Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Death and Taxes...for one more year.

Tonight, we briefly watched a montage of some Olympic feats of wonderment, and then some commercials came on...and there was H & R Block, touting their tax expertise. I turned to Brad and said in a nostalgic tone of voice, "Awwww, this is the last year you'll be doing Grampa's taxes..." And he looked at me and said, "Nope. He lived three days into this year."

I don't know why that made me want to laugh hySTERically.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Alternate titles for this post: "Seize the cuteness" or "Higgledy Piggeldy News of the Day"

I thought I would record something that just happened for posterity: We had invited some visiting Bibleschool students here last night for dinner and I had left the placemats on the dining room table overnight. Aiden swiped one off the table just now, brought it in the kitchen, dropped it on the floor, laid down on top of it and said, "Blankie. Night night." He looked like some sort of cute little Muslim with a prayer rug.

Speaking of Aiden, his latest thing is to name body parts...Mostly facial ones. I have to be very careful when dressing him, hugging him, or really any time I am within poking distance because I may find a small finger jabbing into my eyeball as he says, "Eyebrow!" ( He sometimes misses the exact location of certain anatomical parts.)

We have a guest staying with us these days - Dave Hansen. He's become Aiden's new hero, partly because he's a great guy, and partly because he has a great dog - Buffy. I thought Aiden was going to fly to the moon with joy when Buffy came along with Dave in our car last night to go to midweek meeting at church. Me - I was just ready to fly to the moon with joy because Buffy didn't throw up in the car. ( For a minute, it looked/sounded like she might.) I'm not a big dog person but Buffy is a model of good behavior. Very quiet and non-stinky. If all dogs were like her, maybe I would be a dog person.

The neighbor kids have been charmed with Dave too. He was doing some yard work around our house and apparently fell prey to Joey's visitations. Basically, if you are at our house, and outdoors, you are fair game. Be warned - Joey, approximately five years old- will descend and he has been known to talk hind legs off mules. Grampa LOVED him. Joey asked me later when I came home if Dave was my grandfather. Hmmm. In a word, "NO." For one thing, he's 23. I think. Anyway - too young to be anyone's Grampa! Maybe Joey thinks that to stay with us for any length of time - from one night up to three years - you have to be a Grampa and perhaps we were hosting interviews/auditions for a new Grampa position. That child is something else. He also said - Joey, that is, about Dave - "Thank the Lord! He found my ball that I'd lost for years! I LOVE that guy!" For some reason, all the lost balls in the neighborhood end up in our backyard down by the creek.

It's fun having Dave here. In some ways, he reminds me of Andrew a little. And that's always nice. He doesn't remind me of Grampa at all...except that he eats cold cereal.

Enough rambling for one day.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Remembering Grampa

Most of you probably saw the picture and description of the Memory Bear that I posted on Facebook. If you did, skip the next paragraph ...

Volunteers from the hospice where Grampa spent his last days made what they call a "Memory Bear" for us. We gave them a couple of pieces of clothing that belonged to Grampa and they made teddy bears out of them. They made two - one for Aiden and one for Matthew, Rosanna's son. The one we got is made from Grampa's old orange fleece jacket. I love it. It's so Grampa.

The day we got it, Aiden was out in the driveway playing with some of the neighbor kids. I brought out the bear to show the kids and they thought it was wonderful. They all wanted to hold it and hug it. I thought it was a really neat way for them to remember Grampa.

And then they went about their games and I had a fabulous time watching them. There were four or five hanging around and they had this pogo stick and were timing each other to see who could stay up bouncing the longest. Then they got two pogo sticks and took turns going head to head with each other. The rest of us sat around on Grampa's swing, pretending to be Pogo-stick Olympic Judges ( or in Aiden's case, wandering around the cul-de-sac with a soccer ball). It was weird; I felt like I was one of them.

And then I thought, "Grampa should be here." And I really missed him in a way that I hadn't experienced before. This was a situation when, if he was in the house, I would have run down to tell him to come outside... because he loved this kind of thing. Just hanging out with the kids. He lived for it. If there was a cold or rainy spell, or the kids had too much homework to play outside and several days would pass without him seeing them, he'd start to get agitated and upset. If it was a nice day out, he was always hopeful that "this will bring them outside!" And as I sat there, feeling like a kid myself, I realized in a new way that was part of why Grampa enjoyed children so much - because they made him feel young. I guess I always sort of knew that, but living it myself made me know it in a new way. It made me think of how Grampa used to talk about why kids are so great. I'm putting what he would say into my own words: Kids are just real. You don't have to pretend to be anything other than who you really are with them. They talk about totally random, irrelevant things, they have no big responsibilities, they are uncomplicated, there are no hidden agendas or schemes to manipulate you ( at least, not with THESE kids...I know that's not true with all kids). It made me smile as I thought of what Grampa taught me by example; like Jesus, he knew that kids are important... and worthy of attention and investment.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Yesterday, I sat down to work with Philip and it quickly became apparent that something was wrong.

To understand the story, let me take you on a quick detour into a technological explanation. ( Ha! Me! Explaining technology!) Usually, the Dynavox scans a number of options on a page, and as they scan on the screen, there's a little speaker behind Philip's head that speaks whatever's on the screen. When he hears what he wants, he hits the button by his head to select the word/phrase or open a new page. Anyway- that is just a brief and very incomplete description of an auditory scanning device.

So, the little speaker behind his head that usually gives him cues was not working. So I went into the setup menu and tried to figure out what was wrong. The usual suspects did not pan out, so I decided to call Tech Support. This made Philip's day - he LOVES calling Tech Support. He goes into raptures of bliss if I even mention it.

As I talked to the Tech Support guy, I suddenly noticed that the little tiny cord that runs from the speaker, under the wheelchair, and comes up the side to plug into the Dynavox... was... unplugged...hanging out in space like limp spaghetti. Duh, Claire! I was so embarrassed that such a simple thing had escaped my notice. I faced a choice, and I chose the cowardly path. After the next thing that the guy told me to do, I plugged the speaker back in and said, "It works now!" I instantly regretted it because I realized the thing he told me to do should not have fixed the problem - it was more a peripheral issue. He was a little mystified that it had been fixed in that way. I just couldn't bring myself to admit to him that it was all due to an unplugged cord. I felt too idiotic. He seemed to verbally shrug his shoulders over the mysteries of computers and why they do what they do and I pretended to join him in the shrugging ( Ah, yes, what a temperamental droid. 'Tis beyond our ken, Mr. Tech Support Man) while inwardly stifling my chortles. I hung up as quickly as I could.

Immediately, I told Philip what I had done and we laughed. We howled. We almost screamed with laughter. And then, there was no changing the subject. We had to use this experience as "The Thing That We Write About Today." This is what Philip wrote: "We don't hear thin little speaker. That stinks. We call technical support man. Claire see Dynavox speaker unplugged. She was scared embarrassed." He did a great job, did he not? It took him the best part of an hour to write this, with my help. People, do not take the ease with which you can communicate for granted. If you can speak, you have it very, very good. This cannot be overstated.

And then we wrote a song about it. Well, not exactly about me being an idiot - but about Tech Support in general. I had brought my new guitar with me to show Philip so we brainstormed together and came up with a song in praise of Tech Support. He gave me a lot of the words - Dynavox, bugs, email, man, idea, internet, stranger, cell phone, cool, etc. so I could weave them into the lyrics. Here is the song we came up with. It's to the tune of "You are My Sunshine." And just so you know the "V" refers to the model/name of the Dynavox.

When there's a problem with my V
We try to fix it as best we can
Sometimes we research on the website
But we like to call the tech support man

When there's a bug in the email
And no one here can figure out why
We pick up Philip's little cell phone
To call Dynavox - we hope it's a guy*

When we listen to this stranger
They give ideas that are cool
They check out problems and help us clean up
So Claire won't throw the V in the pool

* Philip was adamant that I mention that we prefer talking to the MAN at Tech Support. Apparently the men there are better than the women. Okay!

Anyway, it was a fun day and quite refreshing. Recently I feel like I've been stuck in a rut, running out of ideas of different things to motivate and try with Philip... This definitely got us OUT of the rut.