Friday, December 28, 2007

News from the last week

I can't believe we're only a week away from heading home. This trip has just been flying by.

I returned late last night from attending my grandma's funeral. I wasn't going to go, with all the traveling around we've been doing, but it worked out for my brother and me to drive out with our dad and fly home together last night, so that's what we did. I'm so glad that I went. The funeral was a lovely testament to my grandmother's life and witness, and it was also a welcome chance to catch up with extended family. I couldn't tell you the last time all nine of us grandkids were all together, and my aunt and uncle who are currently on a mission term in Beirut were able to come, and I hadn't seen them in several years. I just kept looking around at the huge family that resulted from my grandparents' 70-year marriage, and thought that she couldn't have left a more wonderful legacy.

Today I had my first chance to go see my beautiful niece Hannah in the hospital. What a sweetie pie she is! I wish I could get the photos off my camera - she's so beautiful. I took Ben with me, and when we first got there she was awake and pretty calm, so I got to hold her for a bit - bliss. Ben was more interested in riding the "people mover" train that moves between the hospitals in the Riley complex, but he did seem to think Hannah is cute. She is going to be able to come home Sunday after her 5 pm meds, if all goes as scheduled and if she shows herself to be gaining weight over the next two days. Everyone is really ready to have her at home, even though there are sure to be adjustments, so my fingers and toes are crossed that all goes according to plan!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Next stop: Indianapolis

We're leaving Arkansas today and heading north to Indy - we should arrive by lunchtime tomorrow. It's been a good visit, even though all four of us were sick with a stomach bug that Ben picked up somewhere. We're all mostly recovered, though, so we're going to hit the road.

I think the highlight of our time here was taking the kids to Grandpa Jerry's farm. They both loved seeing the horses (two are Jerry's, one boards there) and his two tractors. They both got to sit up on them and help move the various parts up and down. At one point Sarah walked back over to one tractor and said, "Tractor! FUN!!" I took some cute photos but those will have to wait until we're home.

On a sad note, my grandma passed away yesterday afternoon. She was 92. She had a long and full life, and I will always remember how much she loved us all. I'm so grateful to God that I was able to say good-bye to her last Sunday morning. As my dad pointed out, she lives on in her namesake great-granddaughter, Hannah Grace. Their lives intersected on this earth for such a short time, and they never got to know each other, but the tie that binds us and our whole family is greater than we can know.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Road trip!

Greetings from Arkansas! We have spent the past three days driving to Little Rock to see my father-in-law. We'll be going from here (on Friday morning) to Indiana to see my family for the rest of 2007 and the first of 2008. I was pretty worried about how the kids would do with three days in the car - watching DVDs definitely helped, but they did get pretty stir crazy by the end. Overall they did really well, though. We were able to drive 3-4 hours at a time with little trouble. Today we ended up having less driving than we thought, so we spent a couple hours in Memphis having lunch and visiting a great store called Eclectica - mostly scrapbooking, but they did have some stamps. I only ended up with one stamp, since most of what they had didn't interest me or I could get at home, but oh the paper they had... beautiful stuff. I tried not to go *too* crazy since I already have such a stash of non-Stampin' Up! paper but I couldn't resist some new stuff to play with - maybe even on our trip, if I brought other supplies that happen to match!

Yesterday started off in a very emotional way for me. On Friday I'd talked to my dad while we were on the road, and he told me that my grandmother is dying and not expected to live more than a few days. The great irony here is that we were driving right through their town yesterday morning. We hadn't planned on stopping since we figured everyone would be busy with church, but when I got this news, and realized that it'd be impossible to get to the funeral, I knew we had to stop. I don't think it was a coincidence that we found out about her condition just in time - I'm grateful to God that he got that message through to me. My grandpa was so grateful that we wanted to stop in. He loved seeing the children since he hadn't seen Ben in 3 years and had never met Sarah.

When we got there my grandpa took us to my grandma's room... it was so sad seeing her like she was. Her eyes were closed and she just hardly looked real. In my memories of her she was always running around making food for the family (they have 6 kids, 9 grandkids and 15 great-grandkids) and just taking care of all of us. She had a stroke a few years ago and really hasn't been the same since. But my grandpa showed me a picture from just a couple weeks ago, where he was looking at a photo album with her and talking about family stories. I couldn't believe how quickly she had been transformed.

She did seem to know I was there, and to know who I was - my grandpa leaned in close to tell her that I was there and asked if she remembered me, and she said yes. When I said hello to her myself, she said something back that sounded like "hi." Other than that, she didn't show any sign of awareness but I was glad that she did seem to know we were there on some level.

It was so hard to say good-bye... Todd and I both cried. And I think I hugged my grandpa four or five times. I am so glad I had the opportunity to see my grandma one last time, to hold her hand and wish her peace on her next journey. Thank you, Grandma, for being such a wonderful woman, mom, and grandmother. We love you.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Trying to catch up

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted here! I'm hoping that after the holidays I can get back to more regular blogging. But we'll be leaving for an extended family visit on Dec. 15 and I won't be able to post any pictures, so I'm not sure how much posting I'll do while we're away.

In the meantime, let's see if I can catch you all up on everything that's been going on. Maybe it would be best to go by family member, so I'll start with Ben. Most recently he turned 4 on Monday! I just can't believe it. We celebrated on Saturday with a small party (mostly family) on an M&M theme. That was the request of the birthday boy. I made cupcakes, with some last-minute assistance from Aunt Karen:

The two with M&M's are for Ben, who doesn't like frosting on cake. Unfortunately the only way to make the M&M's stick was to use a teeny little bit of frosting, and here was Ben's face when he discovered what we had done:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I also have to share two new things that Ben did recently: he had his first dentist visit, at which they gave him 4+ (out of 4) for being cooperative, and he has started going to school all day on Tuesdays. He has done this twice now. He has regular school till 11:30, then lunch and rest time, and from 1 to 3 he has an enrichment class. Right now the theme is Polar Express (the Christmas train story) and he is loving it. In January it will be African Safari. He stays for an extra hour afterward and plays while Sarah finishes her nap. It is really working out well so far - the afternoons are more challenging for me now that Ben doesn't really nap much. So this is one way we're handling it and we'll just play the other days by ear for now!

Sarah is doing just fine - 19 months now. She has learned how to count to 5 (although her favorite number is 4) and she is fascinated with the alphabet song right now. She likes to listen to me sing it while looking at the ABC quilt hanging in Ben's room, which we got from Aunt Christine when he was a baby. (Ben did the same thing!) Actually anytime she hears music she will say "song" and she also dances by standing in one spot and turning around in a circle. It's all just so cute! Here's a lovely photo that Grandpa Jerry took the day of Ben's party.

Todd is hard at work but eagerly looking forward to our holiday travel and a nice break from the lab. I'm just looking forward to seeing family, especially baby Hannah, who as of Sunday was off the ventilator and starting to improve at last. I think they are hoping she'll be moved to the cardiac center any day now, where she'll finish her recovery and then finally go home. I think it seems likely that she will be home in time for Christmas, which I know is going to make everyone rejoice.

As for me, I'm completely overcommitted and busy but having a great time, since most of the busy-ness comes from stamping. I had my second craft fair last weekend and cleared $85, so at least that was an improvement over the first one. I made a lot of projects that weren't cards, since I hardly sold cards at the first fair, and that seemed to be successful. I'm hoping to put up some tutorials for some of the projects where I tweaked something else I found online - if I have time before the holidays, I'll do my best. The most successful thing has actually been since the craft fair - I've sold nearly $200 worth of stuff to some of the moms in my online group, and Todd has also generated some interest by taking a few things to work. I have the possibility of a fair at a large company around Valentine's Day, and got another lead for something similar through the fair last Saturday. It seems as if this venture might actually take off, and I'm hopeful! The TMJ situation continues about the same. This week I'll be getting impressions made for a new night guard, and I'll get it next week before we leave town. I hope that will help. My singing voice hasn't really recovered from the horrible bout with laryngitis I had a few weeks ago, so I think I may have to investigate that if I'm still struggling with it after the holidays. It would be nice to know that if the TMJ situation permits, I'd actually be able to sing!

I think that's the update for now. Check back for those tutorials if you're interested, and otherwise, I'll try to post any other news that we have before the holidays!