Whew! Time for an update, I guess. I think I've forgotten what "normal" is... because I keep thinking life will get back to "normal" and it never does. In any case, we're home now, so I guess this is as normal as it gets.
We left home a week before Thanksgiving. Traveled 3 days (from Idaho) to Arkansas where we spent the night with my folks. The kids stayed with them then while DH and I had a 3-day get-away to Branson in celebration of our 20th anniversary and my 40th birthday, both of which were in November. We're not really into the Branson scene, so we didn't go to a single show or do anything more touristy than go in a few shops. Mostly we just hung out in the condo enjoying each other's company, the fireplace, and a view of Tablerock Lake. It was so relaxing! We went back to Arkansas the day before Thanksgiving to spend the holiday with my parents and sisters and their families, and then we headed home on Friday.
By Saturday noon we had gotten as far as Denver. In talking to my mother on the phone we realized that she had not been able to find aides to hire to help care for my 90-year-old grandfather who would be arriving on Tuesday. This was a major concern because while my mother loves to care for her dad, she is just physically not able to do it on her own. So my DH and I decided we better turn around and go back. The kids and I stayed 2 more weeks, while DH went home to work.
We were happy to have the opportunity to help take care of our precious grandfather, but it was not convenient... nor was it easy. It is such a sad stage of life.
We also enjoyed spending time with my parents at the "home place". They live in the home my granddad built for his family in the 1960s, so it was always "Grandmother and Granddaddy's House" when I was growing up. How we loved to "go down to the creek" to play when we lived there, and later when we would visit. This time my children discovered the creek, and went down there to play just about every day. It's a wonderful rocky, very shallow creek, perfect for building dams and "waterfalls" and things like that. (Other years we have been there in the summer, and the concern about snakes and ticks has prohibited them from being able to play down there. Granddaddy kept goats when I was a child, so the snakes weren't so bad, I guess. I think we just dealt with ticks.)
One day my mother expressed concern that we weren't getting school done every day, with all that was going on. I said, "You know what, though? The kids are getting to play at the creek. We live in town at home, so they don't get to do things like this very often. Some things are just as important as school... and besides... this is P.E. (think of the hill they were climbing up and down to get to the creek)... and nature study, geology, physics... okay, Science! Time enough for academics later." She agreed with me.
I had to cancel several appointments and commitments in order to be gone, so this week has been very full playing catch-up. Tomorrow night is our church's Christmas program. I'm the director, so that was a major concern that the "show would have to go on" without me. (DH was having to take over, and it just is not his forte so he was very uncomfortable with it.) I spent most of the day yesterday and today getting details finished up for that. I'll be glad when it's over. It's not anything elaborate, but just one more thing to have to think about.
We are keeping Christmas very simply this year. We decided to decorate the mantle, but not put up a tree. The children are satisfied with that. With Christmas being on Sunday I am not planning a big dinner either. (Unless DH asks me to.) For the last 2 or 3 years I have been trying to simplify and managing to do a little less each year. If we hadn't had to be gone unexpectedly, I really think our December would have turned out to be a very relaxing, rather than hectic, month. Isn't that the way it should be? I feel very Scroogish thinking of a big, showy, commercialized Christmas season. Bah! Humbug! But just a quiet time at home with my DH and kids, exchanging a few simple gifts... now that's my idea of a holiday!