Thursday, December 12, 2019

Yippee Did (or Mom Learns to Text)

Mom's youngest sister texted me this summer to let me know that my parents had arrived safely in New York for a family reunion, but also that Mom wanted me to know she and Dad now had a cell phone--"just for emergencies"--so not to worry as much about their drive home a few days later.  My parents had never had a cell phone.  My parents have never tried an answering machine.  My parents have never used computers.  Before I could even think of a response, my phone pinged with another text from my aunt.  "Your dad says you're probably shocked."  Ha!  Yesssssss.  :)  

As predicted, though, it really was "just for emergencies," and since there--thankfully--wasn't one on their trip back, Mom and Dad still hadn't done more with their phone even by the end of October than charge it every few days.  When I came home at Halloween, though, I decided to change that--because if they weren't comfortable using it, they wouldn't remember how to do anything with it even during--and especially during--an actual emergency.  While Dad watched a ball game, Mom and I snuggled under a blanket on the couch with both our phones and I taught her how to text me.  Ping! as her first message came through to me, misspelled due to her tremors.  What she had been trying to write, I don't remember, but it came through as "Yippee did!"  I wrote back as we laughed, and although she was sitting beside me watching me write back to her, she still cried out, "OOH!  Neat!"  when she heard her phone chime with her new text from me.  :)  After we'd written back and forth a few times, giggling all the way, and with stubbornly uninterested Dad shaking his head in the background--although I haven't given up on him yet, oh no, never--I texted my younger brother and asked him to text Mom.  He not only wrote her, but also passed along new baby pictures, and that was all it took.  :)  Mom was hooked.  Mom had texted him, her youngest sister, and her oldest brother by the time she went to bed that night, she texted me the above picture of her and Aunt Laurie with sweet Vickie soon after, and a few days after I'd returned here, she texted to tell me that she had called Aunt Laurie to talk her into getting a cell phone so that we could all keep in touch that way.  :)    Soon enough, then, Aunt Laurie was sending me a Thanksgiving morning greeting, and I was sharing pictures with her of my newly-redone wall and curtains here.  Aunt Laurie texted back with a photo of her sweet green kitchen. 
A week ago, she followed up with a photo of her Christmas tree. 
Mom followed suit and sent us both photos of her own tree. 
And now we're all in regular contact this way, texting almost every day.  I think you know how sweet this is for all of us, and how proud I am of my mom.  Aunt Laurie had emailed before and has had a digital camera for years, so it wasn't quite the leap for her as it was for Mom.  To know that they can keep in touch this way with each other, with Vickie, with me, with their grandchildren, etc. is all just so GREAT.  :)  It is truly never too late to learn.  As I pointed out to Mom while she was learning, I was still learning to drive in my late thirties, so I would never be the one to mock someone for trying to learn, let alone struggling to learn, something.  I love watching people learn something, I love the moment when it "clicks"--when Mom opened her phone to see that just-taken picture of her two youngest nieces and suddenly "got" it and wanted more, more, more--and I find it sweet and inspiring to know that the morning of October 30th, Mom had no interest in this or ability to do this, and a few days later, she was--in her own self-deprecating--words "a texting marvel."  :)  And with that, I will sign off and wait for Mom's next message. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Holiday Bed

Mike washed the bedding with his laundry Sunday night and surprised me by replacing our everyday pillowcases with our Christmas ones a couple weeks early.  I usually wait until Christmas Eve to put them on, but seeing these in bed has been surprisingly sweet this week. I'll add the sheets one of these days.  Yes, why not enjoy them all month.    I've mentioned before my dream of setting up my dining room--I don't HAVE a dining room, so this is very much a dream, you see--with an assortment of mismatched tables and chairs for holiday family dinners. . .a kids table with seasonal decorations and activities to keep little ones busy, a table for two in a window, a round table with overstuffed armchairs around it, etc., and I've always had the same dream of hosting family overnight around holidays.  'Different bedding in every room,
seasonal pillowcases and sheets no matter the season,
extra touches of throw pillows and stuffed toys that add a little fun and whimsy to guests' quarters,
 no matter the occasion or holiday--
--no matter the guests' ages, since we're never too old for sweetness and silliness, and methinks we need those things as we get older at least as much as we did when we were kids, if not even more-so--
and that make them stop and think, "Ah!  That's right!  It's [Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Beach Week, Valentine's Day, whatever]!"  
And just to make them feel special♥  That's no small thing. 
We have no extra bedroom here, nor even a couch, so this remains a "someday" dream, but I so enjoy daydreaming about these sweet little spaces I have yet to own.  Mom and Dad's guest room at Christmas would sport its share of red gingham, I'm sure, and likely some pillows of their children and grandchildren made from old Christmas photos.  'Their own tiny Christmas tree beside the bed.  (Mike laughs because Mom still does this for me every Christmas when I come home.  )  Wherever all the kids would camp out, in beds and sleeping bags and chairs pushed together, a stocking filled with little treats would greet each of them in their spot in the morning. . . .Star pillows and star-patterned sheets for New Year's Eve sleepovers, gardening and bird-watching magazines fanned out on Aunt Laurie and Uncle Warren's bed during a springtime visit. . . .For various reasons, these visits and gatherings are unlikely to happen, but a dream is a precious thing, so I dream on and enjoy each one--and thank Mr. Mike for the taste of it we get here in reality in our own little apartment with each other. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

October, November, & Now December 4th

I spent some time last night looking through twelve years' worth of my photo albums on flickr, and it struck me that all those years--every year of the past twelve except this one--seemed to have been [easier?  more creative?  less of a blur?] than this one, but then it further struck me that this year was just not as well-documented as past years.  :)  I keep a journal as always, and I take pictures almost every day, but since I haven't sorted them all into an album labeled 2019 yet, and since there are only thirteen blog posts before this one to tell 2019's story in images and words here, this year just somehow seemed "less."  (A-ha!)  'Funny how memory works.  This year really has been a blur, though, as every year anymore seems to speed by faster than the ones before.  

It seems like I was home for a visit with my parents Halloween-week maybe two weeks ago.  It stormed almost the entire time I was there, sheets of rain pouring onto the deck's roof and then flooding it.  I baked a gluten-free dark chocolate cake for my parents, 
helped Mom figure out her first cell phone, and watched game seven of the World Series with Dad.  Sometime overnight on Halloween, we lost power.  Mom's many candles were put to good use all over their little house the next morning.  The top photo is of their kitchen island as November began.  It was the most perfect Halloween-week weather. 
Mike's mom celebrated her eightieth birthday just as little Bianca was turning six--six?!  She was just three!  She was just BORN!--and somehow, cards, flowers (mother-in-law), and balloons (niece) made it to them on time.  "She was so cute skating with her friends," Mom reported of Bianca's roller rink party a few weeks ago.  But look at this dear little face--
--and tell me what she'd NOT be cute doing.  'So adorable.    And still a little imp.  :)  She began kindergarten this fall. . . bows on her knee socks, stuffed animal on her desk, and answering the question of what she wants to be when she grows up with:  "A detective."  A detective!  Of course, at her preschool graduation ceremony this spring, all the kids had facts about themselves announced to the audience as they walked across the stage.  Bianca's?  "Bianca likes cats."  Bianca likes cats!  Ha ha!  Sweet girl.  I get such a kick out of her.  :) 
I got this shot of my oldest and youngest nieces from the Thanksgiving table last week.    The mind boggles.  And what a rich time for my parents, I have been thinking, to be able to enjoy grandchildren who range from five-month-old to almost-sixteen.  My nephew will be old enough to drive soon.  Baby Dylan!?  Precious times, and precious time. 
Mike and I spent Thanksgiving day at my older brother's home and then spent the night at his mom's.  'Such a sweet holiday, and the craziness of my working life being what it is, this was the first Thanksgiving I'd spent with family since 2010.  2010.  There are a number of changes I need to make in my life in the next few years, and changing things like that is high on the list.  Late last Wednesday night, I finally decided what I wanted to make for dessert to go along with both brothers' pies, and especially given how little planning went into them, I'm so delighted by how both desserts turned out.  'Such a good feeling when a "baking vision" turns out.  :)  I went with gluten-free yellow cupcakes to have an option Mom could eat, and I tried the all-over-the-internet "pumpkin pie wedge" Rice Krispie Treats.  The first batch of the Rice Krispie Treats I made standard pie-slice-size and took to Mike's mom's since there was to be a smaller gathering there.  We totaled  fourteen at my brother's home, so I made mini pie slices with that batch.  'Dollop of homemade buttercream on each to mimic whipped cream.  :) 
The tiny pumpkins were crafted out of homemade fondant, one of my favorite little baking/dessert-making/cake-decorating things to play with the past fifteen or so years.  Mike is careful with his sugar intake, and I (always anymore, alas) need to lose weight, so I rarely make things like these Thanksgiving desserts, but it is so fun and relaxing, I should make the time more often and just give away all but a couple of whatever I've baked.  Or maybe I should play it safe and just buy some poylmer clay to craft desserts for dollhouses.  :) 
Mike's mom had fall leaf-patterned flannel sheets on the bed for Thanksgiving night--so sweet  --and oh my goodness, it was the most comfortable bed and the coziest and most festive way to end the holiday. 
We returned home Friday evening to a cuddled-up-on-a-chair Stuffed, still going (relatively) strong at twenty years old.    I remembered just in time last week to get this fall's photo of him with the yellow trees outside the window, and he spent most of today on a nest of blankets beside the space heater while snow fell.  Dear sweet Stuffed.   
I say life's been a blur, but I will also pat myself on the back here and point out that my Christmas cards have been ready to mail for a week, I'm almost done with my shopping, and I put up the tree a couple Sundays ago.  'Unprecedented holiday organization here, and it's making the entire month ahead feel better.  Onward and upward, then, and may it not take me three months to find my way back to my little online space here.  Happy December to you all.   

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Ocean City Kites

A month ago today, Mike and I were in Ocean City for the last day of its September kite festival.  The kites are now one of my favorite Ocean City memories.  I cried at the beauty of them and at the thought that there's no real reason for them but that instead, this is something enough people wanted to do just to add some beauty and joy and whimsy and fun to other peoples'--completes strangers'--days.  It was just so touching to me.  
'Flying pigs (always my favorite  ), rainbows, larger-than-life seagulls,
swordfish or marlin,
soccer players and soccer balls--so charming!--
dragons,
stingrays and seahorses,
giant horses,
Pegasus (!), with a black and white cat under him that looked more than a bit like our own  , more stingrays, and a black and white dog, 

 --I could cry again looking at these pictures.  The creativity and just-for-the-joy-of-it!  ♥  Some of these kites lit up, so even while walking on the beach or boardwalk at night, we could enjoy them.  The wonder!  A huge elephant and whale were about to get off the ground just as we were leaving town, and at some point, I saw in other peoples' photos, there were larger-than-life scuba divers in the air too.  We did see penguins, fish, more rainbows, more dragons, and my beloved flying pigs again, though. 
 
The kites were enchanting even from a distance, 
and I had a favorite photo of them from the weekend turned into postcards after we returned home.  Ohhh, sweet Ocean City!  I love it so.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

October Saturday

'A high of 64° today, just cool enough, and just warm enough.  Blouse with a scarf, no jacket needed, but sunshine, windows open, and fresh air.  Lunch out with Mr. Mike and then to the movies to watch Joaquin Phoenix's brilliant performance in Joker.  Heart of leaves on the way home.  A postcard mailed to Mom and Dad.  Chili-cooking and baseball playoffs-watching tonight. Harry Potter series-rereading (now midway through book 5).  Stuffed asleep on the patchwork chair.  A night off!  Home!