Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 31, 2013

And the Aggies Win!
December 31, 2013

When the Texas A&M University teams win, you can hear "Whoop!" being yelled by their supporters.  I heard a lot of "Whoops" this evening!  The Texas Aggies were down during the early part of the Chick-fil-A Bowl football game tonight, but came back strong and played a good game, coming out victorious!  Three of our four sons are Texas Aggies.  Funny thing is, the one who isn't an Aggie is the one who was here with us this evening.  He is a Texas Longhorn, but isn't really an avid football fan, so things were OK here tonight.  I was delighted to be able to hear the game, thanks to my Cochlear Implant! 

Today was another gray, cold day, but only a little rain fell.  The birds were out in full force this morning to get to the feeders.  I continued my duck wars and tried out my new Christmas gifts to chase the ducks out of the yard.  They do seem to be afraid of the Nerf blaster.  The first few shots they just watched, but then decided they better leave, so off they went - for a while.

This morning I had to be at the office a little early so Ron could go out on a job.  I did a lot of the bookkeeping work while he was out, since it is not only the end of the month, but the end of the year.  I will still need to do the billing when I go back after the holiday tomorrow, but I did accomplish a lot today.  I left the office around 4:00 and went to the bank on the way home. 

Bob and Vickey were at the house doing some packing and Vickey was working on her projects.  I helped her some and then they left to go see the grandmas.  I relaxed while they were gone by taking a nice hot bath.  While in there I thought I would get out when I heard them come back.  Eventually I got out and as I did it dawned on me that I had my sound processor off as I always do when bathing or showering and so there was no way I would hear them!  Duh!!  They had been back for a while but I never heard a thing. 

We had bacon sandwiches for supper and Vickey continued work on her fleece projects.  Then when those were complete, we moved to the sewing room to work on the quilt she is doing for Bob.  I had done some of the piecing last night and she took over and is making good progress.
We rang in the new year by continuing work on the quilt top.  Working on a quilt is a great way to start any year!

December 30, 2013

A Cold and Rainy Monday - ALL DAY!
December 30, 2013

Here I am again with a very late post.  Actually I have been trying to get on for the last hour, but somehow all my settings are messed up.  I am frustrated to say the least!  Firefox is giving me fits.  My kids tell me to use it instead of Explorer, but I have really had trouble tonight with it. 

What a busy day I have had.  I got up about 6:30, made Ron's coffee and went back to bed.  The next time I woke up it was 8:00.  I spent the morning cleaning the living room, doing 5 loads of laundry, cleaning the kitchen, washing and putting away dishes, making 2 recipes of brownies (one with walnuts and one without), unpacking and putting away my Christmas gifts, putting away tissue paper, boxes, and gift bags, along with several other chores. 

It started raining during the night.  I could hear it.  I heard rain spattering all day.  I told Vickey it sounded like bacon sizzling on a grill and she agreed.  Of course that made me hungry for bacon. Ron filled the bird feeders before he went to work, but by noon they were empty.  The little birds were up under the eaves of the house trying to stay warm and dry, and would dart to the feeders for food before returning to a dry spot.  Mostly there were sparrows, but a few others ventured out on this chilly day.  It rained ALL DAY!  The temperature has been about 42 degrees.  This duck stood in the feeder, in the rain, not sharing.  :( 

Vickey got up at 11:00 and Bob at 12:00.  They both have needed time to relax and rest from stressful jobs and they have gotten it here.  Vickey brought several sewing projects with her to get my help.  We worked on some of them today.  We had already laid out the quilt for Bob.  This morning and afternoon, I helped her get started on a couple of fleece projects.  We had fun working on them and she got two finished today!  She has two more to go.
This evening Bob and I worked on the quilt for him.  He would hand me the squares and I would sew them into rows.  We got all twelve rows done in about 1 1/2 hours.  There won't be time to put those together but this will give Vickey a good start.

Bob also helped Vickey on the other project and I am so proud of her for all she got finished today.  It can be back breaking work as you lean over cutting, for hours at a time.
Mom had invited us to come over for supper, but later emailed that her "get-up-and-go" got up and went and she just couldn't do it.  Vickey and I went over and visited and took care of a dish she had in the oven.  Then the three of us went out to supper while Ron and Bob took supper and ate with Ron's mom. 
At supper, I  heard conversations pretty well, but not in the car.  The rain, the car noises, the spatter of puddles we drove through, the heater fan noise, all combined to make it almost impossible for me to hear as I drove.  You should have seen me at the restaurant as I tried to get to and from the car, carrying the umbrella to try to keep me and my Cochlear sound processor dry, carrying my camera and purse, carrying my leftovers, and trying to get in the car to get it warming up before Mom and Vickey got in.  Times like that show the weakness in the left arm - also the weather related aches.  Of course I was trying not to let the sound processor's magnet attach to the umbrella as it had when I was in Houston.

Tomorrow I need to go to the office since it is the end of the month.  Thankfully Ron said I could stay home today.  It was very quiet at the office with all the rain and the holidays.  He didn't need me there. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 29, 2013

The Sounds of Music and Laughter and...
December 29, 2013

There was a song we sang in Sunday School as children that said:
Happy Sunday morning,
Happy Sunday morning,
We'll sing and pray and read God's Word,
This happy Sunday morning.
Sunday mornings are still fun, happy times.  We love to go to church to "sing and pray and read God's Word."  We love to be with others who are joyful doing those same things.  I do wish I could hear the singing better.  There were still several Christmas carols in today's music and I was able to follow them pretty well.

This morning our daughter-in-law, Vickey, sang Bethlehem Morning as the special music at church.  Thankfully there was a video to go with it with closed captions.  I could read the words as she sang. Vickey is a high soprano but I was hearing a lower sound.  I asked her later about it but it seems I was not hearing it right - the melody was higher than what I heard and I really could not pick out a melody.  I miss that.  I love to hear Vickey sing.  God has given her a beautiful voice and she sings with such emotion.  I pray that in time that I will again be able to enjoy hearing the music.

Maybe I should back up a little about our day.  Stephen and Kristina left this morning about 9:30 to head north.  They let us know this evening that they were back in Dallas.  He took her home before returning to his apartment.  I don't know if his room mate is back from Christmas or not.  It was so good to have them here and for Kristina to be a part of a big family Christmas.  She is an only child and I am sure at times we are overwhelming to her!  
After church this morning, we decided to let Bob and Vickey pick up some meat at Rudy's and we all went to Jeff and Barb's and added their leftovers from some Christmas parties to have a wonderful lunch together.  While Barb gathered things in the kitchen, I took photos of our grand children.  What treasures they are.  I can hear their giggles.  Actually, I have trouble hearing crying.  Strange.  Most crying is high pitched and I don't get those sounds, so other than the fact that I need to know if someone is hurt, I don't have to listen to the crying - although there is little of that at Jeff's house.
We enjoyed a relaxing time together and came home for a nap.  I did several things before my nap, but finally got a couple of hours of nap time.  Of course now it is almost midnight and I am not sleepy. 
Maybe I need my son to read me a bedtime story.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 28, 2013

Kitchen Noises
December 28, 2013

The days lately have been too long (meaning I stay up too late) and too short (meaning my kids are continuing to go home after Christmas).  It was 3:30 last night before I went to bed and I was up about 7:00 this morning.  I have been busy all day.  The morning was a mixture of working in the kitchen and the sewing room.  Stephen and Kristina were out much of the day taking care of several things for Ron's mom.  Bob and Vickey went shopping in Harlingen. 

At the grocery store I got the nicest sacker.  He did a great job of sacking my purchases and then offered to help me get them to the car.  I told him I could manage, but he insisted.  He finally admitted he wanted a walk outside.  It was a very nice afternoon so I let him help me.  We chatted about my recovery from the broken elbow (I told him that is why I accepted his offer to help).  He wished me well with my recovery.  He was just a very nice young man.

The entire afternoon and much of the evening was spent in the kitchen.  I had asked the kids this morning, what they wanted for supper.  Kristina and Vickey wanted me to show them again how to do the homemade rolls.  Bob wanted apple pies.  Stephen didn't really say, but usually wants fajitas.  I made a big pasta salad for Kristina and several liked it.  The whole afternoon was on my feet in the kitchen which got warmer and warmer! 

About the time supper was ready, Vickey and I started a big batch of Chex mix cereal.  It was after midnight before it was ready to pack up.  Much of it is going home with Stephen.  We will do some more in the next day or two for Bob and Vickey to take home and to take some to David and Diana.  Mom joined us for supper and enjoyed the food and the family.

Our kitchen is not very big and it is an interior room with no windows.  It gets hot, but it also gets noisy.  But the time the refrigerator makes it noises (which are many and loud), the dishwasher does its thing, the chatter of several other folks in the kitchen, I can't hear myself think.  It was very hard for me to hear while working in there.

Kristina reminded me that I had told her I wanted photos of the quilt I made for her, so I took several of those this evening.

My arm and hand are tired and sore.  Several of the cooking chores are painful to my injured arm.  Peeling apples for the pies is very hard, as is slicing an onion.  Just the position and the strength required cause stress.  My head is aching some.  I still see the flashes of light.  I am ready for some sleep!  But I will not get too much since Stephen and Kristina want to leave early.  Vickey will be singing the special music in church  tomorrow morning.  I think I should go to bed!!

December 27, 2013

A Wonderfully Relaxing Friday
December 27, 2013

It is hard to recall when I have had as relaxing a day as today has been.  I noticed this evening that my neck and shoulders felt relaxed.  I hadn't thought about them being tense, but now that the tension is gone, I feel so relaxed.  This morning I slept until about 9:30.  I am getting the hang of this sleeping late stuff.  Not good.  It is OK for the holidays, but oh, my.  It will be a problem when I try to get back in the groove at work.

A little after 10:00, Bob got up and he and I went to get milk, donuts, and ice.  It was nice to have time one-on-one with him as we ran those errands.  We woke the others when we got home and they slowly drifted to the breakfast table over the next hour.  It is obvious we all have needed a break and a time to relax.  Sorry Ron isn't getting as much of it as the rest of us are.  I took the day off and spent it mostly in the sewing room with Vickey.

When Vickey was here in the spring she started thinking about a quilt for Bob with fabric pictures of things that he loves.  While she was here in June helping me following my Cochlear Implant surgery, she went through my fabric collection and selected a wide variety of fabrics for the quilt and has been purchasing others over the months.  She cut more squares today and we have now laid out the quilt on the design wall.  She now has 132 different squares ready to put together to make a quilt 66 inches x 72 inches.  It is a project that could go on and on with collecting being never ending, but Bob has decided this is the place to stop.  We hope to start sewing it together this next week.  They have 4 more days here.  But there are SEVERAL more projects she wants to do or get help on while she is here.
Bob and I spent an hour or so late this evening arranging the fabrics to his liking.  All day he kept saying that was our job, but he just couldn't help but to get involved.  Off and on during the afternoon I experimented with a pattern I had been wanting to try.  It wastes too much fabric so I am not sure I will use it.  It is made from scraps and I have a lot of scraps, so maybe I should do it and clear some of them out.

My hearing has been pretty good - no extra loud noises.  I find there are many sounds I can't identify and the kids have been helping me figure out what those are.  This morning I heard a noise I could not place and Vickey said it was the garbage truck.  It sure didn't sound like a garbage truck, but a few minutes later Bob came in and asked if that was the garbage truck that he had heard.  He wanted to take out the trash but the can had been full.  So I guess Vickey had been right.

Putting the fabrics on the design wall started hurting my arm after a bit and tonight the hand is very sore.  It is raining hard outside so I wonder if it is weather related instead of activity related.  It has rained off and on all day and that is nice.  We need the rain.

Bob picked my mom up to bring her over for supper this evening and then took her home after we ate.  She is having a lot of pain in one ankle and will be having some vein surgery in about a week to hopefully get some relief from the pain.  Stephen and Kristina spent much of their day running errands for Ron's mom and taking care of some of her needs.  I am so blessed to have kids who love and care about their grandmas.  Stephen and Kristina had picked up a meal for Ron's mom and had eaten with her and weren't very hungry when we sat down to supper, but joined us anyway.

Once Bob and Vickey were back from taking my mom home, they all sat down to play a game.  They have enjoyed being together.  Bob and Vickey had not met Kristina and have enjoyed getting to know her. 
What a joy filled visit we have all been having.  We are sorry David and Diana and their kids could have been here longer, but we were delighted to have them here for several days.  The leftovers are about gone.  It is going to be time to cook again real soon.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 26, 2013

Christmas and the Day After
December 26, 2013

There is not a blog posting for Christmas Day.  There should be, but I was just exhausted last night and had things to do this morning.  This will include yesterday (Christmas Day) and today. Christmas is special for so many reasons.  First, and the most important of all, it is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  Second, for most people it is a time when families try to gather to spend time with those they love.  Third, it is a time of gift giving.  We give gifts to those we love.  At our house this year, my heart was so full of happiness because all of our sons chose to come home to spend time with the family.  I think a lot of the reason it was so important to them to be with us and with each other is at least in part because of all the medical things that have gone on this past year with Ron and me.
Our four sons

Our oldest son, who lives furthest away, was so eager to come.  He had not been able to be with us since I had my Cochlear Implant.  His wife had come and spent a week with us to help me following the surgery, but I think he wanted to see for himself, how I was doing.  He may be the most soft spoken of the bunch so I have trouble hearing him sometimes, but he is so glad that I can hear!  They will be staying the longest.

It is such a blessing to us that our sons want to be with us!  They want to be with each other.  They all love both of their grandmothers and want to visit with them.  They love to laugh.  They love to tease each other.  At one point yesterday, I watched and listened as our oldest son laughed until he could hardly catch his breath.  What a joy to be able to hear that laughter.  They stayed and played games until the early hours of this morning.  Two of the couples are staying with us.  One family stayed with my mom, and one family lives here in town.

I did amazingly well with my hearing Christmas day.  Much of the time there were 23 of us in the living room opening gifts and visiting.  Besides our sons and their families, my mom and Ron's mom were here as well as a young single mom and her daughter.  They have spent many holidays with us over the past several years.  I sat in about the middle of the room and that helped my hearing.  As always, direction of voices is hard.  I can't tell where a voice came from since I only hear out of one ear.  So sometimes someone would have to point out the speaker to me. 

The food was perfect.  The gifts were great.  The weather was wonderful.  Everyone was healthy.  Who could ask for anything more?  It will be hard to top the gathering this year!

On Christmas Eve I had stayed up late working on last minute gift wrapping, last minute sewing, last minute cooking, and a few other things.  The turkey went in the oven about 1:30 a.m.  (It was a big bird!)  It was 4:30 when I went to sleep.  I was up at 8:30 to start work on the lunch preparations.  Most of the family slept late.  So when Christmas night came, I was the first one asleep at our house.  I think I was asleep by 10:30 or 11:00.  That also means I was up way before anyone else (except my husband who had to go to work).  I fixed breakfast but most didn't get up in time to eat it before it was time to meet my mom who was treating everyone to lunch.  Following lunch our son David and his family had to head back home.

Following lunch, I went to the office for a few hours to pay some bills and make a bank deposit.  After leaving the office I ran two quick errands and came home to spend time with Bob and Vickey.  This evening we all went to Jeff and Barb's for supper.  Barb served some delicious Mexican food and delicious desserts.  Ron and I came home about 8:00 leaving the rest of them to play games or watch videos.  We were both tired, but we also try to allow the kids to spend time together without us there.  We feel it important for them to do that, and knowing we still have several days with them, we came home.

Also, tonight, it was much harder for me to hear.  It was one of those times when I have other loud noises in my head.  It is all a part of the tinnitus, that many hard-of-hearing people have to put up with.  It had been a while since mine had been as bad as it was this evening, but it makes it harder to concentrate on the conversations around me.

My arm continues to improve.  I did not try to deal with the 23+ pound turkey alone.  I asked for help getting it in and out of the oven.  I noticed that those who helped, struggled under the weight of it also.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve and A Different Doctor
December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve.  What activities do you think about doing on Christmas Eve?  Hurrying through the stores for last minute shopping.  Visiting friends?  Baking?  Thawing the turkey?  Wrapping gifts?  Sitting in the doctor's office?

In years past, I have done most of those things, but Christmas Eve morning this year, found me sitting in the eye doctor's office.  Monday early evening as I was working in the kitchen, I kept thinking I would see a fly out of the corner of my right eye.  I asked Ron and Bob who were in the kitchen at the time if they would get that fly.  They said there wasn't one.  Then I began to notice flashes of light on that side.  Several years ago, Ron had a partially detached retina and the way it first showed up was him seeing flashing lights out of the corner of that eye.  So I suspected that was what was going on with me.

First thing this morning (Christmas Eve), I had Ron call the doctor who had diagnosed his problem and then referred him to a very good specialist.  They said for me to hurry over to their office.  This was just a few minutes after 9:00.  The only other time I had been to this doctor was about a year ago, again on an emergency basis.  It was after 11:00 when I was called into the office today.  (Same thing happened last year - "hurry on over" to sit and wait for 2 hours.

He did a thorough examination of the inner workings of the eye and said both eyes were very healthy - no problems at all.  Yea.  Praise the Lord!  He said the flashes of light were probably just "mis-fires" in the retina.  I am wondering if it could be migraine related.  Several in the family have migraines and have the flashing light sensation.  Vickey (not blood related) has had some problems with the flashing lights without a headache, and the doctor said it was still a migraine.  I have never had migraines, but did have a very bad headache this morning and all day.  I was not having one when I experienced the lights last night.  The doctor had of course dilated my eyes so it made driving home at 12:15 a little uncomfortable.  The lights have come and gone this afternoon and evening.

The only other time I have left the house today was to go get ice this afternoon.  When I left for the doctor's office this morning, Stephen was out on an errand and Bob was up but the others were sleeping.  I did mention my Cochlear Implant to the doctor and he had a lot of questions about it.  He said he is suffering from some hearing loss and really struggles with hearing very young patients.

Later this afternoon, a generous friend came by to bring some fresh fruit just picked from his orchard.  He and his grand daughter come every year bearing this wonderful gift to us.  We talked for a while with him about the Cochlear Implant.  He has also suffered for many years with hearing loss and would consider the surgery if he qualifies.  I gave him the address to this blog and suggested he and his wife start reading it to see what all is involved.
 The rest of my day has mostly been spent in the kitchen.  I baked 3 kinds of cookies and made a couple of pies.  Most everyone ate leftovers, except Stephen and Kristina made mini pizzas for some of the group.  The ladies mostly spent the afternoon working on craft projects and the guys were either still doing their shopping or helping my husband do his.  Diana's niece and nephew spent the day with their cousins and joined us in time for supper.  Mom came after she went to church (the rest of  us didn't make it there).

After supper, Dee and I baked cookies.  Then she and Vickey selected decorations for Dee's and Anthony's stockings.
Vickey did a great job on the stockings after raiding my stash of unused items.  It was time for them to be used!

It has been a wonderful time together for all of us.  Some of us discussed this evening that we felt as though we had already had Christmas.  We feel so blessed and happy.  Christmas Day just can't get any better as far as family is concerned.  The best thing about Christmas Day will be that it is the time to remember the birth of Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas to each of you!  

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23, 2013

The Family Is All Here!
December 23, 2013

All of our sons have arrived in town with their families.  Our youngest son and his girlfriend arrived Saturday evening and tonight the rest arrived.  We had a wonderful family gathering tonight and celebrated the birthday of our oldest son (his birthday was actually last week, but we celebrated anyway).  There were 20 of us here for supper tonight.

My day started at the usual wake up time - 6:15.  I got up and started getting ready for the day.  Pretty quickly I left to go to Wal-Mart for the groceries for supper this evening.  I was fixing chicken fried steak and wanted to get the meat fresh today.  I had to have the meat market man get more since I cleaned out the ones on display.  I think I heard better than he did.  It took me four tries to get across to him I needed 2 more packages.  He found them for me and I finished my shopping.

Many of you are probably familiar with Chex Party Mix - a snack made up of several varieties of Chex cereal with various seasonings on it.  My guys love it and one daughter-in-law plans to make some while she is here.  When I walked into Wal-Mart there was a huge display with the boxes of Chex cereal for $1 a box!  Yea!  I stocked up!  She will be busy making several batches while she is here. Our name for the Chex mix is "Bar-B-Q Cereal".  Shopping done, I returned home and Stephen was waiting to help me unload the car.

It was a chilly morning so I took care of the bird feeders and soon had takers for breakfast.  Kristina, Stephen, and I also had our breakfast before he left on a variety of errands.  I sewed for a while and then went to the office for a couple of hours.  Stephen and I left and shopped a few minutes and then I took him back to the office and came home.

Once I got home, I put potatoes in the oven to bake for supper and mixed up a batch of cookies while they were baking.  Next Bob's birthday cake went in the oven and I started on the chicken fried steak.  It took a couple of hours to fry enough for the family and then the steaks went in the oven to continue cooking.  Then it was time to mix up the frosting for the cake and heat a vegetable as well as fix an alternative main course for some of the family.

Kristina checked on me a few times while I was cooking as she would often hear, "Ouch".  I told her that it was nothing serious, just that turning the wrist to certain angles and putting any weight in that hand would cause instant, quick pain.  But the pain didn't stay - just passed through.
 It seems that the effort was worth it!  Everyone enjoyed the supper of chicken fried steak, gravy, baked potatoes, corn, rolls, three salads, and of course the birthday cake. 
The little boys had their own private dining room.  This is a tent-type thing for them that is supposed to be a hot dog stand.  We set up their little table in there and they had a good time.

The older kids had their table.  It was a great evening.  The hearing was pretty good.  I had some struggles.  This afternoon I mentioned to our youngest son that I was sorry I have to ask him so often to repeat things.  He told me I was so much better than I have been for years.  I needed to know that.  As I mentioned recently, I can get discouraged.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 22, 2013

Pre-Christmas Sunday
December 22, 2013

It has been a good, busy day.  The day started with Sunday School and worship service.  There were a few people at church I had not seen recently.  It is always good to see old friends.  When we sang some of the Christmas carols, I followed the melody in a couple of them but then had trouble picking it out.  The service was good and I loved sitting with family.  Our son Stephen and his girlfriend were there and one of our grandsons sat with me with two of the grand daughters and my daughter-in-law Barbara sitting behind me.  Mom had been there, but wasn't feeling well, so she had our son take her home.

After church I had a meeting and then we went to Jeff and Barb's for lunch.  On the way we picked my mom up to go with us.  At Jeff's house, we found that the power was out.  When he contacted the power company, they said the high winds had knocked a tree down across a power line and they were working on fixing it.  Barb was well prepared and lunch was ready in the dark.  Of course it was mid-day, but a gray day and the kitchen was rather dark.  The power came on about the time we sat down to eat.

We had a good lunch and a fun time visiting.  The young grand children are always entertaining.  Ron and I left and took my mom home a while after lunch and Stephen and Kristina stayed to visit.  While eating lunch, my sound processor was really picking up too much and the noise got to me.  I left the table for a while to go wash dishes in a little quieter setting.  The two oldest grandsons were to do the dishes and their mom didn't want me doing their chores, but I needed the break.  I didn't finish them.  I left some for the boys to do.

Here, our youngest grand daughter was rearranging the figures in the nativity set that is made for the children to enjoy. 
Mom read to the youngest grandson before we left.

My arm got fairly sore yesterday - not real sure why.  I did "whack" the elbow once as I carried things through a doorway, but I think it was just tired.  Today some of that soreness continued.  We are due a weather change tonight, so that might be a factor, but there are certain Christmas related activities that are painful.  Gift wrapping can hurt.  It is not the weight of the packages being wrapped, but rather the hand position involved when I go to put tape on the boxes.  Strange and unpredictable. 

The biggest sewing project I was working on got finished this afternoon while everyone else took naps.  Yea!!  Now one other quilting project to be finished (not looking promising), and some pillowcases. I also baked cookies while the family napped.  I got a few gift wrapped.

When they all got up, it was supper time and we made mini-pizzas for supper.  After we ate, we continued to talk for a long time.  It sure is nice to catch up.

The hearing continues to be a challenge.  Crowds make it so hard to hear the person talking to me.  It would be easy to give up some days.  I think right now I need to head to bed and give it a rest!  Tomorrow will be another very busy day.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

December 21, 2013

The Christmas Gathering Begins
December 21, 2013

The first of the out of town family have arrived.  Tonight our son Stephen who lives in North Texas  arrived with his girlfriend.  Bob and Vickey hope to leave early tomorrow morning from New Mexico, if the snow isn't bad.  They had a couple of inches earlier and it is snowing again.  They have a very long drive ahead of them.  Once they get to San Antonio, they will spend the night and then caravan the rest of the way with our son David and his wife and nephew.  It is going to be so much fun to have them all here.  Our other son lives here in town and we will go to their house tomorrow for lunch.  That reminds me, I heard last week, "It isn't what you eat between Thanksgiving and Christmas that you need to worry about, it is what you eat the rest of the year."  True.

This morning early Ron and I went to the grocery store.  I knew I could not lift the 23+ pound turkey to get it in the basket, in the car, and in the refrigerator.  He helped me get the things I needed and we were very pleased to find the store not at all crowded.

I had hoped my trips to the mall were finished, but I found I needed to go today.  I drove into the parking lot at 10:15 this morning, and again found it very empty.  My son said it is packed tonight (they drove past it coming into town).  I was glad to get my shopping done quickly and return home.

There was a surprise birthday luncheon for a friend of mine at noon today.  We had a wonderful, relaxing lunch.  The service was slow and that worked out just fine.  In my hectic schedule (every one's schedule is full this time of the year) it was nice to take a couple of hours out for time with friends.  I was fortunate to be seated between the birthday lady and my daughter-in-law Barb.  We had a good time.
That is me standing on the right, in the red shirt.  Beside me is my daughter-in-law, Barb.  Seated at the far end of the table in red is the birthday lady, Rhonda.  Rhonda has been so much help to me this year through all the medical situations I have had.  It was nice to do something for her this time.  My ability to hear in the restaurant was not good.  I picked up all sorts of noises, but not a lot of voices. 

After the luncheon, I returned home and did laundry, cleaned house, and sewed as I watched a Christmas movie.  I have not started holiday baking - maybe tomorrow. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20, 2013

God Cares About my Small Needs
December 20, 2013

Today I had several things I wanted to accomplish before I went to the office.  One of the main things was that I wanted to get started on the grocery shopping for the next few days of family gatherings.  I took care of some things at the house first like the birdbaths, ponds, and bird feeders.  Doing so made me add bird seed to my shopping list.  I want the birds to entertain us this coming week while the family is here.

Grocery list in hand, I left to go to one of the Wal-Marts here in town to get some supplies to do baking and to fix some family favorites in the coming days.  Usually when I go to the grocery store, I try to get a basket while I am still in the parking lot and that way I have some time to see if it really works well.  I want the basket to go where I want to go, not where it wants to go.  I had a good one so I started the shopping.  As I shopped the basket got heavier and heavier to push.  It would turn the right direction, it was just heavy.  It was also overloaded.  I had added an 18 roll package of paper towels on top of an already full basket when I began to ask God to help me get it all to the car and loaded. 

God wants us to bring Him our concerns - large and small.  Mine was relatively small in the midst of a world filled with pain and suffering.  I just needed help getting to the car and loading all the groceries into the car.  With my right arm weak and sensitive, the job loomed ahead, large and possibly painful.

The line I got in to check out, only had one person ahead of me and I was pleased, and contentedly waited my turn.  A checker came and invited me to move to his lane which was empty.  He was such a good checker.  In Brownsville we have a ban on plastic bags.  We are to take our own shopping bags to the stores.  Some clerks resent having to put your thing in your bags instead of theirs.  But this young man was very gracious and sacked things very well.  He had cold things together and he did not overload the bags.  Still, the basket was overflowing.  A parking lot attendant came up and asked if he could help me take the groceries to the car.  God had heard my request and was answering it.

For many years, I have avoided talking to strangers.  I was always afraid I wouldn't be able to hear or understand them.  As this man and I walked to the car we carried on a constant conversation.  We laughed about things, we talked about families, we talked about Christmas shopping.  I have missed this kind of conversation so much for so long.  I had become afraid of strangers.  Not afraid they would harm me, but afraid they would talk to me!  I missed meeting new people or just chatting about the weather with someone I didn't know. 

Not only did God send someone strong to take care of my groceries, he sent someone who enjoyed talking to a stranger.  The wind was blowing very hard again today and as I opened the rear doors of my Suburban, one started to blow closed.  He caught it and told me to relax and he was going to take care of my groceries.  This kind-hearted gentleman had to be 70 years old, but he quickly loaded my bags and closed up the back securely, all the time with a smile on his face as he continued the conversation. 

All of that may seem minor to you, but not to me.  I needed the help and I needed the reminder of how far I have come.  There are times I get discouraged when I just can't understand a phrase that someone is repeating over and over for me, or when music just sounds like dull noise.  There is a video going around on Facebook of an a cappella quintet and everyone is raving at their beautiful sound.  I wish you could hear it as I do - not beautiful.  No I wouldn't wish that on you, only that you could experience it for a few minutes.  And I wish I could hear what you are hearing.

The rest of the day was fairly routine.  The doors at the office kept blowing open setting off the strobe lights in my office.  You would have thought I had opened a Disco in my office.  I worked on Christmas cards until closing time and then we met our Friday night dinner partners for supper.  It was a good day.  Now I need to get ready for the family to come home for the holidays!!

December 19, 2013

Biopsy Report: A-OK!
December 19, 2013

Snowman doing a Happy Dance!

A day late and a dollar short may be my holiday status!  Not really.  God provides the dollars I need and it is only because so many good things are going on, that I am running late with my postings these days.  It may only get worse as the house gets fuller!

I went to the thyroid specialist, Dr. Concha, yesterday morning (can that have only been one day ago?).  She showed me the report on the thyroid biopsy done last Friday, and all is well.  She will see me in six months now instead of a year since the nodule grew so much this past year.  I will go for a sonogram and blood work a week before I see her in June.

Stephen asked when I was texting with him right after the doctor visit, "If it keeps growing do they just leave it alone?"  If it grows to a point where it is pressing on the throat, making it hard to swallow or causing hoarseness, they would probably remove it, but at this point, they just watch it.  Last year I had a nodule that came up on the other side and this year it is gone.  Pray that this one does the same!  So for now, I will just keep the appointments on a regular schedule and if other symptoms (difficulty swallowing, etc.) occur, I will go back sooner.  I am so blessed with this kind, gracious lady being my doctor.  She sits down "knee-to-knee" to me and quickly shows me the report.  Years ago (25+) I had a biopsy by another doctor and he rattled on for 20 minutes from behind his huge, expensive desk, before telling me I was fine.  I never went back to him.  I was so angry.  He could have started off with, "You are fine."

I picked up one Christmas gift in Harlingen before heading back to go to work.  Since I can hear, I had a couple of good conversations with customers.  The evening was spent sewing, wrapping, and chatting with David on Facebook.  It looks like Diana's nephew is coming with them and the niece is still undecided.  She wants to come, but we won't know for a couple of days what is going to work out.  So glad Anthony is coming and praying it works out for Dee to come, too.  Sweet kids.  Great additions to the family.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December 18, 2013

Visit From a Long-Time Friend
December 18, 2013

A text came on my cell phone Monday saying, "Would you and Ron be free for lunch Wed?  I'm at the orphanage, and I have to take a student to the Brownsville airport Wed."  My response: "Who is this?  Joe?..."  Only a phone number had shown up on my cell phone, no name.  But I was 99% sure who it was.  I was right.  It was Joe, a former summer missionary who has made many mission trips to this border area to do construction projects to build churches, and homes in Mexico, and cottages at a children's home in Matamoros, Mexico, right across the river from our town.

For many years, our church has had a variety of mission projects here and in Mexico, and Baptist Student Ministry groups from colleges and youth groups from across the south, would come to help.  For a long time we had what we called "summer missionaries", college students who would volunteer their summers to come work in the South Texas heat, working to spread the gospel and to help people in the area.  One summer there were seven young men and several young women serving in that capacity with our church and the housing arrangements for the boys had not worked out well.  We knew we were going to be gone on an extended vacation and told our pastor that the boys could live in our house while we were gone.  They moved in a few days before we left and stayed for a while after we got back.

We fell in love with these young men and over the 30+ years since then, have stayed in contact with several of them.  We have been especially close to one of them.  Joe was a student at Texas A&M when we first met him.  Then he went on to Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Ft. Worth, before becoming a Baptist Student Ministry Director.  He has served at several universities over the years but has been in Commerce now for a long time.  Every year he brings a group of students to work at the children's home across the river in Mexico.

I don't remember for sure, but I think the last time I saw Joe was last Spring while I was deaf.  At the time I had the small hand held amplifier that helped me to hear some, but I must say, my conversation with Joe today was more like old times.  He had a student with him and I had picked up pizza for our lunch.  We stood at one of the counters at the office, he and the student on one side and Ron and I on the other, and had a wonderful conversation.  There were a few times I asked him to repeat things, but not too many. 

We laughed about some of the stories from those days he lived with us - oh, we had fun!  Then and now!  Visiting with old friends is always fun, but more so when you can hear them!

Earlier this morning I had done some shopping and accomplished a lot.  I am very close to being finished with the gift buying - next comes grocery buying!  Clerks were very helpful and talkative today.  I had gone out early before anything was crowded and it was nice to be able to engage them in conversations.  A clerk at Dillards seemed very eager to have someone to really talk to, getting to say more than, "Will that be cash or credit?"  She wanted to know all about the lucky person who would receive the gift I had just bought.  She wanted to tell me all about her family and her plans and to hear all about mine.  I had never seen her before.  People want to know you care about them.  I usually ask if they have finished their shopping.  I am surprised at how many say that they have finished.

After Joe left, Ron went out on some jobs.  I took care of customers and did some office work.  I had bought some office supplies this morning and so I put those away.  I did not get around to my Christmas cards!  I am so far behind on them.  If you are on my Christmas card list, don't think I have forgotten you, I am just way behind!

I left the office a few minutes early and was able to do a few minutes of work in the backyard, filling the ponds and birdbaths.  Then I spotted a beautiful sunset, so I hurried in for my camera.  There have been some beautiful ones lately.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 17, 2013

Getting a Slow Start on a Busy Day
December 17, 2013

Why do we only seem to oversleep on busy days?  Maybe I am the only one who does that.  It happened this morning.  I woke when my alarm went off, hit the snooze button a couple of times, rolled over and slept for another hour!

Our oldest son (Dr. Bob) has a birthday today and my plan was to call him before he and his wife left for work so I could wish him a Happy Birthday!  Even with them being an hour behind us in time, he was already on the way to work.  I called his cell phone and his wife answered since he was driving.  Once he dropped her off at her school for work, he called to chat for a couple of minutes before going on to his job.  I won't tell you how old he is because it makes me feel old!

I got my hair washed and dried.  I sometimes mention that activity, because it is a part of getting ready to put the sound processor on.  The sound processor is "water resistant" but I feel it is safer to have my hair dry before I put the sound processor on.  Reading the blogs of other Cochlear Implant patients, that seems to be normal with them also.  Once my hair is dry I put the processor on and start to hear for the day.  I got ready quickly and went to my mom's house.  She was hosting her Ladies' Bible Study Christmas luncheon at her house.  Remember, my mom turned 90 last February!  I told her to sit down and prop her sore foot up while I did the last minute preparations.  She had just about everything ready, but I did a few little things. 

Once the ladies arrived, I headed out to do a little shopping. These ladies have faithfully prayed for me over this past year with the assorted medical problems, but I wasn't up to the hearing challenge today.  They are such strong, faithful prayer warriors, and each one means a lot to my mom.  I knew most of them, but there were a couple I had not met.
With all the ladies chatting at once in a small area in their high pitched voices, it was a little overwhelming.  I need to talk to the audiologist.  I think I have mentioned that if noises are too loud, the sound processor shuts those loud sounds off to protect the ear and then brings it back up when the sound is gone.  Lately it has been shutting down for things like running water or the sewing machine.  I don't know if I have the unit turned too loud or what, but I don't remember it doing that in the past.

My mom on the left in her lovely kitchen.

I made one shopping stop and picked up one item I had looked for at several places.  Then I headed back to Mom's house thinking they would be about finished with lunch (they were having a meeting first).  They were just getting ready to eat.  I had picked up something to eat since I had not had breakfast or lunch, so I told her I would come back later to clean the kitchen and I tried another couple of stores, unsuccessfully.  When I got back to Mom's the next time, they were finished eating so one of the ladies and I cleaned the kitchen.
Most of the ladies stayed to visit for a long time.  They were having so much fun exchanging gifts, eating the desserts, talking about Christmas plans.
Some of my cookies made it to the party.  It must be time to bake again!  While washing dishes, I noticed that my elbow was not hurting as it usually does while I wash them.  Progress continues!  I did notice at the store, I had bought 3 - 2 pound cans of sweet potatoes and the 2 pounds was right at the limit for the left elbow. 
I left the ladies partying and went to my real job.  I had bills to pay at the office, customers to take care of, and a few other everyday chores.  One of the "MUST DO" things today was to place some Christmas orders.  I had tried from home but couldn't get the computer to do it, so I finally got them done at the office.  It was well after closing time before I was ready to leave.

On the way home I stopped at two stores, but had no success at either place.  Ron had gone to his mom's for supper, so I came on home and started laundry.

I continue to improve with the elbow problems.  With the hearing, the progress is not noticeable to me.  That frustrates me.  If I had stayed at Mom's with all the conversations spinning around me, I would have experimented with the remote control for the hearing processor, but I knew I wasn't staying long.  I will have to do that when the family is all here next week.  NEXT WEEK!!  A week from tonight is Christmas Eve.  I am not ready!