Monday, December 26, 2016

Shining Like a Star

We acted out the nativity at a family party.  All the kids were adorable - at least mine were.  ;-)

Freddie is on the ground in the middle there, wearing a red shirt and a sheepskin.  He is a sheep and practiced his bleating very well.  Angel is the shepherd on the left in the pink pants.  Only fashion-forward shepherds could wear pink pants back in the day.  And Georgie is standing on the table, valiantly keeping his arms up as high as he can, for he is the star.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Honor Your Parents

Yes, children!  Did you see what today's challenge is?  HONOR YOUR PARENTS!  Be nice to me! Do what I say!  I'm so funny that I make them all roll their eyes.  Pick those eyeballs up off the floor, children.  You might need them someday.

So maybe the little video here says it more nicely than I did.  Watch it and think about it for a minute.  It says Jesus honored his parents, which makes me think of Joseph the carpenter.  I have a special spot in my heart for him, since he willingly stepped in and raised another man's son as his own.  Just like my sweet Trent has done for my older boys.  I am so grateful for the parenting and strength and love that he shares with all of us.

I wasn't particularly close to my mom growing up.  I loved her lots, and I knew she loved me.  I knew it.  But we clashed in some ways.  My dad said it was like living with two queen bees!  I wish I could talk to her and tell her how sorry I am for that.  I wish I was a better daughter... but I didn't know how at the time.  I would love to sit down with her and ask her advice about a number of things that I can see she did really well: welcoming other people into the family, maintaining calm in a crisis, encouraging people to do their best, holding your tongue instead of blurting out awkward things...  Love that lady, and I'm proud to be her daughter.

We live with my dad, so we see him all the time.  He has Parkinson's and dementia, so life is a bit tricky for him and will only get more so.   Today I sat with him and just listened to him talk.  He told me about how the pollen that is in his bedroom is thicker in the morning and dissipates as the day goes on.  He told me there are spiderwebs and strands or cords that hang from the ceiling.  Water condenses on the strands and when they get too big, they drop off and he can hear them hit the floor or feel them hit his head.  He thinks they make his bedcovers damp and cold in the morning.  But he says the pollen is beautiful, shimmering with purple and different colors. Sometimes he is frustrated that I can't see and hear all the things he does.  His world looks different than mine sometimes, and I think it sounds lovely and magical.

He can still walk and get around most of the time.  On bad days, he'll use his walker to stay safer.  His feet and legs freeze up sometimes, and he is stuck for a few moments until the brain messages finally get down to them.  He says he has to get his landing gear down and locked before he starts to walk.  His balance is poor and he tips a lot.  Most of time Trent or I are near enough to catch him - we are never far away - but sometimes he falls.  He spends most of his day sleeping or watching TV in his room, and sometimes both at the same time!  I hold his cold, thin hand when we go for a walk up the street and he tells me about the cars he has had, or about winning tennis championships in his glory days, or about what he would like to do next on the model train layout in his garage.

He can't live by himself, as he'd be lost trying to cook in the kitchen.  I made a grilled cheese sandwich for his lunch today, with extra cheese and butter for more calories.  I hid a can of Ensure and some black beans in his banana and peach shake to add some protein and nutrition.  He's missing a few teeth so it's hard to eat, plus he tires out quickly, so we do what we can to help him stay healthy.

It's not easy to be a caregiver, but for us, it's the right thing to do.  Dad gets to stay in his own house, sleep in his own bed, do his own hobbies in his own garage, and greet the neighbors he's known for 40 years at his own church.  We really didn't know what we were getting into when we moved in, and it's become more challenging since then.  It's not so bad when we can share the care around.  Angel likes to fetch things for him.  The boys look out after him.  Trent shaves him for Sunday and cleans up his toilet (which is something I can not bring myself to do!).  I think we are often too rowdy and busy for him, but he patiently puts up with us.  We're glad we are here, and glad he is still here.  I love my dad.

Oh, and as long as you are here, you can read this old, finally finished post about hidden blessings  from last April!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Little Overwhelmed and Pizza

Deferred maintenance can be a killer.  On a house, not keeping things up over time will lead to left messes, decay and  eventually structural issues.  Not keeping a car running well will kill it even faster.  As I'm looking at my blog, I'm glad it doesn't break down, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done - and I haven't been doing it!  Notice how young my children look in the header?  They are quite a bit older now.  I'd like to update the background too, now that we don't have current world travelers.  And I just found a whole pile of old posts that I had started, but never got finished.  Sigh.  There is always something, isn't there?

So I don't know if I'll post every day, or even every other day.  But I am going to start chipping away at my old stuff.  Like this post from last April about what we had for dinner.  New and complete!  And then I will feel like I've been productive.

Honestly, it's been hard to feel productive lately.  My health hasn't been exactly bright and perky, so I haven't wanted to be up and doing things.  I've not been feeling well in the mornings, so I haven't been walking the kids to school.  There have been some difficult family things going on, so it's sometimes hard to find my happy.  And my dad has been more shaky, so I can't even leave the house until someone comes to spell me off.  So maybe this is a perfect time to start writing again.  Then I feel like I've accomplished something even when I have just been sitting on the couch.  Hooray for little wins!

But hey!  We did do something good today!  Have you seen the "Light the World" challenge?  It's being put on for the month of December by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Every day, we see one trait or characteristic of Christ, then we see how we can do better in that way.  Today is the kickoff, and it's a day of service.  Please click on the link there.  The videos are so well done and inspiring!

We learned that there are 60,000 refugees who now live in our state, and that they are in need of food for the holidays.  Our closest refugee center was asking for rice and bean meal packs.  It costs 5 or 6 dollars for a pound of beans, 2 pounds of rice, and 5 pounds of flour.  This week, the kids have been doing chores to earn their own $5 to help with this effort.  We went to the store and picked up the supplies.  They were excited to pick out which kind of beans they wanted, and help tie a pretty ribbon around each package.  Tomorrow, Trent will take them to the refugee center.  It doesn't seem like much, but I think every little bit helps.

And then, if we needed a reminder that good things come back to those who do good, our neighbor brought us pizza for dinner.  This is a snapshot of the leftovers.  We have the best neighbors!  And when we try to do our part to make it a better world, I think we become better neighbors too.

Maybe we are more productive than we think we are.  Maybe there are ways we can help and serve, even if it's only a drop.