Friday, December 30, 2011

Holidays 2011

It has been crazy busy, in mostly a good way, around here. We had a nice Christmas and I hope all of you did as well!

We started off on the Friday before Christmas with a Mommy and Collin day. He is so fun to hang out with as he's getting older! We went bowling! It was his first time and I haven't been since who-knows-when, at least since before the kids were born. The lightest ball they have is 7 lbs, which is still pretty heavy for someone who only weighs about 43 lbs. Take your weight and divide by 6 and see if that would be a comfortable size ball to hold with 3 fingers.... probably not! But of course he made it work. He carried it with two hands up to the foul line and plopped it on the floor (THUD!) then shoved it with both hands. There were a few I wasn't sure would make it all the way to the pins, but luckily they did. It was so slow rolling down the lane that he had time to lay down on his tummy with his chin in his hands and watch how many pins were knocked down. So cute! We had the bumpers down, but I almost needed them more than he did. He turned out to be a pretty good bowler. If it hadn't been for that one time when he smashed his finger with the ball and then insisted that I take a turn for him (in which I failed to knock over any of his 5 remaining pins) I think he would have won. Our first game was 95 to 93 with me barely pulling ahead. Needless to say he didn't ask me to take any of his turns after that!

After bowling we went to the movies to see Alvin and the Chipmunks and since it was a special day I let him have movie popcorn for lunch. I tried to get him to have something else, but that's what he wanted. Oh well, corn is almost a vegetable, right? Right? Yeah, I know.... But the movie was better than I expected. If you can tolerate clips of top 40 songs every couple of minutes then you will be fine. They weren't entire songs, and when sung by chipmunks/chipettes everything is cuter.

That was the beginning of our 11 or so days of vacation. And I mean the whole family. It's a wonder no one has killed each other yet!

The next day was Christmas Eve, a notoriously busy afternoon/evening for the Nowell family. But first I got to meet up with my friend that was visiting from Austin (Hi Karin!) and had lunch at McDonald's and let the kids run wild so we could visit for a bit. It was nice. Until the ride home that is, Owen was really mad about something I can't remember anymore and he screamed for about 15 minutes. Ugh! Mostly I think older kids are easier until you anger them and then remember they throw bigger fits than they did as babies.

So home again and time to cook! We always have snacks after Christmas Eve church services. I made stuff wrapped in bacon because everything is better with bacon! I did little smokies wrapped in bacon and sprinkled with brown sugar. (Learned that one from Cousin Sheila and it's always a hit.) Then I also tried something new that I'd had at a restaurant: jalapenos cut in half and take the seeds out and filled with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon. SO GOOD! But it turns out my family is a bunch of wusses and most people were too scared to eat them. More for me! The only thing was that after cutting and seeding about 25 jalapenos (without wearing gloves, doh!) my hands were burning so badly that I actually googled ways to make it stop. Aloe vera turned out to work best for me, but I had to reapply several times.

We went to my in-laws' house and had dinner and then off to church for the candle light service. The sermon was titled "A Tim Tebow Christmas" I kid you not! Hmmm.... Well, that's part of why I don't go to that church anymore. Not being a football fan I didn't even know who the guy was. Now that I do (thanks for the football lesson, Church) I still think it's never a good idea to put anyone on a pedestal and tell people to aspire to be like them. That's just asking for trouble. Rant over.

Back to the in-laws for presents and the famous snacks. Collin got roller skates (he's going to kill ME learning to use those things) and a RC helicopter. Owen got an Alphie robot and a memory game. They also got a portable dvd player to share. After getting my first set of bruises on my feet/ankles trying to help Collin skate, we went home to prepare for the next day.

We told the boys to wake each other up in the morning and then come get us as they have a habit of just yelling at us from their beds to ask if they can get up yet. They pounced on us at 5:30 am. Note to self: letting them stay up late does NOT mean they will sleep later. The boys were so excited to finally open the presents under our tree. They each got a pillow pet and a new set of sheets for their beds. Collin also got and Agent P stuffed toy and a marble race game like I had when I was little. Owen got a basketball hoop and the new Winnie the Pooh movie. Owen also picked out a puzzle to give to Collin. Collin got to go shopping at a special store set up at school to buy presents, so his were truly a surprise. He picked a wooden tic-tac-toe game for Owen, a color your own stuffed dolphin for dad, and a pretty necklace for me. Kid has good taste! Mimi and Mr Bob came over and the boys each got their own set of Lincoln Logs. Then they played with all their stuff for awhile before Owen had a nap.

Time to cook again! I made my first cherry pie and some brownies because I knew the kids wouldn't eat the pie. Timothy made some yummy dressing with apples and pecans mixed in it. Then I made the obligatory green bean casserole and corn casserole. All this just for side dishes while I already had a bunch of left over little smokies and jalapenos left over in the fridge! We trooped back to the in-laws for the major feast. And we were all ready to drop when it was over. Owen and I stopped over to visit my dad for a bit and take him some food.

On Monday we did a whole lot of nothing and it was great! I think we watched the Pooh movie which is a whole 63 minutes including credits, but they mostly played with all their new stuff. Tuesday we had a morning play date and Wednesday we went to the Zoo. Both fun days. Between Wednesday night and Thursday morning Owen slept for 13 hours, which told me he was sick. Sure enough he was extra fussy all morning so Timothy and I cancelled our baby-sitters we had planned for the afternoon and I took O to the doctor instead. Sinus infection, so onto antibiotics we go. And it's that 3 times a day stuff that I KNOW I will forget at lunch time, plus it won't be finished before he goes back to daycare so I will have to remember to take it over in the morning and pick it up at night. Good luck on all that happening! Today, we all went to see the Muppet movie and besides taking Owen out to pee 3 times, I think it went alright. He is a handful and the kid does not like to sit still. Hopefully he will get better at the movie thing because I think it will be fun to do more family movie days.

That catches you up on the last week or so with the Nowells. I'm excited to see what the New Year will bring. There are a few things I'm already looking forward to and some challenges I'm not sure I'm ready for, but I am sure it will be another adventure.

Here are a few highlights from 2011:

We had just started at a new daycare, we are still there and mostly loving it. It has been a huge blessing and saved us a lot of money!

We paid off all our credit cards for the first time since we had been married with our tax return! They stayed paid off until just this last month and a half, but it's not too bad and we will recover quickly.

Owen was potty-trained!!! This was God's birthday present to me as he was about the easiest child ever to learn this trick. :-)

Collin started Tang Soo Do (Karate) and has been promoted twice already!

Collin started Kindergarten!

Timothy survived a round of layoffs at his job because he is super awesome at what he does!

I got a raise for the first time since 2008! Being in the mortgage industry has been a bit frightening several times.

Owen moved from his toddler bed to a twin big-boy bed!

I lost about 35 lbs. :-) (Put some of that back this last week I'm sure)

We had a great family vacation this summer to San Antonio!

All in all I'd say it's been a great year. I wish all of you the best for 2012. Let's hope those Mayans just got bored and stopped counting.... ha ha ha ha!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Update on Dad

I know a few of you check in here to find out about my dad, and at least one of you probably gets more than an earful and know everything already, but here it is.

We were planning on moving Dad into the nursing home at the start of December. That didn't happen. I called the nursing home several times throughout November to make sure everything was ready and it seemed like it was. I was told that he shouldn't have any trouble qualifying for Medicaid since he doesn't have any assets. The only thing was a life insurance policy. Oh that damn life insurance policy! The admittance lady told me it wouldn't be a problem and she would help us through the process of transferring the policy to me so it wouldn't be under his name but that we could take care of that after he moved in. Me, being stupid and not knowing anything about any of this, just went with it. Then I was told on November 29th that apparently I made that whole story up and it never really happened. That was not a good day. Turns out that we need to cash out the policy and spend the money on something (that won't be an asset (Brewster's Millions anyone?)) by the end of the month for him to be able to move in the following month. So obviously that wasn't going to happen in 24 hours, so here we are.

It took a few days to get the paper around for all required parties to sign, but I faxed it in today. Now we wait and hope and pray. It takes up to 20 business days to process the request and then another 5 days to send the check. Doing the numbers in your head? Yup, you're right, unless they speed it up it's not going to happen this month either. I'm hoping that the whole 20 day thing is just to give them a wide time frame and that they normally get things done much MUCH sooner than that. Once it's processed they will mail the check to Dad and hopefully he will not cash it and make some <insert foul name here> scam person in Nigeria very happy with his new found wealth. I still need to have that conversation with him to explain that the check is coming. *sigh*

Once we get the money we get to have the oh so much fun experience of going to a freaking funeral home and buying a pre-paid funeral/cremation/burial plan. Yeah, he doesn't know about any of that yet either. OMFSM that stuff really freaks me right the heck out! I tried to call and find out prices on such things but I lost it and made Brother do it. Bless him. Maybe I'll ask him to fly out here and go buy it so I won't have to. So again, all this is supposed to happen by the end of the month otherwise we get to put off this whole party again until February. Oh and don't forget to throw in Christmas somewhere too. And I haven't even mentioned trying to sort through the mess that he lives in. *sigh again*

As for me, I've been feeling completely overwhelmed and honestly angry about this whole situation. I've been reading a book that my super awesome cousin Niki sent me to try to learn more about the process. I haven't found the chapter about going through the motions when you really don't want to, probably because such a chapter doesn't exist. I think the authors assume that all caregivers are selfless and wonderful people who are willing to do anything they can to help their parents. I can't find anything in all my research about people that are really angry about being forced into the position of caregiver. I get angry about the time I miss with my own children. I get angry because of the extra stress it puts on Timothy when I need to be gone for so long. I have passed up promotion opportunities at work and as a rule I don't work overtime unless it's mandatory because I feel my time with my family is already so limited that I'm not willing to lose another hour with them that I don't have to even if it does mean more money. People will tell me how amazing it is that I'm helping my dad and I just sort of nod, but I'm thinking I'm not a good person at all. I hate this! There are no words for how much I hate this right now.

How horrible am I for feeling like that? On the one hand, obviously, it's not Dad's fault that he needs help because he's sick. On the other hand, I don't have all the warm and fuzzy memories like the authors of the book because, unlike them, I feel like I have been taking care of Dad for most of my life and certainly longer than he took care of me. I was about to backtrack and say that maybe this isn't true, but it is completely true. I've had better judgement than him since I was about 11. It really just comes down to that I'm a whiney complainer and I don't feel like any of this should be my responsibility. Or at least someone should share this responsibility with me more than they are at the moment. I don't want to talk to nursing homes and insurance companies and funeral homes and lawyers and doctors and bill collectors, but I have to. Practically every day there is some issue to deal with. I don't want to do any of this horrible business, but we must play the hand we are dealt - even if it sucks more than being a boy named Sue. Hopefully soon he will be moved into the nursing home where he will have lots of help and I won't have to worry so much. My goal is to work out a schedule to visit him regularly so that I can just enjoy his company instead of  always trying to be the super hero that I know I'm not.