Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New Life Starts Now

I wish it could be that easy - to start over without regrets or sadness or pain, but I think those things are a big part of what makes us.  They aren't as easy to take as happiness and contentment, but hopefully I can find a good mixture of those things going forth.

I did not post that last picture and Christmas greeting.  While showing me something about handling photos, Emily saw that one of Graysen and realized how easy it was to post it here.  I saw that I liked it though.  It expressed more of the pure joy of the season rather than the times when we would be just overcome with sadness.

I hope I'll sort through my pictures and come back with more time and remember these past weeks.  I can't remember when I've had more highs and lows.  The girls and I always listened to a radio station in the car that played Christmas songs only.  We usually sang all the way back and forth to school if we heard something we knew.  It never failed though that there would be that song that brought back memories of happier times or songs that just expressed what I was feeling.  Sometimes I would turn the radio off immediately, but other times I would just let the tears come, and I think I needed that.

Graysen has seen us cry, and she knows it's because we miss PopPop, but it doesn't upset her.  We never want her to forget him and how much he loved her, but we are going to try to stress the happy times they had - the pictures and videos and stories - and I think that will be a good lesson for us grownups too.  

His first meeting with each granddaughter.  He adored these girls and was amazed by everything they did and said.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

MURRY CHRIMMUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Freezing My Ears Off

Not to mention toes and fingers and everything in between.

It's so hard to think about writing anything right now.  Just such a hard time at Christmas.  But the weather has been quite a distraction.

I'll post just some pictures that I took last week in no certain order and probably can't even remember where or why I took them.

It snowed off and on for a while last week but was supposed to end Friday morning.  Instead it came down hard for hours, several unexpected inches.  We still got to go to the Nutcracker in Seattle Friday night though because there was no snow between Snoqualmie and there once we got out of town.

 This is when I first noticed it.  No one told me - it's very quiet!

The second little blizzard covered the balcony and blew over the chairs.  Stella/Molly briefly investigated because there were birds hopping around eating the seeds I left out.

Pretty soon she was back in front of the fire licking her paws.

Emily and Ryan's deck.  On the table is the pottery bunny I brought from Montgomery almost completely covered up.

 The steps to my apartment on the right.  So far, so good.  No ice.  It's just hard to convince me to walk in that much snow.

The first day I drove, I had to clear the windshield.  My neighbor had worked on clearing all the snow and ice off the first day, but this accumulated again.  I opened the garage door, and the first thing I saw were the old Alabama tags.  They made a perfect snow pusher.  It didn't take scraping because it was so fluffy, just a little pushing.

I was really feeling sorry for myself the morning the car doors would not open.  Ryan said to pour hot water over the keyholes, and I Googled it also and ended up taking a pitcher of hot salt water and a lighter to heat up my key if needed.  The water did the trick.  Although it was hard, I feel like I made one more step in getting used to doing things on my own.  

We spent a lot of time inside naturally, and I found Emily and Graysen making cookies one day when I went over.  Graysen did not want to eat the cookies at all - not even a taste.  She just wanted to make them and roll the dough in sprinkles.

Vintage cookie cutters.  I remember these from when I was not much older than Graysen.

Emily is also wearing one of her grandmother's aprons.  I'm not sure where the flower came from.

Katherine certainly has no qualms about eating the cookies though and stands and yells kee-kee in the direction of the cookie plate.

 My little Christmas.  It was hard even opening the boxes, and there is not much room, but I did a few things that made me happy.

A family joke.  I had a nurse come over Sunday from my insurance company for a routine visit, and she had me do memory tests and dementia tests in addition to blood pressure, etc.  Once when I left the room, I came back to see her standing and looking at the mantle, but she was nice enough not to mention this.

Just a table for the girls to look at.  No particular order or sentimentality to it.

The house on Steller Way.  I love the mantle.

Finally, 3 too-long videos of our first excursion into the snow.  Excuse my lack of enthusiasm and comments.  The girls were thrilled, and that's all that matters.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sleepless Near Seattle

I can't sleep a whole night through any more, and that's so unusual I don't know how to handle it.  Mike was a full-fledged insomniac.  He spent more time up in the middle of the night than he did in bed - and then made up for it during the day.  A lot of this was due to his medications the past couple of years, and this was fine when he had no jobs or responsibilities.  Well, fine for me because I couldn't identify.  Sleep was something that has always happened immediately for me, and it took a lot of noise or alarms to wake me up.  And then I was never ready to get up.  I hardly ever turned down a nap during the day at some point either.

Now I'm afraid to go to bed because I'm afraid I won't sleep.  I'm tired most days from playing with the girls and all that's involved in caring for them.  I put off going to bed until I'm just exhausted - and then take a couple of melatonin just in case I don't fall asleep immediately and are left with my sadness and thoughts.  And I do go to sleep fairly easily, but then I wake up at strange hours of the night that seem like morning.

I woke up at 2:30 this morning because of an alarm that was set (for some reason) at 2:30 instead of 6:30.  I staggered around trying to figure things out and was so relieved that I could go back to bed for 4 more hours.  But then I didn't sleep.  Finally at 4:00, I got up, made coffee, and sewed awhile.  Now I'm thrilled that I have another 2 hours before my alarm was to go off - free time - time to leisurely check emails and bank statements and Facebook.  Time to order something from Amazon.  Dangerous time.  I guess I'm not really complaining.  I'm glad to be given some extra hours with the fire and my little tree.

We had real snow Sunday and yesterday - just the kind that falls in big fat gobs and covers the ground quickly.  In the South, we're so used to having some overnight or morning snow that just barely stays long enough to enjoy.

I had to get out yesterday though, and I was a little scared in this unfamiliar territory.  What's slippery and what's safe?  Are the streets safe to drive on?  Can I bear getting in that cold car?

Fortunately, Emily came by and escorted me to their house like the princess I am.  I did have to get down these stairs.  They look dangerous, but with fluffy snow, it's okay to walk on.  When we have ice, though, I will be cloistered here in my little second-story nest.

Our birds had stopped coming to the feeder during the fall, so I took it down during those windy days and nights.  But this morning I saw a single chickadee come hopping across the balcony, so I put a little food back out.  I later saw him come and dine, ignoring the plate of food and eating from the feeder.

The girls and I enjoyed watching the snow falling and drinking hot chocolate and reading stories most of the morning.  My favorite kind of morning.  And lots of dancing, as usual.  Kate is fascinated by the tutu drawer and opted for the layered look.

Emily came home sick and slept some.  All of us are  just not getting over whatever is bugging us.

After we got the girls down for naps - sweet warm little creatures - Emily and I sat in the living room and talked and cried and tried to make sense of our grief and tried to figure out how we're going to go forward.  It was good for us - although draining - and I think we both felt a little better to have some time alone to talk.

Ryan brought me home and helped me get my garbage cans out, and I was so confident by then that I walked to the mailbox without even worrying about falling and breaking something.  I've been wearing only a windbreaker so far since we moved here, but we remembered that I had bought a nice heavy coat a few years ago and left up here in case I needed it.  So it was time to bring it out.  It makes all the difference in the world to be warm.  Who knew?  This is all new to me - snow and cold and rain.  I've never even owned a heavy coat before.  I might even be wearing a hat.

We're going to see the Nutcracker Friday night - also known as the Nutquacker - and here's a little preview.  This was early, so the ballerinas are without hair combing or nose wiping.  And sometimes without the proper costume.

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.