Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Drinking Habits

I am not drinking enough water anymore. Water is cold and plain and coffee tastes ever so good when the weather is chilly. Nothing is quite so lovely as wrapping a pair of cold hands around a steaming hot cup of coffee, breathing in it's lovely aroma, and sipping that sweet and savory brew. I am quite certain I might be able to survive the warmer months without my beloved French Vanilla (or Irish Creme, or Almond Joy) cappuccino, but giving it up or trading it in for plain cold water during the coldest time of the year? I do not have the will, and besides it's hard to type wearing mittens.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Eye, Aye, Eye, Aye

Eye drops and eye doctors. Yesterday Mom visited her own eye doctor again (not the surgeon who did the procedure, but her own 93 year old optometrist). He was very pleased with the results of her recent cataract surgery. Mom's distance vision is now 20/20 in her right eye, and though Mom may not fully comprehend the vast improvement to her sight, she did catch on to the fact that her doctor was pleased, and that left her beaming.

We have one surgery, five eye doctor appointments, and two weeks of eye drops behind us. Ahead are a second surgical procedure, at least another handful of doctor appointments, and six to eight weeks of eye drops. And I thought that broken wrist last year was time consuming... On the bright side, we are doing better (for the most part) with the eye drops. There are still times of incessant blinking, and she has asked for at least a week (with each set of eye drops, 3x's a day) how long we will have to do this. Thankfully, most drops actually end up in her eye rather than balancing on her eye lashes or splashing on her cheek just under her lower lid.

Is it just me or does it seem that morning is coming earlier lately? Emma has been arriving a few minutes before 7 am the past few days (while I'm either making my bed or climbing out of the shower) and the girls have nearly missed the bus both Monday and Tuesday mornings. Both situations have shaved just two or three minutes off what has been my normal routine since September, not enough to sound like it should matter, but enough to leave me feeling in a rush. I suppose maybe I should go to bed two or three minutes earlier. Maybe that would do the trick. ha!

G is for Redundant

 G is for Redundant. Not really, of course, but since I've already posted on George it feels a little that way...

Oh, well, here he is again. George Washington, general and commander in chief of the colonial armies. George was born February 22, 1732 and died December 14, 1799 leaving behind a legacy not soon forgotten.

Whether or not George actually chopped down his father's favorite cherry tree, or admitted doing so, is not absolutely certain, but he was known as an honorable individual and much admired. (He quite obviously has gained the awe and attention of one small girl. Either that or she is horrified by his pruning of one short cherry branch.)

Speaking of cherry branches, I once came very close to gaining the nickname of "George" when as a young teen I climbed the next door cherry tree (likely the one where George acquired his cutting) and found it fun to bounce on one of the large branches. The branch, unaccustomed to bearing the weight of a bouncing fourteen year old, soon gave up and broke. There was a gaping hole on one side of the tree (forever after) and a very embarrassed young lady to answer for it. Later that evening my brother found some fun in referring to me by the name of "George". It was one nickname that wouldn't stick. (Truthfully, I was a little disappointed.)

For more ABC Wednesday, click here.

Monday, February 25, 2013


I am unwound, and this is oh-so-much better than being undone. My house feels more relaxed and I think, if I should really find the right balance between work and alone time, I might actually be able to keep up without feeling as though I am losing my marbles. Today I did a lot of nothing, which included a cup of coffee and a short visit from my sister Priscilla, a couple loads of laundry, and a small amount of housework. I am breathing easier.

 The photo sign, of course, has nothing, and everything, to do with the past couple of weeks, but I won't bother to go into any deep explanations. (I'm not sure I could explain anyway...) It did however make me think of my daughter Bethany, who as a child and along with a friend, often transformed into herself a unicorn. And that made me smile when I saw it.

In other news, I have accomplished a feat of gigantic proportions. I read Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist"! I am planning to read "Pride and Prejudice" next, and then I'm going to watch the movie all over again.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Sense of Peace

It has taken over week, and a full three days of "nothingness", along with two escapes of several hours duration, but I am finally beginning to feel recharged. The tension is melting away and I am finally feeling somewhat relaxed.

I've done some searching and praying, and come to the conclusion that moments of solitude are crucial to my survival. They will not likely drop into my lap as full-time caregiver, therefore I must make them happen. (prayers to this end this are appreciated...). The introvert inside can not cope with life in general unless it happens, and so I embark on a new quest. I am not yet certain how I will accomplish this somewhat daunting yet necessary feat, only that it must be done, and that it will likely take me away from home at regular intervals as the other option does not leave absolutely solitary moments, and it will probably mean leaving Mom home alone.

I have Sunday yet before me, a not so relaxing day lately, and then a mostly quiet Monday before the routine gets running in full gear again. There is a pot of leftover chicken soup on the stove, the gift of pie fresh from the oven (blueberry peach), and an evening at home waiting. I think maybe I am once again in the place where I can tolerate working a puzzle with Mom.

It helps to know that even Jesus looked for solitary moments... Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. Mark 1:35

Friday, February 22, 2013

Not Too Much

I've been finding some quiet time these past couple days. No children, no bus to catch, no Hannah (She's gone to visit Baptist Bible College with some friends), no Ben (he's working). I haven't been totally alone, but I'm trying to find that time when I can.

Oreo spent the day alone in Ben's room. He got closed in there when I took Ben's work clothes up this morning. I was making soup in the kitchen when I heard a distant meow and went to investigate. Maybe he smelled the chicken cooking.

My weekly grocery shopping has been accomplished a day early so I have tomorrow free aside from a visit to feed Rocky's puppy dog while they are away for a few days. The dog is happy to see me when I arrive and also quite happy to eat the doggie treats I give her. I think tomorrow I'll bring a book along and spend a little more time keeping her company. I think she's lonesome without her family and I kind of like the quiet time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

F is for Friends

F is for friends. I've already made "friends" my ABC Wednesday word twice; "Faraway Friends" and "Feathered Friends". Today I give you "Facebook Friends".

Monday was President's Day. I got a little confused and thought it was George Washington's birthday, but that's not until Friday. Anyway, I pulled out an old photo taken from my parent's slide collection and posted it on Facebook with the caption, "Happy Birthday, George." The picture is probably forty-five years old, taken before a local Kiddie Parade, of a neighborhood child dressed up as George Washington. "How fun would it be , I thought, "to send him a link to my photograph?" so I looked to see if he had an account and found he did. (Since we had a friend in common, I knew he could see the photo.)

That same afternoon I received a reply. "Martha, do we know each other? And do I know this young man in the picture (he looks pretty familiar!)?"

I found myself smiling as I wrote back telling him who I was and where the picture came from. "I hope you know that young man," I said, "It's you."

Later that same evening I found a longer note that left a bigger smile on my face, a note with memories of not only my brother (they had been friends), but memories of my parents as well; my mother's uncanny way of befriending neighborhood children, my father's music, and Bible stories read at the dinner table. His note has left me thinking and trying to recall the person my mother once was.

Nostalgia has a way of catching up with us once we hit middle age, and such was the case with my new friend this week. I wonder what other treasures I might find in that old box of slides?

 For more ABC Wednesday, click here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

See That?

Mom's cataract surgery yesterday went well. Today we headed back to the doctor's office for a follow-up appointment. They gave her a nice pair of sunglasses, but as it wasn't sunny, she didn't even bother to unwrap them. The eye drop regimen continues, in fact there is scarcely an end in sight... April seems a long time away when counting eye drops. Each eye will need several weeks of drops starting a few days prior to surgery and ending several weeks after. Every time I get out the bottle Mom asks how long we have to do this...

Although the doctor already sees improved vision, Mom is still wearing her glasses to read and do her word search puzzles. Her perception of color is also better, which hopefully means she will be able to work her jigsaw puzzles more efficiently. I think she'll like that. I didn't know cataracts could so adversely affect one's ability to differentiate color. We have three weeks until the second surgery. I hope by then she will be well aware of the benefit to what right now seems to her a needless nuisance. She's still pretty sure she was seeing just fine before. Me? I'm looking forward to a mom who can once again enjoy those 1000 piece puzzles.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Big Day

The big day has finally arrived. Mom will have her first cataract surgery done this afternoon. Since starting the eyes drops three days ago, she has asked multiple times about what they are going to do and when it is going to happen. I find it difficult to answer her questions and don't know quite how to humor her. At one point she said she thought it would be good to know since it was concerning her, but she just doesn't appear to retain the information. I am not good at lying and so I have been known to pretend I didn't hear or avoid her gaze.

When I was young, my mom was always pretty sharp. I didn't dare try to pull off anything that might get me into big trouble, nor did I think I could long get away with fooling her. She didn't miss much, and sometimes she even filled in the blanks with things that didn't belong. Assuming herself to be an excellent sleuth, she often made wrong assumptions about us or others. Perhaps this is why I prefer to give people a wide berth and go with the benefit of the doubt, the polar opposite of what my mother sometimes allowed. Rather than being confident in others and myself, I am often hesitant and unsure.

I woke Mom "early" this morning in order that she could eat breakfast and take her daily medications. It was 8:05 am when I tapped lightly on her shoulder. "What's going on?" she asked. I smiled and turned silently away. She couldn't have heard me had I answered. I cooked some scrambled eggs and toasted half a bagel, mixed up her coffee, and set half a banana on the table while she dressed and made her bed. Rather than explain why she didn't have a water pill in her medicine cup, I replaced it with a Vitamin D instead. They look the same to her. Perhaps, if I practice, I will eventually catch on to this bit of fibbing...

I will be relieved to have this first surgery behind us. It is the more expensive of the two as we chose to go with a Toric lens for the right eye. It's supposed to fix her astigmatism. She won't need that for the left eye as it isn't as bad. We have two months worth of eye drops ahead of us. That'll have us finishing up right about the end of April, and although I am looking forward to improved eyesight for Mom, in order that she be able to do her puzzles and once again enjoy the birds outside her window, it also comes with a bit of trepidation. I hope her refined visual abilities do not find me regretting her renewed capacity to recognize my failures as a housekeeper, dog groomer, and babysitter.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I Forgot the Camera

We drove south today, south to attend a memorial service. The route to the church took us down Route 96A past the Seneca Army Depot. The former Army Depot, which is surrounded by a large chain link fence, is home to the largest herd of white deer in the world. I was driving, so keeping my eyes on the road was more imperative than looking for white deer. I mentioned to James and Hannah the possibility of seeing some and Hannah, who doesn't always appear interested in things of this nature, suddenly said, "I saw one!" James said he saw several too, but not me. It isn't that I didn't look, I just wasn't quite so lucky. The deer I saw were all the regular brown colored variety, which on any other day, and in another place, would be exciting. (The photo is quite obviously "borrowed".)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Week's End

The week is finally over. It was a busy, stress filled time, but as usual, there were moments that made me smile. There was the day when my little granddaughter walked into the house with a big smile on her face, waved at Rocky, and said, "Hi!" I can't help but think what a beautiful little girl she is. I only wish we could spend more time together. On the bright side, Hannah was blessed to spend a few hours with her niece and nephews. She came home smiling and that blessed me. Bethany came with my other grandsons late Friday morning and I had some time to snuggle that baby of hers. I soaked up every moment possible and even changed his diaper for the first time. Can you believe he's five months old already?

Yesterday I also started Mom's eye-drop regimen in preparation for her upcoming cataract surgery; two drops three times a day until the surgery, and then three drops three times a day afterward. I thought it would be pretty simple, after all I did this fifteen years ago with a ten year old, but I find it much more difficult (and frustrating) with my mother. Not only is it physically impossible for her to tip her head back all the way, but she can't seem to keep her eye open either. I pull the bottom lid down and she closes the top one. I pull the top lid up and she scrunches up the bottom one. And she blinks, blinks, blinks. I've threatened to lay her on the floor and straddle her like she did to me when I was a little girl, but I don't really think that would be acceptable. (Insert winky face here.) The surgery is scheduled for Monday afternoon. Hopefully the surgeon can keep her eye open long enough to do the job.

Finally, please keep my sweet mom in law in your prayers as she recovers from surgery for uterine cancer. Her operation was yesterday. All is as the doctors had hoped and the future looks bright. I'm looking forward to seeing her smiling face on Skype again in the very near future.

Friday, February 15, 2013


I am still stuck on porcupines. I've read that once a porcupine quill is imbedded in the skin, it gradually works it's way farther and farther in. If not removed it can eventually make it's way to vital organs, even causing death. Broken quills can cause intense pain and infections, and even the safe removal of porcupine quills is terribly painful, often requiring the use of painkillers and antihistamines in case of allergic reactions. The best way to deal with a porcupine is to keep a safe distance, but even porcupines get lonely. Even porcupines need friends.

I must admit that for far too long I have felt pretty prickly myself. Perhaps I am part porcupine, or perhaps there are quills buried deep in my flesh, quills from other (perhaps long ago) porcupines, quills that fester and cause pain even though I can't see them, even though I didn't know they were there. The knowledge of their presence has not necessarily brought relief, but it has made me aware of my need to have them removed. I'm not quite sure how to do that, but I am searching for answers.

Honestly, I don't know if I am a porcupine or just full of painful prickles.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Bit of Thinking

I've been thinking, but putting those thoughts into words is a bit of a challenge.

The "prickly episode" with my sister early this week left me troubled. I don't need any more relationship issues within my family, and we each have our own stress factors that leave us worn emotionally. It's the underlying pressures and expectations that turn us into porcupines, each prickling the other and feeling the pain of being prickled. In my search for some insight, I ran into this article which I think does a pretty good job of explaining what so many of us face on a regular basis. "I'm someone's porcupine. And so are you."
I found myself relieved that someone else out there had a way to explain just what I was feeling.

It's time to take off my "porcupine suit".

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

E is for Expect

Because I am stuck on the word, E is for Expect. Rather than go into detail, suffice it to say, "When you least expect it, expect it..." ... or something like that.

For today, some unexpected quotes to ponder...

* Prepare for the worst, expect the unexpected.
* Never expect anything but always expect the unexpected.
* If you expect the unexpected, then isn't the unexpected expected?
* Much is expected when much is given.
* You only get as much as you expect.
* Life for most of us is a continuous process of getting used things we hadn't expected.
* No one is expected to achieve the impossible.

And finally, because it's almost Valentine's Day...

* Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get, it's what you are expected to give- which is everything. (Why is this so very hard to remember?)

For more ABC Wednesday, click here.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Great Expectations

Sometimes expectations get us in trouble. It was to be a time of solitude, this gray and drippy overcast day. There would be housework to do, but I would do it alone and I would enjoy the rare and precious solitude, and I did.

I am rarely alone in the house, so when there is no one else here, I savor the moments. I covet them. I do not want them disturbed or cut short. I like my time alone, and so when Rachel arrived with Mom at 12:15 pm I found myself suddenly distressed. I had just looked the clock and thought how I had a just few more hours to enjoy by myself, when suddenly it was over. How I came to think Mom wouldn't return until 3 pm, I no longer recall, but that was what I had tucked away in my mind. I thought it was what I had been told, but perhaps I am mistaken. Either way it took both Rachel and me by surprise and neither one of us had our expectations met. It isn't as though Mom is at my heels asking questions or needing help with something, so I am not entirely certain why the let down. (I do leave myself confused. No wonder my family doesn't know what to do with me!)

I suppose next time we should set a more fixed arrival time.

Monday Morning

It's been cold, and it's been snowy, but today it's already 38ยบ and that means we're going to have some wet packy snow on the ground. On today's "to-do" list was "Build a snowman". (It was right up there at the top.) So, when we went out to the bus stop, I got busy right away. Now I can check that off and move right on to the next item. I plan to accomplish a lot this morning as there is no one here to slow me down or distract me. See you later!

Friday, February 08, 2013

Snowbody Knows

Yup, it snowed. I wonder what the world will look like tomorrow morning?

Finding Nemo

Okay, so maybe the storm here in western NY is not really the one called Nemo, but when it merges with the "real" Nemo they will be one and that's kind of the same thing, don'tcha think? It's blustery and snowy out there. This morning there was very little snow, but it is starting to pile up now.

Mom has just left for Rachel's house where she will be snowed in for the weekend. We will be snowed in here for the night with some hot cider (or chocolate) and a movie, and tomorrow we will dig ourselves out again, and hopefully go on as normal. (I'm always relieved when everyone is safely back at home. Can't help it, I'm a mommy. This weather is nothing to laugh at even if it is pretty much "normal".)

Thursday, February 07, 2013

And Then There Were Six...

My grandbaby collection is growing. I like to add one each year and since the infor- mation is now public, I can make an announce- ment. We are expecting our sixth grandchild in August and, in spite of the fact that the wedding is not until April, I am still very excited. Sometimes these things happen, but it's like I told my son, "Every baby deserves love and life. I never regretted my decision to give you both." I will soon have nearly as many grandchildren as children and, who knows, maybe by the end of the year I could have an even number of each.

My own babies were so cute, I decided to make a grandchild collage.

How's that? :)

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

It's Wednesday

I think I am coming down with Cabin Fever. I am tired, lonely, and cross. There are times when I long for something other than small children and an elderly mother, yet this is what God has for me this moment. If only I would embrace these opportunities before me, rather than become frustrated with my lot in life. If only my mother was able to follow conversations... If only coffee and muffins didn't taste so yummy.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

D is for Deal

D is for Deal, and I think I got a pretty good one today.

My mom drinks Maxwell House International Cafe Hazelnut "coffee" every morning. I typically buy it at Target as their price is a bit lower than the regular grocery store, $2.99 per container. But Target, in their sneaky little marketing ploy, knows exactly what I typically purchase in their stores and they print out handy dandy little coupons to encourage more of the same. Since Mom was down to one box of coffee, and I had, in my purse, two Target coupons for just such a purchase, I stopped into Target on my way home from prayer and Bible study.

My coupons were for $1 off two boxes, and $2 off three. Simple enough. Buy five boxes and get one of them free, right? Not quite so simple. Upon arriving in the coffee aisle, I found there was a cute little sale going on. Buy three boxes of coffee, get one free. I stared at the shelf, thought for a bit, then picked up six boxes of coffee and put them into my cart. Upon arriving at the register the cashier thought I could get an even better deal by purchasing one more box at the regular price, after all, the one after that would also be free. So, I bought five boxes of coffee and got three absolutely free, and  Mom now has what looks like a "lifetime" supply of Hazelnut Cafe. (How's that for a discount?)

For more ABC Wednesday, click here.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Monday, Monday

Monday, although actually the beginning of the week, is my Saturday. I still have to get up early for Emma's arrival, and I still find myself outside awaiting the school bus at the end of my driveway, but in many other ways it is my day off. Today the wind was frigidly bitter! Brain freeze without the ice cream!!! The windchill was all the way down to zero degrees (that's -17.7 Celsius). I was glad to run back inside after the bus arrived and find a cup of hot coffee.

Seeing as I have no small children for the duration of the day, I typically use the time to do some cleaning of one kind or another, unless Mom has an appointment... Today I cleaned and dusted Mom's room (way overdue), washed, dried, and folded laundry, and filled out an online medical history needed for Mom's upcoming cataract surgery. I also stole a half hour nap this afternoon. Perhaps that bitter bus stop wind sapped me of some energy. It's been a sleepy day.

After my nap I decided on a little bit of "travel", so I got online and looked up the webcam at Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia. (I was just "there" with my sweet mom in law the other day.) What a scene with the sun streaming through the clouds! No people milling about today, and no police cars arriving to shoo folks off the rocks and away from the pounding surf, just a beautiful calm sea, a shining sky, and sparkling snow. One day I'll visit for real. For today it was nice to be in my own warm house dreaming that I was there for real.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

The Mind of Christ

May The Mind of Christ My Savior 
    words by Kate B. Wilkinson

May the mind of Christ, my Savior, Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph Only through His power.

May the peace of God my Father Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing, This is victory.

May I run the race before me, Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus As I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me, As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel, Seeing only Him.

 Each week in church someone shares special music. This week our regular piano player shared an old hymn. The familiar words and music, transported me back through the years to the days of my childhood at the Webster Christian Reformed Church. I was a little girl once again, sitting between my parents, at the close of a morning service, singing the song and tucking the words and melody away in my heart.

A song not so unlike "Take My Life and Let It Be", this too is a prayer, a prayer to be more like Christ; a prayer to deny self and follow Him.As I listened to the melody and read the words in the hymn book this morning, I wondered if God had planned it just for me; a bit of encouragement after last night's post.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Philippians 2:6

Saturday, February 02, 2013

At the Controls

Take My Life and Let It Be
Frances R. Havergal, 1874

Take my life and let it be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my hands and let them move At the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet and let them be Swift and beautiful for Thee;
Take my voice and let me sing,Always, only for my King.

Take my lips and let them be Filled with messages from Thee;
Take my silver and my gold,Not a mite would I withhold.

Take my moments and my days,Let them flow in endless praise;
Take my intellect and use Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thine,It shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart, it is Thine own,It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself and I will be Ever, only, all for Thee.

I've posted this song before, ...twice before, but I'm not there yet. As much as I want this to be the song of my heart, my flesh still longs to have control. Instead of being totally willing to give everything to Jesus, I am more like the rich, young ruler who walked away sorrowful. It is a sobering thought. Perhaps that is why the song writer penned the words, "Take my will and make it Thine..." It's a common struggle, this war against the flesh. Even the Apostle Paul struggled and that is why he wrote, "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice" (Romans 7:19) and "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death" (Romans 7:24)

Whether it's taking care of small children or caring for my mom, deep inside I know there is a task more important, a calling much higher, and a priority greater than most of the trivial tasks I think I'd like to pursue. Maybe one day it will be easier to let it all go.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Baby Boys

This is a random post. It's been a day full of kids (there was no school) and I am ready to plop myself down on the couch and snuggle up to my man.

Tonight you get a random collage of my baby boys, in no particular order. I have to laugh at how different they all look, and I am amazed that I can see my grandchildren in these little faces even if the particular face looking back doesn't have any children yet. Aren't they beautiful? Well, I think they are and you can't convince me of anything different.