Sunday, November 30, 2014

Noember 30, 2014

The Decorating Crew Arrived 
and Completed Their Task
November 30, 2014

It was another wonderful fall day.  It was comfortably warm with some very brief, light showers during the morning.  Twice during the church service I spotted rain in the courtyard, but could not see any on the parking lots on either side of the church.

Our Bible Study class was well attended and had lots of comments to add to the lesson as we wrapped up a study in Hebrews - one of my favorite books in the Bible.  Then as soon as I stepped into the auditorium for the worship service, I knew there was a problem.  It turned out (if I understood correctly) a piece of plastic that is used on the lights that shine behind some trees on the podium, fell and melted, leaving a burned, smokey smell.

The smell was very strong in the auditorium and they were trying to air it out.  Several people left, particularly people with allergies or lung problems.  I tried to stay but by the time they had the greeting time, my eyes were so itchy and burning that I went to the vestibule for the rest of the service. After a bit we opened the doors to the outside and to the auditorium and by the end of the service things were better.

Jeff and Barb had an appointment to look at some houses in McAllen so we went to Wendy's for a quick lunch and then we brought their van home with the kids and they headed up the valley.  We have often gone to Wendy's in the last few months.  There was another large family group there today celebrating the 84th birthday of a lady who often sits a couple of rows behind me in church.  She and her husband were there as well as extended family and a few older friends.  It was a fun place to be.

Our oldest grandson mowed the backyard for me!  I was so happy to have him do that.  It needed at least this mowing before the winter, but with the beautiful days this past week, it may need another cutting before Christmas.  The rest of the children helped me decorate the big Christmas tree in the living room.  What a fantastic decorating crew they have become. 

The two big boys helped Ron get out the boxes of decorations and the two youngest boys stayed in their way.  A couple of the kids helped me fluff out the ribbon bows I use on the tree and then put the artificial flowers and the stuffed animals on it before more of them joined to put the ornaments on the tree.  Once the ornaments started going on the tree, the number of helpers increased and I would hand them the ornaments and if there was a special story behind them, (maybe I painted it or it was a gift from a friend), I shared the stories as they hung the decorations.
They had such fun and  worked so hard.  We have a lot of ornaments and they kept working.  When the oldest finished mowing, we all took a break for Rice Krispie treats and Kool-Aid before returning to open another large storage box of ornaments. 
The youngest of the children had been playing in the toy room and after her treat, she was ready to get in on the decorating.  She did a great job, just like the others.
The oldest grandson wanted to attend a worship service at the church for youth and college ages so Ron took him and then the others were ready for supper.  I fixed grilled cheese sandwiches and sliced apples.  I had made a big pot of beans the day before and a couple of them wanted beans.  While serving supper, I stubbed my toe again!  It hurt!  I am about to decide I have become clumsy in my old age.
Our oldest granddaughter decided to watch a Christmas movie and lay down on the couch.  The baby asked me for her blanket and showed me she wanted the trundle bed pulled out from below the day bed and she climbed up there and went to sleep.  It turned out by the time Barb and Jeff were back the oldest of the girls was running a fever and feeling pretty bad.  So they didn't stay long to visit, but loaded up the children and headed home. 
There were times the chatter was overwhelming to me, but I kept the sound processor on.  There were times I had trouble understanding the youngest.  I would not trade the afternoon for anything.  What fun we had.  What a bottomless pit our youngest grandson's stomach is!  He could not get enough to eat. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

November 29, 2014

Celebration for a Three Year Old
November 29, 2014

Last night was a very rest - less night for me.  I only slept 3 or 4 hours.  I fell asleep in the recliner for a couple of hours, was then awake until about 4:30, and then got up about 6:30.  I was able to get a shower and put a load in the washer and a couple of other chores before my housekeeper came.  She worked hard and I worked for another hour or so in the house before going outside to do some work in the yard. 

Once Ron got home, I left to do a little birthday shopping and to get some office supplies.  I managed to get my errands done and was back home about 1:30.  I had lunch and then napped for about an hour.  At one store, I was able to have a good conversation with the clerk who was waiting on me.  She was friendly and it was nice to just chat with a stranger.  While I was out, Ron got the big Christmas tree set up in the living room.  The grandchildren will probably decorate it while they are here tomorrow afternoon.

A little before 5:00 we went to our son's home for his youngest daughter's birthday.  They had rented the bounce house at the top of the blog posting for today.  Then just before party time it started raining very lightly.  The children played out there some, but for very long since it was wet inside.  It was a little cool, but not too much for the kids to play and have a good time.

There were about 10 adults at the party and 14 children.  A delicious meal was served that pleased children and adults: Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets, potato chips, potato salad, and a salad tray.  There were cupcakes for dessert. 

Most of the adults went to the dining table to eat, but one friend and I stayed on the couch to visit as we ate.  I could hear much better one-on-one than at the table filled with conversations.  As the birthday girl opened her gifts, she wanted to try on some of the clothes and settled on this outfit (pictured above) for the rest of the evening.  She wanted a dress that "twirls" when she spins around (a full skirt).  She was a happy girl!

After we got home, I spent time on the computer and then on the phone with our son in New Mexico.  I hope tonight will bring a restful sleep.

November 28, 2014

Sounds I Love to Hear
November 28, 2014

Everyone has particular sounds they love to hear.  Maybe at the top of many lists would be the three words, "I love you."  I decided to share some sounds from this day that I am delighted that I could hear, thanks to my Cochlear Implant.
1.  "Grandma, is there something I could do to help?"
2.  "Grandma, I am so glad I could come to your house."
3.  "Where is Grandpa?"  (Still sleeping.)
4.  The hum of the sewing machine being used for hours by a 9 year old.
5.  "Grandma, look what I made for Sarah!"
6.  The giggles of sisters snuggling on the couch together.
7.  "Grandma, where did this Christmas ornament come from?"
8.  "Do we have to go home already?"
9.  "Grandma, I liked seeing that big bird come into the yard this morning.  He had long black legs."

I told her she was like a kitten, curled up, sleeping in the sunshine.

Jeff and Barb's oldest girls came home with us after Thanksgiving evening to spend the night and the next day.  They watch very little television at their home - only select videos, so they enjoyed watching Christmas movies at our house all day.  They slept until about 9:00.  The oldest one helped me make pancakes for breakfast. 

Once the breakfast dishes were cleared, the younger one sat at the sewing machine, ready to start her creative juices flowing.  She is 9 years old.  When I first started letting her use my sewing machine, I was not sure she would ever master it.  Now, she can't wait to start sewing when she is here.  She knows where the scrap boxes are and starts digging through them to find treasures for the new ideas in her mind.  She loves making accessories for the Beanie Babies on my shelves.  This time, the flamingo got a purse, hat, and scarf, as well as a tiny book.  Today was her little sister's birthday, so she took an assortment of accessories to her for use with her dolls.  She worked on Christmas tree ornaments and learned to use the decorative stitches to embellish some of them.

The girls rearranged the furniture for me so there would be room for the tree.  I asked what the traditional Christmas colors are and they said, "Red and green."  I told them to look out the window where the tree would soon block the view and showed them that those colors were already decorating that view.
Ron got out the Christmas tree for the sewing room and the older one set it up and put the chains on it while her sister arranged the Christmas tree skirt around the tree.
Soon the decorating was in full swing.
They worked together getting the decorations on the tree and the boxes moved out of the sewing room when they were finished.
By the time the tree was done, it was time for lunch.  As soon as lunch was finished they returned to the sewing room where they spent the rest of the day sewing and watching Christmas movies.  It was a fun day.
Just before dark, I took them home and went in to visit for a bit and get a photo of the birthday girl.  She turned 3 years old today!  My, my, how the years are flying by!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

November 27, 2014

Day of Thankfulness and Memories
November 27, 2014

Jeff carving the turkey

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving Day memory?  Is it very emotional or unique or just one of those "perfect" days in your memory bank?  Many of our Thanksgiving Days are similar.  Our menu is usually just about the same: turkey, dressing, gravy, my grandmother's apple salad, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and a few more traditional dishes.  On Thanksgiving Day in 1974, we were in the process of moving back to Brownsville after moving to Houston when we married.  Back then it was hard to find a gas station or a restaurant open on Thanksgiving Day. 

A couple of Thanksgivings we spent at the beach in the Corpus Christi area.  One was freezing cold with strong winds and before the weekend was over we had Jeff in the Emergency Room in Corpus with an asthma attack.  A few Thanksgivings when we first moved into our current home which was in the late-1970s our home was filled with friends who had no family here.  Our kids loved those times. 

But I must say that probably my most memorable was Thanksgiving Day 1969.  Early Thanksgiving morning, our second child was born - Jeff.  He was a couple of weeks early, but a healthy, beautiful baby boy.  We were living in Houston at the time and our older son - Bob was just a few weeks short of 2 years old.  Jeff suffered a lot with asthma as he grew up.  Those trips to the Emergency Room made him appreciate the people there who could help him get better.  Some children fear hospitals, but not Jeff.  He learned that they could help him.  I recall more than one time after the medical people would have to do blood work or give him a shot or make him uncomfortable doing a procedure to help him get better, he would turn and tell them, "Thank you." 

After his first year of college, he took a semester off and got his Emergency Medical Technician certification and worked on the ambulance crew here in Brownsville.  Many years later, after finishing college, working in Yellowstone, and holding a couple of other positions with the City of Brownsville, he was assistant director of the ambulance department and then filled in as director while a new one was found.  He has a heart for hurting people.  We are so proud of and thankful for our Thanksgiving bundle of blessings.

Today we went to Jeff's home for the Thanksgiving meal.  That was a break from traditions in two or three ways.  One way is that usually I do most of the cooking.  Another is that we don't often get to have Thanksgiving with Jeff's family - they usually spend it at Barb's mom's house and come to our house for Christmas.  And third, it was an evening meal instead of our traditional mid-day meal. 

Ron is still not feeling  very well and he slept very late.  I got up at 8:30 and did a little cleaning.  Then I read for a while.  I made a new recipe for breakfast.  This was a recipe I saw on Facebook a few days ago.  It was OK, but not spectacular.  These little mini treats are made in a muffin tin from crescent rolls and cherry pie filling.
Early in the afternoon I started baking pies for the Thanksgiving meal.  Since it was Jeff's birthday, he selected the dessert.  He requested apple pie in place of a birthday cake.  I made three apple pies and two pumpkin pies.  I must say, I am out of practice.  I had to read and re-read the recipes and still made a couple of mistakes.  When I finished, I was so thankful I was not doing the entire meal!

When we arrived, a new sheet was on the dining table and everyone was to draw or write things they were thankful for or things about Thanksgiving.  Then the sheet became our tablecloth at the dinner.  Memories.

At Jeff's house, his mother-in-law (Barb's mom) did most of the cooking.  Her twin grand babies were with her.  Our oldest granddaughter loves to help with these 9 month old twins.  Yes, they are twins.  On the left is a dark haired, brown eyed, little girl and on the right is a blue eyed blond little boy.  They are good babies and pulling up as they think about trying to walk.  The little boy ignored me and the little girl couldn't take her eyes off me.
 Barbara's aunt and cousin were there also.  We all had a good meal and a good visit.  It was a beautiful day all day and the children had spent much of their time playing outside.  They had been bike riding and had done chalk art on the driveway.  They did some more of both while we were there.
I spent time in the yard watching the kids play, 

watching the fiery sunset, 

the moon, 

the cats resting in the way of the front door.
They probably smelled the turkey!

Some kept the pies safe,

or watched cartoon videos.

At the end of the evening, the two oldest girls came home with us to spend the night. 

One immediately sat at the sewing machine and got to work. 
The other chose to watch Christmas videos.  
Hearing at the dining table was a challenge and often futile.  After desserts I suggested that the ladies go to the couches in the living room.  That helped, but the men's voices carried very well.  It was a wonderful day and we are so glad we could be with family.

November 26, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Practice
November 26, 2014

For many years our church has had a Thanksgiving Eve Service and then a fellowship afterwards.  Originally they served donut holes and spiced tea.  This time it was pumpkin pie or other pies.  Our youngest granddaughter will be three this week and so she needed some practice eating pumpkin pie.  She did very well at it.  I fed her since we were sitting on a couch with no table for her pie.  She ate every last crumb, pointing out to me at one point that I was leaving some of her crust and she wanted it.
My morning got off to a slow start.  Ron had left me sleeping and it was 8:30 before I woke up.  It did feel good to sleep late.  Once I got the the office, the morning was a little busy but the afternoon was very slow.  I think everyone was at the grocery store.  I found them there later when I joined the throngs at H.E.B.

During the day I had been trying to think of how I was going to get a pie made for the fellowship at the church.  They had only sent out an announcement about the pies Tuesday evening.  Did you know that Pizza Hut makes an amazing pizza shaped Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie?  I got one of those to take for those who didn't care for pumpkin.  It was gone in a hurry! 

I left the office a little early to stop at the grocery store (H.E.B.) to get a couple of items and the crowds were huge, but thankfully almost all of the checkout lanes were open.  I took my purchases home and put them away.

Our daughter-in-law had texted to see if we wanted to join them for supper at Luby's before the service at the church.  I did and it was fun.  Ron decided to go home and go to bed.  We had to hurry, but it is always a treat to get to eat with those 7 grandchildren (and their parents).  Jeff arrived in time to eat what Barb had ordered for him.  Then we went to the church. 

The listening set up that I use in church is in a bag I carry on Sundays.  I forgot to get it to take with me to church for the Thanksgiving Service.  I could not understand any of the music or message.  I think we were supposed to write a note (they had given us slips of paper) to God thanking Him.  I could not tell what they notes were to be about so I did not participate.  Those kinds of things are frustrating.  I did entertain our youngest granddaughter who is not used to sitting through a service.

After the service I was visiting with friends and a nose bleed started.  I had to give up and go get it stopped.  Again it was frustrating.  On the very bright side, I got to meet the cute little grand baby of our music director and his wife.  She is a precious little one and I know I will enjoy hearing about her as she grows up.  She is the perfect baby for this couple.  She loves the outdoors and they will spend lots of time in open spaces.  She is a blessing to them.  Her Aunt Heather bounced her to sleep as we all stood around admiring her.
At that point it dawned on me that our grand baby had not had pie.  She and I went to the pie table and I got her a plate with two tiny pieces and applied a liberal amount of whipped cream and she ate every bite!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November 25, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Brother
November 25, 2014

Left to right in photo:  My  brother Gordon, is the oldest, then me (Linda), next is mom,
 then my sister, Debra, and finally the baby of the family, Janet.

God determines birth order in families, but if He had let me do it in my family when I was growing up, I would have selected to have an older brother and two younger sisters.  God decided, and I still got just what I would have wanted.  I really thought it was a neat idea to have an older brother.  He would bring his friends home and I would get to spend time with all those neat guys that were so much fun to be around.  Only problem was, they saw me either as the sister they never had or the sister they did have and didn't want hanging around.

My brother is a super guy.  He was always much more popular than I was and friends rarely believed he was my brother if they didn't already know us.  He was red-headed and freckled.  He was tall and good looking and artistic.  I had brown hair and very  few freckles.  I was a wall-flower and I still draw stick figures, but I did excel in math and he didn't.  This is one of those times when I wish I could hear well enough to easily just pick up a phone and have a normal conversation - to rub it in that he is 70 years old!  He is a great-grandfather!  He is a super guy and I wish him all the best for his birthday and the year to come. 

I must say one of my very favorite things about my brother is his laugh.   Growing up, Saturday morning cartoons were made even more enjoyable as he would laugh and laugh at Roadrunner cartoons.  He loved those cartoons and I loved to hear him laugh at them.  If I could hear well on a phone call, I would call my brother today.  I would try to think of something funny to say, just to hear him laugh.

Today was another long day.  I had an early appointment with the heart specialist.  It was just for a checkup and he said all was well and to come back in 6 months.  I mentioned to him that our  General Practitioner had moved away and asked if he had any suggestions.  He gave me a referral to one.  They are to call me for an appointment.

When I finished there I talked to his scheduling receptionist and asked her for some input on home health care for my mom.  Then I went by the orthopedic surgeon's office to ask if he took patients with back problems, but they don't.  They did give me the name of one here in town.  I will pass all this information on to Mom.

Once I got to the office, I started in on the mess on my desk.  It was time to pay some bills and deal with some paperwork Ron and I had been passing back and forth for a while.  When we signed up with the new company to deal with the credit cards we accept from our customers, the salesman was less than informed.  He must have been new on the job.  By the time we finished with him we both just wanted him out of the office.  It was also at a time when I was going to see how Mom was while she was in the hospital and I was out of the office for about a week right after we signed up with them.  The details of the information got lost in the shuffle of the last two months of us being on the go so much.

Ron made a lengthy phone call today and got help from a very kind, knowledgeable lady at the company.  She very patiently walked him through each step we needed.  The change in companies has cut our expenses, but it has not been without bumps in the road.  Hopefully they got smoothed out today.  Ron's time on the phone was because I can't do it.  He has had to take over all of the phone calls at the office and that is not his favorite thing to do.  Then Ron boxed up the old credit card equipment and returned it.  Those were two big check marks on our to do list.  I think we both felt relieved to mark those off.  We like the new system, it is just that the change came at a very hectic time in our lives.  Slowly, we are getting our bearings again.

As I had previously mentioned, Ron and I had both not been feeling well.  We are getting better.  I think I have bounced back more quickly than he has, but we are both doing much better.  All of the things I mentioned took up the morning and a little of the afternoon.  I told Ron I was going to come to the house for a little bite of lunch and to pick up some things I needed to take to his mother.

My afternoon was spent on bookkeeping chores and filing.  After work Ron went to mail a package and pick up supper for all of us, to take to his Mom's house.  He normally eats with her on Tuesday evenings but I joined them tonight.  While he ran his errands, I went by my Mom's and then to the post office before going to his mom's.  She had been busy with some projects and as always, did a wonderful job on them.  She is so talented.

On my way to my mom's house, I passed a group of White Ibises.  They hang out not far from Mom's house and I stopped to get some photos.  Those photos are scattered throughout this blog.  I probably have mentioned before that the first time I spotted some White Ibises here in town I stopped to take some pictures thinking how beautiful and unique they are.  I could tell one was digging in the grass for something to eat and took photos.  When I returned to the office and put the photos into the computer I saw that what the White Ibis was eating was a tarantula!  All I could think of after that was that the beautiful little bird had Tarantula Breath!  Yuck!

We had supper with Ron's mom and I got to practice what I am always wanting others to do for me: speak more slowly and more clearly.  Ron's mom is a little hard of hearing and I understand the problem!  We just get to talking about something and if we aren't careful, we talk faster and faster, making it harder and harder for the person who is struggling to understand what is being said.  We had a good visit and by the time I got home, it had been a very long day.