Giving Thanks

7 December 2013

Counting my blessing! For the first time in several years, we had all of our children and most of our grandchildren together for Thanksgiving. It was great!

We actually couldn't all be together on Thanksgiving day, so we enjoyed dinner with our son, Bob, daughters, Laura and Susy, and their families plus Laura's in-laws. Then, on Friday night, we had pie (More than we could eat!) and everyone was able to make it for that. I had brought home 6 different pie tins from my Mother's house and as part of our "pie night" I gave each of the kids one of their grandmother's pie tins. She was well known for her pies - and used to make pies for us every time she came to visit.

The Saturday after T-day, Alice and Penny (Laura's twins) turned three, so, we also had cake with our pie — to celebrate.

A Big Transition

7 December 2013
We moved to this house when I was in the fourth grade

Just a few days after my August 19-post, my mother had a stroke — so, the time she spent in that nice, assisted-living home we found for her was cut very short. She was there barely two months. After a week in the hospital, she was transferred to a rehab center in New Haven, MO and after that, she pretty steadily declined until her death.

On Sep 28, I made a trip to MO to work with my siblings on sorting out and packing up our mother's home in order to prepare it for sale. Of course, I went to see Mom several times during the 10 days I was there. Once, as I entered the facility, I saw the back of a tiny, frail, white-haired woman in a wheelchair, near the nurses station, who was rocking back and forth and was bumping into the half-wall around the nurses station. I thought, "Look at that poor, little old woman." and continued past her to locate my Mom. Then, when I came back around, I realized that poor, little old woman was my mother. It was heartbreaking.

Even though we chose the facility we thought was the best in the area, it was still distressing. (The few on staff who are good, are doing such an incredible service — yet, there are not enough of them.) It's difficult, even in the best of these places, to get good care for a loved one. Seemed like we were constantly having to ask for the most basic of services. The biggest help seemed to be that my nephew is a doctor, so the staff was willing to do more if he asked. Plus, my sister-in-law is a nurse, and she was good at pushing for better care. Still, it was a constant battle.

Back at Mom's house, with me and four of my siblings working together, we made pretty quick work of all the packing and clearing. Unfortunately, since my brother, Jim, is the one who lives closest, he has to deal with finishing up everything. At least we got it to a point where it will be a little easier for him and he plans to contact an auction house to see if they will take what's left — before he puts the house on the market.

Mom died on Oct 25 and the viewing and funeral were held the following weekend, Nov 1 and 2. Bob and I flew to Missouri (my fourth trip since mid-May) and four of our kids were also able to join us there.

Thankfully, my Mom had prearranged everything, so, it made our task pretty easy. Her funeral arrangements were pre-paid, as well as her cemetery plot. The only thing we had to pay for was the fee for opening the grave. She had already written her own obituary and had outlined her funeral service, detailing who she wanted to have sing as well as who was to give the eulogy.

Me and my siblings, at the dinner held following Mom's funeral, Nov 2, 2013

Given the mix of various, potentially-volatile, family dynamics, I think everything went really well.

I was pleased that our son, John, was asked to give the dedicatory prayer at the grave site. And, I helped out by writing and sending out all the thank you cards for the family afterward. Most of the cards were mailed before we left Missouri, since I had time at the motel in the evening.

It's been difficult for me to get to the point of posting about this. It's a big transition knowing that I am now part of the oldest generation left in the family. I'm still adjusting. . .

Making Progress

19 August 2013

Our household goods were delivered two weeks ago, and I've been making steady progress with the unpacking, sorting, etc. Some of our kids have helped, and a couple of ladies from church also helped with part of it. But, there's still plenty left to do. . .

Bob has been in VA since before the moving van arrived, so I've mostly been going it alone. Am looking forward to the day when I can say, "It's done!"

We received a tremendous blessing after we closed and before our furnishings arrived. Once we closed I began meeting with painters to get estimates for painting the inside of the house. And, I hated that we wouldn't be able to get it painted before our stuff arrived. (It's SO much harder to paint once everything is in place.) The last painter I met with asked me, "What if I brought a crew in and painted it this weekend?" Wow! I never imagined that would be possible! I said, "I hate for you to work on Sunday because we don't ever work on Sunday." So, he said, "I'll bring in extra men and we'll do it all on Saturday." So I told him that if his estimate worked with my budget, we had a deal! He gave me the estimate within a few hours after we met and it was the lowest one I got. The entire house was painted, including the ceilings, on the Saturday before we moved in - and they did a good job!! I am so grateful that was able to be done!!

I sent Bob this picture as evidence of some of the work I've done in the past couple of weeks:
And, of course, I've added to the pile since I took this. Yesterday, a woman and her brother brought her mini van and his truck and took all the boxes except four wardrobe boxes and some mirror/picture boxes. They also didn't want most of the packing paper, so I worked with them to pack the paper into trash bags and break down the boxes so they could take them. Whew! Nice to have that much gone as well. It seems more do-able to clear out the boxes and bags that are left. (Our new recycling service told us they will only take up to four boxes a week, so I really needed to be able to give all of this away.)

We have family coming to visit for Labor Day weekend, so that has given me another push for getting everything in order. Glad Bob will be here at the end of the week to help with what's remaining!

This Saturday is our 45th wedding anniversary. I imagine we'll spend it doing something exciting and glamorous — like weeding the yard, trimming the shrubs, and unpacking more boxes! :-)

Slow and steady . . .

16 July 2013

 We're down to our final days in Virginia and are looking forward to getting settled in North Carolina. And, I find myself feeling antsy for the next couple of weeks to be past. (Where's that magic wand when you need it?) I've made numerous lists and ticked the boxes beside each completed item. We have gone through all the assorted steps of selling one house and buying another (except for the final closings) and we've scheduled the movers and the final move-out cleaning.

The house we're buying in NC will be our ninth one. We've rented quite a few places during our (almost) 45 years of marriage — but, this house will be the ninth we've owned.

And, right now feels like limbo. Physically and emotionally, we've begun disconnecting from people, associations and businesses where we are — so, we're not really "here" in the way you are when you're living somewhere — but, we're not yet there, either. It's bittersweet.

The moving truck will load us a week from tomorrow, and, we close in NC on July 31. Since we have a whole week between closings, we've decided to take our time getting to NC and to make the trip a kind of mini-vacation. I've been planning for a while, now, to visit the state archives in Richmond — to do some genealogical research — so, that's one of the things we plan to do along the way.

Logically, I know the time will pass, and, once it does, will hardly seem like any time at all. Yet, right now, it feels mostly like two weeks of just waiting. . .

Moving Mom

5 July 2013

I flew back to Missouri last week, Friday. Got in late (almost midnight) and spent the night with Bob's cousin, Judy. She's a 15-minute drive from the StL airport and is a night owl, so she didn't mind. Saturday morning I drove to Union and helped complete the packing up for Mom's move to her new apartment at The Homestead at Hickory View in Washington, MO.

It tugs at the heart to go through something like this, and, my sister, Carmen, shed a few tears during the process.

I think most of the family understand the need for this move, but there may be one or two who are unhappy because they think we forced Mom to do this. We certainly encouraged it, but, ultimately, it was her decision. I believe that my Mom will actually improve, physically and mentally, from this move, and perhaps those who are unhappy with this change will, eventually, see the benefit.

We moved her into her new apartment on Monday, July 1, and it went pretty quickly. Jim hired a couple of guys to move everything and that helped a lot. (We're all getting too old for much heavy lifting.) Mom's apartment includes a living room, bedroom, bath and kitchenette. And, she's within easy distance of all the essentials the home offers — the dining room, laundry, hair salon, etc. [ And, It turns out that the view outside the windows in Mom's apartment includes the back of the local LDS church building. If she was a member, it'd be really convenient to go to Church. :-) ]

They gave Mom a list of all the other residents and she seemed pleased to learn that she already knows several people there. It was dinner time when we left her, so, she made her way to the dining hall and we said our good-byes. Carmen, Jim and I dropped off extra items at Mom's house and went for dinner at Haegie's in Union.

It was sad to go back to Mom's home and see it nearly half-empty. Our family moved into that house when I was in the fourth grade. Yet, seeing it like that reinforced for me how once the people and their things are gone — it's just an empty house.

Jim had the locks changed this week and put on deadbolts to help secure the house while it's unoccupied. We also have lamps on timers in a couple of rooms so it's not so obvious that it's empty. I suspect that in a few months we'll need to clear it out and sell it so we can use the proceeds to help defray some of the cost of Mom's care. In some ways, I think it will be better to do that while Mom's still living. It may make people a little less emotional about dividing up things.

I flew home Tuesday afternoon, July 2. Since I landed at Reagan airport, I was able to take the Metro from the airport to the West Falls Church station, then catch the express bus to Ashburn. (So much easier than having to drive that route.) The next day, Bob and I drove to Chesapeake Beach, Maryland to spend Wednesday and Thursday with a couple we know there. It turned out to be a nice mini-vacation! Bonnie and Rey Misajon live right on the beach with beautiful views all around. The community of Chesapeake Beach does their fireworks over Chesapeake Bay on July 3rd each year and we enjoyed sitting on the beach and watching them. It was a very pleasant and relaxing couple of days. (Now, back to reality. . . We move in three weeks!)

C'est Fini!

22 June 2013

Yesterday, I finally put Ryann's quilt in the mail! After months and months of stops and starts, of delays and interruptions (including having to pack away all of my sewing area to stage the house to sell) it is finally complete. I'm so happy with how it turned out and I hope she'll love it.
Hours I spent making it = 66
Cost of the materials = $191.93
Love in every stitch = immeasurable!

 I had to stitch the first part of the binding at the dining room table
since so much is packed away.

Then it took much longer to hand-stitch the front side of the binding.
Very happy with how it turned out!

Indian Mud Run

22 June 2013

Susy and her kids are visiting Laura and her family in Ohio for a couple of weeks. They decided a few months ago to run in the annual Indian Mud Run, held today, 22 June. It's a three mile course with several obstacles to overcome along the way. (Most involve either water or mud.) Susy, Laura, Travis, and the four oldest of the grandkids all participated. (The kids' course was shorter and didn't involve mud.)
I'm sharing some of their pics here. . .

 Laura and Susy, before

 Laura and Susy, after

 Travis also ran - this is after they'd rinsed off a bit

Showing off their medals! L - R: back- Holly and Sophia; front- Lily and Lucy

Earlier in the week all eight of Susy and Laura's kids
(2/3s of my grandchildren) enjoyed a day at the pool.

Moving Back to NC!

14 June 2013

We’ve been keeping this under wraps for months, but I can now say that after almost four years in Northern Virginia, we’re moving back to North Carolina! We’ve loved our time here in Virginia, and there are many people and things I will miss, but it’ll be great to be closer to family . . . and to old friends.

Bob decided last fall that he wanted to retire this year, so, I’ve been paring down, packing up, and staging the house for several months. (I used to be able to wiz through these kinds of things, but, now I have to pace myself.) As it turns out, he may not actually be retiring, but has an opportunity that, if it works out, would mean changing jobs — with an eye to retiring in about four years.

We found a house we are in love with — in the Crooked Creek neighborhood in Fuquay Varina — and, though it needs a little work on the inside, we can hardly wait to move in and get settled. We keep pinching ourselves that we will be living in such a lovely home! (I’m already planning family gatherings in the beautiful back yard!)

Moving is never fun — and I’ve done more of it than many people I know — but, I’m very, very excited about this one!

My plan is to spend the rest of my life in this house (except for time away on a mission, once Bob actually retires.)

Our house here in VA sold about a week after we listed it and we’ll close on July 25. In NC, the closing is scheduled for July 31. Moving day is not far away, now!

Bob will stay in VA, working, until just after Labor Day, so, we may be back and forth some during the month of August, but, the days are flying by . . . and, soon, we’ll be home, again, in North Carolina.

Visiting Mom

Mom - July 2009 (she's a lot more frail now than she was then.)

19 May 2013

For several years, now, I've tried to fly to Missouri to visit my Mom at least once a year. It's usually in the spring. This past week, I spent several days with her.

Since she's 96 years old, we have seen some significant decline in her capacities — especially in the last two years, and, even more so in the past 3 – 4 months. I've been able to discern through phone calls that she had declined quite a bit and because of conversations with my two siblings who live closest to her and see her most, we decided we needed to look into an assisted living facility for her.
This is something she has been dead-set against for many years and she's made it clear that she's not going into "one of those places" until she absolutely has to. We were all concerned that helping her reach the point of seeing the need for more care would be an uphill battle, but, we knew we needed to try.

I felt the hand of the Lord as we went through this process and am grateful we made as much headway as we did.

Jim, Carmen and I looked at three facilities within an easy distance of our mom's home. The first one we went to was one that our oldest brother's wife had seen and recommended. It's just up the street from her house, but, it's kind of run down and I wasn't impressed by the staff or some of their procedures.

The next place is just a bit further from my mom's home, still in her small town, and all three of us liked everything about it — until we got to the private room accommodations that she would be living in. They only have one room size, and, it's just a bedroom. Everything she wanted to do except sleep and bathe would have to be done in the common areas. And, even with that, Mom would have to switch to a twin bed in order to have space for anything else in the room. My heart sank when we saw how small it was. It's such a nice facility, otherwise.

We drove to the next town over and before we even walked in the building, Carmen said she didn't like it. However, they were a great facility and had much more room, and at a similar price to the second one. With this one, Mom would have a small living room, a bedroom and a kitchenette. She'd have her own furnishings, and all the privacy she wants, but would have all her meals provided and have opportunities for interactions when she wants them. At first, we were all concerned that it was just a little too big, and that Mom might become disoriented if she lived there — so, we weren't sold on it.

After sleeping on it, though, I was convinced that we needed to try to get her into the last place we looked. I made my case to Carmen and Jim. Jim was on the same page I was, but, Carmen still wanted the second place we looked at. Her reasons: We know the people who run it; there are already two other women there that Mom knows; it's a nice, clean, friendly, well-run facility; and, it's in our hometown so Mom MIGHT get more visitors than if she went to the one Jim and I liked.
Jim and I couldn't get past how small her room would be, though. And, not only is the third home also a nice, clean, friendly, well-run facility, her living space would be more than twice as large and the base price would be $500/month less than the one Carmen likes. (Because of differences in how they bill, they would end up costing about the same, but the last one has more personal space.)

It turned out that the Homestead (which Jim and I like) was having a special entertainment that Friday afternoon and they invited us to come. So, Jim treated all of us to lunch, then Mom consented to letting us take her to the Homestead. After the entertainment, Mom was given a tour of the facility. I saw some tiny glimmers that she was liking what she saw more than she would admit, and that made us feel hopeful. (During the entertainment, Carmen was visiting with a woman next to her and asked her how long she'd lived there. She said, "Two years." Then, Carmen asked how she liked it. She said, "Well, I decided when I moved in that I could either be happy or I could be stupid. I decided to be happy."— I love that! How many other things in life could we apply that to?)

The Homestead doesn't have any openings right now, which is actually good, because then we could talk with Mom about it as a future option rather than trying to have her think of it as an immediate possibility.

Saturday morning, Jim, Carmen and I met with Mom — and Jim asked several times if she'd be willing to be on the waiting list for the Homestead and each time she said "yes." (Truth be told, it wasn't a very convincing "yes" - more of a giving-in kind of one. But, she did agree to it.) We completed the paperwork for applying to be on the wait list and Mom signed the check for the deposit. So, all-in-all we made WAY more headway than we imagined we might when we started.

The Homestead is the kind of place I'd be willing to live in when I reach that stage of my life and I wouldn't want to put Mom in anything less.

The staff said there COULD be an opening as early as sometime in June, but, we didn't bring that up with Mom. (Technically, she could turn it down and wait for the next availability, but, I don't think my brother will want to postpone it.) I know when the time comes, there will be tears and hard transitions to make, but, it's the right thing to do. (Still hard, but, right.)

Closer to Completion

6 April 2013

The top is finished, the back is sewn, and all I have to do now is buy the batting and cut it and the backing to size. Can hardly wait to get it quilted and put the binding on!!

The Blocks are Complete

30 March 2013

The quilt blocks are complete! I'm very happy with how they turned out!!
And, I've begun sewing them together. I'm guessing I have about 8 – 10 hours more work in order to have it ready for quilting. (Sewing on the sashing and border, squaring up the completed top, sewing, trimming and squaring up the backing, and cutting the batting to size) Won't be long, now. Woohoo!!!

Light at the End of the Tunnel

24 March 2013

I'm getting excited. Several months ago I decided to make a quilt for our oldest granddaughter — as a gift for when she graduates from high school in June.
I found a sampler pattern and some fabric I like and have been making squares here and there along the way. It's a personal, lap-size quilt rather than a bed-size, but, the lap-size seems right for someone to wrap up in, and feel the love, as they head off to college or branch out in other ways after high school.
I only have 5 more squares to complete and will be focusing on finishing them this next week. Then I'll add the sashing. Very excited to see the final product.
I'll post pics soon of the assembled quilt top. Then (sometime in May) I can show off the completed quilt before I wrap and mail it.
This has been a real labor of love.


3 March 2013

Who'd have thought that, at my age, I'd be feeling completely rebellious so much of the time? I expected to mellow a bit more. But, no. Lots and lots of times I think of doing/not doing things that I, fortunately, am able to restrain myself from carrying out.

But, sometimes I feel like I just have a really bad attitude.

I'm grateful for so many, many good things in my life, and I try to be a good person — so, I don't quite understand what these feelings are all about. (Too much testosterone?)

I imagined myself growing into a loving, serene, kind and patient grandmother. . . Hmmmm. What's the opposite of that? I think that's where I really am.  :-/

Sophia's Baptism – Jan 19, 2013

On January 16, our granddaughter, Sophia, turned eight, and we were delighted to be able to participate in her baptism that Saturday, Jan. 19.

Bob and I drove to Ohio on Friday, arriving at Laura's house about 7 p.m. Heather, Susy and Susy's kids had driven to Ohio earlier and we got to spend some time with them that night as well as with Laura's family. Travis' parents drove up on Saturday and also stayed at their place.

Since Laura and Travis had a full house, we stayed at a little place in Coshocton, The Roscoe Motor Inn. It was basic, but met our needs.

In preparation for Sophia's baptism, I offered to make her baptismal dress and, last summer, she and her mom picked a pattern and some fabric and sent them to me. I was worried about the fit since I was sewing for someone I couldn't easily try the dress on. So, when we got together for our family reunion in August, I took along a mock up of the dress (made from an old sheet) and that helped me see what adjustments to make. I had the dress mostly finished by the time we visited Ohio at Thanksgiving, but, there wasn't quite enough fabric to make the sleeves. (I found matching fabric on-line, fortunately. White eyelet is not easy to find in stores in the middle of winter.) The good news is, the dress fit great, so I just needed to sew in the sleeves and mail it off.

The baptism was beautiful! Great spirit. Great meeting. Really loved being there!!

Alice and Penny enjoyed the refreshments after the baptism, too.

Christmas 2012 continued

I was sick for most of December and about half of January. Started as a sinus infection and then just hung on and hung on and hung on. I eventually went through three rounds of antibiotics before I finally began to feel well again. Probably wasn't too much fun to be around me at Christmas!!

And, in my drugged stupor, I forgot to charge my camera battery, so only have a few pics from Christmas morning with Susy's family. :-(

After Christmas, I was able to get my hair cut by my favorite Cary hairdresser. (Hooray! Haven't been able to get a good cut the whole time I've lived in NoVA.) But, also had to spend time at a minor emergency center to get one of those rounds of antibiotics I mentioned above.
So glad we could visit with our NC kids and grandkids, both before and after Christmas day. Enjoyed spending time with them. . .

Christmas Eve 2012

So — For a while there, I misplaced the cord that lets me upload photos from my camera and couldn't post anything. But, now that I've found it, I can share some fun things from the last couple of months.

We drove to NC for Christmas and enjoyed spending Christmas eve with most of the family, plus our friend, Catherine. Laura and Travis and their girls couldn't join us and we also wish we could have spent time with our grandkids in Chicago. But, it was fun to be with all who were there. Susy and Todd hosted the festivities at their house and we indulged in the usual Christmas eve buffet and then had our gift exchange.

In the fall, I started a quilt for Oliver — but, was pretty slow at finishing it, so, I finally delivered it when we arrived for Christmas. (Meant to be a new baby gift — but, he was 6-months old when he got it!!)