Sunday, May 31, 2015

Limekiln Falls

Rather than going home too early on Thursday, James let me stay long enough to eat some lunch and go on a hike with the family. Dave looked up places to hike and off we went to Limekiln Lake Campground. No one was at the pay booth when we went in, which was good because we had three vehicles and it was eight dollars a pop. Partway in we stopped at a bathroom facility where the guy who wasn't manning the booth stopped to chat. He let us go free and even pointed us in the direction of the nature trail, informing us that there were no longer any falls. Something to do with the beaver dam.

We walked across the fish dam bridge and hiked off into the woods where Josh suddenly had the urge to relieve himself in the wilderness way behind a big tree.

Hannah had stayed back at camp with Austin and Michele and so our group consisted of 7 adults and 5 children. The two little ones were lucky enough to get piggy back rides a good portion of the way which made traveling easier on all of us, especially Bethany who otherwise has to keep track of Jakie. While Grandpa carried Aubrey, Jake got a ride on Uncle Dave's shoulders, and I took pictures of the procession.

We didn't see any wildlife with five rambunctious children scampering about, but the flora was just as interesting.

 About halfway around the loop we came to the old beaver dam which was broken down and covered with grass. Not far beyond was a bridge over the creek where we are fairly certain there once lived a horrible, mean troll who liked to eat Billy goats. Beyond the bridge the stream widened out into a small lake,

We trekked up a small incline, through what appeared to be virgin forest, and back to the beginning of the trail. It was a good outing and a satisfying end to our overnight camping  excursion. I still wasn't ready to go home and leave all our family there but there was little I could do with having to be at work the next morning.

We took home some great memories and a want to do this again next year with everyone present and no pressing work schedules.

 It was a great way to spend some time with (almost) all of our kids and grandchildren.

I Stayed Home Today

It has been a long and full week. Dare I say, exhausting?

We've had 2 pizza parties, a surprise shower, Memorial Day, a full day of work on Tuesday, a camping trip 3 hours away on Wednesday, a hike through the woods on Thursday, the return trip home, and 2 more full days of work on Friday and Saturday. Last night I said goodbye to my son and daughter in law, and my sweet grandson. I was thoroughly exhausted. I hugged them all, looked teary, and choked back the want to cry. I woke up this morning with the same headache I'd been fighting since late Friday afternoon and determined my tired mind and body had been through enough. I reluctantly called in to work and told them I wasn't feeling well. So, here I am.

I've not blogged regularly, nor have I been posting on other blogs. I'm hoping to catch up, but I'm not holding my breath. I have a ton of photos from our time at Old Forge on Wednesday and Thursday but not much time to tell the story. *sigh*

I probably should have taken some time off work while Jim and Michele were here, or at least asked for some time, but having just started, I didn't think it wise to ask. It was a Catch 22 that I almost survived.

Our family vacation was a success and, in spite of the obstacles, we have decided it should be an annual tradition. Now that we know the camp mattresses are scarcely softer than the ground and the weather totally unpredictable, we can be better prepared for next time. No working for me while Jim and Michele are here next time, and we want to have ALL our kids and others able to go. We were missing several, which explains why Adam, Ben, and Nate, Sabrina, and Spencer aren't in my pictures.

I am abundantly blessed. My heart is full even if my mind and body are tired. It was good that I was home today. My brother is being checked out at the ER again today. They are sure he is fine, but the hospital always calls for consent when it comes to treating him and God saw fit to have me here at home instead of at work or church.

Maybe I'll have time for a camp story or two tomorrow or later today.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

She Laughed

She is somewhat childlike in many ways. Sweet and friendly, yet reclusive too.
I helped her with a shower this morning, Back in her room, I brushed her hair.
Before I left her, I kissed her on the forehead.
She laughed and said, "You're nice."

It's been a wild and crazy week. One more day of work and I can take a breath.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Surprise Shower

We surprised Bethany with a baby shower at her house on Sunday afternoon. Those daughters in law of mine are great schemers. Beth had no clue as to our plans.

Sabrina and Michele did a wonderful job of planning, decorating, and delegating. Flowers graced the tables and filled miniature bird cages. There were fancy, pink flower cupcakes, fruit salad, bruschetta, slices of French bread with egg salad, and raspberry lemonades in mason jars. We played only one game of scrambled baby items, and everyone left with a sample sized bottle of lotion or soap.

After opening the first gift and spying something pink, Bethany turned suddenly emotional and looked as though she might cry. I think she had all but given up on her dream of having a little girl. She  pulled herself together and held back the tears this time.Almost all of us brought something cute for the new little princess to wear, and there were a few fun items thrown in the mix too. Now I can hardly wait until the next shower! :0)

I was blessed to have all of my most favorite girls in attendance, even though Ben and Morgan are no longer a couple. She's been with us for over a year and a half and I was blessed to have her there.

Monday, May 25, 2015

All Seven

I've had four busy days off work. On Sunday afternoon I took the opportunity to get all seven of my grandchildren in one photograph. They might have been tough to gather if not for the handful of Tootsie Pops Bethany found in her kitchen cupboard. Are they adorable or what?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Two Pizza Parties

What is a mom to do when one of her kids can't make it to the Saturday evening Pizza Party? "Can we have pizza night again on Sunday?" she had asked. I felt bad for her. She really wanted to be there, but a prior commitment made her presence impossible. 

She had no idea of the secret plans for Sunday afternoon, but they hadn't involved pizza, so I did what any mom might do and said, "Not to worry. There will be time for more pizza. Enjoy your family reunion." And then I began scheming how to fit another pizza party in on Sunday evening. After thinking a little bit, I sent her a private message. "I'll see if I can get another pizza party together on Sunday. Maybe having pizza two nights in a row isn't such a bad idea."

And she said, "For reals?!? Yay!" Almost like she was shocked.

She called me this afternoon to find out when the pizza would be ready. I told her around five thirty. She was anxious to see her brother and his family and so she asked if they could pick up some sausage and come for lunch. My mind started to spin. "I have to go somewhere this afternoon." I told her. It felt lame, but it was true.

There was a twinge of disappoint- ment in her voice and I hoped she wouldn't be too sad while Adam kept her busy so we could decorate her house and surprise her with a baby shower while Jim and Michele are in town.

I am pleased to report the whole affair was a grand success. Bethany was totally surprised and very pleased as well. We had a second Pizza Night after the pink baby shower, and I even got to take a photograph of all my grandchildren in one spot. (Photos to follow.) Very cool!

It was a good day.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Out to Lunch With Rachel

My sister Rachel called this morning and wondered what I was up to. Since I had the day off and also had a little shopping to do, we decided to meet up in Webster and hang out together for a while. We wandered about looking here and there and then went out to lunch together. Panera Bread was crowded, but we found the sunny patio a quiet alternative to the busy hum inside. We both had cameras along, but neither one of us took any pictures.

I find myself pondering my job, the residents, and life. I miss the residents when I'm home and long for a break when I am there. All too often I look into a pair of longing eyes, hold wrinkled hands, and kiss graying foreheads. I smile on the outside, but I hurt inside. I give hugs yet feel hopeless to help. My friends need hope and there is only One I know who holds any hope for any of us. He is the One who held my parents through their final years. He offers something beyond this short and often painful life, something everyone of us comes to need eventually, but something not all of us will find, or even want.

Life feels short, too short.

I accidentally happened upon some chance photos this evening. I'd been trying to capture the evening sunlight resting on the barn and orchard, but captured a pair of hummingbirds and my yawning cat instead. There are times when having a camera already in hand comes in... well... handy. It's hard enough to capture one hummingbird, let alone two. They're pretty selfish when it comes to the feeder and will even chase their own mate away. Imagine that! Ha! I will admit, I have been known to chase someone away from my food too. And he has been known to say, "Who ate my..."

Tomorrow promises to be busy and full. I should do some house cleaning, at least the guest room, and there are pizzas to be baked too. I suppose a good night's rest is in order. It's going to be a busy fun-filled week. :0)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

And Now for a Little Break

I wish I had a wonderfully entertaining story to tell, but if anything terribly amusing happened the past couple days, I am too tired to remember it tonight. Work has been busy and the days are long, too long. I put my pj's on as son as I get home, something I never understood others doing until now, and typically climb into bed by 9:30 pm. My feet ache deep inside even though I have good shoes. I knew weeks ago that twelve hours on concrete floors would be hard on my "old" feet. Please pray that I would know whether or not I need to switch up my schedule. I could (possibly) go in an hour earlier in the morning and work until two o'clock, but I'd end up working more days per week. It might be be a good idea, but I'm not sure...

I've worked my three days this week, and now have a four day stretch to spend at home and with family. Minnesota is coming this weekend! (I'm so excited!!!) I am looking forward to hugging that firstborn son of mine, giving my sweet daughter in law a kiss, and snuggling that little guy, whether he likes it or not. I'm looking forward to some good family togetherness and, if I can make it happen, I plan on catching a photo or two of all seven of my grandbabies in one photograph.

And now I think it's time for bed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Which One is the Cooler Cat?

I had some fun with my camera yesterday. Kind of making up for working three days in a row and not having it close at hand. Maybe I went overboard, but you know how I like to take pictures. Digital photography has been a gift in so many ways.

So back to the cats...

We have two cats, Oreo and Little Cat. They are of the "mature" variety, both of them well over ten years old. Little Cat was born in our kitchen back on September 1, 2000. Oreo came to stay a year previous, so he is 16 years old.

Little Cat is the typical "scaredy cat." She hides from strangers, runs from the noise of plastic grocery bags, and is afraid of thunder. Although she appears aloof, she is really very affectionate in a safe, secure environment. When I sit on the couch, she often comes to look in my face and pat my arm.

Oreo is a brave soul who never (or at least very rarely) ran from dogs or small children. He often gives the back of my leg a smack as I walk around outside. He talks loudly, and likes attention. He also likes to be up high enough when we eat so as to peer at our plates in hopes of getting a taste, or at the very least a good look at it. Once upon a time he was brave enough to reach out and put his paw on my pizza, Not cool. Not cool at all.

Years back both our cats took up the habit of drinking out of the fish bowl. Now that the fish is dead and gone, we keep a fish bowl around to water the cats. I'm just a little weird like that.

And then, the other day I saw another cat... He doesn't live here, at least not officially. I don't know where he is from or how old he is. I'm fairly certain he shares my cats' food dishes when we are not looking, but I've never seen him in the house. I just happened to spot him watching me from the corner of the barn as I was out shooting picture last night. He's kind of cute, but I think Oreo has claimed the "Cooler Cat" status.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sunshine and Rain

It's a fickle kind of day.

It was our Monday to visit Tim so I wasn't surprised when Rachel called to remind me this morning, and this morning I needed a reminder. Since it was an otherwise "chill" day, we decided she should come early so we could go out and grab a coffee or something ahead of time. We opted for lunch at that little diner in town where we both ordered BLT's, her's on wheat and mine on rye. It was a nice relaxed bit of time together.

While Rachel rearranged a few things in her car, I found our brother settled into a cozy recliner in the home's living room. His eyes registered recognition but he didn't get up. He ground his teeth a few times and I asked if his teeth still hurt.  He said they did. His expression was sweet as we communicated, me with words, and him mostly with his eyes. As soon as Rachel came in, he hopped up and grabbed her hand. (I told you she's his favorite.*insert winky face )

We drove though sunshine, just plain rain, and sunshine mixed with rain while listening to Dad play his guitar and harmonica and sing. Tim ate his snacks and clicked his tongue with the music. At the end of our ride we went through Wendy's drive-thru and got him the customary small chocolate Frosty which he ate in about six heaping spoonfuls. (No, I didn't bother to count.) My head would be throbbing, but I think he's immune to ice cream headaches. Did you know Rachel can drive through the rain, sing, and clean up Tim all at the same time? She is truly amazing. (He ate most of it while we sat in the parking lot.)

Friday, May 15, 2015

No Soap!

So, what can I tell you about today?

I started the day helping my resident friends get washed up and out of bed for the day. I had a fight with a catheter connection. That was fun... And I helped a most obstinate madam with a shower she didn't wish to take. "No soap!" she insisted, even though we had finally managed to find her bar of Camay. When we got to the shower room she continued to kick up a fuss. I took it pretty much in stride. "This is the last shower I'm ever taking!" she warned, to which I replied, "Well, if this is going to be your last shower, then I think we had better use soap." She was not impressed.

Back in her room she moaned and carried on as I helped her into her clothes. I couldn't make her happy. Finally, as I worked her feet through the legs of her pants, I looked at her and said, "You know, if you would be nice to people, they would be a lot nicer to you."

"I don't want them to be nice to me!" she growled.

"Well, I think you do," I said, "I know I want people to be nice to me."

And that was the end of it until she was later heard by my friend (who was visiting her mother in law) complaining about me down at the hairdresser. Apparently I didn't listen to anything! Ah well, at least she was clean. :0)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

On Your Mark...

I must admit, I am not feeling quite ready for the next three-day marathon, however, I do believe that I will reach the finish line triumphant.  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 taken slightly out of context and yet, nevertheless, true.) I keep thinking that if He put me there, He will need to provide the strength and endurance because I don't have it in and of myself.

I found myself not knowing quite what to do with my day. I cleaned the kitchen, washed my bedding, and put my laundry in. After a drive to town and a computer delay at the Dollar General where I was attempting to purchase pet food and potting soil, I returned home to repot an overgrown and sprawling (literally) jade.

A walk was considered, and then recon- sidered, and finally did not occur at all. We (Sofie, the cats, and I) made it all the way to the edge of the orchard where I stopped short after making a brief consideration on mowing the lawn. On our return to the house, I climbed onto the tractor only to find the key not in the cup holder, and this being a "new to me" machine, I decided  to fold my clean laundry instead, since it was not folding itself, even though I had given
it plenty of time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Allergies, Exhaustion, and Observations

It is allergy season. I am lost in an allergy induced fog. My brain is tired and my body doesn't want to move. It only wants to sleep. Last year I referred to feeling "spacey and lethargic" and so it is again. (And you thought work was killing me.) Speaking of work, it took me all day to figure out why there were so many tissues decorating the floor of various halls and rooms. Could it be allergy season?

So, did I tell you that I'm tired? I'm almost too tired to blog. Almost. Love drives us to do many things, doesn't it? (That is one of the latches on a woodshed at my parent's house.)

The last few weeks have brought me to some different views on previous opinions held. I have had a bit of time now to observe the resident in nursing home care. The mentally and physically alert socialize and go to activities. Their days often consist of eating in the public dining room, visiting with staff, volunteers, and fellow residents, playing Bingo or Yahtzee, and going out with family. Those who are less cognitively alert, unable to navigate the halls independently, or even get out of bed, are left to the mercy of others. Many sit around the nurses' station between meals, napping or waiting for someone to come along and offer a kind word. Bedridden patients press call bells and hope that whoever answers will stay and chat for just a minute or two. It can appear that many of those in our care are simply existing. :( Mom did this much, and so much more. I am just now beginning to fully comprehend how blessed she was, and how blessed I am, for her having been here.

One of our residents received a package in the mail yesterday. She appeared rather shocked and confused by its appearance, but pleased just the same. She rarely leaves her bed and so the box of coloring books, crayons, colored pencils, and a few snacks made her day. There was no card tucked into the box and no return address on the outside. She made various attempts at deciphering who could have sent such a thing.  When I checked in later she was coloring contentedly.

A final word of wisdom. Don't hide a box of Junior Mints in the glove box of your vehicle and forget to eat or share them before the weather warms up. At least tuck them into your lunch box where they will be safe from damaging blasts of unexpected summer heat.