I left Friday afternoon. It was kind of weird traveling by myself - I haven't done that in such a long time. But it was kind of nice, too, and I didn't have to make nearly as many stops as I normally would with J. (More on that later, though.)
I went by K's parents' house to pick J up, and he was ready to go as soon as I got there. We got to my dad's house about 8:00 Friday night. J was happy to see Papaw and Mamaw, but didn't want anything to do with Sparky (the dog - he's very excitable, and barks and jumps a lot).
J did have a couple of humdinger fits while we were there, and let's just say my dad and I have very different opinions on discipline. He doesn't seem to realize 1) that J and I had very different personalities as children, and 2) that it does take repetition to learn things, that he had a learning curve as a boy as well. But we made it through, and had a good visit all the same. I got a bunch of my old books from the old house - including my mother's old Betty Crocker cookbook, which I'm VERY glad to have! - and as I was gathering some up, J told me, "Mama, why are you getting all those books? You have enough books already!" The old house is empty now, and it made me a little sad.
Saturday afternoon J and I went to see my aunt and cousins. My cousin Ramona was there with her husband Tom and her kids Rachel and Travis, and J got to play with his cousins. They were playing with a plastic ball and bat, and at one point Travis was going to hit the ball. He told J to move, but apparently J didn't move far enough, because Travis smacked the ball and the ball smacked J in the head. Poor baby, he screamed. Travis felt so bad, and J cried, but we all agreed it was just an accident and no permanent harm done (J has a little red mark on his head, but that's it), and everyone was fine. I found out that my cousin Ranelle is separated from her husband - he's still in Holland, I guess, and she's back home now. She seemed happy, though, so if she's happy, I'm happy for her. We had a nice visit, and I was so glad to see them, since I don't get to see them very often.
I found out I need new tires - my dad found a cut on one of my front tires, and the place we were going to get new ones put on only had two to fit my car. So they just put the spare on in place of the really bad one. I got to drive the Yukon to visit family on Saturday. That thing is a boat (it has three rows of seats), and I wouldn't want to maneuver it in downtown traffic, but it drives wonderfully on the highway. At any rate, I'm back home now, and not sure where the money for new tires will come from on top of the heater core repair. *SIGH* But, better to find out that my tire has a cut in it sitting in my dad's driveway than when I'm out on I-20 somewhere.
And I also found out my dad has been diagnosed with Parkinson's. He and my stepmom haven't told anyone else, and he's taking medication that's keeping it under control for the moment. My stepmom said they purposely haven't told my dad's sisters because they're so bossy they'll want to say how things should go. And she's right. I wouldn't tell them, either, not until it became necessary. My grandfather had Parkinson's as well. Other than moving a good bit slower than he used to, I don't notice any real difference in my dad. The medication helps with the tremors, and he doesn't shuffle his feet much. But I know things will get worse, and it makes me sad. I've found out that senility/dementia can be a symptom of Parkinson's, that it could be mistaken for Alzheimer's but manifests differently. My grandfather didn't know any of us by the time he passed away, and I always thought it was just old age/senility/what have you - I had no idea it could have been due to his Parkinson's. My dad is getting old, and that makes me sad. He's the only dad I've got - I want him to be around a long, long time yet.
So, given my dad's current preoccupation with his health, we talked about what will happen with all the property when he dies. He's really wanting to make sure things go to people who can use them. For example, the houses (old and new) - I won't move home, there's nothing for me there, and I don't want to see the houses just sit empty. But my dad wants to make sure there's a provision for me to come back if I want to someday. One of my stepsisters may want the house, and if she does, I'd be happy to see her have it. (I mentioned this to K, and he said, "you'd sell it to her, right, and not just give it to her?" Dude, not mine to sell - it's my dad's separate property, he can do whatever he wants to with it.) So we talked about that for a bit.
J insisted we open presents on the 23rd. He got clothes from Mamaw and Papaw (I was more excited about those than he was), and a little 4-wheeler that goes and lights up (he was very excited about that). We gave my dad and stepmom pictures of J, and they were happy about those. And my dad gave me part of the money for my new tires. Not all of it, but part, and anything is a help. Not sure where the rest of it will come from, though, or money for everything else that needs paying. (Here's where I'm hoping my horoscope is accurate!)
We went to K's parents' house on Sunday. It was a rainy, nasty day, but it was fun to see family. K didn't feel good - he was sucking down Tylenol cold medicine and sleeping a lot (sucks to be sick on Christmas!). J wanted to watch TV and lots of it - my dad doesn't have a DVD player, and you'd have thought I told J there was no Santa Claus when I told him that. So he was making up for last time at MaMa and PaPa's house. Granny (K's grandmother, J's great-grandmother) was there, too, and it was good to see her.
J kept saying he hoped Santa brought him the red and green dinosaurs that made noise and moved their heads (the Fisher-Price Imaginext mega T-rex, there's a red one and a green one). So I made a last-minute trip to the hated Wal-Mart and got the green one (couldn't get both, they were $30 each at Wal-Mart - cheaper at Target, should've gotten them there!). It was rainy and cold, and it was Wal-Mart. Ugh.
We opened presents Christmas Eve. J got a crapload of stuff, and he was pretty excited about all of it. I finally got him to sleep a little before 10:00, and then I got up and put Santa stuff out. K's mom and I had some good eggnog - she always gets the stuff with nog already in it, and it is damn good. It's Pennsylvania Dutch brand, and I got a bottle to bring home. We went to sleep about 11:00, I guess, and then I got to hear K talking to A in the next room. He was on the phone, and he was a bit loud. If he'd been so loud that J woke up, I would have had to kill him.
I woke up about 6:40 on Christmas morning, and J was still sleeping. I had to wake him up at 7:30. I only did that because I knew we'd be traveling, and I didn't want to be getting home after dark. (Now why can't he sleep like that at home?) He was SO HAPPY when he found that dinosaur, it made the trip to Wal-Mart all worth it. He carried it around and has told me many times how happy he is that Santa got him just exactly the dinosaur he always wanted. Good to know you've made your kid happy. He wanted to take it to bed last night, but a big, roaring, lighting-up dinosaur is not an appropriate bedtime toy. He liked his other Santa gifts, too - a big Thomas the Tank Engine set, two smaller dinosaurs, an Eddie doll (one of the Fisher-Price Little People characters) that will help him learn to zip and button and all that good stuff, a couple of books. He got tons of stuff in his stocking, and played with a lot of it on the trip home.
I got some good stuff, too. More than I expected, given that K's parents already paid for my new garage door opener. I got a Barnes and Noble gift card, a Target gift card, some Amarige cologne and bath gel and lotion, a really pretty hurricane candle holder, and a whole crapload of goodies in my stocking. K's mom asked me at one point during the weekend if A was OK with me still being in the picture - I said she'd better be, because I wasn't going anywhere. LOL (And I think she'll be OK with it - what would she do, tell me J couldn't see his grandparents? I can't see her being that way.) I love K's parents, and I'm so glad to still have a good relationship with them.
J and I took off about 10:00 yesterday morning. After a brief stop at my dad's (I assured J that we weren't taking our stuff out of the car, we were just stopping to say Merry Christmas - he was ready to go back to Texas RIGHT THEN!), we got back on the road about 11:00. It was rainy and cold and WINDY. Yuck.
I was worried it would be hard to find places to stop, but it wasn't. We stopped in Natchitoches for gas and a potty break, and then J fell asleep somewhere around Marshall and napped for a couple of hours. We stopped again in Lindale for gas and a potty break (and I'd seen several places that were open along the way), and got back home about 5:00 yesterday evening. So six hours is a good trip with a four-year-old. As long as J doesn't drink a lot, he doesn't need to stop a lot, so we made it fine. And he didn't fuss for the DVD player - K has a portable one now, and brought it for the trip home. I was worried that J would want it in my car as well, but he didn't say a thing about it.
Got home about 5:00 yesterday evening, unloaded the car, put the big Thomas set together, played with Tinkertoys, took a bath, and went to bed. Whew! My house really does look like Toys R Us blew up in it. I have no idea where everything will go. Oh well! I guess that's just how Christmas goes when you have a little one.
Now I'm looking forward to 2007. May it be a better year than 2006!