Thursday, February 3, 2011

Christmas

What a wonderful time we had celebrating Christmas with our new RV family. I was a little distraught thinking I wasn’t going to be able to attend a Christmas party but the campground came through for me. The campground sponsored a secret stocking Santa activity. Randy and I both signed up to be a secret santa for separate people and I had a blast shopping for them. We stuffed their stockings so full we had to leave the extra items next to the stockings. On Christmas Eve, we had our Christmas get together in the rec hall along with finding out the identity of our secret santa. The get together consisted of sharing favorite snack foods and activities. Guess who was in charge of the activities?? Yep, yours truly. There was lots of laughter during the activities and many compliments afterwards so I’m sure a good time was had by all. Then we did our stocking exchange and Randy got a perfect rice cooker for us. We have used it several times and hope not to wear it out before we leave here. On Christmas day, my mom went and got Grandma so all of us could be together. We had a small gift exchange between the families and then went to the big dinner at the rec hall. You wouldn’t believe the spread of food. Absolutely delightful!! I volunteered to help serve which gave me a very special opportunity to ensure each of our friends received a Christmas greeting. We have made some wonderful friends over the last four months. These friends even helped us celebrate our 24th anniversary with another great potluck dinner on New Year’s Day. I know – a little odd as we have this great opportunity to go and do anything for our anniversary and we choose to just stay in our new little abode and enjoy!!Encouraging group involvement with the activity
What?? Absolutely no cheating.
My dad, mom and grandma waiting for the big dinner to start

Thanksgiving

Here are some pictures from Thanksgiving. We were so blessed to have had so many family members with us. Many great memories were made and relationships strengthen during our time together. Of course, the weekend couldn’t end without the annual picture taking day. This year we were able to enjoy the time with grandma and she made sure she was in each group for a few shots which made it that more entertaining. A camperful ... Paul is getting his foot wrapped by the future athelic trainer
Karl and Angela eating the pie
Paul and Linda eating the pie
Pedicure time
Getting ready for family pictures
Roni and Collin with eagle my dad carved
The Smiths with grandma

Teaching Crafts

I couldn’t do—nope, not at all!!! I couldn’t just not do anything or should I say just fill my days by doing things for just Randy and I. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is plenty to do while on the road and retired like shop (oh yeah, there is no room to put things), read, (oh yeah, books weigh a lot and we do have a weight limit), more shopping (oh yeah, where do we put it), how about cooking (oh yeah, we don’t need the extra weight from eating so much as there is a weight limit). Luckily, the campground has offered lots of activities to keep us very busy. We have Sunday evening ice cream social, Wii bowling, card bingo, coffee groups with speakers on different topics of interest, Friday happy hour, etc. It has been fun to socialize with so many new friends at the park and learn from the old timers. However, the monthly activities wouldn’t be complete without craft time for the ladies. So, I and another lady volunteered to do the monthly craft. I love it!! Here is our first couple of crafts.
Pillows – Some were made for grandchildren while others were made to use as seat cushions for card games.


Nativity set and snowmen – Several of these were donated to one of the local assisted living facilities. They were very coveted Bingo prizes for the residents.

Thanksgiving Pies

We are so grateful that with all the changes and tension of moving grandma to Texas, she has at least provided us with moments of great entertainment to keep us laughing. One I wish to share is the experience of making apple pie for Thanksgiving. Since before we left Arkansas, plans were made for all our children and their families, two of my sisters and families, and cousin and family to come to Texas for Thanksgiving. This was really exciting for us now as our boys hadn’t seen grandma in quite a few years and she hadn’t met most of their family members so what a great opportunity for five generations to all be together. Everyone was able to make it except Sylvia and family. Assignments were made to all for their part of the big Thanksgiving meal and, nothing doing, but for grandma to have a part and insisted she would make the apple pies. So, I graciously opened my camper up for this experience knowing it would be one of a kind. It went a lot less eventful and messy than I imagined. Grandma had the time of her life playing with flour, butter, apples, and all the various ingredients for the pies with very little help from me. After all, this may be the very last time she can bake something. Once the pies were put together, I placed them in the fridge to bake the next day, took grandma back to her apartment, and then cleaned up the mess. I baked the pies the next day just as grandma instructed. At the Thanksgiving dinner, instructions were given to all to take a bite or two of the pie and express how good it was then they could find a way to get rid of it if it was bad. Well, truth be told, the pie was horrible as it was really dry and no flavor. Of course, I got blamed because I didn’t bake them right and yes it was probably my fault because I didn’t monitor the process more closely but the pies were made and my grandma enjoyed herself.Grandma mixing the ingredients
Grandma putting on the finishing touches before baking

Now for the rest of the story….
About a week after Thanksgiving I pulled out my flour to make something and when I took the lid off I noticed it smelled. I dipped some flour out and noticed it was quite lumpy and a bit moist. A bit more investigation discovered that the butter, cinnamon, and other ingredients to make the pie filling was in my flour container so no wonder the pies were dry and tasteless.

Retirements, Shopping and Fun

We may not be active duty in the Air Force but the Air Force will never be inactive in us!! We are so excited to be able to reunite with friends from previous bases while traveling around in our “mobile” home and, even more exciting, our circle of military friends is growing with each stop. We visited some friends while in Utah but since we have been here we have been able to attend two retirements of great friends. We planned on attending Colonel Eisenstadt’s (from my career field) retirement at Randolph AFB in San Antonio as I had received the invitation while on the road this summer. To our surprise though, while helping Colonel Eisenstadt celebrate, we learned that the very next week was going to be Colonel Lockard’s retirement. It was so very exciting to be back on base and visit/socialize with several mutual friends. I know life is constantly changing and am grateful we have had the opportunity to have such neat people cross our paths but sometimes I think it changes too fast. We are planning on ending our stay here with one last visit to San Antonio to attend Colonel Vlahos’ retirement the first week of March. What a wonderful way to wrap up our first winter in Texas.

Also, we have been able to make quite a few trips to San Antonio to shop and explore the big city. One of my favorite places we found was the SAS shoe factory. Yes, they have taken a bit of our retirement money for shoes but the factory itself is definitely worth the stop. The d├ęcor is all antique as it is a very old building and the popcorn and soda only cost 25 cents. Yep, you read it right, 25 cents!! When first told about the factory, I just pictured an old people shoe store but, no way, even the shoes are cool enough for Randy and I. Just put it on your “to do” list next time you are in San Antonio. I know I must get better about snapping pictures and will do so on our next visit but for those interested it is on the internet; just google it and look through their photo gallery.

Colleen Escapes the Sheriff – thought that would catch your interest!! One of the trips to San Antonio was my mom, grandma and I for a girl’s day out. Mom and I each had a list of where we wanted to go (long enough to be there for three days each – you know how women are with their lists) and Grandma was along for the ride. I was the pilot and Mom was the navigator with the GPS and we had a great day going from place to place to fulfill our shopping lists. Towards mid-afternoon, Mom and I could tell Grandma had had enough and was ready to head home so we gave up on our lists and I pointed the car northwest. I knew Grandma wasn’t feeling well (she told us every few minutes) and I wanted to hurry and get her home. We were bee bopping along a small country road (a short cut) and truthfully I wasn’t paying attention to the speedometer. As I came around a curve, I saw the sheriff's car sitting alongside the road. Yep, he tagged me so I pulled over at the first wide spot I found while he flipped around. As I was digging out my driver’s license, I reminded Grandma she was sick so she layed back in the seat playing the part. When the trooper got to the window, I apologized and explained that I was trying to get my sick grandma home as I handed him the license and registration. I think I scared him a bit, he said “Well, I don’t want to hold you up. Do you need an ambulance?” I shook my head and explained I would just like to go ahead and get her home. So, he handed me the items and let me know that I would be coming to an intersection and to turn left and that road was a bit busier than this one so be cautious. As the nerves calmed down, I continued towards Fredericksburg just sure I would end up with an escort into town at some point. How nerve wracking!! But we continued on in at a much slower pace and I got Grandma safely back to her apartment and us back to the campground.

Moving Grandma to Texas

Upon leaving Utah, we returned to Laramie, WY to visit my grandmother one more time prior to her coming to Texas for a visit during the winter. Plans were for my mom to come retrieve her in October and she would stay in our travel trailer at the RV Park until next spring when we would take her back. We wanted to help her start to pack the few household items she would need. I also wanted to help her get her bookwork finalized for the year as it hadn’t been kept up as she was unable to do so. Well, after being there for only a couple hours we were told of a “boyfriend” grandma was involved with. Just a short time later Randy and I were both aware that this boyfriend did not have grandma’s best interest in mind but her purse was of great interest. So, a phone call needed to be made to my mom about what we discovered. During the time we were to spend in Laramie, I was to accompany grandma to a doctor appointment which turned out to be a great blessing put in our path. At the doctor’s appointment, grandma got her information all twisted around and I was able to point it out to the doctor. At first, the doctor didn’t trust me but through conversation he learned I was LDS and did the appointment take a change in direction as he was also LDS. Anyway, it was discovered that grandma was/is suffering from progressed dementia. He told her that she should not be living alone any more that she needed more guided care. So, with not much coxing on Randy’s and my part, grandma decided she would like to go to Texas with us instead of wait until October. What a big switch in plans but we knew it was the right thing to do. So, arrangements were made and everything was stepped up a month in plans which kept us very busy for the four days we were there. The trip to Texas was interesting but uneventful. Grandma and I traveled in her car following behind Randy and the Bighorn. We would stop about three or so as I was unable to drive much due to the vertigo. Lots of good windshield time was had by all; especially Randy and his bluegrass XM station. Once we arrived in Texas, the news was given to grandma that she would not be returning to Wyoming. By this time, she had forgotten what the doctor had said and even telling Randy and I that she should go to Texas to live. This was a very difficult time to watch transpire and be a part of since my mom’s role went from daughter to mother of her mother in such a short time. It has taken a few months but my grandmother now understands she is to remain in Texas and receive medical care here along with family members responsible for major decisions with regards to the normal tasks of daily living. She did not live in the travel trailer as when we arrived there was a room available for her at an assisted living facility. This gives her the necessary 24 hour care she is now requiring. I know the Lord had a big part in making this happen as we have watched grandma decrease in capability in just four months. When I look back I would have never thought I would have had the strength to go through this life cycle event and am so grateful for my faith, courage and especially, the right words to say to those listening at some very tense moments. So, this has kept us very busy over the last four months as we have the brawn and energy to set up grandma’s apartment along with help mom with the decisions and all.