Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 31, 2014

Good-bye to the Old Year 
and Welcome to a New Year!
December 31, 2014

What a year this has been for us!  There were so many things to celebrate.  We were able to have all or most of the family together more than we had expected.  God has given us so much to be thankful for.  This year we gained a new family member with Stephen's marriage to Kristina.  We are so glad to have her in the family.  Almost all of the family was together for that event in early November.

In mid-May many of us gathered for Stephen's graduation from Criswell College in Dallas where he earned his Master of Divinity Degree.  He has worked hard for that and graduated Summa Cum Laude.  He was able to do that while working full time.

July we all gathered for a long weekend in on Lake Travis near Austin for our Family Gathering.  We had done several of these the last few years around the time of Ron's and my anniversary.  This year the time was decided by a trip Bob and Vickey were making to that area while she took a training class to start preparing to become a certified speaker on the personality types.  She finished that training this fall in Albuquerque. 

When I compare 2013 and 2014 the differences are astounding.  2013 in January was when I went deaf.  In June of 2013 I had two surgeries, one for the Cochlear Implant so I could hear again and one for the elbow I broke a week before the implant surgery.  Then in September 2013, I had surgery to put in an artificial radius cap in the elbow since the healing from the first surgery did not allow me full usage of the arm.  At that time, I also had the hardware removed that was put in for the break (pins, plate, screws).  That same month, Ron had surgery to remove plates and pins in his leg that he broke 20 years earlier.  January 2013 also was when Ron took a very severe case of flu that took him months to recover from.  I am not sure he is back to where he was before that flu even now.

2014 saw no surgeries for us!  Yea!  We continue to have a variety of medical issues that mostly come with age, but none have been serious.  2014 was filled with so many things that were good.  The only negative that comes to mind is my mom's health this fall.  After a fracture in a vertebrae, she spent 3 months recovering in the Ft. Worth area but is now home and continuing to regain her strength.  Each day is better and she is delighted to be back in her home.
My brother, Mom, and me, the weekend before Christmas

It was a very busy fall this year, but I was healthy and was able to make a couple of trips to Dallas alone which last year I would not have tried.  It was still challenging and I made each of those long drives in 2 parts, staying with David and Diana in San Antonio on my way up and back from Dallas.  It was good to know I can do it if I need to.  I prefer for Ron to do the driving when we travel, but I can do it if needed.  I am learning to use a GPS after getting lost A LOT on those trips - not on the trips to and from Dallas, but when in the Dallas and Ft. Worth areas.

I have gained a lot of confidence with the Cochlear Implant.  Many times I don't even think about it.  The hearing of voices is very normal.  (Ha, ha!  I just reread that sentence and it make it sound like I am hearing voices.  So I will clarify.  When people talk, their voices sound normal.  I do have trouble identifying voices on the phone.)   Music, background noises, and assorted loud noises are hard to identify.  Today Ron was out of the office for several hours and when he got back I told him that there are a lot of strange sounds in our office when it is quiet.  I have two printers in my office - one is mostly used to print invoices and high volume items.  The other is the one on my computer.  The high volume one is a great printer, but it will just make random sounds when it hasn't been used for a while.  It can really scare us if the building is quiet and we think we are alone and all of a sudden it starts making sounds.  We have a bottled water machine that used to do that a lot.  But I guess the important things is that I CAN HEAR those sounds. 

My elbow is doing very well.  There are times it will ache a little, but I don't think about the injury on a daily basis.  Sometimes if I pick up something heavy with my hand turned in an odd position, it will hurt, but that is rare.  I need to work on strengthening that arm and hope to get back to going to the gym soon.  I guess the one medical problem I had out of the ordinary aging this year was a broken toe and it has kept me from the gym for a long time. 

As for my day today, I got some news on my camera that I sent in for repairs about 10 days ago.  Best Buy called and talked to Ron this evening and said that they can not fix my camera, so I am to come in and select a new one and they will apply the total of my original purchase price to a new one.  So this weekend, I guess I will go camera shopping.  I have taken thousands and thousands of photos with that camera and have enjoyed using it.  I won't enjoy the process of selecting a new one, but I will enjoy having a new camera.  As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Best Buy warranties are usually very well fulfilled.

That is in contrast to the one on my refrigerator so far.  Ron called the warranty company Monday.  They said a particular company would call within two days to schedule a repair.  They didn't.  Ron called.  That company said they only service units they sold.  Could someone have let us know???  So he called the warranty company again.  They said they would send a work order to a second company and they should call within an hour.  They didn't.  Ron called.  After several calls, we have an appointment for this Friday afternoon.  Hopefully they will be able to fix it. 

This evening I finished the puzzle our granddaughters gave me for Christmas.  It was fun.  The last bit was hard, but it is a good puzzle.  Thanks, girls!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 30, 2014

A Nice Start to My Day
December 30, 2014

What a treat it always is for me to see a Green Jay in the back yard.  I had let the feeders go empty for a while, but the birds have now found that they are full and are returning.  I spotted 9 of the Whistling Tree Ducks and was about to try to scare them away when I spotted a Green Jay at the feeder, so I didn't want to disturb him.  The ducks may learn to bring a Green Jay to breakfast so I will let them stay.  There were sparrows and doves besides the Black Bellie Whistling Tree Ducks and the Green Jay. 

In spite of the good start to the day, much of the day was boring and frustrating.  I continue to try to get the new computer set up the way I want it.  There are some programs that had been installed, but the restored information is not in them - it is in the computer, but I don't know how to transfer it from one spot to the other. 

When I arrived at the office Ron said the computer technician was able to come this morning or tomorrow morning.  I ended up asking him to wait until Monday so I could find out everything I need for him to handle.  It wasn't until late this afternoon that I found one problem I need for him to deal with, so Monday should work for me.  There are a couple of programs that I need to buy and install before he comes.

During the morning I cleaned out one desk drawer.  I can think of so many things to put in the desk drawers, but I rarely use any of them.  It is just crazy!  I guess I listened to that scout motto too often: Be Prepared.  I am well prepared with so many useless things in my desk.  Not useless - un used would better classify the things.

After lunch I spent the rest of the day exploring the computer and trying to make a list of things for the technician to work on.  I found the computer has "sticky notes" you can add to the computer.  You select sticky notes, and what looks like a Post-it note, appears on the desktop.  I can type a list on it.  Right now it is a list of things for the technician to work on.  Love it!

Why is it that when I wait on customers, and they tell me they want one key, that they wait until I turn on the machine and then tell me they want two?  I can't hear anything when the machine is going, plus I am at the far end of the counter from where they are.  I think I am too fast.  I need to slow down and let them really think about what they want.  Right?

After work, I went by Mom's house and visited for a while before coming home and fixing my supper.  Ron was at his mom's for supper. 

For Christmas, our two oldest granddaughters bought me a puzzle.  It is a style I had not seen before.  The four sides of the puzzle are 4 different pictures that merge in the middle.  It is a little more challenging since you are basically working 4 puzzles at once, but I am enjoying it.  I think I got about 2/3 of it done.  The part that is left is HARD. 

Late this evening, I talked to our daughter-in-law in New Mexico.  They are expecting snow tonight and tomorrow.  Our son is off for a couple of days and is looking forward to a Winder Wonderland.

Some of you asked what was being made in Santa's Workshop a couple of weeks ago.  I was making "Infinity Scarfs".  In all I did 13 and each of the oldest granddaughters made one, so we did 15.  Six were made from a fabric called "Minky".  It is VERY soft and very fuzzy and a mess to cut.  That is when Santa's workshop moved to the garage.  Here is a photo of one.
Then I made several from the following fabric.  Here, I am wearing one.
Here is one granddaughter modeling the one she made for her mom.
They are quick and easy to make - just takes more time to cut them than to sew them and you have to engage your brain, you can't (or I can't) do these on "auto pilot".  I must think while I do them, but they really are fun to make and fun to wear.

Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014

If Laughter is the Best Medicine,
Mom Should be Healed by Bedtime!
December 29, 2014

The girls wanted to see how Ron would look in the pink Santa hat with rhinestones on it.

My day was a little different.  For one thing, the hustle and bustle of the holidays is about past.  Decorations still need to be removed from the tree and the tabletops, they will still need to be packed away for next Christmas, but the shopping is done, the packages are sent, and the day was just a little more relaxed.
Mom wanted Ron to pose behind this cardboard cutout at Luby's
 when she first came back from my sister's house.

When I got to the office I saw that all of the things that had been backed up on Carbonite had been restored to my new computer.  Carbonite had restored over 160,000 files and had been unable to restore about 150.  If I am doing my math correctly, that means they restored 99.99% of the files!  Yea!  There are some minor glitches to be worked out.  I need to install a couple of programs so the saved files can be put in those programs.
Our friend Rhonda wearing crazy glasses one day after church.

Ron spent time trying to get set up with a refrigerator repairman to work on the refrigerator at the house.  Thankfully, I had all the needed information in my file in my desk so he could easily answer their long list of questions: date of purchase, location, serial #, model #, service record, and on and on.  I am about to decide extended warranties are not worth the price except at Best Buy.
Jeff has the ability to get both of his grandmothers to laugh and smile a lot.

Ron was out for a while trying to get his phone repaired.  The insurance I have on it would mean he only had to pay $100 to get it fixed!  What??  Another warranty not worth the paper it is written on.  So he had my old phone activated to use.  Of course he did not recall why I quit using that phone.  Oh, well.  He will soon find out.
Like father; like son

The day was filled with customers who were very confused.  Oh, my.  One man brought in four keys and said they would work on the doors of his car and the trunk, but not the ignition and if we would "shave the end of the key" he knew it would fix the problem.  The problem is that his car uses one key for the ignition and a totally different one for the doors and trunk.  It took a while for Ron to get him to understand that and then the light dawned and he recalled he did have 2 keys for that car.
The girls wanted to see how Ron would look with the brightly colored 
hair extensions they got for Christmas. 
I left the office early to go by Mom's before going home.  We visited for a while as we sat in her den.  I was in her recliner and she was in a straighter, firmer chair.  All of a sudden, there were some faint, melodic, electronic sounding tones.  Mom looked very startled, grabbed her side as if in pain or shock, and said, "Did you hear that?"  I confirmed that I did.  She looked relieved to hear my answer.  Next she grabbed her ears and said they were pulsating.  She looked in her pocket to see if her cell phone was there.  It was not.  She said she felt like the sound came from her side.  
You just have to laugh when trying to photograph the 9 people in Jeff's family.

We discussed the possible reasons or explanations for the event and laughed about it a little but I could tell she was very concerned and perplexed.  She kept feeling around her side, and back and I asked if she was wearing her life alert button.  She was, but it was in front of her, on a necklace.  I teased and asked if she was taking pills with little electronic things in them and she said she had not.  We continued our discussion, but again, I could tell she was distraught and distracted.
Ron and Jeff trying on each others' shoes.

About 4 or 5 minutes later, her helper Carmen came into the den and asked if she could get her jacket from the back of Mom's chair.  As she started down the hall with it, I told Mom that maybe Carmen's cell phone was in the jacket.  Mom called her to come back and asked where her cell phone was.  She pulled it out of her jacket and Mom and I began to laugh.  We laughed and laughed.  You could see that Mom was so relieved to know she wasn't nuts.  Of course, Carmen is standing there staring at us, not knowing what we are laughing about.  It just got funnier and funnier.  We laughed until Mom's side really did need to be grabbed.  The phone had apparently made a melodic sound for a message and then vibrated at intervals, going right up Mom's spine to her head.
I caught the cookie thief!
Again, I missed out on the Funniest Home Video prize winning tape!  Maybe one of you would like to follow me around and just film my days.  I think there is a winning video in there somewhere.  We can make a deal to split the prize money!
Again, Jeff making a grandma laugh!

Mom had done some exercises but had not walked any today, so when I offered to go to the store for her, we ended up deciding to both go.  Then Carmen decided to go with us, which really helped.  I took my basket to get a few things and Carmen and Mom filled her basket far beyond the two items she had asked me to pick up for her.  We would pass going down an aisle and Mom would start to laugh saying she just couldn't quit laughing about that cell phone.  It was a good evening and we all had a good time and bought some good food.
He loves to make others smile.

I do believe that laughter has great healing powers.  So in honor of that, throughout this blog, I have posted some photos from my cell phone and camera from over the last few months.  Maybe at least one of them will give you a laugh, or at least smile, and they just might make you feel better. Oh, and I do have Mom's permission to share her story here.  If you happen to hear giggles coming from her house tonight (or mine) it is just over the memory of her trying to figure out, why in the world was music coming out of her side?
Rice Krispie treats bring smiles

Sunday, December 28, 2014

December 28, 2014

A Chilly, Windy, Wet Sunday
With an Afternoon of Warmth
December 28, 2014

Two grandchildren added a lot of warmth to our Sunday afternoon.
Yesterday was warm and windy.  Overnight a cold front arrived and this morning was in the upper 40s with a light rain and winds.  Ron and I were a little late arriving for Sunday School.  I think the gray day just kept us moving slowly.  Class was good although attendance was down some.  Some of the people from our class were traveling, others were ill, and a few others arrived in time for the worship service.

About 10:15 I left the church to go get my mom to bring her to the worship service.  The rain was a little heavier and puddles had accumulated on her sidewalk and on the walkways at the church.  She later mentioned that she wished she had a video of us getting her loaded into my Suburban at her house.  She had her walker, her Bible, her purse, and an umbrella.  I just had my umbrella and my keys, having locked my purse in the car.  Her front gate on the deck needs two people to open it wide enough to get her walker through and the two doing it (Mom and me) each had our umbrellas and were trying to not get too wet.

At the end of her sidewalk a big puddle accumulates and I had soaked my feet going in to get her and was then trying to avoid the same situation coming to the car with her.  She got in the car and as I tried to get her coat out of the door before she closed it, the umbrellas were getting attracted to each other.  Mom suggested I not fold hers, but put it in the back seat as it was.  I tried.  It didn't fit.  I stepped on a clump of mud and about lost my footing, (but thankfully didn't).  The walker was trying to roll away.  We might could have gotten the prize on American's Funniest Home Videos, but I would probably have had to fall in order to win.  Not worth it!

I then stepped over the wide stream by the curb to open the back doors to put the walker in (which was again trying to leave without my approval.  The wind was helping it travel down the sidewalk.  I got the walker into the back of the car and folded my umbrella and just set it between me and my car door as I got in.  Did you notice that I did manage NOT to get my magnet from the Cochlear sound processor attached to the umbrella as I have in the past.  That would have been a mess.  I was out of hands and I think it would have ended up in the water.  Thankfully that did not happen.

We headed to the church and Mom said, "Maybe I should have just stayed home."  Yikes!  Not at this point!  If you know me well, you know that the cold was not bothering me at all.  I love the cooler temperatures and so I was fine without a sweater, but had encouraged Mom to wear her long coat to keep her outfit from getting wet since I already knew from experience mine was wet. 

The next thing was to decide where to unload Mom.  The church has a covered drop off spot, but it is a fair distance from the auditorium and I knew from earlier experience (soaking my feet earlier in the morning) that there was a big puddle on that walkway.  Also, knowing Mom, if I let her out under the awning, she would take off and not wait for me to help her along the way.  The handicapped spots closer to the auditorium were all taken except one that is a huge puddle and there was a huge puddle at the end of the walkway from the parking lot beside the handicapped spots.

We decided to go to the west side of the building to the entry not close to the auditorium (opposite side of the building from the awning) since that area is a little higher and there was no puddle.  I was able to back up to the walkway, opened my door and my umbrella that I put beside me fell out into the only muddy spot nearby.  I unloaded the walker, got Mom's umbrella out, helped her out of the car, and  let her start walking while I parked in a handicapped spot right beside where I had let her out.  Sure enough, she was almost to the auditorium by the time I caught up with her but there was less water on that sidewalk than the other one.

Maybe all that explained the low attendance today at church.  We do have a lot of older members and all those hurdles could be a challenge.  But a couple of rows behind us sat a couple who both use walkers and are much weaker than Mom and they beat us to church.  It is all in how much you want to be there.  It is easy to stay home with a cold, but when you look at some of the people who really have to struggle to be there, it makes us wonder about our own level of commitment.

When we got into the worship service, it had just started.  Our daughter-in-law was in the row I had left my things in before leaving to get Mom and it was a joy to have 3 of the grandchildren to sit with today (and their mom).  Our son was at home, ill, and the two youngest children stayed home with him.

After a very good service, Mom decided to accept a ride with a friend to go to lunch with "The Lunch Bunch" - a group she helped set up at our church where anyone can come along with them for Sunday lunch (dutch treat).  They vary the restaurants that they visit and the group runs about 15 most Sundays.  Many are singles who enjoy having someone to eat with.  The ages vary widely, but those who go have mostly become very faithful to the group and Mom misses it when she can't go.  The rain had stopped and they left to go join the bunch.

Our daughter-in-law and three of the children along with Ron and me, went to Wendy's for lunch and had a relaxing visit.  The oldest grandson was helping out after church and he had the oldest granddaughter with him.  After our lunch, two of the kids came home with us and had a quiet afternoon playing at our house.  The ones we brought with us were the 7 year old boy and the 9 year old girl.  They play really well together.  I got my General Store off the shelf and they spent a couple of hours playing with it.  I had recently bought a few new items for the store and they had fun making room for the new items.

Around 6:00, I took the kids home, visited a little while, and then came home to relax.  Ron had picked up a second small refrigerator at the office and we moved a few more items out of the big refrigerator that is not staying cold enough.  I read for a while and just rested.  Ron had snacked all afternoon so he didn't want me to fix any supper for him so I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich.

December 27, 2014

A Day for Catching Up
December 27, 2014

One of the snowmen in my small collection of snow people.

The last couple of weeks I had not gotten all the rest I needed or done all the housekeeping I should.  Today was a day for catching up on both things.  The housekeeper arrived before I was awake.  Ron let her in and woke me to tell me she had arrived.  I got up and started working on things she couldn't really help with like putting away new Christmas gifts, putting up the gift bags and boxes and the leftover wrapping paper, tags, and ribbons. 

Laundry was on my list of things to do and I got most of it done.  I spent about an hour working in the yard - something I had not done in 10 days or so.  I filled feeders, ponds, and watered plants.  The birds have not returned yet; I guess they got out of the habit when I wasn't keeping the feeders filled.

After the housekeeper left, the mailman arrived with a couple of boxes of gifts from our son and his wife in New Mexico, so we had a wonderful "rerun" of Christmas.  They sent some very thoughtful gifts and we will enjoy using them.  A very unique gift was in the box and that was a book of testimonies by Christian writers that includes one by our daughter-in-law, Vickey.  What a special treat.  Although she had shared it with me when she wrote it, it was fun to see it in print and to read some of the others in the book. 

Here is another fun thing from the box:
One of my favorites in the box from New Mexico is this 
Snoopy birdwatching Christmas ornament. 

Maybe it was all my thinking about snowmen, but it dawned on me the refrigerator was not cooling as it should be.  While I napped the afternoon away, Ron moved a small refrigerator we hadn't been using, into the house from the garage and after my nap, I transferred the most crucial things to it.  I will have to call a repairman Monday and see what the problem is.  We have just been hit time and time again the last few months with repair needs! 
I checked with Mom by phone and all was going well.  I didn't leave our place all day.  It was good to catch up on some housekeeping and napping.  During the evening I contemplated my next quilt project.  It may be to finish something that is in progress.

It is time to start gathering the Christmas decorations from all over the house.  I will hope to get them all gathered and the trees undecorated by next weekend.  It is a lot more fun to put them up than to take them down.

Late in the evening I did a little reading, talked to our daughter-in-law Vickey, and fixed us some supper. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

December 26, 2014

Ride 'em Cowboy!
And Cowgirls!
December 26, 2014

This was a different kind of day for me.  Our daughter-in-law invited me to go with her when she took the children for their horse riding lessons.  Three of them are taking lessons - the two oldest girls and the seven year old boy.  The girls started about a month or six weeks ago, but the 7 year old had his first lesson today.  I think he was a little apprehensive since he is a little shy and he is built small; to him, those horses must really look huge. 

These children LOVE to be outdoors.  They all scattered when we arrived.  Five of the children were with us and two had stayed home.  One of the boys took off to a far field to talk to the horses there in the pasture.  He spent most of the two hours we were there with them.
When we arrived, the owner was running a little behind schedule since she had let some employees off for the holidays.  We were in no hurry, so we enjoyed wandering around and exploring all the things available for the kids to do to keep busy.
A dirt pile with shovels and wheelbarrows kept some of them occupied. (He filled 3 before his lesson started!  And dug a trench across the dirt pile area.)

There were tire swings shaped like horses for the little one to swing on.
There was a tall ladder to help the kids climb the huge tree near the stable.
The main attraction of course, was the horses.  The youngest had been taught to let the horse smell her hand first and then to pet it.  She completely enjoyed getting to know each horse.
Before the lessons, they brushed the horses, combed the manes, and checked and cleaned the hoofs.  When the new rider of the bunch was shown how to take care of the hoofs, it turned out that his horse had injured his hoof and had to be treated and then taken to another area for further attention.  So another horse had to be chosen.  
They ended up swapping the horse one of the girls was to ride with the new one brought in since the new one to be used was a good bit larger.

There were balance exercises that they did and the teacher came over to tell my daughter-in-law that the 7 year old had been watching the girls during previous lessons because he knew just what to do on all of them.
He he goes, leading his horse out to the corral.
Ready to ride, and not real sure he really wants to at that point. 
 He did a great job.
The oldest granddaughter ready to ride.
All were now ready for the actual riding part of the lesson.


What a beautiful, restful place to spend the morning.  The kids love it and are in  hopes that some day that they can have horses, but they are learning with each lesson, how much work there is in having the horses and how many things must be done to care for them.

After the lesson, we picked up lunch on the way home and I ate with them before going to the office.  Once the mail arrived, I prepared a deposit and went to the bank.  From there I went to the grocery store for Mom and took her things to her house.  We visited for a while before I came home.  Ron was late getting home and so I had already eaten.

Today, as for the hearing, it was very windy at the stables and Barbara and I sat on plastic chairs chatting while the children rode.  The wind got so strong that I could not hear her over the sound of the wind being picked up by the Cochlear sound processor.  We had done fairly well in the beginning, but the wind was amazing.  At one point, the youngest grandchild was sitting in a chair beside Barbara and a gust of wind blew her and the chair over.  At that point I told Barbara we would have to finish the discussion inside because I just could no longer hear her over the wind.