I can't believe it has taken me two full weeks to post a holiday update. It's amazing how much of a backlog of work can pile up when you are out of the office for almost two weeks.
We had a really good Christmas, even though we missed the out of town family who have been with us the last several holidays. The kids raked in the gifts, and to be honest Tiffany and I didn't do too poorly either. We spent a wonderful Christmas afternoon across town with Tiffany's aunt and cousins, eating and yakking and exchanging even more presents.
Mom joined us in Deer Park for the Christmas festivities and seemed to really enjoy it. Everyone was understanding and patient with the repeated questions and conversations that are a staple of life with Alzheimer's. And this year is the first in several that we have seemingly evaded the annual bout of depression that is another side effect of the disease. I thank the assistance of Houston-based CareTemps for that — their help in providing consistent caregiver service to Mom has relieved a lot of the stress that usually builds up this time of year, as well as their help in monitoring her medications to make sure they are not forgotten.
I must have been a much better boy than I remembered, because I made out like a bandit at the Christmas tree. The ladies in my life were all very kind to me — it was a very "birdy" Christmas: one of my sisters presented me with a membership to the Houston Audubon Society, my other sister sent gift certificates to Wild Birds Unlimited and a bookstore (for the new Sibley bird guide I've been eyeing), and my Wonderful Wife bought me both a book of North American birds with recorded calls and songs and a good warm pair of gloves. Oh, and my new Stetson!
Unfortunately Cat ended Christmas day with a fever, and by the weekend everyone but I was sick with cough, fever and/or sinus problems that took the next week to clear up. I held my breath for a week straight and scrubbed my hands raw with anti-bacterial soap, and somehow managed to avoid the ickies for a change. We spent that week putting together Cat's new desk (which reminded me of why I never considered carpentry as a career) and Cowboy's new Hot Wheels set, playing Wii, and watching cartoons and reruns on TV.
By the time New Year's Eve arrived, we were exhausted. Tiffany crashed on the couch while the kids and I sat around playing games. Next thing we knew the neighborhood was alive with the glitter of fireworks and the crashing booms of cannon fire, and we all gathered around the kitchen window to watch the show. It was the first time the kids had both stayed awake all the way until New Year's, and we had a blast. But by a quarter past midnight we were all in bed, and we didn't get up until time to start cooking the roast and black-eyed peas.
By Friday, the kids were finally well and very ready to get back to playing with their friends, so Tiffany and I took the extra day off from work to catch up on sleep, see a movie (first time we've been on a date in forever!) and do a little birding. We headed up to Kleb Woods in Tomball for a couple of hours for a very pleasant walk. And while the majority of the bird life stayed out of sight, we did catch glimpses of two exciting life birds for me: an Anhinga crossing the trail just ahead of us, and later a Great Horned Owl in flight (we later heard both the one owl and a farther away response). According to an employee of the nature center who had seen the owl the day before, this was the first GHOW visit they knew of at the park. An auspicious start to the new year!