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.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Life Just Keeps Getting Busier

I know people say time flies when you're having fun, and the older you get, the faster it seems to go. Having kids certainly has sped things up. It's really more that I'm looking down, nose the grindstone, focused on what HAS to be done in the moment - get the kids up, dressed and fed in the morning, then dropped off at daycare, so I can rush to work and then hurry home to get dinner made before they have to get in bed so I can do laundry, dishes, maybe some work, and rarely, some blogging. Then set on repeat. When I have a minute to look up, I see that weeks or months have gone by. Here are some of the things that have happened since I last looked up.

First Kid-Free Trip
DH and I went to NYC in May. He had never been, and we haven't ever been away from the kids together since S was born almost 7 years ago. I missed them, but it was really good for our relationship to have that adult-only time together .

Cinco Update
The only bummer of our trip was that we missed our little guy's first crawl on 5/12, the day we returned home. He had also popped his 3rd tooth. He is now sitting up more confidently, and able to get from lying down to sitting up, pulling up on things sometimes, and loving "real" food. The last few days he's been saying "Maaaa." He will repeat it several times. I totally count that as his first word; Mama. And he got to go to his first T-Bones game. The baseball tradition continues.

(Baby) R
She had her first preschool Spring Show and was front and center! What a star! She loved performing her sign language alphabet song, the Monster Boogie and acting out the Three Little Pigs. Poor kid poked herself in the eye at one point and I had to take her offstage to get a wet towel to put on it for a minute to help it feel better. But she rallied and got right back out there. So proud.

On Memorial Day, we hung out with a family from church, and that night Baby R had a fever of 102. I should have known something was up - she actually napped that day, which never happens anymore. She ended up having a fever for 5 days. Luckily, that was all it was.

She's certainly not a baby anymore, I know. But twice in the last day or so, she's said something and I've thought it was S. Her tiny voice is becoming a big girl voice. Love it, but wistful, too.

Sweet S
She is growing up much too fast. The sassiness has hit an all-time high, and, sadly, my patience has hit an all-time low. But we're working through it. And still having fun! She's so brave; when she gets a loose tooth, she pulls it out. I mean, the sucker probably has a couple days of twisting left, but she just wrenches it out! She has so much energy; I see so much of me in her. She's really excited about her birthday party. Shockingly, it's not Frozen, but Star Wars. Love that kid!

Summer fun.
Taught S and Baby R how to play Battleship. They are really starting to enjoy board games which thrills me because I love them, but DH isn't a fan.

We went to a movie in the park one night and saw "Mary Poppins" - one of the girls' favorites. Loved watching them dance and sing along.

Singing in the rain has been a more frequent occurrence. Praying this means the drought may finally be ending....

We stopped by the library and read to Ginger, a sweet retriever. My friend owns her; she's a pet therapy dog. The girls really enjoyed it.

Picnics in the yard

As for me, I finally got to compete in Corporate Challenge this year. My first year at my company, I was hired after the sign up deadline. Then last year I was pregnant. Had a good experience. I placed 4th in ping pong (seriously? haven't played since high school), and was on the 5th place women's bowling team. Woo hoo! I also played horseshoes, but just got participation points. Had fun, though!

And I got to do another design project for church for a series called Origins:

On a not-so-fun note, things with my parents have been derailed again. I submitted the medicaid application online on April 23, and then found out when we got back from NYC that it was never received. Spent 3.5 hours in the DCFS office with Dad trying to resolve it and basically found out that we needed copies of a dozen papers and a letter from an attorney about the farm. So frustrating. I feel like we take 1 baby step forward and fifteen leaps back.

DH has been working hard on our garden. So thankful we have it again this year! Have enjoyed lots of lettuce so far. Can't wait for everything else to be ready to be harvested.

So many other things - just can't remember them all. That whole time thing again.

When I was younger, I longed for the future. I thought it would be easier. Being married, having kids, owning a house. That's everyone's dream right? And I love my life. But now, though I look forward to the future, I'm thankful for the past, and enjoy the present.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cinco - Seis

I can’t believe our little boy is 6 months old today! And that I’ve done such a crappy job of documenting his little life thus far. Even with RSV and an ear infection the last couple of weeks, he’s the happiest little camper. Rarely fusses. Though, sleeping has been a challenge since he’s had cold after cold this winter that never ends. We had a glimmer of hope Tuesday when it reached 72 degrees at 5pm, but then it plummeted 12 degrees in an hour, and we had snow flurries overnight. Oh, Kansas weather, you’re so entertaining. 

So Cinco hasn’t gotten to spend much time outside. But he keeps himself – and us – entertained inside quite well. He loves to pull his socks off and chew on them and try to get his cute little piggies in his mouth. And when Daddy rubs the top of his head on Cinco’s belly, his giggles make all of us smile. He’s found his voice and can roll over both ways. Since he doesn’t like to be on his stomach, he rolls about 75% of the way and hangs out on his side. He’s a little wiggle worm and has been known to slide all the way out of his bouncy seat if we forget to strap him in. But we don’t always know that’s happened since he doesn’t complain. He tolerates his sisters’ lack of personal space well and smiles when he sees them. 

And just so we have notes for your baby book, Buddy, here are some things that have been happening in our world lately:

  • We took you to your first sporting event – a Maverick’s hockey game.
  • Grandma D was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Daddy went to NYC for the first time on a work trip. Leaving Mommy in charge of all 3 of you for 4.5 days.
  • Grandma B had rotator cuff surgery. 
  • The Internet turned 25.
  • Ellen broke the record for most retweets with a selfie of her and several stars at the Oscars.
  • Speaking of Oscars, one of your sisters’ favorite movies, “Frozen,” won for best animated film and best song.
  • Malaysia Airlines had a flight that disappeared. 
  • The Winter Olympics were held in Sochi Russia. Not the best medal count overall, but the US hockey team beat the Russian team to win silver. 
  • Jimmy Fallon took over as host of The Tonight Show. 
  • The Kaufmann Center was named one of the world’s most spectacular buildings.
  • The Denver Broncos lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, despite Mommy gearing you up for a win. 

Happy half birthday, sweet boy. We love you!!

Thursday, March 6, 2014


I posted on FB that if my life had a soundtrack, lately it would be playing Tenth Avenue North's "Worn" on repeat.

DH was out of town for work most of last week, so I was playing single mama to the three munchkins. I can't say enough how amazing single moms are. I really don't know how they do it. Cinco had a cold and was up multiple times every night - like every half hour to hour at times - worse than when he was a newborn.

DH came home, and Cinco was mostly over it, but he let me sleep in til 9am on Saturday to recover - I felt like Superwoman! Got lots done. Then Sunday, Cinco started coughing. By the night he was congested and this cold was worse than the last. Thankfully, DH took turns getting up with me. He's finally doing significantly better - I got to sleep for an entire 3 hour chunk last night without interruption, and he only woke up a few times the rest of the night.

Work has been hectic since the first of the year. We finally had a couple of days where we could come up for air last week and this week.

The house is a wreck. Before I left for Bible study last night, I threw in a random load of laundry because I realized if I didn't, today Sam wouldn't have any underwear, Riley wouldn't have any pants, and I wouldn't have a shirt to wear.

Winter feels never-ending. Today was warm, but the flurries last night on the way home almost put me over the edge. I'm sick of being cold and sick of the grey and sick of the grime. The van is filthy because there hasn't been a weekend that's been warm and dry and that I've had the time/energy to get it emptied out so I can get it cleaned.

Mom was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's on January 29th. Relieved for the official diagnosis on the one hand, heartbroken because of its finality on the other. I need to write a separate post about that whole situation. As well as one about my baby boy - who is almost 6 months old!

It's only a season. I know things will be better soon.
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