Friday, May 27, 2016

We Blinked

Wasn't this just yesterday?

All of a sudden this happened.

Lookout world, here comes June! She's definitely ready for kindergarten. Is kindergarten ready for her? She does everything with gusto and enthusiasm. There is no doubt that she thinks she can do anything her big sister can do. Most of the time she can. I'm pretty sure she's going to be running the world some day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hello Again

I know it's been months since I posted. So let's start with a little bit of catch up.

Since I was here last Ezra turned 7 years old in February. This was the first year we didn't go for her birthday party. She had a roller skating party. We did, however, go for her actual birthday. That day was just a family celebration. She has now lost several teeth and is finishing up first grade. She is the spitting image of her mother in looks and temperment.

June turned 5 in April and had a cowgirl-themed birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. She's about to graduate from Pre-K at her private school to kindergarten at the same public school that Ezra attends. She is a firecracker. She thinks she can do everything her big sister can do ... and she usually can.

We did go to San Antonio for June's birthday party which was followed by their school's spring carnival. The weather was perfect and we spent the entire afternoon on the playground.

Ezra and June, along with their friend, Arabella, made their karaoke debut. They actually did very well. I really thought they might have stage fright, but they didn't. They stood in front of the crowd and sang the entire song.

Last weekend both girls learned to ride their bicycles without training wheels. Katy reports that they used a "balance bike" and it took less than 24 hours for both of them learn.

The twins are four months old. They now weigh in at more than 15 pounds each. They are hitting the usual milestones, sleeping well, and laughing a lot. I have finally learned how to tell them apart, most of the time. But I have to see both of them.

No matter where they start out, they end up sleeping close together.

Marie has returned to work in the past two weeks. The twins are cared for at home by a nanny. Nick gets about an hour of Daddy time with them in the afternoons before Marie arrives home. We face-time with them a couple of times a week and we try to see them in real life at least once every 4-6 weeks. We want them to know us and be comfortable with us.

Last weekend we celebrated with family when our niece Camey graduated from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi with a BS in Environmental Science. She has worked hard for this accomplishment and we are all so proud of her. Graduation was held at our local convention center which, for security reasons, doesn't allow bags inside. Therefore, I arrived without my glasses and without my camera. This is the best picture I could get with my phone. We were seated in the top tier of the arena.

TAMUCC is known as "The Island University." Their team mascot is Islanders. The leis worn at graduation  are part of that Islander tradition. Camey graduated Cum Laude and has now moved on to job hunting. We are confident that she'll find a great job and her future will be bright.

Patrick and I are still doing great. This weekend we will meet Danny and Jeanne and some of the Valenta cousins in central Texas to visit a couple of wineries and enjoy some down time. Nick and Marie will come over to Moulton on Saturday afternoon to join us for dinner and bring the twins for a visit. We're looking forward to that.

I'm seven working days from the end of another school year. We'll finish up at noon next Friday. On June 1, Patrick and I will leave Corpus Christi for a vacation trip to Alaska. It's a long way, about 4,500 miles each direction. We'll be gone twelve days. The trip will include planes, trains, cruise ships, cable cars, and automobiles. This is the trip we gave each other in celebration of our 40th wedding anniversary last November. We are so excited. Don't worry, you'll be getting a day-by-day recap at some point. This is one of my "bucket-list" items.

I am committing to resurrecting this blog as much as possible. So look for more entries soon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

That Was Fast

Last Thursday, I was enjoying my January vacation, known in our neck of the woods as "the stock show break." My next-door neighbor and I were having a girls day out. We had been to lunch and were browsing some of our favorite artsy-crafty type places when at 1:52 p.m. I got a text message from Nick that said "Prolly having boys today!"

I texted back "WHAT?!" And he replied, "Liam didn't grow too much this past week so we are prolly having them today we see the doctor shortly."

Mary Lou and I immediately headed home, about a 30 minute drive. I called Patrick and told him to let his boss know that he was leaving. There was some discussion between us of whether he should work until five o'clock and then take the rest of the week off. I'm sure you can guess that my reply was something like I'm packing when I get home and we're leaving. Make arrangements now and meet me at home.

By the time he got home I was packed. He only had to add his things and we were on the way. We were on the highway by the time Nick messaged that the c-section was scheduled for 7 p.m. Without traffic, it's approximately a four hour trip from our house to Nick's house. The hospital is a little bit closer. We were traveling northbound with no problems until we got to the Richmond-Rosenburg area where traffic came to a screeching halt. We sat on the highway without moving for about 30 minutes. I seriously considered getting out of the car and yelling at somebody, but I decided it wouldn't help.

We were pulling into the hospital parking lot when Nick texted that they were taking her back to delivery. We made it to the hospital five minutes ahead of Liam and Logan. Here is their first family picture. We got to see them in their bassinets as they rolled them out of the delivery room and up to the NICU where they spent their first few hours.

Both Mom and babies are doing well. I am so proud of Nick. He was there with her all the way. I really thought he might be one of those dads who just couldn't hang in there for a c-section birth, but he did. He documented every moment with photos.

Here are the vital statistics. Liam (on the left) was born first at 7:34 p.m and weighed 5 pounds 8 ounces. Logan was born at 7:35 and weighed 6 pounds 1 ounce.  I have a whole lot of trouble telling them apart. But I'm beginning to be able to see the differences.

They all came home from the hospital on Monday and life is settling into as much of a routine as you can have with two new babies. The Aggie Engineers are both needing sleep. I've been encouraging them to nap whenever they can. We're all working together to get everything done. I'll be here through next Wednesday. Katy is coming in on Thursday and will stay until Saturday to help out and meet her new nephews. When I go home next week, Marie's family will take over. I think, once Marie is able to recover from the c-section, they'll do fine. They seem better prepared than anyone I've ever seen. It wasn't quite as organized as they would have liked, because the babies came earlier than they expected. But it's definitely getting there.

We couldn't be more delighted.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Now We Wait!

You may remember, when I last posted I told you that our Aggie Engineers are expecting twins.  I know, it was a long time ago. I'm sorry. Time just gets away from me these days.

I thought you might like an update. The pregnancy has been progressing well. There have been little or no complications. Wow! A review of my last post reminded me that I haven't even told you that they're expecting twin boys.

The due date is the around the first week of February, so we are down to the wire here. Nick reported yesterday that the boys are now more than five pounds each. I was surprised at how well Marie is still getting around. She's walking around with around eleven pounds of babies. I have been where she is. Nick weighed in at 10 pounds 5 ounces. In my mind it's a miracle she's able to stay upright.

Due to her advanced pregnancy, a road trip for her was out of the question, so we all celebrated Christmas at their house. We had a great time. But, it was the first time ever that we haven't spent the holiday with our own parents. Patrick's Mom is the last surviving parent we have. It was just different to not be with the rest of the family. But, we realize that the time has come for changes. At some point family traditions have to pass to the next generation. Time will tell what we do in the future.

Nick and Marie have done an amazing job of preparing. When we arrived on December 23rd, Marie was washing dozens of little bitty baby clothes and blankets. It really brought back memories of when I did the same thing. I took advantage of the time there to snap some photos of the nursery. It's all prepared for the arrival of Our Little Princes.

I thought you might like to see the nursery. There is a feature wall done in stained wood and the other three walls are a soft green. They did all the installation themselves. They chose a wild animal theme with soft neutral colors. Marie and I collaborated to make the curtains and the bedskirts. She sewed the sheets and quilts.  The fabric is animal prints, arrows, and chevron. There is a rocking chair all ready for late nights and an MP3 player for lullabies.

Since you've seen it in the photos, I may as well go ahead and tell you, the twins will be named Liam and Logan. They will carry their grandfathers' names as well. They will be Liam Patrick and Logan Arthur.

On the subject of grandfathers, Marie's dad, Art, lost his long battle with cancer the week before Christmas. He died knowing that one of the boys would carry his name. Our hearts broke for the Rojas family as they went through the loss of their beloved father at the holiday season. He really was a person who sparkled with love and personality. His family is a wonderful legacy. Nick and Marie were able to get special permission from her OB/GYN to fly to El Paso for the funeral.

I promise to write more soon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Two for the Price of One!

We've settled into the hot part of a South Texas summer. Temperatures are running in the mid 90s every afternoon with the heat index hovering around the 110 degree mark. Most of the day it's just too hot do be outside.

Patrick continues to recover from his knee replacement surgery. This is his third week back to work. He mostly sits at a desk all day so the doctor let him go back after three weeks instead of the usual four. He has to set an alarm on his phone and get up and walk every hour to keep his knee from stiffening up. He's doing really well and walks without any assistance and with much less of a limp than he had before surgery. He goes for a two-hour therapy session after work three times a week. The therapy is a little painful, but he says it really helps. The hope is to achieve much more mobility than he has had previously in that knee.

Katy, Travis and Our Little Princesses visited us before and after their recent vacation to South Padre Island. They were here for the Fourth of July celebration. We went down to the bayfront to watch the fireworks. It's a very nice place to go for fireworks. There is always a breeze off of the water. This years show was supposed to start with a light show on the Harbor Bridge. However, thanks to some illegal fireworks that were shot right under the bridge, the light show did not go. After that we were a little disappointed. The fireworks show was less than fifteen minutes long. The City of Corpus Christi had all on-street parking blocked off so we had to pay $10 for parking on an unpaved vacant lot. All in all, it was a disappointing evening, but the fireworks were beautiful.

We have some very big news that I've been dying to share with you since we found out. I've just been waiting for the okay from the Aggie Engineers. Nick and Marie are expecting ... TWINS! We are beyond excited. They have been trying to conceive for several years so this has been a long time coming. They waited until they were sure that the pregnancy was viable to share the news outside the family. Here is how they announced it.

Their due date is the first week of February. However, we've been told that with twins we should expect an early arrival. We won't know for a few weeks whether they're boys, girls, or one of each. We're just hoping for healthy babies.

Marie is a twin herself and is just taking it all in stride. Nick is a little bit freaked out about having two babies right off the bat. These two are "our little overachievers." I'm not at all worried about them being able to handle two babies. Besides, Nick has assured me that they're getting my room ready so I can come for frequent long visits. All I have to say about that is "I'm in!"

I'll try to keep you as up-to-date as I can about the progress of the pregnancy while still respecting the Aggie Engineers' privacy. In the meantime, here are our first baby pictures.

More soon! Stay cool and have a great summer.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Here and Now

It has been a while since I've been able to dedicate as much energy to writing this blog as I would like. I've reached a place where "life" has been getting in my way. Now that it's summer, I would like to think I'll have more time, but somehow, with everything that's going on I doubt it. Maybe I should just close it down under the circumstances, but I don't want to do that. Sometimes writing this blog feels like my lifeline. So, for the time being, I will just go along as often and as well as I can and hope that you will stick with me.

Here's what's happening here and now.

Both of our little princesses played soccer this spring. They played in a YMCA league and in their very young age groups, they didn't keep score. Both girls did very well. Ezra took to soccer much better than I thought she would and kept a smile on her face the whole time she was on the field. She had a great coach who gave lots of positive feedback to everyone and made sure every child played and had a good experience. We need more youth coaches like him. June was really good at soccer. She's very well coordinated for a four-year-old. She scored several goals in every game. Her coach was a little less organized, although I appreciate her efforts. Trying to coach a group of four year old kids is like herding cats. At best, it's organized chaos. We made a trip up specifically to see them play and we were able to catch another game when we had to go to San Antonio for a business dinner.

Last weekend I went to San Antonio for Ezra's first dance recital. While I really enjoyed it, it was really long. We sat through 28 performances of ballet, tap, tumbling, jazz, hip-hop, and a few other things I don't even know the names of. The performers ranged in age from 2 to approximately 60 (which included some grandmas). Ezra was in the 20th group. It was so long that my knees hurt when I finally stood up.

I think Ezra's favorite part of the whole thing was that she got to wear stage makeup. It was her very first time to ever wear makeup and, as you can see, she was thrilled and cute as a bug. It also didn't hurt that her friend Arabella was right next to her through the entire performance. Arabella's mom, Andi, and Katy were stage moms for their group. As you can see from the group picture, Ezra is the tallest in her group. It's a position she will need to get used to, just as her mom did. I was particularly pleased with her willingness to perform in front of such a large audience. The recital was held in the Lila Cockrell Theater in the San Antonio Convention Center in front of a packed house.

I was very impressed with what a good audience June was. For a 4 year old, she was amazingly well behaved and patient throughout the entire performance. Did I mention it was long?

There were a couple of reasons that Patrick didn't make the quick trip to San Antonio with me. One of the things that has been keeping us busy is his mother. Friday was her 85th birthday. She has been having health problems for a while now. I have not written about them before because she is a very private person and would not want details of her life on the internet. But, the family has given me permission to share at this point.

Mama Ruthie, as I've called her since our marriage almost 40 years ago, has been in frail health for about two years. On Valentine's Day this year she fell in the entry of her house while opening the front door. As a result of the fall, she broke her pelvic bone in three places. After about two weeks in the hospital, she was moved to a nursing home/rehabilitation center near our home. She made very slow progress and since then has only been able to walk with a walker and someone to assist her.

About three weeks ago, an alert nurse noticed that she seemed confused and unresponsive. She contacted Mama Ruthie's doctor on Saturday morning. The doctor immediately had her transported to the hospital emergency room. At the hospital, they confirmed that she'd had a stroke. After about a week she was responding well to treatment and therapy so was transferred to the rehabilitation center of the same hospital. During the transfer, Patrick noticed that the side of her face started to droop again and she exhibited weakness on one side and seemed confused. He called it to the attention of the nurse who immediately called the hospital's crash team. They were able to intervene quickly and prevented more extensive damage. But, back to the hospital room she went.

After a couple of days, they started therapy again. This time she was not cooperative. Some days she would do part of the therapy, but then she would say she was too tired or just say she didn't want to do any more. Eventually, she completely refused to do any more therapy. After she refused therapy four days in a row, they discharged her in accordance with hospital policy. She declined to return to the nursing home/rehab center, so she went home. She is very weak and can not walk nor take care of her personal needs. The two strokes have damaged her short-term memory. She can't remember things like who has visited or when she last ate.

She has two adult daughters and a teenage granddaughter who currently live in her home. They have assumed the role of caretaker. With very few exceptions, since Valentine's Day one or both of us has gone to the hospital or nursing home daily. Now we visit her at home every few days. She is the last of our parents and I can feel her slipping away a little more every time she falls or has a medical incident. This is going to be tough.

The other reason Patrick didn't go to San Antonio for the recital is that he is having knee replacement surgery today. He is actually in surgery right now and I'm writing this from the waiting room outside the OR. He will be in the hospital at least 3 days and then he will start daily therapy. I will have to drive him to therapy and take care of everything at home. We have told his family that we are out of taking care of his mom for the foreseeable future. I expect that he will be able to return to work in about a month. I really hope that nothing more happens to his mom while he is recovering.

We are also dealing with some issues with our home. When our drought finally broke earlier this spring, we had about 3 inches of rain in less than two hours. It was early morning on a work day and we were having coffee in the living room. Patrick got up and went to the kitchen. I heard him ask me if I spilled something. I replied that I had not and got up to check. We quickly realized that water was coming into the house around the baseboards. Fortunately, we were still at home and were able to use towels and mops and keep the flooding somewhat at bay. Also luckily, we do not have any carpet. All our floors are vinyl planks that look like hard wood. Two or three days later, on Friday night, it happened again. Basically, a cloudburst stalled right over our neighborhood. Again, we had 3-4 inches of rain in just a couple of hours and water came in around the foundation. This time the power failed and we were trying to hold the flooding at bay in the dark. This time every room in the house had water except for the front bedroom.

Last summer, when Patrick lost his job, we seriously considered dropping our FEMA flood insurance. The policy came due right in the middle of his unemployment and it was seriously on the table. We've lived in this house for 30 years and never had any problems with flooding, so we didn't think it would be much of a risk. I feel so lucky that we didn't drop it. Who could have known that we would have so much rain so fast so many times this year? We have not yet received our settlement, but the preliminary paperwork shows that it will pay an amount adequate to replace all the floors. We feel very blessed.

After the second big rainfall, we had a french drain system installed all around the back yard. Again last Friday we had almost 4 inches of rain in under two hours. The drain system worked well except for one drain which was too high. As you can see in the photos below, that one drain allowed water to pool on the patio. We have since had it lowered so it should work in the future. It didn't quite keep up last Friday, but it kept up well enough that we did not get water in the house.

Later this summer, Katy and I will go shopping for new flooring. After Patrick recuperates adequately from his knee replacement, we'll be getting new floors.

So, please forgive me if I don't post more often. As I think you can see, my plate is full. I really enjoy blogging and love hearing from all of you. Please stay in touch. I will do my best to keep you up to date.

NOTE: I just spoke with Patrick's doctor. The surgery took exactly as long as expected and went well. There was much less damage to the knee than he expected. He'll be in recovery for a while yet, then moving to a room. He will be in the hospital until at least Saturday.

Monday, May 11, 2015

June's Birthday

Last month we celebrated June's Birthday. I can't believe our littlest grandchild is 4 years old. At four years old, June is so much fun. She will charm you with her kindness and tenderness one moment and blow you away with her larger than life personality a moment later. She loves Iron Man and Queen Elsa and she thinks Captain America should be President. She sings enthusiastically with very little prompting and has quite an astonishing memory.

Her birthday party was at the world-famous San Antonio Kiddie Park. The Kiddie Park is America's oldest children's amusement park. It first opened in 1925 and they have worked hard to preserve it's 1920's style while renovating it over the years to maintain safety standards. I remember going there when I was a kid and it has hardly changed at all. It's like stepping back in time. It's such a great place for a birthday party.

The party featured popcorn, pizza, lemonade, cupcakes, and birthday cake. It was an overcast day and, thankfully, the rain held off until the party was over.

June's friends from day care came to celebrate with us. And, of course Omi, Pa-Pa, Pop-Pop, and Grams were there to help with the party and celebrate.

Our beautiful Queen Elsa cake and Olaf cupcakes were made by my friend Marta. They were beautiful and delicious. As  you can see above, cutting a doll cake is interesting. When we got to the point you see above in cutting the cake, a guy from the party next to us leaned over and said "Queen Elsa is showing the goods." It cracked me up, so I snapped the picture.