Wednesday, December 28, 2016

December 28, 2016

Who Is the Person on Facebook
That Is doing a Countdown to 
Christmas 2017?
December 28, 2016

Ron needed a nap

Can you believe that some crazy, creative person is doing a countdown to Christmas 2017 on Facebook?  They are doing the number of days, hours, and minutes until the next Christmas!  Yikes!  I have only mailed about a dozen of my cards for this Christmas.  The wrapping paper and supplies are put away, but the trees are still up and the little village is still deep in artificial snow.  I am NOT ready to think about the next Christmas yet - well, except to think that the current plans are that all the family will be together next year.  
Our Christmas this year was rather quiet, but so nice.  I spent Saturday in the kitchen baking cookies for dessert on Christmas day and making fruit salad.  On Christmas Eve, Ron and I took supper to his mother and ate with her.  She doesn't like to leave her house and didn't want to go with us to McAllen on Christmas Day, but we had a good time visiting with her that evening.  Jeff's family had just left from surprising her with a visit and she was so delighted to have seen all of them.  

My mother had gone to Corpus Christi for Christmas.  My brother came to pick her up and then brought her home yesterday.  She was glad to be with him and his family, but several were sick and she wasn't feeling great, so it was hard on everyone - plans kept changing.

On Christmas Day we went to our son's home in McAllen for Christmas Dinner.  We arrived to the beautiful smells of a turkey cooking and the laughter of children.  I told my daughter-in-law that it smelled great in the kitchen and she said when they got home from church there was no smell of turkey roasting.  The power had gone off and the turkey was now behind schedule.  She had nutritious snacks set out and everyone nibbled for a while. 

Then we decided to open gifts (which is usually done after lunch) and enjoyed watching the children open the things we had taken for them.  They all were pleased with the items thanks to helpful suggestions from their mom.  It was getting close to 4:00 before we sat down to lunch, but it was worth the wait.  The turkey was perfect and everything else was yummy.

The late afternoon was spent relaxing and watching the children playing inside and outside in the nice South Texas weather.  It was a good visit and we hated to head home, but it was necessary.  We opened the office Monday about noon and it was a slow day.  

Tuesday, I spent much of my day with medical stuff.  I had an appointment scheduled with the Nurse Practitioner and had a list of things to talk to her about.  One complaint was shortness of breath.  One of the newer medications listed that as a side effect, but after a couple of tests and a chest x-ray she said my childhood asthma had returned and gave me a couple of new medications.  Oh, yippie.  (Not)

Then there were a couple of back and hip x-rays ordered to try to find out if there was something that could help the pain I have been having.  I guess it will be a while until I get those results.  I stayed home after that and slept the rest of the day away.

Today it was catch up day at the office working my way through a stack of paperwork.  I found some errors - mine and the bank's.  They aren't supposed to make them and especially when they are just enough to be irritating and not really important.  Just took a while to find the 40 cents!

When we went to Houston earlier this month to have my Cochlear sound processor reprogrammed, (they do it once a year), it seemed OK but the audiologist suggested we try it out a bit before heading home.  I should have found a small room to try it out.  In large areas it is fine, but in small areas I seem to get almost an echo.  We will probably be going to Houston in a couple of months for work related classes, and I hope I can work in an adjustment at that time.

Friday, December 23, 2016

December 22, 2016

It Is Almost Christmas!
December 22, 2016

The month continues to fly by and I am picturing myself holding on to a pole in a subway going 90 miles an hour as we sail along on the track heading toward Christmas Day.  Tonight I am more relaxed than I have been in a while.  Yesterday, with the help of my husband who took a load of packages to UPS and to the post office to get them on their way to our sons and their families, I can relax a little - or maybe a lot.  What a load that was off my mind.  I told Ron I owed him supper and he said if I would drive, he would accept.  We went to San Benito to the Longhorn Cattle Company and had Bar-B-Que.  It was a relaxing meal in a quiet corner.  The place was busy, but the other diners were talking softly at their tables. It was a nice evening.  The doors that are all around the rooms, were open to the night air and I was very comfortable with the temperature in my short-sleeved shirt.  (Of course Ron had on several layers of clothing and his coat.)

I don't mean to indicate that buying gifts, giving gifts, etc. is a load and a burden.  I put the pressure on myself usually by not getting things done in a timely manner.  As long as I can remember, I have not liked to go to the post office to mail packages and it is harder now as they seem to have a long list of questions to ask: are there any batteries? is there anything breakable?; are there any weapons?; on and on while I can't understand most of the questions as they rattle them off rapidly.  I love the special days - all of them: Christmas, Valentine's Day, birthdays, etc. but with our children so scattered it gets harder and harder to shop for them since we are rarely able to be in their homes to see what they like and need or want.

One daughter-in-law and I have similar tastes so she is usually the easiest to buy for.  Another has chosen one type of item that she likes for me to buy for her on gift giving occasions and I enjoy looking for those all year long.  Others are not as easy to shop for.  I am not in search of "the perfect gift".  I just want to give them something they will enjoy and will not consider added clutter in their lives.  Even my husband is hard to buy for.  This time I think I got it right.  I gave him his gift a couple of days ago - a little early.  He does not enjoy having to put up outdoor decorations, but tonight he said, "My kind of decoration.  You plug it in and walk away."
My gift to Ron this year for Christmas

The only perfect gift ever given to the world, was a baby in a stable over 2,000 years ago and he was sent to us by God our Heavenly Father.  For us, the gift is free.  All we have to do is accept it.  God gave His only son to come to earth as a baby and that son, Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth for 33 years before dying on a cross to pay for my sins and yours.  Sometimes we can get caught up in the decorations and gift buying, the parties and parades of the season and not take time to remember the true meaning of what Christmas is all about. 

So, why do we exchange gifts at Christmas time?  That is a question that has many answers - some make more sense than others.  For me, it is a mixture of tradition and love.  It is hard not to become caught up in the commercialization of this Holy Day.  Over the years I have heard how different families celebrate the time.  Some open gifts the night before to keep Christmas day focused on Christ.  One year we included a mother and her daughters at our Christmas dinner who did not believe in exchanging gifts at all.  Sometimes a gift I give may be more about memories than something useful or needed.  That is what happened with my gift to my Mom this year.

Mom was not going to put up a tree this year.  She was going to be out of town.  Her first plans fell through due to a couple of doctor's appointment that took priority over the trip to my sister's house.  So she got out a few decorations, but then my brother invited her to his home.  So she was going to be gone just a short time compared to a longer stay in Idaho.  Growing up, one year we had a unique Christmas tree.  For some reason that seemed also forgotten, Mom spray painted our Christmas tree florescent orange and then decorated it all in silver.  She had silver chains, silver ornaments, and a silver ball suspended over the top of the tree.
Mom putting hooks on ornaments as we decorated her tree
At the time, we kids we appalled!  How could she?  It was in the late 1950s and it was very "modern", but where was our green tree with the usual ornaments?  Yet now, 55+ years later, it is the tree we all talk about and remember.  All the green ones seem the same in our memories. Shopping earlier this month while in Dallas, we came upon an orange Christmas tree.  It was not florescent orange, but close enough.  As I debated buying it for Mom, my husband just picked it up and put it in our cart.  At home, I bought decorations for it all in silver.  I could not replicate all of them, but did the best I could and took it to Mom one evening earlier this month.
Mom with her orange Christmas tree
What memories it brought out!!  She loved it!  She thought it was perfect.  She helped as I decorated the little tree and at one point she asked me why we painted it florescent orange.  My reply, "We, pale face?"  (You have to be a certain age to understand that comment - think Lone Ranger.)   As we talked, it seems the most likely answer was that the tree was so straggly, as many were in those days, that it needed help.  By the striking color and the contrasting ornaments, each ornament became showcased as it hung on the tree.  Precious memories make a great gift for adults.

There are still a few odds and ends on my shopping list and I plan to be out tomorrow morning taking care of those.  It would be nice to be finished with the hustle and bustle of crowded stores, but there were just too many other things going on this year - several out of town trips this fall. 
Our son and his wife in McAllen
Since my last posting, we have made a trip to McAllen to spend last Sunday afternoon with our son's family there.  They are all staying busy.  Some had been working on putting together a new swing set for the younger children.  It was becoming a challenging project especially when the dogs wanted to chew up some parts.  The visit was fun and relaxing.  Using the Cochlear phone clip is great.  I wish the battery had a longer life than it does, but it is good until the battery runs down and needs to be recharged.

We have had dinner out with our friends, Pat and Dennis.  Pat and I spent one Saturday afternoon and the following Monday evening working on a gift she was making for one of her grandchildren.  It is so much fun to work on projects with friends.  This one turned out great and I think the little granddaughter will enjoy it for years to come.  It is another of those memory gifts. 
Fabric photo book

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December 13, 2016

I Think I Have Already 
Celebrated A Family Christmas
December 13, 2016

Dallas - Fall/Christmas
Mid- December!
Almost no gifts have been bought, delivered, or exchanged.  Almost no traditional Christmas "goodies" have been eaten.  No Christmas cards have been written!  So why do I feel I have already celebrated a family Christmas?  The last few weeks have been packed solid with family time.  There have been so many wonderful memories shared and new ones created.  I can see it has been almost 10 days since my last posting and I don't have to ask where those days have gone.  They have gone into my heart and memory.
The trees were beautiful
Starting late last month, we went to San Antonio for a weekend and during that time we were able to attend church with our son and daughter-in-law on a Sunday when David (our son) was singing a solo with the choir special.  His multi-talented wife, Diana runs the camera that broadcasts their church services live on Sunday mornings.  We sat on the top row of the balcony to be beside her while she served the Lord by helping to bring their services to those who can not be in the auditorium each Sunday. 
One of the tired children after a day of play
December started with the McAllen Christmas parade (they call it a holiday parade, but we all know what it really is).  That is where I left off with my last blog posting.  On Monday following the Christmas parade, I took Mom to the dermatologist to have a place removed from her leg following a biopsy report that said it needed to be done.  That evening I packed after my day at the office, and on Tuesday morning returned to McAllen to care for six grandchildren for a couple of days.  Their mom had made a quick, fun trip with her mom to have a little time together during this busy time of the year.  The children and I had so much fun.  They were on their best behavior and full of ideas and energy.  One day was gray and gloomy outside and the next was a beautiful day to be outside for a while.
One of the three children now playing on basketball teams
Our son was home in the evening.  He texted me about the time I got home from taking one of the girls to her ballet class and offered to pick up supper for all of us.  I gladly accepted his offer and later we all sat down for a pizza supper.  He spent time with the children before they were headed to bed and he and I had a little time to visit one-on-one (a rare occurrence).  I am sure his wife feels the same way.
They set up this obstacle course for fun
On Wednesday about noon I had to leave there and go to San Benito and then Harlingen for a sonogram and blood work for my thyroid doctor visit tomorrow.  That night it was time to do laundry so I could pack Thursday night for our trip to Dallas on Friday.  We left just after noon Friday and drove to Temple stopping at our favorite place for supper along the way in Round Rock. 
Magnolia Market in Waco
Saturday morning Ron agreed to take me to a place I had been eager to see and shop in, Magnolia Market in Waco.  I bought a few small items and we got some photos on a very chilly morning - it had been 28 degrees overnight.  The day was beautiful though and after my shopping we went on to Dallas and stopped at the Christian book store where Stephen works, Logos, near the Southern Methodist University campus.
Fall colors and Christmas decorations in the middle of December

A surprise baby shower had been planned for his wife by some friends from their church and a few who were not going to be able to attend had delivered packages to the Logos store.  We picked those up and took them to our hotel room to keep Kristina from being able to see them if he had taken them home. 
The leaves were falling with each gust of wind
Dallas was having it's first real cold spell of the season and the trees had turned beautiful shades of yellow, orange, red, and purple.  We took a few photos of the fall foliage next to the Christmas decorations.  At the store there was a display for the day of beautiful hand crafted silver jewelry and I was able to select a piece I had been wanting.  This one is by Jack Hall from Seabrook,Texas and I enjoyed chatting with his wife who was in the store to represent him at the display. 
My new necklace drop that I selected
Our hotel check-in was next on the list of to-do items.  We needed to stash the gifts before we went to Stephen's and Kristina's.  After visiting with them for a while at their house, and seeing the great progress on the nursery, we went to eat and then to do a little shopping. Back at their house, Ron helped Stephen with some household repairs and then we ordered pizza late that night.
The proud parents-to-be
Sunday morning was worship and Sunday School at Stephen and Kristina's church.  I was able to use my Cochlear microphone clip and must have been near a speaker, because although we were near the back of a very large auditorium, I could hear the entire service very well.  We went to lunch and took some photos before saying our good-byes.  Kristina thought we were heading to Houston where I had scheduled an appointment with the audiologist for Monday, but actually we were returning to the hotel to load up those lovely gifts again and head to the baby shower. 
So in love!
Kristina was very surprised by the shower, but I think even more surprised to see us there.  Ron and Stephen left as the shower started.  The decorations were great, the food was way too good, and the friends are treasures that are precious to Stephen and Kristina.  My sister, Janet, was able to come from her home north of Fort Worth for the shower and that allowed me to spend time with her this Christmas season.  After the shower, we loaded those now very familiar gifts and returned to Stephen and Kristian's.  We were all tired, but on our last visit, they introduced us to a favorite eating spot of theirs, Matt's Mexican Food.  We happily agreed to return there for supper before closing our visit so all of us could get some much needed rest.  I think I had better stop at this point and pick up the rest later.
Still in love after 51 1/2 years
All I can say is, if the family part of Christmas stopped right now, I could not complain, except that we have not been able to see Bob and Vickey.  First and foremost, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Christ child who came to earth to eventually pay the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross so that we could spend eternity in Heaven.  That celebrating is extra special when we can be with family for that time of the year. 
My sister at the baby shower for our daughter-in-law
This year Stephen and Kristina are not able to travel and must stay close to their home.  None of us had done our shopping so we did not celebrate Christmas while we were in Dallas, but we were celebrating the soon to-be, birth of a male child who is very special to us already.  As I watch the excitement on the faces of our son and his wife, how much more excited must Mary have been to be carrying the Christ Child.  If you have never heard the song, Mary, Did You Know?, may I suggest that you do a search (google or your favorite search site) and listen to this song that touches my heart every time I hear it.
 The four of us who ate, shopped, and visited
 away the few hours we had to be together.

Monday, December 5, 2016

December 4, 2016

Busy Days - Fun Days
December 4, 2016

The last few days have been again filled with assorted activities.  Thursday night it dawned on me that it was the first of the month and I had not done the billing.  I blame it on car trouble that meant I didn't get to the office until early afternoon.  Anyway, that meant that my Friday was spent doing paperwork and I was able to get the bills to the post office at the end of the day.  On the way to the office Friday, I just could not resist stopping to take photos of some white pelicans close to the office.

Mom was not feeling well so we did not go to supper.  Instead I went to do some shopping.  Some was birthdays and some was Christmas.  I felt good about finally starting on the Christmas shopping and hope that the purchases will please the recipients.  Not having had any little girls, I always enjoy shopping for clothes for our granddaughters.

Saturday morning I was up a little earlier than normal for me, but a little later than planned.  I started baking a couple of cakes; one for Jeff's birthday and one for his youngest daughter's birthday.  I didn't have time to get into fancy decorating, so only did a little one our granddaughter's cake.  Her dad requested a cherry chip cake and I found a mix but not the frosting so I made my own (which I do for most cakes, but not for cherry chip. 

I put a ham in the oven and about 1:45 we loaded everything and drove to McAllen for a late lunch and the Christmas parade.  Our daughter in law added to the meal and we had a great lunch.  We should have left a little earlier for the parade because she could not get into the VIP lot to use her VIP parking sticker.  Roads were already blocked.

Barbara let us off near the stadium where the parade starts and then she found a parking place and joined us.  We were still well before parade time.  We watched the activities going on and enjoyed the concert put on the the Fighting Texas Aggie Band before the parade.  Then they led the parade.  McAllen rents parade balloons from the Macy's parade; this is the third year for doing that and they are a big hit. 

This year our seats were excellent - Row 2.  We could see all the parade entries up close.  The only down side was have the filming crew in front of us a lot of the time and blocking a bit of the view, but the kids were delighted.  One of our granddaughters enjoys photography and she got some awesome photos.  She has a great eye for unique shots.

It was windy during the parade and the handlers had to fight with some of the balloons.  The taller they were, the more trouble they were.  The parade would pass us, then curve around the end of the track in the stadium and pass the stands on the other side before going out on the street for about 1 1/2 mile stretch going down Bi-Centennial Blvd.  On our side, the wind was a little problem, but on the other side it was a real battle and at least one balloon had to be pulled before the parade got to the street. 

After the parade we returned to our son's home.  We never did see him as he was working on the parade all day.  We stayed a while hoping to have birthday cake with him, but when he texted it would still be another hour, we headed on home about 10:30. 

On the way home we were able to get an update from our youngest son about their most recent doctor's appointment to find out their little baby due in about 2 1/2 months is growing well and getting strong.  We are excited about this newest addition to the family that will be here soon.  We will be visiting them soon.

It was late when we got home after a damp drizzle much of the way.  I forgot to mention that as it did two years ago, a cold front arrived just as the end of the parade was leaving the stadium with a brief rain shower.  The shower only lasted a couple of minutes and then it was just cooler and windy.

Sunday morning I was late getting up so Ron left before I did.  I still got to Sunday School class about the time they were ready to start the lesson.  We have just started a study in Joshua and it was an excellent introduction this morning.  The worship service was a Christmas musical.  Our church had joined with another church and presented the musical at the other church Friday night and our church this morning.  There was a good crowd and many visitors. 

Many times before in this blog I have mentioned about my difficulties with hearing music correctly, especially new music.  This was almost all new music this morning and it was impossible to understand the words.  If it had been familiar music, it would have been easier.  The presentation was attractive and well done. 

After church I came home and Ron went to get his Mom's lunch and take care of some things for her.  I was ready for a nap by the time he got home and slept for 6 hours.  Of course, now I can't get to sleep.

The week ahead promises to be another busy one.  My mom has a doctor's appointment tomorrow.  It is at an office close to our office so it won't take long.  Next, I will be taking care of the grandchildren for two days and then I have a couple of appointments for tests Wednesday before my thyroid doctor's appointment next week.

Several projects are in progress and I hope to have a little time to work on them this week.  Much to do and much I want to do.  Hope your week is a good one.
 One of our grandsons warming up after the parade.