Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Long Day

The trouble started yesterday afternoon when Kate woke up from her nap crying and stuffy and lethargic and just never got happy for very long.  Emily said they were up all night with her, trying to keep her fever down and get some sleep for everyone.

She was not much better today, and the only time she wasn't fussing or crying was when I walked her around or held her.

When she went to sleep in my arms, I wasn't about to disturb her, so Graysen and I sat on the couch and watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas and a number of other shorter shows.  It suited both of us fine on this cold day.

I wish Kate felt better, but holding a warm sleeping baby with one arm and having this sweet girl hold my other hand is my idea of a pretty good morning.

This "old hand."  Earlier when I couldn't twist the top off a sippy cup, Graysen said it was because my hands were old.  I think that started a few days ago when we were out for a stroller ride on a really cold and windy day.  I was past being ready to be home and kind of jogged for a little bit on a hill - to get it over with sooner.  Graysen was thrilled.  She said, "Run with us like Daddy."  I told her I couldn't run like Daddy, and she asked why.  I told her I was too old.  Later on, I did another jogging half block, and she yelled, "No, Old Mimi, stop!  You'll hurt your legs."   Well, I asked for it.

She and I went to the grocery store once Emily got home to take care of Kate, and we saw a little bit of blue sky - and some snow on the mountains.  Beautiful.

This is such a thrilling time for Graysen, her first real Christmas to understand and be awed by everything - the lights in the town, the toy soldiers in the grocery store, all her decorations at home - but most all my apartment.  She spent an hour tonight just going back and forth between the manger and several other spots - music boxes and obviously paper plates.  I could hear her singing some words to Away in a Manger and talking and whispering and just in her own little fantasy world.

This was how the stable looked Sunday afternoon - filled with gifts from the Wise Men and a giant kitty in the hayloft.  Looks like only one Wise Man was allowed to visit - and the others had to stay outside.

This is the way I found it today when I got ready to take her home.  Same Wise Man in the stable, but Joseph had taken the other one plus the shepherd out to discuss the flock.  And now the baby is in the hayloft.  She doesn't like to be asked questions about anything - like why are Santa and Mrs Santa in the upside-down sleigh?  

Dinner for 10 at the front door.  I don't ask any questions!

Praying for the baby to have a better night and be well and happy tomorrow.  So sad to see her so sick and not able to tell us what hurts.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Introduction to the Nutcracker

Graysen has been a big fan of the Nutcracker ballet for a couple of years - actually obsessed by it - and we have tickets for her second performance in a couple of weeks.

I showed her a picture of the nutcrackers I've collected over the years, and she fell in love with the white one, so I said she could have it.  It was a little intimidating up close, but she decided she loved it and took many pictures of it, along with the rocking horse music box, which she hugged.

I can't figure out how to get those pictures from my phone to here right now, but I'll post this video of Katherine getting her first introduction to a nutcracker.

She is scared of very little except for things that look at her funny, like the goggly eyes of the Itsy-Bitsy Spider book and the face of Llama, Llama, Red Pajama - and now nutcrackers.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hard Things

I could write every day and use this title because there is never a day that there is not a hard thing to overcome - a memory, a thought, a sadness - that will stop me in my tracks.

Emily, Elise, and I are aware that Christmas was not one of Mike's favorite holidays - not the holiday itself - but the over-the-top ways we ladies tended to celebrate.  Usually buying too many gifts or new decorations or just the usual craziness.  Most of it was bluster, but we thought this holiday would not be as painful as others might be.

We were wrong.

Ryan has been sorting through all the mess in my garage, trying to make sense of all those bins and boxes I seem to want to hang onto, and he is having some sadness too when he comes across familiar things that Mike had saved.  He brought up 2 boxes labeled "Christmas" for me to go through and make decisions on, and it just got so hard.  All those things brought out of storage every year and put out for a few weeks and all carrying their own memories or stories.  All those years of little children, and bigger children, then grown-up children - then the ones we loved leaving us and new folks coming in.

This is what made me have to stop for the day.

This silly frightened-looking horse graced one coffee table or another for 40 years in whatever house we were living in at the time.  I think it joined the family in 1975 when we were living in Geneva, Alabama.  The 14-month-old and almost 3-year-old could not keep their hands off of it, and it didn't come down to stay until the next year.  The horse came unglued and was reglued many times, and it looks like there are some other parts missing.  

But it takes my breath away to think how many times this music box has played and been touched by little hands through the years.  We'll now hand it down to 2 more sets of little ones to love it.  

Saturday, November 5, 2016

I love the sound of pouring rain when I know I'm snug inside and don't have to go out.  I just went down an hour ago to the mailbox and to take recycle things, and it was sprinkling then. 

We did this last Tuesday, I think. 

Last week was my first week of full-time babysitting, and I think we did pretty well.  I know the things I want to get done and when they should be done, but getting a 1-1/2-year-old and a 3-year-old to appreciate by schedule is nearly impossible.  They did fine though. 

Graysen had her "chore chart" and got to pick out a princess sticker every time she did what was expected of her.  She filled up her whole week's squares and got a quarter for her "piggy-pank" and an ice cream treat with Mom after school.  She does really well.  The jobs she has are clearing her dishes after breakfast and lunch, brushing her teeth, making up her bed (sorta - more like fluffing the pillows and lining up the stuffed animals), and getting dressed.  Then at night Mom and Dad get to give her a sticker if she picks up her toys. 

I'm not used to having Katherine all day long, and she cracks me up.  She knows a lot more than she mentions, and very little gets past her.  She has a definite temper and a pout, but she gets over it pretty fast.  I love seeing how their little minds are forming and seeing them learn things.  I'm physically tired at night but I do want to spend as much time as I can with them.

Halloween was fun.  Graysen had a red cape, so the natural thing was Little Red Riding Hood.  I made her a gathered skirt, and she had the other things to complete the look.  Emily wanted Katherine to be the wolf but quickly jinxed that idea.  No way would she wear anything like a wolf costume.  She did pull off the booted ballerina quite well and either didn't know about the tiara or didn't care for once.

Graysen had a hard time going up on porches and ringing doorbells, but she got some candy anyway even if people did have to chase her down to give it to her.  

Her favorite place was a zombie cemetery/horror house/really scary place.  Go figure.  She was fascinated by all the horrible things and laughed at the skeletons and man hanging from the porch in a box. 

After we got home, she got really brave and tried ringing her own doorbell and saying trick-or-treat.  Post event dress rehearsal.

Next week is my trip to Alabama.  I'm trying to get my mind on it, but I haven't started thinking about packing yet. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Christmas Sewing

I can hardly believe it.  I actually sat down at my machine and sewed something.

The big surprise is that I could get far enough into the room to find the sewing machine.  But things are coming along and finding their way back into place from being put away.

I pulled out this Advent Calendar panel I bought one day while Mike sat in the car and did crossword puzzles while I shopped.  He pretended to be impressed when I showed it to him at home.  I'm so thankful for memories like this, however small, and I can smile at them now a little more.

Anyway, it was just what a needed for a rainy and windy day.  I had planned to get out, but once I heard the commotion outside, I just made my little fire and an extra pot of coffee and snuggled in for the day.   And felt sorry for the poor people having to move on a day like today.

I had planned to just pin and baste the pockets, but I enjoyed that so much, I went ahead and sewed the pockets down.

Then I found batting and a backing that would do.

I love this fabric so much and have saved it for years, for what I don't know.  I had a woodland creatures fabric in mind for the backing, and if I had gotten out, I probably would have bought it.

I think this is fine though, and when I make our stockings, I'll use what's left for some of those.

It looks better with the batting fluffing it up.

And I do like the backing on it.  I know I'll regret (just a little) using the fabric in a place where it will be hidden.  Or maybe I'm beyond regrets about fabric right now.

I probably won't do any quilting on the top part since it's small and won't be washed much, if any.  I guess I'll bind it in black or a dark green.  The instructions kept telling me to sew in the "green" borders, but those borders are definitely black.

I'm so relieved I finally did something like that.  Maybe I'll bind it today.  I do have a followup doctor's appointment that I didn't realize I had until yesterday.  I think it will be a good thing to follow up and make sure I'm okay.

Everyone comes home tomorrow, and I've missed them but glad of having some time to myself too.  I'm not hearing any rain or wind this morning, but it's still early, and almost anything could happen.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Halloween Cactus and Other Plants

No birds of any kind on the balcony, but the plants are doing okay.  It's too chilly to sit out there most of the time now.

I brought my "Christmas" cactus in from the balcony the other night when we were having high winds,  I call it that although it pretty much blooms when it wants to.  After being inside a few days, I noticed that it is about to bloom - like soon.

It suits me.  I guess it has to get used to new surroundings too.  It's never been outside before this summer, and the leaves turned purple.  That's okay too.

The little fuschia was placed in a safe corner and almost forgotten, but I saw these blooms today.  I love those colors.

Mike's Lenten rose is doing just okay.  I think it misses being in a flower bed.   

As is Debby's succulent globe.

But the succulent basket the Binderts gave Mike for Father's Day in June had a little harvesting done the other day.  Graysen decided her animals were hungry and broke them off some "lettuce."  

My WA family is in SD this week, and I miss them, but I'm getting a lot of things done that I had put off doing.  

School pictures!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Nice Surprise from Alabama

And not Pumpkin Praline Popcorn!

I have to admit I was a doubter.

I had seen ads for "Unclaimed Property" for years but never thought to check to see if I had any.  Frankly, I figured it was either something shady or a big waste of time.

For some reason, I clicked on the website one day and just typed in the name "Windham."   I did it for all the states we've lived in.  Much to my surprise, my name appeared twice  in Alabama - once for AAA for less than $100 and one for Alphastaff (one of the companies I worked for) for more than $100.

I did a good bit of checking on this and didn't see that it was a hoax.  I knew my chances were pretty slim of ever receiving money, but I went ahead and filed the 2 claims.

Then I got back a letter saying I had to send a copy of my driver's license and my social security number.  That was nearly a deal breaker.  Mike had not lived in Alabama long enough to know Young Boozer was a real name.

I called the number for the Alabama Treasury Department, and they assured me it was legit and that nothing would happen to my information.

So I did it and forgot about it.

A month or so later, I did a check on the filed claims, and I read that the information had been received and they were waiting on something.

I could check the progress of the claim every week or so when I thought about it.  It was slow going,

Unclaimed Property Division

Welcome to the State of Alabama Unclaimed Property Membership Section

Listed data contains all claims and the status of the claims you have made with the State of Alabama.

Claim IDStatus
Status Date

Claim submitted for payment
Claim submitted for payment
Payment processed.
Payment processed.
CLAIM APPROVED - Payment has been requested
CLAIM APPROVED - Payment has been requested
Claim is awaiting final review and approval
Claim is awaiting final review and approval
Claim form was received and is being processed
Claim form was received and is being processed

Awaiting return of your completed claim form
Claim received by State for processing
Even after seeing that, I still doubted that it would happen.  But I received these 2 checks last Friday.  The other one is for $57.

 I still have no idea why.  We had a AAA membership, but I don't know why I would have had a refund.  With my job, it could have been something to do with taxes or maybe a class-action lawsuit that my name was on.  Who knows?

It's a nice little bonus though, and I'm glad I was persistent, and I'll probably check again next year. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

My Walk Home

These pictures are not only of the beautiful scenery I get to look at every day between my home and Emily and Ryan's home.  They are also symbolic of the first time I was able to take this walk and come into the apartment complex without crying.

This is what we would see when we drove or walked into our little alley between the apartments.  Mike loved that scene so much and never failed to comment on its beauty.  Sometimes snow, sometimes clouds, and sometimes sunshine.  Every time I turn in, my heart skips a beat and I get tears.

Today was better though, for some reason.  I just decided that this beauty needs to be savored and enjoyed.  By me too.  It was the first day I have actually felt joy and got the feeling that I can be happy in a lot of ways.  The tears and sadness are not going to change anything (although they can't be helped), and I need to not feel guilty about being happy.

After the bad weather last weekend, I was afraid all the pretty leaves would be gone, but I think they're even prettier this week.   There are about 4 streets I can take on this short walk, but I think this is the prettiest one.

This little area is so pretty in all seasons but especially today with the clouds.  In the South, this kind of cloud would mean you'd better take cover, but here it's only a just kidding kind of thing.  It could rain but then again it might not.

Mike treasured his Lenten Rose  that he moved from state to state, and I noticed last week that the landscapers have added one to the corner planting area.  Is this one of the signs we look for and hope to see?  I don't know, but I think it makes me happy.

I'm happy just walking along kicking the leaves lost in my thoughts.

Graysen thinks it's funny that this car wears a raincoat all the time.

And the one who keeps home happy and cheerful.  Old-fashioned nursery rhymes and apples dipped in yogurt.  It doesn't take much to make this one happy.  And therefore me.  

And my other buddy who never gets tired of exploring and digging in the rocks and dirt.

They're off to see the other grandparents in South Dakota tomorrow for a whole week, and I'll miss them.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


This is always a safe topic to talk about up here.  Yesterday as I made my rounds doing errands and taking Graysen to school and picking her up and even going into the apartment, I heard the warning several time - ENJOY this beautiful day because there won't be any more for a long time!

The 10-day weather report shows rain for all 10 days, from 60% to 100% every day.  And then this on Facebook last night.  Not to be outdone by the hurricane season across the country, we're going to have a little excitement this weekend - or maybe today.  I can do without the wind (well, I do like a little bit) - I just want to hear a little thunder.  At least I don't have a tree to worry about falling since our sweet birch died during the summer.

Yesterday was a beautiful day - cold and windy but sunny with blue skies.  The girls and I walked over to the park, and it made my heart happy to see the joy they got from just running through leaves and throwing them in the air and screaming.  I'll treasure these days because it won't last forever - this innocence.

I'm bad about taking pictures lately, but when I picked Graysen up at school yesterday, she was walking across the street hand in hand with her partner.  The entire front of her pants was covered with mud as well as her boots and most of her face.  So cute.  Her partner's shirt was in the same condition.  She started apologizing about getting dirty, but I loved it - that she and her friends had so much fun playing - something about a house and a shower and lots of giggles.

Updated to post this picture I found on the Rooster Valley Farm Facebook page.  Really cute kitty pictures too.  And to take out the name of her friend.  I'm not sure about posting pictures of other children, but they're on a public FB page, so I guess it's okay.

I took her to the grocery store where she exclaimed over everything she saw with gasps of delight.  She was called precious at least once and SO cute another - music to a Mimi's ears.  Taking her into the grocery store makes it a lot easier to go there - exchanging sad memories for happy ones.  If only Safeway would provide those little child-size shopping carts.  I kind of like her up in the seat though, where I can see her eyes light up over a box of mac and cheese and hear her exclaim over how beautiful the apples are.

Yesterday was a happy day and made me see that I can smile about things again and laugh and not always be burdened with so much sadness.  Friends and relatives still have not given up on me and send me notes and messages of encouragement, which I appreciate so much.

I'll try to get some pictures today.  I have some on my phone as well as some videos, but I'm not sure how to get them to this blog yet.  I might take some today if we get out.  It looks pretty gray out there right now, and I hear rain already.  It's going to be a good day.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Monday Memories

This is the best I can do right now, just thinking of things that made (and still make) me smile.

I've used the phrase "It's so hard," too many times, but I can't describe any better how I feel the majority of my days now.  After sharing another cliche with Emily last night (something like I didn't know how hard it was going to be), she said, "I didn't either.  If I had, I would never have gotten out of bed the first morning."

You can hear things over and over, like how it takes time and how much of a struggle it is to get over losing someone,but until it happens, you can really never know.  I wake up every day and have to get used to it again.  Every day.  Several times a day.

There are periods when I think I'm going to be okay.  Time with the girls is just pure joy, and I do enjoy that.  I'm enjoying getting myself organized to take over the running of my life by myself.  I can lose myself for a bit in a book or movie.  But when my mind is free to think, I just can't go places where it hurts so badly.  So most memories and things will have to come later when I've healed a little bit.

But I did think about some things that made me smile this morning.  The way Mike loved to pretend he disliked my sewing hobby.  He didn't really.  He embarrassed me constantly by bragging on something I had done or making a big deal over a simple thing I had made.

But he never tired of exaggerating how much stuff I had in my sewing room.  How many pairs of scissors I had.  How he didn't even have a drawer in the bedroom to call his own because of being filled with fabric (not true! but it made a good story).

 When we were showing the house last year and having a moving sale, he would offer someone all my fabric for $20 or a good bargain on my new sewing machine.  He would tell anyone who would listen that I had close to a million dollars invested in my hobby.  He loved it though that he could provide me that joy.  It hurts my heart that he never felt like he could spend the money on a hobby for himself (or that's what he said anyway), but he would take me to a fabric shop and insist on buying me whatever I wanted.

My first visit to a sewing shop here in WA, we walked in, and he told the first salesperson that I wanted the most expensive machine they had, maybe 3 of them.  I had gone in for some new bobbins!  With that conversation and after they had shown him a long-arm quilting machine, he had them wrapped around his little finger.  He embellished his tales even more by saying he had to hire a whole Penski truck to move my sewing room up here.  What a way he had with engaging strangers in a fun conversation - at my expense, true - but still so much fun.

For months now, he hasn't felt very well, but he insisted on driving me places, even if it was just sitting in the car waiting for me.  This summer we went to a nice fabric shop in Bellevue, Pacific Fabrics, and he just spent so much time walking around with me and looking at things.  There was a map on display with push pins where you could mark your home state.  He took great pride in staking out Alabama - the only pin in that state!  He insisted on my getting the kit for a quilt (yet another project!) that I admired.  Then when I got started on it and was cutting out and measuring and making the blocks, he was in constant admiration from his chair in the living room.  I know he really didn't care most of the time, but it made me feel good for him to examine a block and pretend to look for flaws and insist I do it over.

Wow.  That was hard.  So hard.  Thinking about that.

I think of the jokes we've all heard about husbands and their wives' sewing obsessions.

I wish I could hear just one more complaint about my sewing room.  I wish I could use a pair of scissors without thinking about how he lamented that there were 25 pairs of scissors in the house, and none of them were ones he could use.

I wish I could go into my sewing room and not feel a wave of sadness that won't go away.

One day I will, I know.  I keep telling myself that.