Sunday, November 29, 2009

So Thankful for Family

The hardest part of having an empty nest is that we are so far from family! We are thankful for every opportunity that we get to spend with family members. I had the chance to take a trip to Utah the week before Thanksgiving week (while Jim was traveling in China and Japan on business) to get my family fix.

When I picked up my grandchildren at their other grandma's house, I was greeted with cherished hugs from Maggie, Nathan and Matthew. When Becca, the youngest, saw me her face lit up in recognition. She ran to me. I picked her up and got a cuddle that would melt any grandma's heart. It made my day.

Dinner the first evening was at a Chinese restaurant with three of my daughters. Since their Dad was in China on his birthday, we decided that we were appropriately celebrating his birthday. We wished he could have been there to celebrate with us! We called Tori and told her that we had a seat for her and that we would be thinking of her on our girls night out. We spent two wonderful hours visiting and laughing.

Elly dropped me and the four kids off at the library while she ran an errand. She was concerned about leaving me alone with the kids in the library for a half hour. I assured her that all would be well. There is plenty to keep one busy in the library! Little did I realize.... The minute we entered the library, the kids took off in four directions. Maggie pointed out "Mom's books" (the biggest reserved section that I have ever seen). I noticed the sign as we entered the children's section of the library reminding patrons to be respectful of the library experience of others. Becca ran to the window and started calling for mommy, at the top of her lungs. I quickly helped Maggie pick out her books and then tracked Becca down. Maggie picked out books for Becca while I helped Nathan and Matthew find their books. I chased Becca down again and then sat down to look at books with Maggie. Becca disappeared again. I found her trying to put an unchecked out book on the return book ramp. She screamed when I took the book away and tried to run out the front doors. Matthew offered to watch her. I sat down to look at books with Maggie again. I soon noticed that Matthew was pushing Becca around the library on a reading chair. Although this was not a quiet library activity both were occupied and I ignored it for a while. Soon Maggie joined the activity and the disagreements started. The time to leave had come. As I was gathering up the books, I heard Becca crying. I found a concerned librarian hovering over the three children. I think we had caused more commotion in the fifteen minutes we had been in the library than the library had seen all year! I'm sure those librarians were happy to see us walk out that door.

Elly forgot about Maggie's preschool class. The teacher called to remind us that it was picture retake day and that she hoped Maggie could come. Elly was at work. When I told Maggie it was time to get ready for picture day at preschool she wanted to know if that meant she got to wear makeup. I told her "no" but that we did need to wash her face, comb her hair and change her shirt which was streaked with the hot chocolate she had had for lunch. She let me wash her face but refused to let me comb her hair or change her clothes. Elly will remember the day she forgot preschool every time she looks at that poor ragamuffin, Maggie, in the preschool picture.

I tried to fix dinner that night. The simple meal of cheese sauce, broccoli and potatoes took much longer to prepare than anticipated. Although there had been several interruptions, I couldn't figure out what the problem was! To add to the chaos, the kids decided to start playing in the kitchen to remind me that they were hungry. Elly came home and saved the day. She recognized that the burner was malfunctioning. After changing burners and still getting a watery sauce, she deduced that I hadn't put in the full amount of flour after doubling the recipe. Of course, trying to add the extra flour resulted in a lumpy sauce but I was supposed to be walking out the door to make my appointment with Cami and everybody was starving. We ate the lumpy sauce and the overcooked broccoli and potatoes. I left the house wondering how I ever fixed dinner with five hungry children at home!

I was happy to drop Brian off at the car dealership to pick up his car that had been repaired but was late meeting with Cami for her birthday shopping spree. Happily, Cami and I discovered that the store didn't close until a half hour later than anticipated. We had plenty of time to do all of our shopping and had a great time doing it. I spent a short night in Cami's apartment before returning to Elly's home the next morning.

I promised to take the girls to play on the merry-go-round while their mom ran errands. Matthew decided to join us. Nathan was not in the least bit interested. The traffic was slogged down by construction and it took us forever to get to our destination. We arrived about lunch time, decided to take a quick ride and then return home where we were to meet Elly before she went to work. Thankfully, Elly joined us at the mall. We had time to not only ride the merry-go-round but to eat lunch, play on the playground and do a little shopping as well. We had so much fun together that Matthew couldn't wait to get home and raz Nathan about missing out on a fun activity.

Later, after Becca's nap, I took the kids to a warehouse filled with trampolines. How crazy can a grandma be? I managed to get a few pictures but soon realized it was practically impossible to take them and keep track of the little girls, too.

I honestly can't say who was more exhausted by the time we left that place an hour later but I'm thinking it was probably grandma.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jim's Birthday Bash

Jim's birthday bash was fabulous--in spite of the fact that it was completely spontaneous. After spending the week zoned in on writing a talk and preparing a lesson to present in church on Sunday, I had neglected to make any birthday party preparations. Jim was going to be in China on his birthday (Monday, Nov. 16) and, knowing how much he loves a party, I approached him on Thursday with the idea of having some friends over the following evening to celebrate his birthday. Jim was so excited by the idea that he even offered to make the phone calls! I, being the generous wife that I am, (and still fully immersed in that talk and lesson) let him. Jim made some phone calls and was happy to find Vicki and Daryl at home to accept his invitation to dinner, keeping the birthday celebration a secret so we could have a "surprise" party.

Vicki and Daryl were the perfect birthday party guests. They loved being a part of our "surprise" party. They even agreed to join us in the birthday march!

The seven minute frosting (Jim's favorite all his life) didn't get too hard or slide off the cake--another sign of success!:)

We even had candles--a rare occurrence. But only because Jim had made a last minute run to the store before the party to buy the forgotten candles and had placed them carefully on his cake.

Blowing out the candles brought lots of laughter. I forgot to take the picture of Jim blowing out the candles the first time. We replaced them, re-lit them and tried again--for posterity. I couldn't get the camera to take the picture the second time and thought I'd missed it again. We did a pretend-Jim-is-blowing-out-the-candles picture but he was laughing too hard to make it look authentic. We checked the pictures I had taken and discovered that the first one had actually caught enough of the action to suffice.

Happy Birthday, Jim! You're the best husband ever. Thanks for being so patient with your crazy wife.:) Thank you, Vicki and Daryl, for being such great friends.