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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Can You Believe It?

Our eldest granddaughter, Ezra, turned six years old last weekend.

We celebrated with a birthday party at Artworks Art Studio. As the children arrived, the party started by everyone joining in coloring a banner that said "Happy Birthday Ezra."

Party favors were small buckets full of crayons, tablets, pencils, stamps, and other art supplies. Ezra and June splatter painted the buckets on their patio at home.

There was a choice of sandwiches - peanut butter & jelly or ham & cheese.  For snacks, Katy had a popcorn bar with Reece's Pieces, M&Ms, and honey roasted peanuts to mix in with popcorn.

I absolutely adored what Katy served in lieu of a big birthday cake. Each child got a cupcake served on an artists palette. The cupcake was frosted with seven-minute frosting and surrounded with a variety of colored M&M minis, gummy beads, jimmies, and Swedish fish. The kids had a whole lot of fun decorating their own cupcakes.

The party was organized in art stations including collages, record player art, stenciled lace, and several others. When they booked the party, Ezra got to choose which stations her guests would do. There were twelve kids in all including Ezra and June. Katy invited all the students in Ezra's kindergarten class. More than half of them came to the party. I was happy to see that several of the boys were there. This "art party" was the quietest party I have ever seen. The kids were genuinely captivated by all the art activities.

As you can see from the photos above, the party was a group family effort. Everyone had something to do. All four of the grandparents who were present played a role in making the party work. Katy and Travis greeted guests, met other parents, took photos, and kept everything running. It was truly a group effort and a lot of fun.