.  Interesting.  We were in high school band together and he sat a couple of rows behind me.  I am so glad he has now been able to have his hearing greatly improved. Way to go, Larry!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

July 26, 2018

Life Is Back to Normal
July 26, 2018



Back in the middle of June, I had spent hours on writing a new blog entry and adding photos.  Then,  as I was adding the last photo and trying to center one caption, the entire blog disappeared!  I tried everything I knew to do, and my husband tried, but it seems to be lost in cyber space.  Oh, well.  Back to the start.  I know just enough about computers to get myself into trouble.  The program provided by the blog support automatically backs up the blog about every minute or two.  It had just backed it up and then, poof!  The page was blank.  Things like that are "normal" for me. 
These are the 7 arrangements I made this evening 
after picking zinnias from our garden spot.

It has been just over 5 years since my Cochlear Implant surgery.  About three weeks later, I returned to Houston to have the system activated.  The surgery and the activation were the beginning steps to returning my life to as near normal as possible.  At the time, I had read most of the things I could find about the surgery.  One thing was that after activation, I would see improvement for a couple of years and then it would sort of level out and after that, there would be very little change.  I find that not to be the case.  My perception of music is still changing for the better. It is still not great, but it is better than in the beginning.  But strangely, the music I have heard in my head for 5 1/2 years, is disappearing.  When I do hear it, it is usually very soft.  I miss it.


At the beginning of the summer, my husband and I thought we were looking at a long boring summer.  Several of the grandchildren were going to be out of town for various events.  Our son with the large family, took them all (except the oldest who is spending his summer in Michigan working with a church there) on a two week vacation to places we used to take our boys.  It was hard to see them have fun at all the places we loved to visit while we stayed home, but we were delighted that they were able to make the trip. Then there was Vacation Bible School for them, church camp and a mission trip for three of them.


In early July, our third son came for several days.  This family had things going on that kept them at home, but we had a good visit with our son.  Later in July, our youngest son who did not think he and his family (he, his wife, and their 17 month old son) could make the trip this summer, but were able to come for several days and we had a delightful time with them.  Next our daughter-in-law from New Mexico will be coming for a week toward the end of August.  All of these visits have been unexpected treats!  Also, my sisters and my brother have made trips to see mom and we have been able to enjoy their visits.


Our summer has been filled with much more activity than expected and my house is almost clean now.  I need motivation to get some things done, and having company helps me get my house cleaner.  With a toddler coming, that took a different kind of cleaning.  Not only did the floors need to be vacuumed, but the house needed to be sort of child-proofed.  He still managed to find things that I had overlooked, but he was good about handing them over without fussing.  He is a delightful little guy and he enjoyed watching the birds in the yard as much as I do.  He would say "Bird" and point each time he spotted one.  It seemed his vocabulary grew each day he was here and it was so much fun to watch and HEAR him.


In with the fun activities of the summer, we have had some that weren't as fun.  My husband's mother has spent the last 10 days or so in the hospital and was just transferred to a nursing home for about 10 days to see if they can get her to be able to stand without falling.  She had taken several falls before going to the hospital and thankfully she did not break anything.  She usually goes down very slowly, but then can not get up.  Ron has been spending several hours a day at the hospital and I am sure he will do the same at the nursing home.  His sister will be coming about the time she goes home from the nursing home to help out for a week or two.


During this summer I did a two night testing at the hospital for sleep apnea.  I was to see the doctor today for results and they called yesterday to say they do not have the results yet, so changed the appointment to a month away.   Other than that, I really have not had too many doctor appointments this summer.

In early June, Ron and I made a trip to San Antonio for a high school graduation ceremony for our honorary granddaughter.  She will be starting college this fall and like her brother who just finished his second year of college, they will both be at UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio).  Our son Dave and his wife will have an empty nest this fall and that will be a real change for them.  The kids (our daughter-in-law's niece and nephew) have lived with them for about 7 years.

Ron has done a lot of yard work this summer, but it has been too hot and too mosquito infested for me to be outside much.  The 10 1/2 inches of rain we had about a month ago really brought out the mosquitoes.  Ron planted several patches of zinnias, but only 3 of them have produced and the best one is where we had a patch a couple of years ago.  As always, I enjoy cutting the flowers and bringing them inside and also sharing them with family.

I have also had a few miniature 
roses blooming since the rains.

Deep South Texas has experienced unusually hot weather the last couple of weeks.  Brownsville gets the Gulf breezes which usually keep us in the low 90s in the late summer, but a couple of days ago it was 104!  Yuck!  Thankfully my days are normally spent indoors with the air-conditioner working overtime!.  Hope your summer has been good.  








Friday, May 11, 2018

May 11, 2018

Spring Bird Migration
May 11, 2018


Male Indigo Bunting

It is so hard to believe it is already almost the middle of May.  I have been enjoying seeing a variety of birds during the spring migration.  Sadly, I did not make it to South Padre Island during the height of the migration.  Somehow the migration time has just flown by (no pun intended) and I did not get out there.  At least a few of the birds stopped by our house for a visit and a meal.
Bewick's Wren

This has been a beautiful spring.  We did have some snow back in December (I think it was) and a freeze in January that damaged some plants, but people trimmed back their plants, leaving huge piles of debris for the trash trucks to carry away, and now things quickly sprouted new growth and are growing rapidly.  I have already had to cut back plants a second time, that were getting too tall.
Oleander 
My mom and I went shopping one evening after supper and each picked up some potting soil.  I got a few little plants and they are doing well in the hanging baskets and new pots.  I picked up a few more plants a couple of weeks later and got half of them into planters, and the others are still waiting for my attention.  We have been getting a nice amount of rain and had a rainstorm one night with thunder and lightening so that now, everything is a beautiful shade of green.
Male - Lesser Goldfinch

We had not seen our youngest grandson in way too long, so this past weekend we went to visit our youngest son, his wife, and their one year old.  We have two grandchildren graduating from high school this year.  We stopped to visit another son, his wife, and their two, one of whom is graduating in a couple of weeks.  We hope to be able to attend the graduation, but sadly it is in the middle of the work week.  A couple of weeks ago we spent time in McAllen caring for the 5 youngest grandchildren in that part of the family.  We were there while the second oldest had a vocal recital where he sang If I Were a Rich Man from Fiddler on the Roof.
Grandson dressed for voice recital

This April was very different from last year's.  I spent April, 2017 in Dallas caring for our youngest grandson and while there I made a couple of weekend trips.  It was all fun and memorable, but spending this year at home was good, too.
Green Jay
My Cochlear Implant and the accessories have been giving me some challenges.  When we went to Houston in November, we had an appointment with the audiologist.  When I raised some problems I was having, she suggested that I go into the advanced settings on the sound processor.  I have done that and can tell that these settings do change things, but I have yet to find a real good setting.  I need to take time to work with them more and just have not done so.
Male - Golden-fronted Woodpecker

The rains that we have gotten have increased the supply of "blood sucking mosquitoes".  They love me.  Last night I woke up and found that a mosquito (or an army of them) had been chewing on me while I slept.  It was hours before I got back to sleep,  Today I had to be at the office early and now the lack of sleep is catching up with me.
One of the hanging baskets I planted recently
On our trip last weekend to Dallas, we all went to the George W. Bush Presidential Library.  We did not have time to tour the library, but walked around the gardens behind the library where thousands of wildflowers have been planted.  We were past the prime time, but there were still many beautiful blooms to enjoy.  Our little grandson would go from one flower type to another, inspecting them all.  We took a bunch of photos and as we finished, I found that I had been standing in an ant bed and it took the help of my husband and our daughter-in-law to help me get rid of them.
My husband, Ron, with me last weekend in
 Dallas at the Bush Presidential Library
Later in the afternoon we went along to see our little grandson get his first haircut.  Our daughter-in-law's mom and step-dad joined us and you would have thought some movie star was getting the royal treatment at a salon for all the photos we all took.  He was very good and patient while he got the haircut.
Barber shop where our grandson got his
 first haircut sitting in this airplane chair
Lately, I have been enjoying spending my evenings reading and though all the books have been good, the story lines begin to run together after a while.  I think I need to put the books aside for a while and work on the sewing.
A quilt I finished about a month ago - binding
 and all!  Pattern is Texas Two Step
One of Ron's brothers and his wife came to be with Ron's mom while we were gone last weekend.  It had been a while since they had been able to come and we were glad to have a chance to make our trip and know that his mom was being well cared for.  She has a lady who lives with her, but there are times that the lady wants to attend services at her church, etc. and someone needs to be there during that time.
One of two identical newly potted plants
I have spent a little time working in the yard recently.  Ron planted zinnias several places in the yard, but the spot we used a couple of years ago, is by far the best spot.  Ever since we moved into our house over 40 years ago, we have sweep leaves that fell on the driveway into that spot.  It has been like a compost pile and now the dirt is great for growing the zinnias.  They started blooming a couple of days ago.  Today I cut 5.  Hoping for a good crop of them this year.
Male - Baltimore Oriole




Thursday, March 22, 2018

March 22, 2018

Oops!  I Forgot!
March 22, 2018
Sandhill Cranes
New Mexico


I'm back.  Sorry that I have been gone so long from my blog.  Our lives have just been one event after another for months.  Those events and activities have been fun, good things, but they have taken up hours that used to be used for my blog.  I think that shows that my life is "normal" these days.  I have taken some time for quilting, birding, and travel, as well as assorted celebrations: Christmas, New Year's Day, lots of birthdays, and weekends with grandchildren.
A quilt I made for Bob and Vickey
 for this past Christmas
 
Just last week I had an appointment with a doctor who is new to me.  As I went through what seemed like stacks of forms, I had to list medications, allergies, surgeries, etc.  A little later as I was talking to the doctor and explaining that I have trouble hearing and to please could he speak more slowly.  All of a sudden it dawned on me that I forgot to list my Cochlear Implant surgery on the list of surgeries!  I thought, that is good; it is now a part of me.  I just don't dwell on it.
Wilson's Warbler
 
Yes, I still need to ask some people to try to speak louder, slower, or to turn toward me when they speak, but I was doing that before I went deaf.  I guess I have arrived at my "new normal".  Things progress and things change, but all in all, I get along pretty well.  I still avoid the telephone.  I still have a lot of trouble hearing in church, but when the sermon starts, I go to the foyer, and listen out there.  They have speakers there and have recently added two television screens that are showing the service.  It works well for me.
Rufus Hummingbird  in our yard.
The white on the elephant is ice.
 
If the music director is using the microphone, I can often pick out the melody of a new song, but too often he is not singing right into the mic.  The old familiar hymns may take me a few lines until I recognize the song and join in singing.  I go around humming along to the music in my head and that drives my husband nutty.  When the grandchildren play the piano for me, I rarely can figure out what the song is, but I can tell from the way the play how much they love the music and how challenging the piece might be.
Sandhill Cranes in flight
New Mexico
 
That reminds me of something that happened one day while I was taking care of  our grandchildren.   One of our grandsons is a rough and tumble boy who is a bundle of energy.  It is easy to see him as only a loud, outdoors man.  He loves to hike, play in the dirt, and defend his activities.  I was walking around the house humming and he looked at me and said, "I know that song."  I asked what he thought it was.  He said, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus.  He was correct.  Another day I asked him if he still enjoyed his piano lessons and he gave me a huge grin and a "thumbs up".    God is going to use this guy in amazing ways.  I do wish I could better discern the music they all play.

Bob and Vickey
New Mexico

Speaking of the grandchildren, a lot of times I have to have them repeat things if we are in a noisy place, but as with others, one on one we do well.  The younger ones have now had a large portion of their lives with me being deaf, so that is just the way they remember me.  The older ones remember how it was before I lost my hearing.
Canada Geese
New Mexico

Normally at the office I do fine.  It is rare that I have problems correctly hearing customers.  Ron handles all phone calls.  It is a challenge if there are lots of people in the office, but that doesn't happen too often.
Another quilt I recently finished
 for a great nephew
 
I don't enjoy parties like I used to.  I know it will be a struggle to hear, so sometimes I just don't go.  Other times I don't stay long.  I do plan to go to one this weekend because my daughter-in-law will be there with the girls and I will enjoy them and hopefully give her time to visit with friends she has not seen much lately.
Sandhill Cranes in flight
New Mexico
 
Going birding alone is something I don't do as much as before.  I just don't hear others walking up behind me and things like that.  I also have not seemed to have time lately.  I hope to make it to South Padre Island this month or next to see some of the migrating birds.  It has been a strange year for the birds.
Lesser Goldfinch
New Mexico
 
Weather have been very warm here, and very cold this winter.  We had a very light snow one day and a light freeze another time, but last weekend was very hot and that is not the only time lately that it was been warm enough for the birds to think they can go home.  Yet today on TV I saw snow falling in the background during the usual morning shows out of New York.  The birds better stay a while longer.
Snow on the Palm trees

The last three months have been filled with some trips.  We went to Albuquerque before Christmas and spent 5 or 6 days.  We both got sick while we were there and ended up cancelling the second leg of our trip and just coming home.  Our first full day in Albuquerque Ron and I drove to Apache del Bosque where the Sandhill Cranes spend the winter.  We were able to see thousands of them and it was a real treat. There were also thousands of a wide variety of ducks.
Sandhill Cranes
New Mexico

Our son from San Antonio and his wife came for Christmas.  In February we went to see our youngest son and his family to celebrate a birthday in their family and came home to celebrate mine, my mom's, and my sister's.
Mom and sister Debbie

I have kept grandchildren a couple of weekends and we have made a few trips to McAllen.  One weekend when the grandchildren were at our house, a group of about 15 white pelicans spent all day Saturday in the water behind the house. 
White Pelicans
 
I will try to not wait 3 months to post my next blog entry.  Thanks for reading the entries.
Young Female Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Our Yard