Saturday, December 27, 2014

Change of Venue

Christmas Eve with Granny Wandy moved this year to Aunt Tish's new digs.  Good times! Thanks for hosting Aunt Tish.
Pictures for Granny.

Goodness she has a lot of people and this is only about half of them.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Love and Joy

God bless the master of this house,
Likewise the mistress too,
And all the little children 
That round the table go.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you glad Christmas too,
And God Bless you, and send you a 
Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

Well, in the best of times, Christmas can be hectic. It is a strange mix of love and joy, and grief and anxiousness, and well, I suppose you know the drill.  This message brought such comfort to  me on this precious remembrance day and helped to lift my funk.
As is our tradition of the last six years, Christmas with family has been celebrated-  with my children last Sunday, with Ol' Mother Hubbard and the Cupboard on Tuesday, and with Mom and my siblings yesterday.
Here are every one of mine in present opening melee.
 We slip into those jammies speedy quick.
 My brown eyed beauties.
Umm, just a little  more fudge please. 

The morning after.  
Those that wish to, spend the night.  Bean and Bugg have spent every post Christmas party night with me since we started this Sunday before tradition. This was Mr. Smiley's first night from Mama and Papa.  He was great. He wakes at 5:30 and Mama usually re-pacifies him and back to sleep he goes. Pappy and I knew it was the calm before the storm, so I snuck out and got his bottle and a couple of toys and we brought him in our bed to laugh, coo and make us smile big before the older ones woke up.   Bean got a minute with him too, but I must tell you that Giddy-up keeps Mr. Bean very busy.  He is so very good with him. They painted, built cars from Legos and raced for a very long time.
 Perhaps there wasn't a child any more excited this Christmas Eve than one Uncle Jimi, who made it home to his boys for another Christmas- one, that for many days, I doubted was ever going to be again.
So, it is here- Christmas.
Color me 

And it bears repeating-

God bless the master of this house,
Likewise the mistress too,
And all the little children 
That round the table go.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you glad Christmas too,
And God Bless you, and send you a 
Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pah Rump a Pum Pum and On We Go

A whirring dervish season. Gwanfader brought a fancy cookie tray and kit to the Gingerbread Party and I saved it  for a Playdate activity.  Last Tuesday we enjoyed creating a snowman and playing with parachutes.

Wednesday evening was the school Christmas program. Kudos to Ms. Glitzy and her team for a heartfelt message and much Christmas cuteness. 
Thursday evening I visited Uncle Jimi. It was astounding and wonderful to see the progress he'd made in only three days.  Ol' Mother Hubbard and the chicklets were finally able to visit.  
Sometimes you have your camera AND you remember to use use it- hurrah! 
 Happy campers all!

All month, I've just done the next thing. Very little being ahead of the game for me this December. So Friday morning found my desk covered with the gifts for my class.  I am so blessed to have had enjoyed small classes these past two  years.  Often, during our Advent Teas, my students have experienced hot tea for the first time and many really enjoy it.  This year I decided their gift, in addition to the traditional 3D glasses and knitting needles, would be their very own china tea cup and we'd continue to have afternoon teas throughout the winter months.  Inside each cup was a bear of our honey.

Next, we were off to Mass, to share the last of the very many songs and readings we learned and practiced again and again this month.
 And, each angel stitchery for their families was completed on time, under Gardener E's expertise.  I just received a Christmas card from the family of two wonderful boys I got to teach, one for two years.  He graduated this past spring.  His mom mentioned getting out the Christmas art they did in fourth and fifth grade.  So sweet.

Another nine weeks and semester done.  Time to prepare for my home Christmas.

While rejoicing mightily at Jimi's recovery, I've alternated being a teary mess.  Giddy-Up and Mr. Smiley, Michael and Rae-Rae learned on Sunday that their sweet Grammie didn't wake up Sunday morning.  She was just with us at Thanksgiving, loving up on those babies and asking me for my coconut cream pie recipe.  How missed she will be. Heartfelt sympathy to the Bailey's and Peterson families this Christmas.
Gwanfader and my sister-in-law are saying a very sad, "Good-bye,"  to her precious sister Renee. 
 My Andrea and Arie, who lost Arie's father just weeks ago, got a scare when Andrea's husband experienced a heart attack this week. Thankfully, he is on the mend.
Life, oh my, doesn't stop for Christmas does it? 
And, next.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Winter Joys and Woes

This month was rapidly slipping by without the usual candy making done, so I took Saturday to try and get it knocked out.  The fudges of Christmas-black walnut, peanut butter/chocolate, plain chocolate, coconut  and toffee.  Between my encouragers, Handy Man and Gardener E., I got them done, along with Merry Berry Freeze and Strawberry Fluff.  And I cooked dinner. Woo Hoo!
Then it was time to wrap gifts for our sibling brunch.  I love beautifully wrapped gifts, but here's the deal, if I'm going to go to the trouble to do beautiful wrapping I either want it under the tree for a couple of weeks for me to enjoy, or I want to give it to someone who will "oooooh," and "aaawww," over it bit before ripping into my herculean artistic endeavor.  That doesn't seem to work out often so they usually just get stuffed in a sack.  I spent a bit of time on these. I enjoy it when I have a minute.
 Before the fudge making marathon, Handy Man and I had to run to the grocery.  When we were in Aldi's he pointed out this hard candy in jars.  I love old fashioned candy in jars.  I commented that they were very pretty and he wanted me to get one.  I then remembered my precious Giddy-Up, who has a terrible reaction to red dye 40.  I didn't want anything pretty to look at that he couldn't have, so I was about to pass it up.  For kicks and giggles, I checked the ingredient list.  It is a German made product and lo and behold is colored with such crazy things as beets, elderberries and turmeric.  No. Red. Dye.
Hooray for Pap's good eye.  I asked, "How much are they?" Pap said, "Just get it!" So I did ( actually, very reasonable).

Poor Rae Rae has some miserable winter yuck.  I told her I'd feed her men if she wanted to send them over.  Mr. Smiley has an early bedtime, so only Giddy-Up and Papa came for dinner.  Giddy-up was excited about candy with no bad, bad red dye. He particularly liked the oval ones that he said were footballs.  Three year olds are so about sorting you know. Then he wanted all the footballs in a jar for him. I told him I had a very special football jar. We found enough to fill it up, so he thought another jar was in order.  Next a jar was needed for some green and red trees and then just one jar more, ahem.
His Papa tells him stories about elves and dwarves and such at bedtime.  He spied the snowmen graham crackers and told me they were dwarves.  I got some white icing for snow, then some silver sprinkles for, well you know, silver that the dwarves mine. I so enjoyed his company.  And that son-in-law of mine is a prince.  I never have them for dinner or do anything that he isn't so appreciative.  I love that.

When you are in a school where all parts of Christmas can be celebrated, we don't take it lightly and celebrate in big ways with musicals, Advent and teas.  I love it, but it is stressful, so I really enjoyed a little time to just play with my sweet boy.
I have the crud too. Just common cold sort, no fever.  Second time this fall/winter-highly unusual for me, and quite unappreciated I might add.
After our sibling brunch Sunday, I visited Jimi.  The atmosphere was a bit tense and charged.  Bless his heart, he's managed this well, but today was eight weeks and I could see he was about at the end of his tether.  When you can't get anywhere by yourself and when Kindred Care offers zero therapies on the weekends, the days are very long.  Well, today they moved him to rehab.  In one respect that was wonderful news and exactly what he needed (us too, it's on this side of the river).  On the other hand, in eight weeks they weren't really able to get his meds right and keep his levels stable, so it is equally terrifying for him to be in a whole new place where once again,  no one knows him or his situation.  I would appreciate prayers for wisdom for those providing his medical care and for his continued healing.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Oh Blogginess, Take Me to My Happy Place

So, I tried getting a not so dumb phone and have had nothing but trouble since, only to discover that said phone cannot be activated.  Likely, it can't be returned. I ordered it to come over Thanksgiving break so I would have time to learn to use it and activate on a day I was home long enough to get it done. Under the circumstances with Jimi, I did not feel I could be phoneless.  Alas, my mailman delivered it to the wrong house, didn't manage to find it for a week and delivered it with no time for me to do anything about it.  Now, I am past the bit of time allotted to report a failure to activate. Stink!
Why wasn't I available?  Well, I have a job, a brother who needs my time and some wee folk wanting to do our traditional activities.
When Bugg was here for Advent she noticed my bare tree and said she wanted to help decorate it like last year, so she came on Friday evening and we decorated the tree.
Then it was time to turn out the gingerbread houses.   I thought she would play on the computer while I put the houses together, as they are  tedious.

 No, she wanted to assemble and she did.  How absolutely marvelous to have an accomplice in house building.  That's a part of the whole tradition that I don't enjoy, and have mostly done single handedly these many (25+) years.
 Now, perhaps there were a few houses that looked like the crooked man that walked a crooked mile, but that concrete icing kept them together, and when they were covered in candy, who knew?

 Next, she sorted all the candy, so we were ready to go on Saturday.  I came home from school that day wiped out, so I was most grateful for some good help.
 And, they are off.

 Missy Toddles didn't think tasty treats should be wasted on a house.
" Umm, Gramerly," says Mr. Smiley, "Where is the candy?"  Talk to your mama son.

 This bigger house was created for Uncle Jimi. Jakester was there to supervise the creation and each little one added his/her favorite candy.

 My little elf with her creation.

 I always have a few little crafts for them to do as well.
As an act of mercy to parents for  endless sugar sampling, I took them out to feed and chase chickens and look at the creek and, oh of course, swing a bit.
Uncle Jimi continues to improve, losing one thing after another that he's connected to.  He is still facing much rehab and difficulty stabilizing all levels all the time.  Wow, six weeks. 
For years, he was the calendar and flashlight man.  Everyone over eighteen received a calendar with important family dates filled in. Those under eighteen received a flashlight.  He believes he's feeling up to some calendar creating, so I bought the supplies this evening after spending WAY TOO MUCH TIME on the phone trying to activate that new phone.  I was glad to see him wanting something to do.
That stirs a little flashlight memory.  The first year he went the flashlight route he bought Rae Rae something girly.  She was the first girl in a long string of boys and several boys followed.  Lands, she was devastated. She wanted a flashlight like the boys.  From then on, girl or boy, they all got a flashlight and they were always the favored gift of Christmas Eve at Granny's. I think they are all kind of sad when they turn eighteen and get a calendar.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

After the Turkey

After Thanksgiving, it is always turkey salad and the first advent .  I do like it to look a bit like Christmas and had little time and much to do before moving into Christmas.  I realized my outdoor decorations were quite pitiful. Handy Man took me to buy a few new pretties and we cleaned and cleaned.  I was glad to get so much accomplished.
Ms. Gardner E. enjoyed a wee concert from our newest Little Drummer Boy.  That baby is on the move and checking out everything.

 Great Grandma Betty was able to join the festivities.  I love this look on Giddy-up's face. "Umm, you are interrupting my play for another picture?  Really?
Well, I got a lot done, but sadly a still very bare tree.  It smelled good.

 Time to light the candle and read one of Gramerly's most favorite books, Who was Born on that Special Night? I was having a tough time reading and wrestling Mr. Smiley Drummer Boy, so Bean said, "Here, I'll read it."
Wow, they are growing and growing.  
How do you count the days to Christmas?

Jimi is ever so much better.  Praying stability continues, so he can lose the trach and feeding tube as quickly as possible.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

December is Here

We enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at Rae and Michael's.  Michael gathered us round to pray before the meal and began by telling us he had chosen a special prayer when Giddy-up threw out his arms broke through the crowd and crossed over to his parents declaring, "No, I'm it!"  He then proceeded to fold his hands and pray, "Lord, thank you for the turkey. And for Uncle Jimi in the hospital, (very emphatically) he needs a break! Amen.    That was it, everything covered in his mind.  In case you didn't know, the turkey he was thanking the Lord for was the turkeys we made out of cookies and caramels the other night, the only turkey Giddy-up touched.  Sweet. Later, when I shared the story with Jimi, I thought he would laugh his head off.  It was so good to see him so tickled.
Now my favorite turkeys are the ones you see here.
 After a feast of turkeys of one kind or another I broke out some crafty goodness and we enjoyed painting ornaments and paper and tablecloths and our very own selves.
 We got to share Thanksgiving with Michael's family and pictured here is his adorable little niece.

I had been to the hospital earlier in the day on Thanksgiving,  to find Jimi in good spirits.  There is no good day to be as sick as he was and no bad day to make a miraculous recovery, but the timing of his arise from the abyss has been quite hampered by the holiday.  There is strict protocol at the ol' Kindred for getting rid of the trach.  This involves capping the trach in the presence of the speech therapist and the patient handling it well for thirty minutes, three days in a row.  Well the speech therapist came and did her thing Wednesday, and he handled it fine, then left, not to return until today.  Gee whiz.  So he spent the holiday weekend trying to convince someone to get him another ice bag for his shoulder, ahem.
I'm so very grateful for his amazing return to the land of the living, but I am so very sorry for anyone who is very needy that gets moved to rehab. All we do is fight for him.  Just when I had started to recover from the last experience, here we are, knee deep in tug of war trying to get him the care he needs.  Tish is going to need some care of her own before this is over.  Handy Man keeps me going- so blessed by him.
Today was some sadness of a different kind.  After the Captain got his first weimaraner, Gandee, someone wanted rid of their girl Gracee and she came to live with the Cpt., Ceece, and Gandee.  The life expectancy for those dogs is about nine years.  She was the darnedest old dog.  In her life she has eaten the most remarkable and disgusting things and lived not nine or ten or eleven years, but thirteen years!  I thought she'd live forever, but alas, today we said good-bye to that old girl.  That Gracee-girl so loved her people and they will miss her so very much.  I bought them a garden stone that says, "LOVE is a four-legged word."  
Happy to have all the Advent calendars and books delivered.  Yes, December is here.