A Two-Horse Open Sleigh

The first order of business today was to cook up a big brunch. Julie had an ambitious menu—pancakes, sausages, bacon, fruit salad, veggie tray, and egg casserole. Her husband Ken cooked all the meat and made pancakes. Others made the fruit salad. My job was the egg casseroles, and they took a little longer than I expected.

However, eventually it was all done and we found ourselves sitting down to a truly magnificent meal, by which time I was on my third cup of tea. Afterward we sat in the living area visiting and watching some snow fall on the beautiful landscape outside, before suiting up to go out.

The weather has not been as cold as I feared it would be, but I still wore my “new” snow pants with leggings underneath, and my big new boots. We drove a couple of miles down the road where two horses were hitched up to a sleigh awaiting us.

After signing a release form, we climbed into the sleigh. There were some who weren’t interested in this activity, so I think only 14 of us were on the sleigh. The ride went through open field and forest, much of it with truly breathtaking views of the mountains. I loved the gliding motion of the sleigh and the jingling of the bells on the horses’ harnesses.

Afterward, a woodstove-heated tent offered hot cider, hot chocolate, and hot coffee. I felt obligated to drink something in order to get the full experience, so I had half a cup of coffee.

Five of our more intrepid members trekked to a fresh patch of snow and made snow angels while the rest of us stood by and took photos.

The couple I had ridden with (my classmate Chuck and his wife Laura) wanted to see more of the views along the road, and so did I, so we drove farther and saw some stunning displays of icicles.

By this time I was a huge fan of my new boots. I haven’t owned a pair of boots for at least 40 years. I couldn’t even remember what it was like to walk around in deep snow with warm dry feet. I loved it!

Then we joined everyone else back at the house to regroup and snack a little before heading to town to look around. The town of Leavenworth is very touristy and modeled on a Bavarian village, which makes it very pretty. The yarn store was too far for me to go on foot but I made it to the tea store! And maybe a cheese shop . . .

At 5:00 we all convened at a German restaurant for an early supper. The food was good but the company was better! And we still had the whole evening ahead of us. We were even able to face time with one of our classmates who was unable to attend.

During the evening I set up a photo studio of sorts in a different room and then took portraits of each attendee so that we can post them on our class page, and everyone who didn’t come can at least see what we all look like now.

The evening ended with quite a few of my brave classmates going to hang out in the (outdoor) hot tub. I just couldn’t see myself walking barefoot over ice and snow to sit in a hot tub. It looked like they had fun though!

Surviving

On Sunday I felt so overwhelmed I didn’t know how I’d make it through the next few days. I had so much to do and I just couldn’t see how I’d be able to do it. It seemed inevitable that I’d fail to achieve at least some of my goals. My anxiety made it difficult for me to enjoy our small group gathering on Sunday evening because all I could think of was how much work I had to do.

But you know what? Somehow I got it done. Sunday night I was up till almost 2:00 a.m., but I got papers graded, grades calculated, and my teacup tree undecorated and taken down. Monday morning I finished my class preparations and taught my class, and Monday afternoon I had a tutoring student. I even stayed awake for all of it and made it to the gym to walk in the evening.

I was up late again last night preparing for today’s elementary class and getting all the grades from last semester calculated. I admit getting up this morning was harder than yesterday, but I was prepared for class by the time the students arrived. And after all that work, I forgot to give them their papers back!

This afternoon I went on a quest for plums. I didn’t think it was an unreasonable goal. I mean, we can buy bananas and pineapples and cantaloupe and strawberries year-round, right? But apparently not plums. Or apricots. I may have to resort to raspberries to make our Geography dessert for Thursday.

My really big accomplishment of the day was making two phone calls that I’ve been putting off for several days. I would rather do almost anything else than make phone calls. I absolutely loathe it. But the calls had to be made. One was to clear up a misunderstanding about a credit card—they had flagged and denied a perfectly legitimate transaction.

The other was to cancel Walter’s flight reservation for this weekend. When I made the reservations back in the summer, we thought we had plenty of time for him to train a helper who would be able to clean the daycare center while we were gone. However, he couldn’t find anyone interested in that job and here we are three days before time to leave and he has no one to cover for him. So I will be going to my class reunion alone. At least he gets a credit with the airline that he can use for another flight sometime.

Meanwhile, I have tutoring students and a Geography class to prepare for, but I’m still hoping to get at least a few hours’ sleep . . . .

False Alarm

Today was a day when I wished I was in another state—the state of Colorado, to be specific, so I could have gone to my daughter-in-law Tiffany’s baby shower. All that sewing I did last weekend was for the baby shower—6 sheets, 8 burp cloths, and a blanket. I sent them to Tiffany’s mother so she could take them to the shower. Everything was either space themed or dinosaur themed.

But since I was here in Texas, with way too much work to do, I did work—mostly for school, as my full teaching schedule starts up again on Monday and I am still trying to finish my grading from last semester.

At the same time, I had received an alarming email saying that my “local” World Market store would be closing. In my case, the closest store is an hour’s drive away—but I felt I had to make time to go and stock up on a few imported goodies for my Geography class.

I zoomed over to the store in very heavy traffic, and found the place doing a booming business with no sign of closing or going out of business. Today happened to be the day they were giving away free cookbooks, and a very patient young man helped me sign up as he was so determined to give me a cookbook. I asked him if the store was closing and he said no. I stocked up anyway. I mean, I don’t get over there all that often.

When I went to check out, the cashier looked in bemusement at the items I was getting. “That’s a very eclectic assortment,” he said. Yep. That’s me. Eclectic. I told him I taught a Geography class and had to get things from different parts of the world.

Meanwhile, Jasper took down the outside Christmas decorations and my husband heroically tackled the taking down of the Christmas tree. It is a huge job, and it took him much of the day. By the time I returned from my shopping trip, the tree was back up in the attic and my chair was back in its rightful corner. And Lucy and Tanner had returned from their day at the university.

We had our family dinner tonight because Walter and I have life group tomorrow, so Spencer and Jade came over to eat and visit with us. Jasper was at his gaming night but there’s not much we could do about that!

There are still a few decorations to come down, including my teacup tree, but I got all the ornaments off it this evening so the rest can wait until tomorrow.

Meanwhile, there is a stack of papers waiting to be graded . . .

Working My Way Down the List

Friday is my grocery shopping day, so the morning is taken up with list-making and then going to Aldi. Today’s Aldi observation: two young women buying zucchini (courgettes). A whole cart full of zucchini. Nothing but dozens and dozens of zucchini. What could it mean? My mind raced trying to think what possible need anyone could have for that many zucchini. I honestly don’t know.

This afternoon I had other errands to run and so much work to do. I am still trying to make my way through the stack of papers to be graded, but I have so many other responsibilities too. I need another week or two before I have to start teaching again! (Instead of two days.)

I had made time in my schedule to go to my writers’ meeting, so I got ready and then drove up to the other side of town to the restaurant where we meet. I was very surprised to see I was the first one there, as this has never happened before. Then the waitress came and told me that the meeting had been postponed until next week due to the threat of severe weather.

As I drove home, I wondered what I had missed. Why is everyone so freaked out about the weather? I had checked it multiple times and hadn’t seen anything to be unduly concerned about, especially that early in the evening. Yet I had heard of several events being canceled, including Spencer’s rugby game tomorrow which is scheduled for well after the storm has ended.

So when I returned home I watched a video with Jasper while knitting as knitting is important. I have less than a month left in which to finish this project.

I have spent the rest of the evening working on grading and other word-related chores. As I write this the big storm has arrived with a vengeance and the window beside me is being bombarded with rain and rattled by wind. Thankfully we still have power.

Update on my mother: they were able to stabilize her more quickly than expected and this afternoon my dad worked to transfer her back to the nursing home, where they have a new set of protocols for caring for her. Unfortunately, they also discovered that she has contracted yet another urinary tract infection, an ailment which seems to keep coming back to plague her. So pray they will be able to get her on an effective antibiotic right away.

In Which a Miracle Occurs

Huh. I guess I missed posting on Twelfth Night. I fell asleep at my computer trying to prepare for today and I guess I figured maybe I should go to bed instead of struggling to be alert enough to write something coherent. And our Twelfth Night festivities have been postponed due to Lucy’s being out of town (with Tanner visiting his grandparents).

Yesterday ended up being another very intense sewing day because I was trying to meet a deadline and I also had to make it to the post office to mail a couple of things before it closed. (I succeeded.)

I also stopped by the clinic and finally made an appointment for Jasper. His severely infected toe is not getting any better, despite his protestations, and I really do not want a repeat of what we went through with Flynn when he was a teenager. After a couple of years of treatments, including surgery and intravenous antibiotics, and thousands of dollars, he still ended up getting both of his big toenails permanently removed. The bad news is that Jasper’s appointment isn’t until the 27th, so he will have to suffer a little longer. If the subject of permanent removal comes up, we will jump on it.

For the rest of yesterday, I was knitting and also preparing for today’s tutoring session. My English classes don’t officially start until next week, but I have some new students starting with my younger class, so I had them come today so I could do my best to prepare them for jumping in midstream, as it were. I think it went pretty well.

After lunch I set off with dread in my heart. I could no longer put off a task I’ve been avoiding since July, which is when I bought plane tickets to Spokane for next weekend. Unfortunately, Walter won’t be able to accompany me after all, but I still plan to attend a reunion up there in the frozen north. My problem? Footwear.

I have no footwear suitable for wearing in snow, or even very cold weather. In fact, I have exactly four options: my three-year-old men’s flip flops, which are my everyday wear; men’s leather sandals; men’s clogs; and a pair of neoprene slippers which I pretend are shoes and which I wear when I am trying to dress “up.” None of these things will work in real winter conditions.

I have known for months that I would have to find boots of some kind by this month. But when shoe-shopping is fraught with frustration, disappointment, and humiliation every time for decades, it’s hard to make yourself do it. It’s not just that my feet are large due to my height, and wide due to growing up barefoot. I suffered a very serious injury to my left foot and ankle as a teenager, which was not properly treated, and the resulting arthritis has made it almost impossible to wear anything but sandals, flip flops, and clogs, no matter how high the price tag might be.

I trudged into the sporting goods store with very low expectations. I knew better than to even look in the women’s section. I glanced at the knee-high wellingtons and hoped that wasn’t my only option. As I expected, most of the boots on offer fell into the categories of very expensive work boots or even more expensive cowboy boots. After looking at all my options, I decided to try on a pair of “tactical” boots. Apparently these are designed for law enforcement.

This is when the miracle occurred. First, I was actually able to get my feet into them, and do the laces up over my misshapen arthritic ankle. Secondly, I was able to stand up and walk in them without gasping in pain. They aren’t by any means the most comfortable footwear I’ve ever worn (that would be my men’s slippers!) but I think I should be able to wear them for short forays outdoors while I’m in Washington, especially if I make myself wear them to walk in for a little while every day until I leave. I’ll just have to schedule my walks in them for times when someone is home to help me take the boots off, because it was a bit of a struggle in the store. Downright embarrassing, to be honest.

There is nothing cute or fashionable about my new boots. No woman my age wants to be out and about wearing police boots. But, if they’re functional, and if I can wear them without being in actual agony, that’s more than can be said for 99% of the footwear I’ve tried on in the last 20 years, so I’m calling it a win. And I found them at the very first store I tried!

I went for a walk around the campus at sunset (NOT wearing my new boots) and enjoyed the dropping temperatures and deserted landscape. Over the next few days the students will return and the school will roar back to life. I am already into class mode, trying to catch up with the grading that fell by the wayside during my holiday travels.

Planning & Paperwork

Friday is the day I get to sleep in a little in compensation for having to go grocery shopping. I am glad the holidays are over and I am back to buying “normal” food. First, though, I had to plan next week’s Geography menu so I’d be able to get the supplies I’ll need.

I had a student come in to take a test after lunch and then I worked on paperwork for a while. I never run out of paperwork! I also made a run to Walmart to get things Aldi didn’t have, but I will have to venture forth to a third store for sure if I am going to get the ingredients I need for Geography class. Fennel, leeks, and rhubarb can be hard to find around here.

Since tomorrow is supposed to be a sewing day, I washed and dried the rest of the fabric I’m hoping to use. My grandchild will have some colorful things!

Now I’m waiting to make a late-night run to the airport with Lucy to pick up Tanner. Thankfully it’s just our local airport—not the one in Dallas.

A Glimmer of Hope

My husband’s cancer diagnosis isn’t exactly a surprise, given his family history. Both his grandfather and father died of cancer, and his aunt and uncle have both had it too. I knew he was at high risk for skin cancer because he is very fair-skinned and he worked outdoors in the sun for years. In my mind, it was not “if” but “when” he would get it. Somehow, though, that doesn’t make it any easier to accept when it actually happens.

So today my husband received in the mail the actual printed report from the dermatologist about his cancerous mole, and it definitely cleared some things up for us.

When the doctor’s office had called the report in to him, he was working in the garage and had no way of writing anything down. What he heard was “stage IV melanoma.” But looking at the report today, I saw that it actually says “level IV” melanoma, which is a completely different thing. After a few minutes of research, I had a much better idea of what has actually been discovered so far.

Level IV means that the cancer had spread down into the next two layers of skin, but NOT into the fat layer below. The thickness of the tumor was under the size that is usually associated with aggressive spreading, so it is actually unlikely that the melanoma has spread to other parts of his body.

Don’t get me wrong—it’s still cancer and it’s still scary. But after reading the report and looking everything up, I find I can be cautiously optimistic for the time being. He was able to make an appointment for a consultation with the surgeon for next Thursday. Maybe we’ll know more after that appointment, but in the meanwhile the situation doesn’t seem as dire as it did on Monday. I’m so glad he requested to have the report mailed to him!

Today everyone was back at work. Despite being sick for the last week and a half, Walter went to work, and so did Jasper. Lucy was back at her job in the library. And I had to start organizing my papers so I can have some hope of being ready to start teaching next week!

I also made an excursion to JoAnn’s in Tyler to pick up some fabric I ordered. I’m hoping that Saturday will be a big “sewing-for-the-baby” day so I wanted to make sure I had all the materials I might need. And I enjoyed the rainy drive. It wasn’t raining hard at all—just sprinkling.

A Rough Road Ahead

Like many of you, I’m sure, I sometimes think of the New Year as opening a door and walking from one room (last year) into another room (this year). We never know what is on the other side of that door until we open it and walk all the way into that new room.

Sometimes, though, we know enough to have some idea of what we’ll be facing—and that’s where the analogy breaks down, because with a real door and real rooms, you can choose whether or not to step through the doorway. With time, you don’t have that option. I already know enough about this new year to know that it holds a great deal of pain and probably grief and loss. Yet, willing or not, I have already stepped through that door along with the rest of you.

One ongoing challenge will be our parents’ situations. My parents and Walter’s mother are all facing health difficulties. I drove to Tennessee on Friday knowing that this visit might be the last time I saw my mother—or my dad, for that matter. I stopped briefly on the way to drop some things off for Mary and Jordan and to visit with them and our mutual friend Rebekah, who had come to visit them.

It was long after my aunt’s bedtime when I arrived in Crossville but I got a key from my dad and let myself in. I think I’m the only one who ever stays in her guest room and I am so grateful for it.

Saturday morning I headed to the nursing home. It was hard to see Mom in a nursing home and watch how helpless she is. She needed help to get from her bed to the wheelchair. Help to use the restroom. Help to get dressed. Eating and taking medication were very difficult for her and she seemed to struggle with manipulating her utensils.

She was so happy to see me and my brother Jon (who arrived the day before me). Jon and I spent all day Saturday with Mom, telling stories and helping her in any way we could. She opened the photo book I’d made and really loved it. “This book has everything I could ever want in a photo book,” she said.

I was the only one with her at lunchtime, and despite using all the wiles at my disposal, I couldn’t get her to eat anything but her dessert. Dad is much more effective at getting her to eat.

By the time I left the nursing home on Saturday, I was feeling pretty wrung out. My original plan to get my computer and go somewhere with internet went out the window. Instead, I picked up a $5 movie at Dollar General and holed up in my room at my aunt’s house and drank tea while watching the movie on my computer. (My aunt goes to bed very early so is not around in the evenings.)

Sunday morning I got up to drink tea and visit with my aunt before taking her next door to the church to meet up with my dad and Jon. It’s been many a year since I sat next to my brother in church! And I love that little church and the chance to sing real hymns and Christmas carols.

After church the others went out for lunch while I went back to my aunt’s place and made myself a big thermos of tea to take to the nursing home. The previous day I hadn’t so fortified myself, mistakenly believing they’d have hot water and teabags there. They did not. They only had hot coffee and iced tea (bleh). I was so desperate I actually drank a cup of black coffee. Not wanting to repeat that experience, I made sure I had plenty of tea to make it through the rest of the day before driving over to the nursing home.

When I arrived, my youngest brother Greg was there, having driven in from Ohio. By that time we already had a routine established: when Mom was awake, we focused on spending time with her. When she was ready to nap, we congregated in the lobby and spent time visiting with each other. This is the most time I’ve spent with my brothers in decades!

By a little after 5:00 p.m. my brother Matt had arrived from Indiana and our family was complete. Mom was so happy to have us all in one room.

When she was ready to go to sleep for the night, the rest of us reconvened at a Mexican restaurant for supper and fellowship. I can’t overstate enough how much I enjoyed hanging out with my brothers.

Monday was my last day there. Once again I visited with my aunt in the morning before leaving. I changed my schedule a little and decided to leave that evening rather than driving the whole way home to Texas on Tuesday. So I did pack up a lot of my stuff before heading to the nursing home. I stopped to fill my gas tank on the way so I wouldn’t have to do it at night.

My brother Matt spent the morning helping my dad at the house while the rest of us went to be with Mom. She was able to sit up in her wheelchair for longer than we’d ever seen and was eagerly awaiting her physical therapy, which she really looks forward to every weekday. They are working with her on regaining her strength and mobility.

While I stayed with Mom during her lunch and therapy, the others went to the boys’ hotel to eat lunch. When Mom finally finished her therapy, I thought she be ready to nap, but she asked to be put back in her wheelchair because she didn’t want to miss anything! I finally convinced her to get some rest because I knew she needed it.

Meanwhile, at about the same time, I received a text which changed my life and my outlook for the coming year. My husband texted me that test results had come back on the mole he had removed on December 18: malignant melanoma. They told him it was “stage 4” but I have since realized they have no way of knowing this yet. Stage 4 would mean the cancer has spread to other parts of his body and that has not yet been investigated. But still, it was devastating news and it came at a time when I was already emotionally compromised.

I met up with my dad and brothers and told them the news. All of them except I think my youngest brother Greg have had skin cancer and have had it successfully removed. Not sure if any of those were melanoma though. At the time, I had to compartmentalize that information so I could continue to focus on my mom for a few more hours.

Back at the nursing home, my mom was thrilled to see us. We took her on a walk to the lobby in her wheelchair so she could see the birds they have there. We were quite a procession with wheelchair, oxygen tank, and four tall men! The photo I posted yesterday was from that excursion.

We arranged for mom to have her supper in the dining room so that we could sit at the table with her and visit while she ate her supper. I’m not impressed with the food at the nursing home, but I also realize how hard it must be to make meals to accommodate so many different dietary requirements. And everyone who cared for my mother was so kind and sweet and patient. I’m thankful for each one of them.

So anyway, that was a real treat having the six of us around the table telling stories and talking with Mom. Afterward, she was tired and Dad helped get her ready for bed. Then it was time to say goodbye. It is so hard to say goodbye when every goodbye could be the last one. The four of us stood at the foot of her bed to say goodbye. My three brothers would be there another day, but I would not.

Mom was already in her nightgown and Dad was getting ready to put on her bi-pap machine that helps her breathe at night. She looked so tiny and frail lying there looking up at us—but she also had a huge smile on her face to see her four kids all there together at the end of her bed. I would go so far as to say her smile was radiant. We said our goodbyes and started to leave but I had to turn back for one last look at Mom. The smile was still there. I can’t even remember the last time I saw her look so happy—which made it even harder to walk away.

My brothers and I met up at a restaurant for supper—just the four of us. I really enjoyed that time together as siblings, something we have so rarely had as adults, living as we do in four different states.

Eventually, of course, we had to say our goodbyes so that I could get on the road. I went back to my aunt’s house, collected my stuff, loaded my car, then drove to my parents’ house to give my key back to my dad and say goodbye to him as well. I finally hit the road at about 9:30.

As I drove that night to the far side of Nashville, and the next day also, I had a strong feeling that I was driving away from one heartache and toward another. Tuesday morning I stopped for over an hour in Memphis to visit with Mary and Jordan and Rebekah again. It was a nice break from all the driving.

Later yesterday, as I neared our hometown, I saw many fireworks going off. On an impulse, I stopped at a fireworks stand and waited in a long line to buy a few sparklers to bring home, and then stopped again to get the supplies for our traditional New Year’s Eve chocolate fondue.

By the time I reached our neighborhood at 8:00, the air was already full of smoke and gunshots and fireworks were going off almost constantly.

And now—I’m here. Walter has a daunting series of tasks ahead of him. As of today, he no longer has health insurance (the university has stopped providing it). Tomorrow he will call a surgeon to set up a consultation. For sure he will lose another big chunk out of his arm where the mole was.

We are looking at at least one more surgery, biopsies of lymph nodes, and a more thorough examination to look for other cancerous moles. Depending on what they find, other treatments like chemotherapy and radiation may also be in my husband’s future.

It is hard to start a new year knowing that this road lies ahead of us. At least we know that one very happy event is coming up this year—the birth of our first grandchild. For the rest of it, we’d appreciate your prayers.

Closing the Door on 2019

So here it is the last day of the year. I feel like I should post something really profound, as a couple of my offspring have already done, but honestly I’m just not up to it. I apologize for my long silence. I did not have internet access except on my phone during my trip and my days in Tennessee. I arrived home at about 8:00 this evening.

I will try to gather my thoughts and post something about my trip tomorrow—after all, I process things by writing about them! But tonight, I thought I’d just reveal a couple of things I mentioned without telling you what they were.

First, I never showed you the amazing gingerbread mansion that Lucy and Tanner made before Christmas:

Front
Back

Secondly, I never showed you the big project that I poured so much effort into in the days before I left for Colorado. It was a Christmas stocking for Flynn’s wife Tiffany. As I’m sure I have mentioned before, elaborate stockings are a family tradition that I started back when I had a lot more time. Normally making one of our family stockings takes me 2-3 weeks of working a couple hours a day. So having to do almost all the work in three days was very demanding.

The beaded angel. All our girls’ stockings have angels on them.

If you’re not a crafter, no doubt you wonder what could possibly be so time-consuming about making something like this. If you are a crafter, you know exactly how time-consuming it can be!

The final project I mentioned but didn’t show you was a photo book I put together for my parents, celebrating their 65 years of marriage. I included a few wedding photos, some photos of our family over the years, and plenty of photos taken at their anniversary celebration back in June.

Here’s a wedding photo I included:

And here’s a photo of us all at the nursing home yesterday:

In a little while we’ll go outside with sparklers and a sky lantern, and say goodbye to 2019.

Our Revels Now Are Ended

Did you all have a wonderful Christmas? I hope so. Ours went by so very fast. Tuesday we were preparing for our Christmas Eve festivities and for the arrival of Mercy and Daniel.

Spencer was playing for the Christmas Eve service at his church, so he and Jade were unable to join the rest of us at Lucy’s church, where we have gone for Christmas Eve the last couple of years. It is a short candlelight service and they sing real Christmas carols—a big plus in my book.

Afterward, the girls helped me make the cheese fondue and get the table set with the gold chargers and the candelabra and the Christmas crackers. We had our late fondue dinner and the holiday goodies and eggnog after that. There were only nine of us this year: my husband and me (obviously), Lina, Mercy, Daniel, Spencer, Jade, Lucy, and Jasper.

I wasn’t up as late as I often am, but I still had to assemble the breakfast casserole and do some planning for the next morning.

Christmas morning I was up at 5:00 making hot cross bun dough. By 9:00 our breakfast was ready but the diners were not! Some found it hard to get out of bed and Spencer and Jade weren’t here yet, but we couldn’t postpone the meal indefinitely because we had a video chat date with Flynn and Tiffany!

The last few years I’ve made a gluten free/keto version of the breakfast casserole in addition to the “real” one, but since Mary wasn’t here to share it with this year, I found I was quite happy with eggs and sausages.

We spent about half an hour with Flynn and Tiffany, opening each other’s gifts and chatting. When they had to leave to go to Tiffany’s parents’ house, we said goodbye and opened the rest of our gifts here. It was a pleasant couple of hours and I think everyone received something they really wanted. I got two new themed cookbooks to add to my collection—a Star Wars one and a Firefly one. I need to start doing special themed meals again—but this time just for my own family since I no longer host a book club.

We squeezed in a video chat with Mary and Jordan also and we roasted a big turkey and the girls helped me with all the trimmings, including making our traditional trifle for dessert.

Mercy and Daniel didn’t even get any trifle because they had to leave right after supper so that Daniel could get a good night’s sleep before going to work this morning. Walter and Lina also worked all day. It was an abrupt end to that cozy Christmas feeling. I miss the days when everyone was able to stay longer!

I had a big project to work on, and it should have taken a couple of hours, but it took much longer and it was very frustrating. But I got it done—and still had time to zoom over to the bookstore for a few minutes.

Now I’m mostly packed up for my drive to Tennessee tomorrow. Please pray for safety on the road as I go to spend time with my parents. One of my brothers is already there and the other two will be joining us also.