Sunday, May 31, 2015


Today at church, the guest speaker talked about how no one likes a story without tension or conflict, so when that's happening in our lives, we just need to remember it means we have a good story.

I must have a great story, because just when I think things are calming down, there's another plot twist.

Dad said that the facility called today to let him know that Mom had altercation with a woman last night. She apparently pulled the woman's oxygen cord around her neck to choke her. She's been sent to a psychiatric hospital for 10-14 days to be evaluated.

If you had told me this story a decade ago, I would have laughed at the absurdity of the idea. But my mother is no longer my mother. This cruel disease has changed her into someone else. And I have no doubt that this person is capable of anything and everything under the sun.

Usually my fears about me developing Alzheimer's some day focus on how much it will suck for me. I feel so badly for everything Mom is going through. But today, all I could think about were my poor husband and children having to deal with these kinds of things. I decided I need to tell my family that when the time comes, I want them to say goodbye to me, mourn and move on.

I don't want them to see me not know who they are. I don't want them to see me have episodes of paranoia. I don't want them to have to explain to my grandchildren why I tried to strangle a woman. I want to give them all hugs and kisses and tell them how much I love them and then jump on a plane to some foreign land. They'll have only fond memories of me, and I'll live out my days in oblivion. Any lucid moments I may have will be filled with the knowledge that they're not suffering. I only hope that they can understand that it's better than the alternative.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Farewell, Old House

Tonight, I walked out of my high school home for the last time. Dad had an estate sale last week, and all the remaining trash was hauled out to a dumpster over the weekend. I stopped by to pick up the card table and chairs that were used in the sale this evening, and said goodbye to the garage door as I backed out of the driveway.

I feel a bit of melancholy about it, but I wasn't attached to the house as much as many people are. I lived there for 5 years which was the longest I lived at any house growing up. But I rented a duplex with friends for that long, as well, and have just surpassed that record in our home now; in August we'll have lived here 6 years.

The old house was special, though, because it was the first one Mom and Dad didn't flip. We moved there soon after Dad's triple bypass because it was a ranch and had an HOA that handled lawn maintenance and snow removal. And so they stayed. Even after my sister and I moved away to college. After we got married. After we had kids. Twenty-four years. Half of their married life was spent there. It was truly their home.

It's not so much the building; I'm mostly just wistful about the "good old days": hanging out with my girlfriends in the kitchen then playing Spoons and eating brownie batter at sleepovers in the living room; listening to Bon Jovi and Poison and Guns N Roses in my bedroom; family dinners and Christmases. But really I'm mourning the loss of something more. Not only do my parents no longer live in that house, they no longer live together. I'm mourning the loss of my parents' role as the caretakers. Of the safe cocoon of my youth. Of my smart, strong, caring mother who has been replaced by someone who doesn't know who I am.

It's hard to say goodbye to those things. Those are the things that were woven into the fabric of my being. The house… is just a house. When I break it down that way, it's much easier to leave it.

Farewell, old house. You were lucky to shelter such an amazing couple.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

It's Been One Week...

Well, here’s a run down of the last week to fill you in. I haven’t actually typed it out chronologically, yet, so this should be interesting. 

Tuesday: My dad had a mild heart attack because 1) he stopped taking all his meds in January and it finally caught up to him, and 2) he’s been crazy stressed out the last couple of months about moving my mom to an Alzheimer’s facility, selling their house, moving to an apartment and getting the house cleaned out before the closing date. I left work to go with him to the hospital. (This was the day I had planned to have a meeting with my supervisor to discuss some major issues that have come up with his dependability, communication and team belonging-ness. I was major stressed about it, but clearly that was no longer a priority for me.) Dad was so jacked up they had to run 4 IVs in him so they had to put him in ICU because they can’t monitor that many in telemetry.

Wednesday: Dad had an echocardiogram in the morning, then I went to the office in the afternoon because things were crazy. (And no, I’m not a workaholic, Dad has had heart issues since his first attack when I was 14, so I’m kind of an old pro at this.) Went back to the hospital after work and Dad got moved from ICU to telemetry.

Thursday: The due date for S's dinosaur diorama project she’d been working on for 2 weeks. She dropped it on her way into school. 

Friday: I had taken the day off to help clean out Dad’s house. But since he was in the hospital, I spent a couple of hours cleaning in the morning, then had lunch at the hospital with him, then went to his apartment for the maintenance people to install handles on his shower, then went back to the house where I found that the guy who had bought the house had moved all the boxes I’d sorted in the basement out of his way and put them into one mixed up pile. Then I had to go to the bank because some checks I’d signed over to my husband had been rejected as third-party checks and I had to be there for him to deposit them. Then I went back to the house and as I pulled into the driveway, the sitter called to tell me that Cinco had a fever. My older half-sister and I talked to the buyer about the house situation. She stayed to clean, and I left to get Cinco. My younger sister came to town and our older sister was still at the house so I met them there where we worked til almost midnight.  

Saturday: We were supposed to take DH to the airport at 9:30am for his noon flight to Germany for 10 days for work, but Cinco still had a fever, and neither Tylenol nor Motrin brought it down overnight, so we decided he needed to go to urgent care. So my younger sister took the girls to my parents’ house to clean, DH's BFF took him to the airport, and I took Cinco to CM Urgent Care. Only they didn’t open until noon, so I drove all the way back to the one out west by our house. By the time we got there, Cinco had had a blowout. He hasn’t done that in months, so I hadn’t brought any spare pants with me, just diapers and wipes and snacks and toys. And it started raining. Jogged him through the rain to the urgent care straight into the bathroom. Changed him and then washed my hands and there was only 1/2” of paper towel left. Pantless kid, frazzled mom with wet hands, we went to the counter and were followed by a put-together mom with a toddler Cinco’s age in a matching outfit with styled hair. 
Cinco had strep throat. 
That night my little sis and I split a bottle of wine and went through some old photos. 

Sunday: Sis had to leave right away to get back to St. Louis (but ended up stuck on 1-70 for 2 HOURS with her husband and 2 year old son because of a haz-mat spill) because she had to fly to NYC Monday afternoon (but her flight was cancelled so she ended up not leaving until 6am Tuesday.) After she left, the kids and I started prepping for the week, laying out clothes, meal planning, etc. We took a break to play outside. Their allergies have been awful, so I’ve been giving them Claritin in the morning plus Benedryl at bedtime and eyedrops throughout the day. S had a runny nose and a little cough that started that day. She skinned her knee and started crying, and I saw huge gobs of goo in the corners of her eyes. Decided to wait until morning to see if they were crusty to decide if it was pink eye or not. 

Monday: Both girls had crusty eyes. Took Cinco to daycare, took the girls to the ped. Doctor noticed Baby R's throat looked red, and she had swollen lymph nodes. She didn’t have a sore throat or a fever, but since Cinco has strep, they did a culture. The quick one came back negative. Left to fill the eye drop prescription. There was a semi unloading stock at CVS and blocking the entire drive thru which I thought was insane and didn't feel remotely guilty about my girls' pink eye germs being spread throughout the interior of the store because, seriously, who puts the loading dock to their store IN THE DRIVE THRU LANE. Finally got it filled and went home. And then S accidentally hurt an old ankle injury of mine, and I was laid up. That night S’s cough was terrible and hurt her chest and her nose was so stuffy she couldn’t breathe. I was up with her for about 2 hours, so super tired in the morning. 

Tuesday: Planned to take the girls to daycare at 10:30 after their 2 hour contagious period wore off so decided to wash Baby R’s blankies. The washing machine leaked all over. Then the ped called and said the overnight culture for Baby R’s strep test came back positive. Then S got a fever and started wheezing. Took Cinco to daycare on the way to the ped’s office again. Thought S probably also had strep. Quick result was negative. Dr thought it looked more like the flu. Type A flu test came back positive. 

Tally after 1 week:
1 heart attack, 1 damaged diorama, 1 absent husband, 2 pink eyes, 2 strep throats, 1 flu and 1 broken washing machine.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A New Phase

My mother's initials are M.A.D. The irony was not lost on me last week as she was moved to a memory care facility. The one that I felt like was a dungeon. Though I was less focused on that meaning of it and more nervous she would exhibit behaviors in line with the angry definition. If I were her, I would have been angry.

As it was, I was angry. I felt betrayed and frustrated and guilty and sad and overwhelmed and hopeless. If only Dad had called home health care for help like I'd been bugging him to do for the last 6 months. If only I'd been better about going over there to help him. If only... The list is endless.

Regardless, she would have had to move somewhere eventually.  Alzheimer's isn't curable. And she was in really bad shape the last weekend of February. She couldn't string words together coherently. She shuffled when she walked and couldn't perceive depth without fear of falling. Dad's inability to keep her blood sugar under control and monitor her medications just exacerbated the symptoms. Not to mention his verbal abuse when he would lose his temper with frustration at the situation. That makes him sound like a monster. He's not. He's an old man in a difficult spot who was never the caregiver. He did the best he could.

Mom is much better after only a week in the memory care facility. I was worried she would be furious that he left her there, but she was so addled in the beginning, she didn't realize what was going on. Her blood sugar was over 400 when she got there on Monday morning and was down to 200 by Thursday morning when we had our family and staff assessment meeting. When I took the girls to play Bingo with her Saturday, she was speaking in complete sentences, able to read "Free Space" and get a joke that I made. Still not really able to keep up with a conversation, but being well cared for has made a huge difference.

I wish I'd had the time to type entries the last month or two about the different care places that were options and my feelings on all of it, but things have been really hectic. On top of the guilt I felt at Mom being moved there, I wasn't able to see her until that Thursday meeting because our whole family got the stomach flu starting the weekend before. And there were bright moments in the doldrums - DH was given an award in recognition of all his hard work on the project that sent him to Germany last fall. S took 2nd and 3rd place in the novice division of cup stacking in her age group. She also had a piece of 3D mask selected to be displayed at the high school art show; only a couple of kids from each grade from each school in the district received that honor.

That will be the real challenge now. Finding time to visit her as frequently as I'd like. I felt badly that I only saw my parents about once a week or every other week before. But I can't leave her alone that long now. We've entered a new phase. Praying for strength and patience.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A New Frontier

For the last 16 months, I've been actively trying to help my parents transition to the next phase. Mom was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's exactly 1 year ago this week, and her Medicaid finally came through last fall allowing me to submit her first application to a memory care facility the week of Thanksgiving. After repeating 2 steps forward, 5 steps back ad nauseum for months, everything happened at once yesterday. I found a facility with an immediate opening for Mom and Dad sold their house.

It was a whirlwind of a day. Thankfully I had taken off work to get some things done since I ended up spending most of the time on the phone with my parents and sisters trying to iron out details. I had narrowed down the memory care facilities in the county to 3 that were highly rated. Two of them have long wait lists. The third that has the opening has excellent care providers and a long history of satisfied customers having been in business for 40 years and having several long-term employees (including one who's been there for 37 of those years). That said, it's very old. They are renovating it, but the memory care section is still painted cinder block and it's in the basement. The idea of sending Mom there … it feels like I'm sending her away to be forgotten. I know I'm not, but it's so depressing. And the other people in the unit are much farther along in the disease than she is. She's still social, even if she often speaks jibberish. Most of the women there were no longer ambulatory and seemed completely inactive.

My sister and I keep talking about how the care is what's important, and Dad needs a solution sooner than later. But it still breaks my heart to think about it. We are looking at some other options, but at the moment, this seems like the direction things are headed.

And Dad not only sold his house yesterday, but found another one today. It has some structural cracks, so he's going to have a foundation expert check it out first, but he'll likely be buying it. So much happened in so little time after such a long, slow wait. My emotions are all over the place. 2015 has gotten off to quite a start.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Baby R's 5th Birthday Party & Survey Results

Our kids are nothing if not creative. When I asked Baby R what kind of party she wanted this year, she said princess ninja. Wasn't sure how to go about that at first, but finally was able to come up with some fun stuff based on a lot of Pinterest help.

The decor was ninja stars and Chinese lanterns but in pink and purple. The cupcake toppers had tiaras and princess wands with ninja stars, and the party favors were Chinese takeout boxes with princess gummy treats, chopsticks and a fortune cookie. 

I found a few tutorials online about how to fold paper ninja stars (it was harder than I remembered!), and made a some out of white paper for the kids to color when they arrived and were waiting for the other guests. We used them later to throw at balls that were balanced on top of toilet paper rolls. 

Another game we played was Pin the Tiara on the Ninja. 

And I also set up a few crepe paper "laser" streamers in the hallway that the kids had to navigate through. Overall it was a fun party! 

•   •   •   •   •

I thought I asked Baby R a birthday survey in the past, but I don't see a post about it anywhere. (Not that that means anything since I've hardly posted recently! Still need to post pics from Cinco's first bday.) Our sweet girl turned 5 a couple of weeks ago, and now that Thanksgiving is wrapped up, I finally got a chance to ask her about a few of her favorite things. (You'd think ninjas might have made the list based on her party theme, but there are plenty of princesses represented.)
  • What's your favorite food? Strawberries
  • What's your favorite sport to play? Basketball
  • What's your favorite TV show?  Dora and Friends
  • What's your favorite movie? The Little Mermaid and Sleeping Beauty
  • Who's the coolest person on earth? God
  • What's the thing you're most looking forward to about starting kindergarten?
    Mrs. W. (S's kindergarten teacher - Baby R is hopeful she will have her, too.) 
  • What's the thing that you do best? Help Mom.
  • If you could go to anywhere in the world, where would it be? Chick Fil A
  • What's your favorite color? Purple and blue
  • What's your favorite book? Pocahantas
  • What are three words to describe you? Thankful, 5, thankful for Mommy
  • What is something you used to do when you were little? Chewing on toys
  • What is your favorite season? Windy so you can fly kites - fall
  • What is your favorite snack? Strawberries
  • What food don't you like? Tomatoes
  • Who is your best friend? Delani
  • If you had one wish, what would it be? Another Mommy - two of me. 
  • What is your best memory? Santa
  • What's your favorite game? Tic Tac Toe
She was really enjoying this survey, so wanted to tell me a few more of her favorites. 
  • What's your favorite song? Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • What is your favorite toy? Lincoln Logs
She brings joy to me every day. So thankful for the opportunity to be her mama!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Will Last Longer Than Just a Day

DH headed to Germany for a work trip yesterday. He will be gone for two weeks. I've been terrible about updating the blog lately, but I'm hoping that this will be good motivation for even short posts each day about the kiddos to help me remember everything to tell him. Since he's seven hours ahead of us, there's not much opportunity to Skype with the kiddos. We got to talk to him this morning since it was his first day there and so he wasn't working. He got to fly business class which made me super jealous (as if I wasn't already about him getting to go to Deutschland) since when I went to China for work we flew coach. He texted pics of his fully reclining seat as well as his gourmet menu and free cocktail. Lucky duck.

Yesterday we skipped church so we could take him to the airport. The kids hadn't really been to the airport to see how things work before so we watched as the luggage carousel turned and spit out bags of different sizes and colors. We saw a plane taxi down the runway, and as we drove away from the terminal, there were a couple in the sky.

Since we were on the north side of town, we met up with a friend of mine for lunch at a McDonalds that had an awesome Play Place to keep the kids entertained. Then we came back home for nap time. Poor Cinco was so wiped out since we'd messed with his schedule so much this weekend. (Friday, DH surprised me with a double dinner date to our favorite Italian restaurant off the Plaza, and Cinco was still awake when we got home at 10pm. Sigh. Saturday, we took the kiddos to the Royals game. Even though we left after the 5th inning, it was already past their bedtime, and none of them fell asleep on the drive home.) Anyway, luckily his nap was a good one. Then we went to the grocery store to load up for the week, and I got the girls Chinese for dinner.

Last night I was working on Cinco's 1st birthday party invitations and watching "A League of Their Own" when it started storming. Around 11pm, I was getting ready to head to bed when thunder woke S up. So we went to my room and snuggled. Unfortunately, that meant I didn't get the best sleep. But the other two slept well, so that's a win.

Today, we played outside for a bit. S swept the driveway while Baby R collected acorns to make acorn pie. Cinco was trying to crawl on the sidewalk, so I put a large blanket down on it and part of the grass, but he didn't want to stay on there. So I moved it further under the oak tree where there was more shade. Didn't help. He crawled over to the driveway and scraped up his knee. Got the baby pool out and put some toys in it,. That helped for a bit while I trimmed the tree branches, but it wasn't long before I noticed he had something in his mouth. Thankfully it was an acorn and not one of the dozens of crickets that were jumping all over. Managed to get it out without incident.

Cinco is napping so the girls are playing with Barbies, and I'm quickly typing this up. My parents are coming over for dinner, and then hopefully I'll be able to get most of the laundry done so the short week goes smoothly.
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