December musings

I had no intention of taking a big break from writing, but life got away from me.

All mostly in the best of ways.

We've settled into our little Idaho home. Replaced floors, stocked our kitchen to function better; reorganized some closets, drawers, and Cub Sweetheart redid our laundry room so I have cabinets to hide cleaning supplies, etc., a shelf for baskets, and a place for the ironing board and iron I never use.

The iron and ironing board retired in 2010, but I keep them around for nostalgia's sake. And sewing.

We ran down to Texas in October, had some fun times with our kids and their kids there. We checked out our little Texas house that's in the process of being built. Then headed back up to Idaho.

Back in Idaho, I agreed to be Landon's room (grand)mom for this school year, so CS and I helped throw a Halloween party for 29 kids. Very fun! Halloween was all around fun here actually. CS and I ended the evening sitting on our in-town daughter's porch, under a propane heater, handing out treats to cute little kids.

Thanksgiving (multi-holiday catch up here!) was great fun. We all gathered at our out-of-town daughter's house where we cooked a 20+ pound turkey, twenty pounds of potatoes, and for the first time ever in my life, had enough people gathered together that we had a 'kids' table'. Warmed my heart to pieces.

We've made some sweet friends since moving to Idaho for the interim. A couple from our church - they're in our same age bracket, same stage of life, same values, same hair color :-) The biggest difference between us is height. They're on the shorter side, we're on the taller side. They're from California, and we're having fun getting to know them better. Having moved from the lake over three years ago, and now moved again, and without a home in Texas, it's been awhile since we made any couple friends. Feels nice.

Like everyone else, we're in the middle of getting ready for Christmas. The weather here in northern Idaho makes it easy to feel festive. We've already had light snow showers several times, and coats, boots, gloves and caps are all gathered by the front door. No going out without them! Hear tell we're supposed to dip into the single digits and Miss Lily is ready with a cute-as-can-be red plaid coat. CS isn't real fond of dressing the dog, especially if he has to walk her, but who doesn't love seeing a little white dog in a red plaid coat? Especially in December? Exactly - that's what I told him.

My mom has now been in a memory-care facility for about 16 months, and she's slowly declining. Short term memory is non-existent, and slowly but surely I can see her long-term memory fading away too. The social worker where she lives has been beyond fabulous, working with me to set up Facetime with her every other week. After a try or two we realized my mom's hearing difficulties were causing additional problems, so they came up with a set of headphones. When we had difficulties with her grabbing at the headphones, we came up with a 'fidgit blanket'. Has anyone else ever heard of them? They had plenty on hand, donated by a group of women from some church, so we're going to see if keeping her hands busy will help. I also ordered 'conversation cards' to try to be better prepared to talk to her. It's a heartbreaking struggle to try to find something / anything we can talk about. I just finished reading The Long Hello by Cathie Borrie. 

For anyone out there with a parent / relative with memory decline, it was a gentle read. I read through it in two long soaks in the tub, and there was enough insight into what my mother is going through to warrant the read. I am also reading another book, Creating Moments of Joy, by Jolene Brackey (A Journal for Caregivers), and it's been really, really helpful. Such insight! I'm learning not to say, "Mom, do you remember.....?" because she doesn't. Rather, I say, 'Mom, I remember when you made chicken and dressing for our Thanksgiving dinner and it was the very best part of the day." When she smiles I know it doesn't matter if she remembers it or not. She knows I do, and she feels loved. And that's what it's all about.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately too. My recent recommends are: All three books by Fredrik Backman, but I especially loved A Man Called Ove. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger was wonderful. Not cheery, but wonderful. I can't remember if I mentioned before (that's what happens when you take an unexpected/unplanned blogging break), that I read Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee. I really enjoyed it. Not as much as the original, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it was a good read. Very interesting and I'd recommend it.

I've also retaken up playing Chess, mostly with my oldest 'Little'. (Can you call them that when they're taller than you?!) He and I have both been reading 'The Idiot's Guide to Chess', and both of us are improving, although he still beats me every time. I learned the basics of the game when I was less than ten, but haven't played for years. I'm finding as grandkids start growing up it's vital to find something to stay connected with them. CP is my very first grandchild, absolutely treasured in my heart, and I don't ever want him to outgrow me. So I'll learn to play chess, and get good enough that I can beat him often enough that he doesn't feel bad when he beats his Grammy.

Well, this is long enough catch-up. We're in Idaho one more week, then we head back to Texas to love on our kids and their kids, and check out our in-the-process house. It'll be nice to have temperatures a bit higher, but I'll be okay with coming back to snow and pots of chili and knitting by a fire. I'll try to post some photos and news when we get back.


P.S. Let's all try to be nice to everyone in line, in front of and behind us. In the grocery, in traffic, everywhere. We're all stretched thin right now, and kindness is the best gift we can give. 


Years ago I started reading your sister's blog, and through her I found your mom and you. I've so enjoyed reading about your families and lives and the window into thoughts, reasonings and feeling from folks who live so very far away but seem to yearn for deeper connections. Thank you and Merry Christmas!
Bev said…
In light of this post, I've actually gone back and reread some of my mother's blog posts; bittersweet to read her thoughts when she cannot share them with me now, but it's still a treasure they are there. I miss my sister posting too; thanks for still being out there as a reader, and taking time to say hello!
Anonymous said…
Hi Barb--So good to read an update from you. I can't really describe it, but no matter whether you are writing of fun or challenging times, I feel as if I'm catching up with a friend. I've read about your sewing projects, and I finally took a sewing class and sewed my daughter's Mary costume. Made me (and my 9 year-old daughter) so happy! It's far from perfect, but you have always written that perfection doesn't matter. Thank you for sharing your life. Your writings make me think and ponder, and today is no exception. I will remember the nuggets of truth you have shared when speaking with someone suffering from dementia. Blessings to you and your family. - Denise

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