Monday, November 2, 2015

One of Those Days

End of daylight savings wasn't as bad as it could have been. Halloween landing on the Saturday night before worked out well. Still, Cinco was up at 6am on Sunday, which explains why a lot of what happened yesterday, happened.

While eating breakfast, he slipped off the chair and hit his cheekbone and bruised it.

At church, he pushed the "Call For Help" button on the elevator. The fire department came.

In the playroom after service, he slipped and fell and got a bloody nose.

We decided to leave before anything else happened and walked over to the park where he promptly fell and scraped his cheek climbing on a retaining wall.

And then got a second bloody nose when he fell on the playground equipment.

We got home, and while I was putting him down for his nap, Baby R decided to "color" with stamp pads and got ink all over her legs, hands, and in places on her arms and stomach, as well as the kitchen floor.

And then I ran away. But I came back. And we had lots of snuggles that made it all worth while.

That, and then the Royals won the World Series for the first time in 30 years. And suddenly it became the Best. Day. Ever.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

So This Happened...

My cell phone rang yesterday afternoon while I was at work. I didn't recognize the number, so let it go. When it beeped a couple of minutes later to let me know I had a voicemail, I went ahead and listened to it. It was R's kindergarten teacher calling to tell me R had cut her own hair at school. The teacher went on to say she wasn't sure when it had happened, she hadn't seen it happen but had just found the hair sitting in her spot. She asked R about it, and R said she didn't know and thought maybe she had pulled it out. The teacher told her it looked like it was cut with scissors. R said she didn't remember but maybe she had cut it. So the teacher is keeping her scissors on her desk for a few days until R can earn them back. She was very apologetic in the message, and ended by saying they usually make it a few more days into the year before someone cuts their hair, and that she was sending the hair home in an envelope.

I could not stop giggling at my desk. R is the most thoughtful and kind-hearted soul, but she's also mischievous and a bit of a rascal. It doesn't surprise me at all that she cut her hair. It's kind of a rite of passage. I feel like most kids either cut their own hair, or have a sibling who cuts it. It's definitely nothing to get worked up about in my opinion; natural consequences are really effective and there's no permanent damage as her hair will grow back. And since I was prepared with the knowledge before I picked her up, I was able to use it as a learning opportunity. She was adorably chastened when I asked her how her day went. Guess we can check that off the kid experience list for our house!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Back to School

 Last Wednesday was the first day of 3rd grade for S, and Friday was Baby R's first day of kindergarten! It was, of course, a huge milestone, and DH was luckily able to go late to the office so he could walk with us.

At Meet the Teacher night, R had been nervous about not having any friends, and I told her once we met her teacher, she would already have one friend for the first day. I privately let the teacher know of her concerns, so when we were leaving, she called R over and said that there was a little girl who was nervous about her first day and asked R if she could be a special helper on the first day and befriend the other little girl so she wouldn't be lonely. Brilliant! Give her a way to help so she's not thinking about her own problems.

All went well the first day. But then Monday came, and she lost her water bottle and lunchbox, and yesterday they girls had their first tardy. And today they had dentist appointments at lunchtime (because 6 months ago, I didn't realize school would already be in session), and I had to pick them up at exactly the same time as the kindergarteners were going to the cafeteria. Not only did R not get to eat, but today was supposed to be the first day she was going to get to have school lunch. For a little kid who's looked forward to doing such a big kid thing, it was devastating. She cried all the way to the dentist's, and even into the chair. She finally calmed down, and after her cleaning, she went to play in the waiting area while I set the next appointment, and she fell and scraped a scab off, and her leg started bleeding. Major meltdown again. Got that addressed, then picked up fast food since she still hadn't eaten, got to school and no one was in her class. She was distraught. After eliminating art, P.E. and music as possibilities, figured out they were at recess, and another teacher helped her outside. Finally got back to work - two hours later.

I totally get why all my friends told me I shouldn't be worried about not being able to stay home with the kids when they were babies, and that it would be worse once they were in school. It will be a miracle if we make it to May at this point. I'm so stressed out by the time I get to work, and I haven't even started my day yet. Working on coming up with a better system, because we just can't keep having awful starts to our day. Pray for me, friends!

Friday, July 31, 2015

A Message To My Children: Life Is Choices

Diets do not work. Food is not bad. Don't say you can't have something. Think about your food every time you eat. Ask yourself if you're making a healthy choice or not. And don't feel guilty when you don't. The purpose of food is fuel for your body. Don't let it turn into anything more than that.

People are flawed. They will say mean things about you that aren't true. Don't let them define what you think about yourself. Choose to believe the truth: you are beautiful and kind and made in God's image.

Sometimes life will be hard. Mistakes happen. Problems exist. You can wallow in the negative or choose to be thankful for the good and do what you can to make things better.

No matter how hard you try not to, you will make a bad choice. That's ok. Do what you can to fix it, but don't dwell on it after all is said and done. Decide to make a better choice next time.

Be quick to listen, but slow to speak and act. Before making any decision, seek God's will.

You can't control anything in this world. Life is unfair. The only thing you can control is how you react to things. You get to choose how you let things affect you. If good things happen, soak it in. Let the bad bounce off.

I know all of this is easier said than done. I need to take my own advice. I'm working on it. I pray you'll grasp it sooner than I did.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Batter Up!

Baby R absolutely loved baseball this summer! She wanted their team name to be the Royals (natch) but was outvoted so played for the Colorful Crystals. :) As I said before, she is so fun to watch - she really gets after it out there! And she's generous - she always runs down the ball, but will let others have a turn throwing it; tough - she rolled her ankle playing 1st but after a little fuss, she settled down and told me she thought she could finish the game; encouraging of teammates - she told a little boy how proud of him she was; and, of course, adorable - one game she was running the bases and while on 2nd called out, "Mama! I need something!"

I yelled back, "What do you need, baby?"

"I need a hug!"

Seriously. This girl!

Unfortunately, most game nights I didn't get to watch her as closely as I would have liked. I often had S and Cinco with me which was a bit of a challenge at times. Especially on picture day.

We were running late (shocking) and her team wasn't on the field. We finally realized it was picture day (I had forgotten) and they were over at the main tent. I pushed Cinco across the bumpy field as fast as I could in the umbrella stroller, and let the girls run ahead. All the individual photos had been taken and they were getting ready to do the team shot. Luckily, R got there in time, and they did her individual photo after the group one. Then she and S ran off with the team to the field to play while I filled out the paperwork to order the pictures.

While I was doing that, Cinco was trying to get out of the stroller. He didn't understand why the girls were free to run but he wasn't. I was also trying to keep an eye on my dad who had come to watch the game and was making his way along the sidewalk with his walker. I was nervous he was going to catch it on a crack and fall. Needless to say, my attention to detail on the form was not the best.

A few weeks later we got the pictures. Beautiful photo of Baby R - genuine smile, just gorgeous. But at the bottom it said 2015 and S's name instead of R's. I filled out the form wrong! I felt like such a jerk. I'm trying so hard to keep R from having middle child syndrome, and then I go and do something like that?!?! Luckily we were able to reorder them and just got the new ones yesterday. Of course, we'll keep the ones that are wrong so they can all tease me about it when their older. Isn't that what all kids do?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fun Stuff!

The last few posts have been so down in the dumps, and I've hardly mentioned the munchkins this year, so I decided to make this a fun post! It hasn't been all doom-and-gloom. I have so much to be thankful for. We've had some good times. Many of them I noted on Facebook, and I discovered a fun app call Little Hoots that embellishes those cute kid moments, too.

Here's an example of one:

Ahhh, kids. Here are a few other gems from the last few months:

S: You can't sing my song. It's trademarked.

Around Valentine's Day after they got their boxes of chocolates and conversation hearts, R had a few things to say.
(After eating a Russell Stover's chocolate) I had one of those Ruby Stone things in that box Dad gave us.
(After eating a purple conversation heart) It tastes like grape cake. Just like I always wanted! (pause) With a hint of orange and a hint of blueberry.

We may watch too much Food Network...

Also, we may watch too much Star Wars.
S: (holding up a chicken strip) It looks like a Republic ship!

Me: R! Put down the light saber, and eat your dinner!

R: (dropped the Windex when she was helping clean the windows) Oh man, I didn't use The Force!

• • • • •

R: Can I work for you?
S: Sure! I pay $10 a week.

R: You know Cookie Monster. Perhaps you're not familiar with him?

Me: Hurry up in the bathroom and come eat your dinner!
R: Mom, can't I get some peace?!?!

R: (Cleaning windows) Man, this is dirty. Those darn kids.

R: Why is sissy wearing a damn banna?

One day, the girls were pretending to be animals and having me guess what they are - hopping by on all fours, frog; slithering by on tummies, snake. S crawled past so I guessed cow, bear, dog and cat. Finally gave up.
S: I'm a cheetah!
Me: But cheetahs are fast.
S: I had to go slow so you could see me.

R: Mama, when will you get gray hairs?
Me: I already have some. 
R: You do?!?!?!
S: Yeah, I can totally see them from here.

R: Mom, remember that time I peed poop out of my butt? 
(Unfortunately, yes.)

Baby R kept saying "Oooh la la!" She finally asked me what it meant and I told her it meant, check that out, or it's so fancy. She disappeared into the toy room for a minute and then reappeared in a tiara and boa and announced her entrance with "Oooh la la!"

Me: R, it looks like you've got a bit of a sunburn. Let's put some aloe on it."
R: No! I hate aloe!
Me: How do you know? You've never had it on.
R: Yes, I have! A thousand times! More like 3.
On top of that, we enjoyed a couple of trips to St. Louis for my nephew's birthday party and Easter. We made mini chocolate pies for the epic pi day: 3/14/15. My parents' piano is now at our house which has been fun.

DH and I FINALLY got a bedroom set! He may only get me an anniversary present every 10 years, but at least it was a good one. The girls had their first real dance recital. R started baseball, and what a joy she's been to watch! She's got hustle! She chases down every ball, slides into home and gives it her all every game.  And S got to do M.A.D. Camp for the first time this year. It's Music, Arts and Drama at church. She loved it and wished it lasted longer than a week.

I got to have some nice adult mom time, too. My high school girlfriends took me to get a pedicure and dinner and a movie for a belated birthday celebration. I went to Girls Night Out at the Royals with the SPC gals. And I got to go to my first Sporting KC game.

And of course we went on walks, caught roly polies and fireflies, measured inch worms, played in the mud, flew kites, went to the park, played in the sprinkler and enjoyed each other's company when we weren't driving each other crazy. Not to mention all the adorable stuff Cinco has been up to. But that will have to wait for another post on another day....

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.
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