Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Growing Up

Clara started 2nd grade, in a new school and new school district, yesterday. I talked on the phone with her tonight, and she seems happy and excited about it. She's already made several friends, and really likes her teacher.

I pulled together these four photos, taken by Kelsey on the first days of pre-school, kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade (left to right). She's really stretching up. I predict she'll pass me up, in height, by age 12.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Visit to Katy

While I was in the hospital, in June, Chris, Kelsey and the kids made a move to Katy, TX, so that Chris could have a much shorter commute each day. Now that I'm comfortable traveling for longer distances, we decided it was time to go see them in their new home. We drove over on Thursday morning, arriving at lunch time, and drove back home today.

One of our objectives in this trip was to take the children to see Disney's Planes, which we did on Friday. It's fun getting to do special outings with them whenever we can. Robert has been a HUGE fan of the Cars characters, so we thought this would be a hit for him. He did seem to enjoy it, and sat through the entire movie like a little gentleman. A kids' popcorn, fruit snack and drink helped, of course. He did have a bit of a meltdown as we were leaving the theater, but we can't expect perfection, right?

Clara is about ready to start second grade. In fact, she went with her Mommy to register while we were there. It will be an adventure, going to a new school and making new friends, but she is very social, and I have no doubt that she'll have some new best friends within a day or two.

Before we left home, I made sure to charge a fresh battery for my camera and pack it, along with a couple lenses, in my camera bag so that I could get some good photos of the kids. But when I pulled it out and got ready to take pictures of the kids playing outside on Thursday evening, I discovered that I had not put my SD Card in the camera (or in the bag), so couldn't take ANY pictures. Luckily I had my iPhone, so I took a few snapshots with it, but without a faster lens, I got quite a collection of blurred images. I've posted a few of the better ones here.

As you can see, the theme of the visit was Go, Go, Go! In fact, Robert's activity level was such that I hardly got any pictures of him. Since their move, Clara has learned to ride her bike without the training wheels, and is enjoying a new-found freedom - getting to ride to the end of the block and back all on her own. She doesn't quite have jumping rope mastered, but is giving it her all. She also has lost her first tooth this summer, and has another wiggly one that will be coming out soon.

While we were outside watching the kids play, Clara picked up her Mommy's cold drink and sucked on the straw. Kelsey saw her and took the drink away, and said, "Clara, what have I told you about drinking from other people's drinks. What if I had just eaten some nuts?" [Clara is highly allergic to nuts.] Clara looked at Kelsey with big, contrite eyes.

Then Chris chimed in. "Or what if Mommy had been sick?" [She actually was fighting a sinus infection and was on antibiotics for it, as Clara well knew.] Clara looked even more sorry.

Not to miss out on his turn to scold Clara, Robert, looking at her very sternly, said, "Or what if Mommy didn't have any feet?!" It broke the serious mood, and we all had a good laugh.

On Friday morning we went to a park with a playground. The kids both gravitated to the giant spider web. We didn't stay long, since it was hot and humid, and because we were meeting Chris for lunch before the movie.

Friday evening Chris grilled some burgers and brats for dinner. No one in their house likes tomatoes, but Dan and I both do, so Kelsey bought one just for us, and we sliced it up and put it on the table. At the end of the meal, there were three slices of tomato left on the plate. "We might as well finish these up," I said to Dan, "because they'll just go to waste." I ate one. Dan ate one. And there was the little end slice of the tomato still sitting on the plate.

"I don't like tomatoes," Clara said. 

"Have you tried them?" I asked? 


So I went on and on about how good they were, and how they're one of my favorite things. Finally Clara said, "I want to try one." So I cut a little wedge-shaped piece from the remaining slice, and told her that I especially like tomato with a little bit of salt on it. Kelsey obliged by setting the salt shaker on the table. I put a few sprinkles on Clara's bite. I didn't think she'd ever actually try it. She kept holding it, bringing it near her mouth, then making a face and pulling it away. I told her she didn't have to try it, but she was determined. She asked for some water to have nearby, so she could wash it down if need be. I gave her my glass, with the last of my iced tea in it. (Not to worry . . . I hadn't eaten any nuts, I wasn't sick, and my feet hadn't fallen off.) I even told her she could spit it out if she didn't like it. It was Kelsey who started the chant, and we all joined in: "CLA-RA, CLA-RA, CLA-RA!" Finally she put it in her mouth, with trepidation, bit down, and . . . her eyes lit up. "I LOVE it!" she exclaimed. She eagerly devoured the remaining two bites, each with a sprinkling of salt. I have a convert!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

52 in 2013 - #24 Theme of the Week: Home

Having lived in a number of places, stretching from Alaska to Texas, I've learned that "home" is more about people than it is about a place. It's about building new memories and new relationships, moment by moment, day after day.

Home, for Dan and me, is now Texas, as represented by this beautiful flag, rippling in today's afternoon breeze.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Bye-bye Red; Hello Gray

Our red VW, shown in Wednesday's post, was leased from a VW dealership in Albuquerque, almost three years ago. Although the Tiguan is small, as SUVs go, it was really invaluable in transporting many of our goods from Albuquerque to Temple (remember?).

Since our three-year lease was drawing to an end, Dan and I drove down to a VW dealership in Georgetown on Tuesday, just to find out all the ins and outs of turning in the car, ending the lease and, initiating another lease for a new vehicle. This was just an information-gathering expedition. We knew we had a couple months left, but didn't want to have any surprises at the end.

That was the plan.

Once we got there, however, and learned that the end-of-model-year promotions were going on, it became clear that going ahead with the trade-in now, instead of waiting, would be a smart choice. So, after driving to Georgetown in our red VW, we drove back in a new "pepper gray metallic" one.

Welcome to our family Tiguan '13. Make yourself at home in the garage!

Water, Water Everywhere:

or Where There's a Will, There's a Way

Tuesday night, July 30, marked the eight-week anniversary of my new knee. That means eight weeks of taking showers instead of tub baths. Some of you might remember my blog post about my love of baths (here). In short, my opinion is that a shower is utilitarian - just for getting clean. But a bath - that is not only for getting clean, but is also a little taste of heaven.

In the beginning, there was no way I could possibly bend my knee enough to get into or out of a tub.  Now I have good flexion, but there's still no way to kneel on that knee. Almost as soon as I came home from the hospital, I began reading on-line advice about taking, or not taking, a bath following total knee surgery. Most of what I read said not to even think about it for several months. Some folks claimed they never could get in the bath tub again. But there were a few encouraging souls who said they were able to do it after two or three months.

So, on Tuesday evening, I decided to give it a try. First I called Dan into the bathroom and, with him standing by in case I needed help, I tried a dry-run. I stepped into the tub, fully clothed and without water, and managed to sit down without much trouble at all. Then I tried the scary part . . . getting back out. It was not easy, but I figured out a combination that worked and got up and out on my own.

That gave me the confidence to try the real thing - a hot, relaxing bath! I loved every minute of it, and the hot water really felt good on my knee. Although getting out was still a little bit of a challenge, it was worth it. Last night I enjoyed a second bath, and found getting out to be even easier.

I also started some water aerobics this week. I think it's helping me get back some strength and endurance. Today I almost felt normal again. Still some stiffness, and a little soreness, especially when first standing after sitting, but other than that it's feeling good.