Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Jeannie's On Her Way!

For many years, we counted on the Eilers coming for Easter, but that was not possible last year. And this year, Cecelie had an activity requiring them to stay be in Freeport on Sunday. Jeannie’s plans for them to come just for Saturday ended up being aborted, but she messaged that she hoped to come down during this week. Maybe Wednesday. So I unlocked the front door early this morning in case she arrived while at was at cardiac rehab this afternoon. At supper time, I learned she was as far down as Bloomington; now I hoping the rain does not delay her too much longer. It has been too long since we’ve seen her!

As always I enjoyed having four of our college grandkids coming and going all weekend. Trent from John A. Logan, Brianna from Murray State, Sam from Baylor, and Elijah from Chicago where he is student teaching and living at llinois State’s apartment for the student teachers. (My interactions with our fifth collegiate was on the computer watching Geri Ann playing the opening games at the beautiful new Jane Sanders Stadium at University of Oregon.) I also got to see Sam’s friend Anna a couple of times during the weekend. I love hearing the kids’ talk about their classes, their political opinions, and their plans for the future. I like knowing the washing machine is being used for college laundry again just as it was years ago when their parents were at the farm from school. I had to be impressed when one grandson made his own breakfast, washed up all his dishes, and while doing so, thoroughly cleaned my neglected stove top! Oh, and I learned about bubble tea, which they drove to Carbondale for. Unfortunately, all left to go their separate ways on Easter morning, and the house was silent again.

Meanwhile, Gerald and DuWayne had a rough time driving down to see Gerry and Texas A&M play softball at Georgia with a number of wrecks slowing their travel. Then because of rain threatening, it was decided to have a double header on Saturday. So it was late when they left Athens on Saturday, and they decided to drive all night. (This is typical of Glasco men.) Gerald texted me when they got to Chattanooga, and he turned the driving over to DuWayne. I don’t know when they arrived at the farm, but Gerald was sleeping in bed with me when I got up, but I do not think it had been for very long.

Before I left for Katherine’s house, I had left a note on the kitchen table that anyone who wanted had been invited to go to a 9 a.m. worship with the Taylors and that we were planning on eating Easter dinner at a local restaurant at 11 in hopes Elijah might be able to linger that long and also to avoid the holiday crowd. He needed to get on the road, however; but Gerald did get up to see him briefly before he left and Sam before he went to attend church with Anna. The kids had all attended her church’s Easter vigil the previous night which ended at midnight.

Gerald was too tired to make it in for dinner, but I was well pleased because Trent did. He stays so busy working two jobs, doing great class work at John A., and keeping up his extensive Internet life that even though he is the local one, I rarely get to see him. So sitting by him and getting his hug was special although I was saddened knowing Brianna probably won’t be home until semester’s end. Then she is heading back to Orlando to work at Disney again this summer.

I had asked Katherine what she wanted for dinner later in the afternoon, and she decided she would be able to eat meatloaf. Wouldn’t you know that the restaurant had a new menu and meatloaf was not on it. I did take Gerald home a piece of sugar-free apple pie. When I was texting, Katherine later about the meatloaf and planning to go to a different place to get it, she realized she was hungry for fish. So fish, potato casserole, and baby carrots along with chocolate cake for dessert was her holiday meal, and she was able to eat quite a bit of it.

Well, Jeannie has not arrived yet, and I will not keep her up once she gets here. But I am entertaining myself to stay up in order to see her smiling face and know she is safely here! Talking can happen tomorrow.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

Gerald’s birthday was well celebrated this year. He had phone calls and text messages and Facebook greetings from friends and family all day long. The calls started very early at breakfast with one from his granddaughter Leslie—a singer down in Nashville, TN—whose husband Mike shares this same birthday.

Then perhaps the most touching call came soon after from Katherine, who was not only able to make the call (sometimes she can’t) but she told her dad she wanted to sing for him. And she did, and Gerald said she sounded good! She too used to be a singer down in Nashville, but multiple sclerosis makes it difficult for her to talk sometimes; and singing which once defined her, is usually impossible.

Of course, Gerald was in contact with our son whose card from him and Vickie had come early, but he missed Jeannie’s evening call, because we were all out to eat with our youngest daughter and husband, Mary Ellen and Brian. Jeannie’s card arrived the next day.

We had a delicious meal with the Taylors, and granddaughter Brianna whispered about the birthday boy to the waitress, and she brought him a special piece of pie. He had to take it home as all of us were too full for dessert. Or at least we thought we were.

When we arrived at the Taylor house, we found out that more fun and food was in store for us there. Brianna had been baking. There was banana bread and an angel food cake for the birthday cake. Mary Ellen had sliced strawberries along with the whipped topping all ready for our dessert, and Brian made us coffee. Trent was at work, but maybe he celebrated when he got home later! Katherine has been enjoying the slices of banana bread Mary Ellen wrapped up for her.

When Gerry and Vickie lived in Athens, Georgia, Gerald always tried to go down to a softball game and considered that his special birthday celebration. When he saw that Texas A&M was playing at Georgia this birthday weekend, he knew he needed that special treat. He made arrangements with his nephew DuWayne to go with him, and that too is a treat since DuWayne helps out with the driving. I was going to go along if I could. Then just the other day, we realized that this was Easter weekend! But Gerald and DuWayne took off at 6 Friday morning, and I am sure they are having a great time watching great softball despite the opening loss.

Gerald taught me how to use his computer when we watched Oregon’s streamed game against Stanford Thursday night. I was able to see yesterday and today’s games sweep the series. I was more than thrilled seeing great work by our Geri Ann. Vickie was there to see it all in person, and I that too makes me happy. Having other grandkids in and out of the house makes this a special Easter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spring Snow and Softball

A couple weeks ago, Katherine asked me if our pear tree had buds yet. I had not noticed; but when I did, I saw it would not be long till blossoms would come. Soon the city lawns and country yards were full of the pear trees’ beautiful blooms. I would entertain myself as I drove trying to decide how to best describe that loveliness. I thought of “ethereal lacey virginal whiteness,” but that was too long, and I continued to try to find words to capture that spring visual pleasure.

Then Sunday on the first day of spring, I looked out the window at Woodsong and saw it was snowing. As I drove in to Katherine’s house to give her morning pills, the large fluffy white flakes coming down surrounded the pear blossoms. It was magical. The ground was warm, and by afternoon, the flakes had melted. Already the pear trees are replacing white blooms with greenery. But the beauty of that drive will be permanently etched in my brain. I will pull it out every once in awhile and enjoy the loveliness.

College softball season is going strong, and our weekends are full keeping up with our two teams. Weekend before last Saturday was softball alumni day at Texas A&M. Consequently, our granddaughter Erin was helping with the radio broadcast of their game. So we had both of Gerald’s computers going so we could see A&M, which was being streamed on the SEC channel; and on the other computer, we kept switching between Oregon’s game tracker and the radio broadcast so we could hear Erin’s sweet voice!

This past weekend on Friday night, we watched A&M on the Internet win over #4 ranked Louisiana. On Saturday both A&M and Oregon were scheduled to be on the Internet and at slightly different times, so we were excited as we settled in to watch in Gerald’s office. Daughter Mary Ellen came over to join us in the cheering.

We enjoyed A&M’s game even though they lost 6-1. At that level of play, it is hard to be too disappointed. When it was time for Geri Ann’s game on the Pac-12 channel, we could not get on. The site said to contact Dish to access; and so most of the game, Gerald and then Mary Ellen were following the written instruction to contact Dish. Unfortunately, the people who answered not only did not have the faintest idea how to correct the problem but could not listen well. (One kept thinking and saying television instead of Internet, for example, no matter how clearly she was told otherwise.) Even worse, they stubbornly would not allow us to talk to their supervisor, whom we assumed would know what to do to get us on. (This made me wonder if there is a punishment to an employee who allows you talk to the supervisor.) The next day, Gerald talked to someone who quickly helped and gave us the access we had paid for. It just happened in the midst of this frustration that Gerald switched to Oregon’s game tracker on the other computer at the exact right moment. We were able to know of Geri Ann’s three-run home run that helped win the first game in the series. (Later, of course, her hit was posted on Facebook and we could relive it as often as we wanted.) We were happy that Erin and husband Josh Simons were there to share the moment with Geri Ann. Josh has returned safely from South Korea, and they were in Seattle visiting his family.

We spent most of Sunday afternoon before I returned to Katherine’s house watching the third game between A&M and Louisiana. And A&M won the series!

For us the good thing was that Oregon vs. Washington’s last two games on Sunday and Monday games were both on television, so we watched in the family room. With the time differences, the game started at 9 p.m. here in Southern Illinois, which is Gerald’s usual bedtime. Needless to say, he stayed up. And we were well rewarded when Geri Ann came in to pitch and did an outstanding job, and the Ducks won again. Brianna is on spring break from Murray, so she and Mary Ellen were there with us watching. Texting with other households watching this second game made it even more fun.

Monday night’s game was rain delayed, so it did not start until 9:30. Very rapidly into the game, it was called for another rain delay. As the tarp was rolled out, Gerald and I figured that would be the end, and he decided to go on to bed. I stayed up and went into my office but came back to watch when I heard the announcers’ voices again. I think it was close to 2 a.m. when the game ended, and we had swept the series! Gerald woke up by this time and came down for a report before going back to bed. So if we have looked a little bleary-eyed, we have an excuse.

Today was Gerald’s 86th birthday, and I had to quit in the middle of this blog to go celebrate it with Mary Ellen, Brian, and Brianna. (Trent was working as usual.) So now I have finished what I started about softball watching. I will have to tell you about Gerald’s birthday celebration another time. I’m sleepy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I Voted Yesterday!

Daffodils delight my eyes as I drive into Katherine’s. More and more lawns are beginning to dazzle us with the early flowering trees. Soon the native roadside trees will start to bloom—the red bud and dog wood. But if past Marches are repeated, we could still have a blizzard before then! So I am grateful for this early spring and love it that I have seldom had to wear a winter coat. A jacket will do, and sometimes I do not even need the jacket. (The winter coat may still be needed, of course.)

I am tired of all the political disarray, but I am learning a bit about issues. I had to google TPP to even know what was being discussed in one recent debate. I am grateful for intelligent discussion of what we need to know and make decisions about as a nation. I strongly prefer the town halls to the form of debate that the media presents. Not much can be explained in one or two minutes.

I skipped going to my rehab appointment yesterday to make sure Katherine was able to vote. She started weeks ago making the effort to get an absentee ballot. I walked in one late afternoon and found she had been tied up with the courthouse phone, which would not allow her to dial the needed extension nor to get off since she has to use her voice rather than her fingers. An aide helped her later to get that phone call accomplished. But instead of an absentee ballot, she received an application for such a ballot. (She did not remember it being that way in the past.) Well, the absentee ballot had to be signed—even though she can no longer write. I offered to help her, but she has an aide who is good at that, so she said Connie would do so. I thought maybe she had Connie put it in the mail, but I should have checked earlier and taken it to the courthouse, which I finally did last Thursday. (Actually it was taken to the beautiful new administration building beside the courthouse. I had never been in it before, and I was impressed. I appreciated the wide parking spaces!)

So I turned in the application, but I could not be given the absentee ballot. Legally, I was told, the ballot had to go through the mail to Katherine. Suddenly we were up against time pressure, as I was also told it had to be turned in yesterday. I checked the mail on Saturday, but it did not come. Yesterday, I waited till the mail arrived and the ballot was there! The little ovals had to be filled with a felt tip marker, and in the third room I looked in, I fortunately found one.

But then the two envelopes had to be signed by the voter. There was no provision for someone to put an X or to let an aide sign for them! Do not ask me why this is not provided for people with handicaps who cannot write. Well, after approximately 15 minutes on each “signature,” we had done the best the two of us working together could do. If you saw our efforts, you would understand why I put signature in quotation marks. I printed my name and address and then signed where I had to as someone assisting the voter. I rushed the ballot enclosed in the two proper envelopes to the clerk’s office. When I took the application for the ballot last Thursday, I noticed the big sign out front and realized people were voting. So yesterday while I was there anyway, I asked if I could vote. And I did in one of the curtained booths there is the public area; then I lined up with others who were finished to push my ballot through the recording machine.

They were several people there the entire time I was, and the workers were obviously very busy helping us and helping those coming in for supplies for today’s voting sites throughout the county. As busy as they were, the workers were all kind and helpful. The atmosphere created by the voters was equally friendly and pleasant. It made me so proud and grateful to be an American. I was so pleased for the opportunity to safely express my opinion in the voting booth. I was grateful not to have to stand in a long line as many have to do.

Gerald has just now returned from voting at our usual voting place, and now we are going to listen together to a softball game. God bless America, and may America bless God.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Bad Babies? No Such Thing!

Most of us have said things that the minute it came out of our mouths we wished it had not. Writing gives you more time to think a bit, and I don’t usually regret what I write—even if it later makes me ashamed that I once thought like that. Still I recognize it as a record of what I once thought, and that has value—perhaps to bring about a correction. But within a day of my last post, I realized what I wrote did not accurately express what I meant. And I regretted the possibility that it might have made some mothers feel bad.

One of the highlights for me of our weekend vacation was watching three beautiful and pleasant babies, so I wrote about that. I love babies and consider them so important! It struck me as extraordinary that even though these three little ones were sometimes in stressful situations, I did not hear any crying. I wrote about that because I thought it was unusual; and in trying to express that amazement, I foolishly said: “He proved my theory that modern babies must no longer cry.” I was kidding, of course. I have no such theory, and I did not believe that at all, but for some odd reason I wrote that sentence. GRRRR.

Back in the long-ago day, when I walked the floor with a baby with colic or wrestled an unhappy screaming or crying toddler, people would often say that if a baby had not cried, then that baby was “good” that day. I am sure I probably said that too because that was the way we expressed that we had had a good (or easy) day. Today I would try not to say that because of the obvious inference that a crying baby is “bad.” And we all know that is not true.

We knew it back then too, but we were talking about the care giver’s good (or easy) experience. Mothers all intuitively understood back then just as they do today that if a baby is crying, something is the matter. That is why mothers instinctively start rocking, soothing, singing, or sometimes frantically trying to ease whatever is the matter. (We used to have to check diaper pins!) Sometimes success was as simple as feeding the baby or letting it nap. A baby’s brief cry with rapid easing will help any mother feel successful and confident and happy! Such success is one of many rewards of motherhood.

Unfortunately, some mothers do not get those rewards. Crying cannot be solved that easily for some babies. Some mothers have watched a baby’s legs cramp upward because of the intense pain in their bellies and this goes on for hours no matter what is done to sooth. The babies may be glad to be in their mother’s arms, but they still need to cry just as we adults sometimes must scream out when we are in pain. And those mothers who walk or rock that little one for hours will not get the cessation of crying nor the sweet smiles that pain-free babies may give. At the end of a long frustrating time of trying to find the cause and ease a baby’s misery, that mother may not only be exhausted but also feel a failure.

Some babies do not have colic or allergies causing pain, but their neurological make-up or perhaps even their innate emotional make-up may make them to be extraordinarily sensitive to surrounding conditions. Every child is different and the reasons for pain or poor health are endless. Are these babies bad because they react to what pains or upsets them? Of course, not. But we should recognize and express appreciation to the mothers and fathers of these babies who have to work many times harder than the parents of less vulnerable babies. That is why I felt so regretful that I said something so silly as my having a “theory that modern babies must no longer cry.” Even though I was kidding and expressing being amazed at three specific little ones, I apologize to the harder working mothers and fathers who need all the praise and emotional support we can give them.

That being said, I do think the babies that I wrote about were that calm and pleasant because of good parenting and also good care giving by others who loved and looked after them. These parents and caregivers also deserve all the praise we can give them, because they have one of the most important jobs in the world. That importance is why we need family leave for parents who work outside the home.

One of the things we can learn from babies is that we are all happier, more comfortable, and more pleasant to be around when our needs are being met. When children, teens, and adults are being onery, we need to look for causes. Often those people being difficult just need food or sleep just like an infant. Or they need relief from pressure or stress or painful shoes. Again the list of what could be wrong is endless, and every human being is different. Sometimes that person needs the help of a doctor or a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Sometimes we just need soothing or comforting. (Please note I have switched to first person. We are all guilty of bad behavior at times.) Being sensitive to each other’s needs and not being too quick to jump to the conclusion that bad behavior means a person is bad could often bring better results.