Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas pictures

Click on the word Christmas pictures above and it will take you to some photos from this morning.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Annabel made sure she was getting a present!

Annabel is so excited about Christmas that she bought herself a present at the dollar store today.

She wrapped it up and put it under Mom and Dad's tree.

Tonight she made a BIG presentation to herself, reading her gift tag, To: Annabel, From: Annabel.

Then she opened it as if she was not sure what to expect with LOTS of fanfare and excitement!

Sure enough, it was the glove (her word) that she had bought herself with basketballs on them for a dollar at the dollar store!

Grandmother Hattie Edith

To quote my Grandmother Hattie Edith,

"Lord, what have I done to deserve all of this!"

Grandmother was the kind of person who thrived on the crazier the better and so every year her tiny house was packed, every single room, with every member of the family.

More than once Lisa and I drove from Abilene after getting off from work at Luskey's Western Wear, all the way to Paris, Texas, many times with only one working windshield wiper.

But it didn't matter, we had to be there. Grandmother would know and be so disappointed if we missed. One year I picked up Jana from her retail job at Mervyn's and we probably made it down there by 9:00, only to turn around and come right back home. Again in a Volkswagen that had the traditional VW heater system. In other words, none!

The evening was capped off with Grandmother finally sitting down to the biggest pile of gifts you have ever seen and her exclaiming repeatedly, "Lord, what did I ever do to deserve all of this!"

I feel the same way tonight.

Incredibly the snow continues to come down and the more the snow, the more hyper my girls are!

Annabel has openly been so excited about the possibilities of Christmas. She is ecstatic over the tree, the lights, the food, the family gatherings, but especially the anticipation of what tomorrow might bring.

Grace is more reserved, but has kept a count down on Mom and Dad's chalk board.

We have spent the afternoon in our fabulous new kitchen preparing our meal for tonight. We had lots of plans for going somewhere special for dinner but so very grateful to Gloria for the HUGE Honeybaked Ham for a warm dinner at home instead.

Annabel has been my sous chef getting into chopping up things. Most things are chopped enough that even someone on a pureed diet could eat it! Grace has put the final touches on gifts for the grandparents.

I feel so blessed to enjoy the excitement of Christmas with my girls and my parents!

Lord, what did I ever do to deserve all of this!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas lights

This has been a really long day.

It ended less than an hour ago as the bus pulled up to the hospital's main entrance and dropped off the rest of our passengers of older adults who went for the Christmas lights and dinner tour.

When I posted last week that I was finished with all my job festivities, I completely forgot about our trip tonight. I was reminded frequently that I had come up with this idea and three months ago it sounded great! Of course that was before I knew what all could happen between then and now.

In an effort to save money, we booked a much smaller bus, which left us taking my car to hold the overflow. Thank goodness Gloria had planned a great meal otherwise we would have been famished just from the wait time to get into the Prairie Lights display. The line was even longer as we left! The lights are really pretty, but a one hour wait to get into the park kind of puts a damper on things. At least we had good company during the wait!

Lisa and the girls left shortly after coming back from the doctor's office. I was glad I had a distraction for my girls, as it is always such a down time when Gillian and Darcey left.

The doctor is not sure why Dad is running the high temperature, but gave him some medicine including antibiotics. Tomorrow is Mom's turn to see the doctor. As someone mentioned, now that some of the shock is wearing off, they are more aware of the pain they are in and not bouncing back quite as quickly as they first thought they should/would. Of course when you hit a concrete wall going 60 m.p.h. it is a little rough on your body, regardless of the age.

Top priority for me is making sure that Santa is ready for Friday! I've had no trouble coming up with ideas for Annabel and trying to decide if I can afford the portable basketball goal she has wanted for so long.

Grace is my problem this year as the only things are her list are books or Nintendo games. She needs clothes but not sure she is quite old enough to "value" them for gifts! The other things she would LOVE are a netbook and a new phone, but she knows they are out of our price range this year so she did not include them on the list.

I took the time yesterday to write out a lot of Christmas cards and then promptly left them here with no stamps! Hmmm, maybe I will just be way ahead next year!

Update on Mom and Dad

The girls are busy trying to build a gingerbread house and learning that construction is more difficult than originally expected. We have added corn starch to the royal icing in hopes that it would be a good thickener and also they were reminded that reading the directions would have been helpful too!

Mom and Dad are on their way back to the doctor via Lisa.

Dad has been running a temperature of 102+ for the last two nights with some serious chills and shaking. The doctor's office admonished that he could ONLY see them for this ONE issue, none other. How irritating is that!

Last Thursday I took Mom and Dad to see their doctor but instead we saw is PA. Mom and Dad were disappointed as they have great faith in their doctor and had never met the PA before.

The PA ordered more x rays since other issues continued to surface that were not initially addressed in the ER. It takes some time to get over the shock and realize what all is hurting.

We were there for hours and then on Friday they did not call with the results, so we really don't know much at this point.

In spite of how they felt, they were intent on us having our family Christmas party on Saturday night. Somehow all of it is a blur right now, but the girls had a great time. We have had "sleepovers" the last two nights with all 4 girls sleeping on our living room floor.

Last night we went shopping as the girls each received a very nice monetary gift from a very sweet lady at church. The money was burning a hole in their pocket!

Lisa felt like we were herding sheep and that's exactly what it seems like sometimes. As soon as you round up all 4, then you can't walk because they are so close. But if you blink you lose one!

The evening brought back lots of memories of our Santa Fe trip. We agreed we had to repeat it this year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My job as a sandwich!

Most of the time I really love my job.

Today was our second Christmas party this week. We have one at each location.

I've always said they are a tough crowd though to please.

The coffee is too hot, too cold, too strong, too weak. The water has too much ice, not enough ice. The plates are too big, too small. The room is too cold, too hot. I have even teased that the sugar was too sweet or not sweet enough.

Generally I can overlook this, but have tried to learn not to make these kind of comments myself, when I am invited somewhere.

Today though, before we could even get started I had people complain that the music was too loud, too soft, the line was too long or too short, there was not enough coffee, too much coffee.

You get the point.

My tongue hurts tonight from biting it. It did take a lot of the fun out of the hard work we had done to try to ensure they would enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A follow up

When I graduated with my Master's Degree from UNT in 1993, my first job as a rehabilitation counselor was over a caseload of individuals with traumatic brain injuries. Very quickly it became evident that the majority of the injuries were the result of a car accident.

Working with these individuals, many times looking as though nothing was wrong with you, it gave me a deep appreciation for the complexities of our brain and how much damage can occur when your head is jerked around or goes through the windshield.

None of these individuals returned to their "old life". The damage was done and it was permanent.

Shortly after getting the job it was necessary to get a new car.

My sole criteria for the car was an air bag.

Now they are "standard" on most cars, but then they are new and just being included on some models.

I will always be grateful to whoever invented airbags and those who had the foresight to require their inclusion in cars.

Mom and Dad were not in their car on Monday.

They were test driving a car.

They are sold on the safety that the Infiniti provided them in their accident.

My nieces journeyed out to the car dealership to retrieve Mom and Dad's car and while there, thankfully Katie thought to take pictures.

Everyone asked me what it looked like.

I really cannot tell you because once I saw my parents and realized they were hurt, I zoned into them and only them.

The pictures really tell a gripping story of the potential damage that could have occurred to Mom and Dad.

The front and rear fender and bumpers on the passenger side look like an accordion.But the airbags did their job and kept them cushioned and not flying through the windshield.

I've learned several things from this experience.

One that my father is the master of understatement. He told me they had been in a serious accident, but failed to mention how much either had been hurt.

That people are kind and caring and willing to say prayers on your behalf, which is a huge point in itself.

That airbags and all the safety features of a car make a difference.

It's been a complicated 48 hours trying to juggle all that had to be done.

Thank goodness that everyone chipped in, even going so far as to pick up my girls the last 3 days!

We enjoyed a great meal that Martha prepared and Lisa served, along with Lisa's ham and pasta. If Lisa is around, she is going to make sure you get a good meal.

Drew, Marcie, Katie, and Lisa all made trips out to the school for the girls.

Marcie and Katie drove almost to Oklahoma to get Mom and Dad's car.

Katie cleaned Mom and Dad's house.

And while all of that is extremely wonderful, the best was Drew mowing and clearing out all the leaves in both our front yards!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Best laid plans

Some days you get up just sure that you know what the day will bring. Mondays are a pretty good example. Mondays especially seem to follow the pattern you expect.

But sometimes Monday surprises you.

Our usually prompt starting meeting on MOndays was delayed, so the end time went over.

When I got back to my office several people mentioned that Dad had called looking for my co-worker. They mentioned he sounded upset? in a rush? Something just didn't sound right.

I knew my parents had planned to check out a car to buy and then planned to do some Christmas shopping on their way home.

I actually dialed Dad's cell phone number halfway expecting that he was calling to tell me he had found a car for me to buy too and what did I think.

Instead he said they had had a serious accident and I needed to come pick up mom.

His directions put them on a service road, so I expected a fender bender of some sort and began to plan that MOm and I might be able to squeeze in a little bit of shopping before coming back.

Somewhere on my drive to "pick up Mom" DAd and I talked again. I asked if Mom was ok. He said no, you need to take her to the hospital.



Yes, the paramedics and the fire truck were just leaving but we still need to take Mom to the hospital.

STill really not making sense.

He told me they were on the service road, but it seemed odd that the traffic on the freeway was stopped in both directions. That's because they had the freeway blocked because of the accident.

Only when I saw Mom sitting in the car with both air bags deployed and Dad standing on the side of the road did it hit me what a serious accident this was. Mom was not moving and I had expected her to be able to scale down the embankment to get in the car. Instead I made a trip back around and up on the freeway.

There sat a giant tow truck, a couple of police cars, lots of flares, a car with the doors open, and an assortment of characters standing around and a policeman flagging me down thinking I was just intent on busting through the accident to get to the exit ramp.

I grabbed my coat and put around Mom and led her to my car. She was holding on tight to her Christmas cards and her lipstick. She seemed to be in shock but came out of it enough to instruct me on the other things I had to get out of the car.

Not until I went back to the car did I realize it was not their car! This was the car they went to look at! It had a sticker on the back window. But I don't think i could tell you anything else about that car just from the shock of the two giant airbags and that I was still trying to make sense of what was going on.

Dad filled me in on part, explaining that MOm refused to go to another hospital and the paramedics refused to transport her to our hospital, as they would pass 3 others on the way, and felt like she needed to be there quickly.

It seems that a car, trying to change lanes, clipped the back of the car Mom and Dad were in, causing it to spin around, and then get hit by the giant tow truck, that I thought was there to pick them up. At that point they crashed head on into the concrete embankment which made the airbags go off. All Mom remembers is Dad telling her to hold on. Thank goodness there were airbags and the paramedics told them if they had been in their little Jetta, the situation would have been much worse. I have to thank God that while they were spinning that no one broadsided them either. This is probably one of the busiest stretches of Central Expwy too.

When we got to the hospital, after VERY careful driving, and my talking ninety to nothing trying to figure things out and see if I could get a better feel of mom's condition, I knew she was in a lot of pain when she agreed to riding in a wheelchair and then not wanting to get out of it.

Gloria and ERika met us in ER and Gloria agreed to go pick up Dad. YOu can give Gloria a remote spot in any part of Dallas and she can find it. I knew with little instruction she could find Dad.

Eventually we got both into the same ER room, both wrapped up in a variety of layers of sheets and blankets, and the transporter or tech, moved them close enough so they could hold hands. Neither was satisfied until they can feel each other. It did not help that they had HUGE stiff cervical collars around their necks so they could not turn their heads and see each other.

Marcie got in touch with Drew and he picked up my girls, then they took them home and fed them their favorite meal, Chinese noodles!

By the time they came back it had been decided that Mom needed to spend the night for observation and that Dad would be discharged, but expected to stay at the hospital. So technically he could go, but they still wanted him around, just in case anything on him changed.

Both are extremely sore from the seat belts and the air bags. Both have very sore necks and chests.

Mom's EKG was not quite right, plus her right knee looks like a softball, and she is experiencing a LOT of pain in her chest.

After I had time with the girls, we decided we needed to take them clothes, toothbrushes, medicine, and a milk shake for Dad. I was glad the girls got to see them, but did not think I could pull them away and back home.

It is so odd for me not to be there tonight, but I knew for my girls' sake they needed to be at home and in their beds.

All Mom can do is fret about what all she still needs to cook, clean, wrap, and people to buy for. I hope she can get some rest with some pain medicine tonight. They wrapped her knee in a stabilizer and covered it with ice. I know Dad will be more sore tomorrow unless he gets somewhere to lay down.

It is really hard raising your parents! Prayers are greatly appreciated!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

More questions than answers

The Christmas tree is finally up and the stockings are hung by the chimney with care. I just hope that Santa will get her act together and get the presents bought!

This year is producing a whole slew of questions from Annabel about Christmas. I feel very unprepared because I cannot even remember why we have a Christmas tree among others.

This morning on the way to church, I think Grace must have asked me a question for each rotation of the tires. Among those were how do you get a license plate? How do they make them? How do they know which is your number? How do they keep from giving people the same numbers? All I could think of was that I thought prisoners made them but did not have time to answer before I was asked several more.

I made one big mistake this weekend. I watched 48 Hours Investigates last night.

The story focused on adoptions from Samoa that were a scam.

If one set of adoptive parents had not started asking question, I guess it would have continued, although the Samoan authorities did investigate after a baby died from malnutrition in the adoption agency's "foster" home.

The family that started asking questions was prompted to do so after their daughter began to talk at length about her family, including where each person slept. She never mentioned being in the "foster" house, just about her home and family.

This child had basically been "taken" from her parents after they were led to believe that she was going to a "foster" family in the US until she was 18 to provide her an education. Then she would return to Samoa.

Recently a friend told me she was glad my daughters were older when I adopted them so she did not have to worry that they had been stolen babies. She knew that their stories were legit.

But after seeing this story I have felt shaken up.

Many of these children were older, not 11 years old, but 3-5 years old.

Grace and Annabel only have memories of their foster families. It worries me that their "foster" families might have been part of their biological family. I know they weren't as each set of parents have fostered lots of other children too, but still I have found myself doubting.

I think what disturbed me the most was the family who decided to return their daughter to her Samoan family. She was so comfortable there and loved being with this huge extended family that all lived together. She adapted so quickly to their lifestyle and just as quickly, forgot how to speak English. She was more than willing to give up the "American" lifestyle just to be with her biological family. Obviously possessions don't provide the basis for a long term relationship. Another family took their daughter to visit and she was very sad about leaving her Samoan family to return to the US.

The third family was refusing to acknowledge the Samoan family.

Many have told me how fortunate my girls are to be here. But what if they decide they are not fortunate. I've always felt like I was the fortunate one.

But I wonder, are there inherent qualities that make you part of your biological family? Or your nationality? Or your ethnicity?

Was I wrong to take them from the only family they knew?

I know the facts and I quote them often.

If a child is not adopted by the age of 14, they are basically on their own. There are no accommodations to take care of these older children.

There is no money to pay for education or health needs or housing. Many end up on the street. Or that is what I have been told.

There recently was a story about a young Chinese boy who actually had gotten separated from his family while traveling. The authorities did not know what to do with him so they took him to the local orphanage and a US family adopted him. When his US family took him back, they found a lot of holes in the story that the Chinese family told. I believe he returned to the US with his adoptive family.

My girls were left as infants. I know where they were left. Or I know the story I have been told.

Somewhere there is a biological mother and father. I don't know if they are alive or where they are. I do not know the circumstances surrounding their decisions.

Right now Annabel is going through a tough time. She gets as close to me as she possibly can but the minute I try to reciprocate, she winces. She is struggling to learn what she needs to at school and shocks me at her grasp of math. Sometimes I think her insides must feel like electric bolt coursing through her body as I see the nervousness on the outside. Today at church there was simply no way she could hold still. Is it biological and can be corrected or is she just nervous? Or ill at ease?

Tonight I feel very lacking. I know we will have to travel back to China to try to answer these questions but not sure that I really want to know the answers.

I don't know if they will want to try to find answers or not.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Sandwich Generation

My girls are intrigued by the title of this blog and Grace, especially, has asked several times what it means.

For those who don't know, "they" (the media) are calling people whose lives are sandwiched between their children and their older adult parents. Now my parents are not dependent on me and I hope that we actually have more of an interdependent relationship, but my job does make me feel sandwiched sometimes.

This week there have been several things that have occurred that have caused distress? Not really? Stress? Some? Sadness? Probably more than any other emotion.

Today a woman, just a few years older than me, wandered into our area at work. She was looking for someone to pay for a taxi to get her back to the homeless shelter. Before we could find someone to help, she began to slur her words and appeared to pass out. Thankfully we have an emergency response team that handles these types of situations, but when I found out how young she was (58) it really made me wonder what happens in your life that causes you to reach the point she was.

Last week we heard about two long time friends who had passed away.

One's body was ravaged by cancer, the other by diabetes and heart disease. Both leave wives who are fairly independent, but still so lost now without their husbands, with their own health also failing.

The worst was learning Saturday morning about a friend who was missing. Most people have friends their own age. My friends are all in the 80's! This woman had received notification that the Department of Public Safety wanted her to re-take her driving test, it had been reported that she was perhaps, not safe to drive any more.

This outraged her so much that she got in her car to drive to the driver's license office and show them that she was quite capable of taking care of herself.

Somewhere on the way she became disoriented and lost.

She was found Saturday morning, with her window down, screaming and yelling out the window.

Thankfully someone stopped to help, which supports my belief in guardian angels, as this man did not take advantage of the situation, but instead called the sheriff's office, and stayed with her until help arrived.

She had run out of gas.

Friday night the temperature dipped into the 20's.

Where was she all night? Did she have anything to eat or drink? No one knows.

We just know the story from where the good Samaritan and the sheriff came in.

Then I try to shift gears and focus on my daughters.

Sometimes it is harder than others.

Tonight we had our Christmas party with our volunteers.

Most have been with me for at least 7 years or is it 8?

But with this population, the older adults, you always have lost some. Some have passed away. Some have become too frail and elderly to continue working. Some are currently struggling with serious health issues.

But all have given their time to help others. Most can still run circles around me. All have been part of the "Greatest Generation". They have survived the Great Depression and WWII. Most of their children are part of the "baby boomers".

But for some of those adult children, it is too difficult to see Mom or Dad getting older so they skirt their responsibilities to them, sure that they are ok or leave someone else in charge.

So tonight, with all this on my mind, I had to force myself to focus on using water as an alternative form of fuel! Now that does take some concentration to try to explain that concept to someone whose English is still VERY unsophisticated? Developed?

PLUS, she, being Annabel, has to prepare a Powerpoint presentation on her research with animation!

OK, I admit. Tonight I feel sandwiched!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas and Annabel

This will be Annabel's second Christmas ever.

I got a little teary eyed realizing that she will never experience writing a letter to Santa, but we go on.

I'm not sure how I have brought it up in conversation, maybe it went like this,

Hi, my name is Jerri and this will be my daughter Annabel's second Christmas.

There is a real possibility on that scenario as I catch myself dropping them into EVERY conversation.

Anyway, the whole concept of a 12 year not having had but one Christmas before is really confusing to people.

They cannot imagine what the circumstances were that would prevent a child from having Christmas.

The main reason is that I do not think it is celebrated very widely in China.

China is a communist country and while there are some Christians, the majority are Buddhist, so the whole concept of celebrating Christ's birth would not come up in the Buddhist religion.

The second main reason is that she has spent the majority of her life in an orphanage. There were no extra means for "gifts". Daily needs were met basically and that is all.

I really wish I could get inside my girls' heads and see what they are thinking. She had been home about five months last year by Christmas and we had already had her dress in an angel costume and beg for candy at Halloween. Then we all gathered around a very large bird and ate too much for Thanksgiving. Now we wanted her to believe that an overweight white man with a white beard would bring her presents just because she was good?

Regardless of what she believes in, this year she has figured out that it does mean a slew of gifts for no apparent special reason other than that we put a tree in our living room.

She has pored over every advertisement with toys.

She brought me another one tonight with more things circled in case I needed to know what she wanted.

But when asked she will tell you she wants a Santa Clause outfit, along with the beard, and five Golden Retriever puppies.

I know why she wants the Santa Claus outfit.

She wants to be the one who gives.

Bless her heart.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Salado and Zhu Zhus

Yesterday was a really long day.

I had to be at work early, so Mom and Dad took the girls to school. I had to meet a busload of older adults headed to Salado for the day.

The weather forecast went from great to bad to worse, but they never mentioned ice, so we decided the trip was on!

Those who cancelled really missed out on a great day. Our load of 50 stopped first at West for kolaches, which alone would make the trip worthwhile, but we pressed on to Salado, despite the blustery, gray skies.

Maybe the weather helped clear the highways, but we made record time and had chance to look around before lunch at the Stagecoach Inn. If you have never tried it, I really recommend it, even if for nothing else than the chicken broth and hush puppies they serve with every meal. In fact at our table one person turned down dessert for more hush puppies!

The snow started soon enough and we held our breath but it stopped as quickly as it started.

On the way home we stopped at the new Collin Street Bakery in Waco. This group LOVES their fruitcake and large shopping bags were brought on the bus for the trip home.

We had a great group that wanted to see it all and were generous with their compliments. It made the late return worth while.

Salado is a place that I am always afraid that I will get sad because it Jana made us all go to the Salado Stroll one year at Christmas in a cold, drizzly rain. Gillian was just a little girl and we had great fun.

But instead of being sad, it usually just reminds me of my last boyfriend who wanted to go there regularly. He had seen a painting of a deer one time that he decided he just had to have. We spent so many trips looking for that picture! It is no easy task since the town is known for their art galleries! No, he never did find it!

While on our trip I got an email notifying me that there were Zhu Zhu accessories at our local CVS.

Now if you don't know what Zhu zhus are and I can't seem to get a picture to post, but on one list of the top 10 toys of the season, they are number one. I had bragged that my kids did not want them but at the last minute they have decided it is tops on their lists too!

So at 7:00 p.m. I head to CVS trying to buy the accessories for these motorized hamsters I don't even have yet. My friend Jamie has made the connection and located at least two for me. We are planning a swap of some accessories for hamsters later this week. It feels like some sort of clandestine affair!

At the last minute the manager decided I could only buy 2 of each item.

Maybe I looked so tired and worn out that he acquiesced and had each cashier check out two of each item. So it took longer, but I left with a carload of much revered accessories.

The day was not over as we still had to feed our neighbor's cats. She had called and asked me to cover up ALL of her plants before the big freeze this week and while I did, I wasn't sure if one cat slipped out. I am really anxious for her to return tomorrow but also worried that cat is gone! He stays hidden most of the time and even she rarely sees him. I just hope he is still there!

Today we tried to do a marathon of catching up on homework. We took a break to go to Costco and Kohls and then tonight to the Winnetka Heights Christmas Tour, both well worth the time off.

When we came back from the home tour, Grace counted how many Christmas decorations we had up, especially in comparison to those on the tour. The total number for us? Two! Decorating is a top priority for tomorrow!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Music to my ears!

It's official. Tonight I became my mother!

Sitting there listening to the North Hills Philharmonic, I was nodding my head, tapping my toes, smiling, as if it was the most beautiful music I had ever heard. It's amazing how motherhood even affects your hearing. I no longer heard the squeaks, squawls, and missed notes. Instead I heard beautiful melodies and was so proud of Annabel's abilities, I thought I might bust.

There is a great old movie about a couple that over time see only the beauty in each other and others are shocked that they cannot see themselves as they really are. I LOVE that movie. I had no idea that the love motherhood brings, also brings that type of "vision".

Last night while Annabel was practicing I could not imagine how it would all come together. My mom came over and bragged and bragged on how beautifully she played. At that point I could only hear the missed notes. I finally realized tonight her self esteem needed me to hear it through a mom's ears.

Yesterday morning on our drive to school it started snowing.

With the very first splat, instead of a rain drop, I made the girls check out the windshield so they did not miss a flake.

Annabel was like me and ooohing and aaahing continually.

Finally Grace said "Wow!". I said it is beautiful, isn't it?

She said, "Mom, I mean the line at Starbucks is long!". Oh well! She's a little harder to impress with the weather!

It's great to have your caretakers next door and when you come home late from the North Hills Philharmonic, or the beginner middle school band concert, and find the plug and light switch have been repaired and your Christmas wreath hung up!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Trying to catch up!

Before I sat down tonight, I had to look at a calendar, because it felt like it must surely be Thursday, rather than just Tuesday. Some weeks start off with more happening I guess.

Since I sat down last, Thanksgiving happened. Had it at our house for the first time ever. Have continued to wish I could start that whole process over and improve on the end results. I actually visualized serving appetizers! We were lucky to get it on the table before anyone died of starvation!

If you ever consider having major changes done to your kitchen, just leading up to a big meal/celebration at your house, let me tell you, that is just about the dumbest thing you can do. You have to wash everything, even things in your cabinets, much less putting things back in place.

But I have to say the room is awesome and we are really enjoying having a work space, dining space, and then the kitchen all together.

After we survived Thanksgiving, we packed up and ran to Austin to be there for LIsa's birthday. Lisa took us to all the neat places in South Austin and we got to enjoy some incredible meals at well known Austin establishments, like Fran's Hamburgers, Chuy's, and My-T-Fine Burgers! Gillian and DArcey stayed with us at our hotel, so it was like a giant slumber party. Only we had walked so much that I was the first asleep!

Sunday we enjoyed a birthday party before trying to catch up with all the homework missed while they were both sick after getting their immunizations. According to the mid semester grade report today, we did not quite get to where we need to be.

I'm not sure how Annabel has done any of the work, but she continues to plod on trying to learn. I know if the roles were reversed, I could never have done what she has done.

The last two nights have been long while trying to get all the homework, laundry, dishes, and lots of flute practice by Annabel.

Annabel's Christmas concert is Thursday night. The teacher still hasn't decided what songs they are going to play, so she practices all of them. I think they need a lot longer to practice!!