Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Barking Dog Never Shuts Up!

I have been so busy lately getting my niece and her family settled that I have not visited Mam-ma Polly often.  But I did spend some time with her one afternoon this week, and she was in her speech therapy session when I arrived.  I sat and watched as the therapist held up objects in a box and asked Mam-ma what they were... a ball, a sock, a comb.  She asked, "What do we use this for?" and Mam-ma would tell her... haltingly, in one-word answers.  This was so familiar to me... an activity I have done countless times as a kindergarten teacher... and more recently with Timothy as he learned to talk.  I was struck instantly by the parallel between two vast age groups who both utilize the same task to exercise speech.

The therapist then read a few common adages to Mam-ma - hoping to elicit the punch line.  "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him ....."  "Blood is thicker than ..."  and others.  Then she read one I had never heard... "A barking dog never..."  The last word is supposed to be "bites," but without missing a step, Mam-ma interjected... "shuts up!"  In other words... "A barking dog never shuts up!"  We all laughed heartily, and the therapist said she was going to add this as an acceptable answer in the future!

Then Mam-ma was given a printed sheet of phrases to read aloud... "I'm hungry"... "I need to go to the bathroom"..."Where have you been?"... "I'm glad to see you" and others.  She read them aloud quite well for someone who can barely speak.  It seems that the disconnect is more in remembering what to say and how to say it than the words themselves.  So the therapist will make a little notebook for her of common phrases that she can point to as she communicates with family members, friends, and the facility staff.  This should help tremendously in her ability to express her thoughts and feelings.  Photos of people who visit her frequently - accompanied by their names - will also be put into this notebook.  I hope this helps.  Time will tell.
Meanwhile, I have started the ball rolling to have a little cake and coffee party for Mam-ma the day before her 100th birthday. I've invited family and just a few of her closest friends - and we are at nearly 100 people!  It will be overwhelming for her, but we're rolling with it.  There are still two weeks to go, so anything could happen.  I won't order a cake until the last minute.  Cards are already beginning to come in the mail, and I have promised to read all of them to Mam-ma.

At the same time, my husband and I have embarked on a new endeavor... moving my niece, her husband and three children back to Arkansas.  We purchased a house for them to rent, and we drove to the Dallas area earlier in the month with a U-Haul trailer and gathered them and all of their belongings.  We have been busy getting them settled, searching for jobs for both of them - and daycare for the children - and handling all of the little day-to-day business matters, like taxes, insurance, utilities, address changes, and more.  For two people who never had children, this is totally uncharted territory!  But God placed this on our hearts, and we are trusting Him to work out any "kinks"!  We are so happy to have our "kids" home... and to be able to see the little ones - Timothy (age 3), Zola (17 months) and Nathan (11 weeks) any time we wish! Life is full!

Caring for all three of the little ones at once is daunting... and I am happy to report that there are no pets included in this adventure!  The noise and activity level of three small children is enough... and as my grandmother aptly put it, "a barking dog never shuts up!"  More than ever before, I am learning that every day is different... and that God is faithful to meet our needs.  I hope that you feel His presence in your neck of the woods, as well.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Sandwich Just Got Bigger!

A lot has happened since my last posts.  Three weeks ago, my husband and I offered to help my niece, her husband, and their three children (ages 3, 16.5 months, and 10 weeks) relocate to our home town.  Living in the Dallas area, this young couple discovered that they needed the support of family members to adequately meet the needs of their recently expanded family.  So in two hectic weeks, we managed to secure housing, furniture and appliances, and make all necessary plans to move the family home.

Last weekend, we rented a U-haul trailer and headed for Texas.  We loaded the trailer early one morning and returned... my niece, her husband and the two youngest babies in one car... us and Timothy in the other.  My mother and sister have filled in the gaps with Mam-ma Polly, along with several friends who have also visited her.  We all have apparently survived... at least so far!

As things unfold and I regain my wits (and get some sleep), I will write more about our experience and how we are all managing.  Friday, I looked in my back seat at the three - yes THREE - car seats and their accompanying passengers, and I thought, "What on earth have we gotten ourselves into?!"  But everyone survived the day unscathed, and I love my niece and her babies more than anything in the world, so we shall tackle this sandwich and forge ahead!  Stay tuned!!!!